Thursday, 24 May 2012

Announcement from Group of Six (Women Bishops Legislation)

The Group of Six (the six officers of the General Synod) has determined, by a majority, that the two amendments made by the House of Bishops to the draft Women Bishops Legislation do not alter the substance of the proposals, and so do not require a further reference to the dioceses. Their decision is contained in this press release.

Announcement from Group of Six (Women Bishops Legislation)
24 May 2012

The six Officers of the General Synod (the Archbishops, Dr Philip Giddings, the Venerable Christine Hardman, Mr Tim Hind and Canon Glyn Webster) met this afternoon. Their task was not to consider the merits of the two amendments made by the House of Bishops to the draft Women Bishops Legislation but to determine whether they had altered the ‘substance of the proposals embodied in the legislation which had already been approved last year by 42 of the Church of England’s 44 dioceses. Any such alteration necessitates a further reference to the dioceses before the legislation can come to the Synod for consideration at the Final Approval stage.

Having received legal advice they determined, by a majority, that the amendments made did not constitute such an alteration. The next steps are for the Officers of the House of Laity and the Convocations of Canterbury and York to decide whether to ask for the legislation to be referred to those bodies for consideration immediately before the Synod meets in York in July. They have no power to amend the legislation but their approval by simple majorities is required before the Final Approval debate in Synod can happen. In addition the Business Committee of the Synod will meet tomorrow to decide when to schedule the Final approval debate in July.

The Synod has no power to amend the legislation further but can adjourn the Final Approval debate and invite the House of Bishops to reconsider the amendments that they have made. If such an adjournment motion were passed the House would have to meet again-and would at that point have power to make further amendments- before the Final Approval debate was resumed. An adjournment motion in July would mean that the further meeting of the House and the resumption of the Final Approval debate would have to happen at a later date. The earliest that the General Synod might be able to conclude the Final Approval Stage in that eventuality would, therefore, be in November.

Notes
For background to Group of Six and House of Bishops’ amendments see http://www.churchofengland.org/media-centre/news/2012/05/house-of-bishops-approves-women-bishops-legislation.aspx

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 11:06pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Slowly, Slowly catchee monkee? Let's wait and see where this gets us to in the business of affirming the ministry of Women in God's Church.

Maybe the Celebration of Pentecost will provide the eirenic balance. If Saint Bede (whose Feast we celebrate today) were alive in today's Anglican environment, I suspect he might have been more welcoming of Women than FiF and the H.o.B. After all, he was a loyal compatriot of Saint Hilda, Mitred Abbess.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 2:01am BST

"Having received legal advice they determined, by a majority, that the amendments made did not constitute such an alteration."

Hmmm... by a majority of 5:1 or 4:2 and will we ever know who the dissenters were?

Posted by: RPNewark on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 7:49am BST

I feared this would happen. I suspect the voting was 4/2

I hope the Convocation of Canterbury now meets and that the Final Approval Motion is adjourned .If the amendment is not removed the only alternative is to vote the whole Measure down.

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 10:29am BST

And since we can presume that the 2 Abps voted with the majority, the balance of the other 4 was obviously either 3-1 or 2-2. So it is not at all clear that the other members of the 6 were persuaded whether the HoB's changes were substantial or not.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 10:41am BST

Jean Mayland I just cannot understand your attitude (genuinely). The CofE is going to have WB - we all know that. This does not seem to satisfy you-so having won this long and arduous battle, you seem determined to make it absolutely impossible for anyone who finds the change a challenge to remain in the CofE. I am a Catholic so I have no axe to grind over the issue really, except that it all seems totally illiberal really.

Posted by: mark Wharton on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 11:21am BST

Many of us have got used to Fr Ron Smith's idiosyncratic ruminations from the distant Antipodes, but to make such facile suggestions about the Venerable Bede's likely support of women bishops is preposterous. Why?

His History of the English People hinges on the adoption of the Roman Rite and papal supremacy by the Council of Whitby which he regarded as the major turning point of this island's story. Such fidelity to Rome suggest where his heart lay.

And I would go further and suggest that St Hilda would have been appalled by the idea of female bishops. Her juridiction was confined to her monastery which was subject to the authority, under the Pope, of St Wilfrid of York.

Posted by: John Bowles on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 12:11pm BST

I long to rejoice in the consecration of women to the episcopate and have benefited enormously from the ministry of women priests and deacons. But the key word for me is "rejoice". So I wouldn't want to do anything which diminished or undermined that episcopal ministry (whether exercised by a man or a woman). But equally I have learned much from 'conservative evangelicals' and 'traditional catholics', and want a church in which they - as well as me - can feel cherished and flourish.

I am genuinely torn about this, and had thought the now infamous Archbishops' amendment - or some sort of mission society arrangement - might provide a way forward which, while everyone would agree it was imperfect, most were prepared to live with.

But I do not believe there is sufficient trust or clarity to proceed simply on the basis of arrangements contained in an as-yet-unseen and untested code of practice or voluntary arrangement. I would love it to be possible to proceed simply on the basis of mutual respect and charity, but I don't think it is.

So I'd like to dare to hope that the amended Measure strikes an ultimately acceptable balance, but I don't know. And as a supporter of the ordination and consecration of women I wonder whether it would be better to wait than to proceed, if on balance the Measure really is so unsatisfacory.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 12:48pm BST

Show me, Mark, where support of the measure in the form approved by the synods of 42 of the Church's 44 dioceses, as distinct from an amended form approved by a voting majority in a committee of just six individuals, is "totally illiberal". Sending the measure back to the dioceses for a further vote would delay implementation of the measure, but I greatly doubt that this was the deciding factor in the determination not to do so.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 1:03pm BST

I'd commend to John Bowles the text of Bede H.E. IV 23, eg

'Her prudence was so great, that not only indifferent persons, but even kings and princes, as occasion offered, asked and received her advice; she obliged those who were under her direction to attend so much to reading of the Holy Scriptures, and to exercise themselves so much in works of justice, that many might be there found fit for ecclesiastical duties, and to serve at the altar. In short, we afterwards saw five bishops taken out Of that monastery, and all of them men of singular merit and sanctity, whose names were Bosa, Hedda, Oftfor, John, and Wilfrid.'

Thus Hild exercised authority over men (shock horror) of a temporal and spiritual sort (Ditto). Doesn't say anything about bishops, but in the Rul, an abbess has a quasi-episcopal role, no?

As for Bede: yes, a proponent of Rome (but not such that he could not recognise the holiness of Aidan, or ignore to ruthlessness of Wilfrid), but Rome C8, not Rome C21. After all, who can imagine the Rome of the last few centuries issuing guidance such as that in I;27.VIII?!!

Posted by: david rowett on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 1:07pm BST

Mark WE had made huge concessions.We had agreed that by law a woman bishop would be obliged to send a male bishop to any parish which so requested. We did NOT agree that he must be an 'untainted' male and neither did the Dioceses. Nor did we agre that it could be stressed that the woman bishop has no authority and the male bishop came by his authority.

The Archbishops, ignoring previous synodical voting, pushed the boat to lean too far, Enough is enough and we do not accept women bishops on those terms.

Anyway what they have done does not satisfy the objectors. I have always said 'Give them an inch and they will demand a mile'. Once more that has proved correct.

Posted by: Jean Mary Mayland on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 1:30pm BST

The amendment to clause 5(1)(c) does look like a substantial amendment to me.

It's also extraordinarily badly drafted. But, presumably, it's meant to mean, in less mangled English, that the Code of Practice must now (by way of a substantial change) provide for:

"(c) the selection of male bishops or male priests whose exercise of ministry is consistent with the theological convictions about the consecration or ordination of women which have caused parochial church councils to issue Letters of Request under section 3"

In other words, the parishes that don't accept the ordination of women, not only get a male priest, and a male bishop, but can have a male priest and a male bishop with theological convictions which match theirs. No other group in the Church of England has this. Liberals have conservative bishops, and conservatives have liberal bishops, and so we are a broad church.

Even if the Archbishops' earlier wording in a foreword had the status of the resolutions (which I don't think it does), they previously only said they would "seek" to match theological convictions in this way. It was not embedded as now proposed.

It may not be politic to say it's a substantial change. But it is a substantial change. It may be a fair accommodation. But it's still a substantial change.

Posted by: badman on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 2:05pm BST

Mark, No one has 'won' and with this legislation no one will. For all the C of E says it wants Women Bishops actually it is very far from certain that it will happen. It was still far from certain BEFORE the amendments that Synod would vote for it, it is even less secure now. The supporters of WB are now in a lose/lose position. If it passes then we end up with legislation we genuinely think will harm the C of E (not just WB) in the long term and if it doesn't pass there are no women bishops. At what point was Jean supposed to sound enthusiastic at this prospect?

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Friday, 25 May 2012 at 8:32pm BST

I guess the phrase "conflict of interest" holds little water w/ this Gang of Six.

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 26 May 2012 at 12:30am BST
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