Thinking Anglicans

Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate

The Church of England issued the press release below this evening. The essential part is this extract from the fourth paragraph.

The Committee has … voted to amend the draft Measure to provide for certain functions to be vested in bishops by statute rather than by delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statutory code of practice.

Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate
8 October 2009

The Revision Committee established by the General Synod to consider the draft legislation on enabling women to become bishops in the Church of England today completed the first phase of its work. The Committee has further meetings planned between now and December and is aiming to complete its task by Christmas so that its report can be debated in full Synod in February and the draft legislation begin its Revision Stage in full Synod.

The Committee received nearly 300 submissions, including more than 100 from members of General Synod. Many of these offered alternatives to the proposal in the draft legislation to make provision by way of statutory code of practice for those unable on grounds of theological conviction to receive the episcopal and/or priestly ministry of women.

In the seven meetings that it has held so far, the Committee has considered each of these alternatives: additional dioceses; the vesting by statute of certain functions in bishops with a special responsibility for those with conscientious difficulties; the creation of a recognised society for those with conscientious difficulties; and the adoption of the simplest possible legislation without a statutory code of practice.

Of these, the Committee has, after receiving oral evidence and having lengthy discussions, voted to amend the draft Measure to provide for certain functions to be vested in bishops by statute rather than by delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statutory code of practice. The Committee will now be working through the consequential details flowing from this decision.

The work of the Revision Committee, whose task is to scrutinise the draft legislation line by line and consider submissions for amendment, is one stage in a process that still has a number of years to run. It will be open to the full Synod to revisit matters considered by the Revision Committee and to amend the draft legislation as it sees fit.

Thereafter it will have to be considered by all diocesan synods and a majority of them will need to vote for the legislation before it can come to the Synod for final approval. At that stage a two-thirds majority would be required in each of the three houses of Synod (bishops, clergy and laity) before the legislation could go to Parliament and eventually for Royal Assent. On any basis it is unlikely that the first female bishop will be consecrated before 2014.

The membership of the Revision Committee was announced in March 2009.

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Pat O'NeillErika BakerFord ElmsFr MarkFather Ron Smith Recent comment authors
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Cynthia Gilliatt
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Cynthia Gilliatt

OK – could someone explain what that extract from the 4th paragraph means? With examples? Right now this Yank is feeling pretty clueless. Thanks.

Wilf
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Wilf

The important thing will be the detail that follows and how much authority will be given to the bishops by statute. We’ll have to wait and see.

Neill
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Neill

It means that the Revision Committee has decided to appease the Evangelicals concerned about headship, but have rejected the pleas of Catholic-minded Anglicans concerned about preserving the apostolic ministry.

Father Ron Smith
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Father Ron Smith

“The Committee has, after receiving oral evidence and having lengthy discussions, voted to amend the draft Measure to provide for certain functions to be vested in bishops by statute, rather than by delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statuary code of practice.” I guess the point at issue here – considering the fact that the proposal to ordain women bishops is at the heart of the proposed draft Measure – is about what are the ‘certain functions’ to be vested in bishops by statute, rather than by delegation. And does this mean female as well as male bishops? Or… Read more »

Wilf
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Wilf

No, Neill, not necessarily. It really depends on what functions are transferred by statute, to whom and then to whom the ‘safe’ bishops may minister. The devil will, as they say, be in the detail. Wait and see.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“The problem with this is that if the diocesan bishop was unacceptable to the anti-women-bishops group (for example because she was a women or HE/SHE ORDAINED WOMEN PRIESTS) then the delegated functions would be equally unacceptable.”

Will someone *please* explain the highlighted part to me? Is it “female cooties”? I understand, a little, the objection to a female priest or bishop (though I don’t agree with it); I don’t understand the objection to a male bishop who has, in the past, participated in the ordination of a woman.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

“The problem with this is that if the diocesan bishop was unacceptable to the anti-women-bishops group (for example because she was a women or HE/SHE ORDAINED WOMEN PRIESTS) then the delegated functions would be equally unacceptable.”

Will someone *please* explain the highlighted part to me? Is it “female cooties”? I understand, a little, the objection to a female priest or bishop (though I don’t agree with it); I don’t understand the objection to a male bishop who has, in the past, participated in the ordination of a woman.

peterpi
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peterpi

Peter Owen, to this Yank, it sounds like the female-bishop denying parishioner can now get his/her communion/blessing/confirmation, etc., from a bishop who is certified by Her Majesty’s Government to be male and is also certified by HMG to have no interest whatsoever in female bishops. I realize I’m just an ignorant Yank, outside the CofE, don’t fully understand why the Holy Spirit would find one “X” chromosome to be acceptable but two “X” chromosomes to be unplalatable, but it sounds like the State is going to be a willing participant in parallel systems of episcopate, with one of them perceived… Read more »

Leonardo Ricardo
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One really does wonder if the Anglican Communion hasnĀ“t been contaminated by terminal fear and hate (and a couple of tons of greed and a trainload of bigotry and selfrighteous grandstanding).

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Pat
“I don’t understand the objection to a male bishop who has, in the past, participated in the ordination of a woman.”

Nor to one who will ordain women in the future.

But it just goes to show that this really has very little to do with theology and much more with old fashioned prejudice.

Jeremy Pemberton
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Jeremy Pemberton

This is very unwelcome news – I hope that it will be resoundingly rejected by right-thinking members of General Synod. It is precisely not what they voted for.

There is no way that any women should be prepared to serve as “almost” bishops – two tier solutions are the absolute curse of the church of England and anglicanism at the moment. Down with the Covenant and Down with TEA by statute.

PeterB
Guest

It’s all bonkers, but what I don’t see in any of this is hate, or bigotry either.

Is it not possible to understand that some christians might actually think that the Bible (which we still understand to be God’s word) indicates that church leaders should be men.

It might just be that people are taking their lead from the Bible, and trying to live godly lives with it as their authority.

Sounds like a rather Anglican idea to me.

choirboyfromhell
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choirboyfromhell

“One really does wonder if the Anglican Communion hasn’t been contaminated by terminal fear and hate (and a couple of tons of greed and a trainload of bigotry and self-righteous grandstanding).”

Certainly a fear of “cooties”. It all seems so childish and selfish. Nobody hates change more than I do, but I do realize that it is certain that some change is necessary.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Peter B
“Is it not possible to understand that some christians might actually think that the Bible (which we still understand to be God’s word) indicates that church leaders should be men.”

It is easy to understan dthat a lot of Christians might actually believe a lot of things for very good reasons.
But the church – all churches – has the right to come to new insights and decisions. Or are you saying that nothing new is every allowed to be implemented because some people might not believe in it?

Ford Elms
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Ford Elms

“I realize I’m just an ignorant Yank, outside the CofE, don’t fully understand why the Holy Spirit would find one “X” chromosome to be acceptable but two “X” chromosomes to be unplalatable” Peterpi, you usually make very insightful comments, and coming as they do from the viewpoint of someone who is not a Christian and part of an ethnic group that has good reason to mistrust Christianity yet who takes an active part in a Christian community, those comments are very valuable. They sting a bit at times, but that’s valuable too. But if you don’t understand why people are… Read more »

Sam Norton
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Delegated authority from a (female) bishop is not acceptable, but statutory authority is? When all statutory authority comes from the crown (a Queen, last time I checked)?!?!

Fr Mark
Guest

Oh dear, the Church is flailing around hopelessly trying to avoid anything that disturbs its equilibrium yet again. Is it the committee’s idea that nothing challenging should ever be allowed to happen until everyone’s long dead and buried? Meanwhile, the male-only episcopate continues with its routine exhortations to the rest of society to become more moral and just. It simply doesn’t ring true for me, I’m afraid. We have to do better than this. Either we care about justice and fighting discrimination because it is morally right to do so, in which case we’ve got to get our house in… Read more »

Neil
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Neil

‘Is it the committee’s idea that nothing challenging should ever be allowed to happen until everyone’s long dead and buried?’ Oh dear Fr Mark! I think it is generally accepted that ‘women bishops’ are going to happen – and that is not the point. I know of no FiF types who think that the CofE will not soon have such ‘bishops’ whether they like it or not. General Synod after all voted for them! What seems to be ‘challenging’ and ‘not allowed to happen’ is for proper provision that has been promised in the past (and a promise is normally… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest

Neil it is 15 years since women were admitted to the order of priesthood. There is no logic at all in allowing women to be deacons and priests but not bishops, and every day that passes makes the Church look more absurd in its injustice.

When women were admitted to Holy Orders, nobody thought that their opponents would have an right to protected enclaves in the C of E for ever. Retrospectively, one can see that it was a great mistake to have set up this whole parallel sub-church-cum-boys’-club at that time.

PeterB
Guest

Erika, I don’t want to sound facetious, but what is it that gives the church the right to come to new insights and descisions, and what limits do you put on the new insights and desicions that the church are permitted to make? Fr Mark, I think that what the bible says ought to have everything to do with it. The problem with Women Bishops is just a small part of the greater problem with Bishops in general, which is a small part of the problem of having a ‘priesthood’. It all looks far more like the Old Testament religious… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“injustice” To whom? Priesthood is not a right, but a great privelege to which God calls some and not others. Am I being treated unjustly that He didn’t call me? Is it an injustice to tell me that I must not do something, even though I feel God is calling me to do it? Seriously? I can consider it many negative things, but injustice? Unless you’re trying to make the argument that it tramples on God’s right to call who He like to the Priesthood. But who wants to put forward the idea that humans can oppress God? Seriously, I’m… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest

Ford Elms: “I can’t see injustice in the denial of privilege.” But, with the greatest respect, and I do respect you, and generally agree wholeheartedly with what you post here, selective denial of privilege is injustice, in fact. Oxbridge colleges, for example, are frequently reminded of this as it may apply to their selection policies. PeterB: I don’t share your view of the Bible, I imagine – mine being very much a Catholic one that sees it as a work in progress rather than le dernier mot – and so I cannot agree with your conclusion. Neil’s use of inverted… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Peter B “Erika, I don’t want to sound facetious, but what is it that gives the church the right to come to new insights and descisions, and what limits do you put on the new insights and desicions that the church are permitted to make?” That’s a strange question. The church has always come to new insights and decisions. All of what we call theology was originally determined by various bodies and Councils. Latterly, the church’s stance on usury has changed, that on slavery, that on divorce. It is currently engaged in a debate on whether lgbt Christians are as… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Fr Mark, I think that what the bible says ought to have everything to do with it.” – PeterB – So, when the Bible speaks of the need for women to be kept separate from the community in times of menstruation, you would consider that ‘what the Bible says ought to have everything to do with’ – what, for heaven’s sake? Bilbical literalism has no place in modern Church theological reckoning. If that is your limitation on what can be considered to be relevant in the working out of God’s will for today’s world, then you have already confined your… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“selective denial of privilege is injustice” Can you expand on that? I don’t understand your Oxford reference at all. Is it that men are granted the “right” to their privelege, while women aren’t? And, Erika, “the church’s stance on usury has changed, that on slavery, that on divorce. It is currently engaged in a debate on whether lgbt Christians are as equal as straight people.” I believe the Church made a mistake changing its mind on usury, war, possibly divorce as well. Why would I be confident She is not doing the same thing now? All these decisions represent agreement… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Ford I don’t expect you to feel confident about the church not making mistakes. Our faith isn’t about making us confident and cosy, but about challenging us to discover again and again what God means for us. Any change includes the risk of making mistakes. And Christianity with its emphasis on forgiveness is THE faith that should encourage us to step out and risk going wrong, knowing we can make amends afterwards. Peter B’s question was a genuine one, although faintly funny coming from an Anglican, and it is the same question I have just asked you on another thread:… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest

Ford Elms: sorry for my obscure insular reference, but it came to mind quickly. Not everyone has the right to go to Oxbridge. The number of students with the straight A grades demanded is greatly in excess of the number of places available. A vastly disproportionate number of places awarded go to pupils in independent schools (a little over half of the Oxbridge places, when the private sector educates less than 8% of students). So, the press and, in recent years, the Government, have asked Oxford and Cambridge whether they are in fact selectively denying the privilege of an Oxbridge… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

“challenging us to discover again and again what God means for us.” Without, apparently, any way at all of knowing that what we have discovered actually has anything to do with God at all and isn’t just an elaborate justification of our own ideas. Sorry, Erika, but I can’t accept that religious faith is about giving Divine support to my idiosyncracies. I know you don’t “make it up as you go along”, but you must see how this idea can very much look like that. “knowing we can make amends afterwards” But we can’t always make amends, Erika. An extreme… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

And again, Ford
Having taken everything I said in the worst possible way, built up your usual straw-topics and then discredited them, can you now please turn to what you actually believe in?

If you know that I don’t make it up as I go along, just ignore for a moment how it might look to some people and claim that that alone is worth commenting on.
Please engage with what you actually know I’m saying.

Is there a potential for change? How is it discerned?
Some actual theological arguments would be nice rather than mere social commentary.