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"House of Bishops approves Women Bishops Legislation"

The House of Bishops considered the draft legislation to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England this afternoon. The results of their deliberations are available in a press release which is copied below.

House of Bishops approves Women Bishops Legislation

21 May 2012

The House of Bishops of the Church of England today concluded its consideration of the draft legislation to enable women to be consecrated as bishops. It agreed that the legislation should be returned to the General Synod for final approval.

The House of Bishops had power to amend the draft legislation in such manner “as it thinks fit”. It made two amendments to the draft Measure.

The House accepted an amendment making it clear that the use of the word “delegation” (in Clause 2 of the draft Measure) relates to the legal authority which a male bishop acting under a diocesan scheme would have and was distinct from the authority to exercise the functions of the office of bishop that that person derived from his ordination. For example, when another bishop ordains someone to the priesthood he needs permission to do from the bishop of the diocese (“delegation”), but the power to ordain derives from his consecration as a bishop. The amendment also makes clear that delegation should not be taken as divesting the diocesan bishop of any of his or her authority or functions.

The House also accepted an amendment to express in the Measure one of the three principles which the House had agreed in December (see notes). This amendment adds to the list of matters on which guidance will need to be given in the Code of Practice that the House of Bishops will be required to draw up and promulgate under the Measure. It will now need to include guidance on the selection by the diocesan bishop of the male bishops and priests who will minister in parishes whose parochial church council (PCC) has issued a Letter of Request under the Measure. That guidance will be directed at ensuring that the exercise of ministry by those bishops and priests will be consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of women which prompted the issuing of the Letter of Request. Thus, the legislation now addresses the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient.

The House rejected more far-reaching amendments that would have changed the legal basis on which bishops would exercise authority when ministering to parishes unable to receive the ministry of female bishops.

It also rejected amendments giving statutory expression to the other two principles (see notes) that it agreed in December, judging that it would be better to leave them to be addressed in the Code of Practice or in other ways rather than referring to them in the Measure.

Now that the legislation has been amended the six Officers of the Synod (the ‘Group of Six’) – the Archbishops, the Prolocutors of the Lower Houses of the Convocations of Canterbury and York and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity – will need to meet later this week to determine whether the amendments constitute a change to the substance of the proposals embodied in the draft Measure as approved by 42 of the 44 dioceses last year.

If the Group of Six determines that no such change has been made – an announcement will be made after their deliberations – the way will be clear for the legislation to come to the Synod for final approval in York in July. This is subject to the possibility of the Convocations and the House of Laity asking for the draft legislation to be referred to them for approval before it is returned to the Synod. If they were to exercise this right, their meetings would take place in York immediately before the July meeting of General Synod, and the legislation would need to be approved by each of those bodies by simple majorities before the General Synod as a whole could consider it at the Final Approval Stage (at which two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod will be required).

The press release continues with a series of notes which are copied below the fold. They include these three principles referred to above.

  • Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders;
  • In choosing bishops to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes for parishes requesting this provision, diocesan bishops will seek to identify those whose ministry will be consistent with the theological convictions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate underlying the Letter of Request;
  • The archbishops and bishops commit themselves to seeking to maintain a supply of bishops able to minister on this basis. This will obviously have a bearing on decisions about appointments and on the role of bishops occupying the sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough (which will, as a matter of law, continue to exist even after the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod has been rescinded).

Notes

Convocations
http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/general-synod/about-general-synod/convocations.aspx
House of Laity
http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/general-synod/about-general-synod/house-of-laity.aspx

The Group of Six

It is up to the Group of Six – the two archbishops, the two Prolocutors (chairs of the House of Clergy) and the chair and vice-chair of the House of Laity to determine, acting in a quasi-judicial capacity and having received legal advice, whether these amendments alter the ‘substance of the proposals embodied’ in the legislation (which would require it to be approved again in its final form by a majority of the dioceses before it could go back to the Synod for Final Approval) Membership: Archbishops of Canterbury and York: Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, Prolocutors: Ven. Christine Hardman and Canon Glyn Webster, Chair and vice-chair of House of Laity- Dr Philip Giddings and Mr Tim Hind

The Final Approval stage

This requires two-thirds majorities in each House (bishops, clergy and laity). If approved, the Measure would then go to Parliament for consideration by the Ecclesiastical Committee and each House of Parliament (see GS Misc 1012).

Extract from Archbishops’ foreword to GS MISC 1007 (January 2012)
“In the light of our discussion, the House will continue to uphold these three principles:

  • Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders;
  • In choosing bishops to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes for parishes requesting this provision, diocesan bishops will seek to identify those whose ministry will be consistent with the theological convictions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate underlying the Letter of Request;
  • The archbishops and bishops commit themselves to seeking to maintain a supply of bishops able to minister on this basis. This will obviously have a bearing on decisions about appointments and on the role of bishops occupying the sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough (which will, as a matter of law, continue to exist even after the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod has been rescinded). “

Timeline

July 2000, The General Synod invited the House of Bishops to undertake the necessary theological work on the admission of the episcopate to women

November 2000, Publication of the Rochester report.

February 2005-July 2006 Preparatory Synod debates

July 2008, General Synod called for legislation to be drafted in line with the motion: ‘That this Synod:
(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;
(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;
(c) affirm that these should be contained in a statutory national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and
(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.’

December 2008 A further report from the Manchester Group (GS 1707) and the draft legislation, together with an illustrative code of practice, were published

February 2009 General Synod debated the draft legislation sending it to a Revision Committee that was set up in March of that year.

October/November 2009 The Revision Committee issued two interim statements on its progress in October and November.

May 2010 The Revision Committee’s report was published with a revised draft of the Measure

July 2010, the Synod left the draft legislation largely unamended and narrowly voted against the Archbishops’ amendment.

September 2010, the draft legislation was referred to the dioceses for debate and vote (‘Reference to dioceses’ explains this process in more detail and contains links to the relevant documentation under discussion).

February 2012, the Synod received a report (GS 1847) on the Reference to dioceses. Of the 44 dioceses, 42 had approved the legislation by a simple majority (Chichester and London voted against). The Synod then debated diocesan synod motions on making provision for those who, for theological reasons, would not be able to receive the ministry of women bishops. Synod voted in favour of an amended motion that asked that the House of Bishops should not amend the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure “substantially”.

Code of Practice

The draft Measure requires the House of Bishops to draw up a code of practice (which is not subject to the diocesan reference procedure). This cannot be formally drawn up or laid before the Synod for approval until after the legislation has received the Royal Assent. An initial illustrative draft code was prepared by the legislative drafting group in 2009 and in the light of changes subsequently made to the draft legislation the House of Bishops accepted the recommendation of the Revision Committee that further work on a draft code should proceed, rather than waiting for the various legislative stages to be completed. A House of Bishops working party on the Code of Practice (chaired by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) started work in November 2010 with a view to enabling the House of Bishops and the General Synod to engage further with the shape of a draft code before the draft legislation reached the Final Approval stage. The Bishop gave a presentation on the illustrative code (GS Misc 1007) to the Synod in February 2012.

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Alastair Newman
Guest

Is anyone able to explain what practical effect (if any) the two amendments will have? They seem to be clarifying amendments to me rather than ones that change the substance of the Measure.

That (to me) is a good thing. Now roll on a “yes” vote in July.

Leonardo Ricardo
Guest

•Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders;

Oh good. I imagine that only ¨closeted candidates¨ ought be selected in keeping with the ¨not to discriminate¨ custom at the Church of England?

Pluralist
Guest

As I understand it, this should satisfy the traditionalist Catholic wing that the male bishop ordaining the priest is unpolluted if it derives from his ‘being’ (if he was consecrated by males alone) but it won’t satisfy the evangelical male only headship wing because the person in charge remains the diocesan bishop who may be a she and differences betweeen derived and delegated mean nothing.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest
Robert ian Williams
Guest
Robert ian Williams

It’s a bit like nineteenth century Mormon polygamy. A first wife has to give permission if her husbamd is to take another wife. But if she refuses , he can proceed anyway!

Same reasoning , I think….the Diocesan woman bishop has a authority, but she must allow another bishop to operate in her diocese.

All this nonsense, and yet the measure could still fail in July.

Graeme Buttery
Guest
Graeme Buttery

Can I just say that in my humble opinion these amendments are no more than “last minute tinkering” as Miranda Threlfall-Holmes put it in her recent article. I do not think that they will particularly alter views and perceptions on either side of the debate – not even “traditional” catholics (whatever one of them is).

Graeme Buttery

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

I think there is a hostage to fortune in amendment 2.

If opponents want not just a male bishop but one who has never ordained a woman or participated in consecrating a woman, then that is a theology of taint.

The Bishops’ rather ill-judged amendment has, I suspect, left a number of us who support the ordination of women womdering if we can actually support this legislation now. For me, the jury is out on that one.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

The explanatory notes to the press release offered by ‘Shaun Sheep’ in Simon’s web-link, above, has this to say: “The legal mechanism, however, is that the diocesan bishop must give the alternative bishop permission to ordain within the diocese, but the ordination itself will be under the alternative bishop’s own authority as a bishop in his own right.” The operative word that is important is ‘must’. In other words, it seems that the Diocesan Bishop, if a Woman, ‘MUST’ give permission for a suitably appointed Male Bishop to ordain clergy in her patch. There seems to be no alternative here.… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Ron – I had not seen ‘must’as meaning that but as saying that the alternative bishop cannot operate on his own but needs the delegation of the diocesan. The Code will spell out how such delegation will work.

Graeme – I’m (genuinely!) interested in how traditionalist Catholic Anglicans see this – because maybe the HofB has annoyed everybody!

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

This commentary by the Bishop of Willesden may also be helpful
http://bishopofwillesden.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/women-bishops-what-house-of-bishops.html

Rosalind
Guest
Rosalind

What Pete Broadbent does not seem to have noticed is that in trying to appease the (very, very few) who could not accept the legislation as it stood, women clergy now feel very unwanted and not listened to at all. If it is so obvious that a bishop would respect the theological position of a congregation who issue Letters of Request, why need to put it in legislation? I Even if this is not what he thinks the amendment means, it is a way to bring in a theology of taint again. There is nothing in the press release which… Read more »

Daniel Walters
Guest
Daniel Walters

Hmmm. If the logic of the second amendment were to be extended, you could have PCCs of liberal catholic churches insisting (due to their “theological convictions”) on a liberal catholic priest who hadn’t been tainted by being ordained by a conservative evangelical bishop – and vice versa. Bizarre.

abbey mouse
Guest
abbey mouse

In creating Flying Bishops the Church of England unwittingly allowed some to take refuge in a theology of taint. The H of B amendments now accept this as part of the Church of England’s ecclesiology.

It may now require the General Synod of those Provinces to throw out this whole mess so that women’s ministry is not further compromised. It seems the bishops cannot be trusted with this.

Lindsay Southern
Guest
Lindsay Southern

Agree with Charles Read’s point – the second amendment reinforces taint, taint and more taint. Since when did we get to cherry pick a Bishop who agreed with our theological views – will we get to do that for everything else as well – or just a theological view about women. Actually, I don’t get to choose a Bishop who agrees with my theological view of women’s ordination if I AGREE with it – certainly not in Chichester, for example. If the Church of England wants to become a place where women are quite literally ‘untouchable’ because it is possible… Read more »

Susan Cooper
Guest
Susan Cooper

When I first heard Rowan talk about delegation and derivation at General Synod in February I thought it sounded helpful, but a short conversation with a couple of traditonal Catholic priests changed my mind. I think the clause is benign but could be ineffective. The pick and mix bishops clause (which spells out what could be implied in the measure) is probably more dangerous. Why it is necessary to spell out what is commonsense? Do people lose all their commonsense and pastoral skills when they become bishops? Maybe some do? Surely most don’t. Do I vote for it or do… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest
John
Guest
John

So there is a deal here. Satisfactory to no one (including me) but the best on offer. I sincerely hope that FiF have the intelligence to accept it. One very important practical consideration to bear in mind is that it is one in the eye for the so-called Ordinariate and a not particularly benevolent pope.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Taint ain’t catholic.

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

Yup, it’s an attempt to broker a deal. It continues the compromise we’re already living. It’s not pleasant to me not to be able to give pastoral care to 8 of my parishes because I ordain women. But it’s where we ended up in 1992. And I want the priests and people of those parishes to carry on being part of the CofE. So I’m prepared to send them a signal that they’ll continue to receive pastoral care from a bishop who himself understands and lives their integrity even when they are under a female Bishop of London. And it’s… Read more »

Lindsay Southern
Guest
Lindsay Southern

Yes Pete it may give a signal to those parishes. The whole legislation as it stood was designed to give a strong signal to those parishes opposed to women’s ordained ministry that we would like them to carry on being a part of the CofE. Unfortunately these ‘small changes’ also send a signal to supporters of women bishops and the Church of England’s women clergy – and it is not such a welcoming one, nor one that particularly encourages us to stay, nor assures us that we will continue to receive pastoral care from a Bishop who understands and lives… Read more »

Rosalind
Guest
Rosalind

Pete – the end we want is not women bishops at any price. I for one want a church which does not enshrine discrimination in law and then call it pastoral sensitivity. Pastoral sensitivity is what all priests and bishops should and I hope do, practise; and if we need law to make this happen then we aren’t a church worth the name. This action by the bishops suddenly feels like the last nail in the coffin of my attempt to live with this unholy (sic) compromise which began in 1993 and is getting steadily more discriminatory not less. The… Read more »

LaurenceR
Guest
LaurenceR

I look forward to Pete Broadbent and his friends brokering a deal for lesbian and gay people next, and an oh so practical and sensitive recognition and support of that integrity…

Beth
Guest
Beth

The list of suitable ‘theologically consistent’ Bishops will include more than just the serving PEVs. And when Resolutions AB&C disappear the list of suitable ‘theologically consistent’ priests will include more than those who are signed up members of the Wilfrid and Hilda Society. The criteria will become: “any male priest who has not done anything theologically inconsistent.” I expect there will continue to be a number of male priests who, as now, will quietly hedge their bets by not turning up to a woman’s ordination, or a chrism mass with women, or when a woman is presiding at their chapter… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Rosalind’s last comment here needs to be seen in proper perspective by the House of Bishops in the Church of England. The structured inclusiveness offered to objectors to women as co-bearers of the Image and Likeness of God with their male counter-parts – in ministry, as well as witness to Christ in the Church – is inimical to the scriptural witness of the Apostle Paul, when he states, categorically, that “In Christ, there is neither male nor female”. One can try to rationalise that statement to allow the exemption of women from Holy Orders by subtle acts of casuistry –… Read more »

Judith Maltby
Guest
Judith Maltby

Here is a genuine question about the House of Bishops’ amendment 5(c). A parish says it is opposed to women’s ordination on headship grounds – so will a bishop who is opposed on ontological grounds, i.e. a woman is simply made out of the wrong physical matter to receive the grace of orders and therefore she cannot offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, be acceptable? Further the male clergy and bishops who support her have somehow also lost the ability to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass for reasons that are still Shrouded in Mystery (to me, anyway). So, here… Read more »

Gerry Reilly
Guest
Gerry Reilly

Can I make sure I get this right? 1. As well as priests in the C of E who do not accept the orders of other priests in the C of E, now there will be bishops who do not accept the episcopal ordination of other members of the episcopal bench, both male and female,nor do they accept the ordination or ministry of many of the priests in their diocese. eg. Chichester. 2. Is this a serious attempt by theologically trained bishops to avoid schism in the C O E? Surely it is fomenting it? There must come a point… Read more »

LaurenceR
Guest
LaurenceR

What Beth and Rosalind said.

The house of bishops have messed up big time.

This cannot go forward with these dreadful ammendments, and their (unintended?) consequences.

Deeply unattractive all male closed shop, with the arrogance demonstrated so ably by, on this occasion, Peter Broadbent.

So much for semper reforandum

or should that be reforendum !

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

Reformanda. Hurling insults doesn’t really fit the “thinking” Anglicans sobriquet, does it? When you live day by day with the existing arrangements, as we do in London, you recognise that compromises have to be made. I believe neither in “headship” nor in “sacramental assurance”. I believe them both to be fond imaginings imported from other denominations – free evangelicalism on the one hand and Roman Catholicism on the other. But I’m a bishop in a church where there are Christians who do believe those things, and I’m prepared to make room for them to stay in it, and not, like… Read more »

John
Guest
John

I am glad Pete Broadbent has laid his cards so openly on the table. They would be my cards too, if I had any to play. This deal has many advantages, and it is absolutely essential to maintain a sense of perspective.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“I look forward to Pete Broadbent and his friends brokering a deal for lesbian and gay people next, and an oh so practical and sensitive recognition and support of that integrity…”

Didn’t you hear, LaurenceR? Bp Broadbent’s boss ABY Sentamu just declared “Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would benefit nobody.”

In other words, “nobody” is getting going to get “practical and sensitive recognition and support” in the CofE. >:-/

LaurenceR
Guest
LaurenceR

Further considerations for FiF, Reform and possibly Pete Braodbent :

http://maggidawn.com/top-ten-reasons-why-men-shouldnt-be-ordained/

Lindsay Southern
Guest
Lindsay Southern

Pete, clearly Bishops take into account the expressed wishes of a petitioning parish – that already happens in provinces that have female bishops with a single clause measure. It happens now under male bishops – not sure why it suddenly becomes necessary to have it in the Measure rather than the code of practice. It is offensive, divisive and the HofB may have thought it a grand plan to win over a few more votes in order to secure the legislation. But perhaps they really need to think about the fact that it has alienated a great many people who… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest

Bishop Peter, you are defending the modern heresy that people are entitled by right to have a bishop who agrees with them about whatever happns to be their personal bugaboo. That is a fond thing vainly invented. It’s not even imported from any other denomination because no othe denomination would be so daft.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“I don’t either believe in the ecclesiastical Stalinism that masquerades as mono-episcopacy, and would force everyone in a diocese to relate to only one bishop. – Pete Broadbent –

SO! Where does that leave the time-honoured tradition of the clergy vowing fealty to their diocesan bishop? Is Pete making up his own rules as he goes along?

carl jacobs
Guest
carl jacobs

This has nothing to do with “the modern heresy that people are entitled by right to have a bishop who agrees with them.” It has to do with continuing access to leadership that opposes WO. One of the disconnects in this argument is that supporters of WO see the CoP as an accommodation for individuals while opponents desire an accommodation for theology. Liberals see it as a temporary accommodation to allow clergy currently serving to remain but only with the understanding that they won’t be replaced. This is not acceptable to opponents who see themselves destined to expungement by slow… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

@Ron – time honoured it may be, but not definitive. In London, they swear canonical obedience to both the Diocesan and the Area Bishop. Perfectly legal and perfectly workable.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Interesting comments from Carl. On a lighter note ( not a bad thing with everyone, rightly to my mind ,steamed up ); when I was rector of St George’s Bloomsbury an american family ( baptists as it turned out) arrived a little late for the morning eucharist having ( I discovered later) gone to Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church where they saw ( shock ,horror!) a woman in the pulpit!! It was the Sunday after Aug 15th so they got “Ye who own the faith of Jesus” as we processed out ….cant remember if they were singing along! When one considers… Read more »

Mary Marriott
Guest
Mary Marriott

Liberals see it as a temporary accommodation to allow clergy currently serving to remain but only with the understanding that they won’t be replaced.’ Silly me. There I was thinking that the Church of England had voted to have women ministers over twenty years ago, and temporary pastoral measures were generously set in train to help the distressed folk against it. (NB. No such generosity was ever shown to those seeking ministry of women by those opposing, after initial votes against it.). Now we are being told the dissidents wish to perpetuate their anti stance forever- this is not what… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest

Carl. it is in every way a modern heresy. The irreconcileable faux-catholics (and, frankly, faux-evangelicals) not only demand access to male clergy and to be assigned a male bishop. They demand that the male clergy and male bishop agree with them. Sorry, lad. No one is entitled to have a bishop who agrees with them. I have yet to have a bishop who agrees with me on everything. Or perhaps you could show me in the writings of Mr. Pusey or Mr. Keble or Mr. Neale where they ever claimed that they were entitled to have a bishop who agreed… Read more »

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

The “on grounds of theological conviction” phrase which people are complaining about references what is already in the Measure at Clause 3 (1). Interestingly, the phrase was inserted there during the Revision Committee precisely to prevent parishes passing a resolution for a letter of request on grounds other than their convictions that women should not be priests. It was part of the series of amendments which was drafted by the Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich. So, supporters – you’re arguing about something which was already in the Measure that WATCH and others urged us to pass. The House of Bishops… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Pete Broadbent – the measure as now drafted requires the Code to deal with different theological convictions without specifying what those convictions might be. The impossibility of defining convictions of this kind was one reason we got the measure we did in its original form. It is now open to all kinds of pressure groups to argue that specific provision for their particular conviction should be explicit in the code. Previously the code could deal with convictions in a pastoral way. Now the measure brings the lawyers into the debate. And I don’t see where it says that the theological… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Malcolm, In order to engage properly with people, it is essential to understand their position and not to misrepresent it. We are not talking about people having bishops who ‘agree with them’ in some sort of trivialising sense. From the FiF point of view (which is not mine), a merely male bishop is not enough – it has to be a male bishop who takes the same view as they do on the WO issue (and no doubt on other ‘Catholic’ things – but that preeminently). The claim is perfectly consistent with their general position. It is not trivial. It… Read more »

Rosalind
Guest
Rosalind

Pete – what then do you make of Forward in Faith’s response to these amendments? They seem to think that the amendment under discussion adds to what was in the Measure. Are they wrong? And if they are, who will tell them?

Malcolm French+
Guest

John, I’m not misrepresenting the FiF position at all. They assert that a male bishop ceases to be a legitimate bishop should he disagree with them. It is heretical.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

John,
as I just said on another thread – FiF’s concern is to ensure Apostolic succession. That means they need a male bishop who was ordained deacon, priest and bishop by another male bishop.

Right thinking is not part of the ontological change argument.

John
Guest
John

Erika,

I understand that.