Friday, 2 July 2010

Explaining the archbishops' amendments

This is an attempt to explain in plainer English what the amendments, that the two archbishops are proposing to make to the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure, are trying to do.

First, they remove from the wording of the measure the explicit reference to “delegation”.

for the exercise by way of delegation to a male bishop

This is because the concept of “delegation” has proved to be a stumbling block for some of those who are opposed to women bishops. See for example the discussion in this earlier TA thread from last October, when for a brief while it appeared that the Revision Committee was going down a path towards “statutory transfer” which is exactly what this amendment now seeks to restore. See also the earlier (2006) proposals which were for Transferred Episcopal Arrangements (shortened to TEA) and from the debate in July 2008, look at Amendment 72, which is reported on here, and which sought to insert the words:

“either by way of statutory transfer of specified responsibilities or”;

The vote on that amendment was relatively close, compared to the others, but it failed in the House of Clergy.

This point is summarised in the press release from the archbishops as follows:

  • the legal authority of the nominated bishop to minister in this way would derive from the Measure itself – and would not, therefore, be conferred by way of delegation; but the identity of such a bishop and the scope of his functions would be defined by the scheme made by the diocesan for his or her diocese, in the light of the provisions contained in the national statutory Code of Practice drawn up by the House of Bishops and agreed by General Synod;

Second, they make an assertion that this change:

shall not divest the bishop of the diocese of any of his or her functions.

From the press release:

  • thus both the diocesan and the nominated bishop would possess ‘ordinary jurisdiction’; the diocesan would retain the complete jurisdiction of a diocesan in law, and the nominated bishop would have jurisdiction by virtue of the Measure to the extent provided for in the diocesan scheme – in effect holding jurisdiction by the decision of the Church as a whole, as expressed in the Measure;
  • in respect of the aspects of episcopal ministry for which the diocesan scheme made provision, the diocesan and the nominated bishop would be ‘co-ordinaries’, and to that extent, their jurisdiction could be described as co-ordinate – that is to say, each would have an ordinary jurisdiction in relation to those matters; and

Third, they insert into the section about the Code of Practice, an explicit requirement that the code must include guidance about the

arrangements for co-ordinating the exercise of episcopal ministry under section 2(1), (3) and (5) by the bishop of the diocese and any other bishop who exercises episcopal ministry in accordance with those subsections.

This is intended to ensure that the Code of Practice does cover the topics mentioned in those subsections.

From the press release:

  • the Code of Practice would contain guidelines for effective co-ordination of episcopal functions so as to avoid duplication or conflict in the exercise of episcopal ministry.

So, to summarise, the amendments do exactly, but no more than, what the press release from the archbishops said they would do. They are a reversion to the principle of “statutory transfer” which was voted down by synod in 2008, and abandoned by the revision committee last November.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 11:40am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

Nicely summarized, Simon.

I knew there was some clarity hidden somewhere in this proposal. Thanks for bringing it to light.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 12:17pm BST

Thanks, all, for this explanation. Honestly, it wears one down with words, trying to get one's head around each phrase, so that if I were in a position to vote up or down on this, I'd vote for it just to be done with it - which is not how the Reign of God is supposed to work, but then...

Posted by: Lois Keen on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 12:34pm BST

aha! parallel bishops. martin beckford did a very good interpretation of this statutory transfer business last year. I will attempt to find a link and post it here. And here is the link. Thank you Martin
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/newstopics/religion/6275489/Women-bishops-may-not-be-equal-to-men-under-controversial-new-Church-of-England-proposals.html

Posted by: riazat on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 12:45pm BST

I totally get it. If you look at the voting, more people voted for it than against (pretty narrowly) BUT there was a vote by houses. I wonder what the HoB will do with the ++ amendment? OK, must stop being a geek now

Posted by: riazat on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 1:08pm BST

As I understand it, it's not quite Statutory Transfer as was proposed before. IIRC, in October 2009 the Revision Committee decided ST was the best way forward, but then came unstuck when deciding what powers should be transferred automatically by statute.

The (supposed) beauty of this scheme is that it circumnavigates this problem by leaving the details of what is actually transferred to the diocesan scheme (patrolled by the Code of Practice).

As an exercise in squaring circles, it's really quite clever. That's not the same as it actually working however!

Posted by: tommiaquinas on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 1:34pm BST

I'm sorry--isn't this rather like saying "the mayor still controls the police department," even though there's a statute that says he doesn't?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 3:31pm BST

Squaring the circle, or absolute confusion more like it. We have so long been discussing women in the Episcopate, that in other parts of the Communion, some women have been diocesan, and now reach retireme nt. What does that say about the Church of England?Is the CofE hard of hearing, or just backward in moving forward. It is now at a standstill, afraid of its self. Yet the ABC still wishes t o be Pope of the Anglican Communion.and pull it yet more backwards. Let the Holy Spirit breathe on the church, and let it listen and move forward.

Posted by: Fr John on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 3:41pm BST

@tommiaquinas eh? what? so the diocesan bishop has to say, in the scheme, what powers are transferred? is it the code of practice that says there needs to be a diocesan scheme? i thought nobody knew what was in the code of practice? aagh

Posted by: riazat on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 4:45pm BST

The end result is still that women bishops are not equal to men bishops.

Posted by: copyhold on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 5:52pm BST

Hi all,
Could someone please clarify whether this will undercut complaints by dioceses in TEC about jurisdictional boundaries being crossed? Seems to me that it weakens arguments that one bishop has jurisdiction in a diocese. Flying bishops did the same thing, but they were allowed for a specific purpose; here, we have dual jurisdiction. Seems like the conservatives could argue that affiliation with the southern cone (or whatever) was analogous to this kind of coordinate jurisdiction and could use the model as a way of trying to force diocese in the US to allow jurisdictional intrusions. Am I wrong??

Posted by: Scot Peterson on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 5:53pm BST

The high cleverness of this new, latest proposal is perhaps a great clue to its impending utter failure, as ethics, as theology? (Ignore the brutish mean-spiritedness of laying claim to real women with talent and dedication while still strictly preaching how those same women are dirt, danger, and worse?)

After all, the enduring point is still to protect certain strictly-defined believers from having to deal in any real way with any real-competent woman in church life? Don't worry, Joe, no skirt will ever order you around?

Boundaries and lots of arcane rules will be needed to maintain such deals. Above a certain latitude-longitude, priests-bishops may just happen to be women. In certain locations, however, the same talented-gifted-dedicated women become embodied signs of great danger, teeming dirt, and ugh, must be policed for our common good and well-being as Anglicans.

If we want hints about how all that will probably go down, just review what is meanly said and so forth, about PB Jefferts Schori? Right on sites by FiF, Reform, and similar.

Need another clue? These are the archbishops who think they respect the fundamental human dignity of queer folks while preaching entirely horrid-retrograde-flat earth revelations about people who are not heterosexual. Duh. If Anglicans fall for this sort of thing, I guess we are pronouncing our own well-deserved fates.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 6:21pm BST

Isn't this really, when all is said and done, the Third Province by the back door?

Posted by: Grumpy High Church Woman on Friday, 2 July 2010 at 10:35pm BST

As best this Ignorant Yank understands it:

Q: "When is a bishop not really a bishop?"
A: "When that bishop lacks a Y chromosome."

Lord have mercy!

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 12:33am BST

The more you try to avoid a problem the more it seems to grow. It's like not going to the doctor. If I don't go to the doctor and have this lump looked at then it really insn't there.(?) The problem is, it's there and growing. Finally you go to the doctor and the lump has grown and spread. Denial-impediment.

Posted by: bobinswpa on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 1:28am BST

Riazat asked and I reply:

So the diocesan bishop has to say, in the scheme, what powers are transferred?

Yes, but in doing so she or he must have regard to the code.

is it the code of practice that says there needs to be a diocesan scheme?

No, the Measure obliges each diocesan bishop to create a diocesan scheme.

I thought nobody knew what was in the code of practice?

Strictly speaking true. But there is some discussion of what should be in it in the revision committee's report, on the last 4 or 5 pages of it. Document (large) available at
http://www.cofe.anglican.org/about/gensynod/agendas/july2010/gspapers/gs1708-09y.pdf

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 8:40am BST

Scot asks

Could someone please clarify whether this will undercut complaints by dioceses in TEC about jurisdictional boundaries being crossed? Seems to me that it weakens arguments that one bishop has jurisdiction in a diocese. Flying bishops did the same thing, but they were allowed for a specific purpose; here, we have dual jurisdiction.

I think the idea is that the jurisdiction of any particular "additional" bishop is defined precisely by the wording of the particular diocesan instrument. There is no carte blanche.

In principle this is much the same as the current way that any suffragan bishop receives authority now from a diocesan bishop.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 8:45am BST

GHCW asks "Isn't this ... Third Province by the back door?"

Well, no, I don't think so. If I understood it correctly, the Third Province would have had its own bishops who would have had carte blanche with respect to those parishes which opted in to it. But I am open to correction of course.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 8:48am BST

Simon

Thanks for the translation, very helpful.

All I can say is I hope that the whole church is praying for the wisdom of Solomon...

Posted by: Mark Beach on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 8:57am BST

Mark, I thought that 1 Kings 3:25 was precisely what we were all trying to avoid...

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 9:13am BST

Why not do away with ordination altogether ? Select and 'commission' suitable women and men for *apostolic and evangelical* being and doing. And let it be more collaborative, open, egalitarian, imaginative, generous and as dogma and hubris free as we can muster.

A lot of these assumptions and practices are 'hallowed' by time and ? unimaginative laziness ? But bear little relevance to christian presence and doings in a great many modern contexts.

* I am not using these terms in any narrow, sectarian or hackneyed way. I am not convinced that groups claiming to be 'apostolic' or 'Catholic' cut much ice on the ground. Similarly groups claiming to be 'Evangelical' seem far from an evangel for our secular age , to me. *

How would practical approaches to be and doing 'church' look on the ground now, and around the globe ?

Why is no-one (much) asking ? The institutions of religion wouldnt much -- too scary and too likely to lead to removal of walls --- not just opening a few windows ! Look what has become of Vatican 11 !

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 11:32am BST

It's very clear:

Women will not be "REAL" bishops, but sort of play-pretend with a mitre.

It's 2010. The UK has had many women as head of state, and even prime minister, but they balk at letting the girls do more than play-act at Bishop?

For shame.

Posted by: IT on Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 4:10pm BST
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