Thinking Anglicans

Women Bishops: Forward in Faith responds

press release from Forward in Faith

WOMEN BISHOPS: FORWARD IN FAITH RESPONDS TO JULY 2013 GENERAL SYNOD DEBATE

Forward in Faith thanks the many members of the Catholic Group in General Synod, together with other supporters, for their excellent contributions to yesterday’s debate.

Naturally, we are very disappointed that none of the amendments which would have ensured secure provision for those unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops and priests was passed. However, we are encouraged by the significant minorities, especially in the House of Laity, which did vote for such provision. We are confident that these votes, and the commitment which they represent on the part of many to a genuinely inclusive Church of England, in which all may flourish, will not be overlooked as the process moves forward. The alternative, which we would deeply regret, would be to pursue unsatisfactory legislation, lacking the necessary breadth of support, with the strong risk of ultimate defeat.

More detailed comments are set out below.

We welcome the commitment to continuing the facilitated conversations.

We welcome the widespread affirmation of the five points endorsed by the House of Bishops (GS 1886, para. 12), and trust that the draft legislation will embody and reflect all of them together.

We welcome the fact that 49% of the Synod voted for provisions to reduce the risk of legal challenge in the context of parochial appointments, and the resulting commitment to further work on this.

We strongly welcome the proposal, endorsed by many speakers (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) that the Steering Committee should be representative of a broad spectrum of opinion, and should draft legislation to which all can subscribe.

We also welcome the strong support of a very large minority of Synod members for legislation setting out rights and obligations that would create a clear and stable context for our future life together. We note the preference expressed by 40% of the House of Laity and over 30% of the Synod as a whole for provision to be made by Measure or by regulations under Canon.

In later votes even larger minorities, especially in the House of Laity, rejected key elements of the approach preferred by the House of Bishops and by the most uncompromising supporters of women bishops. In the end, 25% of the Synod declined to endorse even the drafting of legislation on that basis. The logical conclusion is that to do so would result in a repeat of last November’s failure.

We feel bound to reiterate that, while we are not trying to prevent women from becoming bishops in the Church of England, we cannot support any legislation which removes the existing rights of the laity to a ministry that they can receive in good conscience and which fails to offer the minority what the working group termed ‘a greater sense of security’ than the previous draft Measure.

We are unconvinced as to how a ‘mandatory grievance procedure’ binding on bishops can deliver this in respect of parochial appointments by lay patrons and incumbents. We question whether replacing Resolutions A and B with this is the right way of going about the rebuilding of trust.

We remain committed to playing our full part in identifying a consensus that will command the necessary breadth of support to enable those who wish to receive the ministry of female bishops to do so in the near future. We hope and pray that further facilitated conversations and a more broadly-based Steering Committee will achieve this.

+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham Chairman

LINDSAY NEWCOMBE
Dr Lindsay Newcombe Vice-Chairman
9 July 2013

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Tobias Stanislas Haller
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Tobias Stanislas Haller

“…And therefore whosoever are consecrated or ordered according to the Rites of that Book, since the second year of the forenamed King Edward unto this time, or hereafter shall be consecrated or ordered according to the same Rites; we decree all such to be rightly, orderly, and lawfully consecrated and ordered.”

Tim Hind
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Tim Hind

Correction – the final vote was 80% For and 20% Against

JCF
Guest
JCF

“rights of the laity to a ministry that they can receive in good conscience”

Something that those of us who favor “All the Sacraments for All the Baptized” are often told, is that “you haven’t done the theology.”

Where, pray tell, has the theology been done for the above claim?

Stephen B
Guest
Stephen B

All of this means that there is no chance of legislation to make women bishops being agreed by this General Synod.

Bernard Randall
Guest

Tobias, if you read the Ordinal it is clear it can only be used of a man: “Most reverend father in God, we present unto you this godly and well-learned man to be ordained and consecrated Bishop.” or the litany praying “that it may please thee to bless this our Brother elected…” or various other passages. But then when was the Ordinal last actually used? I think FiF are right to point out the voting figures, but I’m reasonably encouraged that we moved from option 1 to 1.7.5. Moving from 1 towards 2 won’t please some, but has to be… Read more »

Helen
Guest
Helen

The laity don’t always believe what their priests would like. An Anglo Catholic Church in Bristol rescinded the Resolutions earlier this year to the surprise and chagrin of the local priest. How many other congregations listed on FiF’s website simply don’t care about the gender of their priest?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Bernard Randall, being slightly facetious here, but only slightly: the writers of the Ordinal didn’t know about inclusive language and women were generally expected to feel themselves included in male language. The Roman Catholics have gone back to purely male based language – the new YouCat is bound to turn off every single young female reader as we are no longer used to see ourselves “included” in male language and it now reads as if it was positively not meant for us. But if I am meant to read “man” and “he” as including me, then I can also read… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“that it may please thee to bless this our Brother elected…”

A female Roman Catholic friend of mine nearly walked out of church after the reintroduction of non inclusive language when the priest invited the congregation to: “let us pray, brothers”.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

As one watches the debate, one realizes its not about women, its still about a small but influential male dominated conservative minority creating political grid-lock inside a church that just can’t seem to get out of its own way. They may be theologically ridiculous, but they are real good at stonewalling. I suspect they will keep the guerrilla warfare on this issue going even in the unlikely event the Church of England can get this done in the foreseeable future. We have something of the same dynamic here in Canada. Our General Synod, just last week, voted to avoid making… Read more »

Bernard Randall
Guest

Erika, the writers of the Ordinal were perfectly capable of finding inclusive language (“person” is sometimes used) – the point is that they didn’t, and you’re not “meant” by them to read “man” and “he” as including you. Sorry. In the BCP services (e.g. burial) words are italicized where they may be changed because of the specific person in question (e.g. “him” may go to “her”, “brother” to “sister”). Not so in the Ordinal, thus no change allowed: males only, I’m afraid. In this, at least, the Church of England’s tradition is clear. Time for the BCP/Ordinal to be taken… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

Bernard Randall, as you may know, The Episcopal Church initially solved the matter of the full inclusion of women in all orders of ministry precisely by declaring, in our national synod, that all references in the canons and liturgy were to be understood in the generic sense. We did later clear up the discrepancies. One particularly telling change is in the Ordinal, where the initial address to the ordaining bishop (at the presentation of the candidate) was altered from “Reverend Father in God…” to “N., Bishop in the Church of God…” However, my point was not about such niceties of… Read more »

Laurence Cunnington
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Laurence Cunnington

“it’s still about a small but influential male dominated conservative minority” Rod Gillis

Indeed. And isn’t Jonathan Baker one of the key players in the much-vaunted Pilling Review? Good luck with that.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Bernard,
as I said, I was being slightly facetious.
But the fact remains – whatever anyone might have meant does not bind the church forever. “No change allowed” is not part of the CoE polity or its Canons.

Just as it is easily possible to substitute “a man and a woman” with “2 people” in the marriage service, so it is easily possible to change “Father in God” and “present this man”, if we discover that the previous understanding was incomplete.

And having made it complete we remain with the affirmation that anyone consecrated according to the Rites of the Ordinal is validly consecrated.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

You see, Bernard, the writers of Roman Catholic texts are also perfectly capable of using Person occasionally.
And yet, the YouCat explanation of evolution includes the gem: “A Christian can accept the theory of evolution as a helpful explanatory model, provided he does not fall into the heresy of evolutionism, which views man as the random product of biological processes.”

Women, presumably, need not trouble their pretty little heads about it.

Language doesn’t create reality, we create language.
And where our use becomes wrong or meaningless, we are not bound to retain it.

Bernard Randall
Guest

Erika, of course the Church is not bound for ever, change is allowed. My point is simply that the “Ordinal” is specifically the one usually bound in with the BCP, which does not allow for anyone other than a male person. Modern services are no problem in this respect – we can change them at will. Not so the old ones which are mentioned in the Canons as (partly) defining CofE doctrine. Hence my not entirely facetious question about changing that canon. Basically, I’m just being pedantic about Tobias quoting Article XXXVI – it doesn’t help us advance the cause… Read more »

Lindsay Southern
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Lindsay Southern

If the legislation comes back with provision in law again it will in all likelihood lose the support of those who favour enabling women to enter the episcopate. I hope we are not going round that particular hamster wheel again.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Looking in from the outside (in ACANZP), the current dancing of F.i.F. seems akin to amateur attempts at fire-walking in the South Pacific. When your foot lands on a hot coal, you immediately jump to another place in the fire – where, nevertheless, you are almost bound to get one or other, or both, of your feet burnt. The actual feat is meant for the feet, only, of those with real faith – not in Christ or the Church, but in one’s own ability to convince oneself that you can put your feet on the fire and not get burnt.… Read more »

Mike Stephenson
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Mike Stephenson

Does anyone else wonder how a group firmly committed to excluding one-half of the population from ordained ministry can even begin to think that their position will promote “a genuinely inclusive Church of England, in which all may flourish….?” Did I miss something?

Labarum
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Labarum

Mike Stephenson wrote:

“Did I miss something?”

Yes Mike. The legitimacy of a mind-set that is not yours.

Rod Gillis
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Rod Gillis

@ Laurence Cunnington. Here’s the thing, someone needs to tell the traditionalists of tender conscience, (and the men who are supporting them, whether in favor of women’s ordination or not) that its not about them. It ought to be about equality for members of the baptized who also happen to be female. The C of E is sending the opposite message. How the question is framed, indeed who gets to decide what the relevant questions are, these are telling matters. The whole process is about making major change without getting anyone upset, or requiring anyone in a position of privilege… Read more »

JCF
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JCF

…or, Labarum, you could actually ADDRESS MikeS’s question. All the women, present and future, who have discerned a call to holy orders, and all those who have affirmed their call: how does FiF propose to include them in their version of the CofE? How will they flourish in it?

Helen
Guest
Helen

FIF’s mindset claims legitimacy, but how far is it based on historical reality or the Gospels? Why do we never have any genuine debate or even discussion of these religious convictions? In any other sphere there would be. In the Church we must all be treated like children. No wonder people leave.

primroseleague
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primroseleague

Helen, because I think it comes under the heading of “uneasy truce.” Pre 1992 all those debates were had, and the conclusion reached was, they’re both legitimate (whether through expediency, dishonesty to get the vote through, or whatever) – hence we as a church went down the rabbit hole of allowing 2 completely contradictory beliefs to exist alongside each other, rightly or wrongly. Since when, we’ve (as the whole CofE) not been allowed to have those debates, because the other side of the coin is to revisit the legitimacy of all the “religious convictions” on the table, including WO. I… Read more »

Richard
Guest
Richard

“All the women, present and future, who have discerned a call to holy orders, and all those who have affirmed their call: how does FiF propose to include them in their version of the CofE? How will they flourish in it?”

By being ordained and serving in churches and parishes across the land, along with their brothers and sisters in FiF churches? That’s the FiF vision, surely.

The – slightly caricatured – vision of Modern Church is that the Church of England will have no FiF churches.

More coherent, perhaps; more inclusive…?

magistra
Guest

I think the question isn’t so much about the legitimacy of the ideas of those who are anti-women’s ordination (we’re never going to agree on that), as their coherence. If the point was that for some congregations/individuals sacramental assurance could only be ensured via the performance of such sacraments by “male-line” clergy, then it would be possible (if difficult) to find ways round that. On that rationale, a male bishop who had himself been ordained by a male bishop ought to be accepted as a bishop whatever his views are. But in practice, FiF appear to have decided to segregate… Read more »

Helen
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Helen

Actually primrose league, the legitimacy of the arguments of the pro WBs was both questioned and discussed in the November debate. It was FIF’s and Reform’s arguments that the bishops seem curiously unwilling to subject to scrutiny.

Primroseleague
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Primroseleague

Helen, True, but the inherent “problem” stems from the acceptance that it’s ok to believe women can’t be priests, let alone bishops. The November debate skated perilously close at times to a rerun of the 1992 debate, but it was never quite allowed to become one (rightly). But we will go round in circles until either there’s an accommodation, the “traditionalists” leave, the “traditionalists” are driven out, or we go right back to first principles and put everything up for grabs, including WO, again. FWIW my money is on 1 or 3, I can’t see 2 happening spontaneously,and 4 is… Read more »

RosalindR
Guest
RosalindR

primroseleague, I usually value your contributions to these boards, because you are careful about how you express your thoughts. But I’m about to challenge you on the phrase “the “traditionalists” are driven out”. I recognise that if the C of E makes a decision about women bishops that some groups of traditionalists feel they are unable to live with, they may decide to leave and it may *feel* like being driven out, but in fact, it would be the sort of decision that individual Christians are making and acting on most of the time as they move from one congregation… Read more »

Helen
Guest
Helen

“The inherent “problem” stems from the acceptance that it’s ok to believe women can’t be priests, let alone bishops”.
Quite so. No church should make windows into people’s souls. But when there is a demand that the structure of the church should be adapted to reflect this belief, there is no reason why the basis for it should not be challenged on both historical and theological grounds, particularly by those who are tasked with spiritual leadership within the church.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“FIF’s mindset claims legitimacy, but how far is it based on historical reality or the Gospels? Why do we never have any genuine debate or even discussion of these religious convictions? “ That’s the question of the hour. Without that discussion, the argument boils down to “we’re just as entitled to our bigotries as you are…” It would be so affirming for women and girls to hear it again… God created male and female in God’s image… The traditionalist view doesn’t hold water when it is unpacked and held up to the light. So I don’t quite understand why the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia, the debate is as hard and pointless as the lgbt debate. If you insist that 7 tenuous references to same sex sexuality, taken literally and out of context, make up a binding prohibition of long term stable same sex relationship you are not open to any theology that uses different hermeneutics and that takes science and experience into account. If you insist that the fact that the bible speaks of 12 male disciples and that Jesus himself was male and not male and female at the same time as clear evidence that no woman ever can be a priest,… Read more »

Primroseleague
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Primroseleague

“The traditionalist view doesn’t hold water when it is unpacked and held up to the light.” Cynthia, surely you can see that a traditionalist would just swap traditionalist for liberal in that sentence and say exactly the same? This is religion, if it was as totally objective as your sentence then we wouldn’t have denominations, let alone strands within them, everyone would just be a Christian. I agree with you that objectively the liberal view is AS valid certainly. I do try and think it through Rosalind, perhaps that’s the definition of a Thinking Anglican. Erika was very perceptive Last… Read more »

Helen
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Helen

“The traditionalist view doesn’t hold water when it is unpacked and held up to the light.” Cynthia, surely you can see that a traditionalist would just swap traditionalist for liberal in that sentence and say exactly the same? This is religion, if it was as totally objective as your sentence then we wouldn’t have denominations, let alone strands within them, everyone would just be a Christian” Well yes, primroseleague, personal belief is affective and can never be objective, but on an institutional level theological convictions, of whatever hue, should surely be subject to a rather more critical examination than they… Read more »

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

Helen, I totally agree. However, there is plenty of scholarship on both sides. Even today, one of the “benefits” of being in bed with flu, I’ve read someone dismissing all the Junia scholarship as “widely discredited” in a blog comment – I don’t know on what grounds, obviously, but it’s not like anyone is really unaware of their opponents’ arguments. Although the number of people in the secular media that now think “headship” is the principle objection for all “traditionalists” and can’t see a difference between Trad ACs and ConEVOs is mildly terrifying… I still think the reason there is… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Primroseleague “I still think the reason there is no critical debate is that both sides have made their mind up..” I think the reason there is no critical debate is that it has been had. Extensively. 20 years ago before the CoE voted for women priests. We cannot keep reinventing the wheel. We don’t re-start any other historic theological debates, why should we re-start this one? This is a church that has women priests and this is a church that has affirmed that it supports women bishops. Anyone wanting to make up their own mind about it now can access… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“personal belief is affective and can never be objective, but on an institutional level theological convictions, of whatever hue, should surely be subject to a rather more critical examination” Exactly. Individuals can believe as they wish, and join the church or parish of their choice. The institution, however, is making a powerful statement about the nature of God, God’s Creation, and our relationship with our Creator. If an individual thinks that women are inadequate for ordination and leadership, that’s their business. If the institution enshrines this hateful view, that is the message to the world about the nature of God.… Read more »

Primroseleague
Guest
Primroseleague

Erika,

I’m agreeing with you, in response to the multiple “why can’t we go over all this again and put it to bed?”posts, (starting from the position that traditionalist views should be up for “critical” examination in isolation) and in particular agreeing with your 0928 post this morning, which is spot on. Hence no debate because both sides HAVE made their mind up. In this whole thread I’ve been totally consistent in that, not sure why I’m being jumped on other than that we’ve ended up in different places?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia,
we state the creed weekly.
That is it.
We do not discuss it weekly and throw it all up in the air again.
Individuals may take this bit on board or that, dissent from this or that.
But,corporately, this is what we believe and what we state.

Primroseleague,
I thought you were saying that if there was critical debate people might change their minds. Whereas you are saying the same thing I’m saying – that people HAVE made up their minds.
I misunderstood you, apologies!

RosalindR
Guest
RosalindR

Primroseleague (and I hope the flu soon departs), I don’t think we are quite in a place where the definition of bullying, abuse, and all the various “isms” are purely subjective definitions. A school I know has an effective anti-bullying policy which starts with the question”is it bullying?” and the answer is not always “yes”! I agree that there is much more realisation that victims need to be able to tell their own stories in their own words, and for their perceptions to be recognised rather than ignored and contradicted. But I’m not convinced that someone who leaves a church… Read more »

magistra
Guest

Primrose League, I’m sorry if you feel you’re being got at – I think maybe because you give such a clear impression of thinking critically about what you believe and listening to what others say, it’s hard to resist the view that you might be won over to what we see as the more reasonable nature of our cause. As to why those in favour of WO don’t doubt their views now – it’s because it’s a not just a matter of theory or theology, but lived experience. We can see wonderful female priests, carrying out ministries that could not… Read more »