Thinking Anglicans

Church of England publishes discussion document on women bishops' legislation

Updated

A discussion document (GS Misc 1033) has been issued to all members of the General Synod today. It explores possible ways of resolving the issue which led to the adjournment of the final approval debate of the women bishops’ legislation in York a fortnight ago.

Here is a link to GS Misc 1033: Women in the Episcopate – the Final Legislative Lap in PDF format.

And here is a copy of the document as a web page.

The document is in the name of the Secretary General and has been issued with the agreement of the Standing Committee of the House of Bishops (Canterbury, York, London, Coventry, Dover, Gloucester, Norwich and Rochester).

It also reflects input from the Steering Committee for the legislation (Bishop of Manchester, Bishop of Dover, Viv Faull, Paula Gooder, Ian Jagger, Margaret Swinson and Geoffrey Tattersall), and from the three bishops (St Edmundsbury, Chichester and Coventry) who were previously members of the Code of Practice Working Group.

No recommendations are made at this stage. Instead the document sets out the decision making process which now has to be followed, explains how the disputed issue concerning clause 5(1)(c) relates to the rest of the legislation (which cannot now be amended) and discusses seven possible options.

Two of these are to retain or remove clause 5(1)(c). The other five are ways in which the present wording might be replaced by a new provision. These five alternative drafting approaches are not intended to be exhaustive. As the document says at paragraph 11: ‘The hope is that these possibilities will stimulate further suggestions.’

The consultation period ends on 24 August so that the results can be assessed and reported to the House for its meeting on 12 September. On that occasion – which will also be attended by the Steering Committee – the House will need to decide how to respond to the Synod’s request to reconsider clause 5(1)(c). In the light of the decision taken then Synod members will have just over two months to reflect on how they will vote when the Final Approval debate is resumed at the group of sessions called for 19-21 November.

On 12 September the House will also consider the need for supplementing the illustrative draft Code of Practice which was circulated to Synod in January (GS Misc 1007). A final decision will not be needed then because drafting the Code does not at this stage form part of the formal legislative process.

6
Leave a Reply

avatar
3000
6 Comment threads
0 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
6 Comment authors
Father Ron SmithjoePaul EdelinFather DavidPeter Sherlock Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
newest oldest
Notify of
Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

This is a very important document. While it is tempting to dismiss the debate on the grounds of angels dancing on the head of a pin, it just might create a groundswell of support for one particular option and thereby improve the chances of Final Approval. Leaving or removing the offending paragraph doesn’t work. Me an option five person I think.

Peter Sherlock
Guest
Peter Sherlock

I agree this is also a document of great significance. What disappoints me, however, is the lack of theological reflection in the document. I recognise this is not possible given the document’s origin and context, but it seems critical to me that in addition to providing a response to the General Synod, the House of Bishops receives a range of theological reflections around the issues of content and process which have been raised, and itself exercises its ecclesial and collegial role to provide theological reflection to the Church. The key issue on which I believe the Church needs to reflect… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Having briefly looked at GS Misc 1033 “Women in the Episcopate – the Final Legislative Lap” (an appropriate title as the Olympic Games are about the begin)I only wish I could work out how my computer could do a Word Count on this document. Its length reminds me of nothing more than:-
“The Lord’s Prayer is 66 words, the Gettysburg Address is 286 words, there are 1,322 words in the Declaration of Independence, but government regulations on the sale of cabbages total 26,911 words”.
Even Thinking Anglicans request that “comments are limited to 400 words”.

Paul Edelin
Guest
Paul Edelin

6835 words.

joe
Guest
joe

I can’t quite get beyond wondering how a church can enact legislation to cover those in ‘impaired communion’ – a term used in this document. If I am in impaired communion (in this case not recognising the orders, (most of the) sacraments and authority of another part of the Church), then I am not really in communion. When used ecumenically, this means we recognise a high degree of doctrinal affinity, some cherished shared history, and so on, but we don’t pretend to be part of the same church for the purposes of legislation (if indeed we are recognised as being… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“I suspect we should have simply enabled the consecration of women bishops by a single clause measure and then lived with the messy messiness.”

– Joe, on Thursday –

I think Joe has a point here. Church discipline is always going to be ‘messy’. Life itself is ‘messy’. I’m sure God is used to our messiness. Why should the Church expect more of humanity than God does?