A DECISION to reject women bishops is “devastating”, “frustrating” and could affect the “credibility” of the Church of England, according to the Bishops of Bath and Wells and Taunton.

The move was voted on by the three houses of the ruling general synod last night.

Although a clear majority of synod members were in favour – 324 as opposed to 122 against – the move needed two-thirds support in all three houses, which it failed to achieve by just four votes in the House of Laity.

The Bishop of Bath and Wells, Rt Rev Peter Price, said the outcome was “devastating and frustrating”.

He said: “After 12 years of considerable debate, much listening and a deep desire to find a way forward that we can achieve together, the loss of the motion in one of the three houses is deeply disappointing.”

The Bishop of Taunton, Rt Rev Peter Maurice, told the BBC there was a “real issue of the credibility of the church.”

He added: “42 of 45 diocese voted in favour. What does this say about our governing processes?"

Opponents believed approving a change in legislation to allow women bishops would have gone against Christian theology and could have caused divisions within the Church of England.