Sunday, 26 May 2013

reports on the new proposals for women bishops

Revised Tuesday lunchtime

Andrew Brown has analysed the proposals for the Guardian in Church of England leaders propose female bishops by 2015.

The bishops of the Church of England have published a plan to consecrate female bishops by 2015, after the defeat of legislation last autumn. It would end 20 years of bitter struggle with a clear decision in favour of progress.

The proposals, published on Friday and backed by both archbishops, offer a nearly complete victory for the female clergy and their supporters outraged by the failure of the earlier legislation…

Tom Heneghan Reuters Church of England unveils plan for women bishops in 2015

Jonathan Petre in the Mail on Sunday reports that Church leaders may ask Queen to dissolve Synod if it continues to oppose creation of women bishops.

Senior bishops have raised the prospect of asking the Queen to dissolve the Church of England’s ‘Parliament’, the General Synod, if it continues to oppose the creation of women bishops.

The unprecedented proposal was made in a confidential meeting chaired by the Archbishop of Canterbury last week and reflects Church leaders’ frustration with the Synod for narrowly defeating legislation in November to allow women priests to become bishops…

Ed Thornton and Glyn Paflin wrote in the Church Times House of Bishops sets out next steps on women in the episcopate.

…Speaking on Friday, Bishop Stock said that “we have a choice of proceeding by grace or by law. As you go down the options, more law goes into it. It seems wise to start with maximum grace and see where that gets us; that’s where the House of Bishops would like to start.”

Bishop Stock said that small-group facilitated discussions among Synod members would take place on the Saturday of the Synod’s meeting, and warned of the danger of returning to “a zero-sum game”. “We’re hoping people will not start to take positions and sides too soon. . . This is a real attempt to see how we can begin to honour each other rather than be suspicious of each other.”

He went on: “People now really do want to look at a more positive way of being together rather than being in separate silos where you have no real contact with each other. There are various signals about that, and a new way of working.”

It would be “entirely open to anybody to produce an amendment” in the Monday debate, but “the Bishops thought this is where we ought to start.”

The first response from the Conservative Evangelical wing was published by Cranmer’s Curate on Sunday and then, after one modification, taken down. It has now appeared here: CofE Hierarchy terrified of political backlash over women bishops and part of the article is copied below the fold.

CofE Hierarchy terrified of political backlash over women bishops

By Julian Mann
Special to virtueonline
May 27, 2013

The latest legislative proposal for a single clause women bishops’ measure reflects the clear choice of the Church of England hierarchy to follow the world and not the Word by imposing a uniform, secular model of leadership on parishes.

The liberal establishment is desperate to get this legislation through the General Synod as soon as possible because it is terrified of the backlash from the metropolitan elite in Westminister if the Church of England repeats its failure to embrace political correctness. The failure of the General Synod to pass the women bishops’ measure in November led to outrage in the British Parliament.

Members of Parliament cheer-led by the Prime Minister - who has admitted that his faith fluctuates like the signal from his local radio station in the Chiltern hills - fell over themselves to denounce the Church of England for failing to ‘get up with the programme’. One newspaper columnist acidly observed that people who could not care less about the Church of England suddenly started developing ‘bilious opinions’ about women bishops.

There was even talk of banning ecclesiastical bottoms from the ermine benches of the House of Lords because they were so out of touch with societal opinion.

More sinisterly, homosexualist parliamentarians were quick to realise that acceptance of women bishops was an essential precursor to the capitulation of the Church of England to their agenda.

Campaign group for the traditional integrity, Proper Provision, has just issued a statement explaining in stark terms what the single clause option announced last week would mean for conservative evangelicals.

This breath of realism in advance of the July Synod meeting shows the real spiritual and moral battle ground on which conservative evangelicals are to pray and to take action and to make sacrifices so that the local churches we love can remain faithful to the revealed, apostolic Word of the Lord Jesus Christ and not be neutered by the world.

Statement by “Proper Provision” (see here for their 2012 statement) originally from here but now reproduced at the link given above:

The House of Bishops have decided that “the moment has come for demonstrating how the Church of England can manifest its commitment to remaining a broad church without having to rely on legislation to do so”.

They are therefore recommending to General Synod that we move forward with “Option 1” (of the four offered by the Working Party).

In short this is the “Single Clause” option - with a non-legally binding declaration from the House of Bishops/ an Act of Synod (not available in July) which would set out recommendations for arrangements for those whose theological conviction does not enable them to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests.

We must however remember that NONE of the options provided jurisdictional provision (despite the Working Party recognising that this is what we had said was required).

All four options REQUIRE Conservative Evangelical Ministers to:

  • Swear the oath of Canonical Obedience to their Diocesan (male or female)
  • Accept that they hold a “dissenting” view because “the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter”
  • Play a “full part” in the lives of the Dioceses and Deaneries in order to ensure that the “majority” flourish.

This option also has the potential to put our PCCs, incumbents and patrons at risk of being challenged under the Equality Act if there is a disagreement over the appointment of a male incumbent/nomination of a female curate in the future. The document makes clear that this will be at their own cost.

It would clearly be a disaster if a measure of this nature were passed but we must pray that people recognise the clarity of the decision the Church is making - we may be saying “yes” to women bishops but we are also saying “no’ to those who hold the dissenting view.

Despite all the talk about mutual flourishing and loyal anglicans this option will have the effect of reducing the breadth of churchmanship in the Church of England and unchurching large numbers of clergy and laity.

  • Conservative Evangelical ministers will either have to lie (when taking their canonical oath to a woman) or leave.
  • Conservative Evangelical laity will have to risk court action if they appoint the man of their choice.
  • All Conservative Evangelicals will have to live as oxymorons - loyal dissenters.

Please pray for all those who will be making decisions about how to move forward on this issue.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 May 2013 at 1:16pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

The Mail says, "The Synod can reject the Archbishops’ proposals in July, but observers said the mood is now strongly in favour of introducing women bishops as quickly as possible and that the traditionalists will try only to gain favourable terms."

The "mood?"

What about the House of Laity? What has changed there?

Why not dissolve Synod now?

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 26 May 2013 at 7:58pm BST

The early dissolution of the Ninth General Synod is not a new idea, but this may give it more oxygen. I think it a highly unlikely option. It could not be taken now as it is important to take the temperature in York in July. It seems that Proper Provision, who seem to have rushed out a statement (other groups are taking counsel), have got the message.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Sunday, 26 May 2013 at 9:51pm BST

Early dissolution was discussed here back in November.

"It could not be taken now as it is important to take the temperature in York in July."

Non sequitur alert....

Why is it "important" to run this proposal by the same Synod that voted against women bishops in November?

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 26 May 2013 at 11:54pm BST

"Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests will continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England will remain committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures."

So . . . the Church of England is allowing bad (and in my own view, sinful) theology elsewhere in the Communion to dictate the CofE's internal theological "commit[ments]" as to the equality of men and women before God.

Why allow the Communion tail wag the CofE dog in this way?

Surely Canterbury's convening role is not that important.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 27 May 2013 at 4:41am BST

Jeremy, I think we see other parts of the communion as our brothers and sisters in Christ, even if we are in different places theologically, no doubt there are areas in which they feel we are woefully inadequate and sinful too. It is not about who gets to be the dog or the tail, it is understanding that God is revealed in some part through each of us. Hopefully what we act upon will be a witness that will change hearts and minds elsewhere and undoubtedly the reverse will be true in some areas...

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Monday, 27 May 2013 at 9:32am BST

I'd like this put to Synod in July, a lot of water has passed under bridges since then and while the same people are still on Synods, hearts and minds may well be open to change, not least now the cost of that terrible decision is being counted and acknowledged. Clearly some positions have hardened, but it would be a mistake to assume that was the case for everyone. The first proposition may still offer a way forward...

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Monday, 27 May 2013 at 9:35am BST

"Since it will continue to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England will acknowledge that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God;"

I'm not sure what this means. Does it imply that the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches are engaged in a broader process of discernment re WO? If so, that is not correct.

Posted by: Arthur Samuels on Monday, 27 May 2013 at 1:09pm BST

There is an article about women deacons in the Tablet this weekend. Also, I heard from about movements towards women deacons in the RC church from a French priest and a German Jesuit last weekend.

Posted by: Susan Cooper on Monday, 27 May 2013 at 5:54pm BST

I think it implies that some provinces of the Communion are in such a process and some are not; that some other bodies of the wider Church of Christ are in such a process and some are not; and that the Orthodox and Roman Catholic Churches ought to be. Thank heavens for a little confidence in ourselves at last.

Posted by: Francis on Monday, 27 May 2013 at 6:14pm BST

I suppose the really big issue - if women are able to be consecrated bishops in the Church of England, and opponents are allowed to continue to demonstrate their opposition without structured provision - will be centred around the question of 'What Authority will the dissidents recognise as the episcopal enablement in their dioceses?

Will they still be able to refuse to be confirmed by the local (female) bishop? And if so, what will this actually mean for the episcopal collegiality of the Church of England?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 at 3:34am BST

What is 'Proper Provision'? Can anyone clarify? I recall that it was the title of a petition organised by Reform prior to the vote last November and signed by some conservative evangelical women but I'm not aware that it has any other existence. Julian Mann in the above article says that 'Campaign group for the traditional integrity, Proper Provision, has just issued a statement ...' but the link he gives only takes one back to the petition.

So is there a group? How is it separate from Reform? Is it just women? Is Julian Mann their official spokesperson? Who wrote the statement and on behalf of whom? With so many questions it is difficult to know what weight to attach to any of this.

Posted by: Jane Charman on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 at 5:55pm BST

Did cranmer's curate really use the word "homosexualist"? Wow.

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Tuesday, 28 May 2013 at 9:47pm BST

Can the Act of Synod be repealed more quickly than 2015?

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 at 10:52am BST

"[I]t is understanding that God is revealed in some part through each of us."

Not when we discriminate on the basis of gender.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 29 May 2013 at 10:59am BST

I believe the position is that the Act of Synod cannot be repealed yet. It is the subject of at least one diocesan motion tabled for debate by the General Synod. However, the motion is "parked", as the substantive issue to which it relates (the women bishops legislation itself) is still before the Synod. While many would wish to see the Act repealed as soon as possible (including me, having changed my mind on the subject), even I take review that to debate it at his sensitive juncture would be unhelpful.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 30 May 2013 at 9:41pm BST

@Jeremy, I think you're going too far.

Are you really going to say that God can't accept or work through anyone who doesn't accept women bishops? So the majority of "Christians" around the world aren't really Christians and have nothing to teach anyone about Christ? Sorry. Not buying it.

After reading your comment, the first thing that popped into my head was the story a few years ago of a man who walked into an Amish school and killed and injured several children before killing himself. The Amish response? "We must not think evil of this man." Another Amish father noted, "He had a mother and a wife and a soul and now he's standing before a just God." They also went to comfort the killer's wife and children. Just think if we had that kind of forgiveness and faith. Or perhaps not, they don't allow women to teach, so they know nothing, right? Of course, if we had that kind of faith, websites like this on both the left and the right wouldn't need to exist and fighting can be so much fun.

Posted by: Chris H. on Friday, 31 May 2013 at 2:50am BST
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