Friday, 18 January 2013

House of Laity meeting - press reports

The Church of England website has this press release about this afternoon’s debate.

House of Laity rejects vote of no confidence
18 January 2013

The House of Laity, meeting in Church House, Westminster today, rejected a motion of no confidence in its Chair, Dr Philip Giddings, with 47 voting for the motion and 80 voting against.

The motion was brought by Mr Stephen Barney, a lay canon of Leicester Cathedral, who said he had lost confidence in Dr Giddings as Chair of the House of Laity following Dr Giddings’ speech in the debate on women bishops legislation in November. In a letter to all members of the House of Laity before the debate, Mr Barney said, “Whatever we decide, I hope it will contribute to resolving this issue in the long term, for the flourishing of all.”

After the vote, Dr Giddings told the House: “Mr Chairman I am grateful for that vote of confidence but I need to, in a sense, take my medicine. There are clearly a substantial minority of the House who do not have confidence in me. I intend to continue in office but I shall take careful advice from colleagues about how we proceed from here. And in particular I think we need to have some kind of debate about what are the expectations of chair and vice chair in matters of this kind. I hope and pray that we can now put this behind us and the temperature can be lowered and that we can seek to work together for the sake of God’s mission to this country.”

There are several online press reports of the debate.

Madeleine Davies and Ed Thornton in the Church Times House of Laity bid to oust Giddings fails

Sam Jones in The Guardian Female bishops: house of laity chair survives no-confidence vote

Lauren Turner in The Independent Women bishops: Church leader Dr Philip Giddings wins confidence vote

BBC Church of England no-confidence vote defeated

John Bingham in The Telegraph Spectre of gay bishops feud returns amid Church debate on women

Matthew Davies of Episcopal News Service England’s laity rejects ‘no confidence’ vote in their chair

Christian Today Church of England: Philip Giddings survives lay vote

Andrew Brown of The Guardian has this comment: God’s hand in General Synod politics.

Posted by Peter Owen on Friday, 18 January 2013 at 7:46pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

In litigation, the general rule is that costs follow the event. Accordingly, will the 47 members of the House of Laity who voted for the defeated motion of 'no confidence' in Dr Giddings at least offer to pay £808.51 each towards the estimated costs of £38,000 of staging today's extraordinary meeting of the House?

Posted by: David Lamming on Friday, 18 January 2013 at 9:13pm GMT

Unfortunately, the costs of further reputational damage from today's vote are greater.

The Church of England now officially has confidence in someone who supports discrimination against women.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 18 January 2013 at 11:48pm GMT

The whole debate was a waste of time and money. Its instigators should have known better, and as much as they have attempted to clothe their actions in a cloak of reasonableness, they have been found out. Canon Stephen Barney proved himself both misguided and intolerant in his quest to unseat Dr Giddings. £38000 down the drain, and this in a time of financial hardship. Perhaps Canon Barney should now consider his own future.

Posted by: Benedict on Friday, 18 January 2013 at 11:53pm GMT

David Lamming & Benedict:
Do I take it that you wish only those with financial backing to be given the opportunity to raise their concerns as members of the Houses of General Synod? Such actions as demanding that they meet the cost of issues that are voted down would do just that. Dr Giddings has the backing of Anglican Mainstream and, I dare say access to funding, so he will still be in a privileged position should your strictures be imposed.

Posted by: commentator on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 7:49am GMT

Personally I am grateful to Canon Barney for bringing this motion. It all needed saying and as a result Dr Giddings has made some undertakings which we will hold him to. The financial cost leaves me unmoved, I'm afraid. Of greater concern is the spiritual bankruptcy of Church which seems to think that defending people's right to discriminate against women is a moral imperative but treating women as equally valued and loved by God is an optional extra.

Posted by: Jane Charman on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 8:49am GMT

Let me add this Telegraph Article to the list

The comments under the article are more interesting, and the opening of the first comment says it all:

"Shoddy, inaccurate, ill-informed commentary: why was this useless piece commissioned and posted? "

My answer:

Because it was by Helen Goodman, Shadow Culture Minister and member of Parliament's Ecclesiastical Committee.

I wonder if Parliament's Ecclesiastical Committee is stuffed with such low calibre MPs because "Well a job's a job, and if I can't do education or health I'll do this."

Posted by: Labarum on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 9:38am GMT

Jeremy you miss the point completely. The chair of any of the three houses is quite entitled to have an opinion on any contentious issue; as in this case, did the chairs of each of the three houses.

The point in question was; did the chair of the house of laity abuse or compromise his position by expressing his personal opinion in the debate on the legislation to permit women bishops.
The overwhelming opinion of the house was that he did not.

NB. I am not a lay person, not an evangelical nor an opponent of women bishops. I wouldn't invite Dr Giddings to dinner, but I do believe that he is entitled to his opinion and to express it in the synodical forum.

Posted by: Disgraced of NZ on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 9:38am GMT

Why could the motion not have been brought at the next regular session?

Posted by: Jeremy Bonner on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 12:51pm GMT

Why can't the liberals get it..there will not be women bishops in the Church of England for some years.Philip Giddings's constituency are well organised on this, and they turn a blind eye to divorce and re-marriage. Homosexuality is one of the few issues they agree on.

I feel the best approach for the liberals is not petty harassment like this but via the women ordained abroad. A measure to recognise women bishops abroad and their ordinations and confirmations would pass easily.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 2:14pm GMT

David and Benedict,

The numbers by which the motion was defeated indicate that roughly half of those who voted against it supported the vote to allow consecration of women to the episcopacy. Do you really think that suggesting punitive members against the other half is an appropriate response to those members of the HoL?

Churchill's admonition "in Victory, magnanimity" might stand you in good stead, especially as there are further votes to come.

Posted by: John Wirenius on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 3:57pm GMT

I entirely agree with Benedict (though from 'the opposite side'). The end does not justify the means. The motion was wrong. Giddings was entirely within his rights to express his views at Synod, and the notion (especially as expressed by 'Thinking Anglicans') that he should have deferred to Justin Welby is grotesque. The columns of Andrew Brown and Stephen Bates on the ways Christians, including Anglicans, conduct their debates and negotiate their disagreements make sobering and shaming reading. Giddings has also responded to the outcome in a reasonably sober and dignified way. The fact that his views on other matters seem to some (including myself)primitive and bigoted is absolutely neither here nor there. C of E people, of all people, must fight their debates cleanly.

Posted by: John on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 7:53pm GMT

It was foolish to pursue this course of action unless it succeded or had a good chance of doing so. It was always somewhat unlikely to have a positive result and more work should have been done to ascertain the chances of success.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 8:19pm GMT

Dear commentator,

Normally, I'd agree with you that enabling equal participation in democratic debate and voting is well worth spending money on, even in "a time of financial hardship". But I think that if we applied that principle in a consistent manner, we wouldn't have anything like the House of Laity as presently constituted. Instead, we would have devoted the necessary resources both for direct elections to the House of Laity, and for a voter registration drive so that we'd get close to having all 14 million members of the Church of England on the Church Electoral Roll [*].

[*] The former Second Church Estates Commissioner, Terry Walker, hinted in the House of Commons on 4th December 1974 that the financial cost was a major factor behind the fact that these things had not been done.

Posted by: Feria on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 9:39pm GMT

Commentator, you are splitting hairs in response to our comments. The truth of the matter is that there was absolutely no need for this vote which was unprecedented and the result simply of churlish behaviour on the part of Canon Barney and his supporters, simply venting their spleen against Dr Giddings, because the vote on women bishops had gone the wrong way for them. Just take a look at the spurious reasons for the motion and tell us, as well, why the Venerable Christine Hardman, who has also expressed her personal opinion as Chair in past debates on women bishops was not the subject of such a motion? Not a level playing field. The whole exercise was a needless and costly waste of time.

Posted by: Benedict on Saturday, 19 January 2013 at 10:19pm GMT

"Jeremy you miss the point completely. The chair of any of the three houses is quite entitled to have an opinion on any contentious issue...."

Really? Let's see how far you really go with this. What if the House of Laity had elected as its chair someone who it then emerged is a member of the Ku Klux Klan?

Some opinions are beyond the pale.

The lesson of November is that government, society, the larger culture will not tolerate a Church of England that discriminates against women.

This Synod has now had two chances to declare that it does not discriminate against women. It couldn't bring itself to espouse nondiscrimination.

One wonders whether it deserves a third chance, or whether it should simply be dissolved--the sooner, the better.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 2:18am GMT

Are we sure the emergency session cost £38,000? It's not the fault of the House of Laity or Stephen Barney if it was.

If this synodical governance thing is so expensive, why don't we just have the bishops decide everything and save money on all of that (sort-of) democracy lark?

Posted by: Tim Moore on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 8:07am GMT

Benedict - the comment I am addressing is the expressed wish to put a barrier up for any and all who exercise their synodical rights, however ineptly. Personally, I am of the view that the writings and sermons of Dr Giddings provide enough material to make it quite obvious that, were I to be voting, I would vote for another candidate. But the members of the House of Laity should all have an equal opportunity to 'work the system'.
But you set me a task and so will I will try to address it. The Ven. Christine Hardman, albeit as Chair of the House of Clergy, doesn't appear to have invoked that status as part of her text. Nor does she claim to be correcting an imbalance that was not present in the debate. Others have pointed out in this thread that the way speakers were called could have been seen to produce an imbalance in favour of those opposed. Yet Dr Giddings took it upon himself to 'sound the trumpet' for those whom he maintained were not being heard. They were being heard as alternating speakers. Perhpas that was the abusive of his office that the godly lay canon heard?

Posted by: commentator on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 8:20am GMT

Robert - I've said this before, but Philip Giddings' constituency stance wasn't entirely responsible for the Measure being blocked; between them the Conservative Evangelicals and the traditional Catholics did not have the votes to block the measure. It was liberals uneasy at the provision whose numbers ultimately pushed the total to over a third.

That said, his constituency is not shrinking, so the time to come to some other kind of compromise may be limited ...

Posted by: Jonathan Jennings on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 10:00am GMT

"... the vote on women bishops had gone the wrong way for them."

Actually it was really a vote on *what to do for people who disagree with women bishops... And I would hazard a guess that the same people who wanted to eject Dr Giddings from the Chair would also try to eject anyone from the church who does not agree with them...

Posted by: RevDave on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 12:19pm GMT

I agree with you that those opposing the defeated Measure were not all Conservative Evangelicals and Traditional Catholics. But I have to question your claim that the others who voted No were "uneasy liberals". I believe that only one of them (Tom Sutcliffe) can be so described. I would be interested to learn of evidence to the contrary.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 12:42pm GMT

Re the cost of the meeting (in reply to Tim Moore) - the only mention of £38,000 I can find by Googling other than the one in this thread is on the Law & Religion UK blog of January 17th, which links to a post on Anglican Mainstream which now seems to be unavailable.

Unless anyone has any firmer information it seems to have been a guess rather than a costing.

Posted by: Pam Smith on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 1:07pm GMT

A senior Church House employee also questioned that figure last week in my hearing, suggesting that it might be the cost of a full day of a full General Synod meeting. There clearly were some opportunity costs of Friday's meeting, e.g. security guards and rental of voting devices, but I suspect the true figure is much lower. No doubt a Question will in due course be answered...

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 1:28pm GMT

Ooh! I'd be quite happy to invite Giddings to dine at our house!

In fact, I think that's a rather good idea.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 2:30pm GMT

I thought someone had done an analysis of those who voted it down.

Wasn't there a letter to the Times that supports Jonathan's view? The only person I know who said he would but still voted against was Glynn Harrison from Bristol and you would hardly describe him as any sort of liberal.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 6:03pm GMT

There are quite a few people in the House of Clergy and the House of Laity who are in favour of women bishops but who voted against the legislation. Probably not enough swing votes among the Laity, but the votes against weren't monochrome.

My suspicion is that the debate on Friday will have driven a few more people who would support women bishops to require more provision for those opposed. The bile from supporters of the no confidence motion - and the vilification of Anglican Mainstream and Reform - is likely to prove counter-productive in a Church of England that is theoretically committed to maintain this constituency within the Church.

Oh, and invoking the Klu Klux Klan is a variant of Godwin's Law.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 9:45pm GMT

"Oh, and invoking the Klu Klux Klan is a variant of Godwin's Law."

Not so fast. We are told that Godwin's Law can be invoked as a distraction or a diversion, to fallaciously miscast an argument as hyperbole when the analogy being drawn is appropriate.

So, is an analogy between the Ku Klux Klan and opponents of women bishops appropriate?

I suggest the analogy may be drawn, without hyperbole, because both discriminate. The KKK discriminates against blacks. Opponents of women bishops discriminate against women.

The problem, of course, is that because opponents of women bishops for the moment have had their way in Synod, it is now possible to analogize the Church of England to the Ku Klux Klan as well. Both organisations advance discrimination as a matter of policy.

Obviously the Church of England should work swiftly to minimize the amount of time during which such a comparison might be made.

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 20 January 2013 at 11:20pm GMT

Citing "Godwin's Law" where a comparison is *apt*, should be a Yet Another Variant of Godwin's Law!

People w/ XX chromosomes are sick&tired of having discrimination against them tut-tut'd like it's No Biggie. It is. And it's a sin.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 2:36am GMT

Folks I have read your comments with much interest,

As I said it was never about winning, I do hope that having aired this and related matters we can begin to move to a better place as the house of laity, the word trust seems to be very emotive, but I do think it is the elephant in the room as we all desperately want a solution which enables all to flourish. Without trust I can see no solution other than no women bishops or women bishops but many leaving. Both outcomes would be so sad.

Some will of course think I have not helped, but many do think the debate was worthwhile - time will tell.

As a private matter I am going to defray some of the costs incurred over this meeting, but I tend not to talk about such things.


Posted by: Stephen Barney on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 2:29pm GMT

I confess I don't understand this talk about Chairs not speaking their mind. Dr Giddings was not the Chair of the discussion in question. He is Chair of the House of Laity. Because he is in that place he is not allowed to speak in a debate he is not chairing? That just sounds bizarre. Can someone clarify, please.

Posted by: cseitz on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 5:27pm GMT

Well observed Jonathan.. I think you are right.

However I still think a women bishops abroad measure is a good idea.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 6:04pm GMT

The KKK : opponents of women's ordination comparison is not apt. The opponents believe that women should not be eligible for specific positions of authority and responsibility in a certain voluntary organization. The KKK believed that blacks should have no rights in society as a whole beyond a bare right to existence--and even that only on condition that they not attempt to claim any rights beyond it.

Posted by: J Knightley on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 6:41pm GMT

"The opponents believe that women should not be eligible for specific positions of authority and responsibility in a certain voluntary organization."

Which "voluntary organization" would that be--the Church of England? Or the House of Lords?

Furthermore, the false "doctrine" of male headship holds that women have no rights in the (national, established) church beyond the bare right to attend.

This purported distinction does not hold up very well.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 8:22pm GMT

J Knightley, that's what called a "quantitative distinction". The OOW crowd believe women are only a *little bit less* made in the Image of God; the KKK believes blacks are made a *lot less* in the Image of God.

A "little bit" of sin is still SIN.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 10:48pm GMT

I think this whole business of feeling the Church has to provide special arrangements for what it might consider to be a 'Loyal Opposition' group in the Church of England - on the issue of whether, or not, the Church should act justly towards women who might feel a call to be a Bishop - to be divisive rather than unitive.

Should the Church encourage entrenched division on what - to the world at least - appears to be an issue of discrimination against women's ministry in the Church?

Surely, if the Church of England deems women capable and called to be bishops in its ecclesial administration, then the rank and file must find proper accommodation for such ministry.

You wouldn't find Rome being equivocal on such an important issue in its own ranks. A Bishop is a Bishop is a Bishop - No discrimination on account of gender should be entertained, otherwise we have a diversity that overcomes the unity we seek.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 21 January 2013 at 11:00pm GMT

I am glad Stephen Barney moved this motion and I do not think he should feel responsible for any expenses.
I do fear it will make those opposed to women bishops more determined to have concessions which many of us believe to be beyond acceptance.

They do not care about the witness of the Church which they want to turn into a closed sect any way. We cannot give in to them however long ,sadly, we have to wait for women bishops. We must witness to the gospel of an inclusive God.

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 at 12:40pm GMT


Do I take it that the "inclusive" church you envisage will have no respected place for the inclusion of those women who differ from you on gender roles in the church and family?


Posted by: johnny may on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 at 5:40pm GMT

johnny may - without wishing to answer for Jean Mayland, for me the problem with your question is the word 'respected'. With its cousin 'honoured' it has featured a lot in discussions about this issue, and the prominence of these words perhaps explains why no resolution is being reached.

We are told that those who are opposed to the ordination of women voted against the measure in November because it did not contain 'proper provision'. I gather 'proper provision' means something that is legally binding on all parties. This 'proper provision' would provide a respected and/or honoured place for those who have so far been unable to agree to any proposed settlement.

Now, you can legislate for me to behave (or not behave) in certain ways; you can legislate to make what I want to do illegal, or to legalise actions that have previously been legal.

What you can't do is to legislate in order to make me feel a certain way.

A respected place has to be predicated on respect; I am not sure what 'an honoured place' requires but I assume it is also based on positive regard of some sort. Both respect and honour result from actions which are perceived to be respectable and honourable. If people feel dishonoured and disrespected, that needs to be addressed - and if it is not, then regardless of what provisions are made the aim of honour and respect will not have been achieved.

Incidentally, I have absolutely no idea why Stephen Barney should feel he has to contribute to the costs of the meeting - if the C of E can't afford the current system of synodical government then let's find a better way of doing it, but if the meeting was legitimately called then surely it is a legitimate cost?

Posted by: Pam Smith on Tuesday, 22 January 2013 at 7:42pm GMT

I agree with you, Pam. Stephen Barney should not have to contribute to costs. He was working within the rules and customs of Synod. Mind you, the motion should never have been brought as Philip Giddings was working within the rules and customs of Synod.

Posted by: Labarum on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 8:37am GMT

Pam- thanks for your response which seems to me to be both constructive and helpful.

I agree that greater "terminological exactitude" would help in progressing this debate- and then I fell into the trap of using terms sloppily!

I agree entirely that legislation cannot change what people think or feel. No Measure of Synod or Act of Parliament is going to change people's convictions.

Does this not highlight, however, why the current impasse has been reached over the consecration of women? There are two irreconcilable views, both held with honesty and integrity and both hitherto given a place in the church through what I understand is called the "two integrities". No legislation is going to change that and so both must continue to be equally provided for if there is to be the preservation of at least the existing, and one would hope a growing degree of unity, even amongst those who disagree.

Which leads me to those slippery concepts of "respect" and "honourable". I think that what I mean is that neither "integrity" must feel that the other threatens either their continued existence or ability to thrive.

I regret to say that at least some of what I have read on this site clearly takes the view that the "traditionalist" view must be expunged because it is "discrminatory". The problem I have with that is twofold. First, from my (limited) research the "traditional" and, indeed "headship" view is most firmly advanced in Synod by women, not men. Those women clearly do not regard it as discriminatory, (unless it is said that they are wittingly inviting discrimination on themselves). Secondly, how do you go about erradicating what I understand to be a not insignificant part of the church (25-35%)? I can't see that somehow they can just vanish or that in the current climate we should want to lose any of our clergy or congregations!

Thoughts gratefully received,


Posted by: johnny may on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 11:04am GMT

I wasn't too sure about the actual motion myself and I think the discussion (that Philip Giddings after the vote indicated he was willing to have) about he role of the Chair would have been a better use of the time. Not knowing much about the standing orders of General Synod I don't know if such a meeting could have been called in the same way though.

I do think if a sizeable number of HoL members were unhappy with Philip Giddings' role in the proceedings in November, it needed airing. ISTM there are already too many festering wounds poisoning the C of E's system without creating another one.

Until we get over the instinct to ignore or squash criticism and dissent we will continue to wound each other and our mission I'm afraid. Unresolved conflict doesn't go anywhere, it just used up a lot of energy to keep it hidden.

Posted by: Pam Smith on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 11:11am GMT

The House of Laity SOs are here: [scroll down to pages 141 - 153]

There is no role description for the Chair (probably there ought to be), but the assumption is that it is not a convenor role, but an elected representative role, to which you are elected on a quasi manifesto. Giddings is fulfilling the role on the same custom and practice basis as his predecessors. Oswald Clark (against the OoW); Christina Baxter (pro OoW, but in favour of provision); Tim Hoare (sceptical, but voted for the OoW). We all knew what they thought, where they stood, and where they came from theologically. They all got elected as Chair because of their qualities of leadership and representation. The Barney approach would see the role entirely differently. If we are to change the role completely, that would need a debate in the Houses of Convocation as well (the Prolocutor roles are similar to those of the Chair of the House of Laity). Personally, I wouldn't welcome the change. The Chair needs to have his/her own opinions, not be a cipher for a particular view.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 2:00pm GMT

johnny said, '[T]hey are wittingly inviting discrimination on themselves.'

Indeed they are. And why?

False consciousness, Stockholm syndrome, all sorts of possible explanations.

The fact that some women buy into a gender-biased system does not make the system just. It simply speaks to its power.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 2:14pm GMT


I've noticed that your comments are rarely under-stated but I appreciate a good polemicist.

Of course you will appreciate that your argument is entirely circular- "the system is misogynistic; people do not see it is misogynistic, therefore it must be mysogynistic".

It seems that we have two alternatives- the women that I have seen in the media are mentally ill, stupid or deluded or they do actually find what they believe to be the best way for them to live.

Of course the latter is inherently more likely than the former but moreover, given what I saw of them in the media I see nothing to suggest mental illness, stupidity or delusion, rather they seemed quite intelligent, moderate and balanced.

Can you countenance the possbility that they voluntarily want, for their own reasons, to subscribe to a theology with which you disagree?

In any event why should we as men deny women the right to live and worship as they choose, whatever views they have of headship/sacremental assurance?


Posted by: johnny may on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 9:46pm GMT

Johnny - some thoughts which are intended to develop the discussion of earlier today.
I have long thought much of the language used can lead to potentially confusing thinking on the subject of how those who believe women can be ordained and those who believe they can't, can live in one church.
First, unity. As far as I know this attempt to provide a "sealed off" part of the C of E for those who do not believe women are truly priests, or can hold any role of authority in the church, is the only time that Christians have tried to create unity by separating themselves from those with whom they differ. The way to unity is through relationship, not avoiding each other. This is what we proclaim each time we celebrate the eucharist, which is why I am so desparately sad when eucharistic fellowship is denied or avoided because of diffferences - it seems we are refusing Christ's way of bringing reconciliation.
Second"Two integrities" - this is a form of speaking which we have allowed ourselves to slip into but it is not helpful or accurate. Quite rightly, at various times people have spoken of those who disagree with the ordination of women as holding their position "with integrity". However, to try to argue from this that the Church of England as an institution holds two diametrically opposed views with equal integrity is not possible - an institution cannot contradict itself any more than any individuals can (or not without serious mental conflict and likelihood of breakdown - cognitive dissonance). This does not mean that individuals who disagree cannot remain in the c of E if they wish - and bishops who they can work with can be provided - but the C of E has to decide whether women are rightly ordained or not. The outcry in the country after November seems to indicate that as far as England is concerned, the period of reception is over - women are accepted as and valued as priests in and out of the church. (RCS don't accept any Anglican priests officially and accept women as ecumenical colleagues in exactly the same way as male Anglicans).
third point - the percentage of those who genuinely cannot accept women as priests or bishops is between 3% and 7% (national Statistics give about 3 or 4% of PCCs are Resolution C parishes , who relate to a PEV ; 7% are Resolution B parishes which will include both Res C parishes and conservative evangelicals who will not accept a women as incumbent). The figure of 25-30% has no evidence for it at all.

Posted by: RosalindR on Wednesday, 23 January 2013 at 10:59pm GMT

The 25% to 30% statement about the number unable to accept women in ministry derived from the misuse of research, the reseach company have asked for that statement to be retracted.

Posted by: Stephen on Thursday, 24 January 2013 at 7:57am GMT

Johnny, you suggest my argument is circular. To understate: How interesting.

Are you really asserting that my only basis for holding opposition to women bishops to be misogyny is the assertions of opponents to the contrary?

That would be quite a feat of argumentation, if it were my argument; but of course it is not.

As for the opponents of women bishops: Yes, they are deluded. And yes, it is quite possible for intelligent people to be deluded by belief.

The question is whether any belief that Christianity requires discrimination is something that the CofE wants to continue to tolerate.

I would hope not--for the CofE's sake.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 24 January 2013 at 12:58pm GMT

A small minority of (very vocal) women are opposed to women bishops. Nothing new in that: some very distinguished women E.g. Gertrude Bell, Mary Ward campaigned against women's suffrage. Female genital mutilation would cease overnight without the support of women.
Susie Leafe says that she wants a bishop who is a father to his diocese. Fine-but should that desire affect church governance? She doesn't think women makes good decisions and cites Eve. Fine-but maybe some history lessons might help. She and others think Paul's opinions binding on the church for ever where gender is concerned, but I haven't heard her take on his views on slavery.
The point is, johnny, that women are individuals and that these women are in no way representative of "women" as such. Sorry to labour the point.

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 24 January 2013 at 5:41pm GMT


The women to whom you refer should certainly stay in the Church, even though ,quite honestly, I hope that at some time they may change their minds

What is not acceptable is that a small group of them should prevent the rest of us from having women bishops - something for which I have worked and longed for more than 50 of my 76 years

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 4:44pm GMT

I’m always surprised by the defenses people find for indefensible positions.

Jeremy—There may be a few opponents of women’s ordination like that, just as there may be a few proponents who think men should be suppressed. But I certainly don’t know of one who is in favor of restricting the sex to ‘a bare right to attend.’ All believe that they have vitally important and honorable ministries in the service of Christ. To put the KKK comparison another way, how many female ministers have been lynched, forcibly ejected from their homes, or kidnapped and tortured, all for their collar?

And, BTW, the C of E is a voluntary organization. I don’t need to explain that.

JCF—yes, ‘a little bit of sin is sin,’ and the commission of any sin is a heinous offence against God. Nevertheless, no sensible person dismisses the distinction between, say, a lustful glance and defrauding a family of its life savings. Similarly, even if opposing women’s ordination is sin, there is something more than a quantitative distinction between that and helping to string someone up from a lamp-post.

There may be something morally wrong with opponents of women’s ordination. There certainly is with rallying behind an unjust comparison.

Posted by: J Knightley on Friday, 25 January 2013 at 8:24pm GMT

The new film Lincoln speaks into our women bishops issue. It shows something of people in entrenched positions. Even a political genius like Abraham Lincoln might have found it dificult to solve our problem, lets hope new ABC can.

Alternatively we could refer to the letter in the Times "Why is the church of Enlgand alway arguing about sex and money" ......... trouble is it was written in 1778!

Posted by: Stephen on Saturday, 26 January 2013 at 8:52am GMT

@ J Knightley: That's one of the funny things about adherents of the supposed doctrine of "male headship." They think men should exercise leadership and speak in the church, and women not--unless women do already. Of course that position is completely incoherent.

The House of Lords is part of government. I don't need to explain that.

As for the CofE and violence generally, remember the history. Let us leave out one word: "[H]ow many [] ministers have been lynched, forcibly ejected from their homes, or kidnapped and tortured, all for their collar?"

English Catholics would easily answer that question about the CofE with a number in the hundreds.

I grant you that the CofE's bloodthirsty period is in the past. Of course the KKK can say the same thing. The only distinction would be how far in the past--between four centuries and one. As JCF says, that distinction is merely quantitative.

I will leave it to women clergy to describe first-hand the effects today of discrimination against them. But just because no one has been killed doesn't make it right.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 26 January 2013 at 12:38pm GMT

Jeremy: the comparison I argued against was between the opponents of women’s ordination and the KKK. The House of Lords, violence against English Catholics, the fact that there is opposition to women’s ordination, and the characterization of that opposition as ‘incoherent’ are mere diversions. (Side-note: the violence of the KKK isn’t even close to a century in the past. See, for example,

After I sent my first message, friends warned me that all I would get was a knee-jerk reaction. I suspect now that people who approve this egregiously unjust comparison do not do so innocently. This does not prove that women’s ordination is wrong, but it does nothing to lessen that possibility.

Posted by: J Knightley on Monday, 28 January 2013 at 4:34pm GMT
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