The Archbishop of York has insisted the Church of England had "not committed suicide" after moves to introduce women bishops were rejected in the General Synod.

John Sentamu, the second most senior bishop in the Church, admitted it was "very disappointing" that the draft legislation failed to clear its final hurdle.

It was carried in the houses of bishops and clergy in the General Synod, but failed to gain the necessary two-thirds majority amongst lay members. But Dr Sentamu insisted the Church was not "dead" and maintained that the principle of female bishops had been accepted.

"This morning people have been saying 'the Church has committed suicide, the Church is dead'," he told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"Well, dead people don't converse. We have been conversing, we have not committed suicide at all, we are very much living. This morning in the General Synod we are debating two important issues - the living wage and youth unemployment. That's not a dead Church."

Dr Sentamu said he was confident there would be women bishops in his lifetime, suggesting that revised legislation would receive the necessary support to be passed.

"The principle has already been accepted by the General Synod, it has already been accepted by all the dioceses," he said. "So what we need to do is find the legislation - 99.9% of the legislation is there, it's this little business of provision for those who are opposed."

The Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams will make a statement later after an emergency meeting of the Church of England bishops following the narrow defeat.

If six people had changed their vote from no to yes in the House of Laity the legislation would have received the necessary two-thirds majority in all three houses of the General Synod.

The result is a blow to Dr Williams and his successor, the Rt Rev Justin Welby, who staked their authority on a yes vote. Speaking afterwards, Dr Williams, who leaves his post at the end of this year after a decade in office, spoke of his "deep personal sadness" at the result.