Tuesday, 21 May 2013

House of Bishops statement on Women in the Episcopate

The following statement has been released tonight.

Statement on Women in the Episcopate from the House of Bishops of the Church of England
21 May 2013

At its meeting in York the House of Bishops of the Church of England has committed itself to publishing new ways forward to enable women to become bishops.

In its discussion on the issue of women in the episcopate, the House received and approved for publication the report from the Working Group on Women in the Episcopate which was set up on 11 December to prepare new legislative proposals following the General Synod’s rejection of the last legislation on 20 November 2012.

The report of the Working Group presented four new options as a way forward and proposed that the General Synod should consider those options at its meeting in July. The Working Group also proposed a timetable which would involve the legislation starting its formal stages in the Synod in November and receiving Final Approval in 2015.

The House of Bishops has agreed that the report of the Working Group should be published with a separate report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House setting out the House’s recommendations to the General Synod. The House has also asked the Business Committee of the General Synod to arrange for a substantial amount of time to be available at the General Synod in July for facilitated conversations in small groups before the Synod comes to a decision on the way forward.

The House also approved the necessary changes in its standing orders to ensure the attendance of senior women clergy at its meetings. These changes were proposed following the House’s decision at its meeting in December to ensure the participation of senior female clergy in its meetings until such time as there are six female members of the house, following the admission of women to the episcopate.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 at 11:07pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

This sounds as if there is substantial disagreement in the House of Bishops with the Working Group's report. Otherwise, wouldn't the archbishops have simply written a preface to it?

Posted by: Gareth Hughes on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 at 12:19am BST

The only outstanding worry, for some members of the Church is whether or not there will be provision made for continuing discrimination against women’s ministry in the Church of England by finagling the legislation to accommodate dissenters.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 at 1:47am BST

I have read the Synod document and the four options. While I am encouraged that the House of Bishops are going to recommend Option one there is one thing that confuses me.

Option one is basically a single clause measure, with an associated repeal of the 1993 Act of Synod.

It does however say that "The simplest possible Measure and Canon" could be accompanied by "some kind of formal declaration by the House of Bishops or by the making of a new Act of Synod."

Now the previous Act of Synod of 1993 had the power of law which meant that "effect of these resolutions is legally binding on everyone concerned, including bishops, clergy and patrons." (that is Resolutions A,B and C). Whereas, in writing about a new Act of Synod, the document says "Both an Act of Synod and a declaration by the House of Bishops could therefore provide a possible way of seeking to secure some degree of consistency across the Church of England. What they would have in common is that neither would be legally binding on anyone."

I am confused. If the old Act of Synod had the power of law, why will the new one not have the power of law?

But, my confusion notwithstanding, I am glad that the bishops are recommending a single clause measure. And I hope it passes.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Friday, 24 May 2013 at 11:17pm BST

Jeremy, the 1993 Act of Synod did not have the force of law at all. Never did and doesn't now. So-called 'Resolution C' is not binding in law, but is a request to the diocesan bishop to make arrangements. My understanding is that before the Abp will agree to consecrate a new bishop he requires him to undertake to abide by the Act of Synod. And that is the only way in which it is binding.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Friday, 24 May 2013 at 11:45pm BST

Then why, Simon, does GS 1886 say that the 1993 Act of Synod was legally binding?

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 8:16am BST

Where does it say that? What paragraph number?

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 8:23am BST

I was quoting Para 82 - I now see that it could mean that parochial resolutions made under the 1993 Act are legally binding, but the Act itself is not. That seems to me to be very odd. How can resolutions of a non-binding Act be themselves binding legal resolutions?

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 8:44am BST

Also, if the old Act (1993) could be both non-legally binding in and of itself, but contain resolutions that are legally binding, then how do we know that the new Act of Synod (yet to be written), which will not itself be legally binding, will not contain the capacity for legally binding decisions or resolutions to be made?

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 8:46am BST

Jeremy, the 1993 *Measure* is what Resolutions A and B are made under, and the *Measure* is legally binding.
You are confusing two different items both with the date 1993.

Act of Synod (not legally binding)

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 8:51am BST

Thank you, Simon!
Now all is clear. Let me check this out with you:
Option 1 is a "single clause" measure Making it possible for women to be made bishop. Any subsequent Act of Synod looks like it will be an Act of Synod enjoining general loveliness and kindness on everybody. Is that it?

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Saturday, 25 May 2013 at 9:29am BST
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