The General Synod of the Church of England has defeated a proposal to allow Anglican women priests from abroad to conduct some services in this country.
Bishops and laity voted in favor of the proposal, but the clergy turned it down. Approval of all three houses was required for adoption.
Arcbishop of Canterbury Donal Coggan, the leading supporter of the proposal, warned that its defeat would lead to a "measure of lawlessness" in that ordained women visitors might carry out unauthorized priestly functions in definace of the synod.
The vote at the summer session of the synod followed the same pattern as last November's session when the clergy voted against approving ordination of women in England, while bishops and laity voted in favor.
After last November's action, the synod's Standing Committee, or Cabinet, appointed a working group to consider the position of women lawfully ordained abroad who subsequently visited this country, and to identify options open to the Church of England in dealing with them.
The working group made no recommendations but listed several options, and it was on one of these options that Canon Paul A. Welsby based a proposal to allow ordained women from overseas to minister as priests on special occasions.
Coggan warned of chaos if the bishops were not given new and clear guidelines on how to deal with requests either from the women or their would-be hosts. He called on the synod to cast aside timidity and to remember its fellowship with the Free Churches and those overseas churches that had ordained women.