Australia's Anglican Church rejects ordaining women bishops

Australia's Anglican Church rejected a move to ordain women as bishops, after a lengthy debate at its governing council on Tuesday.

Most of the delegates at the meeting of the church's General Synod in the Western Australian capital city of Perth supported having female bishops. But the final vote on a proposal to ordain women as bishops failed to garner the two-thirds majority required.

Sydney's Archbishop Peter Jensen, one of the country's most vocal opponents of female ordination, applauded the outcome.

"The constitution of the church prevailed, in that it protected the minority, and a pretty substantive minority did not want this," Jensen said.

However, a supporter of the proposal warned the issue could divide the Anglican Church.

Women have been allowed to serve as deacons in Australia's Anglican Church since 1985 and as priests since 1992.

"Now the women priests make up nearly a sixth of the clergy in the Anglican Church of Australia," said Muriel Porter, from the diocese in the southeastern city of Melbourne.

"They're very experienced, they're in senior positions. They're ready to be bishops," Porter told Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio.

Porter vowed to continue the fight to ordain women bishops.

"I think the church has made a grave mistake," she said. "I won't give up, I will keep struggling for it and praying for it."