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 Anglicans consider men-only branch

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LONDON (Reuters) - The Church of England is considering adopting a "men-only branch" as one way of defusing a row over women bishops in congregations already deeply divided over gay priests.

But church leaders who spent three years sounding out Anglicans on the vexed issue stressed that a branch served only by male clergy was just one of the options being pondered.

The General Synod of the Church of England is to review the report next February -- but it could be at least four years before a decision is made on women bishops.

They are currently permitted in the United States, Canada and New Zealand. Australia discussed allowing them at a national synod last month but rejected the idea.

The Church of England ordained its first women priests 10 years ago after a heated and divisive debate. Now one in six of England's 11,000 parish priests is a woman.

Supporters of women bishops believe it is high time they are allowed to break through the "stained glass ceiling" in the church hierarchy.


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