Monday, 5 November 2012

Women Bishops: WATCH update "Majority of WATCH supporters want this Measure passed"

Update text corrected on Monday at noon

Following consultation with its members WATCH (Women and the Church) issued the following press release this morning.

WATCH (WOMEN AND THE CHURCH)

PRESS RELEASE: November 5th 2012
For immediate release


Majority of WATCH supporters want this Measure passed

WATCH (Women and the Church) has been consulting with members and supporters over the past few weeks to get a better sense of whether the draft legislation to allow women in the episcopate has the support of our constituency.

Immediately after the September meeting of the House of Bishops, our conversations revealed a very deep and passionate division between those who would continue to support the Measure and those who could not. It appears that over the past few weeks that position has changed.

Our recent consultation with members and others indicates three things:

1. That our supporters continue to have a number of reservations about the legislation: many expressed concern that by providing such generous provision for those opposed, we are storing up trouble for future years and risk entrenching a discriminatory culture that is deeply damaging to men, women and the health of the Church of England.

2. Despite these concerns, a significant majority of those who responded to our consultation would like to see this legislation pass Final Approval on 20th November: they think that the benefits of having women as bishops outweigh any risks inherent in the Measure.

3. There remains a strong minority view that this legislation is discriminatory and should therefore be opposed.

WATCH acknowledges that those with both views are sincere in their desire to see the full flourishing of women in the Church of England. We understand that individuals may feel compelled to vote in either direction on 20th November. However, the balance of opinion in our constituency is now firmly in favour of this legislation passing and we hope Synod members will take that into consideration in deciding which way to vote.

WATCH therefore welcomes the positive contributions of the Archbishop of Canterbury and others in seeking to persuade Synod members to support the legislation. We hope that other bishops will follow his strong lead. For details of Archbishop Rowan’s ‘Enough Waiting’ campaign please follow this link http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/.

We also commend the yes2womenbishops campaign initiated by the independent blogger Church Mouse to those who wish to see this legislation pass Final Approval on 20th November http://yes2womenbishops.blogspot.co.uk.

WATCH has worked tirelessly to ensure that the best possible legislation is presented to General Synod for Final Approval and will continue to engage with the legislative process beyond November whatever the result of the vote - especially in monitoring the development of the Code of Practice.

The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said “What is on the table is the product of many years of consultation and detailed drafting work. Now is the time for Synod members to decide whether this legislation is a workable basis for going forward together. It is clear that the majority of WATCH supporters feel that, although not ideal, this package is ‘good enough’ – an acceptable next step on a continuing road towards a Church that fully values and celebrates the gifts of women.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 10:14am GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

And what happens when one senior bishop under consideration for ABC is a woman? An alternative pair of male bishops? One espousing male headship and the other untainted orders? Or no female ABC for ever and ever?

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 11:38am GMT

We take a leaf out of the Coptic book, and a blindfold child picks one at random from a short list which includes male and female bishops.

Posted by: David Exham on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 1:39pm GMT

Rosemary, let's do this one step at a time, let's get a woman bishop before we start worrying about the ABC. Hell will freeze over before we get to that stage anyway!

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 4:44pm GMT

That is how we got to this position, of course. 'Let's get women priests whatever promises we have to make'.

It is not my church and I offer no advice. It may or may not be worth the gamble. But at least be aware it is a huge gamble that the problem will not occur further on.

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 6:13pm GMT

This is one of those circumstances where I, Ignorant Yank, am glad to observe from afar. Blessings to WATCH members who support the Measure, and blessings to WATCH members who oppose it.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 5 November 2012 at 8:44pm GMT

I think WATCH is very wise to encourage its supporters to vote for the Amended Draft Measure. At least, this gives the Church of England a better chance to secure the Ordination of Women Bishops. The Church is still evolving. As prejudice is overcome, the groundswell of the Church may well be towards Women being fully recognised as co-workers in the Gospel of our Lord, Jesus Christ.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 6 November 2012 at 9:38am GMT

Would not placid acceptance of the Amended Measure for women as bishops suggest that the cohesion and prosperity of the CofE as a religious entity is still viewed as of greater importance than satisfying the Equal Opportunities Commission?

Is not the minute change in patronising male attitudes, achievable in the long run by an eventual CofE resolution to reject religious gender discrimination in toto, a more important objective for 3,000,000,000 women worldwide?

Would that not be more Christian?

Do we really want to sell their birthright for a warm mess of pottage?

Posted by: Paul Edelin on Tuesday, 6 November 2012 at 5:13pm GMT

Rosemary Hannah,

You are right, of course,it is a gamble and this is the same emotional blackmail that was used last time - agree to this or you won't have 'em, and this is the best you are going to get. The trouble is that this may be the best we can get and no, its not very good. The legislation will perpetuate the theological incoherence surrounding women's ordained ministry and implicitly says something very disturbing about the way the church continues to view women as a 'problem' to be solved, or at least kept on a tight leash. I am personally uneasy at the precedent it will set regarding the way we resolve conflicts, what it will do to our ecclesiology and how it will affect other provinces considering women priests and bishops. It will, I suspect, cause this issue to continue simmering away rather than bringing about a resolution that would enable us to focus on other things. I suspect it will lead to legal wrangling. So all in all, I would personally rather there was a single clause measure. Why once again women are being offered the crumbs from the table is slightly beyond me, but it appears the offer may be crumbs or nothing.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Tuesday, 6 November 2012 at 9:37pm GMT

I am curious. Would women bishops frighten people less if the CofE elected their own bishops as we do in the US. I would not feel comfortable with anyone who was appointed even with lots of input and discussion. Columba Gilliss

Posted by: Columba Gilliss on Wednesday, 7 November 2012 at 1:32pm GMT

Columba: 'Would women bishops frighten people less if the CofE elected their own bishops as we do in the US. I would not feel comfortable with anyone who was appointed even with lots of input and discussion.'

I worry that, counter-intuitively, "election" of bishops could actually end up being much less democratic than the current system of appointing them. Why? Because the Church electoral roll only includes about 10% of the Anglican people of England, whereas the person who is currently ultimately responsible for appointing bishops, the Prime Minister, is elected on the basis of a much more comprehensive electoral roll.

Posted by: Feria on Wednesday, 7 November 2012 at 5:57pm GMT

I'm very torn on this, but I think it is best for everyone now for the ordination of women as bishops to become a reality.

I agree that accepting any compromise about the status of ordained women is potentially damaging, but we can take some confidence from the voting in the Dioceses.

The grass roots support for the ordained ministry of women has been born out of experiencing it.

Posted by: Pam Smith on Thursday, 8 November 2012 at 1:49pm GMT
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