Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Salisbury Diocesan Synod rejects bishops' amendment

Updated 5pm Wednesday
Thursday morning update The bishop’s presidential address is now available here.

We have been informed us that Salisbury Diocesan Synod last night overwhelmingly passed an emergency motion that “This Synod calls upon the House of Bishops to withdraw its amendment to Clause 5 of the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure”.

Nicholas Holtam, the Bishop of Salisbury, said in his Presidential Address, “the Bishops have destabilised the compromise agreed by 42 of the 44 Dioceses”. Both he and Graham Kings, the suffragan Bishop of Sherborne, voted for and welcomed the motion.

WATCH has issued a press release stating that “This emergency motion is the latest indication that the House of Bishops needs to rethink its approach to this important legislation.”

Wednesday Update

The Diocese of Salisbury has this evening issued a press release summarising the bishop’s presidential address, from which the following is extracted.

Revolutionary Talk

The Bishop of Salisbury, Nicholas Holtam, … called for an end to changes to legislation for women bishops…

Bishop Holtam said: “This is not a matter of pragmatics but of principle and what the House of Bishops has done is to destabilise a very carefully crafted proposal, which already had significant compromise within it to recognise the legitimate place of difference within the Church of England, but which had substantial agreement from the dioceses.”

Referring to a vote on whether to accept the amendments to the legislation, he added: “The motion that has been tabled tonight is in keeping with the strong support this diocese has previously given to the ordination of women bishops and I welcome it as a contribution to what is indeed a very urgent debate.” …

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Comments

The wonderful Desmond Tillyer has yet another outstanding letter in The Times today where he sees the two recent amendments on women bishops and the response to the marriage equality consultation as the CofE's "Humanae Vitae" moment.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 3:33pm BST

This man will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury but one.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 3:40pm BST

At last someone showing some sense

Posted by: Confused Sussex on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 4:15pm BST

This is very, very interesting. If similar emergency resolutions now pass in the 42 dioceses which approved the original unamended Measure that will be even more so.

Such emergency votes have no legal weight, since the House of Bishops were legally entitled to make those amendments. However, if the vast majority of the dioceses vote against the amendments and General Synod then passes the Measure with amendments we then have a very strange position indeed.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 4:22pm BST

If only, Concerned – Holtam must retire before 2025 – if the next ABC retires immediately after Lambeth 2018, Holtam would have less than 7 years and wouldn't make it to Lambeth 2028 :(

Posted by: Dan BD on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 4:47pm BST

Most dioceses will not have Synods before the General Synod meets in July - it may be no more dioceses before then, but I'm not 100% sure on that.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 5:02pm BST

"This man will be the next Archbishop of Canterbury but one."

It seems hard-hearted to wish the good bishop such ill.

Posted by: rjb on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 5:20pm BST

"the next Archbishop of Canterbury but one"
Ah, the Roman Catholic Church has a similar liberal figure in its own mythology - often referred to as "the next pope but one" - but mercifully he never seems to materialise in order to sit on the Petrine throne.
From this we can assume that the new Bishop of Salisbury voted against the two amendments when they were discussed when the House of Bishops last met - how many others joined him in voting against the amendments and by what majority did their Lordships approve of this "fine tuning"?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 7:16pm BST

Some good news at last!

I hope the Bishops have the courage to do this.

Posted by: Jean Mary Mayland on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 7:57pm BST

I am a member of Salisbury Diocesan Synod and an unequivocal supporter of women's ministry at all levels. However, last night's vote left me feeling very uneasy. The emergency motion was circulated just one day in advance; the Synod was poorly attended; the debate began at 8.40pm and was all over by 8.55pm with almost all speeches being restricted to 2 minutes and a guillotine being implemented to end the debate prematurely. As I said at the time, it was not a wise, thoughtful, careful or prayerful way to proceed. I have no doubt that many Synod members felt they were voting to express their general approval of the idea of women bishops.

The reason the vote was carried so overwhelmingly was, I suspect, out of a sense of loyalty to the Bishop, who nailed his colours to the mast very firmly in his presidential address. I was surprised to hear +Nicholas very publically distancing himself from the House of Bishop’s amendment, even more so to realise that he was essentially publically campaigning against the House of which he is a member. He himself acknowledged that there was a large majority in favour of these amendments in the House of Bishops and he was in a small minority. Does he see no value in corporate (in the biblical sense) responsibility? Or is it just “every bishop for himself” these days?

Posted by: Gavin Foster on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 9:33pm BST

Dan BD No, not quite. I think that you are assuming long archiepiscopates. My view as expressed in an earlier post on this illustrious blogsite is that what is strongly needed is:

1. A short next term for the next Archbishop. This is what happened after Michael Ramsay when they (the then Appointments Commission) didn't know what to do so they put the older Donald Coggan in for six years - mind you he was a bit of a disaster.

Nevertheless, older archbishops who are only in for a short while can do less damage and might do some good - think again of Pope John XXIII.

2. A detachment from the the sacrosanct idea of a decennial Lambeth Conference. As I have also commented earlier the next Archbishop would do well to delay the 2018 Conference to 2023 at least-it's directly in his gift and can easily be done. There's no point in having another Conference whilst Provinces and Archbishops are still high as kites, that will only solidify schism, better to wait a while to let everyone calm down.

3. All of this gives plenty of scope for the Nick Holtam's of this world to be appointed.

4. Lastly, my money is on a surprise appointment this time round, for example, an older man like Tim Stevens of Leicester, respected, a cautious liberal, liked by the other bishops ... and only in for four or five (if the Queen extends his time as she may) years.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 10:13pm BST

Gavin Foster says what is in all our minds.

Good to have a first hand report.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 11:30pm BST

It would be less embarrassing for the House of Bishops to withdraw the amendment than to have it defeated.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 11:34pm BST

I was present at the Salisbury Diocesan Synod and spoke in favour of the motion calling upon the House of Bishops to withdraw its amendment to Clause 5 of the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. It was inevitable that this motion was circulated close to the date of the synod as the House of Bishops made this amendment very recently. The synod was not in my judgement very poorly attended, though it would have been good to have seen more people present. Other important business was transacted at the meeting and so there was a restricted amount of time for the motion to be debated. Nevertheless there was a good and intelligent debate with contributions for and against. Given the amount of time that has been devoted to this subject by diocesan synods over the years I doubt that anyone could have thought it was just about giving general approval to women bishops. After all we've done that time and time again.

Nor do I believe that the verdict of the synod was given out of loyalty to the Bishop. His remarks, given at the beginning of the synod and not during the debate, were thoughtful, guarded and wise. He said that it would be helpful for synod to give him and others a 'steer'. As a member of General Synod now not knowing quite which way to vote in July that was exactly what I needed from my diocesan synod. There was no sense in his words that he was 'campaigning' or that he did not accept that he was a part of the House of Bishops that had voted for the amendment. But clearly, given the dismay and disarray that it has led to, we need guidance and leadership. In my judgement the synod voted for this motion simply because they believed that it expressed their opinions and those of a great many in our church.

Posted by: Richard Franklin on Wednesday, 20 June 2012 at 11:54pm BST

Forget a show of solidarity with the majority of the House of Bishops. Could they not show some solidarity as a body with the expressed views of the 42 Dioceses. It is not a question of voting the way every one else is voting but thinking the matter through and voting in the knowledge one is right and others are misguided. Nick clearly has the political ability and strength of argument to get his expressed views supported in a vote - a useful skill to be sought in the next Archbishop. What a breath of fresh air we have in the House of Bishops.

Posted by: David Williams on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 1:08am BST

I've heard of "Vatileaks" - now due to the indiscretion of the new Bishop of Salisbury we have our own Anglican version. Although only in post for a very short time Sarum seems not only to be the new kid on the block but also very much the wild card. According to Gavin Foster - at the Salisbury Diocesan Synod + Nicholas "acknowledged that there was a large majority in favour of these amendments in the House of Bishops and he was in a small minority". Does anyone have a link to what the bishop actually said in his Presidential address? Whatever happened to confidentiality let alone collegiality?

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 5:46am BST

Father David. You asked "Whatever happened to confidentiality, let alone collegiality?"

What about honesty? As far as I can see +Nicholas' main sin seems to have been that he was honest and open. A refreshing and shocking change.

Confidentiality and collegiality is a way of working that facilitates private stitch-ups and bad decisions. Remember how the UK Cabinet decided to invade Iraq?

Simon

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 8:21am BST

The Bishop of Salisbury's presidential address is now available online, and I have added a link to it above.

Posted by: Peter Owen on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 10:21am BST

The House of Bishops is leaking like a sieve. People can't wait to tell you about the discussions, and +Sarum is far from alone in commenting publicly about how he voted and why. It would be more worrying if people were commenting specifically on how others had voted.

Posted by: Hannah on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 10:22am BST

Simon, I think we can put a more positive spin on confidentiality and collegiality than merely dismissing these important considerations as facilitating "stitch-ups and bad decisions". But now that the Bishop of Salisbury has broken ranks - it may well be the best policy to be "honest and open" in disclosing how large was the majority vote in favour of the two amendments by the House of Bishops and how small the minority of those voting against.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 10:24am BST

The bishop's presidential address which has now been published is clearly what I heard at Salisbury Diocesan Synod on Tuesday night, but as I mentioned in my earlier posting he also made some "off the cuff" comments which are not in the script.

As I recall, +Nicholas spoke about being at the House of Bishop's meeting and thinking, "I know I'm new to this, but what are we doing!" He said that he wished to make it clear it was not a close vote, there was a clear majority, but he himself did not support the amendment.

I was so surprised at these comments I jotted them down on the back of my agenda paper. Perhaps Richard Franklin recalls hearing them too?

Posted by: Gavin Foster on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 10:36am BST

Thank you for adding the link to Sarum's presidential address - this in no way seems to break the confidentiality of what took place in the House of Bishops meeting but it does indeed raise questions about collegiality and corporate responsibility. The emergency eleventh hour debate at the Salisbury Diocesan Synod seems like a panic reaction to what the House of Bishops (of which Bishop Holtam is a voting member), presumably following much discussion and deliberation, have offered in their amendments to the main Measure.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 12:18pm BST

There are times for corporate responsibility and times for bishops to have courage to speak against the pack - or whoever is dominating the pack. +Salisbury clearly has those guts. I wish more showed them. After all those who oppose women and opposed Jeffrey John as a bishop broke ranks. False unity is no unity at all and people are bored stiff and disengaged by politicians spouting the party line. If we really want to reinspire faith then it needs people who speak with conviction - whatever view they take - and not just those who say what they are told to say! The Church of England needs to shake off the shackles of corporate branding and centralising agenda of the Carey years.

Time for General Synod to flex its muscles and send these amendments back to the bishops with a clear message that they have made a big mistake. There is a trend emerging here. These amendments taken with the 'CofE response' to same-sex marriage actually coming from the bishops with no consultation, but not identified as such, should sound alarm bells for democratic structures in the church. The bishops need reminding that while the Church of England is episcopally led, it is not episcopally governed - that rests with Synods. A bit of mitre clipping needed.

Posted by: Ian Black on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 12:21pm BST

Whoever thought that newly-elected Bishop Nick would have provided such a stimulus to the stirring of the House of Bishops on this very important issue of being accountable to the Will of Synod - which was expressed pretty clearly at the last Session - in the provision of and agreement on the original Draft Measure for the Ordination of women as Bishops?

May this motion of the Diocese of Salisbury cause the venerable members of the H.o.B to pause and think about what they might be doing to thwart the "Mind of Synod' by continuing with the amendments.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 12:38pm BST

Thanks for posting a link to +Nick's Presidential address. He does make one slip - in which he is not alone. The illustrative draft Code of Practice on which questions were asked in February Synod contains NO guidance as to the selection of male bishops at present. This was explicitly excluded from the draft by the Working Group, who could not agree what, if anything, might be included. To say, as +Nick did, that the amendment puts into the Measure 'what everyone accepts would otherwise have been in the Code of Practice' is simply untrue - this has so far not been tested in General Synod. It may be what many expect to be in the Code, but that is a decision to be taken further down the line. Sometimes creeping assumptions are in danger of fogging this process.

Posted by: Hilary Cotton on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 3:34pm BST

Do we expect our bishops to conduct their discussions of major issues affecting the life of the church behind closed doors and without giving us the advantage of their erudition? Do we expect our diocesan leaders to remain silent on key issues affecting the life of the church in their dioceses? That may be how some organisations run themselves, but it is far from clear that it is the way the Church of England should be run. The Bishop of Salisbury is not the only bishop to make comments on the outcome of the House of Bishops meeting. The Bishops of Chelmsford and Oxford at least have addressed their own Diocesan Synods on the issue - and the fact that some others haven't may have more to do with the timing of Synod meetings than any particular feeling of restraint.

For me Father David's comment about "Vatileaks" clarifies that I do not think the church should be run by our own local version of the Vatican.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 3:58pm BST

Interesting that the press release from the Diocese of Salisbury headlined it "Revolutionary Talk," rather upping the ante.

Posted by: MarkP on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 4:55pm BST

Unless the Bishops back down and have the good sense and grace to withdraw their amendment it is certain there will be revolution in York - and some very bad press which will be damaging for the Church of England and its grass roots support at parish level.

Synod is the ultimate governing body of the church should be allowed to vote on what the Dioceses have largely accepted as representing reasonable compromise over an issue that was always bound to be divisive.

Posted by: David Williams on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 6:41pm BST

There are, of course, times and occasions when certain issues affecting the life of the Church are of necessity held behind closed doors - but I cannot for the life of me think why this particular House of Bishops' vote on the amendments should be one of them and it would be helpful to know how many of those who are called to lead the Church voted in favour.
Gavin's second comment clarifies the situation that Bishop Holtam made further remarks other than those contained in the scripted presidential address. It seems from these reported and noted "off the cuff" remarks that a bit of mitre clipping is indeed needed - starting perhaps with the Lord Bishop of Salisbury.
If the Evangelical Bishop Cocksworth goes to Canterbury then perhaps we can then send Bishop Holtam to Coventry!

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 7:04pm BST

It seems just a trifle odd to be talking about collegiality on this matter, as what is being sought is the ability of a minority not to accept the decision of the majority. If all were willing to abide by Mr. Hooker's rule, we would likely not be having this discussion.

To small purpose had the council of Jerusalem been assembled, if once their determination being set down, men might afterwards have defended their former opinions. When therefore they had given their definitive sentence, all controversy was at an end. Things were disputed before they came to be determined; men afterwards were not to dispute any longer, but to obey. The sentence of judgment finished their strife, which their disputes before judgment could not do. This was ground sufficient for any reasonable man's conscience to build the duty of obedience upon, whatsoever his own opinion were as touching the matter before in question. Preface, 6.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 7:22pm BST

The intention of the House of Bishops in passing the amendments was to increase the number of people prepared to vote for the Measure. It's pretty clear that they have achieved the opposite. But how is it helpful if no-one points this out? If bishops stay silent (out of loyalty to colleagues) and the rest of us stay silent (out of deference to authority) there will be the biggest possible train smash in July. This is not a spectator sport.

I am a member of Salisbury Diocesan Synod and I voted in favour of the emergency motion. Still time for a few more bishops/ dioceses to stand up and be counted ...

Posted by: Jane Charman on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 7:31pm BST

How many diocesan bishops would have the guts to run their amendments past their synods? If a large majority at the Bishopthorpe meeting supported the amendments then it shows the chasm that has opened up between them and their dioceses. Ben Bradshaw MP has given a clear indication that Parliment's Ecclesiastical Committee would respect the mind of the Church as expressed by the diocesan synods and chuck out the amended legislation. So we should be grateful to Salisbury for attempting to avert a calamity.

Posted by: Andrew on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 8:09pm BST

I disagree strongly with Father David about the need for Bishops to show collegiality. This destructive concept was introduced into the Church of England in a house of Bishops Document in 2000.The report was written by Bishop John Hinde and based on work done by Dr Mary Tanner for the WCC
So far as the Church of England’s is concerned the Report admits that

‘Collegiality can sometimes impose limitations on the ministry of bishops yet there may be occasions when, in conscience, an individual bishop feels compelled to resist the common mind’ .

This sounds lovely and is written in an appropriately smooth style. In fact it did not work out like that.

Dr Carey had been surprised to become Archbishop and was at first not at all sure of himself. He needed to be surrounded by bishops who would not break rank and who supported lines that were laid down

Soon irreverent comments began to circulate about bishops having their back bones removed when they were consecrated! Men of independent mind and courage suddenly became a crowd of passive people ready to sing from the same hymn sheet.
This trend continued with Dr Williams and it seemed essential for Bishops and indeed clergy and lay people not to challenge him in General Synod. Bishops must toe the party line and clergy and laity were made to feel guilty if they voted against him. It was not so in the first 20 years of Synodical Government as I well know.

We can see the harmful results of the application of the principle of Collegiality in the Church of England at the moment and in the wider Anglican Communion.

Bishop Holtam is right to challenge it and I hope more Bishops will follow.

Posted by: Jean Mary Mayland on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 8:18pm BST

"Having their backbones removed" goes back (!) a lot further.

I remember hearing the joke from +Colin James before he went to Winchester (in 1985)

Posted by: John Roch on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 9:30pm BST

We are EPISCOPALLY LED and SYNODICALLY GOVERNED, not the other way round, though reading some of the posts on this thread, one could be forgiven for thinking otherwise. Furthermore, no one is mentioning the following motions that were passed at almost one quarter of the Diocesan Synods. Contributors to this site are often big on minorities when it comes to questions of homosexuality or gay marriage - let's all be inclusive - but the significant minority represented by the number of Church of England traditionalists is conveniently swept under the carpet to give rise to falsified claims about no one wanting proper provision ie. of the sort we move towards with the Bishops' amendments. It really is disingenuous to say the least.

Posted by: Benedict on Thursday, 21 June 2012 at 11:05pm BST

Why is it assumed that every member of the House of Bishops, after a disagreement there, must rally around the majority position?

Is this suggested because there is some feeling that the Holy Spirit hovers with particular grace over the House of Bishops of the Church of England?

Is the House of Bishops never wrong?

Or do people have some difficulty accepting the fact that bishops, like the rest of us, disagree with each other?

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 22 June 2012 at 3:49am BST

It's not an issue of being "big on minorities", Benedict, it's a question of whether or not it is either appropriate or sensible for the Church of England to establish a potentially permanent two-tier episcopacy, divided between a positively pure, guys-only stream and a secondary one contaminated by the female sex. It is claiming otherwise that is "disingenuous to say the least".

I wonder if those bemoaning the "indiscretion" and lack of collegiality of the bishop of Salisbury have similar feelings towards the bishop of Chester and those other bishops who abused the right of the last bishop of Oxford to nominate a suffragan of his choice.

What lies ahead when the bishops set their minds to creating the "code of practice"? Are there to be checks and balances on this stage of their labours, or will they get another crack at ignoring and bypassing the stated will of the dioceses in the final stage of the game?

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Friday, 22 June 2012 at 4:36am BST

The bizarre concept that participants in a decision must never criticize the decision is not "collegiality," but rather "democratic centralism."

I find it odd that the English establishment are preaching unreconstructed Stalinism.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Friday, 22 June 2012 at 5:15am BST

"Having their backbones removed" - wasn't that Dom Gregory Dix's response on being asked what was happening at a consecration of bishops when the consecrating bishops all circled around the candidates in a holy scrum? If it wasn't, then it ought to have been for it was exactly the kind of witty comment the great man would have made. His dear friend - Bishop Kenneth Kirk of Oxford described him as "the most brilliant man in the Church of England". His monkish wit was often aimed at the establishment and at archbishops and bishops in particular - as in the oft quoted aphorism - "the sign of a bishop is a crook, the sign of an archbishop a double cross".
He also described the national church, as personified in the bishops, as the "woolly liberal establishment of the Church of England; not truly protestant, very far from catholic, not really anything specific at all" (things don't change all that much, do they?). He declared that the creed of Archbishop Fisher could be summed up as "God is nice and in him is no nastiness at all".
Most tellingly he said of the bishops that "they may be the esse of the Church but they were not the bene esse".

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 22 June 2012 at 5:49am BST

I seem to recall that at one time if any member of the British Cabinet publicly disagreed with and voted in parliament against the collectively agreed government policy - then sacking or resignation was the honourable option for that particular rogue Minister. That was, of course, in the days before the Coalition government where nowadays, to our detriment, disagreement seems to be the order of the day.
"a potentially permenant two-tier episcopacy"
Surely we already have a permenant two-tier episcopacy. What are Diocesans and Suffragans if not a permenant two-tier episcopacy? Or what of those who are members of the House of Bishops and those who merely belong to the College of Bishops" - is that not first and second class?
You've got to start to feel a little sorry for our Anglican Fathers in God when they are likened to "our own version of the Vatican" - or described as unreconstructed Stalanists and their legitimate expenses in attending the House of Lords are splashed all over the Press.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 22 June 2012 at 8:02am BST

"Our Fathers in God are being absolutely vilified ........ rogues and vagabonds ,,,,,"
Father David on Tuesday, 19 June 2012 at 7:33am BST

But of course if it is the "monkish wit" of Dom Gregory Dix saying the bishops are "crooks" "double crossers" spineless, lacking any real theology and teaching and adding nothing good to the Church ....
Well that's just fine!

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Friday, 22 June 2012 at 9:04am BST

The wit of that great Anglican religious - Dom Gregory Dix - has perceptively been described as "sharp but rarely malicious". In his premature death from cancer sixty years ago on 12th May 1952 - aged only 51, the Church of England lost one of her greatest treasures.

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 22 June 2012 at 10:02am BST

Trying to pull the wool over my (or maybe your own) eyes in attempting to equate a divided, pure male versus female-compromised Apostolic Succession, with the existing diocesan/suffragan system truly is disingenuous, David.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Friday, 22 June 2012 at 4:35pm BST

I don't think I'm being in the least disingenuous in pointing out that we already have an existing two-tier episcopate in more ways than one. Further examples of a two-tier episcopacy would, of course, be the divide between bishops and archbishops and the further division between those bishops who ordain women as priests and those who refrain from so doing. The moment the first woman bishop is consecrated into the episcopal ministry of the Church of England then, we shall indeed have introduced yet another example of a two-tier epicopacy - those who are male and those who are female. Furthermore we shall also, alas, have introduced an impaired or broken Communion within the College of Bishops. What could be more open or obvious than that?

Posted by: Father David on Saturday, 23 June 2012 at 6:04am BST

The Strange Rabbit suggests that David is disingenuous. Given his rather odd comparison with Cabinet Ministers in the Westminster system, I think he may just be thoroughly confused.

In the Westminster system, the continuation of the government depends on confidence - that is, the government must have the confidence of the House of Commons. Should a government lose a Commons vote on a matter of confidence (which includes any money bill, any opposition motion of want of confidence and any other matter the ministry deems a matter of confidence) the government is compelled either to resign or to advise the Crown to issue a writ of election so that a new House of Commons may be elected.

Thus the comparison to Cabinet Ministers in the Westminster system is pure tosh from start to finish.

Unless, of course, David can point to a case where an Archbishop of Canterbury has resigned after seeing some matter of importance to him defeated or where the Archbishop of Canterbury has advised the Crown to issue a writ to elect a new General Synod.

I shan't hold my breath.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Saturday, 23 June 2012 at 7:58am BST

There is no 'divide' between archbishops and bishops, Fr David, any more than there is a 'divide' between bishops, priests and deacons. The Church has always called people to exercise different ministries within it, as expressed by St Paul in his image of the body. Where communion is impaired perhaps the language of division is applicable - although within the Church of England we have sought to live with the fact that some bishops ordain women and some don't as a 'bearable anomaly'. If we now have women bishops whom some can accept and others can't then most of are still seeing this as a 'bearable anomaly'. We wouldn't be voting for it otherwise. But it will become an 'unbearable anomaly' if the bishops get the legislation wrong.

Posted by: Jane Charman on Saturday, 23 June 2012 at 9:52am BST

I don't think, Father David, that you are comparing like with like. In some cases the divisions are based on function and are not absolute: a suffragan can become a diocesan; a diocesan can become an archbishop. I would not call the distinction between those who ordain women as priests and those who don't as based on tiers since both suffragans and diocesans fall into this category and people can change their minds. However, the distinction between female and male bishops is quite different. It is based on a gender difference. A woman cannot become a man and the disctinction is based on gender discrimination. Quite simply, the CofE is being discriminatory.

The events of the past two months have greatly undermined my respect for both my church and the HofB. They have attempted to railroad the Covenant through, some bishops shamefully limiting the information issued to synod members, introduced damaging amendments to the women biships measure, issuing a flawed and mendacious response to the gay marriage consultation. I cannot see where the Bishops have shown leadership. You are not showing leadership if you meet behind closed doors and issue proclamations without showing the reasoning behind them. That merely patronises the memebrship. I think that inevitably there will have to be a review of the role of the episcopate. I give thanks for the example set by the Episcopal Church of Scotland. As I said before, given as Father David says, communion is broken within the HofB, a courteous and orderly separation is the only way forward if the CofE is not to destroy itself.

Posted by: Daniel Lamont on Saturday, 23 June 2012 at 10:39am BST

"... the divide between bishops and archbishops", David? Nit picking? As to those who "refrain from" (ie "refuse to") ordain women, I don't doubt that when +London is still +London a year hence, we shall see where such bishops stand in the advancement stakes. I shall be most surprised if a WO denier ever again snares a major diocese and it will be they, rather than the women bishops and those who engage collegially with them, who will face marginalized status.

Re "Furthermore we shall also, alas, have introduced an impaired or broken Communion within the College of Bishops", in the short run I agree with you, but given time, and not that much of it, those opposed to women in the priesthood and episcopate will go the way of the Non-jurors and the dinosaurs before them. But to enshrine in English law their "right" to discriminate, as the HoB is attempting to do, will create unending life support for "guys-only purity" - a grievous error.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer on Saturday, 23 June 2012 at 1:40pm BST

Gracious to me - have I written something that I ought not to have done - in that Odd Bunny has said with regard to one of my comments - "in the short run I agree with you" Perhaps - Lapin, intimation as to the next occupant of the See of Chichester may not yet have reached your burrow? Or is this yet another identification of the existing two-tier episcopate - i.e. those who are bishops of "a major diocese" and those who merely exercise oversight in what might be called a minor diocese? Of course, this is in fact the case - as Canterbury, York, London, Durham and Winchester - automatically gain access to the House of Lords until, that is, Mr. Clegg says otherwise!
As to comparisons between Party Politics and Church Politics - surely, the last few months have shewn that our politicians can learn a thing or two from the byzantian way in which we order our business within the Established Church?

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 24 June 2012 at 5:09am BST

Father David, you cannot get away with this statement by dodging the issue. you have said:

"Surely we already have a permanent two-tier episcopacy. What are Diocesans and Suffragans if not a permanent two-tier episcopacy? Or what of those who are members of the House of Bishops and those who merely belong to the College of Bishops" - is that not first and second class?"

This is not a case of First or second-class bishops. It is merely a case of function.

In your struggle to allow F.i.F. and others to discriminate against the acceptance of women as fit bearers of the charism of Holy Orders in the church of England, you are, effectively saying that if Women are eventually ordained to the episcopate, certain members of the Church of England (F.i.F and other dissenters) should be allowed to discount their episcopal Orders - by electing not to submit to them.

This is allowing for a two-tier episcopate in the C.of E. that would be officially recognised as acceptable to the dissidents. That seems odd!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 24 June 2012 at 12:02pm BST

With regard to diocesans and suffragans, Father Ron, and your assertion that "It is merely a case of function" - are you saying then that all bishops are equal but some are more equal than others? Which category of bishop puts more unction in your function - diocesans or suffragans? How come suffragan bishops are often referred to as "episcopal curates"?

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 24 June 2012 at 8:01pm BST

"How come suffragan bishops are often referred to as "episcopal curates"?"

Posted by: Father David on Sunday, 24 June 2012

A bishop is a bishop is a bishop. The function a bishop has which is not shared by any other order of the clergy is the faculty of ordination. Every bishop has this function - by virtue of episcopal Holy Orders.

A diocesan bishop has the extra function of the charge of a diocese. That is a function - not a separate Holy Order.

However, it would appear that your friends in F.i.F who want special treatment from what they perceive to be the only valid bishops in the Church of England - those who think like them, who happen to be (male) bishops.

For them (F.i.F) there may only be one tier of bishops - that is, male and 'undefiled'. However, for the rest of the Church, such treatment of the female bishops would amount to them being, de facto, considered devoid of valid episcopal order and therefore 'second class' if not null & void.

This would be an anomaly in the C.of E. House of Bishops that would render it 'out of communion' with other Provinces of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 25 June 2012 at 12:14pm BST

I too am (now 'was') a member of Salisbury Diocesan Synod... But I wasn't present - away on holiday - and, unsurprisingly knew nothing of this until my return.

But I fear the whole thing is a mess. As a supporter of women as bishops (like men, only some of them:-) )

I am very uncomfortable about the atmosphere we have and the generalisations about things like Diocesan votes. Synods represent Dioceses but that's not the same as reflecting them. Take the Covenant debate where our diocesan synod vote ran counter to the deaneries votes.

Or on authority... Is it really vital that this is so tied up that, for some, there are no loose ends? I'm just so uncomfortable with this. If we over tighten the thread that binds us it will snap. Of this I have no doubt.

I can't get out of my head; I am among you as one who serves.

Posted by: Ian Hobbs on Tuesday, 3 July 2012 at 5:31pm BST
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