Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Women Bishops draft measure rejected by General Synod

Final approval of the legislation to allow women to become bishops in the Church of England was defeated by the General Synod today, because the vote in the House of Laity was less than the necessary two-thirds majority.

The main motion before Synod was

That the Measure entitled “Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure” be finally approved.

and this required a two-thirds majority of those present and voting in each of the three houses. [Abstentions are counted but not included in the calculation.] The votes were:

  For Against Abstention
Bishops
44
3
2
Clergy
148
45
0
Laity
132
74
0
Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 6:18pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

Now for a wave of reformist energy within the Church of England, and renewed attention to synod elections.

Result: a more liberal synod, and a single-clause measure the next time.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 6:22pm GMT

So , if my maths are right, six people consider it right to reject the overwhelming consensus of the dioceses. It is unutterably sad.

Posted by: Philip Cunningham on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 6:26pm GMT

By my poor maths that's the vote in the House of Laity rejecting the motion by five votes only.

GIven the overwhelming vote in favour in the House of Bishops, the substantial vote in favour in the House of Clergy, the overwhelming number of Diocesan Synods (42 out of 44) in favour ... (pause for breath) and the ever increasing number of women priests, including those in high office ...

This can't wait another five years.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 6:31pm GMT

A black day for the Church of England. Supporters of women bishops will want to take stock, but one thing is for certain, the campaigning for the 2015 Synod will start now, moves will resume to rescind the Act of Synod and I doubt whether there will be any appetite for further discussions. The Church will proceed in the fullness of time with what will in effect be a single clause measure.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 6:31pm GMT

I was listening to the live audio feed of the debate. I'm gutted.

Posted by: RPNewark on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 6:47pm GMT

What a truly sad turn of events for the CofE and especially for the ordained women of the Church. Evidently the minorities (conservative Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics) among the lay members of Synod held enough no votes to scuttle the legislation. They have handed Justin Welby a stunning defeat and a deeply divided Church even before he takes office.

One can only imagine the blow to the morale of women and progressive clergy. It seems clear that the minorities will accept only a "Church within the Church" led by their own bishops. Add to this the forays into the Church of England by the "Global South" bishops and their demand that the Primates elect the chief bishop of the Anglican Communion and the future for the CofE seems quite rocky. When a dedicated minority can hijack legislation as important as this, one has to wonder who is in charge.

If I were Justin Welby I might be driving fast out of town and heading for the hills.

Posted by: karenmacqueen+ on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 6:51pm GMT

Ichabod.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 6:56pm GMT

Relieved by this vote but understand the pain of those in favour. I hope everyone takes on board the fact that this particular (NB) legislation was voted down in spite of enormous and frankly disgraceful lack of even-handedness from the Archbishops, Bishops and media. Thank heavens that ordinary Christians made up their own minds on this, just as they did on the silly Covenant.

Posted by: Neil on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:01pm GMT

That the laity would be the least progressive is puzzling to me. This is very sad indeed.

Posted by: Old Father William on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:04pm GMT

Devastated. Clergy Women believe they're called by God, not for power, prestige, reward, or equality, but to serve God and care for His people. And given the hostility and negativity which many have had to face over the years it's sometimes been hard to continue. Few if any feel called to become bishops. We need female Bishops. Need the particular graces they would bring to their people. But now, after nearly 20 years of priesthood the Church is reinforcing its negative attitudes about women and their Ministry, by emphasizing again how low women and their Ministry are regarded by many. And I'm immensely saddened by that.

I was ordained in 1991, after being unable to get a post for a year in my own Diocese, [London] & having to move away from everything I knew because of the attitude to women's ordination, at that time priesthood wasn't even in sight. On my retirement I moved to a small Parish in the South West whose Church won't even allow the Ministry of Women Clergy. So I have to worship outside my Parish, and without transport that's another hurdle to overcome.

Posted by: Barbara Prowse on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:15pm GMT

wow. Not expected (by me). So the advice some of us have proffered 'traditionalists' - that what was on offer was the best they could get - turns out wrong, at least in the short term. Unless pro-WO people want to fight a protracted bloody campaign for outright 'victory' (which I think would be an error), FiF people and 'Reform' people are going to have to be given more. I have to say that I do think that FiF is being intelligently led.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:18pm GMT

How do those Laity voting against the Measure square it with their diocesan synod votes? If they stand for re-election the question from the floor should be "How did you vote on Women in the Episcopate?"
The Measure as we have it will not be 'improved'. The Archbishops' intervention is what sank this Measure. Left alone it would have gone through, but Dr Williams late alteration allowed time for the No Campaign to gain ground. What a lot this man has on his already heavy conscience.

Posted by: Commentator on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:29pm GMT

This is a time for digging deep into the Anglican concept of unity in diversity.

We now have to live out some of the cost and sacrifice of what that unity involves.

May the grace and love of God be with all the Communion.

Posted by: Susannah on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 9:34pm GMT

Who would have thought that the 'faithful Laity' of the Church of England would have embraced misogyny - when even the bishops recanted in the end? Mind you, their work was done by the fumbling amendments.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 9:50pm GMT

What a very sad day for the Church of England. I'm devastated that we are not going to have women bishops in the near future. I can't believe that we have been let down by a small minority of laity. Why didn't they listen to our leaders?

Posted by: Valerie Johnson on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 10:23pm GMT

The house of laity should hang its head in shame for not recognising the overwhelming will of the CoE. But here in Chichester we are well used to both our Diocesan and General Synods reps not representing the views of the majority

Posted by: Confused sussex on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 11:36pm GMT

Sad but not the end of the world even though I was a 'one clause' supporter, myself.

The usual mixture of grace, prejudice and power politics was at work (Yes, even amongst the women, Barbara!), no doubt.

When the vote for women priests went through by a whisker we said it was Divine Providence. When the vote for women bishops fails by a whisker we say an Enemy hath done this.

So much for open-ness to the work of the Spirit. 'How it is' is how it is and good men and good women - from all traditions and churchmanship - will help us find the way forward.

We have a chance now for graciousness and for listening to what God has said to us. (Or are we just determined to force 'God's will' down other people throats?)


Posted by: abbey mouse on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 11:40pm GMT

"It seems clear that the minorities will accept only a 'Church within the Church' led by their own bishops."

On the contrary, it seems to me that there are two possibilities. One is expressed in the excerpt above. The other is a single-clause measure accompanied by a financial settlement analogous to that devised in 1993, but even more generous in its terms. If securing the approval of "women bishops" is so transcendent a moral imperative for those who support it, and if, in securing it, they do not wish to institutionalize the sort of strife which has wracked the Church of Sweden ever since 1960, and which, if it has abated in recent years, did so only due to an absolute prohibition in the now-disestablished church of the ordination to the diaconate and pastorate of those opposed to WO, and the selection as bishops of any opponents of WO within the clergy, then those who advocate woman bishops in the Church of England ought to strive for the same solution for the Church of England, even if it be at a heavy financial price.

For years, in the 70s, 80s and 90s of the last century, the Swedish Church leadership affected to believe that most of their opponents of WO were motivated by "psychological and cultural difficuties" in dealing with women clergy, and not by firm and unalterable theological and dogmatic convictions about the nature of ordination and Holy Orders, and the (for them) plain meaning of Holy Scripture and the Lutheran Confessions, and so refused to recognize the situation for what it was. Will the same now happen in the Church of England?

Posted by: William Tighe on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 11:42pm GMT

" By my poor maths that's the vote in the House of Laity rejecting the motion by five votes only. "


No: 206 votes in total

2/3 is 137.33333 ergo 138 votes needed for 2/3 majority.

137 votes is less than 2/3

Posted by: John Roch on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 12:09am GMT

At least Anglicans get to discuss women's ordination. We RCs are forbidden that debate.

Posted by: Andrew Connor on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 3:00am GMT

To expand upon what I wrote above ..,

The "church within a church" option has the advantage of embodying the words of Gamaliel: if opposition to WO really is "a relic of the past" which will die out with those espousing it, there is no harm in indulging for a short time, sub specie aeternitatis, those who hold it, and it would be an act of charity and love to them as well. If, on the other hand, the "church within a church" flourishes in a quiet way and shows no sign of moribundity, then it will lend plausibility to those who claim that the "ordination" of women has all along been a prompting more of the Zeitgeist than the Holy Ghost, just like the latest penchant for promoting the blessing of pseudogamous "partnerships," and allow "wriggle room" for the church of England, in the fulness of time, to rid itself of that incubus (or should I write, incuba?).

The "pay them off to be rid of them" option would be a sensible act of realpolitik. Opponents of WO can't be supposed a priori to be in bad faith, or to be suffering from psychological rather than theological difficulties -- unless, of course, one wants to embody aspects of the former Soviet psychology in the Church of England. Allow them room to stay in the Church of England, and there will always enough of them to refuse to acknowledge the validity of the ordained women in the Church of England, and even to say that the Eucharists celebrated by such women are mere empty pantomimes. Horrors! What price would be too great to get rid of such folk. An additional advantage would be, that to unload them on Rome or on Orthodoxy would be an evident confirmation of popular stereotypes, and, finally, it might even provoke that long-predicted but as yet unseen exodus from Rome of that great mass of "liberal Catholics" whose recruitment to the Church of England might refecundate the dry and seemingly sterile womb of contemporary Anglicanism.

Posted by: William Tighe on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 4:19am GMT

More reasons for TEC to officially and publicly distance itself from CofE, and established a TEC mission in England.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 7:25am GMT

Before the vote took place, we were told that the Holy Spirit would be at work, but because this has not gone the way proponents would wish, it is simply down to human error. And what about the Archbishops' amendment, when that went down by just five abstentions? No talk of small numbers then. This could have been resolved at that point, with a willingness to compromise to the extent that was necessary.

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 7:29am GMT

". . but because this has not gone the way proponents would wish, it is simply down to human error."

Yeah. Conservatives have never been guilty of that.

This is what TEC is aligning itself with, guys.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 11:10am GMT

Valerie, at least in this diocese, parishioners are often more conservative than the clergy. First because they are older and more traditional. Several of our newer priests,especially women, consider it their job to change their parishioners' minds on various things. When the laity push back, they leave. Also, many of the liberal/younger people who do attend aren't members of the church who can vote. In a world of personal choice, personal truth, and Eucharists without baptism, becoming a member isn't important to them.

Posted by: Chris H. on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 2:26pm GMT

"That the laity would be the least progressive is puzzling to me."

Really? For a long time in the US it's been a bit of a truism that in what is called mainstream Protestantism, at least, clergy are frequently more liberal/progressive than the laity.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 2:33pm GMT

I listened to the debate and was struck by the passion but sterility of much of it. The arguments have been constantly rehearsed but never properly resolved. This debate should have been resolved when it was agreed to ordain women to the Diaconate because, when that happened, common-sense and sacramental theology expects that all Orders are open. That the Church of England failed to do that meant that it left the issue open to debate. It is the fault of those who should have known better and it is somewhat pointless to cry foul now.

Posted by: CatholicLeft on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 2:54pm GMT

"Also, many of the liberal/younger people who do attend aren't members of the church who can vote."


So they would not be included in a widened voting base.

Posted by: John Roch on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 2:57pm GMT

Philip Cunningham: "So , if my maths are right, six people consider it right to reject the overwhelming consensus of the dioceses."

No, that's not right. 122 people (3+45+74) consider it right to reject the overwhelming consensus of the dioceses.

Posted by: Chris on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 4:40pm GMT

The voting figures make interesting reading . 49 Bishops , of whom 5 voted against and/or abstained. 10% ....clergy 193 in total , 45 voted against , 23% against ....laity , who live with the consequences of women priests in small rural parishes, and who may just may know a little more about the effects of women priests on small congregations, and who largely have no choice in selection of priests , laity 206 of whom 36% voted against . This is substantial opposition and not the silly headline 6 votes . But as is the modern way , the truth must never get in the way of a good story , bias is ever present and the press is loaded in favour of women bishops . There was no `free` vote , the Archbishops had been lobbying for this , the press was behind them as was the PM . The people had no voice no say , but deo volente, God`s will has been done and I for one rejoice .

Posted by: Elizabeth Howard on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 5:06pm GMT

"the consequences of women priests in small rural parishes"

And what on earth might those be please? Many of us have female friends who are priests in small rural benefices, and who are extremely well loved.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 9:43pm GMT

Is it public information as to which members of Synod voted which way? All the reactions that I've seen seem to take it for granted that the No votes were all from the traditionalist wings, but in the discussions leading up to Synod there were also supporters of women bishops who saw the proposed Measure as unacceptable because it conceded too much to the traditionalist opposition. How many No votes came from this grouping? And (to speculate) would a proposal less generous to the traditionalists actually have had a better chance of being approved?

Posted by: Keith Battarbee on Friday, 23 November 2012 at 8:20pm GMT

Benedict: 'Before the vote took place, we were told that the Holy Spirit would be at work, but because this has not gone the way proponents would wish, it is simply down to human error.'

What makes you think that the Holy Spirit has clocked off? Parliament is an integral part of the discernment process of the Church of England, as indicated by the first sentence of the daily prayer of the House of Commons:

'Lord, the God of righteousness and truth, grant to our Queen and her government, to Members of Parliament and all in positions of responsibility, the guidance of your Spirit.'

That part of the discernment process is now operating.

Posted by: Feria on Monday, 26 November 2012 at 8:42pm GMT
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