Thinking Anglicans

women bishops: Parliamentary questions

The Second Church Estates Commissioner took questions in the House of Commons yesterday. The first two were about women bishops.

The verbatim Hansard reports are here and here.

Church Commissioners

The hon. Member for Banbury , representing the Church Commissioners, was asked-

Women Bishops

6. Diana R. Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What recent representations he has received on proposals for the consecration of women as bishops. [11097]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): I have received numerous representations from people on all sides of the argument. I recently addressed the General Synod of the Church of England on this matter in York, and I have placed a copy of my statement in the Library.

Diana R. Johnson: Will the hon. Gentleman take a guess as to when he thinks we will have the historic first woman bishop in the Church of England? When does he think that will be?

Tony Baldry: The legislation completed its Report stage at York. It now has to go to all the 44 dioceses of the Church of England. If a majority of them agree, it will go back to General Synod, probably in 2012. If two thirds of each of the General Synod’s houses agree to it, I would then expect it to come here to the Ecclesiastical Committee and this House in 2013, and if this House agrees, we could see the appointment of the first woman bishop in 2014.

Mark Pritchard (The Wrekin) (Con): As someone who considered entering the ministry but realised I had too many vices and not enough virtues, may I commend the life and ministry of women in the Church, but also ask my hon. Friend whether he agrees that the first appointment of a female bishop, which will undoubtedly happen soon, must be on merit rather than political correctness?

Tony Baldry: I am sure that all appointments in the Church of England, including that of the Second Church Estates Commissioner, are made on merit.

Church Commissioners

The hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked-

Women Bishops

8. Chris Bryant (Rhondda) (Lab): When he expects the Church of England to consecrate its first woman bishop. [11099]

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): I refer the hon. Gentleman to the answer I gave a few moments ago.

Chris Bryant: As one who did go into the Church ministry and then discovered that I had plenty of vices, may I ask the hon. Gentleman to be a little more impatient about the issue of women bishops? To be honest, it felt as if he was saying, “Nearer and nearer draws the time”, but will it be the time that will surely come when we have women bishops, and why on earth does this legislation have to come back to this House? Surely the Church of England should be freed from the shackles of bringing its legislation here, so that we can move forward on this issue rather faster.

Tony Baldry: If the hon. Gentleman reads what I said to the General Synod, he will see that I made it clear that many of us want this legislation to come forward as speedily as possible, but we have to get it right. The reason it comes back here is that we have an established Church, and until such time as Parliament decides that we do not, we will continue to have an established Church.

Peter Bottomley (Worthing West) (Con): I hope my hon. Friend will ask the Synod to recognise that the House welcomed the decision it took to trust women bishops to do the right things, rather than trying to force them into being second-class bishops.

Tony Baldry: I thank my hon. Friend for that. I made it clear in York at the General Synod that I did not think I could get through this House any legislation in which there was a scintilla of a suggestion of women bishops in any way being second-class bishops.

There was also a question about Cathedral Restoration, copied here below the fold.

Cathedral Restoration

9. Hugh Bayley (York Central) (Lab): What recent representations the Church Commissioners have made to the Government on public funding for the repair and restoration of cathedrals. [11100]

Tony Baldry: Church groups of all denominations are seeking to encourage and persuade the Government to continue the listed places of worship grant scheme, which enables a 100% refund of VAT on church buildings and repairs.

Hugh Bayley: Is the hon. Gentleman aware that Yorkshire Forward, the Yorkshire regional development agency, was forced to withdraw a grant of £1 million toward the cost of restoring the great east window of York minster? Will the Church Commissioners make representations to the Government that funds withdrawn from RDAs should be made available to other regional or local bodies, and that funding applications to these bodies from cathedrals should still be supported?

Tony Baldry: I understand the point the hon. Gentleman makes. It is estimated that some £9 million is required to put York cathedral into good repair. Although funding has been coming forward-I understand that there is a grant application to the Heritage Lottery Fund, and the Wolfson Foundation has set up a fund for cathedral repairs-we will need to find money from all sorts of sources if we as a nation are to meet the responsibility of repairing these fantastic cathedrals, which are part of our national heritage.

Mr James Gray (North Wiltshire) (Con): Can my hon. Friend explain why two of the cathedrals in Scotland-Glasgow and Dunblane-are fully funded by the public purse, yet not a single cathedral in England is so funded?

Tony Baldry: The situation in Scotland is simply different from that here. As I said, we need to raise considerable sums of money-for Salisbury, Winchester and Lincoln cathedrals, and for York minster-but that will require a number of different sources of funding: part from the state, part from trusts and charities and part from private individuals.

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Ed tomlinson
Guest

What huberis for secular politicians to deign to dictate to the church!

Deacon Charlie Perrin
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Deacon Charlie Perrin

I thank God that the Episcopal Church is not an “Established Church.” To think of the debates that would go on in the House and the Senate about any changes in Church practices boggles the mind.

Cynthjia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthjia Gilliatt

The above makes me very glad indeed that TEC is not “the established church,” especially looking at how poorly our legislative branch is functioning these days. I will greet the first woman CoE bishop with great cheers, but have not got the longevity of Methusalah to give me patience.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Dear Ed, Parliament’s involvement with the C of E is incredibly light touch now compared with what it was in the past…think 1530’s/ 1550’s/ 1662/ 1689/ 1830’s and of course the Public Worship Regulation Act……I’m surprised you ever got ordained in such a church…didn’t you study much church history??
On a different note..I never realised Church of Scotland “cathedrals ” received direct state aid…might we know more Simon??

Fr Mark
Guest

Ed T: “What hubris for secular politicians to deign to dictate to the church!”

I’m not sure that it is as bad as unelected bishops in the Lords making laws for everyone else… at least someone elected the MPs!

chenier1
Guest
chenier1

‘What huberis for secular politicians to deign to dictate to the church!’

Deign?

Allow me to commend to you the use of a dictionary; I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

And hubris is usually spelled hubris…

Jeremy Pemberton
Guest
Jeremy Pemberton

Ed – what are you going on about? How ridiculous you make yourself look, when you have been ordained into an Erastian church knowing full well that that is what it was. Disestablishment of the Churches of Ireland and Wales and the deposited Prayer Book of 1928 and a host of other measures relating to changes in the running of the Church of England were all effected by Parliament: establishment is not only there in theory, it is there in practice. It aint hubris for politicians to speak and act like this – it is their duty, and how things… Read more »

junius
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junius

The sovreign is the Supreme Governor of the Church of England, and as the mind of the Sovreign is expressed through Parliament I don’t see how else Ed Tomlinson expects government of the Church to be carried out. Did he not take oaths of obedience to her at his ordination and his installation as parish priest? What did he think he was doing? Far from indulging in an act of hubris (no E, please), Parliament is carrying out its duty. And I don’t understand the verb ‘deign’ in Ed Tomlinson’s attack.

Pat O'Neill
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Pat O'Neill

Ed:

Is it not equally hubristic (or perhaps more so) for an unelected church heirarchy to dictate to a secular public?

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Note the wit and irony in the questions and answers. We do not see such clever repartee in the US Senate, much less the House of Representatives. Are the British smarter than we are? Or do they just get smarter people in public life?

Lister Tonge
Guest
Lister Tonge

The length of the process is due to the Church’s synodical system and has very little to do with Establishment. If it had been up to Parliament we should have had women bishops long ago.

No doubt various people will be displeased about this for very different reasons.

magistra
Guest

Ed – secular politicians ‘dictating’ to the church is part of what it means to be an established church; after all, the monarch has been the Supreme Governor of the Church of England for 400+ years. (And disestablishing the church would be a far more complex procedure than establishing women bishops ever could be).

junius
Guest
junius

People may enjoy this slant on Ed’s position.

http://thegeorgecareyfanclub.blogspot.com/2010/07/two-integrities.html

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

The arrangements for Parliamentary scrutiny of Measures are set out at http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-archive/ecclesiastical-committee/ where there is also a link to a fact sheet.

Whether or not these are good arrangements has been the topic of debate in the Church for some time, and it is no surprise to see that the weight of vocal opinion shifts depending which way Parliament seems to be going on an issue.

For example, Parliament did exercise some influence on the legislation which enabled women to be ordained as priests.

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest
Spirit of Vatican II

Well, at least things are proceeding in an orderly fashion. The women’s ordination movement in the Roman Catholic Church, in constrast, is a formula for division and chaos.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Ed should realise that the Church of England was created by two acts of Parliament.

That the Crown of England ( currently held by a lady) is the ordinary source of jurisdiction for the Archbishops of York and Canterbury.

That when the Queen visits Scotland she becomes a Presbyterian and communicant member of the Church of Scotland. Scots, because of their less servile view of the establishment ( unlike the English) have ensured over the years that their established Church of Scotland is not ultimately controlled by either the Scottish parliament or Westminster.

Achilles
Guest

Robert Ian Williams – off topic but please do not generalise about the English (or the Scots, for that matter) in this way; my family goes back to a Herefordshire parish, recorded around 1640. On the whole I would not say my relatives are servile, TYVM. I am sure that, as a Welshman, you are of course fully sensitive to questions of ethnic identity.

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Father Ed, I was thinking how sad it was that the Church finds herself having to follow the lead of the wider of the society in matters of equality. It could have led, but chose not to.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Are you all following the modest discussion at Anglican Journal in Canada about women bishops?
It is very interesting. Some things appear to transcend international boundaries. Talk about the reality of glass ceilings!
http://www.anglicanjournal.com/nc/news-items/article/england-general-synod-set-for-lengthy-debate-on-women-bishops-legislation-9288.html

annski
Guest
annski

Andrew, I have had the pleasure of meeting one of the hon. Gentlemen involved in the discussion and do indeed find him to be much smarter than any professional politician I have met in these United States, with one notable exception. The gentleman’s family has a history of public service and I find those family members whom I have met to be remarkably down to Earth, with perhaps a few eccentricities thrown in for general interest.

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“Tony Baldry: I am sure that all appointments in the Church of England, including that of the Second Church Estates Commissioner, are made on merit.” “Tony Baldry: I thank my hon. Friend for that. I made it clear in York at the General Synod that I did not think I could get through this House any legislation in which there was a scintilla of a suggestion of women bishops in any way being second-class bishops.” These statements by Church Commissioner Tony Baldry make quite clear the Church/Parliamentary attitude towards the prospect of ordaining Women into the Episcopate of the Church… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest
Father Ron Smith

“…. the Crown of England (currently held by a lady)….” – Robert I Williams –

How does this relate, Robert, to ‘Queen of Heaven’?