Thinking Anglicans

women bishops: the House takes a position

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports in the Sunday Telegraph that:

…At a confidential meeting, bishops narrowly voted to proceed with the historic reforms and to resist pressure to create separate dioceses free of women clergy.

The decision will dismay hundreds of priests who could defect to the Roman Catholic Church, which refuses to ordain women. It was taken at a meeting of about 50 members of the House of Bishops, at a hotel in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, last week, and has set the stage for a showdown with traditionalists when the General Synod, the Church’s parliament, is next convened, in July.

During the meeting, the bishops were deeply divided over ways of solving the issue, which has engulfed the Church in bitter debate for decades. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued that making women bishops could exclude from the Church those opposed to the idea, unless proper provisions were made for them.

He acknowledged that creating new dioceses which were only for men could create further division within the Church, but said that the move would honour promises made to traditionalists when women were first made priests, in the early 1990s.

Following the debate, the bishops decided to endorse legislation – which will now be voted on at the Synod – that would end special arrangements for clergy who are not prepared to accept female priests, including “flying” bishops, senior clergy who operate across different dioceses, ministering to those opposed to women priests.

Instead, the bishops opted for a Synod motion that asks for respect for opponents of women bishops, but does not make provisions for them.

The motion makes clear that a significant minority disagrees with this approach.

The move means that it is now highly unlikely that new dioceses will be created for opponents of women bishops…

Read the whole article headlined Church of England faces exodus over women bishop reforms.

To remind you of what the options offered by the Manchester Report are, see this summary by Dave Walker or alternatively, read the earlier article here:

Report on Women as Bishops to which links to html copies of several more annexes have been added today.

The full text of the main body of the report is available here.

In light of the above report, the following annexes of the report may be of interest:

Annex D – Illustration of ‘Statutory Code of Practice’ option

Annex D, Measure 2 – Draft Bishops (Consecration of Women) Measure (No 2) or here is the PDF original.

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kieran crichton
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kieran crichton

It’s good to see the English bench in decisive mode – I wonder how long it will take before they go to water and start undermining this refreshing approach. “The decision will dismay hundreds of priests who could defect to the Roman Catholic Church, which refuses to ordain women.” Why? Surely they’ve seen this coming from miles away. Perhaps now is the time to decide whether they’re truly committed to Anglicanism, and if so, to get on with it in a more positive light than they’ve managed since 1992. If not, they all know where the Tiber is. It’s time… Read more »

David Malloch
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David Malloch

If this is true, it is extremely serious indeed. It means that promisses made in 1992 are being withdrawn, that the word of Synod cannot be trusted. This has consequences for every aspect in the life of the Church of England. Why should eccumenical partners trust anything she says? Why should female bishops trust that the decision will not be overturned at a later stage? Have no doubt, we will see a major exodus. The reason the exodus post 1992 was so small was precisely because opponents trusted the promisses made and stayed because of the provision made. My guess… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

If this is true then once again Rowan Williams has backed a conserving option, and, just as interesting, that has just about been rejected. If the report is reliable as given.

JayVos
Guest

I have never understood the idea of alternative oversight bishops in the TEC and CofE. Especially when both Churches opened up the three orders of ordained ministry to women waaay back in 1976 and 1992, respectively. Even back in 1976 I thought these compromises were ridiculous. I’m happy some of the CofE bishops got it right.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Well, either women have these traditionally conceived cooties – or maybe women do not. If women do indeed have cooties, we ought to repent and kick them to the lows which God has ordained to protect men – and other subservient women – from the cooties and the sacramental or other dangers of the cooties. If women indeed do NOT have those cooties, we ought to repent of our prejudices no matter how long-standing our fears and disgusts and prejudices have been. This is the stark dilemma for our discernment, our stark choice. I have yet to hear anybody who… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

I concur with DM above in that this WO business is serious business. The equality/competency of women, including the modern possibilities that God in Jesus may be calling some modern women to do something besides report properly to a particular husband, brother, or other male relative in their daily lives, and besides conception and childrearing – is very, very, very, very serious. Way too many women around the world are being told they must choose between being mothers or wives and having any life at all outside those relationships and functions. A serious, serious business. Contrast the ministries of woman… Read more »

poppy tupper
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poppy tupper

the promises were always seen as a transitional arrangement, and there was always some doubt as to whether any new priests should be ordained who did not accept the ministry of women priests. the flying bishops and their crew immediately undermined this understanding and sought to create a church within a church. it would be good to see the ground taken from beneath their feet. the time of transition is over. if they want to go, good riddance.

Colin Wrigley
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Colin Wrigley

If this is true and the exodus is imminent then I make a layman’s plea that we orthodox stay together and exit together, to the same place and as a group. Priests may consider whether or not they choose to swim the proverbial Tiber but many of the laity will be so devastated by the impending changes that they will finish up without a church at all. So far the traditionalist clergy leadership has been about hanging on in the hope of being allowed to exist in some form within the Anglican framework, but what we need now is Plan… Read more »

Britannicus
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Britannicus

If this report is accurate then it indicates – remarkably – that a (small?) majority in the House of Bishops of the Church of England has learnt nothing from the recent rejection by the Church of Wales of the attempt to force through legislation providing for women bishops without clear legal and pastoral safeguards for those who are not prepared to subvert apostolic succession. Why can’t the proponents of women in the episcopate in the Church of England realise that the sooner they make genuine provision for the significant minority that is not of this mind the sooner they will… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
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Robert Ian Williams

Hopefully the report is true and the Church of England has rejected gender apartheid….that would have decimated dioceses like Chichester.

As for an exodus…there won’t be one…maybe a small trickle.

The opponents should have the integrity , like the non-jurors and Puritans to leave , but the FIF realise the alternative is living in reduced circumstances and worshipping in disused Methodist Chapels. with ten old ladies in the congregation.

David Malloch
Guest
David Malloch

“As for an exodus…there won’t be one…maybe a small trickle.” If you believe that, you are in for a shock! Time, of course, will tell; but by then it will be too late to do anything about it…. “the alternative is living in reduced circumstances and worshipping in disused Methodist Chapels. with ten old ladies in the congregation.” No, that is what will be left – empty, listed buildings, with tiny congregations which the diocese will have to maintain. The proponents can’t have it both ways: 1st they argue we have spent years building a church within a church, with… Read more »

Fr Mark
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Fr Mark

David Malloch: “If the CofE has ordained people on the basis that there is provision and it is now withdrawing that, is there a case for constructive dismissal?” Constructive dismissal is what you could claim if your employer were (i) subject to employment law; and (ii) discriminated against you on such a basis as your gender/ sexual orientation, etc. How completely bizarre that a “traditionalist”, i.e. someone who is against the C of E having to follow the high ethical demands that other employers have in the area of equal opportuntities in the workplace, should grab at the idea of… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

David offers a very grim prospect, but at least I agree that the chance of the needed majority to see this accepted by the English General Synod will be no time soon. So there is no “imminent departure” for Colin, though the idea of there being something tidy and organised at the end of the process is definitely unlikely. I too believe that as the temperatures cool the future in an undivided Church will look more attractive and the clergy and their parishioners will carry on just as they did before without these formal alternative structures. There will be some… Read more »

Bob
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Bob

As a long term waverer, in that my misgivings about women’s ordination are ecumenical not impossibilist or headship, this has tipped it for me. I shall join FiF tomorrow. The insularity, arrogance, protestantism and downright lack of charity on the part of the bishops who pushed this contrasts unfavourably with the gentle magnanimity of the PEV’s (are they now going to be summarily sacked?) in relation to those who take the opposite view. The proponents seem to want to talk ‘justice’ rather than theology, but there will be no justice in this, even for women priests. The Bench has traditionally… Read more »

Malcolm+
Guest

People keep predicting mass exodus. Yet, oddly, the mass exodus never quit happens.

Didn’t happen in the US or Canada. Yes, there were a few departures – some to Rome or Constantinople, some to “continuing Anglican” sects. No one pretended to take the property with them.

Didn’t happen in the UK either. A trickle of defections here and there.

Of course, Manning et al advised the Holy See that a condemnation of Anglican orders would open the floodgates of submissions to Rome. Turned out that prediction was pure bunkum as well.

dr.primrose
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dr.primrose

Swimming the Tiber? Please. There are other possibilities. How about swimming the Río de la Plata? An opportunity for the self-annointed “Archbishop” of the Southern Cone to expand his empire. It should make the line-up for the next Falklands War particuarly interesing.

Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

“Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued that making women bishops could exclude from the Church those opposed to the idea, unless proper provisions were made for them.”

Substitute “making Black Bishops” and see how it reads.

What a busy summer Dr. Williams has in front of him! Synod and GAFCON and Lambeth and all … how long a sabbatical will he take to recover from all of this? I hope someone will buy a copy of +Gene’s book and send it to him.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“…before we are scattered to the four winds by those who would destroy us.”

Drama Queen much?

I have to ask the Sturm-und-Drang crowd: is, or isn’t God in God’s Heaven? Do you believe that Christ rose, and we shall rise with him, or don’t you? [“orthodox”: yeah, right. Feh!]

God bless ALL you have called to (all 3) holy orders: male and female, straight and gay! Alleluia! 😀

choirboyfromhell
Guest
choirboyfromhell

Cynthia, I’m sure that there is a Co-Dependency chapter near Lambeth Palace where ++he could work out his “issues”. First step is admitting you have a problem….

Cheryl Va.
Guest

It was the “old ladies” under Mt Sinai who objected to the men pilferring their gold to make their Baal idol that enabled the second set of stone tablets. Ezekiel 18. Men can live and die on the merits of their own sin and women in kind on their own. If Eve (aka Cheva) is unforgiven, then the Cherubim of the Ark have no validity and all claims that Jesus is the manifestation of the Jewish Messiah are void. After all, if Eve is unforgiven, and the Cherubim irrelevant, where is the basis of Jesus’ priests’ claims that he is… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“anonymous signatures” An oxymoron, surely? And, drdanfee, it isn’t about cooties. Christ is the High Priest. All priesthood is a sharing in His priesthood. Christ is male, the New Adam. His Mother is the New Eve. Just as both genders had their individual roles in the Fall, so do they both in the redemption of the Fallen. The priest represents Christ in the Mass. How can a woman do this? It is not about cooties. It is not about any kind of sexism, it is about a traditional understanding of the Fall, redemption, and the role that priesthood plays in… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

Visceral hostility to altar girls, women priests and women bishops probably is rooted not in any refined theology but in something very crude, never openly expressed, and very widespread. I mean simply misogyny. It never strikes a clerical establishment that misogyny could be a form of sin.

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Bob: by the way, the anti-women bishops on the bench are just as much from the “elite” as any others. One of the leading C of E diocesan bishops opposed to women’s ordination has a background of public school, then Cambridge, then 25 yrs an Oxford don, then becoming a bishop, with no experience of ever working in a parish at all. So don’t think you’re getting anything more representative of “reality” if you join FiF, please.

Doxy
Guest
Doxy

Sorry, Ford–but it IS about cooties. Unless you believe that Jesus’ maleness is essential—and then you have admitted that woman are irredeemable. What was not assumed cannot be redeemed…

Jesus assumed our humanity—not just male genitals.

In Christ, there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. If you (collective “
you”) don’t believe that, how can you call yourself Christians?

Nope—this is ALL about misogyny dressed up in bad theology. It has no place in the Church.

Pluralist
Guest

There is another side to this as well. No doubt that structural non-geographical dioceses would have set up the means for all sorts of malcontents to go to, but the straight choice option – unified equal ministry – also means another basis for the GAFCON led raids, where they have to set up structures themselves.

So we really ought to get used to the ending of geographical monopoly. The GAFCON type thing will only be tiny, but it will involve some departures and finding new buildings etc..

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

Speaking as someone who’s actually in favor of women in pointy hats, I rather miss a sense of magnanimity and generosity on the part of the “victors”. Instead, kick them when they’re down and exult at their expense.

*shakes head*

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“this is ALL about misogyny dressed up in bad theology.” I agree entirely, and I agree that to claim maleness is essential to priesthood is to claim the Incarnation is only redemptive for less than half the human race. My point is that you have to show that the theology of an exclusively male priesthood is bad theology. You don’t do that by arguing against sexism, whether or not that is the driving force behind the bad theology. This is the first time I have seen “what is not assumed is not redeemed” used on this website, though I have… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

All this talk of swimming the Tiber assumes that Rome is eager to take in a bunch of people who are used to disobeying their bishops and demanding special provisions for themselves. Is there any evidence of this?

KevinMac
Guest
KevinMac

Tush, fie and…who cares. Isn’t it about time that the CofE and all who sail in her stopped paddling in waters that seem too deep even for them and simply grow up into the 21st century. If Rome is foolish enough to accept back the disaffected ( into a fold which they never really left), then, let their ranks swell. Women as neurosurgeons, florists or even bishops – a woman’s gift makes room for her in just the same way as does a man’s. The shifting cultural moralities are at this time in allowance, not prohibition. Why should the CofE… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

JPM: I think I read that, of the 550 or so clergy that left the C of E for Rome over the ordination of women priests, more than 10% later returned. Someone on here could probably give the exact figures (?). It is odd, though, that people are talking of swimming the Tiber now, when they are the ones who weren’t prepared to do it a few years ago – surely the principle of women in holy orders is the same whether they are deacons, priests or bishops.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“a woman’s gift makes room for her in just the same way as does a man’s.”

No-one’s arguing that point, see my posts above. I agree with female bishops, but “They can be surgeons so why can’t they be bishops” is no argument.

And, if it was me, I wouldn’t bother with the Tiber. If I was to spiritually swim any body of water, it’d be the Bosporus.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Christ is male, the New Adam.” No and Yes. The above sentence has to be unpacked. Christ IS “the New Adam” . . . but we have to understand the OLD Adam, first! Adam is the one God created from the adama: earth. Adam is the earth creature; the human from the humus! Adam was not *created* male, but only *derives* maleness *through the act of Eve’s creation as woman*. There simply isn’t any primaracy to (human) maleness: maleness and femaleness are *fully interdependent*. Christ is the New Adam: the new Earth Creature . . . who of course isn’t… Read more »

Doxy
Guest
Doxy

“Because the Left is far more comfortable making political arguments than it is making theological ones.” I get really tired of this argument, because I think it’s a lie. Or at least shows a willful ignorance. Those of us who believe the Holy Spirit is leading the church to ordain women have been making this argument for decades. Why keep spouting it when you know they aren’t listening? (BTW, the Episcopal Church has also answered the theological objections to the full inclusion of GLBTs in “To Set Our Hope On Christ.” Have any of you read it?) The work has… Read more »

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

@Doxy:

“All they care about is power and control. And this is why, Walsingham, I don’t feel the need to keep begging them to stay in the church. They have explicitly plotted to destroy my church—and they are after the CoE now. I still recognize them as fellow children of God—but I feel no compunction to give them what they want.”

“They” are saying exactly the same about “you”. Same words, mirror image. I think that should give you pause, don’t you?

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

@Fr Mark: “surely the principle of women in holy orders is the same whether they are deacons, priests or bishops” Actually, there *is* a difference. If you take the view that women are not capable of being priests (for whatever reason) or that we should respect the views of ecumenical partners, the historic episcopate would mean that having a woman acting as bishop would break the line of apostolic succession, and with it the entire basis for Holy Orders and sacraments. IOW once you generally introduce women bishops, for all intents and purposes there is no turning back, because even… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Doxy wrote: “Jesus assumed our humanity – not just male genitals.”

Doxy wrote: “Nope – this is ALL about misogyny dressed up in bad theology. It has no place in the Church.”

And I say (to Ford) his is all about old Gnosticisms dressed up in bad theology. It’s a sham! It has no place in the Church.

Honestly, I can’t understand that you don’t see this!

I still believe the trouble in no small measure lies in the English language concept of Gender, misunderstanding all other concepts of Genders.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Mark.. Don’t you get it , its a bluff…its the exodus myth.

Accompanied with no financial provision, there will be probabblly less than 50 swimmers of the Tiber.

The spirit of the Vicar of Bray still prevails and I wish some one with poetic talents could compose another supplementary verse.

Cheryl Va.
Guest

The parable from Matthew 18:23-35 could easily apply to how Christians have hypocritically refused to grant grace to the feminine. They claim that Jesus brings grace to all souls who believe in him, but then deny females freedom. Worse, apparently Cheva (aka Eve) is unforgivable, even after Jesus’ sacrifice. The male priests are relieved at their freedom and grateful that pity and mercy that enabled their debt to be cleared, but have then gone on demand that other souls give them their due. In this passage Jesus’ position is that such servants be called in and told ‘You wicked servant,… Read more »

Cedd
Guest
Cedd

Walsingham – it is of course correct that having women in the episcopate would severely damage ecumencial relations with the Roman Catholics and Orthodox Churches. However, as those churches do not recognise the validity of Anglican orders or sacraments anyway it would not represent a de facto change in substance. It would create a substantial additional barrier to unity with those churches but, it seems to me at least, the ecumenical project has stalled for the foreseeable in any event.

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“Honestly, I can’t understand that you don’t see this!” I do see it. But you don’t convince people of the truth of your position by dismissing theirs as nothing more than old fashioned bigotry. “I get really tired of this argument, because I think it’s a lie. Or at least shows a willful ignorance.” Really? We have been talking about this here for a number of days. Why has it taken till now for anyone to make anything other than a political argument? And, yes, it IS necessary to make the argument over and over. Why assume that because TEC… Read more »

christopher+
Guest
christopher+

Walsingham, Rome has already declared Anglican orders invalid – repeatedly, as I recall. (Of course, we disagree, but that is another matter – one of many matters on which we disagree with our Roman brethren.) Additionally, the Anglican Communion already has many, many priests and deacons ordained by women who are bishops – bishops, by the way, in full communion (through their respective provinces) with Canterbury. In other words, the Rubicon has already been crossed in the Anglican Communion. Women serve among us as bishops (and as priests and deacons), and, as you know, many will be attending Lambeth. If… Read more »

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Sorry Ford E, I see it differently. You do not engage with bad theology by arguing inside its closed circles very often. All that will get you is a predictable circular ride around the closed and interlocking presuppositions common to a lot of bad theology we are hearing preached these days. I mention cooties because the emotional loadings which continue to be expressed about ordained women are so far as I can tell, still all about contamination from being touched by the wrong person in the wrong way at the wrong time. And all about being spiritually endangered by the… Read more »

Doxy
Guest
Doxy

“I think that should give you pause, don’t you?” Walsingham—put yourself in the place of women who have experienced God’s call to them. God is CALLING. Do you dare refuse to answer because a bunch of people who are engaged in Gnostic heresy are telling you that you aren’t fit to be a priest because you have a vagina? (And implying that you haven’t been redeemed for the same reason?) A call to the priesthood must be affirmed in community. The community of faith has observed the call of God in female human beings. Do they dare refuse to affirm… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“The symbolic narrative summary you offer in your post is clearly symbolic religious language, and cannot be used to loop back into real embodiments with real genitals as determinative final considerations.” I’m not sure what this means. You seem to be saying that we cannot use the language of symbol and mysticism in the discussing of religious issues, which is odd, to say the least. I honestly find your writing style to be very obscure at times, rather like my own is to others, I’m sure. Is this what you are actually saying? No-one is talking about leprosy, or contamination,… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

Doxy, The argument that changed my mind on OOW was given to me by, of all people, Don Harvey. He described his experience with a woman who felt a vocation, and his statements to me was “Ford, as I worked through it with her, I was forced to admit that if she didn’t have a vocation, I didn’t either.” He was the first, indeed, the only, Canadian Anglican clergiman to actually put it in terms of vocation, not job. But, you say, and I agree, God is calling. Prove it. That’s what you are being asked to do by those… Read more »

Doxy
Guest
Doxy

“Just saying “God is calling, and we Americans know He is calling, and if the rest of you don’t believe us, well, too bad” is not only no argument at all, it is arrogant beyond belief.” Ford—surely you know that the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion was NOT an American? Look up Florence Li Tim-Oi… I get tired of being told that Americans are arrogant. We are simply trying to follow the Holy Spirit, as we perceive it. We are not demanding that anyone outside our own province do the same—either with the… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“Just saying “God is calling, and we Americans know He is calling, and if the rest of you don’t believe us, well, too bad” is not only no argument at all, it is arrogant beyond belief.”

I disagree–the arrogance is on the other side, refusing to believe that what others hear as a calling is true. It’s the same attitude that says, in regard to the life of gays in the church, that it cannot be the Spirit that is leading us this way, because the Spirit isn’t leading THEM that way.

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

@Doxy: “We are simply trying to follow the Holy Spirit, as we perceive it.” And so are conservatives, which is why Ford and I would like to cut them a little slack. I don’t think Ford or I are remotely arguing for a ban on women’s ordination or even on women bishops. Indeed I already said further up that I’m in favor of women in pointy hats. OTOH I also think that the compromise offered by ++Rowan — a continuation of flying bishops in some form — would have been a more conscientious way forward. @Pat O’Neill: “It’s the same… Read more »

Walsingham
Guest
Walsingham

@christopher+: The lack of recognition of or our orders by Roman Catholics or the Orthodox is a red herring as far as the ecumenical side of the debate goes. For one thing, the Orthodox technically don’t recognize *any* orders outside of Orthodoxy, whether Roman Catholic or Anglican (extra ecclesiam nulla salus). As for Rome, Apostolicae Curae only reflects the way things stood in the late 19th century and does not reflect the later influence of the Utrecht Old Catholics (the so-called Dutch Touch), starting in 1931, which may well have restored our orders even in Rome’s sight. While no official… Read more »

Kurt
Guest
Kurt

“Nope—this is ALL about misogyny dressed up in bad theology. It has no place in the Church.”–Doxy

Right on, Doxy!