Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Women Bishops: Church of England press release

Following the defeat by General Synod of the women bishops legislation this afternoon the Church of England issued this press release.

General Synod Rejects Draft Legislation on Women Bishops
20 November 2012

The General Synod of the Church of England has voted to reject the draft legislation to allow women to become bishops.

Under the requirements of the Synod the legislation required a two-thirds majority in each of the three voting houses for final draft approval. Whilst more than two thirds voted for the legislation in both the House of Bishops (44-03) and the House of Clergy (148-45), the vote in favour of the legislation in the House of Laity was less than two-thirds (132-74). The vote in the House of Laity fell short of approval by six votes.

In total 324 members of the General Synod voted to approve the legislation and 122 voted to reject it.

The consequence of the “no” vote of terminating any further consideration of the draft legislation means that it will not be possible to introduce draft legislation in the same terms until a new General Synod comes into being in 2015, unless the ‘Group of Six’ (the Archbishops, the Prolocutors and the Chair and Vice Chair of the House of Laity) give permission and report to the Synod why they have done so.

Speaking after the vote the Rt Revd Graham James, Bishop of Norwich, said: “A clear majority of the General Synod today voted in favour of the legislation to consecrate women as Bishops. But the bar of approval is set very high in this Synod. Two-thirds of each house has to approve the legislation for it to pass. This ensures the majority is overwhelming. The majority in the house of laity was not quite enough. This leaves us with a problem. 42 out of 44 dioceses approved the legislation and more than three quarters of members of diocesan synods voted in favour. There will be many who wonder why the General Synod expressed its mind so differently.

“The House of Bishops recognises that the Church of England has expressed its mind that women should be consecrated as bishops. There is now an urgent task to find a fresh way forward to which so many of those who were opposed have pledged themselves.”

The House of Bishops of the Church of England will meet at 08.30am on Wednesday morning in emergency session to consider the consequences of the vote.

Exact voting figures will be found here.

To clarify the statement “The vote in the House of Laity fell short of approval by six votes.”, if six members of the House of Laity had voted in favour instead of against, the vote would in that house would have reached the necessary two-thirds majority.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:40pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

Wow. Just. Wow. Unreal.

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:43pm GMT

Unfortunately this vote will blot the Anglican escutcheon worldwide for years to come.

"The House of Bishops of the Church of England will meet at 08.30am on Wednesday morning in emergency session to consider the consequences of the vote."

Fortunately someone recognizes that this is a public-relations disaster.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 7:56pm GMT

Whom were the three bishops?

Posted by: Stuart on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 8:14pm GMT

There is quite clearly a fundamental flaw in the process by which the House of Laity is elected - how can 42/44 diocesan synod motions be carried and 75% of the votes in those synods be "for" then translate to the travesty we have witnessed this evening? How can we have any confidence in this body to make any other decision? Time for reform of this House.

The "group of six" should ensure that this motion returns to the General Synod - not with further delay by return to the dioceses - at the earliest opportunity.

General Synod Vote - NOT IN MY NAME!

Posted by: Paul Moring on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 8:22pm GMT

Absolutely brilliant. One of the biggest vexations to the advancement of women's rights on the planet is organised religion. And yet, the C of E stalls out on moving women into leadership roles. Any credibility that remained to the church there on issues of civil or human rights has evaporated. I guess the consolation prize is that the world is still safe for medieval patriarchal hocus pocus.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 8:45pm GMT

Shame on the Synod. Why do you feel so threatened? It is time to change. Very poor show.

Posted by: C on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 8:50pm GMT

Two brief thoughts having heard much of the debate.

First, this is not a rejection of women bishops, but a rejection of this legislation. The constant refrain was that this was bad or imperfect legislation; a message coming strongly from both sides. I lost count of the number of advocates for women bishops who openly urged people to vote for what was acknowledged as bad or at best imperfect legislation. There was constantly an element of ‘do this, even though it’s partly not a good idea’ about it, which is not a hugely comforting thought for those who were nervous anyway.

Second, it’s significant that there aren’t any unmade minds to persuade; there were no recorded abstentions in the House of Laity or the House of Clergy. This therefore might be understood as not so much a successful defence by the Catholics and Evangelicals, but rather a fumbled piece of work by advocates. If pushed I'd cite the choice of language and the arguments adopted as the main factors in this; simply, they did not persuade those they needed to persuade and those using them did not appear to realise that this was the case. There was no sense of awareness of how their arguments were being heard by those who most needed to hear them rather than presenting a coherent case to the media gallery and their secular constituencies.

There will be women bishops here; I can see this coming back in twelve months, maybe even less, unless the secretariat lose their nerve, and I don't see +Justin allowing this to drift. No-one gains by kicking this to the next synod. All that has to be done is sufficient work to change the minds of five laity and the job is done.

Recriminations and anger will do nothing; the focus needs to be on getting five more votes; that's all.

It's doable.

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 9:24pm GMT

SO! Bang goes any thought of covenanting with the Church of England by any Province of the Communion that values the ministry of Women as clergy and bishops.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 9:47pm GMT

Oy vey. Prayers for the CofE (where the tail wags the dog?)

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 9:51pm GMT

Thanks for sense and light rather than pointless recrimination, Jonathan.

Posted by: abbey mouse on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 11:43pm GMT

Jonathan, this IS a rejection of Women Bishops and a slap in the face to female clergy- by a small but hostile minority who sabotaged it for the rest of the C of E. Anger is exactly what I feel and although it may not be constructive, it is at least justified. Recriminations may not be helpful but calling people who voted against it - who often got elected after saying they supported Women Bishops, to account for their decision and ensuring they are never voted in again is.

Posted by: Lindsay on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 11:44pm GMT

Thank God I am an Anglican. I would vehemently castigate anyone who said I was CofE (as I was baptised in Australia in the 1940's). Who would want to be in covenant with that church? Sexism is just as wrong as racism. I would not worship in a racist church and I will not be visiting a church in England until this wrong is righted.

Posted by: Brian Ralph on Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 11:57pm GMT

"SO! Bang goes any thought of covenanting with the Church of England by any Province of the Communion that values the ministry of Women as clergy and bishops."

Father Ron Smith is correct, as far as he goes.

But the repercussion go beyond the so-called Anglican Covenant (which is neither a covenant nor Anglican).

People beyond England will question whether there's any value to the Anglican Communion itself.

Why stay in an organisation run by the head of a misogynist church?

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

The only positive aspect I can see out of this tragedy is that we in the Roman Catholic Church have been spared a further flooding influx of conservative forces to undermine the reforms of the 2nd Vatican Council. Maybe some of the Ordinariate might be tempted back!

Posted by: martin on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 12:10am GMT

Hopefully we will see the voting sheets later today (Wednesday). It matters not who the three bishops were (probably +Beverley, +Chester and +Gibraltar in Europe, with +Chichester and +Blackburn abstaining). The question is who the laity were. They will need to face their electorate sooner rather than later.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 12:19am GMT

Would that it were as simple as Jonathan Jennings suggests. The history of this measure shows that any change liable to persuade 6 of those who voted against to vote in favour would be certain to cause others to switch their votes in the opposite direction. It may yet turn out that some supporters of women's ordination voted against today.
No - the problem lies in the makeup of the House of Laity, which is clearly entirely unrepresentative of the CofE as a whole. In the diocese of Rochester, 3 of the GS reps come from the same conservative evangelical parish which has coincidentally withheld a large part of its parish share for some years. 'No taxation without representation' used to be the cry - what we need in the CofE is 'no representation without taxation'!

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 12:22am GMT

Antony Archer - agreed that they must face their electorate. But isn't part of the problem that the electorate itself (lay members of Deanery Synods) is unrepresentative of the laity as a whole? Isn't it possible that all qualifying laity (ie actual communicants on an electoral register) have a vote?

Posted by: Graham Ward on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 12:41am GMT

I am very sorry for those who supported 'Yes' side, but I think it is the right result. Same anger, someone had to feel twenty years ago, when synod said yes to ordain women to the priesthood.

After the result came out, majority of con-evangelicals + anglo-catholics were very quiet and they say it is time to pray (especially for their opponents)and begin to work together for Gospel, whereas some female clergy whom I know put another petition on the web.

If they want to say '73% were in favour', I think they ought to remember those '27% who were not in favour' too. Approximately, 30% of synod members were not happy. Then can we still call it 'unfair' or even 'wrong'result?

Both parties are biting each other and obviously there is no God in that dog fight. And who brought this problem into our church? Clearly not traditionalists, but what we called reformers who believe that they are always just and right. Thank God for that I am a sinner then.

Posted by: T on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 2:28am GMT

"Thank God for that I am a sinner then."


And not at all like those liberal tax collectors, over there.

Right.

Seriously, guys, fellow Episcopalians - this is what we're tied to as long as we tie ourselves to the CofE. Cut loose the sea anchor before it drags us to the bottom.


Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 7:32am GMT

Graham: 'Isn't it possible that all qualifying laity (ie actual communicants on an electoral register) have a vote?'

Even that would be (very) unrepresentative of the CofE laity as a whole, since only about 10% of believing Anglicans in England are on the electoral registers.

Posted by: Feria on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 10:06am GMT

I hope they wont bring legislation back to this Synod..the elections are only 3 yrs away. Best,I think, to work on the Code of Practice. if that was in the public domain it might calm some fears..the H of Laity is unrepresentative and that can only be dealt with by an election where peole's views are thoroughly scrutinised and where the lay electorate VOTE..ie at least 95% of them! What percentage did this lot get in,on?

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 10:24am GMT

I don't think almost 30% of (eligible) people voting against a measure can be called a small minority. I don't know whether they are representative of the members of the communion in general as I haven't done a country wide survey, but I suspect that they may be more representative then some people commenting above would like.

What if it is not 30% of the communion that are against this legislation but rather only 10%. That would still be 1 in every 10 people who could then feel alienated from the church - you might call them misogynist or sexist (and some might even be that) - but would you drive these 'little children' out of the church, out of the body, out of the bride.

Forcing another vote quickly risks the whole process being called into question. If you lose a vote (by what ever rules are being used) you shouldn't be able to keeping having another go at it, until you win. Suppose, in voting for an MP, the 'wrong person' got elected, it would seem strange to immediately call another vote, and another, until the 'right' candidate won.

Anyway, that's my tuppence worth, I truly hope I haven't caused any offence.

Posted by: Chris on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 10:29am GMT

I wonder how some of the so-called True Catholics will be able to meet with Mary at Walsingham and explain why they think she and others like her physically cannot share in or exercise the priestly ministry of her Son Jesus. I wonder if she will find thir arguments convincing.

Posted by: gerry reilly on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 11:04am GMT

"In the diocese of Rochester, 3 of the GS reps come from the same conservative evangelical parish which has coincidentally withheld a large part of its parish share for some years."

That clearly cannot be representative of the Diocese of Rochester as a whole. That is three fifths of the whole lay representation coming form a single parish church! Rotten borough...

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 12:24pm GMT

Malcolm D - you're making the same presumption many are making - that all of those who voted no were opposed to women bishops. Until we know how people voted, we won't have much of an insight into the thoughts and motives of those who voted no. There were several speeches from those who want women bishops but for whom this was not the right legislation. We don't know how they all voted - we know they didn't abstain, but if they did make good on their intention and vote against, these are the people who need to be persuaded and there are not many of them. I'm making no judgements until the voting sheets are published.

The job may not, as I've been saying since last night, be as difficult as people are presuming. Six isn't a big number, and I suspect that the right legislative package, carefully balanced, could be brought to Synod as early as next November. It certainly, though, won't help anyone if the language goes inflammatory at this point; it will simply harden resolve.

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 2:13pm GMT

If I may clarify my earlier comment, with apologies for any confusion caused, 3 of the 9 elected GS representatives from Rochester diocese are indeed from the same parish, but only 2 are in the House of Laity. The third is in the House of Clergy (and gave the closing speech against the measure yesterday). So it's still rotten, but not quite as rotten as Alistair assumed! But, as I said in a later post on another thread, in a diocese with 220 parishes, having a third of the total elected GS representation from the same parish is wholly unacceptable.
In answer to Jonathan, I am not at all making the presumption that all who voted against the measure are against women's ordination. I realise that some who voted against are probably in favour of women bishops but think that the current provision for dissenters is insufficiently generous. But that's the point - some people think that the current provision is already too generous and undermines the position of women bishops. That's why WATCH was unable to support the measure unequivocally, and why any further concessions to dissenters are only likely to persuade further potential supporters to vote against.
So, whilst I share Jonathan's hope that this may be returned to GS swiftly, I suspect that the final solution will be less, not more, generous to dissenters, and that those who opposed the measure yesterday will come to realise that they missed the best offer.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 6:54pm GMT

I'm trying to figure out if conservative CoE laity representatives hijacked the clear will of the church (42 of 44 dioceses wanting WB's), or if a substantial amount of liberals wouldn't settle for the "separate and unequal" portion of the legislation? Or did their votes come together to torpedo it? It would be good to know. Perhaps an uncompromising vote on WB's without the exclusions would have passed?

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 12:49am GMT

Cynthia,

as Malcolm intimates in his post above yours, you miss out the third category, the pro WBs who didn't think provision for antis was good enough. Three way torpedo, not two way. Possibly.

Malcolm, of course many anti WBs may have realised at the time that this was as good as they were going to get, but that still doesn't make bad legislation good legislation. If it comes back worse, it's only worse by degree, it doesn't suddenly make Tuesday's provision the broad sunlit uplands... Of course, it might come back better - it probably won't - but from the point of view of that constituency it was probably worth a punt....

Posted by: primroseleague on Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 11:58am GMT

It is too long to wait until 2015 to bring the measure back before the Synod. The Group of Six would have reasonable grounds to do so as soon as possible.

Posted by: Mary Peck on Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 9:39pm GMT

As a non-Anglican observer, I was struck by the number of platitudinous contributions to the debate. +Justin's was very poor: to suggest that the intractable problem of female bishops is somehow a mirror-image of the intractable problems in and around the Holy Land was ridiculous. +Williams did better.

The problem is not a lack of love or a lack of will. On one hand, you want to keep the church together; on the other hand, you want to make a yes or no decision. I am not sure these things can both happen. What you are going to end up doing is creating such a broad basis for membership that membership itself is cheapened.

The deeper problem, of course, is that there is not a proper divinely-sanctioned principle of authority! No one, or no body of people, has the right to say 'This is what the Church of England believes' in a definitive way. Even if you do get a two-thirds majority - who is to say that the minority are not correct and the majority wrong? Where is the 'mechanism' (so to speak) to guarantee against that?

Anyway, one way or the other, I hope it is sorted out at the next Synod. God bless you all.

Posted by: John D on Saturday, 24 November 2012 at 10:29am GMT
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