A bishop has apologised for the “hurt and confusion” caused by the decision not to allow women bishops.

Stephen Cottrell, the bishop of Chelmsford, spoke out following the failure of the General Synod to allow women bishops within the Church of England.

A majority of synod members - 324 - voted in favour of allowing women to become bishops but for the motion to be accepted it needed a two thirds majority.

The 122 who voted against the proposal meant they won the day by six votes.

Mr Cottrell said: “I am sorry for the hurt and confusion caused by the General Synod’s vote on women bishops.

“It has not been a good week for the Church of England.

“Public trust has been shaken.

“We look like an organisation that discriminates against women.”

Almost one third of priests in the Chelmsford diocese is a woman and Mr Cottrell is hosting a champagne breakfast for them to celebrate their contributions and discuss the Synod’s decision.

He added that The Church of England decided years ago that there were no fundamental theological objections to women becoming bishops but they have failed to agree how to make it happen.

He said: “Sadly there just didn’t seem to be sufficient trust around to persuade enough people to vote in favour of what was being proposed.

“We therefore need to seek new ways of re-building trust and finding a way forward so that women and men can serve equally in God’s church.

“This will take time.

“And in the meantime our credibility is damaged.”