Wednesday, 14 July 2010

women bishops debate: Canterbury's 3 contributions

We already linked to the full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks at the beginning of Monday’s debate.

This was the second of three interventions. The first was in the course of Saturday’s debate and is reproduced immediately below.

The third was at the end of Monday, and is reproduced below the fold, i.e. after the Saturday text.

There is a comprehensive set of links to these texts and others on the Lambeth Palace website here.

Saturday:

Thank you Chairman. Archbishop of Canterbury, 001.

As I indicated this morning, the moving of this amendment doesn’t betoken any lack of appreciation for the labours of the revision committee. We wish to test Synod’s mind on whether the kind of provision already outlined in the draft legislation can be adjusted so as to give it just enough extra credibility with those for whom it’s intended, to help us towards an outcome which we can all find constructive.

Feelings have run quite high in recent weeks and the Archbishops’ amendment has been presented by some in very negative – not to say sinister – terms. It may help to make just one or two points in response:

First, we know it is unusual for archbishops to move amendments. But we should both be very disappointed if this was seen as some kind of covert loyalty test. Synod must scrutinize our suggestion in the way it would scrutinize any other. Because, of course, Synod’s task is scrutiny, including the scrutiny of draft legislation. It’s odd to claim that this piece of draft legislation – whatever its virtues – should be exempt from that kind of scrutiny and the possibility of an amendment. Now, the archbishops have a responsibility for trying to find ways of preserving the highest degree of communion possible, and it’s with those responsibilities in mind that they are asking whether this would help. When the revision committee’s report was published we tried (both of us) to give ourselves time to reflect on what it did and didn’t say on the history of the discussion, which references have already been made to, and to digest the possibilities and explore them. During that time, naturally, we had conversation with a range of people. But again I need to say no group saw these amendments before publication; they’re not the result of ‘horse-trading’. They’re neither a long-framed plot nor a hasty response.

Second, it’s essential to stress what’s already been stressed by the Archbishop of York and by the Bishop of Coventry, that the idea of a coordinate jurisdiction does not take away any liberty or any prerogative from a diocesan bishop in law. Nor does it carve out any community from a diocese. What it does is this: it allows a dissenting parish or congregation the ministry of a bishop whose right to exercise that episcopal ministry is agreed by the diocesan and, so to speak, guaranteed by the decision of the bishops, clergy and laity of the Church of England in Synod – that’s us.

And I would want to echo what’s been said earlier today in debate about the seductions of a view of episcopal jurisdiction that sees it as completely territorial and exclusive. Even a seamless robe may be a coat of many colours, you might say. And we’ve already had allusion to those models of interweaving and cooperative jurisdiction which the history of religious orders – not to mention of course the example of service chaplaincies in our dioceses – already provide.

And third, with a nod in Christina’s [Rees] direction if I may: Many of the points of unease raised today and elsewhere are already recognized in the existing report as unfinished business. The revision committee explicitly does not rule out (for example) the formation of a society or societies that will give more solidity to minority groups. There’s a recognition that a code will have to deal with this. The amendment introduces no distinction between male and female bishops. It preserves the principle that every diocese must draw up a scheme, not those presided solely over women. Such schemes must be worked through in the light of a national code of practice, they are subject to scrutiny, once again, and are appropriate to revision and reworking. The legislation does not seek to answer every possible question here and if there are issues between a diocesan bishop and a nominated bishop – issues which could occur anyway in the present draft – there is the possibility of discussion, consultation and adjustment in the scheme. And I might just add here in parentheses that I didn’t feel able to support the previous amendments partly because I was wary to attempt to do too much on the face of the legislation, and to produce something too detailed.

There are other questions which I think could arise on the existing draft which I don’t think our amendment in any sense makes any more complex – the business has to be done.

In short, this amendment doesn’t introduce any complexities not already present in the proposals. What it does is to put, we believe, one crucial element on the table that we hope might allow significantly more people in the Church of England to own the legislative outcome. It does not sanction prejudice or discrimination. It does not envisage any automatic obligation that disadvantages women bishops as distinct from men. It attempts to be faithful to the visions set out in paragraph 459 of the report if you want to look at that.

The Archbishops have been seeking a solution that goes with the grain of Synod’s wishes to preserve a church in which dissidents from the majority view may still live with – and I’m sorry about the word but I can’t think of any other – integrity. But they do not wish to pursue that at the expense of the integrity of their commitment – and I want you to be in no doubt about the commitment of both archbishops to seeing women ordained to the episcopate – at the expense of the integrity of their commitment and Synod’s commitment to the ordination of women as bishops.

Some of the debate today, I think, has illustrated a real risk that in excluding or marginalising the theological position of certain persons in the Church, division is actually made more serious, not less. We’re trying to give some ground for showing those who are in a minority that their views are taken with a degree of seriousness.

And so the question I want to leave you with is quite simply: Who loses if this amendment is passed? The Archbishop of York and I have offered it in the hope and the prayer that the answer just might be: no-one.

Monday evening:

Before I invite you to pray, just a very brief word about where I think we now are:

We have decided to invite the dioceses to join us in prayer and reflection. We have decided to send to the dioceses a number of suggestions, proposals, by way of draft legislation, about which the feelings of many people in this hall are still very mixed. Some will have decided to, in effect, to send forward to the dioceses proposals, suggestions, which they are not themselves committed to but which they believe need to be discussed as fully and deeply as possible.

I might, perhaps, just say, to read into the record, I had technical difficulties this morning with my voting machine – I was not able to vote on the motion around clause 2 standing part of the measure. In spite of having proposed amendments and in spite of my expressed doubts about that, I believe that that should be discussed by the dioceses because that is an opportunity for doing necessary work, so I should’ve voted in favour had I been able to master a recalcitrant machine. And I do that with some difficulty.

But that is where we are. We are inviting the dioceses to give to this business some of the depth and honesty of feeling that members of Synod have given to the business. We are hoping and praying that the dioceses will regard this as something more than a ‘mechanical’ task. And I would remind you that there are further stages to this process in which we all need to revive flagging energies, looking forward to what I spoke of this morning which is that possibility of finding a way of serving one another through all this, however challenging it is. Like the Chair I’m grateful, as one of the Presidents of the Synod, for the degree to which people have attempted to listen to each other, and I hope that - to echo my fellow President - what emerges is - in the long run, and whatever way - a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ; after experiences which, for people on all sides of the debate, have involved a good deal of carrying the cross. And by that I mean those who are in a minority and are feeling at the moment bruised and excluded, but also those of our sisters in ministry and in baptised identity who have also had moments of feeling deeply bruised and excluded. The Body of Christ is that sort of body. But it’s also the body which is raised, so in that hope I invite you to pray.

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Comments

"It does not sanction prejudice or discrimination. It does not envisage any automatic obligation that disadvantages women bishops as distinct from men."

How true is this statement? As I understood the Abps' amendment, it did put in place an automatic transferral of oversight from a female diocesan to an acceptable male if a parish requested. The difference was that it did it under the authority of the legislation rather than by delegation of the unacceptable female diocesan.

In the nuance of it all and in an English context, +Rowan may be right in the above statement, but it sure is hard to see that in any plain understanding of the words, and it is certainly impossible to see how female diocesans are fully equal to male diocesans since this whole process is designed to protect the consciences of worshippers from the ministry of women, or ministry 'tainted' by women.

Sadly, the legislation as it currently stands still seeks to protect members from ministry tainted by female leadership . . .

"And I would want to echo what’s been said earlier today in debate about the seductions of a view of episcopal jurisdiction that sees it as completely territorial and exclusive. Even a seamless robe may be a coat of many colours, you might say. And we’ve already had allusion to those models of interweaving and cooperative jurisdiction which the history of religious orders – not to mention of course the example of service chaplaincies in our dioceses – already provide."

While this may be true, too, it seems to open the door much further to having ecclesial communities based solely on people like me or people whom I like.

In a more forceful, hierarchical church like Rome, where one bishop has both universal and local jurisdiction over the entire world, there is still an underlying unity binding catholics together despite overlapping jurisdiction. At the end of the day, every RC will stand around every altar.

We don't have that in Anglicanism, and I suspect even in England the Abp's authority in specific dioceses is limited so that there is no unifying witness. The overlapping jurisdictions won't acknowledge the legitimacy of the other and won't stand around one altar together.

A communion of churches might be able to handle that if its bonds are bonds of affection rather than juridical, but I don't see how a national province could handle that and still provide a witness where unity overcomes estrangements. All theses accommodations seem to do is concretize estrangement.

Posted by: Dirk Reinken on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 1:38pm BST

Just for the record, the posting of the Archbishop's Monday remarks is incomplete. At the end of the text we have the Archbishop went on to make further comments about the votes on Saturday and what they said about the mind of Synod. It was interesting stuff.

You can listen to his comments here
http://audio.cofemedia.org.uk/synod/july2010/Jul1017.mp3 but perhaps the text might be updated in due course.

Posted by: Philip Plyming on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 1:50pm BST

One thing I think this legislation would have done that previous arrangements did not is allow proper pastoral care for women priests who are in dioceses with bishops who are opposed to women's ordination. A relative of mine is a priest in Chichester diocese, where all the bishops (until recently) were very opposed and she said she could really have done with a 'flying bishop' who would have 'flown the other way' and supported her in her ministry.

Posted by: magistra on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 4:56pm BST

The key problem is the belief that this issue can be solved in a way that will "allow significantly more people in the Church of England to own the legislative outcome." If you want to talk about "more" then you are dealing with majority rule -- not some magic middle muddle that _everyone_ will agree to. The fact that the ABps' proposal failed surely indicates that "significantly more people" don't see it as a way forward.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 5:10pm BST

Williams' 'third statement' (in TA terms) was given on Monday. He seems not to (care to) know that his ammendment was defeated in Synod.

A case of 'If at first you don't succeed....'

Is that it ?

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 5:25pm BST

Tobias,

You're arithmetically wrong: 'significantly more' did in fact see it as the way forward. A majority of priests (on this occasion, in this setting) did not. That's why it failed. But the overall majority won.

One of the aspects of this mess which I find both heartening and dispiriting is that priests (such as yourself), bishops, archbishops and the like are patently no better than the rest of us in matters of the most elementary morality.

Posted by: john on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 7:37pm BST

"And by that I mean those who are in a minority and are feeling at the moment bruised and excluded, but also those of our sisters in ministry and in baptised identity who have also had *moments* of feeling deeply bruised and excluded."

Moments? MOMENTS?!?! :-O

Try, the better part of 19 CENTURIES???

I don't believe in comparative victimization. Pain is pain.

But for the ABC to so *diminish and dismiss* the LENGTH of time that women-with-calls have been shown the door (if not the burning stake!) is outrageous.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 10:33pm BST

"The fact that the ABps' proposal failed surely indicates that "significantly more people" don't see it as a way forward."

Apart from the fact that a majority across the 3 houses voted for the ABps' amendment!

Posted by: tommiaquinas on Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 10:59pm BST

I am puzzled by Rowan Williams' statement that the amendment does not sanction discrimination. It might be argued that discrimination is justified in order to minimise discomfort to opponents of women's ordination, but that is a different claim. Even the Revision Committee's proposals sanction some measure of discrimination - for instance there is no requirement for male bishops (unlike female bishops) that they delegate their functions in a part of their diocese to a bishop of the opposite sex. Campaigners for women's ordination have accepted this, but in a secular setting covered by the usual anti-discrimination laws I cannot see how such an arrangement would be lawful.

Posted by: Savi H on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 12:17am BST

The sticking point from the No Go Women sides is simply the categorical, unremitting hostility to any glimmer of any notion that God is at work in womens' vocations; ... implicitly, aside from the standard conservative-traditional calls for a woman to be somebody's dependent relative (sister, mother, wife), and of course, her unavoidable duty to conceive and bear children then hand them over to the powers that be as directed, when directed.

Cagey wordings will hardly humanize or amend this very long-standing, very traditionalist schedule ... no matter what Canterbury and/or York and/or others cleverly think or dream up to describe it ... ever so mildly?

I predict: More mischief ... the hostility towards women is unmoderated, so far at least.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 12:27am BST

John, I take your comment on morality very lightly. I've never thought myself to be more "moral" -- only to do the best I can.

You and tommiaquinas are correct in your disregard for the vote by houses. The motion failed on a vote by houses, yes, and if you tote up the numbers fewer voted against than for. Of course, that's not how a vote by houses works. I was speaking about the result, which is held to reflect the will of the church. And in thinking about the wider church, those who are opposed to the ordination of women are a minority. The vote was on a special provision to keep an even smaller minority of them appeased with an extraordinary accommodation. I do not believe that the majority of Church of England members wish to see this special provision enacted.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 10:38pm BST

" A majority of priests (on this occasion, in this setting) did not. That's why it failed. But the overall majority won. "

- John, on Wednesday -

John, what you seem to be discounting in this argument, is the fact that General Synod previously decided that there should be a simple majority in each House of Synod before any new legislation could be passed. This is now the Rule of Synod - passed by its own regulations. Finis!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 19 July 2010 at 7:21pm BST
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