Thinking Anglicans

women bishops: further responses

The letter from 17 men bishops provoked the following two items in the Church of England Newspaper
Women clergy express anger at bishops’ Synod appeal
and
A debilitating delay? by Christina Rees which says in part:

Last week’s letter from the Bishop in Europe and other bishops bears closer inspection, not only because of its contents, but also because of its timing and signatories. Of the six diocesan bishops who signed the letter, three – the Bishops of Blackburn, Chichester and Europe – are known as being opposed women’s ordination. It is difficult to understand why they have asked for a longer period of discussion, when they have made it clear that they are opposed to ordaining women as priests or as bishops, now or at any time.

The Bishop in Europe was a member of the House of Bishops Working Party on Women in the Episcopate, which produced the Rochester Report. That Working Party spent over four years in study and discussion and considered over 700 written submissions and a number of face to face submissions.

The Bishop of Blackburn is currently a member of another working party set up earlier this year by the House of Bishops to explore some of the options outlined in the Rochester Report and to report to the House of Bishops in January. It seems particularly odd that these two bishops, both involved with the open processes of the General Synod and their own House of Bishops, should choose to sign a letter asking for that very process to be deflected and delayed.

On the other hand, for Church Society the 17 bishops didn’t go anyway near far enough, OPEN LETTER TO THE ARCHBISHOPS AND BISHOPS OF THE CHURCH OF ENGLAND

Fulcrum had this fence-sitting Response to the General Synod Motion on Women Bishops July 2005 but also re-published this article by Judith Rose to complement this one from Tom Wright.

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Barry NeweySimon CawdellGraham KingsMerseymikeSimon Sarmiento Recent comment authors
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Graham Kings
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Simon, our Fulcrum response comes down clearly on the side of the fence for women bishops. On the principle itself, we state that we ‘positively advocate the consecration of women to the episcopate for the sake of the Church and for the sake of the mission of the Church.’ No sitting on the fence there. On timing, we also ‘recommend that this issue is brought back as soon as possible in the life of the next General Synod’. Again, it is clear which side of the fence we are in terms of ‘as soon as possible’. On building support for… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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I am glad that Fulcrum is in favour of women bishops. This response however appears to support increased delay, as proposed in the letter which Tom Wright recently signed. That is why I called it fence-sitting.

As I said in an earlier comment, I find the Wright article hard to understand. Thank you for the explanation 🙂

Graham Kings
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Thanks, Simon. Fulcrum’s response does not support ‘increased delay’, as Geoffrey Rowell’s letter may imply. Christina Rees, in her CEN article which you link into, writes: ‘If General Synod passes the motion on Monday, there is built into the timetable by canon law an eighteen month window, during which time the issue of women in the episcopate will have to be debated in every Diocesan Synod, and in deanery synods and PCCs if desired.’ This period relates closely to the ‘as soon as possible’ phrase we used in our response. The key difference is that we advocate theological discussion at… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Graham, please explain how what you propose, i.e. a referral to dioceses prior to a decision yes/no to start preparation of legislation, can occur without a increase in delay overall.
Surely you are not suggesting that a further reference to dioceses can be avoided, under the existing synodical processes?

Merseymike
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Merseymike

The theological discussion has already happened, though – we know the issues, and the views on each side. The logic is that once women priests were agreed to, then thereis no theological reason remaining not to have women bishops.

I think the questions are now more organisational ones. Actually, whilst I am against a third province, I think, if accepted, it would give good reason to establish a fully-inclusive, progay prowomen, fourth province – a conservative free zone.

This would mean the breakup of the CofE but as its going to happen anyway, it may have some appeal.

Graham Kings
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Simon, thanks. I’m not suggesting a 2nd reference to the dioceses can be avoided, and realise this will be 18 months. But 18 months, in my estimation at least, is not much of an ‘increased delay’ and well worth getting the process in the right order. And to the next right ‘order’ is what I believe women are being called – the episcopate.

Simon Cawdell
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Simon Cawdell

The difficulty being addressed by the Fulcrum statement is precisely the fact that synod has never yet passed a motion stating it is satisfied with the theological justification for the consecration of women to the episcopate. I hope that were such a debate to take place this would pass overwhelmingly, but it has not happened yet. I understand the logic that states that once the argument has been stated concerning ordination to the priesthood it need not take place again, but I believe this to be fallacious. There are many conservatives for whom the issue of ‘headship’ remains where a… Read more »

Barry Newey
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Barry Newey

Dear Archbishops,
I am sad that The General Synod has agreed to the consecration of Women Bishops.
I hope to remain an Anglican – can you set up a Third Province for me please?