Thinking Anglicans

Prime Minister's Questions – women bishops

The Prime Minister was asked about women bishops at Question Time in the House of Commons yesterday.

Q3. [901147] Sir Tony Baldry (Banbury) (Con): General Synod is meeting today and hopefully will find a way to enable women as soon as possible to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England. If this is successful, will my right hon. Friend and the Government support amendments to the Bishops Act to ensure that women bishops can be admitted to the House of Lords as soon as possible rather than new women bishops having to queue up behind every existing diocesan bishop before we can see women bishops in Parliament?

The Prime Minister: My hon. Friend follows these matters closely and asks an extremely important question. I strongly support women bishops and hope the Church of England takes this key step to ensure its place as a modern Church in touch with our society. On the problem he raises—there is, of course, a seniority rule for bishops entering the House of Lords—the Government are ready to work with the Church to see how we can get women bishops into the House of Lords as soon as possible.

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Richard GrandEdward PrebbleFather Ron Smithwilliam hamelSimon Sarmiento Recent comment authors
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Father David
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Father David

Seems to me that both the Prime Minister and Mr. Tony Baldry are both in favour of Positive Discrimination as far as getting women bishops into the House of Lords is concerned. It is good to see that the Government is willing to work with the Church in order to acheive this dubious goal. Looks like a spirit of co-operation has broken out not only within the Established Church but between the Government and the Church of England. How well I remember the good old days of Runcie V Thatcher when the CofE was more effective in opposing the Tory… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
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But, Father David; it is surely important to consider the grounds of co-operation when making observations about the propriety of Church/State relationship. In this instance, Tony Baldry and your Prime Minister are both seeking justice for women.

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

Presumably the simplest way to achieve what Baldry and Cameron want would be to appoint a woman as bishop of London, Winchester or Durham at the first such vacancy after passing of the necessary legislation

robert ian Williams
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robert ian Williams

Its discrimination against all other religious groupings that male or female Anglican bishops sit in the house of Lords anyway. Considering that less than 2 per cent of the population ever go to a Church of England on a regular basis, and that the denomination baptizes less than a sixth of English babies.

Father Ron Smith
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Robert, it does well to remember that the British Parliament does not harness power structures that operate from outside the country. Hierarchical Churches that are ruled from overseas have no jurisdiction in England. If you want a say in the House of Lords through your local bishop, you would have to rejoin the Church of England.

peter kettle
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Appoint a woman as Bp London, Durham, Winchester to fast-track a woman bishop in the Lords? Yes, but the next vacancy at York and Canterbury are just as possible!

Father David
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Father David

But Father Ron,it all depends upon whether or not the first woman bishop happens to be a diocesan or a suffragan (I can imagine many present diocesans queuing up to be the first to appoint the first woman suffragan. If the first is, in fact, a suffragan, then she won’t under the current rules be considered eligible to be ennobled. The old justice argument appears once again. That was how Roy Williamson persuaded the General Synod two decades and more ago to vote in favour of the priesting of women by employing the justice card. But just as there is… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
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Fr Ron
I think you are quite wrong on that. CofE bishops are forever telling us that they are there to speak for everybody within their dioceses, not merely those who go to CofE churches. And they make this point particularly vociferously when defending their continued presence in the House of Lords.

william hamel
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Friend follows these matters closely and asks an extremely important question. I strongly support women bishops and hope the Church of England takes this key step to ensure its place as a modern Church in touch with our society.

Father Ron Smith
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Thank you, Simon. This situation – of C. of E. Bishops being responsible to all people in their geographical diocese – might assist the cause for separation of Church and State in England and Wales. Then Robert (who obviously does not relish the thought of an Anglican bishop presuming to represent him, a Roman Catholic, in the House of Lords) might get his way.

Edward Prebble
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Edward Prebble

Peter and Fr David
I certainly did not forget Cantuar and Ebor – I thought that might be a bridge too far. And who knows when vacancies might come up at the other dioceses? After all, the last chap at Durham didn’t last very long!
Perhaps Fr David is right – London is the best one to go for. I imagine that the person so appointed would probably change the current Bishop’s policy of not ordaining women!

Richard Grand
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Richard Grand

Robert Ian doesn’t miss a chance to try to give a depressing statistic about the CofE, although he never cites a source.