Thinking Anglicans

women bishops: some responses to the revised clause

Updated again Friday evening

Forward in Faith has published this statement:

Members of Forward in Faith can take some comfort from the House of Bishops’ recent decision to resist calls to delete clause 5(1)(c) of the Women Bishops’ draft Measure, added by the House in May. The revised clause, with the welcome language of ‘respect’ at its heart, indicates that the theological convictions held by traditional catholics and orthodox evangelicals on this disputed question continue to occupy an authentic and honourable place in Anglican teaching and practice.

Should this draft legislation receive Final Approval in November, the proposed Code of Practice will assume huge significance in setting out the manner in which the new clause 5(1)(c) will be interpreted and implemented. There is, therefore, a good deal more work to be done on the legislative package as a whole before its full implications for traditionalists can be properly assessed.

In the meantime, attention returns to the text of the draft Measure as a whole, in advance of the debate on Final Approval. The question for members of General Synod remains the same: is this legislation fit for purpose in meeting the needs of all members of the Church of England, both those who welcome, and those unable to receive, the development of ordaining women as bishops?

WATCH has also issued a statement:

Today the House of Bishops announced that it had voted by a large majority to substitute a new set of wording in place of the controversial Clause 5(1)c.

WATCH is pleased that the House of Bishops listened to the anxieties voiced concerning their amendment to the legislation in May, and is encouraged by the Archbishop of Canterbury’s recognition of the enrichment that the ordained ministry of women has brought to the Church of England and her mission.

WATCH is, however, disappointed that the House of Bishops did not feel able to withdraw Clause 5(1)c completely.

It will take time to explore the implications of the new wording fully and WATCH will now begin a process of consultation with members and others before issuing any further comment.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said

“The House of Bishops has today confirmed its commitment to having women as bishops and has attempted to find a new way forward that will ensure the draft legislation is passed by General Synod in November. Time will tell whether the new Clause 5(1)c will produce the desired outcome.”

Update REFORM has now made a further comment which you can see here.

No new statement has yet appeared from REFORM but a spokesman is quoted in this report from the BBC Women bishops: Anglicans still unsure over new wording.

…The Reverend Paul Dawson, spokesman for the conservative evangelical group Reform, said the new clause was “not going to win any more votes from our constituency.”

Of the previous House of Bishops amendment, he said: “Although we weren’t entirely happy with that, there was a sense in which we could probably have lived with it.”

Reform is holding a conference later this month which he said would discuss “Assuming this goes through as it is, what do we do then?”

Already young men from evangelical parishes who were considering entering the clergy were unsure whether there would be a welcome for them in the Church, said Mr Dawson…

A letter has been sent to the House of Bishops by a group of senior women clergy. The full text is published below the fold.

The Church Times reports in an article Amended women-bishops clause speaks of ‘respect’ what the Catholic Group in the General Synod said:

…On Monday, the Ca­tholic Group in the General Synod said that it was grateful to the House of Bishops for “retaining the life­belts in Clause 5(1)(c)” but “con­cerned that they have let some of the air out of them by reducing ‘is consistent with’ to ‘respects’”. The Group “continues to have grave doubts about the sea­worthiness of this ship [the Measure] and the reduction in the effect­ive­ness of the lifebelts gives it less confidence in the proposed voyage”.

Church Society reports that:

…This month, the Society’s council will be writing to the House of Bishops expressing our guarded support for the suggested rewording of clause 5(1)c. We shall express that while finding a form of words we can agree on is important, ultimately our primary concern is protecting the place of biblical ministry consistent with 2,000 years of Christian tradition.

Text of Letter from Senior Women Clergy

To: Members of the House of Bishops

Dear Bishops

We are writing in response to the announcement of the amended wording of 5.1.c.

We would have preferred the deletion of the clause. However, in the light of the process that has brought us to this point the new wording addresses enough of our concerns to enable us to encourage General Synod to vote for the final approval of the Measure.

An important part of the process will be ensuring together that the Code of Practice provides sufficient clarity and guidance.

We continue to hope that grace and generosity will characterise the Church within which women are consecrated as bishops and where all will have the potential to flourish.

We are committed to continuing our engagement with those whose views differ from our own.

With thanks and prayers for the coming months

Yours sincerely

The Reverend Canon Sarah Bullock, Bishop’s Advisor for Women’s Ministry, Diocese of Manchester
The Venerable Dr Anne Dawtry, Archdeacon of Halifax
The Venerable Penny Driver, Archdeacon of Westmorland and Furness
The Venerable Christine Froude, Archdeacon of Malmesbury
The Venerable Karen Gorham, Archdeacon of Buckingham
The Reverend Canon Jane Hedges, Canon Steward & Archdeacon of Westminster
The Venerable Canon Janet Henderson, Archdeacon of Richmond
The Reverend Rose Hudson-Wilkin, Chaplain to the Speaker of the House of Commons
The Reverend Rosemary Lain-Priestley, Dean of Women’s Ministry, Diocese of London
The Very Reverend Catherine Ogle, Dean of Birmingham
The Very Reverend June Osborne, Dean of Salisbury
The Venerable Jane Sinclair, Archdeacon of Stow and Lindsey
The Reverend Canon Celia Thomson, Canon Pastor, Gloucester Cathedral
The Venerable Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney
The Very Reverend Dr Frances Ward, Dean of St Edmundsbury
The Venerable Christine Wilson, Archdeacon of Chesterfield
The Reverend Lucy Winkett, Rector, St James’s Piccadilly

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Bernard Randall
Guest

Interesting difference between FiF and Reform. Seems to me that “respect” is quite a strong word – it implies more than just tolerating someone’s viewpoint, more like acting on someone’s viewpoint (“respect without works is dead” as the Good Book almost says).
I suspect WATCH may come out against this new Clause 5(1)c. But I hope not.

Lindsay Southern
Guest
Lindsay Southern

Bernard, If the new clause 5.1.c is accepted on an understanding of respect that includes acting on someone’s viewpoint in addition to merely tolerating it, my question is will that cut both ways? In addition to respecting the view of those opposed to Women’s ordained and episcopal ministry, will the view that women are indeed legitimately ordained to both episcopal and priestly ministry be accorded respect that involves acting according to that viewpoint rather than merely tolerating it? And how might that change the dynamic. It seems to me that all three positions have been hoping for that kind of… Read more »

Lindsay Southern
Guest
Lindsay Southern

REFORM’s comments strike me as particularly disingenuous. Regarding the previous amendment Paul Dawson is quoted as saying “Although we weren’t entirely happy with that, there was a sense in which we could probably have lived with it.” That seems to contradict their public stance to the previous amendment. REFORM’s statement in response to the original amendment implied that they could not live with it and would have voted against the legislation. I think it’s quite clear that REFORM will not willingly vote for the Women Bishops legislation, regardless of what wording was proposed. http://reform.org.uk/news/src/archive/06-2012/title/media-statement-reform-members-on-gs-encouraged-to-vote-against-women-s-measure-reform-says-furore-over-women-bishops-shows-need-for-better-provision Reform Chairman Rev’d Rod Thomas said… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

I fail to see why the Church of England should “respect” any theological position that does not respect women.

Does the Church of England “respect” sin?

susan cooper
Guest
susan cooper

The House of Bishops has stretched everyone to the furthest limits of our tolerances. As a WATCH member, I would prefer a simpler Measure. As a member of General Synod, I am certain that if we tore the current measure up and started again, with the current of House of Bishops we would end up again in the same place. The House of Bishops badly needs some new perspectives to dig itself out of some of the holes that it has got itself into. I shall support the measure and hope that some of our sisters and brothers who find… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest

I really dislike the House of Bishops bashing that has gone on over this whole thing. They made the original amendment because they wanted the Measure to pass, and they believed, justifiably based on the evidence available, that it wouldn’t pass the House of Laity in General Synod unamended.

So if anyone is to blame, blame the laity; or blame the clergy for blocking the Archbishops’ 2010 amendment – but that patently won’t do.

Apparently, being all men, the Bishops can do no right. I just wish we could move on. Sigh. Let’s hope the Measure passes.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

When I queried this somewhere else I was told that “respect” has a particular legal meaning which enabled those who wanted good protection for traditionalists to support the wording.

Is there anyone here who can clarify what “respect” means in this context?

TBPilgrim
Guest
TBPilgrim

It was always the case that this measure was highly divisive, trying to reconcile people of conviction who are plainly irreconcilable. Against the continued opposition of REFORM, whatever words are used, WATCH will now need to show some real leadership and vision to carry all its members along enthusiastically with the amended measure and to vote for it with passion and glee, rather than continuing a begrudging “best we can get” attitude. The Measure is not what anyone wants but with a split church how could it be?

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

Will the Code of Practice be subject to synodical or parliamentary approval?

Graeme Buttery
Guest
Graeme Buttery

All this toing and froing just makes me think that whoever has the biggest dictionary and most clever thesaurus will win the vote. Given the dog’s dinner which is this piece of legislation, regardless of one’s views on the issue, my reaction is to put it out of our misery and start again. However I know how popular that would be! I just can’t see what is good or even acceptable about voting for something or abstaining, on the view that “ho hum what else is there, what can you do, it is the least worst there is. For everyone’s… Read more »

Peter Owen
Guest

The code of Practice will require synodical but not parliamentary approval.

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

I am just so glad I am not a member of the C of E. I really would struggle in a church where it is hard to get the laity to recognise that women are human and not some kind of other species. If I was in England – I’d be out the door.

John
Guest
John

Glad to see the intelligent and nuanced response from FiF. Gives good hope that a charitable ‘live-and-let-live’ accommodation remains within reach.

Susannah
Guest
Susannah

There is nothing intellectually or emotionally that prevents women from being every bit as pastoral, insightful and faithful as men in leading and guiding the church. All there is that is different is the sexual organs, and you don’t think or lead or serve with your sexual organs so they are entirely irrelevant. All there is – in the case of both men and women – is personhood, humanity, and brains that function equally well in women as in men. We accept these days that parts of the bible were written in social contexts (…how many people these days believe… Read more »

Confused Sussex
Guest
Confused Sussex

I have to agree with those who say lets live with the amendement and work hard to get a CoP that works.

If Reform cannot live with this then so be it – I find the statment that “there are young men from evangelical parishes who were considering entering the clergy who are unsure whether there would be a welcome for them in the Church” simply to stupid to take seriously.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

@ Confused Sussex – completely agree. “Already young men from evangelical parishes who were considering entering the clergy were unsure whether there would be a welcome for them in the Church”. Typical of REFORM to continue to believe that they speak for “evangelical parishes”. I know of absolutely no-one in this position, and by the way what of the women from evangelical parishes who are discerning a vocation to priesthood? These young men (whoever they are) presumably believe that ‘considering entering the clergy’ is a one-way process. How starkly different now the response of FiF and REFORM.

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

I’m with Susannah on this one. As for this: “there are young men from evangelical parishes who were considering entering the clergy who are unsure whether there would be a welcome for them in the Church” Is this really a sympathy call for a small handful who would ban a bunch of other people from full participating in church, were they given half a chance? And I still don’t get how people of this mindset reconcile themselves with a woman being the Supreme Governor. Whenever I ask, people of that mindset tell me “it’s irrelevant.” And if a congregation says… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

It seems that, while the word RESPECT has been somewhat elevated to try to meet the circumstances of both sides of the argument – for or against Women Bishops – what really seems to be lacking is respect for Women as part and parcel of the Church, and therefore worthy to be represented in Leadership.

Respect, on its own, will never – in the precise circumstances of the amendment 5.1.c. – give future Women Bishops freedom from discrimination by those who oppose their ministry in the Church. The real question may be whether the Church should be satisfied with continuing discrimination?

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Father Smith is entirely wrong in his implicit assumptions about respect for women by traditionalists, and with regard to his argument about discrimination. He is being very judgemental in his attitude towards those whose views are different to his own. The Church of England is simply seeking to respect the Lambeth view that those who dissent to the ordination of women, as well as those in favour of it, have an equally honoured place in the Church. Such an undertaking recognises the validity of theological and ecclesiological objection to the ordination of women. It is thus neither misogyny or discrimination.

TBPilgrim
Guest
TBPilgrim

What I find most extraordinary that anyone thought that members of Reform or FiF could ever be induced to support a measure so alien to their theological position. To succeed through Synod on the numbers it was always clear that the draft Measure in whatever form needed the united support of all in favour of Women in the episcopate. If any are still minded to hold back in support thinking they can still force for something better they are deluded – the Bishops will walk away from the issue in sheer exasperation with the opposite sex.

Pam Smith
Guest

“the Bishops will walk away from the issue in sheer exasperation with the opposite sex”

Eh?

Last time I looked there were women in FiF and men in WATCH. Support of/opposition to women in the episcopate does not divide along gender lines.

Alastair Newman
Guest

“Father Smith is entirely wrong in his implicit assumptions about respect for women by traditionalists” – I’m not sure whether or not Father Smith implied anything here about traditionalists’ attitudes towards women in general. Any implications he was making, however, about the respect (or rather lack of it) for women PRIESTS and women BISHOPS by traditionalists seem entirely accurate to me. On a different point, given it now looks as if WATCH will put their support behind the amended draft measure, has anyone looked at the numbers to see whether this is likely to pass or not? Assume, for the… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

‘Those interested in the doctrinal position of those implacably opposed to the ordination of women should read the link’: http://www.forwardinfaith.com/about/uk_code_of_pract.html Original Observer usefully gave this link in the thread below, the other day. From this it is very clear, that on this theological basis, the Church of England ceased to have valid Ministry and Sacraments years ago. There can be no ‘pockets of validity’ under these circumstances. Not under PEVs at present, nor under a Code of Practice (whatever it will turn out to be) in future. The Church of England has lost it and the only remaining question must… Read more »

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Alastair Newman, could you please substantiate how you believe traditionalists lack respect for women priests and bishops. I would be grateful to know in what sense we are being disrespectful in simply holding a view that has already been recognised by the Church as honourable. And please don’t forget that provinces of the Anglican Communion which do not ordain women to the episcopate are in the majority.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“Assume, for the sake of argument (and we all enjoy an argument) that FiF and Reform will vote against the measure as currently amended”. This is now the only question left that matters. The noises from Reform suggest that they will vote against, but whether that will be the case when they insert their cards, fingers trembling, into the voting machine remains to be seen. My sense is that FiF (of which there is probably a preponderance of clergy) might abstain in some numbers. From the ranks of Reform, there is a preponderance of laity on the General Synod. They… Read more »

Rosemary Hannah
Guest
Rosemary Hannah

Benedict, somebody says that women are not fitted for leadership, when they say a woman is so unlike Christ she cannot conduct the Eucharist, they are NOT making a neutral statement. They are saying something deeply offensive to many women. They are saying something deeply offensive to me. It is an inherently discriminatory statement. No they are not saying women are more wicked then men. Yes, they are saying they are less like Christ. If they have to say it, you have to say it. But at least let them be aware that for most women, hearing somebody thinks this… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“The Church of England is simply seeking to respect the Lambeth view that those who dissent to the ordination of women, as well as those in favour of it, have an equally honoured place in the Church.” – Benedict- As both sides of the argument already know – the Lambeth view may well be that each side has an ‘honoured place in the Church’. But that does not necessarily mean that both views are ‘honourable’. The mediaeval view of Women’s place in society and in the Church may no longer be an ‘honourable view’ – certainly not where Women are… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

On Wednesdays we have a Eucharist usually attended by four or five regulars and an occasional visitor or two. We assemble in the choir, so it is quite an intimate setting. Day before yesterday as I entered and reverenced the altar two youngish men I had never seen before stood up and walked out. This unexpected action upset the four regular parishioners who felt it was rude to me and to our Lord (their words, not mine). As the visitors were persons of a certain ilk, they will surely have taken time to note the large sign in the church… Read more »

Anne Le Bas
Guest
Anne Le Bas

I have also had walk outs in previous parishes in the past, like Sara above, though my present parish is wonderfully supportive. I once had an entire mid-week communion congregation – a small but vociferous group – walk out.They were already settled in the chapel when I came through to go to the vestry to robe, and I was aware of them looking daggers at me as I walked through. When I emerged from the vestry to begin the service the chapel was empty… Not a sound had been heard, not a word spoken – they didn’t have the courage… Read more »

Alastair Newman
Guest

Benedict, on issues such as “respect”, “discrimination” etc we have to defer to the eye of the beholder. It is no good, frankly, if you or I feel we are respecting someone or not discriminating against them, if they feel that actually they are being discriminated against and treated with a lack of respect.

So, I’m going to turn the question round – can you find me a single woman priest or bishop who feels that they ARE respected by traditionalists?

Simon
Guest
Simon

Anne, I am so sorry to hear of your experiences – I have heard of similar before, particularly from Chichester diocese, but it does not improve with repetition. Makes all talk of “conscience” and “respect” and so on seem a bit hollow to my mind – those asking for respect so often fail to show it. If the Measure fails – as it might – then I suspect we will in time come to a much simpler provision removing all bars to women’s ministry, and those who don’t like it may simply have to find a more congenial home. May… Read more »

Original Observer
Guest
Original Observer

I do not think that those who do not accept female orders are saying that a woman is so unChrist-like she is not fit to celebrate the Eucharist. What they are saying is that they believe that the Church should only do what the Church has always done and teach what the Church has always taught. And this implies an all-male priesthood. There is of course no defence to the uncouth behaviour towards women clergy described by and experienced by two commentators on this thread. Such behaviour is really more the problem of those who exhibit it rather than of… Read more »

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“What they are saying is that they believe that the Church should only do what the Church has always done and teach what the Church has always taught. “

OK–let’s all go back to condemning lending money at interest, then.

Paul Edelin
Guest
Paul Edelin

The single clause measure that would have inspired the Church of England to reflect modern understanding of humanity is now two removes away, having been superseded first by a compromise draft Measure that would at least have had the support of 42/44 dioceses and then by an embroidered quilt that even now does not proclaim above all the principle of human equality as the fundamental tenet of twentyfirst century Christianity. O for an Open church for all.

Original Observer
Guest
Original Observer

Pat O’Neill – you must distinguish between matters which relate to fundamental order and doctrine and those which do not. What is crucial too – as priests in the CofE are in fact ordained into the Church of God, not the Church of England – is the consensus of the Universal Church. The ordination of women is a matter of fundamental order and doctrine and is also one which does not command the support of the Universal Church.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Original Observer,
since Rome has already declared Anglican ordinations not to be valid yet Anglicans still believe themselves to be part of the church of God, I think we can safely leave the discernment about women priests and bishops to the various bodies in the various Anglican churches charged with making that discernment.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

“The ordination of women is a matter of fundamental order and doctrine and is also one which does not command the support of the Universal Church.”

The ordination of married men does not command the support of the Universal Church either. The CoE has been doing THAT for over four centuries.

The Roman Church says the doctrine of Mary’s eternal virginity and her assumption to heaven is fundamental. We in the CoE (and many other churches) disagree. Are we forced to accept their view in support of a Universal Church? Or should the Romans change their view?

Alastair Newman
Guest

“The ordination of women is a matter of fundamental order and doctrine and is also one which does not command the support of the Universal Church.”

Well, neither does Marian devotion, the sacrifice of the Mass, continuation of the spiritual gifts, salvation by faith alone or the inerrancy of the Bible. So the point is?

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

@original observer: but surely the church universal is made up of disparate parts. And in the C-of-E, as indeed in any and all of those parts, we have to rely on that part where we choose to worship for sacramental assurance. Otherwise, of course, even the ABC is a self-deluded layman according to one layer of what you call the universal church, and indeed we in the C-of-E (all of us) are not members of the church at all, but of an ‘ecclesial community’ – whatever that might be. But, again to my mind, if that small segment of the… Read more »

Susannah
Guest
Susannah

The ordination of women as priests in the Catholic Church will come one day. Already you can see the yearnings of women to be taken seriously in their mature participation, and the pressures that build up on the male-dominated hierarchy. Just observe the way ‘The Imperium’ is trying to control independent thought and expression in the case of nuns in the US. Women and men have equal intellectual, moral and emotional capacity – what is needed for priesthood or leadership is ‘personhood’. When you consider that men and women were BOTH made in the image of God, there should be… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“What is crucial too – as priests in the CofE are in fact ordained into the Church of God, not the Church of England – is the consensus of the Universal Church.” – Original Observer – Not so original, really – especially as neither Rome nor Constantinople would agree with you. If, indeed, that were truly the case, then why was it deemed necessary for Male clergy transferring to the Roman Ordinariate to be ‘re-ordained’? Speaking untruth on these issues is not at all helpful, and detract from all your arguments against Women – as defective bearers of Imago Dei… Read more »