Tuesday, 11 December 2012

House of Bishops statement on defeat of women bishops legislation

Statement from the House of Bishops on defeat of women bishops legislation
11 December 2012

The House of Bishops of the Church of England met yesterday and today at Lambeth Palace and considered the implications of the General Synod’s recent rejection of legislation to enable women to become bishops. The House had the benefit of participation in its discussion of the Very Rev Viv Faull, the Venerable Christine Hardman, Dr Paula Gooder, and Mrs Margaret Swinson, who had all previously served on the Steering Committee or Revision Committee for the legislation.

The House expressed its ongoing gratitude and appreciation for the ministry of ordained women in the Church of England, and its sadness that recent events should have left so many feeling undermined and undervalued. Effective response to this situation is a priority on which all are strongly agreed.

The House acknowledged the profound and widespread sense of anger, grief, and disappointment felt by so many in the Church of England and beyond, and agreed that the present situation was unsustainable for all, whatever their convictions. It expressed its continuing commitment to enabling women to be consecrated as bishops, and intends to have fresh proposals to put before the General Synod at its next meeting in July.

The House will be organising an event early in 2013 at which it will share with a larger number of lay and ordained women - in the context of prayer and reflection - questions about the culture of the House’s processes and discussions, and how women might more regularly contribute.

Future action

In order to avoid delay in preparing new legislative proposals, the House has set up a working group drawn from all three houses of Synod, the membership to be determined by the Archbishops and announced before Christmas.

This group will arrange facilitated discussions with a wide range of people of a variety of views in the week of February 4th, when General Synod was to have met.

The House will have an additional meeting in February immediately after these discussions, and expects to settle at its May meeting the elements of a new legislative package to come to Synod in July.

For any such proposals to command assent, the House believes that they will need (i) greater simplicity, (ii) a clear embodiment of the principle articulated by the 1998 Lambeth Conference “that those who dissent from as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans”, (iii) a broadly-based measure of agreement about the shape of the legislation in advance of the beginning of the actual legislative process. These concerns will be the focus of the working group in the months ahead.

The House endorsed the view of the Archbishops’ Council that the “Church of England now has to resolve this issue through its own processes as a matter of great urgency”.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 5:40pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod
Comments

Glad to see progress on this. Tom Sutcliffe's view that the best way forward would be to amend the Act of Synod from the 1992 legislation to include bishops looks as if this is the way things are heading.

Posted by: Neil on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:08pm GMT

This (I think) is good news. Even now, it is absolutely vital to ensure (a) that a woman diocesan has exactly the same oversight as a male diocesan and that (b)those in opposition must not be able to derail the mind of the Church.They must be part of the same structures - and yes - they must learn trust.

Posted by: Fr Edward Rennard on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:16pm GMT

Does anyone really think that (i), (ii), and (iii) are all possible?

Greater simplicity means less detailed "provision."

Less detailed "provision" means no "broadly-based measure of agreement."

Good luck. But I'm not holding my breath.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:17pm GMT

I pray that the process of enabling women to become Bishops in England (and Wales) will be speeded up,

Posted by: Veronica Sherlock on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:21pm GMT

"...a clear embodiment of the principle articulated by the 1998 Lambeth Conference “that those who dissent from as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans”".

How encouraging to see that the HOB appear to have grasped the fundamental issue: that the two integrities with which we have lived for the past 20 years still exist in the CoE in the proportions they did two decades ago. A Measure that makes clear on its face that there are two legitimate views of the appropriateness of the ordination/consecration of women will be a huge step forward in rapidly resolving the current impasse.

Posted by: Bill Haslam on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 6:27pm GMT

I am fed up with the phrase "loyal Anglican". What on earth does it mean? That individuals are members of the Anglican Church? Of course they are, if they're confirmed. Or does it mean that their views, whether enshrined in Forward in Faith's unpleasant Code of Practice or manifesting themselves in the pernicious doctrine of male headship, are to be encouraged to "flourish". If the latter, I hope that Parliament intervenes. That may be Erastian, but if the Established Church pursues an unethical and discriminatory path, it may be the only answer.

Posted by: Helen Lewis on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 8:29pm GMT

The problem doesn't seem to be women's contribution to GS - many women contributed and a number of those women voted against the Measure. The bigger issue is the inability of a Synod that meets in the way GS does to be truly representative of members of laity when it is almost impossible to serve if you have a job. I would love to stand. I would love to serve the Church of which I am a loyal member but I am stopped by this.

It's time to do something about this.

Posted by: Kat Cumber on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 9:10pm GMT

Perhaps we should start to stress that rather neglected aspect of the Anglican communion statement that those who ASSENT to Women Bishops are also loyal Anglicans and thus to be treated with respect... I'm delighted the HofB would like the legislation to be kept simple - and while it would be good to have some facilitated discussions, I am sadly and regretfully a little more ambivalent about whether it will result in anything that commands a broad base of support - if by broad base of support that means something everyone is happy with.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 9:30pm GMT

What about "honoured place" - what does that mean?

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 10:04pm GMT

Just for fun, try substituting the word 'black' for 'women' in any legislation/acts of Synod/comments, and see how you feel about it.
If the Bishops truly care that women should not be 'undermined and undervalued' they -- and whatever proposals they suggest -- should stop regarding them as a unique section of humanity, to be both accommodated and protected against. Why not just have a motion that says we welcome and accept those whom God has called to the priesthood and episcopate? Full stop.
Truth tends to simplicity.

Posted by: Lida Ellsworth on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 10:14pm GMT

I doubt there will be any room for manoeuvring now or the flourishing of anything less than full equality. The C if E will be laid wide open to further disgrace if Parliament have to intervene.

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 10:29pm GMT

Marge "It ain't goin' to happen!"
Homer "Not with that attitude!"

This announcement seems like the most wilful bit of square hole round peggery I have ever read. More secure provision is not going to be more simple - and a broad based measure of agreement before you get to the Synod meeting? I simply can't believe it. And there are a significant number of Synod members who are now looking for something of the simplicity of a one clause measure.

Good luck to them all. This approach looks doomed to fail to me.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Tuesday, 11 December 2012 at 10:30pm GMT

@BillHaslam and anyone else who knows:
"the two integrities with which we have lived for the past 20 years still exist in the CoE in the proportions they did two decades ago."

What numbers are you basing this on? I don't have different numbers, I'm just intrigued by this.

It's sometimes claimed by anti-OOW folks that the ordination of women has hastened a decline in CofE numbers. If that were true, we might well expect that the proportion of anti-OOW individual members would go up as they held their numbers better than the innovators, rather than merely staying steady.

Yet I have also heard the claim that many people have come round to the idea of women priests after experiencing them. Of course both could be true, if for one side was counting churches and the other individuals for example...


Posted by: Joan of Quark on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 12:02am GMT

I'm with Helen Lewis. There are all sorts of words and phrases that should no longer be used in this context: "loyal Anglican", protection, provision, "who can not in conscience", "two integrities" and so on. All of these are passive aggressive code for much deeper, less pleasant sounding things that need to be in the open - in the light. They are, I fear, mostly misogyny dressed up as Theology - although I do not expect for one moment that a sincere FiF or Reform person believes him/herself to be a misogynist. The FiF argument about the universal church is fantasy, since Rome regards Anglican orders as meaningless, and complementarian theory is just bad hermeneutics. There's an urgent need for theological leadership on this from the HoB.

Posted by: Adrian Beney on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 12:34am GMT

The Bishops still don't seem to get the fact that "loyal anglicans" include those unsure about the Ordination of Women and that they NEED some Alertnative Episcopal Oversight. Could it be that the current situation is an acceptable option!!!!

Posted by: Keith Potter on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 1:29am GMT

Why did the Bishops only seek the views of Women in their deliberations. Might it not have been useful to have someone opposed to the Consecration of Women to give a sense of balance and to understand why the previous legislation was lost. Or don't they understand where the problem original arose!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Keith Potter on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 1:35am GMT

"Or does it mean that their views, whether enshrined in Forward in Faith's unpleasant Code of Practice or manifesting themselves in the pernicious doctrine of male headship, are to be encouraged to 'flourish'."

THANK YOU, Helen Lewis, for so clearly articulating the key question.

If the above prevails, it means the DEATH of evangelism which is truly "Anglican". There's only Bad News here. Kyrie eleison!

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 4:17am GMT

Yes, Lida, exactly. If people substituted the word "black" for "women," the whole thing would look different. So would "interracial marriage" for "gay marriage."

The language of oppression is always the same. But after a certain amount of history, that language is revealed as shameful. There's been enough history on women in the church...

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 6:18am GMT

I commend the ambition but doubt if it can be delivered.

Posted by: Confused Sussex on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 7:12am GMT

It is very good women were invited to join the House for these discussions . Keith Potter you need to remember that there are already voices opposed within the House of Bishops itself - the three flying bishops all have the right to attend.

Posted by: Harvey on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 7:32am GMT

And just why is it so important to have women become bishops? Because the Church can't fulfill its mission without women bishops? Because God has been calling women to the episcopate for generations but he can't seem to get them there? Or at least he hasn't been able to yet?. On the other hand that holy example of ecclesiology in the States, TEC, God has been at work there. Oh yeah. And what a fine example they are to follow!

Clearly, the Holy Spirit didn't speak through the narrow defeat at GS. The majority knew the will of God but he didn't make much of an appearance. And after all that prayer and effort. God can't get the Church to bend to his will, but now that he has gotten the materialistic, atheistic, syncretistic, androgenistic, pagan influenced culture to conform to his egalitarian will --- now the Church must finally follow suite and get with the program as soon as possible.

Or perhaps maybe there is some validity to the sadly vilified minority view in the Church of England of the unique and complimentary roles of men and women in God's creation. And that this is holy, beautiful and good.

What so many seem oblivious to is that the Church must submit to God's ordering hand not the diseased contemporary understanding of male and female ontology.

This is not a rights issue. No one has a right to become bishop. The absurdity of it is beyond laughable. --- But If we can just introduce new legislation, dialogue about it more and get it through....the most important need in the Church will have been addressed. Meanwhile "Rome burns." Thousands die each year without anyone bringing them into a saving relationship with the living God. But at least there will be women bishops which is nice.

Posted by: Rob on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 8:04am GMT

Excessive timidity and navel-gazing can turn the media via into mediocrity. Accept that the circle can't be squared, accept that people on all sides of the church see the role of episcopacy as carrying further the work of the apostles, be bold, and get on with the real work of the church - prophecy, evangelism, service and worship.

Posted by: hector on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 9:47am GMT

Have people seen the article in the current Forward in Faith newspaper where the author (a priest) makes it clear that for him & those like him anyone ordained / confirmed by a female bishop has not been ordained / confirmed at all? At least he is honest. And in breach of Canon A4.

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 11:22am GMT

"God can't get the Church to bend to his will, but now that he has gotten the materialistic, atheistic, syncretistic, androgenistic, pagan influenced culture to conform to his egalitarian will"

There is at least OT precedent for that isn't there?

Genuine question, do the readers here believe that the work of the Holy Spirit can only ever be through those who profess to be Christians? Or might God have more freedom than that?

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 12:20pm GMT

The Act of Synod should be rescinded. No formal provision should be made for those opposed to women's ordination. It should be a matter for pastoral discretion by a male or female Bishop.

Posted by: Nicholas Parry on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 4:37pm GMT

Charles,

If you look again at the consideration of Canon A4 by, I think it was the Manchester Group, the conclusion was that the Canon merely said that those ordained according to the BCP and its derivatives were validly ordained in the strictly legal sense within the CofE and must be accounted as such. However, as the group concluded, this leaves wide open the question of Sacramental Assurance.

Posted by: Geo Noakes on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 4:52pm GMT

A current headline: "Christianity is fading away in Britain as Islam surges and agnosticism spreads" -- So by all means everyone focus on the issue of women bishops. And after that gay marriage. That's the way to set your priorities Church of England. -- Perhaps there is one implicit truth in all of this wrangling over women bishops, there is a vacuum in leadership.

Posted by: Rob on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 5:23pm GMT

Rob said "On the other hand that holy example of ecclesiology in the States, TEC, God has been at work there. Oh yeah. And what a fine example they are to follow!"

We are indeed a fine example. The amount of volunteer hours and money that we spend on sharing the Gospel through service to the poor at home and abroad puts CoE to shame. We are not the established church, but when we speak out on social issues (which we do regularly, having a Public Policy Network), there is a powerful integrity to what we espouse.

Yes, we suffered schisms because after finding out that there was no compromise to be had with those supporting traditional values of oppression and bigotry, we started voting our conscience. With that mostly behind us, we have posted growth in 33 of our 100 dioceses in the last 2 years.

TEC is doing quite well. And my guess is that plenty of us are here on your TA blog because your ABC made strong efforts to isolate and punish our church. Further, his treatment of ++Katherine Jefferts Schori and +Gene Robinson was shabby. So now we're here to see precisely what shining example he wants us to follow. You are 40 years behind us on women, and only God knows on LGBT.

You might not want to "diss" TEC since a. you don't seem to know enough about how robust we are, and b. your leadership has covered themselves in shame these last few weeks.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 5:49pm GMT

Impressive that this consulting body will have women on it as they discuss the issue of women in the episcopate. Such a contrast with when the House of Bishops discusses homosexual people in the episcopate!

Posted by: commentator on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 6:35pm GMT

If women priests then women bishops, there is really no other way. The important bit is we are all human beings made in the image of God, all this other stuff about'proper' roles, etc is silly, we do as we are called and gifted to do and the accident of gender is irrelevant, it really has no deciding part in what we do. I did not expect nor actively seek ordination, but I could not resist when called.

Posted by: Alison Tyler on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 9:29pm GMT

To Cynthia: You may want to look at that "growth" a little more closely, especially relative to population change. The last time I looked carefully (a couple years back),there was only one Diocese in the entire US that grew relative to population change, South Carolina (the one that cannot leave and is gone). All other Dioceses were actually shrinking relative to their population. Every single Diocese was decreasing as a percent of population except South Carolina. There were a few shrinking Diocese that were shrinking less than local population decline (Pittsburgh was one) but they were still shrinking in total numbers. And of course, South Carolina and Pittsburgh were hurt terribly by TEC's change in theology about sexuality, as was Albany which for a brief time began to grow in total numbers in a declining population but then the effects of Bp. Gene Robinson's election scuttled that and they went into decline again. Bp. Jefforts Schori's former diocese did have a modest growth of a few percent (something like 3-5%) under her tenure, but during that time the local population grew something upwards of 20%. All in all a terminal track record for a church.

You may not want to express such confidence in such "positive" results, so very a la Enron. Were you really boasting that a third of the Dioceses were growing? Meaning it doesn't concern you that 2/3rds are...NOT?

To Alison Tyler: "accident of gender"? Oh my. Our sex is a non-essential component of our makeup leaving us ubiquitous and interchangeable I suppose? Again, oh my. You prove my point. This is the kind of anthropology behind the push for women bishops. God's anthropology is far richer and more glorious than that weak chimera.

Posted by: Rob on Wednesday, 12 December 2012 at 11:34pm GMT

"On the other hand that holy example of ecclesiology in the States, TEC, God has been at work there. Oh yeah. And what a fine example they are to follow!"

My response to this is either

1) Thank you, Rob. We Episcopalians are trying (praise Christ) our best; may the CofE benefit from our experience.

or

2) If this be sarcasm, I think you're doing it wrong. We Episcopalians are trying (praise Christ) our best; may the CofE benefit from our experience.

Take this as you will, Rob.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 1:30am GMT

"[Y]our leadership has covered themselves in shame these last few weeks."

Cynthia, I could not agree more.

The CofE has rejected women bishops and secured for itself a legislative proposal to ban gay marriage in its churches.

Any moral authority the CofE had left is gone, shredded, finished.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 4:17am GMT

Can I express myself both mystified and irritated by the idea of "sacramental assurance"? Where in Anglican Theology does this notion spring from?

Article XXV makes clear that all such donatist notions are irrelvant to the efficaious working of the sacraments. Why do we have so much truck with such an ancient heresy, and why has it become a mantra to some?

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 7:52am GMT

Rob, the growth number in TEC may need a look. But I'm in a diocese and a parish that is growing, and it is quite robust. And the growth in Colorado seems to be in the liberal parishes with women clergy and LGBT affirming. That's my experience. And Colorado suffered schism, especially from Colorado Springs. So it seems like the growth is a rebound after that experience.

I am concerned about the other 2/3rds that didn't grow. I just think that the turn around in 1/3rd of the dioceses bodes well for TEC overall. There's still the problem that mainline Protestant Churches are in decline in general. But I'm also encouraged by the intensity and amount of excellent outreach ministries going on.

What's relevant as a case study for CoE is that TEC couldn't come together with those who self-righteously cling to traditional values of oppression. So how does one proceed with integrity? In TEC, conscience won out, and I believe that we are far better off for it, better off in every way. I think TEC is far more focused on the Good News now. A product of moving forward with integrity.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 3:57pm GMT

Jeremy Pemberton - thank you for pointing out the heresy involved in the insistence on sacramental assurance. Since no one has answered your question after several days, I am forced to consider the possibility that this and other demands by traditionalists have been exposed as nothing more than thinly veiled misogyny.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Saturday, 15 December 2012 at 8:41pm GMT
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