Monday, 21 May 2012

"House of Bishops approves Women Bishops Legislation"

The House of Bishops considered the draft legislation to allow women to be bishops in the Church of England this afternoon. The results of their deliberations are available in a press release which is copied below.

House of Bishops approves Women Bishops Legislation

21 May 2012

The House of Bishops of the Church of England today concluded its consideration of the draft legislation to enable women to be consecrated as bishops. It agreed that the legislation should be returned to the General Synod for final approval.

The House of Bishops had power to amend the draft legislation in such manner “as it thinks fit”. It made two amendments to the draft Measure.

The House accepted an amendment making it clear that the use of the word “delegation” (in Clause 2 of the draft Measure) relates to the legal authority which a male bishop acting under a diocesan scheme would have and was distinct from the authority to exercise the functions of the office of bishop that that person derived from his ordination. For example, when another bishop ordains someone to the priesthood he needs permission to do from the bishop of the diocese (“delegation”), but the power to ordain derives from his consecration as a bishop. The amendment also makes clear that delegation should not be taken as divesting the diocesan bishop of any of his or her authority or functions.

The House also accepted an amendment to express in the Measure one of the three principles which the House had agreed in December (see notes). This amendment adds to the list of matters on which guidance will need to be given in the Code of Practice that the House of Bishops will be required to draw up and promulgate under the Measure. It will now need to include guidance on the selection by the diocesan bishop of the male bishops and priests who will minister in parishes whose parochial church council (PCC) has issued a Letter of Request under the Measure. That guidance will be directed at ensuring that the exercise of ministry by those bishops and priests will be consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of women which prompted the issuing of the Letter of Request. Thus, the legislation now addresses the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient.

The House rejected more far-reaching amendments that would have changed the legal basis on which bishops would exercise authority when ministering to parishes unable to receive the ministry of female bishops.

It also rejected amendments giving statutory expression to the other two principles (see notes) that it agreed in December, judging that it would be better to leave them to be addressed in the Code of Practice or in other ways rather than referring to them in the Measure.

Now that the legislation has been amended the six Officers of the Synod (the ‘Group of Six’) - the Archbishops, the Prolocutors of the Lower Houses of the Convocations of Canterbury and York and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity - will need to meet later this week to determine whether the amendments constitute a change to the substance of the proposals embodied in the draft Measure as approved by 42 of the 44 dioceses last year.

If the Group of Six determines that no such change has been made - an announcement will be made after their deliberations - the way will be clear for the legislation to come to the Synod for final approval in York in July. This is subject to the possibility of the Convocations and the House of Laity asking for the draft legislation to be referred to them for approval before it is returned to the Synod. If they were to exercise this right, their meetings would take place in York immediately before the July meeting of General Synod, and the legislation would need to be approved by each of those bodies by simple majorities before the General Synod as a whole could consider it at the Final Approval Stage (at which two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod will be required).

The press release continues with a series of notes which are copied below the fold. They include these three principles referred to above.

  • Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders;
  • In choosing bishops to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes for parishes requesting this provision, diocesan bishops will seek to identify those whose ministry will be consistent with the theological convictions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate underlying the Letter of Request;
  • The archbishops and bishops commit themselves to seeking to maintain a supply of bishops able to minister on this basis. This will obviously have a bearing on decisions about appointments and on the role of bishops occupying the sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough (which will, as a matter of law, continue to exist even after the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod has been rescinded).


House of Laity

The Group of Six

It is up to the Group of Six - the two archbishops, the two Prolocutors (chairs of the House of Clergy) and the chair and vice-chair of the House of Laity to determine, acting in a quasi-judicial capacity and having received legal advice, whether these amendments alter the ‘substance of the proposals embodied’ in the legislation (which would require it to be approved again in its final form by a majority of the dioceses before it could go back to the Synod for Final Approval) Membership: Archbishops of Canterbury and York: Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu, Prolocutors: Ven. Christine Hardman and Canon Glyn Webster, Chair and vice-chair of House of Laity- Dr Philip Giddings and Mr Tim Hind

The Final Approval stage

This requires two-thirds majorities in each House (bishops, clergy and laity). If approved, the Measure would then go to Parliament for consideration by the Ecclesiastical Committee and each House of Parliament (see GS Misc 1012).

Extract from Archbishops’ foreword to GS MISC 1007 (January 2012)
“In the light of our discussion, the House will continue to uphold these three principles:

  • Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders;
  • In choosing bishops to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes for parishes requesting this provision, diocesan bishops will seek to identify those whose ministry will be consistent with the theological convictions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate underlying the Letter of Request;
  • The archbishops and bishops commit themselves to seeking to maintain a supply of bishops able to minister on this basis. This will obviously have a bearing on decisions about appointments and on the role of bishops occupying the sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough (which will, as a matter of law, continue to exist even after the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod has been rescinded). “


July 2000, The General Synod invited the House of Bishops to undertake the necessary theological work on the admission of the episcopate to women

November 2000, Publication of the Rochester report.

February 2005-July 2006 Preparatory Synod debates

July 2008, General Synod called for legislation to be drafted in line with the motion: ‘That this Synod:
(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;
(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;
(c) affirm that these should be contained in a statutory national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and
(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.’

December 2008 A further report from the Manchester Group (GS 1707) and the draft legislation, together with an illustrative code of practice, were published

February 2009 General Synod debated the draft legislation sending it to a Revision Committee that was set up in March of that year.

October/November 2009 The Revision Committee issued two interim statements on its progress in October and November.

May 2010 The Revision Committee’s report was published with a revised draft of the Measure

July 2010, the Synod left the draft legislation largely unamended and narrowly voted against the Archbishops’ amendment.

September 2010, the draft legislation was referred to the dioceses for debate and vote (‘Reference to dioceses’ explains this process in more detail and contains links to the relevant documentation under discussion).

February 2012, the Synod received a report (GS 1847) on the Reference to dioceses. Of the 44 dioceses, 42 had approved the legislation by a simple majority (Chichester and London voted against). The Synod then debated diocesan synod motions on making provision for those who, for theological reasons, would not be able to receive the ministry of women bishops. Synod voted in favour of an amended motion that asked that the House of Bishops should not amend the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure “substantially”.

Code of Practice

The draft Measure requires the House of Bishops to draw up a code of practice (which is not subject to the diocesan reference procedure). This cannot be formally drawn up or laid before the Synod for approval until after the legislation has received the Royal Assent. An initial illustrative draft code was prepared by the legislative drafting group in 2009 and in the light of changes subsequently made to the draft legislation the House of Bishops accepted the recommendation of the Revision Committee that further work on a draft code should proceed, rather than waiting for the various legislative stages to be completed. A House of Bishops working party on the Code of Practice (chaired by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich) started work in November 2010 with a view to enabling the House of Bishops and the General Synod to engage further with the shape of a draft code before the draft legislation reached the Final Approval stage. The Bishop gave a presentation on the illustrative code (GS Misc 1007) to the Synod in February 2012.

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Categorised as: Church of England

Is anyone able to explain what practical effect (if any) the two amendments will have? They seem to be clarifying amendments to me rather than ones that change the substance of the Measure.

That (to me) is a good thing. Now roll on a "yes" vote in July.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Monday, 21 May 2012 at 10:34pm BST

•Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders;

Oh good. I imagine that only ¨closeted candidates¨ ought be selected in keeping with the ¨not to discriminate¨ custom at the Church of England?

Posted by: Leonardo Ricardo on Monday, 21 May 2012 at 10:36pm BST

As I understand it, this should satisfy the traditionalist Catholic wing that the male bishop ordaining the priest is unpolluted if it derives from his 'being' (if he was consecrated by males alone) but it won't satisfy the evangelical male only headship wing because the person in charge remains the diocesan bishop who may be a she and differences betweeen derived and delegated mean nothing.

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 21 May 2012 at 11:02pm BST

This commentary may be helpful

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 21 May 2012 at 11:32pm BST

It's a bit like nineteenth century Mormon polygamy. A first wife has to give permission if her husbamd is to take another wife. But if she refuses , he can proceed anyway!

Same reasoning , I think....the Diocesan woman bishop has a authority, but she must allow another bishop to operate in her diocese.

All this nonsense, and yet the measure could still fail in July.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 6:18am BST

Can I just say that in my humble opinion these amendments are no more than "last minute tinkering" as Miranda Threlfall-Holmes put it in her recent article. I do not think that they will particularly alter views and perceptions on either side of the debate - not even "traditional" catholics (whatever one of them is).

Graeme Buttery

Posted by: Graeme Buttery on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 9:42am BST

I think there is a hostage to fortune in amendment 2.

If opponents want not just a male bishop but one who has never ordained a woman or participated in consecrating a woman, then that is a theology of taint.

The Bishops' rather ill-judged amendment has, I suspect, left a number of us who support the ordination of women womdering if we can actually support this legislation now. For me, the jury is out on that one.

Posted by: Charles Read on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 10:38am BST

The explanatory notes to the press release offered by 'Shaun Sheep' in Simon's web-link, above, has this to say:

"The legal mechanism, however, is that the diocesan bishop must give the alternative bishop permission to ordain within the diocese, but the ordination itself will be under the alternative bishop's own authority as a bishop in his own right."

The operative word that is important is 'must'.
In other words, it seems that the Diocesan Bishop, if a Woman, 'MUST' give permission for a suitably appointed Male Bishop to ordain clergy in her patch. There seems to be no alternative here.

This, of course, would follow on from the fact that the Church of England, at the time when Women Bishops become Diocesan Bishops, there will still be 'Provisional Episcopal Visitors' on hand to provide 'Alternative Episcopal Oversight' for those dioceses where the Woman Diocesan Bishop is considered, by some of her parishes, parishioners and clergy, to be invalidly ordained as a Bishop!

This situation would surely be considered - except by the most subtle casuistry - to uphold an ethos of a two-level standard of episcopal validity! What does that say about the Church of England's attitude towards collegiality among her bishops?

And how will that affect her relationships with other Provinces of the Anglican Communion, where such a deficit in credibility of a woman bishop would be something inimical to any 'covenantal' relationship such as has been proposed by A.C.O.?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 11:49am BST

Ron - I had not seen 'must'as meaning that but as saying that the alternative bishop cannot operate on his own but needs the delegation of the diocesan. The Code will spell out how such delegation will work.

Graeme - I'm (genuinely!) interested in how traditionalist Catholic Anglicans see this - because maybe the HofB has annoyed everybody!

Posted by: Charles Read on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 12:15pm BST

This commentary by the Bishop of Willesden may also be helpful

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 1:06pm BST

What Pete Broadbent does not seem to have noticed is that in trying to appease the (very, very few) who could not accept the legislation as it stood, women clergy now feel very unwanted and not listened to at all. If it is so obvious that a bishop would respect the theological position of a congregation who issue Letters of Request, why need to put it in legislation? I Even if this is not what he thinks the amendment means, it is a way to bring in a theology of taint again.
There is nothing in the press release which indicates that the ministry of women is valued by the bishops.
The final sentence of his blog entry sounds rather as though the main reason for the bishops to want women to be ordained bishops is so that we will be quiet and let them get on with what they want to do....
These unspoken messages are often the truth, and cannot be quickly undone. I think the House of Bishops is at real risk of finally losing any respect women (and others) had for them

Posted by: Rosalind on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 1:40pm BST

Hmmm. If the logic of the second amendment were to be extended, you could have PCCs of liberal catholic churches insisting (due to their "theological convictions") on a liberal catholic priest who hadn't been tainted by being ordained by a conservative evangelical bishop - and vice versa. Bizarre.

Posted by: Daniel Walters on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 1:43pm BST

In creating Flying Bishops the Church of England unwittingly allowed some to take refuge in a theology of taint. The H of B amendments now accept this as part of the Church of England's ecclesiology.

It may now require the General Synod of those Provinces to throw out this whole mess so that women's ministry is not further compromised. It seems the bishops cannot be trusted with this.

Posted by: abbey mouse on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 1:45pm BST

Agree with Charles Read's point - the second amendment reinforces taint, taint and more taint. Since when did we get to cherry pick a Bishop who agreed with our theological views - will we get to do that for everything else as well - or just a theological view about women. Actually, I don't get to choose a Bishop who agrees with my theological view of women's ordination if I AGREE with it - certainly not in Chichester, for example. If the Church of England wants to become a place where women are quite literally 'untouchable' because it is possible to insist upon a Bishop who is not only male but also will not consecrate or ordain women or be ordained by a woman, then yes by all means vote this through.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 1:55pm BST

When I first heard Rowan talk about delegation and derivation at General Synod in February I thought it sounded helpful, but a short conversation with a couple of traditonal Catholic priests changed my mind. I think the clause is benign but could be ineffective.

The pick and mix bishops clause (which spells out what could be implied in the measure) is probably more dangerous. Why it is necessary to spell out what is commonsense? Do people lose all their commonsense and pastoral skills when they become bishops? Maybe some do? Surely most don't.

Do I vote for it or do I not?

Posted by: Susan Cooper on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 2:26pm BST

Commentary by Alan Wilson

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 3:27pm BST

So there is a deal here. Satisfactory to no one (including me) but the best on offer. I sincerely hope that FiF have the intelligence to accept it. One very important practical consideration to bear in mind is that it is one in the eye for the so-called Ordinariate and a not particularly benevolent pope.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 7:00pm BST

Taint ain't catholic.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 7:46pm BST

Yup, it's an attempt to broker a deal. It continues the compromise we're already living. It's not pleasant to me not to be able to give pastoral care to 8 of my parishes because I ordain women. But it's where we ended up in 1992. And I want the priests and people of those parishes to carry on being part of the CofE. So I'm prepared to send them a signal that they'll continue to receive pastoral care from a bishop who himself understands and lives their integrity even when they are under a female Bishop of London.

And it's helpful to declare with clarity that not all episcopal authority is derived from legality, even though there are quite few ecclesiastical Stalinists who would like to assert that it does.

They're small changes. They're nuanced. But they might help Con Evos and Trad Caths to stay. And they don't undermine in any way the principles of how the Measure and Code of Practice will operate. That's the reason these matters go to the House of Bishops (not a bit of polity that the USA Church works with, I realise), but it's part of the way our Synodical system works. If both ends of the spectrum can recognise that pragmatic Realpolitik will get us to a 2/3 majority in July and run with the deal offered, that would get us the end that we want - Women Bishops. Can't come too soon.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 8:44pm BST

Yes Pete it may give a signal to those parishes. The whole legislation as it stood was designed to give a strong signal to those parishes opposed to women's ordained ministry that we would like them to carry on being a part of the CofE. Unfortunately these 'small changes' also send a signal to supporters of women bishops and the Church of England's women clergy - and it is not such a welcoming one, nor one that particularly encourages us to stay, nor assures us that we will continue to receive pastoral care from a Bishop who understands and lives our integrity... The House of Bishops may need to do a lot of work to convince people to run with this particular deal. The end does not always justify the means.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 9:51pm BST

Pete - the end we want is not women bishops at any price. I for one want a church which does not enshrine discrimination in law and then call it pastoral sensitivity. Pastoral sensitivity is what all priests and bishops should and I hope do, practise; and if we need law to make this happen then we aren't a church worth the name.
This action by the bishops suddenly feels like the last nail in the coffin of my attempt to live with this unholy (sic) compromise which began in 1993 and is getting steadily more discriminatory not less. The deal might bring in "Con Evos" and "Trad Caths" - but I think it may well lose quite a lot of women and those who have been standing with them for years.

Posted by: Rosalind on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 11:12pm BST

I look forward to Pete Broadbent and his friends brokering a deal for lesbian and gay people next, and an oh so practical and sensitive recognition and support of that integrity...

Posted by: LaurenceR on Tuesday, 22 May 2012 at 11:21pm BST

The list of suitable 'theologically consistent' Bishops will include more than just the serving PEVs. And when Resolutions AB&C disappear the list of suitable 'theologically consistent' priests will include more than those who are signed up members of the Wilfrid and Hilda Society. The criteria will become: "any male priest who has not done anything theologically inconsistent." I expect there will continue to be a number of male priests who, as now, will quietly hedge their bets by not turning up to a woman's ordination, or a chrism mass with women, or when a woman is presiding at their chapter meeting, and who will help out with holiday cover in a resolution parish in need. For some male priests the principle of women's orders is not important enough to stand up for.

If a serving bishop doesn't ordain women, ask why not. It can be simply out of pastoral concern for the opposed men, and he could still be someone who celebrates women's ministry and who has chosen to bear the burden of the fracture himself. However, if he doesn't ordain women out of personal conviction, an ordained women in his area/diocese is forced to bear the burden when looking to him for episcopal ministry when he doesn't accept her priestly ministry. (eg she will have to accept his discernment in an interview about her priestly ministry for a new parish). And furthermore in an area with a serving bishop who is opposed, many of his male priests will simply keep quiet, making it even harder for the women there to have their ministry affirmed.

So based on this, (my current experience), it will happen that when there is a woman bishop there will be some men who quietly find ways of avoiding her in order to keep themselves off the 'theologically inconsistent' list and keep their future options open.
The House of Bishops should not have amended the legislation.

Posted by: Beth on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 12:42am BST

Rosalind's last comment here needs to be seen in proper perspective by the House of Bishops in the Church of England. The structured inclusiveness offered to objectors to women as co-bearers of the Image and Likeness of God with their male counter-parts - in ministry, as well as witness to Christ in the Church - is inimical to the scriptural witness of the Apostle Paul, when he states, categorically, that "In Christ, there is neither male nor female".

One can try to rationalise that statement to allow the exemption of women from Holy Orders by subtle acts of casuistry - but is that the Way of Christ? And is that the action of the Holy Spirit in the world of today? The majority of Church members in England and Wales think not. And so do I.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 1:35am BST

Here is a genuine question about the House of Bishops’ amendment 5(c).

A parish says it is opposed to women’s ordination on headship grounds – so will a bishop who is opposed on ontological grounds, i.e. a woman is simply made out of the wrong physical matter to receive the grace of orders and therefore she cannot offer the Sacrifice of the Mass, be acceptable? Further the male clergy and bishops who support her have somehow also lost the ability to offer the Sacrifice of the Mass for reasons that are still Shrouded in Mystery (to me, anyway). So, here is the perfectly fair question: will this bishop do for the headship parish because he is against women’s ordination but – and this is important – he is against it for ENTIRELY the Wrong Reasons (according to the headship objection) and indeed believes things about the nature of Christianity that are abhorrent to the parish objecting on headship grounds apart from the fact that they agree that women can’t be ordained but have little common ground about what ordination is in the first place.

I’m still digesting this, and am increasingly of the view that this is such a substantial change in what we faithfully prayed, thought and discussed in diocesan synods, that we need more time to have a proper process of discernment. This is so important I see no reason to rush – the bishops have given us in Synod less than two months to consider their amendments. That simply isn’t enough time.

But my initial view is that this amendment takes the flawed, uncatholic theology underlying the Act of Synod to a new level. What the bishops have given us is an amendment, enshrining it in the legislation itself (unlike the Act of Synod), that says that it isn’t good enough to be against the ordination of women: you now must be against it for the Right Reasons to meet the needs of the petitioning parish. And what happens if members of the petitioning parish are against women bishops but for DIFFERENT REASONS. (That isn’t silly by the way. Conservative Anglo-catholics divide precisely down the ontological/ecumenical divide – that is, it would be fine if Rome ordained women, which is clearly at odds with the ontological objection). By this reasoning, the parish will need multiple substitute bishops. Pete calls this nuanced; I call it an ecclesiological train wreck.

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 11:50am BST

Can I make sure I get this right?
1. As well as priests in the C of E who do not accept the orders of other priests in the C of E, now there will be bishops who do not accept the episcopal ordination of other members of the episcopal bench, both male and female,nor do they accept the ordination or ministry of many of the priests in their diocese. eg. Chichester.
2. Is this a serious attempt by theologically trained bishops to avoid schism in the C O E? Surely it is fomenting it? There must come a point when the system sees that tolerance of dissent has reached its limit, and the dissenters must decide to form their own independent group, or join another where they can live with their consciences. I thought that was the point of the ordinariate?
3.I am bemused, as those refusing to accept the orders of women of those tainted by the ordination of women are themselves considered to have defective orders by the very people they wish to emulate and placate, ie. Rome. However, even there will not be safe for too long as the Roman Catholic Church begins to acknowledge its misogyny and patriarchal theology.

Posted by: Gerry Reilly on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 12:13pm BST

What Beth and Rosalind said.

The house of bishops have messed up big time.

This cannot go forward with these dreadful ammendments, and their (unintended?) consequences.

Deeply unattractive all male closed shop, with the arrogance demonstrated so ably by, on this occasion, Peter Broadbent.

So much for semper reforandum

or should that be reforendum !

Posted by: LaurenceR on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 12:58pm BST


Hurling insults doesn't really fit the "thinking" Anglicans sobriquet, does it?

When you live day by day with the existing arrangements, as we do in London, you recognise that compromises have to be made. I believe neither in "headship" nor in "sacramental assurance". I believe them both to be fond imaginings imported from other denominations - free evangelicalism on the one hand and Roman Catholicism on the other. But I'm a bishop in a church where there are Christians who do believe those things, and I'm prepared to make room for them to stay in it, and not, like some more illiberal liberals, force them to leave. I don't either believe in the ecclesiastical Stalinism that masquerades as mono-episcopacy, and would force everyone in a diocese to relate to only one bishop. That, too, is a fairly recent fond invention, and is what has made this whole process so difficult. It's not an article of faith for the Church of England that you only have one bishop in a place. We manage quite well in our patch with two working side by side.

Judith's perfectly reasonable questions will need to be worked out (1) in the Code of Practice - what guidance will we give in relation to how the Diocesan Schemes will be drafted? and (2) in the Schemes themselves, which will vary according to the number of likely letters of request in the Diocese. Yes, it's pragmatic episcopacy, but our way of doing episcopacy has never been ecclesiologically pure (Royal Peculiars, Forces Chaplains, Area Schemes). The crucial issue for the integrity of women bishops is that nothing has changed in terms of their capacity to delegate. All we have done is spelt out what needs to happen when a parish asks for extended episcopal care. (And if anyone thought that "any old male bishop will do" was ever going to work, you do need to talk to the opponents a bit more! That was never going to work, and covering your ears and pretending that it isn't fundamental to what opponents need really isn't sensible)

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 3:01pm BST

I am glad Pete Broadbent has laid his cards so openly on the table. They would be my cards too, if I had any to play. This deal has many advantages, and it is absolutely essential to maintain a sense of perspective.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 7:07pm BST

"I look forward to Pete Broadbent and his friends brokering a deal for lesbian and gay people next, and an oh so practical and sensitive recognition and support of that integrity..."

Didn't you hear, LaurenceR? Bp Broadbent's boss ABY Sentamu just declared "Redefining marriage to include same-sex couples would benefit nobody."

In other words, "nobody" is getting going to get "practical and sensitive recognition and support" in the CofE. >:-/

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 9:36pm BST

Further considerations for FiF, Reform and possibly Pete Braodbent :

Posted by: LaurenceR on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 10:08pm BST

Pete, clearly Bishops take into account the expressed wishes of a petitioning parish - that already happens in provinces that have female bishops with a single clause measure. It happens now under male bishops - not sure why it suddenly becomes necessary to have it in the Measure rather than the code of practice. It is offensive, divisive and the HofB may have thought it a grand plan to win over a few more votes in order to secure the legislation. But perhaps they really need to think about the fact that it has alienated a great many people who specifically requested that the House of Bishops choose not to exercise their perogative to amend. Who also pointed out very clearly that to do so would endanger the legislation by making the terms quite unacceptable to a number of pro- Women Bishop groups who were already uncomfortable the amount of compromise it contains. This was never about trying to force people to leave, it was about making room to include a group of people who were yet to be invited to the episcopal table. Shame on you for implying that to wish to have Women Bishops on the same terms as Men have enjoyed being bishops for generations is suddenly, ecclesiastical stalinism.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 10:18pm BST

Bishop Peter, you are defending the modern heresy that people are entitled by right to have a bishop who agrees with them about whatever happns to be their personal bugaboo. That is a fond thing vainly invented. It's not even imported from any other denomination because no othe denomination would be so daft.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 11:08pm BST

"I don't either believe in the ecclesiastical Stalinism that masquerades as mono-episcopacy, and would force everyone in a diocese to relate to only one bishop. - Pete Broadbent -

SO! Where does that leave the time-honoured tradition of the clergy vowing fealty to their diocesan bishop? Is Pete making up his own rules as he goes along?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 1:28am BST

This has nothing to do with "the modern heresy that people are entitled by right to have a bishop who agrees with them." It has to do with continuing access to leadership that opposes WO.

One of the disconnects in this argument is that supporters of WO see the CoP as an accommodation for individuals while opponents desire an accommodation for theology. Liberals see it as a temporary accommodation to allow clergy currently serving to remain but only with the understanding that they won't be replaced. This is not acceptable to opponents who see themselves destined to expungement by slow attrition. That is, after all, the not-so-hidden agenda of supporters. They expect to win by driving all opponents from leadership. The laity opposed to WO (for whom no long-term accommodation is envisioned) are scheduled for reprogramming as clergy are replaced. That's the problem this amendment is supposed to address. Supporters understand that agenda, and that's why they react negatively. It defeats the understanding that clergy opposed to WO won't be replaced.

It won't work, of course. Nothing based upon "Trust us, because you have no other choice" can ever succeed. But you can understand why they need to address this problem.

carl jacobs

Posted by: carl jacobs on Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 3:26am BST

@Ron - time honoured it may be, but not definitive. In London, they swear canonical obedience to both the Diocesan and the Area Bishop. Perfectly legal and perfectly workable.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 11:25am BST

Interesting comments from Carl. On a lighter note ( not a bad thing with everyone, rightly to my mind ,steamed up ); when I was rector of St George's Bloomsbury an american family ( baptists as it turned out) arrived a little late for the morning eucharist having ( I discovered later) gone to Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church where they saw ( shock ,horror!) a woman in the pulpit!! It was the Sunday after Aug 15th so they got "Ye who own the faith of Jesus" as we processed out ....cant remember if they were singing along! When one considers some of the trials of institutional religion I often think ( now retired),"Well its given me a lot of laughs!"

Posted by: Perry Butler on Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 12:52pm BST

Liberals see it as a temporary accommodation to allow clergy currently serving to remain but only with the understanding that they won't be replaced.'

Silly me. There I was thinking that the Church of England had voted to have women ministers over twenty years ago, and temporary pastoral measures were generously set in train to help the distressed folk against it. (NB. No such generosity was ever shown to those seeking ministry of women by those opposing, after initial votes against it.).

Now we are being told the dissidents wish to perpetuate their anti stance forever- this is not what was agreed.

We have even had the scandal of 'flying bishops' undermining the Church of England while in office, and creating a fifth column at Ebbsfleet and elsewhere; and then all 'poping en group', when it suited them and they no longer needed C of E stipends.

It is shocking that none of this is ever mentioned or seen as relevant to whether we want to perpetuate this kind of thing - and they have the gall to call this an 'integrity' !

Perhaps the ordination of women would be better discontinued asap rather than have this insulting farce.

Posted by: Mary Marriott on Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 8:19pm BST

Carl. it is in every way a modern heresy.

The irreconcileable faux-catholics (and, frankly, faux-evangelicals) not only demand access to male clergy and to be assigned a male bishop. They demand that the male clergy and male bishop agree with them.

Sorry, lad. No one is entitled to have a bishop who agrees with them. I have yet to have a bishop who agrees with me on everything.

Or perhaps you could show me in the writings of Mr. Pusey or Mr. Keble or Mr. Neale where they ever claimed that they were entitled to have a bishop who agreed with them. Perhaps the unpublished Tract 91?

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 7:12am BST

The "on grounds of theological conviction" phrase which people are complaining about references what is already in the Measure at Clause 3 (1). Interestingly, the phrase was inserted there during the Revision Committee precisely to prevent parishes passing a resolution for a letter of request on grounds other than their convictions that women should not be priests. It was part of the series of amendments which was drafted by the Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich. So, supporters - you're arguing about something which was already in the Measure that WATCH and others urged us to pass. The House of Bishops amendment seeks to elucidate what might be required by a parish who submitted such a letter of request.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 11:23am BST

Pete Broadbent - the measure as now drafted requires the Code to deal with different theological convictions without specifying what those convictions might be. The impossibility of defining convictions of this kind was one reason we got the measure we did in its original form. It is now open to all kinds of pressure groups to argue that specific provision for their particular conviction should be explicit in the code. Previously the code could deal with convictions in a pastoral way. Now the measure brings the lawyers into the debate. And I don't see where it says that the theological convictions have to be convictions about the ordination or consecration of women.

Laws like this measure are not interpreted according to the intentions of those who propose them, but according to what they actually say. The Act of Synod gives us a history of misaligned intentions, and that is not a law in the same way that this measure will be.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 2:54pm BST


In order to engage properly with people, it is essential to understand their position and not to misrepresent it. We are not talking about people having bishops who 'agree with them' in some sort of trivialising sense. From the FiF point of view (which is not mine), a merely male bishop is not enough - it has to be a male bishop who takes the same view as they do on the WO issue (and no doubt on other 'Catholic' things - but that preeminently). The claim is perfectly consistent with their general position. It is not trivial. It is not trivially selfish or unreasonable. It is of a different order from agreeing or disagreeing with one's bishop on a host of other things.

Father Ron,

A propos another thread, Robert doesn't support women priests or women bishops. He merely thinks them logical within a Protestant sect such as he thinks the C of E to be, and within that context he thinks there can be discrimination against women.

Posted by: John on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 7:17pm BST

Pete - what then do you make of Forward in Faith's response to these amendments? They seem to think that the amendment under discussion adds to what was in the Measure. Are they wrong? And if they are, who will tell them?

Posted by: Rosalind on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 10:23pm BST

John, I'm not misrepresenting the FiF position at all. They assert that a male bishop ceases to be a legitimate bishop should he disagree with them. It is heretical.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Saturday, 26 May 2012 at 6:48am BST

as I just said on another thread - FiF's concern is to ensure Apostolic succession. That means they need a male bishop who was ordained deacon, priest and bishop by another male bishop.

Right thinking is not part of the ontological change argument.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 26 May 2012 at 4:17pm BST


I understand that.

Posted by: John on Sunday, 27 May 2012 at 1:59pm BST
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