Tuesday, 27 May 2008

petitions in support of women as bishops

Two petitions have been set up: one for Church of England male clergy (other than serving bishops), the other for all lay people of the Church of England.

The petitions can be found at these websites:

The letter of invitation to male clergy is below. A separate letter of invitation to laity will follow.

AN INVITATION TO MALE CLERGY
FROM: The Deans of Bristol, Durham, Manchester, Southwark and St Edmundsbury
TO: Male clergy and retired bishops of the Church of England

Greetings! You are invited to read the statement below (and also attached) and to add your signature to the on-line petition.

This petition is for male clergy and retired bishops to sign. It is not for serving bishops. The website for the petition for male clergy is
http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/19569.html

There is a separate website for lay people to sign and show their support for the letter from the women clergy to the House of Bishops. The website for the petition for lay people is http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/19571.html

Please send these website links to any of your friends and colleagues whom you believe should be made aware of their existence. If they are not equipped with a computer please enable them to sign by offering them the facility of doing so via your computer.

If you feel you are unable to sign, thank you for reading this and for considering doing so.

A statement from male clergy to the House of Bishops

We welcome the letter sent in early May by our women clergy colleagues to the House of Bishops of the Church of England. In common with them, we support the Simplest Statutory Approach outlined in the Report of the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group (GS 1685).

The letter, signed by over 500 clergy women within two days, has accumulated even more support since it was published and is now approaching a thousand signatures. We wish the House of Bishops to be aware how strongly our women colleagues are supported by us, their male counterparts in the ministry of the Church.

We emphasise our agreement that the price of having arrangements spelt out in law for those opposed to women bishops is too high and we would add that the language of ‘safeguards’ is offensive. Any such legislation would enshrine discrimination against women within the ordained ministries of the Church, which we would find unacceptable. Twenty years’ experience in the provinces of the Anglican Communion where there are women bishops has shown tried and tested ways to meet graciously and generously the concerns of those who remain opposed to women’s ordination. In none of the 15 provinces that have voted to have women as bishops has discriminatory legislation been included. We are confident that acceptable non-statutory arrangements can be devised.

We point out that many ordained men supported the ordination of women to the priesthood from the outset; significantly, many others have changed their minds over the past fourteen years. We value the ministry and collegiality of female clergy as much as that of our male colleagues; parishes and congregations have been enriched and assisted, cathedrals have benefited from the addition of women to their Chapters, and most congregations are bemused that any further hesitation and prevarication is even being considered. They know the good fruits of a priesthood inclusive of both women and men.

We urge the House of Bishops to give a clear and positive lead in the General Synod that the simplest statutory approach is all that is required to enable the ordination of women to the episcopate, something for which the Synod has already shown its support. We believe this will have widespread approval within our congregations and in both Houses of Parliament. We also believe that having women as well as men serving as bishops will be beneficial to all our work and that it will result in greater unity and integrity within our Church and greater credibility in our mission and ministry.

We consider that any further delay or any compromise in legislation would be deleterious to our mission and evangelism. We are also aware that some men themselves may well refuse ordination to the episcopate if the Church chooses to be discriminatory in its acceptance of women as bishops.

We appreciate the patience and generosity expressed by our sisters in Orders and we urge that the time is right for a formal and simple extension of their ministries to include episcopacy as soon as possible.

We sign this letter in a spirit of solidarity in faith and work with our female colleagues and we pray for wisdom, clarity and courage for our (all male) House of Bishops.

June 2008

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 4:23pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

It is unfortunate, to say the least, that the laity petition begins

"We, the lay members of the Church of England,. . ."

with the implication that those who sign the petition form the entirety of the lay members of the Church of England.

In the very act of calling for non-discrimination, discrimination has been introduced.

It should have started "We, as lay members . . ." or "We, being lay members . . ."

Posted by: pinus on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 10:16pm BST

Pinus, you're missing the point. It's prophetic! Once they have driven out all opposition it will be true - they will be THE Laity of the Church of England - any dissent can go! That is the attitude we are faced with. And it is the choice Synod will have to make. Do we want a laity which is broarder than the signatories of this petition? The signatories do not and they do themselves a disservice by claiming that they do. They know fully well that their proposals do not even begin to meet the needs of opponents but they do not have the guts to say so because they fear Synod may be more open minded and generous if it sees through this chirade.

The petition ought to state:
"We the laity of the newly streamlined CofE believe that women should be consecrated as bishops ASAP. We acknowlege that many thousands do not share this view but we believe that we are better off without them and are fully prepared to see them unchurched." That would be honest!

Posted by: David Malloch on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 12:26am BST

Nit-picking, pinus.

On the other hand: a petition for male clergy? What, are "some animals more equal than others"? :-/

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 2:37am BST

Tush, David M, women in the episcopate have been due for a long time, as everyone should know by now - all this faux surprise and sabre-rattling is not becoming. The "antis" with high principles all went to Rome years ago, and the people I know who did that don't entertain a high opinion of those who accommodated their consciences to remaining in the C of E while still being anti-women's ordination.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 8:22am BST

So many letters and petitions, so little time! I really do worry about all this politicking and maneouvering. Whatever happened to wait and see? Let's wait and see what the General Synod agenda actually says before we get ourselves worked up.

Posted by: Fr. G on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 9:00am BST

JCF - there has already been a petition for female clergy, which attracted signatures ffrom half the female clerics in the Church of England.

Posted by: Frozenchristian on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 11:05am BST

Re the letter from female clergy:

According to the letter posted yesterday, see above,

"The letter, signed by over 500 clergy women within two days, has accumulated even more support since it was published and is now approaching a thousand signatures."

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 11:19am BST

Why have different petitions for laity and clergy at all? Surely clergy could indicate their position in a unified petition? I am due to be ordained deacon at Petertide - should I sign as a lay person or hold off and sign as clergy? Or sign as both? I might start a petition to only have one petition - who is with me?

Posted by: Cedd on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 11:47am BST

Although I am strongly in favour of WO, including women bishops, this petition raises all sorts of issues. For the moment, as a boring, pedantic academic, I'd like to point out that the covering invitation contains a common but inexcusable grammatical error.

Posted by: john on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 1:21pm BST

"Twenty years’ experience in the provinces of the Anglican Communion where there are women bishops has shown tried and tested ways to meet graciously and generously the concerns of those who remain opposed to women’s ordination."

In live in America. TEC, still marginally part of the Anglican Communion, has in most dioceses graciously and generously hounded out opponents of WO, refused them seminary training and ordination, and made no effective arrangements for alternative episcopal oversight. This statement is at worst deliberately mendacious or, at best, pig ignorant.

Posted by: Austin Scott on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 7:30pm BST

"JCF - there has already been a petition for female clergy"

I realize that, FrozenChristian, but it's besides the point.

There shouldn't be a separate petition for "male clergy", for the same reason there shouldn't be a "Union of White Episcopalians": dominant classes don't need separate advocacy entities (regardless of their agenda).

If there is to be a another clergy petition {*}, it should be just that: a *clergy petition*, which BOTH male and female clergy may sign.

{*} I say "If", because I basically agree w/ Cedd: why should their be separate petitions for clergy and laity? The point is to get as many *signatures in support of women in the episcopate* as possible, not segregate the signatures into separate petitions for separate classes.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 10:58pm BST

"This statement is at worst deliberately mendacious or, at best, pig ignorant. Posted by Austin Scott"

Pot, meet Kettle.

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 3:47am BST

"TEC, still marginally part of the Anglican Communion, has in most dioceses graciously and generously hounded out opponents of WO, refused them seminary training and ordination, and made no effective arrangements for alternative episcopal oversight."

Really? Then how is it, in the Diocese of New York (hardly a bastion of conservative thought in TEC), we had a rector who was so vehemently opposed to women's ordination that he refused to recommend my wife for seminary when she was exploring it a decade or so ago?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 4:08am BST

Reading the comments it seems people have not read the text of the petition. It is not to do with whether women can be consecrated - it is to do with provision

Posted by: Ian on Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 10:35pm BST

I've been thinking on this for a few days, and I've come to a conclusion:

Maybe we all need to laugh at ourselves and with ourselves a bit more. I suspect that Dawn French in "The Vicar of Dibley" has done more to change minds in favor of woman priests than any petition or march or theological rhetoric ever could.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 9:54pm BST
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