Monday, 9 July 2012
General Synod Adjournment debate - more reports and comments
Updated Monday evening
John Bingham writes in the Telegraph Women bishops row is a ‘train crash’.
Stephen Lynas (a synod member) blogs Monday: delayed but not denied.
Avril Ormsby writes for Reuters Church of England delays women bishops vote.
A Statement from Forward in Faith
Forward in Faith is disappointed that the General Synod today resolved to adjourn the debate on final approval of the draft Measure to permit women to be ordained as bishops in order to give the House of Bishops an opportunity to rethink its recent amendments to the Measure. We call upon the House of Bishops to stand firm in the face of this unwarranted pressure and to return the draft Measure to the Synod in a form which will provide for the future of traditional Catholics and conservative Evangelicals in line with the clearly expressed mind of the Synod throughout this morning’s debate.
Reform comment on Women Bishops adjournment
Following today’s adjournment of the debate on women bishops, Rev’d Rod Thomas, chairman of Reform, said: “We stand ready to co-operate to find a solution if there is a genuine desire to see a permanent place secured within the Church of England for those who on theological grounds cannot accept women as bishops.”
Giles Fraser writes in The Guardian Women bishops amendment has been rightly thrown out.
George Pitcher writes for the Mail Online If some parts of the Church of England want women bishops, they must also satisfy those who don’t.
Jerome Taylor writes in The Independent Months of frantic lobbying expected as women bishops debate is temporarily stayed by Church of England .
Lizzy Davies writes in The Guardian that Church of England must reassure female clergy.
Posted by Peter Owen on
Monday, 9 July 2012 at 2:45pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
| General Synod
It would be good if Giles Fraser learned elementary rules of punctuation. Until he does, I won't take his macho- theological posturings seriously.
Terrific post by George Pitcher. Moral and theological seriousness necessitates confronting difficulty - above all the manifold - but inevitable - difficulties inherent in the Church of England.
Perhaps for the benefit of your many readers in the US, you could translate "adjourn" into American?
Goodness me! Sir Tony says that 'allowing the reform to collapse at the last moment could fatally undermine its attempts to retain a presence in the reformed House of Lords'.
Haven't we heard this somewhere before? Isn't this what was said by the CofE itself when railing against same sex marriage.
Makes me wonder whether disestablishment isn't nearer than we thought.
Oh dear, following this morning's "train crash" or is it more of a derailment(?) Sir Tony Baldry talks of an uphill struggle to retain a place for bishops in the new House of Lords as "virtually impossible".
27 - 12 - ZERO ?
The former curate of High Wycombe, now M.P. for Rhondda is of the opinion that as amendments are so much in vogue - he's going to introduce his own amendment for the removal of all bishops from the Upper Chamber.
That it should come to this!
Baldry's comments certainly turn up the heat.
"George Pitcher writes for the Mail Online If some parts of the Church of England want women bishops, they must also satisfy those who don’t."
Please. The ONLY way they can be "satisfied" is if those called women are (at best) Not-Bishops, compared to their own (i.e., establishing a permanent "Bishops, 2nd class" for the XX chromosome afflicted)
to adjourn - to suspend the debate (in this case on the motion for final approval of the legislation to allow women to be bishops) in order to restart it at a later date (in this case in November). In this case the intention is to allow the House of Bishops to reconsider one of their amendments.
So, our prayers that the Holy Spirit might rule over the proceedings of this Synod - given the toxic Amendment to the Draft Measure, that would have enshrined the possibility of 'taint' to those who believe that God is calling women into the Episcopate - seem to have borne fruit.
This will give the House of Bishops time to repent of their desire to maintain the patriarchal code of exclusion of Women in Ministry that is at the heart of F.i.F.'s and Reform's discreditable 'welcoming' of the defeat of the Amended Draft.
We in New Zealand, and those in other Provinces of the Communion who believe that Women are part and parcel of the 'Redeemed' and, therefore, acceptable recipients of God's call to ministry, look forward to the time when our 'Mother Church' of England will enter into the 21st century understanding of Paul's dictum: "In Christ, there is neither male nor female - all are born of the One Spirit" - the Holy Spirit of God - equal in the sight of God, without prejudice.
Personally, I'd say line of the day goes to Giles Fraser.
"This is commonly referred to as a 'deep theological conviction' – though the difference between this conviction and common or garden misogyny has never been fully explained."
Sir Tony Baldry says that 'allowing the reform to collapse at the last moment could fatally undermine (the Church of England's) attempts to retain a presence in the reformed House of Lords'.
You mean the Church of England might actually have to carry out its mission from a position of political weakness? Shocking!
Fraser's 'misogyny' line is a nice one, but ultimately no more than a sound-bite. The truth is that there is no united POV in the anti-brigade, therefore it's impossible to reduce the arguments to a clear and single thread. The selective literalism of Reform (Viyella shirts anyone?) wurrits about authority, we catholic magic-merchants think in terms of validity (does the ordination 'zap' bounce off ovaries?), endangered males lament the loss of the world's best boys-only club, the terminally anxious want it to be proved beyond doubt that it's been done before in case it upsets God/Constantinople/Rome....
If we might reference plumbing for a moment, whenever our sink bungs up, the blockage is usually a mix of hair, veg peelings, coffee grounds and Unknown Substances. The embolism is a composite of ingredients which would never normally be found together and can only be explained as random clumping when forced into a confined space. Thus also opposition to women's priestly/episcopal ministry....
Well, it would certainly shock the Emperor Constantine. Mind, some say that when he made Christianity the official religion of the Roman Empire - that's when the rot set in! There he is (in statue form) outside York Minster (where he was declared Emperor) looking all imperious but with a broken sword.
"This is commonly referred to as a 'deep theological conviction' – though the difference between this conviction and common or garden misogyny has never been fully explained."
An unworthy sentiment. It's difficult to retain bonds of fellowship unless we are willing to impute to our opponents the same motives they claim for themselves. I certainly find it hard to believe that the morally earnest Anglicans - men and women - (not to mention all Roman Catholics) who oppose the priesthood of women are merely slavering misogynists, even if I think their theological reasoning is faulty. I can imagine Fraser's response if a similarly uncharitable remark were to be made about, for example, gay priests.
In the meantime, we have a resounding victory for those liberals who firmly believe that half a loaf is worse than no bread.
If George Pitcher actually holds this opinion and it isn't a new one for him, why has he not been at the forefront of those seeking to allow parts of the Church of England to have bishops who are women? - I have to repeat that the measure before synod was already a compromise to allow for those who opposed the admission of women to the episcopate. The House of Bishops has derailed it by their late alteration. I would so like both the House of Laity and the House of Clergy to pass a motion of censure on the House of Bishops for their late amendments. But, my wishes are not often fulfilled within the Church of England.
Looks like Parliament is following the lead of the Church in putting off an inevitable defeat (theirs - over Reform of the House of Lords) until the autumn.
If we are going to be throwing Constantine into this pickle, it should be noted that Constantine made Christianity "an" official religion of the empire, not "the" official religion. And, wily old fox that he was, Constantine never became a convert to Christianity until he was dying. He took out some death insurance, you might say.
I read a mildly entertaining book a number of years ago called "The War of God Against the Gods". It was a popular history about the struggles of monotheism against polytheism in Western civilization. The author developed the theory (probably not for the first time) that a belief that there is one, and only one, God seems to lead to a belief that there is one, and only one, way to worship this one God. All other ways are then deemed false, heresy, etc., and dealt with accordingly.
I see echoes of that in the debate about women's ordination.
Personally, I find offensive the notion that women bishops are defective. And, the notion that men bishops who approve of women bishops are somehow tainted and beyond the pale for "true believers", I find horrid and beyond the pale itself.
The notion that the Holy Spirit, the Third Person of the Trinity, would pass down from generation to generation of male bishops for 2,000 years, regardless of the merits of the male bishop himself, and come screeching to a halt at the sight of a woman, or of a man who approves of women bishops, is literally incomprehensible.
@rjb: 'all Roman Catholics'??? Not in my (modest and limited) experience.
What an uncanny parallel between Church and State - Parliament debates Reform of the House of Lords as the Economy of the nation continues to be in dire straits. The Church debates women in the episcopate as the Conversion of England continues to languish on the back burner.
Both Parliament and the General Synod have now kicked both of these controversial proposals into the autumnal long grass.
In both instances it is a case of crisis delayed rather than crisis averted.
Surely it is time to tell the House of Bishops that any motion on women Bishops must be concluded with the senior women priests of the Church of England. Together they must put forward the motion on women Bishops.
Because no house of male bishops , so engrained in their own power can possibly see beyongd the end of their noses.
It may also be better for the house of bishops to meet without the two archbishops, so they can express their own views freely, without pressure from both Archbishops who have a track record of putting pressure, if not bullying other consuiltants. viz The Southwark appintment
Those of us who love our church, see what is happening as destroying the church, and therefore would appeal to our Govenor to step in and order such a consultation.
Desperate times need desperate measures.
Fr David. Its a cop out thinking that the' conversion of England' is more important than how the church treats it own members. 'See how these Christians love one another'. Until the church get issues of gender and sexuality right it remains both irrelevant and a laughing stock to the vast majority.
That's odd, Richard, thanks for putting me right - for there's me labouring all these years under the misapprehension that - in the immortal words of Archbishop William Temple:-
"The Church is the only organisation in the world that exists for the sake of those who are not its members".
I presume by your saying - "until the church get issues of gender and sexuality right" - that by the word "right" - you mean that until the Church agrees with the way you think about these things? Common sense really - innit?
The train crash started with the motion that Diocesan Synods were asked to consider, asking people to approve a code of practice that didn't yet exist, and not allowing for amendments. We spent lots of time explaining to people what they were actually being asked to debate. An example of how bad institutional processes can cause pastoral damage.
I think someone needs to open a window in this 12th century scriptorium and let some 21st century light and air in.
whatever your view on where the church ought to stand with regard to sexuality and women priests, it has to be accepted that the outside world is largely pro lgbt equality and definitely pro women's equality and that they are unaffected by internal church theology. The church had to seek an opt out from equality legislation that is supported by the majority of people in this country. And opinion poll after opinion poll shows that people are happy seeing women and lgbt people being treated just like everyone else.
These people will not suddenly change their minds and discriminate against their gay friends and members of their families, nor will they look kindly on a church that still debates the role of women.
You really only have two choices here. You can say "never mind outside society, the church is right and we stick to our belief", or you can change and try to find a common language with those you are trying to attract.
What you will not be able to do is convert people who have been brought up believing in equality of all people to revert back to a discriminatory "equal but different" way of looking at life.
What is striking in these comments is the sense of bad temper that hangs around all this.
I am unconvinced that the delay will actually assist in any exercise to "lower the temperature" unless someone manages to demonstrate how triangles can fit into circles and vice versa. It isn't going to happen. This is going to be a bad-tempered autumn. I expect the result will be decided ultimately by the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament. Establishment as we know it may be coming to an end.
It is all the fault of the disastrous Act of Synod and the idea of housing people who believe entirely opposing and incompatible things with "integrity". Thank you, John Habgood. I don't think Parliament will be in the mood in 2013 to respect this particular bit of C of E fence-post sitting.
Fr David quotes 'The Church is the only organisation in the world that exists for the sake of those who are not its members".
I disagree, the church may well exist for those who are not its members but it would not exist at all if it didn't have its own members. And how can it minister to those outside when it clearly cannot minister to those inside who don't fit the conventional mould of patriarchal heterosexual marriage, and two point four children. The world isn't like that and neither should the church wish or pretend it should be.
And yes, sometimes it is necessary to say that I think others are wrong, the church has been doing that for 2000 years and shows no sign of stopping now.
I am stunned by the arrogance and mean-spiritedness of those who, in the full flush of their inevitable victory, refuse even the tiniest concessions to those who are struggling to remain in a Church which, as they see it, has abandoned two thousand years of Catholic practice.
Two sayings of Our Lord suggest themselves:
"Whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain." (Mark 5:41)
"Whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted." (Luke 14:11)
Remember also that Our Lord "being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made Himself of no reputation, and took upon Him the form of a servant". Would He have insisted on the last jot and tittle of episcopal trappings and trimmings for His personal glory, which seems to be the concern of those who voted against the (very modest) concessions offered by the Bishops?
'See how these Christians love one another'. A comment by that well known promoter of peace, harmony and toleration Quintus Septimius Florens Tertullianus, I understand:-)
"Vide", inquiunt, "ut invicem se diligant" - ipsi enim invicem oderunt - "et ut pro alteruto mori sint parati"; ipsi enim ad occidendum alterutrum paratiores erunt.
"Look," they say, "how they love one another" (for they themselves hate one another); "and how they are ready to die for each other" (for they themselves are readier to kill each other).
The deadlock at General Synod is influencing the debate in Parliament about Lords reform and the status of bishops:
Nia Griffith, Labour MP for Llanelli:
"Equality legislation in this country outlaws discrimination between men and women, yet for this reformed 21st century second Chamber, the Bill proposes to include bishops from the Church of England, which has fudged on equal rights. After years and years, yet again this week the Church is fudging on women bishops, and we have had nothing but exceptions and excuses, and a ridiculous amendment that would allow parishes that do not accept women bishops to request a male bishop. This would not be allowed in other workplaces and would be a disgrace even within a non-established Church or religion, but it is utterly deplorable that a so-called established Church chooses to flout the spirit of the law of the land. It is totally unacceptable to give 12 places with voting rights in a reformed 21st century second Chamber to bishops in an organisation that still does not give equal rights to women to allow them to become bishops and which has actually contemplated an amendment that would undermine their authority.
"I oppose reserving the 12 places for bishops of the Church of England in the second Chamber because it is not the established Church of the whole UK, because the appointment of bishops does not conform to the spirit of equality legislation and because it is high time that we separated Church and state. If this is really a reform for the future, it is a good opportunity not to include bishops. I ask the Government seriously to consider that issue."
"I am stunned by the arrogance and mean-spiritedness of those who, in the full flush of their inevitable victory, refuse even the tiniest concessions to those who are struggling to remain in a Church which, as they see it, has abandoned two thousand years of Catholic practice."
I am sadened that 'Disappointed on Wednesday' thinks that people like me are arrogant and mean-spirited. Those of us who support the ordination of women to the episcopate have tried to be both understanding and generous in the provisions made to those who cannot accept women bishops. We have gone the second mile in the way we have made compromises over this matter, but there is a line beyond which we cannot go. We were described as mean-spirited in defeating a string of amendments in the York Synod on 2010, but the amendments were all of a similar nature. Can we enshrine in law a system that 'protects' people from women bishops? Our answer is no. We can make pastoral provision for those who cannot accept the ministry of a woman bishop through a code of practice - but, if this is enshrined in legislation, you create a discrimination against women which we cannot in conscience vote for. So the question keeps popping up. Surely we can allow just a bit of discrimination in the law? I am not being mean-spirited in saying no. I will not vote for legistation which discriminates against women, but I am also passionate about the need for proper pastoral provision for those parishes who cannot cope with the ministry of women. We have made massive concessions in this matter. What we now need to do is to get on with it and bring this debate to a conclusion.
> if this is enshrined in legislation, you create a discrimination against women which we cannot in conscience vote for.
Mightn't St Paul have voted for it?
"But when ye sin so against the brethren, and wound their weak conscience, ye sin against Christ. Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend." (1 Cor 12-13)
> We have made massive concessions in this matter.
I can see why you say that, and I know you're sincere in what you say. But others could see it as your having achieved almost total victory - gaining 99.9% of what you fought for, when you might have got nothing - and at your moment of victory a few people who, you may think (and you may be right), are weaker than you are, and who see themselves as having lost everything, are asking *not* for a reversal or diminishment of what you have won, but for a gesture of mercy and compassion now that you have triumphantly carried the day.
To quote Romans 14:13-15,
"Judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in his brother's way.I know, and am persuaded by the Lord Jesus, that there is nothing unclean of itself: but to him that esteemeth any thing to be unclean, to him it is unclean. But if thy brother be grieved with thy meat, now walkest thou not charitably. Destroy not him with thy meat, for whom Christ died."
Dear Fathers David and James and Benedict,
The bishops will never maintain their 'tweakings' unless there is a groundswell of opinion encouraging them. Sign that petition! Get your friends to do so.
The discussion between "Disappointed on Wednesday" and Nigel Lloyd perfectly demonstrates why there is unlikely to be agreement, and the House of Bishops have been left (again!) with a impossible task. Those of us who believe that Catholic faith and order are being swept away by General Synod have simply requested a safe space where we can continue to offer the whole Church of England all the benefits of the Catholic Faith. We accept that the will of the Church of England majority is clear, and that Women bishops will in due course be with us. We simply ask - for the benefit of the whole church - that we be granted more than a grudging half place through a code of practice. If our brethren really do not understand or seem willing to give this, then perhaps we will have to thnk about where we can practice the catholic faith. But at present we wait for the next stage of the saga, continuing to believe that God has called us to follow Him in the C of E.
Consigning the vast majority of bishops and clergy to inferior status by nature of their being female; their having been ordained or consecrated by a bishop who was female; their having a female bishop in their line of succession; or their merely having consecrated a female to the priesthood or to episcopal rank, is not a "tiny concession", Disappointed. The Church of England has been out of communion with, and doctrinally distinct from the Church of Rome since 1558. Get used to it.
Frank Nichols 'We simply ask - for the benefit of the whole church - that we be granted more than a grudging half place through a code of practice'.
At the expense, of course, of creating second class bishops. But then Mr Nichols doesn't think that they are bishops anyway so their second class status doesn't matter to him. It matters to the rest of us, though, which is why the Archbishops ammendments are unacceptable.
'your having achieved almost total victory - gaining 99.9% of what you fought for'
What ARE you talking about ? Nothing has been 'achieved'. There is no ordination of women to episcopate in the C of E.
Who know when or if or how it will come about ?
'I am stunned by the arrogance and mean-spiritedness of those who, in the full flush of their inevitable victory, refuse even the tiniest concessions to those who are struggling to remain in a Church their inevitable victory, refuse even the tiniest concessions to those who are struggling to remain in a Church..'
What are you talking about ? Nothing 'inevitable'.
I ask again (I have never received a reply) : why did those who, in the full flush of their' actual 'victory, 'refuse even the tiniest concessions to' those of us seeking the ordination of women, back when the voting went against it not once but twice ?
Concessions were there none.
And people were heart-broken.
'perhaps we will have to thnk about where we can practice the catholic faith.'
Please do ! Why so hesitant ?
A protestant Church may not be the best place for your project - whatever you actually intend by it.
The PEVs who used the C of E's generosity /naïveté to foster the interests of the Church of Rome, while drawing anglican stipends etc., and then defecting to that denomination, have well and truly queered your pitch, don't you concur ?
You want to be high church ? OK Be high church ! Be don't expect to dominate the vast majority of members of the Church of England who, be they high or low favour the ordination of women to every order of ministry.
Suffer in silence and see where it leads. It could be fruitful. Worse things could happen.
A second mile, Disappointed?
Perhaps you'd like women to go a *third millenium* (of foregoing their apostolic calling)?!
Sign that petition! Get your family and friends to do so. This is really important.
Sign that petition! Get your family and friends to do so. This is really important.'
Posted by: John on Thursday, 12 July 2012 at 11:38pm BST
Yes, do ! Sign the petition set up in the name of John Richardson, a practising Evangelical in Chelmsford Diocese ! He's very keen on your practice of 'the catholic faith' to be sure !
I am fully aware what JR is. I hardly agree with him on anything. Doesn't matter. The only relevant consideration here for me is that he happens to be sponsoring a petition in favour of a stance that may keep FiF people within the C of E. Since on balance, taking all factors into consideration, etc., I support that, I support this petition.
It is also the case, of course, that Evangelicals (of his stripe) do agree with 'Catholics' on many things.
'Practising Evangelical' is an interesting phrase. Its implications seem rather unpleasant.
I'm not well up on the Old Catholics (who, of course, are 'validly ordained' unlike me!) - but how did they handle the Ordination of Women thing? Anyone know? I know (because I had an OC female ordinand on my books at one time) that there are OC female priests.
Pace some comments, anti-OW is not the only stance available to catholics, and I do wish that some FiF types would acknowledge that. Unless it is the case that by being pro-OW is a disqualification from Anglican catholicism? Does being 'anti' trump everything else?
Looking at the Society of Catholic Priests' rule of life (seven sacraments, use of Reconciliation, belief in the Real Presence, etc) it seems kosher catholic to me, while unreservedly supporting OW. Would some FiF type explain to me in simple terms the justification for equating 'catholic' with 'anti-OW', because to me it seems very much the same as the attempts by the wilder extremes of the Anglican Communion to walk off with the word 'orthodox'.
The discussion between "Disappointed on Wednesday" and Nigel Lloyd perfectly demonstrates why there is unlikely to be agreement.
The truth of the matter is that this is a circle that can never be squared. Part of the problem lies in the way we make decisions in the Church of England (or, more likely, fail to make decisions). The debate about the ordination of women to the episcopate sucks in energy, it becomes ever more poisonous and it destroys our credibility in society at large. This afternoon I visited a dear member of my congrgation who is a member of Forward in Faith. I have cared for such parishioners in this parish for the last 20 years. I have also called out 10 women to be ordained as deacons or priests. These different views can live together becasue we value and cherish one another and afford each other honoured places in our Church community. It works becasue we refuse to make provision for each other, but see ourselves as one body in which we have to live with differences of perspective. I believe that it is this living out of a unity in Christ (not unity over this issue or that issue) which is at the heart of the Gospel and is what Jesus meant when he called us to be one so that the world might believe. I believe that creating 'safe places' for people, through legislation, signifies a deep failure to live as Christ for the world.
" I believe that creating 'safe places' for people, through legislation, signifies a deep failure to live as Christ for the world.
- Posted by: Nigel LLoyd on Saturday, 14 July -
AMEN to that! In our ACANZ congregation we have separate services to accommodate different views of Women's ministry, but we still meet up together. How is that? Because we say in the liturgy, that we are one Body in Christ.