Monday, 8 July 2013

General Synod - Women in the Episcopate

General Synod debated Women in the Episcopate this morning. The motion as passed by Synod is at the end of this article.

The paper before Synod was GS 1886, and this included the various options referred to in the motion and amendments.

The original motion before the Synod, proposed by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich on behalf of the House of Bishops, was:

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886; and
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation.

[Option 1 comprises a measure and amending canon to make made it lawful for women to become bishops, and the repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure, plus the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod.]

Several amendments were moved. The first (proposed by the Revd Paul Benfield) was:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “on the basis” and insert “that the provision made for those who cannot receive the ministry of female priests or bishops should be made by Measure or regulations made under Canon”.

This was defeated on a vote by houses; all three houses voted against.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops7340
Clergy481374
Laity751154

Tom Sutcliffe proposed:

‘In paragraph (d) leave out “described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’” and insert “of coprovincial provision for alternative episcopal oversight to be administered by the two Archbishops jointly through the Archbishops’ Council along lines that continue the system of episcopal visitors currently in existence”;
And
Leave out “or draft declaration to be made by the House”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

Peter Collard proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “the basis described in” and insert “paragraphs 96-109 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option three’, but on the basis that (i) the only amendment made to the 1993 Measure is the removal of the ability of cathedrals to pass Resolutions A and B and (ii) the provision to be made in relation to episcopal ministry is contained in an Act of Synod based on the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993, and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod to accompany the draft legislation”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

Clive Mansell proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out “79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option one’” and insert “89-95 of the annex to GS 1886 described as ‘option two’”.

[Option 2 includes in the measure a requirement for an Act of Synod to be in place before final approval of the measure.]

This was defeated on a vote by houses; all three houses voted against.

 ForAgainstAbstentions
Bishops10281
Clergy551288
Laity931004

The Revd Simon Cawdell proposed:

In paragraph (d) leave out all the words after “to prepare” and insert
“draft legislation which enables women to be admitted to the episcopate without reservation and which also enables those unable on theological grounds to accept their ministry to flourish within the Church of England as described in paragraph 12 of GS 1886;
(e) invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(f) request the Presidents to convene such facilitated groups as may assist the Steering Committee in its task throughout the process.”.

This was defeated on a show of hands.

The Bishop of Dover proposed:

In paragraph (d) after “‘option one’” insert “with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate”.

This was carried on a show of hands.

At this point the Synod broke for lunch.

After lunch Clive Mansell moved:

At the end of paragraph (d) insert “together with provision to prevent legal challenge to patrons, bishops, PCC members and parish representatives acting properly in accordance with their duties in the appointment process for an incumbent or a priest-in-charge (such issues being identified within paragraphs 130-136 of GS 1886)”.

The amendment was defeated, with 200 votes in favour and 210 against, with 15 recorded abstentions.

Keith Malcouronne proposed:

At the end insert as a new paragraph –
“(-) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.”.

This was carried on a show of hands.

Since two amendments were carried, the substantive motion became

That this Synod:
(a) reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;
(b) instruct the Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;
(c) instruct the Business Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;
(d) instruct the Steering Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan bishops are required to participate and invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft legislation; and
(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.

The motion (as amended) was carried with 319 votes in favour, 84 against and 22 recorded abstentions.

———

Early on the Bishop of Willesden presented his ‘cunning’ plan. Jeremy Fletcher, on his blog, well summarised what he had to say.

Pete Broadbent has a ‘cunning plan’ (which he tried out on people last night). Have an enlarged Steering Committee – made up of pressure groups and those of no allegiance. It should have a ‘facilitated discussion’ and come up with something which the whole group can put its name to. No provision for a minority report. All or nothing. Forgo the use of a Revision Committee – that’s where it failed last time. Come straight to a Revision Stage in full Synod. That would make the moral authority of what comes to Synod much more powerful – all groupings would have had their say already. Warm and prolonged applause.

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Comments

It's worth noting already that in the votes for different options, none of them was defeated by a 2/3 majority in all three Houses. The amendment to go with Option 2 gained more than 25% of the HoB and about 48% of the HoL.

If these votes are any indication of the mood of Synod they are not exactly a ringing endorsement of the Option One proposal.

We'll soon see what support the proposal as amended gets.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 2:01pm BST

The more I see of this the more I suspect the Bishop of Willesden has got the right approach nailed. Also, having read his blog, where's he's going with the draft London plan for a post legislation future is also something I (as a FiF sympathiser but not member) could wholeheartedly support.

I rather suspect that we need to get representatives of WATCH, FiF, AffCath, Reform, AM, MCU, GRAS etc (plus of course any other interested party whom I may have missed), empowered by their various councils to negotiate, then lock the lot of them in a room with the proviso that no-one's coming out until there's a deal - which then goes to Synod essentially to be rubberstamped, with all members of negotiating bodies to be bound by the decision their delegate reached. Time to bang some heads together on both the pro and anti sides. Sort of like the Ditchley talks between the ANC and the RSA government in the late 80s.

Then maybe we can all get on with other things.

Posted by: primroseleague on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 2:53pm BST

Given the voting figures, there can certainly be no grandstanding for proponents. Another train crash may well be in the offing, and the finger of blame is pointed directly at the HoB, wilfully blind and stubborn.

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 3:31pm BST

Primroseleague. If you believe that the proposals are heretical then discussion will not solve anything. I seem to recall that Archbishop Carey suggested that those who opposed the ordination of women as priests were heretics (i don't think he withdrew that remark) so I am not trying to be inflammatory. i also seem to recall that throughout church history many have been condemned but that what they said eventually became mainstream doctrine - e.g. Athanasius. Thought for the day!

Posted by: joseph Golightly on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 4:42pm BST

This is the same Synod laity that voted down the WB legislation in November, right?

I'm remembering that 42 of 44 dioceses strongly supported WB's. I wouldn't think that that is a mandate to enshrine discrimination.

So are the folks from November going to represent themselves, or their fellow members from their home dioceses?

It is a moment for integrity to something larger than themselves. I wonder if they will seize that moment?

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 5:03pm BST

I would add:

Erect a chimney over the building and arrange for the generation of black and white smoke.

Posted by: Paul Waddington on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 5:20pm BST

I think the vote on the final text will be closer to two thirds in the house of laity than the votes on the amendments. I also think that they dynamics of the process are not a "negotiation" in the traditional sense. Some of us who have believed in something like option 1 for a long time have also long believed that there is more scope within that, and beyond legislation, than the legislative calculus so far has suggested. There is now time to explore the space for grace which I believe has always been there.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 7:12pm BST

primroseleague's suggestion of a behind-closed-doors deal between campaigning parties would seem to only disenfranchise even more those members of the C of E (aka the majority) who have no interest in being a member of any such group, and if anything have a profound distaste for such party politicking. That's quite an achievement considering how far from the pew GS already feels to most of us. Wasn't one of the lessons from last November that we need to find ways of moving the decision making closer to the people of God, not further away from them?

Posted by: Sam Denyer on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 8:16pm BST

I'm sorry, I must have missed something. I was under the impression that the C of E was determined, after last Novembers' train crash, to introduce new legislation with all possible speed, and that the preferred option was for a clean, clear, simple measure where women were to be ordained bishop in exactly the same way as men. I note that the ccsm has already picked up one amendment, before even getting out of the starting blocks, and that the Abp is already talking of a preference for a solution 'between Options 1 and 2.' I also noted that the earliest date this latest tortuous process can hope to completed is November 2015! Fully three years down the line from the last vote! . One cannot help wonder how that will go down with the general public, Parliament, and not least of all women priests. As to all the ridiculous 'Let's lock everyone in a room' or 'Let's act out our feelings on stage' scenarios apparently moved or mooted over the weekend, I find myself in agreement with the traditionalist (there had to a first time) who opined that the CofE has gone 'stark raving mad.' I have a much more simple and effective solution: do away with the two-thirds majority, and let every vote be a simple majority - like in the rest of the world!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 8:58pm BST

Simon Kershaw points the mathematics that suggest Option One might be in for a difficult time. For my part I am amazed that the church of the middle way is going for one of the outside options, rather than for Option 2 or Option 3.

Posted by: Labarum on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 10:14pm BST

Simple majority is nonsense. It works in governments where, theoretically or otherwise, actions can be done or undone every 4-5 years as the whim of the electorate takes it. What you can't do is set up votes on points of doctrine that can theoretically split 51-49 winner takes all, when in reality the "losing" party is just about the same size as the "victors."

The margins are greater than that in the current debate, but the point holds more generally - it's the whole reason the two thirds majority was brought in in the first place - unless you'd really be happy with something passing 51-49 then being undone again five years down the line when the electoral maths change ever so slightly?

Posted by: Primroseleague on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 10:22pm BST

Hear hear Stephen. Andrew Brown compared the proceedings of Synod vis a vis women bishops to the digestive system of a cow, an apposite image considering the unholy mess that it's made of the process so far.

Posted by: Helen on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 1:52pm BST

Simple Solution : stop going to church.

Posted by: Laurence on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 4:18pm BST

Let's not forget that this passed by way more than a simple majority, in fact way more than a two thirds majority (almost 80% in favour).

But then the Measure before General Synod last November also passed by way more (about 75% in favour) than a two thirds majority taking the Synod as a whole. It was only the requirement that there be a two thirds majority in each House that meant the Measure failed. The theological rationale for which is yet to be explained...

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 4:58pm BST

Au contraire, Primroseleague. Two thirds majorities are the nonsense. As has been all too demonstrated, small, unrepresentative minorities can form unholy alliances in order to just about make up a 'third;' in order to defeat the will of the majority. They then claim to represent far more people than they actually do. Oh, and 'the whim of the electorate' is called democracy.

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 5:11pm BST

I seem to remember that the Measure allowing women to be priests in 1991 was passed with a two-thirds majority in all three houses, which was still not enough for traditionalists, who demanded Resolutions AB+C, Acts of Synod and PEV's. It never will be enough. With a simple majority and some courage from the Abp and HoB this could be done and dusted in a year! 'A matter of urgency' - November 2015 - who do they think they are kidding?

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 9:14pm BST

Stephen,

If I recall correctly, the Measure received the 2/3 majority in 1991 because the traditionalists were offered Resolutions ABC/and PEVs. They exchanged their votes for the Measure, with the promise that their position would be honored. IMHO, once the Measure had passed, the traditionalists no longer needed to be molified: thus, no one much cares about the original promises anymore.

Posted by: koreantrooper on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 8:10pm BST

No, that's not correct. The concepts of "Resolution C" and of PEVs were introduced separately, AFTER the 2/3rds majority had been achieved.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 8:21pm BST

And resolutions A and B?

Posted by: Primroseleague on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 8:36pm BST

Resolutions A and B were in the Measure.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 8:58pm BST
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