Thinking Anglicans

Consultation document on women bishops legislation

Church of England press release: Consultation document issued by working group on women bishops legislation:

08 February 2013
A consultation document setting out a new way forward in enabling women to become bishops in the Church of England has today been sent to all General Synod members.

The document draws on the facilitated conversations arranged by the Working Group on women bishops legislation held earlier this week and the meeting of the House of Bishops on February 7.

The consultation document can be read here. (PDF)

Notes

Statement following the meeting of the House of Bishops PR28.13
http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2013/02/statement-on-the-conclusion-of-the-meeting-of-the-house-of-bishops.aspx

The facilitation process referred to was set out in PR160.12 on 11 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/statement-from-the-house-of-bishops-on-defeat-of-women-bishops-legislation.aspx

Membership of the working group was set out in PR169.12 on 19 December 2012 http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/12/working-group-on-new-legislative-proposals-on-women-bishops-announced.aspx

We have made a webpage version of the consultation document available here.

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Jeremy
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Jeremy

One can read fairly easily between the lines of the “consultation document.” This process is going nowhere. The working group is evidently considering whether the House of Bishops can commit future female bishops, but not male bishops, to some way of treating their opponents. Why, precisely, would this not amount to a second-class female episcopate? One rather thinks that anything that inhibits the power or discretion of a future female bishop would lead to the very problem that this document calls ‘anathema.’ How many times does one have to put the basic principle? There should be no honoured place for… Read more »

Hilary
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Hilary

Canon Jane Charman’s piece on the WATCH website sets out really clearly how the second objective in para 29 of the consultation document is now untenable if the Church of England is to have bishops of both sexes fully interchangeably. If this objective is retained then the process is doomed to fail, whatever new contortions the working group explores. Please can we therefore avoid going around in circles again, and present the simplest legislation to the General Synod in July so that it can proceed to the Dioceses and be ready for Final Approval as soon as the next Synod… Read more »

tim budd
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tim budd

This is a useful document with some sensible proposals. It also has some intractable problems. Proposition 4, point 2 states: “Provide, through the totality of the elements in the package, a greater sense of security for the minority as having an accepted and valued place in the Church of England while not involving the majority in any new element of compromise on matters of principle.” This is not possible. The church needs to decide whether we accept the principle of non-discrimination against women or whether we accept that those who discriminate are accepted and valued. There is no compromise that… Read more »

Labarum
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Labarum

@Tim As far as I can see, there will be no solution, unless we can find a way of living with the impaired communion that arose the moment women priests were ordained, and a minority refused the development. This impaired unity with be magnified once women are ordained bishops, and yet again when women bishops ordain priests. For these reasons I cannot see an honest solution that does not involve parallel jurisdiction. The choice is stark: a full and formal schism or an untidy internal schism in which both groupings circle each other at a uneasy distance. I have long… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Labarum I seriously doubt that a 50 year solution is needed as a provision for the discriminators. My guess is that 95 percent of them are above the age of 60. I’ve only spent 6-7 months living and worshipping in England, but it really doesn’t seem like the next generation of under 60’s are very different from the US. I suspect they are just as unwilling to continue arcane and hurtful discrimination against women as in TEC and Canada. The local bishop can accommodate those older people in a pastoral way. The CoE need not enshrine discrimination. As the Established… Read more »

Labarum
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Labarum

@Cynthia

You may be right on the 50 years.

“Provision for the discriminators”? That really is an offensive way to describe loyal Anglicans who hold a view formally recognised as legitimate, and who have been promised an honourable place in the world wide communion.

Once upon a time to have “discriminating taste” was a positive virtue, but I rather think the term is here used in very poor taste, and as little more than a swear word.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Let’s suppose that the issue were whether blacks can become bishops.

In that case, should “the liberal majority . . . accept the compromise of maximum provision” for those who wish not to be ministered to by black bishops?

Merely to state the analogy is to see how untenable the position of the discriminators is.

There should be no provision for discrimination.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Labarum, Exactly why do you think that I am not created fully in the image of God, same as the guys? Be precise. I challenge you to find language that isn’t offensive and/or distasteful. In fact, I dare say it is impossible. But by all means, give it a go. We’ve had WO and WB’s in TEC since I was a child. I’m sorry, but CoE can only look backwards to us, Neanderthal comes to mind. But go ahead. Tell me why I’m not equal in the eyes of God. Give it a whirl. Honored place in the Anglican communion?… Read more »

Paul
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Paul

@ Cynthia and Jeremy.
65% of the world’s Christians belong to churches which don’t ordain women. Are these 2 billion people all women hating discriminators? This is about the ecclesiology of the worldwide Church, not about rights or discrimination. Wanting to remain part of that much larger tradition dosn’t make its supporters women haters!

Stephen
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Stephen

The only way forward is one which trusts Bishops to do the right thing, anything less than this takes us back down the slippery slope of ever more legislation and the interminable debates, displacement activity and the wrangling this involves. We have to have a solution which does not create separate female bishop free zones i.e. a structural solution, or anything which creates different classes of bishop based upon gender. We have desperately and genuinely tried to make provision for those who find this hard, as they asked, to such an extent that we were compromising the episcopate, hopefully ever… Read more »

Commentator
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Commentator

Paul – so stop ALL bishops marrying. And then you can be in accord with the churches that hold the majority of members.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Paul, there is no such thing as “the worldwide Church.” There never has been. The Roman and Eastern churches certainly are discriminatory traditions. But of course they are not monolithic. Many Roman and Eastern Christians want women to be ordained. I didn’t say “women hater.” I said “discriminator.” State of mind can be judged not only by subjective perception of emotion, but also by action. After all, in prior times, a slaveholder could truthfully have said, “I don’t hate blacks. I just want to continue to own them.” The position we are discussing basically says, “I don’t hate women. I… Read more »

Primroseleague
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Primroseleague

Cynthia, Putting to one side the entirely different cultural assumptions of the UK and USA (not a point about discrimination, but you can’t read from one country to the other more broadly) you really need to look around the CofE more before you’re in a position to make sweeping judgments about how long provisions might need to be made. Go somewhere like Pusey House, or the larger ABC parishes and you’ll see many young people – you’re not coming across them because the parallel ecclesiology of the last 20 years has ghettoised them. Also, places like Staggers have been, and… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
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Malcolm Dixon

Paul,
‘These 2 billion people’ may not be women haters (indeed many of them are women themselves) but they are by definition discriminators because they seek to deny to women roles which are available to men. They seek to justify the discrimination on grounds of conscience, ecclesiology etc., and that’s a different argument, but to say it’s not discrimination is just playing with words.
Prebendary David Houlding made an impassioned intervention in similar terms at one of the GS debates last year. Regrettably, nobody put him right.

Laurence Roberts
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Laurence Roberts

‘about the ecclesiology of the worldwide Church’

There is no such thing in reality. It is a romantic fantasy.

There are many ‘Churches’, denominations, all rather different in their ‘ecclesiologies’, their arrangements for Ministry.

So let’s get on with what needs doing on the ground – women bishops no strings. Gay bishops no strings.

Ah yes an all-celibate house of bishops would be very good – it might concentrate their minds, and discourage too much pontificating from them !

Cynthia
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Cynthia

What’s the theological basis for discrimination against women? No one has answered the question with anything other than tradition and the fictitious world wide church. Some Muslim cultures do a horrible operation on women genitalia. Is that the “world wide church” you want to be in communion with? Or are you talking about the Quakers and Reform Jews and tons of Protestant churches that are fine to women’s leadership? There is no way to justify the discrimination without serious cherry picking. Please, exactly how am I less perfect than men in the eyes of God? That is the question. The… Read more »

John
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John

I broadly agree with Primroseleague. I’d just add one thing. You can be 100% in communion with certain fellow-Anglicans and have no desire to enter their churches (I have no desire to enter Miranda’s church and even less to enter flourishing Evangelical churches; nonetheless, I wish them well and salute them as fellow-Anglicans). Equally, you can be less than 100% in communion with certain churches and find them lovely. There is one such just up from the station in Newcastle. We’ve attended occasionally, if we’ve been in Newcastle that day. The building is beautiful; the choir is very good; the… Read more »

Charles Read
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Charles Read

St Stephens House is hardly overrun with ordinands – over 50% of our ordinands in the CofE are women. Of the male ordinands, the vast majority are pro OW.

Helen
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Helen

Primrose league is right: the demand for discriminatory practice will continue while ordination training continues to be predicated upon traditionalism and fundamentalism rather than scholarship and ethics. The bishops’ collective failure to challenge discrimination (or even, so far as one can gather) to keep up with biblical scholarship doesn’t help. Cynthia, they need you to cut through the crap-go to it!

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Paul said: 65% of the world’s Christians belong to churches which don’t ordain women. Are these 2 billion people all women hating discriminators? This is about the ecclesiology of the worldwide Church, not about rights or discrimination. Wanting to remain part of that much larger tradition dosn’t make its supporters women haters! Oh Paul. How many of these 65 percent live in 3rd World countries? Have you spent any time in the 3rd world? I’ve visited one country extensively. I am an honored guest when I’m there but the society is HIGHLY patriarchal. Meanwhile, all the studies show that the… Read more »

Primroseleague
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Primroseleague

Charles, I totally agree- I wasn’t trying to suggest that Staggers or anywhere else is overrun with Ordinands full stop – more that Staggers, and others, has spent the past 20 years continuing to train Traditionalists for ordination, some of whom are young, so it’s not the case that we’re waiting for the unhelpful ones to die off – they are being replaced. If they had said in 1992 that going forward there would be no further traditionalist ordinations (which would probably have caused the legislation to fail but that’s beside the point) then we wouldn’t be where we are… Read more »

Richard
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Richard

Charles

It depends what you mean by ‘overrun’: it’s full this year.

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

Primroseleague I agree that it would have been better if provisions had been made for existing Resolution ABC parishes but on the understanding that all new ordinands would have to accept that their church now ordains women. And I also agree that that legislation would not have gone through. I think what is happening with women’s ordination is the same that happens with all awareness of discrimination – it moves in stages. From slavery to “equal but separate” was a big step, but it still needed the next step to “equal”. Society as well as the church have changed in… Read more »

primroseleague
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primroseleague

I think we’re in broad agreement Erika, albeit on different sides of the fence. However, I wish (genuinely) I shared your analysis that “this process is not reversible.” If history teaches us anything, it’s that pretty much nothing is irreversable. I genuinely can’t put my hand on my heart and promise that in 200 years time (or whenever) we won’t have slavery, or patriarchy, or matriarchy, or whatever, all over again – can I be clear that I’m NOT advocating any of them. The Whig interpretation of history, that it’s moving forward, and getting better all the time, is just… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Primroseleague
veering off topic now… but it is clear that those countries with the greatest social inequality and in particular those with a poor status for women are also the ones that do least well economically.
Equality makes economic sense as well as being a human rights imperative.

I would therefore hope that this trend will, indeed, continue.

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Discrimination is hurtful and humiliating. Somehow, that fact is getting lost as people claim their individual right to institutionalize their culturally based prejudices. What a remarkable thing it is to claim to speak for God or God’s will that hurting a group of people – equally created in the image of God – is somehow part of their “conscience.” It is more remarkable in the 21st Century when mistakes of the past should give us pause to arrogantly continue to hurt women or the group du jour. Slavery, anti-semitism, in the Americas the treatment of native populations… and on and… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

“What right does anyone have to draw lines beyond to whom God’s grace, care and favor extend?” “God has no favorites.”
+Barbara Harris, the 1st female bishop consecrated in TEC, an amazing African American woman.

I can’t believe that in 2013, CoE is still rejecting such gifts and drawing arbitrary lines.

However, if you want to do so, please ask your ABC to discontinue Rowan’s practice of punishing and isolating TEC because we have amazing women like +Barbara blessing us profusely with the gifts God has given her, and us.

Helen
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Helen

It’s worth reading the report of the conference Rowan Williams arranged in 2011 (though he pretty well ignored the messages he didn’t want to hear), especially the address by Mary Grey Reeves, bishop of El Camino Real. She recounts her experience of working with a parish that wouldn’t accept her as a bishop, and argues strongly and convincingly against enshrining separate provision in law: if you do that you make reconciliation impossible, she says. In fact a simple measure with a code of practice would allow John’sNewcastle church to carry on as they are, and why not, but the trouble… Read more »