Wednesday, 20 February 2008

WATCH on the delay over women as bishops

Women and the Church (WATCH) has issued a press release. The headline is Women bishops “highly unlikely” for another five years.

At the recent meeting of General Synod, members were told by the Chair of the
Legislative Drafting Group that it was “highly unlikely” that the vote on women
bishops would be taken by July 2010.

The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, chair of the group
preparing draft legislation for women bishops, outlined the process and predicted
the likely time it would take.

The bishop’s statement shocked a large number of Synod members, who met and
expressed their outrage at the length of time the process was taking…

This release also includes these remarks of Professor Anthony Berry, a member of General Synod, from Chester diocese:

The opponents of women priests and bishops argue that men and women were
created as complements to each other as a creative and creating sexual couple. But
such opponents then adduce that one of the sexes is, to borrow Orwell’s, phrase
“more equal than the other” in matters of authority. This argument surely cannot hold
in matters of the church spiritual for if it did, we Christians would have to accept that
the created order would place men or women subservient to the other.

“Further if this equal but sexually different argument is driven into matters of church
order (the church temporal) then it sexualises the whole of my male human identity
and capabilities and claims that these are in all cases superior to the sexualised
identity and capabilities of all women. I find this profoundly offensive to my
understanding of human sexuality, identities and capabilities and also to my
relations with both men and women.

“The business managers of the Church are probably right to have some sensitivity in
the run up to the Lambeth Conference, but in the Anglican covenant process it has
been legally confirmed that the Church of England has the right under the Queen in
Parliament to order its own affairs. Wisely, this ordering is done in the context of the
wider Anglican Communion, where a number of provinces do already have women

“It is inconceivable that the process of legislation to put into effect the
decision of General Synod to proceed to Women Bishops should take more
than a year and a half. Certainly the legislative process could easily be
completed by July 2010. It would be negligent of the General Synod to permit
the matter to drag on into the next decade. The business managers of Synod
should already be considering having additional meetings of Synod to ensure
that this business is accomplished.”

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 20 February 2008 at 6:55pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

"if it did, we Christians would have to accept that the created order would place men or women subservient to the other."

The complementarity only functions on a sexual level, it seems. The entire point of "male headship" is that women are meant to be subservient to men. There is no equality, women may not have authority over men, may not teach men. They even try to redefine the Trinity to make the Son subservient to the Father to further justify the point. It isn't much of an argument to say "But that makes women subservient to men" when the other side will just come back and say "That's what we've always been saying God wants." Tell me something I don't know, or at least explain in terms Pseudorthodox can understand, why it is is NOT part of God's plan, and I agree that it is not, for women to be subservient to men. Don't just say that there's something wrong with making that claim. Of course it's wrong, now prove why it's wrong.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 20 February 2008 at 7:26pm GMT

Well to take a hint from comedienne Joan Rivers, one might now ask, Can we talk?

Pretty much the same believers who agonize and resist educated and gifted women in church life leadership are the same believers who agonize and loudly condemn the notion that queer folks could ever NOT innately be incompetent, and thence immoral by way of unfairly foisting their innate incompetence upon others in civil life and in church life.

We now have published so much empirical data as to fairly reasonably conclude that both of these objections are flat earth ethics, and flat earth theologies. While we dither this way and that, we are denying ourselves the large benefits of many talented and committed believers, just because a particular person may be a woman or a queer citizen. What good modern sense could it possibly make, to allow gifted women or queer folks to become neurosurgeons, while still preaching that they innately embody some mysterious and sacred impediment that prevents them from serving God as our servant in church life?

One is almost tempted to say, we get the church life we deserve as people of free inquiry and good conscience; but then, that sound bite neglects the many customary hindrances to our heeding the planetary, looming message we must all sense, deep down in our modern bones: Adapt, Change, or die.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 20 February 2008 at 9:07pm GMT

Oh for heaven's sake get on with it.

Posted by: L Roberts on Wednesday, 20 February 2008 at 9:21pm GMT

The longer the women wait, the stronger their case grows, and the weaker will become the opponents case for a parallel jurisdiction.

In the meantime what about a measure to recognise the confirmations and ordinations of overseas women bishops.

Pull the carpet from under the feet of the opponents.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 20 February 2008 at 10:03pm GMT

It looks like it will be necessary for TEC to send women missionary bishops to the UK to minister to the needs of the disaffected. I mean what's sauce for the goose and the gander and all that.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 1:36am GMT

Timidity and slowness for its own sake. When it comes to anything ethical or "inclusive" a sort of dead weight takes over.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 1:46am GMT

"The bishop’s statement shocked a large number of Synod members, who met and expressed their outrage at the length of time the process was taking…"

As well they should: this foot-dragging is OUTRAGEOUS! >:-0

Some people STILL haven't got the memo: male and female, BOTH created in the Image of God. Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 2:56am GMT

Women shut out of any ordained ministry means that the Holy Spirit is diminished by one half.

Posted by: counterlight on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 3:35am GMT

As a strong supporter of the C of E having women bishops I'd much prefer a Measure to be passed in 2011 than for one to be defeated in 2010.

The vote at General Synod in summer 2006 made it clear that whilst the present Synod has a majority in each House in favour it does not have the two thirds majority in each House necessary for the final vote. It would be unusual for there to be larger majorities in favour of detailed legislation than were in favour of the general principles. For that reason I would favour getting the legislation close to final vote and then holding the 2010 elections to Synod with the matter clearly before everyone as the first task of the new quinquennium. I believe that an election held in the immediate run up to final vote would force candidates to declare their hands (some conservatives notoriously didn't last time round) and would also reduce the tendency of opponents to get a higher turnout (too many mainstream voters don't bother to vote or simply vote for someone they know rather than on the issues).

I'm sorry if that smacks of low politics, but it simply reflects the reality of where the present General Synod is.


Posted by: David Walker on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 9:11am GMT

"It looks like it will be necessary for TEC to send women missionary bishops to the UK to minister to the needs of the disaffected"

While visitors from our sister church in the USA are always welcome, parts of the UK ie the Scottish church have already made provision for women bishops - it's just that we haven't got round to appointing any yet!


Posted by: Kennedy on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 9:49am GMT

Yes, lets have some bishops consecrated by american bishops --our own Philadelphia 11 with knobs on

Posted by: L Roberts on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 12:46pm GMT

It seems a strange use of the word 'equal' to imply 'in all cases superior'. Is this what opponents of women bishops are actually saying?

Posted by: Chris on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 1:27pm GMT

The challenge to argue in pseudo-orthodox terms in order to demonstrate the faults of the assertion and its reasons only beckons to mislead us. If the starting presuppositions in reading scripture are tilted and/or false from a variety of alternative angles, then surely the conclusions unfold just as the presuppositional arrow was aimed in the first place. Maybe we do better to carefully examine these faulty starting presups about women, sexuality, embodiment, and the much vaunted sound bite of alleged complementarity, headed up as it always happens by men whom God is supposed to have created to head things up so nicely for us that we never have to think for ourselves, and goodness sakes, may happily avoid questioning the men who head us up.

Of course when this new fangled realignment campaign approach outright lies about history or something that actually happened or was published or whatever among us, we can point out the particular error of historical fact. But even that mistake duly noted tends to leave the presuppositions untouched, certainly for most or many of the believers to whom the presuppositions so consistently appeal with great and enduring force of mind or heart.

Once you accept the original conservative framework, unquestioned, you are caught fast in the hermeneutic circle.

This is both its continuing appeal, at least to some believers - imagine a theology that fastens upon the mind and heart like a sprung bear trap overlaid with wreaths of high and perfumed adoration for the most penalistic notions of Jesus' nature and mission? - and its continuing intellectual limitation, to other believers.

Our new-fangled worldwide Anglican orthodoxy is an odd game, indeed. The only way to win is not to play ball on its curious and closed terms.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 3:42pm GMT

David Walker is bang on!....but I still feel in the interim there should be a vote on recognising the ordinations and confirmations of women bishops overseas.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Thursday, 21 February 2008 at 7:42pm GMT
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