Thinking Anglicans

Women bishops: Church Times report and comment

The Church Times has extensive coverage:

  • News articles:

Women-bishops Measure falls by six votes in House of Laity

Dr Williams warns: no short cut, no simple solution

Campaigners talk of betrayal and disaster after vote

Politicians express their dissatisfaction with Synod vote

  • Comment articles:

Leader: After the vote, what next?

Frances Ward What difference does women’s ministry make?

David Houlding I work happily with women clergy

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Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

‘I work happily with women clergy’

Is there any other walk of life where such an article could be written let alone published in a ‘professional journal’. The very fact that such an article is considered appropriate, particularly after the vote on Tuesday, shows just how detached are some in the church from real life.

I work happily with women doctors
I work happily with women managers
I work happily with women engineers
I work happily with black people

Got it?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

The leader is quite correct to say that this vote was lost in 2010. It is quite incorrect to suggest that some new compromise can be found that will make everyone happy. That is theologically impossible. We have now moved beyond church politics into national politics. Parliament wants to force the issue. The question is, how? That will be the subject of discussion with Archbishop-designate Welby. There are several possibilities. 1. On reading the Church of England Convocations Act 1966, and the Synodical Government Measure 1969, it seems that the Queen-in-Parliament can dissolve Synod. If this happens, then new Synod… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

“I am a freemason, as the House knows. My purpose in initiating this debate is not, however, to defend freemasons or freemasonry; with my knowledge of freemasonry, I hope rather that I can assist the House and persuade the Home Secretary—and, indeed, the Government as a whole—to reconsider their proposals on freemasons. I fully accept that some people find freemasonry slightly ridiculous. That is a matter for them, but if I and thousands of other men choose to be ridiculous in private, that is surely a matter for us. On other matters, I regularly get down on my knees and… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The article from Church Times refers to “SORROW, dismay, distress, and grief:” following the no vote.Missing from the list is the recognition of the “anger” that must surely be present, though, perhaps as an earlier article suggested, “repressed”. For surely, anger, often a very human response to ongoing injustice and oppression, must be present. How could there not be anger given the long standing misogynist rhetoric that supporters of patriarchy continue levy at women? The fact that it is delivered with sanctimonious piety makes it all the more galling. Churches, of course, have great difficulty finding appropriate ways to deal… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Sorry, but the Church of England should not co-operate with any attempt by a secular Parliament (most of whose members, by the way, were elected by much less than a 2/3rds majority) to force the issue. Once that’s done once, it might be your favourite theological principle that they find distasteful next time.

No, this is the church’s problem and it’s up to the church to fix it. And the teaching of Jesus would seem to imply that demonising on either side is not the answer.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“The State, similarly, has no business trying to force Synod, one of the first example of devolved government to bow its knee to secular pressures.” The analogy is extraordinarily bad. What official role does freemasonry have in government? The church cannot claim to be part of “government,” and yet to be immune from secular pressures. And Tony Baldry knows this. It was he who said that if the Church of England wants to remain a national church, it must reflect national values. Besides, even if your position were logical, politics knows little of logic. We now see a Tory government… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Sorry, but the Church of England should not co-operate with any attempt by a secular Parliament…”

Parliament would be secular if the bishops were not in the Lords.

As for the teachings of Jesus, our Lord had enemies and he let them know exactly what he thought of them. In this he was much more honest than most members of Synod.

Jonathan Edwards II
Guest
Jonathan Edwards II

So we should reform synod because we didn’t get our own way? Excuse me, grow up! The vote was lost by 6 votes. In 1992 the vote for women priests was won by just 2 votes.

The House of Bishops need to get their act together and come up with a measure that will get through synod, one allowing us all to co-exist as brothers and sisters in Christ.

William Tighe
Guest
William Tighe

Jeremy wrote (above): “1. On reading the Church of England Convocations Act 1966, and the Synodical Government Measure 1969, it seems that the Queen-in-Parliament can dissolve Synod. If this happens, then new Synod elections will take place soon, with a more liberal result.” and Karl Marx wrote (in “The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte” [1852]): “Hegel says somewhere that all great historical facts and personages recur twice. He forgot to add, ‘First as tragedy, and again as farce’.” This quotation came to my mind upon reading the first excerpt above, for it is a proposed action which would repeat exactly… Read more »

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

Jeremy, your list of options is interesting, but it doesn’t reflect the fact that now the politicians are involved, you have to be careful what you wish for – people who think Parliament is going to come riding to their rescue have to remember that body has its own agenda. Did you see Newsnight last night? I said in another thread, but you had Frank Field, who a couple of days ago was as angry as the next person, blaming the liberals for not going far enough in appeasing the minority to be sure of getting the vote through. Politicians… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

Richard, I suspect you could see the line also used with women pilots and military officers ( depending in their actual duties). The Church isn’t quite alone in its hanging on to the good ol’ boy system.

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

Oh, and I genuinely don’t know what the answer is here – my guess is as good as anyone else’s. However, Your option 1 strikes me as being fraught with danger – what if changing the house of laity doesn’t achieve the result you’re looking for? Shades of A Matter of Life and Death with the jury of American citizens. I’m not a con-evo, but they are very organised. If you galvanise the whole electorate, then you galvanise the minority just as much as the majority. Also, what if we impose the 70% threshold on the deanery synod results on… Read more »

Pam Smith
Guest

‘I work happily with women clergy’ says it all really.

Do women clergy work happily with him? Does he care?

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

@ Jeremy: Quite like the idea of dissolution, but it’s quite drastic (although less so than Parliament intervening directly) and could not bring a guarantee that the composition of the next synod would do the trick (although I think it probably would – with a single clause). In terms of process and timetable it will bring matters forward approximately two years but there is the question of how fast tracked a single clause measure could be. It would probably need to go to the dioceses. A short act of parliament essentially mandating synod to vote on the measure again would… Read more »

Feria
Guest
Feria

Jeremy:’We now see a Tory government running as fast as it possibly can away from Synod’s decision.’ … which should come as no surprise to anyone, since there has always been a tendency at the rightward end of the Tory party that has been unhappy with the existence, powers and prestige of General Synod, and has been itching to reassert more direct Parliamentary control over ecclesiastical legislation [*]. On Tuesday, Synod handed that tendency the moral high ground in a way that has not happened for over eighty years. [*] You’d be amazed, for example, how many of the MPs… Read more »

John
Guest
John

The fight goes on. Since, as ever, I fight for decency and co-existence, I just want to register my judgement that Houlding’s article was extremely good – and demonstrates in practical terms how people who disagree about so-called fundamentals can nevertheless actively co-exist in ways which promote the greater, shared, good.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

“Parliament would be secular if the bishops were not in the Lords”. This is a profoundly silly claim. A maximum of 26 seats are reserved for the bishops, out of some 1500 parliamentarians. Parliament long ago acknowledged that the Church is entitled to govern itself, with an Act of Parliament in 1919 conferring powers on the Church Assembly to legislate on all church business. The Church Assembly became the General Synod in 1970. And that is where church legislation belongs. If people don’t agree with a decision by Synod, they are free to campaign for a new Measure. Not to… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Tim Chesterton – will you then renounce the Act of Synod, which came about largely through parliamentary pressure on the Church?

Old Father William
Guest
Old Father William

Wasn’t it because of Parliament that the revision of the Prayer Book in 1928 was rejected? It seems to me that, if you don’t want to put up with this sort of thing, you should give up the privileges of being the Established Church, and remove your bishops from the House of Lords.

Original Observer
Guest
Original Observer

Those observing the interventions of parliamentarians should see them for what they are – huffing and puffing. Nothing could happen without the support of the government, something which the PM has quite rightly ruled out. He is wise enough not to involve himself in something which is so obviously a quagmire. In any event long gone are the days when the secular parliament sought to mange the established church, and those days are not about to return. I for one am struck by the lack of any real grasp of the underlying issues demonstrated by politicians who have passed comment.… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

William Tighe’s comment suggests that option 1 has precedent. I don’t regard democracy and accountability as farcical, but someone who likes Roman ecclesiology might. Primroseleague, it’s all well and good to suggest that liberals should move further, but they won’t. A lot of them were holding their noses at this measure. They now feel angry and reinforced. JE2said, “So we should reform synod because we didn’t get our own way? Excuse me, grow up!” JE2, when grown-ups play with fire, they expect to get burned. Neither the Tuesday vote nor the ensuing firestorm surprises me. This Synod leaned anti-WB, so… Read more »

William Tighe
Guest
William Tighe

There are two established churches in Great Britain, the legal situations of which are very different. Concerning England, see this: http://www.infotextmanuscripts.org/vexatiouslitigant/vex_lit_queens_bench_williamson.html in which the Law Lords declare the “doctrine of the Church of England” effectively to be whatever Parliament determines it to be — with the following declaration of the Church of Scotland in 1926 (excerpted): Articles Declaratory of the Constitution of the Church of Scotland in Matters Spiritual, 1926. IV. This Church, as part of the Universal Church wherein the Lord Jesus Christ has appointed a government in the hands of Church office-bearers, receives from Him, its Divine King… Read more »

Primroseleague
Guest
Primroseleague

Jeremy, I absolutely take your point, but I think you’re missing mine. As someone who has done more political door knocking and leafleting in my past than I ought to have done, let me tell you how this will play out in Parliament if it gets involved ( which the pm has already said it won’t). They will punch the Liberals in the face. They will punch the conservatives in the face. They will impose a settlement that neither side wants while they’ve only got two eyes between them, because they might agree with one side, but they don’t actually… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

In spite of the Prime Minister’s reference to the Church of England needing “a sharp prod” with regard to women in the episcopate I think our parliamentarians will be more than reluctant to get involved in this particular “basin full of scorpions”

Simon Morden
Guest

The See of Durham’s about to fall vacant, and we have some very well qualified candidates of both sexes up here.

Just saying…

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

“Parliament established the CofE” – actually, St Augustine established it some 600 years before there was anything like a recognisable Parliament. Assorted monarchs, notably Henry II and Henry VIII, asserted control over various aspects of Church life, but the Head of the Church always has been and always will be Jesus Christ, and it is his Ministry which is under discussion.

sally Barnes
Guest
sally Barnes

“I can Work Happily with Women Clergy” David Houlding.
Oh Pam your comment was exactly what I was about to make. You can be charming, friendly and amenable as you like but if you actually deny the very essence of what a person is and refuse to receive communion from them on the grounds of their sex it is so much condescension.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Primroseleague, I don’t know which Frank Field you were listening to, but here are a few paragraphs from a press release he issued on Thursday. (The below is all from the release.) In response to the vote Frank Field MP, a former member of the Synod, today tabled a Presentation Bill in Parliament which seeks to remove from the statute book the exemptions from the Equality legislation that the Church of England enjoys. If passed, the Bill would make it illegal for the Church of England to discriminate against women when appointing bishops, as they currently do. Frank Field said:… Read more »

Original Observer
Guest
Original Observer

Jeremy – politicians react to the day’s headlines because that is what politicians do. The CofE is no longer today’s headlines. I find it hard to believe that any politician really thinks that Church affairs are a major issue, or indeed any kind of political issue at all. Neither would a new Synod guarantee success for WBs. Remember, the evangelicals are the growing part of the church: they have the numbers, the money, the organisation and the determination to get their way. A new Synod could well deliver an even larger blocking minority. One outcome is civil war. Another is… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Original Observer said, “I find it hard to believe that any politician really thinks that Church affairs are a major issue, or indeed any kind of political issue at all.” One can only laugh at such a denial of reality. Consider this week’s events. The PM saying that Parliament won’t meddle but at the same time giving the CofE a “sharp prod.” A “very stormy meeting” between parliamentarians, who spoke with “one voice,” and bishops. An urgent question, answered unusually by an official not on the front bench. Thirty minutes of debate, attended by around 60 MPs. Politicians of all… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

On BBC Newsnight Frank Field MP criticised “the reformers”, those who brought forward the Women Bishops Measure, being “ungracious and ungenerous” in failing to meet the objections of those who disagreed. He claimed that “The state has an interest in ensuring that the Church does not go off and behave in an absurd manner. Most people will think that its actions over the last few days show a real lack of politics in the church. Why did the reformers fail? They have some serious questions to answer here in satisfying those who were upset and disquieted by the proposal for… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Fr David – are you self-identifying as a scorpion?

Original Observer
Guest
Original Observer

Jeremy – like I said – politicians react to headlines. The things you mention in your post are just that. The headlines will fade and it will be for the church to sort out the mess. I had thought that Frank Field’s initial comments sounded rather intemperate, but what is reported in Alan Marsh’s post seems to me to be eminently sensible. Few if any would argue against the principle of women bishops now we have women priests. Just provide properly for those who do not accept the ordination of women and you will have your women bishops sooner than… Read more »

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

Jeremy asked: (Does it help, Alan Marsh, if the term is upper-cased?) No, it makes no difference, as it was Henry VIII who nationalised the Church of England, not Parliament, in the 1530s. A lot of water has flowed beneath the constitutional bridge since then, not least the development of church self-government since 1919.

Jeremy said: “And they will be making political hay of this issue again this coming week.” Actually they will be more preoccupied by the return of Nadine Dorries.

Paul Powers
Guest
Paul Powers

For those who object to “I work happily with women clergy,”:

1. That headline might have been chosen by the Church Times, not the author.

2. The article wasn’t written for you. It was written to show opponents of the ordination of women how they can remain in a church with female bishops without violating their consciences.

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“Just provide properly for those who do not accept the ordination of women and you will have your women bishops sooner than you think.” Original Observer, the opponents of women bishops lost their chance this week to achieve the greatest provision that a skeptical church was going to give them. And for this, the opponents of women bishops have only themselves to blame. They were told that Tuesday’s measure was the best they were going to get, and they still voted it down. Like it or not, society and government are now involved. And they are outraged. They are far… Read more »

Jonathan Jennings
Guest
Jonathan Jennings

Many seem to be ascribing the character of principle only to the proponents of women bishops and strategic playing only to the opponents.

You may (as I do) disagree with their theology and their principles, but failing to recognise that they are in conscience contending for what they believe is plain discourtesy and characteristic of Emotive, rather than Thinking, Anglicans.

We still don’t know who, exactly, was responsible for voting this down, and how they would rationalise their choice.

Feria
Guest
Feria

Alan: ‘Parliament long ago acknowledged that the Church is entitled to govern itself, with an Act of Parliament in 1919 conferring powers on the Church Assembly to legislate on all church business.’ Three slight corrections to this. Firstly, the delegation of legislative power in the 1919 Act was always non-exclusive, i.e. Parliament always retained the right to act on ecclesiastical matters (or anything else) on its own initiative, without having to wait for the say-so of its subsidiary body, the Church Assembly (latterly, General Synod). Secondly, Measures enacted using the powers in the 1919 Act always need final approval from… Read more »

Feria
Guest
Feria

Original Observer: ‘In any event long gone are the days when the secular parliament sought to manage the established church, and those days are not about to return.’ At this moment of history in particular, you can’t count on Parliament to be passive. The coalition agreement is a short document, with the result that this Parliament is running out of things to do. Mr. Lansley is left with two and a half years of Parliamentary time to fill, and to avoid unseemly coalition rows, he needs to fill it with proposals on which he can find common ground between the… Read more »

Feria
Guest
Feria

Alan: ‘it was Henry VIII who nationalised the Church of England, not Parliament, in the 1530s’

Go on, then. Name me one aspect of the Henrician reformation that was not embodied in an Act of Parliament.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Mark Bennett (have I met your brother Gordon?) I don’t think I was quite identifying myself as a scorpion (although I do love that painting by Stanley Spencer in the Christ in the Wilderness series where the Lord is depicted nursing a scorpion in the palm of His hand) but following Mattins this morning I did happen to catch some of Nicky Campbell’s discussion programme on the women bishops debate and there was certainly lots of stinging going on.

Alan Marsh
Guest
Alan Marsh

“Firstly, the delegation of legislative power in the 1919 Act was always non-exclusive, i.e. Parliament always retained the right to act on ecclesiastical matters (or anything else) on its own initiative, without having to wait for the say-so of its subsidiary body, the Church Assembly (latterly, General Synod).” The legislation expressly avoided any suggestion that the Church’s own organs of self-government were the creation of Parliament, which they are not. The whole purpose of the legislation was to permit the Church to determine its own doctrine and discipline. “Secondly, Measures enacted using the powers in the 1919 Act always need… Read more »

Feria
Guest
Feria

Alan: ‘The whole purpose of the legislation was to permit the Church to determine its own doctrine and discipline.’ Indeed so, but not _exclusively_. To quote Archbishop Davidson, speaking in the House of Lords on 3rd June 1919: ‘We are not taking away from Parliament any power which it at present possesses. By all means let Parliament use that power if it will and if it can.’ Alan: ‘Parliament… no longer initiates church legislation’ The Marriage (Prohibited Degrees of Relationship) Act 1986, initiated by Parliament, must count as “church legislation”, because it amended text in the Book of Common Prayer.… Read more »

John
Guest
John

When people throw around words like “anger” and “misogynist” because they think they have some kind of monopoly on what is good and what is right, and that a properly enacted vote should now somehow be subverted because they didn’t get the result they want, I have to question whether you’re even an adult, let alone a Christian. The episcopacy was never supposed to be a “right”. It’s an incredible privilege that very few people, who may well “deserve” will never attain. It’s supposed to be a sacrifice to serve the Christian community. To try and force through women bishops,… Read more »

Feria
Guest
Feria

John: ‘that a properly enacted vote should now somehow be subverted because they didn’t get the result they want’

Some of us were talking about the need for Parliament to supervise ecclesiastical affairs more closely long before the result of the consecration-of-women vote was known, and will continue to talk about it long after female bishops have become commonplace in the CofE. It’s a point of principle in itself, not a reaction to one unfavourable vote.