Thinking Anglicans

Catholic Group in General Synod responds to plans for women bishops

Updated Thursday 6 June

The Church Times is reporting: Traditionalists saddened by latest women-bishop proposals. The traditionalists referred to are the Catholic Group in General Synod.

THE House of Bishops preference for the provision of women bishops, “option one” (News, 31 May), has been severely criticised by the Catholic Group in General Synod as a “step backwards”.

In the first detailed traditionalist response, the group’s chairman, Canon Simon Killwick, says that they are “saddened” by the Bishops’ preference, accusing them of “closing down debate before it has started”.

The statement is not yet on the Group’s own website, but can be read at the end of the Church Times article.

Update

The Group has now sent us a copy of their statement and this is copied below the fold.

Statement on behalf of the Catholic Group in General Synod

ONE STEP FORWARD ~ ONE STEP BACK

We welcome the report of the Working Party set up by the House of Bishops (annexed to GS 1886) as a significant step forward towards legislation for women bishops in the Church of England.

The Church of England needs a settlement which will provide both for women bishops, and for those who are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops, on grounds of theological conviction – convictions which are supported by Holy Scripture, and the consensus of the wider Church. We recognise in the five propositions in the report, taken together, the possible basis for a settlement – with the exception of the reference to canonical obedience.

What is needed now is the building of a sufficiently large consensus behind legislative proposals that they are capable of comfortably receiving the necessary two-thirds majorities in all three Houses of the Synod.

We are saddened by the selection of option one (the simplest possible legislation) by the House of Bishops at this early stage. This feels like a step backwards in the process, closing down debate before it has started, and rendering facilitated conversations between Synod members pointless. Option one will not help to achieve a consensus; it will not create legislation capable of achieving the required majorities. It would tear up the current settlement over women priests, and replace it with arrangements which no one would be obliged to follow. The effects would be felt most by the laity, who would not only lose their existing legal rights, but could also be open to legal challenge under the Equality Act. Option one would unbalance the five propositions, giving most weight to the first two, and less weight to the other three.

The option preferred by the bishops relies simply on trust to provide for those who cannot accept the ministry of women bishops and priests. We regulate other areas of church life in great detail by law – measures, canons and regulations – and we see no justification for abandoning that approach in relation to one of the most controversial areas of our church life. Were option one to be accepted, we would be in the strange situation that who presides at the celebration of the Eucharist would be governed by grace and trust, while who administers Holy Communion would be determined by regulations made under canon.

We believe that the way forward lies in holding together all of the five propositions, without giving any of them more prominence than the others. The retention of Resolutions A and B from the current settlement would provide the essential underpinning for any future arrangements to honour the last three propositions; the arrangements need to be secure, and not dependent on the discretionary decisions of individual bishops, clergy, PCCs, patrons and parish representatives. Further consideration still needs to be given to issues concerning the jurisdiction of diocesan bishops, and oaths of canonical obedience – consideration which had the support of majorities of the General Synod and the Revision Committee at different times in the past.

We will continue to reflect and pray, and consult with others, before deciding what amendments to propose to the Synod in July, in order to move the process forwards and build consensus.

Canon Simon Killwick
(Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod)

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Chris H.Jane CharmanRichard AshbyLaurenceJill Armstead Recent comment authors
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Tim
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Er… good, on average? Bring on the clear decision and be done with it.

I had to laugh at two of the phrases though:
1) “is set within a broader process of discernment” – great excuse, now what does it mean?
2) “will remain committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures” – now there’s a vacuous promise if ever there was πŸ˜‰

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Yes, well, I’m saddened that the religious “traditionalists” have not yet realized that their position has caused centuries of undue suffering. It leaves women (and often their children) perpetually in the inferior position, leaving us and our sisters extremely vulnerable to violence, oppression, economic degradation, and myriad other sufferings. At the UN conference on women, a number of speakers, notably one from Senegal if you want to look her up, specifically noted the contribution of the church to the oppression of women in Africa. The fruits of misogyny are awful. I support pastoral arrangements, but not policies that makes WB’s… Read more »

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

The CofE is lining itself up to fight two unwinnable battles, with no clear idea of what the war is about. On one front, it is going to be in the vanguard in the House of Lords of attacks on same-sex marriage. On the other front, it wants to fight a last-ditch battle against a monstrous regiment of women who dare to seek parity with men. Both battles are futile. The CofE does not enjoy majority support amongst its own members on either issues, still less amongst its clergy and leadership, still less amongst the population at large. Governments have… Read more »

Laurence
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Laurence

The so-called ‘Catholic group’ underwhelms me big time. I really can’t be bothered with all the double-talk with the side order of special pleading; and garnished with silliness.

And I have come from an anglo-papalist background myself :(S.Stephen, Grove St., Liverpool;S.John, Tuebrook; S.Paul, Brighton) — A sense of humour has proved indispensable ! But how women and lgbt are treated has not been lost on me down the years.

If the ‘Catholic group’ have lost me, they could lose anyone !

Jill Armstead
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Jill Armstead

I read the 3 comments available so far with some amusement envisaging a child poking its tongue out from behind its mother’s skirts. It would be good to see some constructive comments from people who have properly read the Catholic Group’s statement and have taken on board the compromise offered by traditional Catholics in the Church of England, none of whom actually opposes women bishops per se.

Laurence
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Laurence

‘the compromise offered by traditional Catholics in the Church of England, none of whom actually opposes women bishops per se.’

So very generous of them !

And if they do no oppose women as bishops (news to me) what IS this all about ? I just can’t respect ‘the Catholic’ group that much, when I think of most of the recent PEVs tucked up as monsignori in Rome etc.

See my previous comment.

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Why is that certain individuals and groups in the Church think that they can hijack words in order to exclude others? One result is that no one can really any longer describe themselves as ‘Christian’ because the word now comes with connotations of homophobia, misogyny, patriarchy and general self righteous bigotry. And secondly the ‘Catholic Group’ only includes those opposed to the ordination of women and the consecration of them as bishops. And yet as we know, there are large numbers of us who would call ourselves ‘catholic’ who fully believe that women should play their part as ordained priests… Read more »

Jane Charman
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Jane Charman

It seems to me that the ‘Catholic Group’ is not in a strong position here. They have set out their stall, the problem is there’s nothing on it for anyone else. If Synod now passes a single clause measure presumably they will feel they have no choice but to seek alternative ecclesial arrangements for themselves with separate bishops. But the deal they want in order to stay would mean precisely the same – alternative ecclesial arrangements with separate bishops. Identical result, just messier, more embarrassing and more inconvenient for the rest of us. And what would be the point? The… Read more »

Chris H.
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Chris H.

Jane, can I ask what provisions you think are appropriate and possible with the single clause? With the single clause and getting rid of the Resolutions I can see the future vestry of a church that constantly chooses male priests being sued for discrimination or the next time an evangelical bishop is chosen, another public/liberal backlash demanding him out of the post. I don’t see any way to make provisions that work.