Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Women in the episcopate - House of Bishops' statement

The House of Bishops of the Church of England has issued this statement this afternoon.

Women in the episcopate - House of Bishops’ statement

At its meeting in York on 17/18 May, the House of Bishops discussed the Revision Committee’s report on the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops.

The House noted that the forthcoming meeting of the General Synod in July would be a key moment in the legislative process when all 470 members of Synod would have the opportunity to debate the report and proceed to a clause by clause consideration of the draft Measure and Amending Canon. The House believed that the Synod would be helped in its task by the clarity and thoroughness of the Committee’s analysis.

As previous debates have shown, a majority of the members of the House strongly support the admission of women to the episcopate. At the same time there remains a strong commitment on the part of the House to preserve an honoured place within the Church of England for those unable to receive this development. There continues to be a variety of views within the House over the best way of achieving that, while enabling women fully to exercise their new ministry.

The July Synod has the potential to be one of the most demanding meetings of the Synod for many years. It will, in the view of the House, be an occasion when all concerned will need to listen with particular care to those with views that differ from their own and to acknowledge the passion and sincerity with which those views are held.

The House is aware that there are those who believe that the present legislative process does not have the potential to lead to a satisfactory conclusion and that a better outcome is more likely to be achieved in some years’ time. Most members of the House consider, however, that it is crucial to keep faith with the present process. They see no grounds for believing that the issues with which the Church is grappling will become significantly easier to resolve with the passage of time.

The July debates will provide the chance for the full Synod to decide whether it wishes to make significant changes to the draft legislation, including whether to retain an approach based on a statutory code of practice or to support amendments giving effect to some other approach. What happens thereafter will depend on what Synod decides. On any basis it will be at least another two years before the mind of the Church of England can be determined at the final approval stage.

The House accepted the recommendation of the Revision Committee that, if the proposal for a statutory code of practice is retained in July, work to develop a fresh draft of the code should start soon thereafter. The House will, in those circumstances, establish a group, constituted consistently with the Committee’s recommendation.

Note

The report of the Revision Committee was published on 8 May.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 2:13pm BST | TrackBack
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

No, by all means move forward. If there is anything that we learned in the Episcopal Church in the process of welcoming women, and now GLBT folks, into all ministries in the Church, it is that it doesn't get easier with time. Indeed, things can become so much more entrenched.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 3:09pm BST

It is as difficult as you choose to make it.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 5:23pm BST

What special arrangements were offered to the losing side when the Ordination of Women was refused by the Church of England ?

What did anti-ordination of women advocates propose for our amelioration back then ?

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 5:37pm BST

All that is needed is the addition of the words 'and women' in the Rubric of the service for the Consecration of Bishops.

It's that simple.

The marriage liturgy can also be simply amended to embrace all couples.

Now then, there are real human needs out there waiting for the Churches to address them ...

and the gender of those offering help doesn't matter a fig to them.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 5:43pm BST

All that is needed is the addition of the words 'and women' in the Rubric of the service for the Consecration of Bishops...

...but are these ONLY words or are you changing the meaning, substance and message of faith?

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 7:21pm BST

"a majority of the members of the House strongly support the admission of women to the episcopate. ... there remains a strong commitment on the part ...to preserve an honoured place within the Church of England for those unable to receive this development." We still have vestiges of this in Canada. Deference to the tender conscience of old boys trumps gender equality every time. Will the last person off the Titanic please stack the deck chairs neatly.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 10:01pm BST

there remains a strong commitment on the part ...to preserve an honoured place within the Church of England for those unable to receive this development

this is close to being a bare faced lie without some action or proof to back it up!!!

What do you all make of +Lindsay Urwins thoughts in the Church Times? Read them here
http://sbarnabas.com/blog/2010/05/18/lindsay-urwin-writes/

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 10:40pm BST

"...but are these ONLY words or are you changing the meaning, substance and message of faith?"

Oh, definitely changing the meaning, substance and message of faith! That is, if your faith is "No Girls Allowed."

Posted by: Bill Moorhead on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 10:53pm BST

Ed, you commented on "All that is needed is the addition of the words 'and women' in the Rubric of the service for the Consecration of Bishops..." with "...but are these ONLY words or are you changing the meaning, substance and message of faith?"

Well, from this and from other things you've posted, you clearly think they do. However, for many of us the question is more appropriately, "Are THESE words changing the meaning, substance and message of faith?" Well, for many of us they don't change what God has done in Christ, and what God is doing in the Spirit. They are to us _recognition_ of what God has done in Christ, and what God is doing in the Spirit, in ways that we have simply failed for a long time to understand. I recognize that you don't find that compelling; and arguing for that would take more than the 400-word limit on posts here - and since you've had it presented before and didn't find it compelling, I won't irritate you with it. So, God be with you.

Posted by: Marshall Scott on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 11:12pm BST

Rod Gills' comment on the C.of E. House of Bishops' response to the Revision Committee's Report on the Ordination of Women bishops is a valid one. Perhaps the Members of July's General Synod should study; read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest what can happen in churches where Women Bishops are still subject to an ongoing climate of receptional ambiguity.

It is very likely that, whatever provision is made for the opponents of Women Bishops in the Church of England - to 'live with' the reality of their ordination into the episcopate - this will not really satisfy their ambition to be free of the prospect of women's ministry. Nor will it satisfy those who are wanting the Church to be free from ambiguity on the question of women's ministry.

The old idea of the Two Integrities can no longer be seen to be an effective tool for accommodation of dissent - nor should it, if we value what might be called the integrity of 'catholic order'. The opponents of women - like Ed T. - might maintain that the ordination of women is already against 'catholic order' - but whose 'catholicity' are we talking about here? Roman, maybe, but not Anglican

As with all systems of appeasement, any attempt to mollify the opponents of women's leadership in the Church will inevitably harbour a culture of 'them and us', which is hardly conducive to the Unity of the Church of England - any more than it has helped the cause of unity in Canada. Either women are co-equal bearers of the Image and Likeness of the God we serve (in Christ) - and capable of exercising the same ministry - or not. The Church needs to declare its hand, unequivocally.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 18 May 2010 at 11:21pm BST

"All that is needed is the addition of the words 'and women' in the Rubric of the service for the Consecration of Bishops...

...but are these ONLY words or are you changing the meaning, substance and message of faith? "

Gee, I thought the meaning, substance and message of my faith was summed up in the Nicene Creed. Never noticed anything about the gender of bishops in there.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 3:17am BST

It is simply time for those in The Church of England who oppose women in the priesthood or episcopate to move on and find another Christian community. Rome will welcome people who feel this way and many Protestant and Orthodox communities would do so as well. It is time to go. Staying only prolongs your disgust and this is unhealthy. God be with you. I hope you find what you are looking for.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 3:28am BST

Father Ron: "... Either women are co-equal bearers of the Image and Likeness of the God we serve ..."

I think that's the whole point, and, for me, the shortfall in thinking that 'man' is somehow more closely representational of God than 'woman'.

By perpetuating a patriarchal priesthood I feel - and I recognise that some Christians of integrity would disagree - we run the risk of projecting an image of God which 'gets stuck' on sex and gender.

Surely, just as God made us all in the divine image, male and female... so God both understands and feels everything it is to be male, and everything it is to be female... yet transcends both. Just as we in our human personhood are more than 'male' or 'female'.

In my view, to most truly reflect the person of God, our 'image' of priesthood needs to transcend gender.

To me, God is both faithful father and faithful mother. Often in prayer I feel held like a child at the breast.

Equally, in the representation of God, female priests may meet the needs of people in distinctive ways, while also serving in ways where personhood crosses gender divides.

As a transsexual Christian, I feel acutely aware that 'personhood' transcends gender. As human beings, male or female are only parts of the whole of who we are in Christ. In God's image we are *all* made.

I feel sincere concern for people who, in the integrity of their faith, are deeply troubled by emergent thinking and changes in tradition. I think the Church as a whole owes them some sense of responsibility and care.

But if God is better represented by 'man' than 'woman' then I feel both our view of God and our view of women may be diminished, even if that is not the intention. God is more than gender. So are we.

Much grace is needed between us to keep loving one another and treating one another with respect. Christians with opposing views on such matters may *both* sincerely and with integrity seek to love and honour God.

Or Godde, the spelling I prefer, midway between culturally identified male 'god' and female 'goddess', yet - all of both and, right down the middle, so much more beyond, and mysterious and wonderful.

Male and female we were made in Godde's image. There is a lot to be discovered in that statement.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Wednesday, 19 May 2010 at 9:50pm BST

"If there is anything that we learned in the Episcopal Church in the process of welcoming women, and now GLBT folks, into all ministries in the Church, it is that it doesn't get easier with time. Indeed, things can become so much more entrenched"

Well, my experience has been that it does get easier with time. The more normative it has been in my diocese [Dio of Va], the easier it has been. And check out the secular press reaction to the consecrations in Dio of LA - 2 inch AP stories.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 20 May 2010 at 3:41am BST

I take your point Susannah but what do we do when God has revealed himself as male if we take scripture seriously. Jesus taught us to pray to a father....that is explicit.

And how do you ensure a personal relationship with God when we move away from his revelation and make him both male and female....we start to drift back towards the God we cannot know or see which is the God of Islam and Judaism but manifestly NOT the God of the New Testament. At worst we drift back into paganism with the creator mother God.

In your scenario your opinion takes on the same precedent as divine revelation....dangerous ground IMO

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Thursday, 20 May 2010 at 7:47am BST

Ed
let me get this straight. You actually believe that God is male in the physical biological sense that all bodily creatures are either male or female because that's the only way a species can reproduce?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 20 May 2010 at 5:27pm BST

Ed: "And how do you ensure a personal relationship with God when we move away from his revelation and make him both male and female"

Oh dear, Father, it's not new theology, or radical in any way, to say that God is both beyond and includes both male and female. Aren't ru'ach and sophia both feminine nouns?

One advantage of using a language such as English, which avoids giving all nouns gender, unlike most other European languages, is that we English-speakers should be the first to understand that linguistic beyond-genderedness is perfectly possible.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Thursday, 20 May 2010 at 6:23pm BST

"what do we do when God has revealed himself as male if we take scripture seriously. Jesus taught us to pray to a father....that is explicit."
- Ed Tomlinson -

Ed, I can hardly believe you said this! The only answer I can think of is that you might understand that God; 'The Father' is also God 'The Mother' - cf the statement of Jesus when speaking to and of his recalcitrant Jewish contemporaries. He said that he sometimes wished he were like a mother hen who would gather her chickens around her. If that is not a concept of the feminine, I don't know what is. Also, Julian of Norwich - a redouble English woman Saint was inspired to speak of - 'Father, Mother God. Mind you, she was no pushover as a leading influence in the Church in England.

Jesus had to appear as one or other of the only two gender figures that would have been recognised by his Jewish contemporaries - but we are told that he was 'fully human' which means not only gender specifically male. "In Christ, there is neither male nor female." Do you think that the Creator of all could be imprisoned by the parameters of any human gender? Your God is too small!!!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 20 May 2010 at 8:35pm BST

Read what I said carefully. I did NOT say God IS male. I said GOd chose to reveal himself in the masculine, that must have been for a reason.

And the mother hen thing is an analogy and stands alone. Wherever God is addressed it is in the masculine. Sorry but this is not incidental for me but revelatory and is not a comment on the power of the sexes but on essential aspects of God in relation to his creation

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Thursday, 20 May 2010 at 11:34pm BST

"Read what I said carefully. I did NOT say God IS male. I said GOd chose to reveal himself in the masculine, that must have been for a reason."
- Ed. Tomlinson -

Oh dear, Ed! Surely you've been a priest long enough to be able to understand the argument: that the patriarchal religious community into which Jesus was born would never have accepted other than a 'Son' of God as Messiah! That does not mean that Jesus only represented the male of the species when he carried out his redemptive ministry on earth. Have you not 'got it' yet from Paul that the 'en Christo' imagery of the likeness of God was neither male nor female. In Baptism, we all partake of that Image and Likeness - whether we be male female or androgynous - this makes no difference whatsoever.

The way you would like to envisage any human representation of God in Christ might be: Jewish, Male, and Celibate - on which account you, yourself, would not qualify - in at least 2 areas. The Imago Dei is not limited to masculinity!!! Have you never heard of Paul's cachet about the priesthood of all believers - whether it be the confessional or the sacerdotal priesthood; we are all one in Christ - male, female, Greek, Jew, slave or free.

Culture and context are basic to any understanding of gender roles.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 12:54am BST

I'm sorry but that's just the most hilariously inept argument I've ever heard for an all-male's club posing as a church! Seriously, you'd kill in comedy clubs. The British Stephen Colbert!

The rest of you aren't getting the joke, though. You keep trying to give answers that will reason away unreason. It's performance art - like Andy Kauffman.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 4:50am BST

Make up your mind Ed. Rome is waiting to welcome you and those who think as you do. If Rome is too much for you to handle then you may want to try Russian Orthodox. If that is too much for you, how about one of the many Protestant evangelical communities? The point I am trying to make here, Ed is it is time for you to move on. I have read your many comments on this subject and I am certain that you are sincere. Obviously I do not agree with your position and I feel women were shut out of priesthood in The Church of England for much too long. The Holy Spirit helped to change that fact and now the Holy Spirit is helping to move women into episcopal leadership positions in The Church of England. Do you not think it may be time for you to go elsewhere and find some peace and camaraderie with others who feel and think as you do? For every thing there is a season. Time to travel down a new road Ed. May God be with you.

Posted by: Chris Smith on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 5:57am BST

Ed
"Read what I said carefully. I did NOT say God IS male. I said GOd chose to reveal himself in the masculine, that must have been for a reason."

I've said this before - he only had the choice between male or female. If he had chosen to reveal himself as a woman, do you really think he would have been heard in that culture at that time?
And do you think this would have meant that men were not allowed to be priests?

I suppose the only thing that would convince even the last literalist that men and women are absolutely equal in all respects and can perform the same liturgical tasks, would have been for God to have come down to earth as male and female twins.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 7:41am BST

"I said GOd chose to reveal himself in the masculine, that must have been for a reason. "

Yes, because he knew in first century Judea a female religious leader would never be accepted.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 11:34am BST

Are people actually saying that there is a cosmic mind that makes decisions, that sent a male perfect representative, either male to represent male and female, thanks to an interpretation by someone who never met him, or a male that represents a male only, when we now live and act and have our being in a world that operates according to natural and uncertain laws that involves no such cosmic interventions? If one takes a view that there is a God, is not the God also about nature and uncertainty and the fact that humans are not central to this universe, and that transcendence must therefore be immensely wider than a single individual who had some strange end time beliefs?

Posted by: Pluralist on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 1:20pm BST

Firstly there were plenty of women taken seriously in the ancient world. Plays like 'the women of thebes' demonstrate that women's lib was well known about in ancient Greece. Secondly the many female priestesses in Greek and Roman temples also suggest that women WERE taken seriously in a cultic role.

Then we must contemplate that having come to us as man Jesus could easily have taught us the Our Mother. Again concepts about the female divine are as old as civilisation stemming from a pagan base.

That God chose to reveal himself through a Judaistic tradition, as a man, whilst refering to the divine as Father is pretty clear. That is clear for those who are not determined to see what they want to.

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 4:29pm BST

Ed
"That God chose to reveal himself through a Judaistic tradition, as a man, whilst refering to the divine as Father is pretty clear. That is clear for those who are not determined to see what they want to."

Could you please tell me how God would have had to reveal himself if he had wanted to make sure that we all know that men and women can equally repesent him at the altar?
There are only two sexes to choose from, and whichever one he had opted for people like you would insist that it automatically excludes the other.

What would have convinced you that he is truly inclusive?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 5:15pm BST

"GOd chose to reveal himself in the masculine, that must have been for a reason."


Doubtless so, Ed. But you have no particular reason to assert that the reason is the one you think it is. Since there were really only two options available, God had to choose one or the other. God chose the one that was more appropriate to the time and place. By what logic do you claim it is any more than that?

I suggest, Father, that your assumption is not at all obvious "for those who are not determined to see what they want to." You are forcing a meaning onto God's choice which is siumply not supported by anything but your own determination (shared with reactionaries across many denominations) to exclude half of humanity.

And your "argument" (like Alba's some threads back) comes dangerously close to the heterodox argument that Christ assumed only male humanity - the logical corollary of which is that women are not redeemed. (You remember Athanasius, eh? That which is not assumed is not redeemed?)

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Friday, 21 May 2010 at 6:00pm BST

Ed, Fare thee well, and your god go with you! But don't forget the 'male-only' club pin-number.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 22 May 2010 at 3:37am BST

Ed, first of all, thank you for your contribution and I understand what you are saying. For what it's worth, I believe your views can be held, and expressed in a life of faith, with integrity. Nor would I want you at all to leave the Anglican communion, because I think you are a sincere Christian who for all I know is living a far better life than me, and your comments seem to me to reflect a desire to be loyal to God.

We could ping-pong well-visited arguments on the subject of women in the episcopate, or the gender of God. I prefer to make a final remark, about humanity expressing the image of God in which I think we both believe we were made.

As far as I can make it out, in the darkness of my own human understanding, this is the image of God... the fullest extent, if you like, of what we can perceive and understand of One who is also numinous and mysterious and undiscovered:

Deep down we are made to love each other -

that is the template, that is the image of God.

We are meant to bury ourselves in the love of God, in order to come alive.

To me, that is what living in Christ is all about. That is the way of the Cross, and that is the way of resurrection.

Gender, male or female, doesn't really come into it.

Love comes into it.

And we're called to get on and do it.

I believe women have an equal capacity to love, to lead, to nurture, to reflect the image of God, including in priesthood.

When we bury ourselves in the love of God, when we die each day and surrender to love, then... I believe we are reflecting most fully the image of God.

I simply don't see God's gender or our gender as coming into this.

I think women priests have become more accepted by many, simply in the exercise of their ministries of love. Same, as far as I'm concerned, with bishops.

May I wish you a joyful Pentecost, with love in Christ,

Susannah

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Saturday, 22 May 2010 at 10:23pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.