Saturday, 2 March 2013
Women Bishops Consultation - WATCH responds
Women and the Church (WATCH) has made a formal response to the consultation.
The main body of the response is in this document (PDF):
The WATCH response to GS Misc 1042 Women in the episcopate: a new way forward.
Or it is available here as a normal web page.
There are several appendices:
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Saturday, 2 March 2013 at 5:00pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
| General Synod
I am grateful for the "Promises" paper. It is clearly written. I have not enough knowlegde to judge how balanced and comprehensive the survey is, nor any experience of the workings of PEVs; but it does look as though at least some in that orbit maximised the possibilities.
Central to the cogent logic of the paper is the claim made by conservatives that bishops and priests who participate in the ordination of women invalidate their sacramental ministry. The suggestion is that the practical development of the PEV programme was driven by this belief. How pervasive was and is this belief?
Reference is made to the Lambeth Conference's assertion that those on both sides of this difference are to be counted loyal Anglicans. Is the attempt to separate international from national and provincial promises anything more than casuistry?
And looking to the future: in the PEV arrangement we have evolved a pragmatic if untidy way of managing our differences and our consciences. The moment when the validity of the sacramental ministry of some bishops *is* going to be questioned by a significant minority is not the time to set aside the pragmatic policies we have in place. Those provisions strengthened over time with the consent of Archbishops and Diocesans. They work: with a few adjustments they could continue to work. The English have always been good at untidy pragmatism.
Very grateful for Rosalind Rutherford's reading of the promises given or not - as a G Synod member post 2005 have always been troubled by the idea of breaking a promise, as usual it is not quite as simple as that!
The "After November" paper gives so many stories of personal distress that read true to me - but why are the stories anonymous. Why can't people put their names to their story? Surely nobody there would get sacked or suffer serious consequences for the statements contained therein?
In the gay world we know that "coming out" is a hugely powerful act. People used to see homosexuality as something that affected somebody else in a different church or town. But the act of coming out forced people to recognise that homosexuality affected their own son, or friend, or colleague, or priest. That knowledge then triggered a re-evaluation.
Similarly, anonymous stories about the pain caused by church misogyny will be seen as something affecting somebody else. But when you realise that your own woman priest or colleague is feeling that pain, and is thinking those thoughts, then conversation and re-evaluation, is much more likely to happen.
People did give their names; WATCH anonymised them so that there was no question of people feeling unable to be honest about their experiences or feelings. I agree with you as a general principle, but we wanted to collect a body of frank evidence, rather than it to be 'edited' in advance by people who - for whatever reason - weren't comfortable about everyone they'd ever or never met potentially knowing how they felt. And it's easier to anonymise everything rather than for some people to have to withhold permission to use their names.
But thank you for reading the stories.
Rosalind Rutherford's paper is a masterful analysis of the creation and operation of the Act of Synod. It shows very clearly how much more has been taken than the creators of the Act ever intended to allow, and Mgr Andrew Burnham's confession from across the Tiber leaves no possible room for doubt that this is the case.
In short, what was generously provided was 'extended episcopal care' but what was taken was 'alternative episcopal oversight', a very different thing. In hindsight, no doubt out of the same spirit of generosity, far too little was done to restrain the excesses of those who pushed far beyond what the Act envisaged. Separate Chrism masses should have been the sticking point, since they clearly implied that ordaining bishops' sacramental integrity had been impaired, something that the Act clearly denied to be the case.
Instead, as the WATCH submission correctly states, the provisions of the Act have been abused to create the very separation that the Act intended to prevent, and the resulting tribalism makes it very hard indeed to find any generally acceptable way forward.
If dissenters are asking if the majority can be trusted to honour promises made, dissenters need to be asked in return if they can be trusted to stick within any concessions that are made. Evidence from the operation of the Act of Synod suggests not.
Malcolm Dixon expresses very clearly and well, why PEV Bs must not be allowed to continue in the way that Andrew Burnham and colleagues behaved, undermining the ordinary life and ministry of Church of England people; and weakened the Catholic tradition in the Church of England.
It was a really appalling extraction of the Michael to put the matter very, very politely and with moderation.