The next Archbishop of Canterbury has staked his authority on a yes vote by the General Synod to legislation introducing the first women bishops.

The Rt Rev Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham, told the General Synod that it was "time to finish the job" and vote in favour of final approval for legislation paving the way for the first women bishops.

He pledged to support traditionalists who oppose the ordination of women but said the ministry of women as priests had been "powerful" in all areas of the Church of England apart from the episcopacy.

"It is time to finish the job and vote for this measure but also the Church of England needs to show how we can develop the mission of the Church in a way that demonstrates that we can manage diversity of view without division - diversity in amity, not diversity in enmity," he said.

He added: "I am personally deeply committed and believe that fellow bishops are also to ensuring as far as I am able that all that we promise today and later in the code of conduct is carried out faithfully in spirit as well as in letter.

"Expressing in attitude and by our actions that we more than respect but also love one another is a foundation stone of our mission in this country and the world more widely.

"We cannot get trapped into believing this is a zero-sum decision where one person's gain must be another's loss. That is not a theology of grace."

The Rt Rev Welby was backed by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams, who leaves his post after a decade in office at the end of the year.

He told the General Synod he believed it was time to "turn a page".

"I am rather clearer that a no vote would not do anything positive for our mission in this country," he said.