Monday, 8 July 2013

Women in the episcopate - WATCH press release

WATCH has responded to today’s General Synod vote on women in the episcopate.

Synod affirms desire to have women bishops as a matter of urgency.

WATCH is pleased that the House of Bishops’ preferred option received overwhelming support from General Synod, which today re-affirmed its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency. The positive experience of the facilitated conversations was reflected in the tone of the debates. WATCH remains committed to full engagement with the ongoing process.

Vice-Chair, Charles Read commented, “This is an encouraging start to a process that will enable women to be bishops on equal terms as men.”

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 8 July 2013 at 8:50pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

2015 doesn't sound that urgent... Glacial, maybe.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 6:19pm BST

Cynthia: 2015 would be quite speedy progress from now. A draft measure will have to come to General Synod, br referred to the diocese and voted on by each diocesan synod before it comes back to General Synod for final approval. That cannot be done much quicker.

I write as one who is deeply committed to seeing women in our episcopate. It is frustrating, but given that General Synod only meets twice a year, law cannot be made much quicker.

Posted by: Hannah on Tuesday, 9 July 2013 at 8:13pm BST

"General Synod only meets twice a year"

It only takes once! It appears that the conservatives are stonewalling to get the best provision possible, which is enshrined institutional discrimination.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 3:11pm BST


Unlike the American church, our General Synod meets at least twice a year, not once every three years. As I recall it takes two successive General Conventions i.e. six years, to approve major changes in The Episcopal Church.

Our General Synod has a constitution which requires it to consult with the dioceses on certain matters, and it has standing orders which define the procedures for consultation within the synod itself on the revision of draft legislation.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 4:13pm BST

And by way of postscript to Simon's comment at 4.13: unlike TEC we are not simply deciding church policy, we are drafting law which has then to be passed through Parliament. That is part of the complexity with this, because whatever arrangements General Synod might wish to come to, these will have to be acceptable also in Westminster.

Posted by: Hannah on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 5:34pm BST

Thanks Simon. I get it. It's just that 1993 (WO on CoE) was a long time ago. It's taking a very long time for WB's. And TEC, with our more glacial process, have had WB's since around 1978.

I get that there's Kairos and Kronos. But the perception is that a minority is dragging it out, essentially holding justice hostage.

From the point-of-view of a 10-year-old girl, 2015 is 2 and 1/2 more years of noticing that she is in an inferior position in the church, due to gender. If they tuned in (and I hope to God they aren't), they would have 2 and 1/2 more years of having to hear about Anglicans who can't accept female leadership.

And if by dragging it out, the minority succeeds in continuing to enshrine discrimination, the message to girls will be even worse.

I never hear anyone addressing the harm caused by this. Process is really important, but so is Witness and Compassion - which should be built into the process. The legalities, necessary as they may be, are completely overwhelming any narrative of compassion or Good News. The disconnect to real life is disturbing.

The flesh and blood is missing. It makes me wonder what CoE parents are telling their children, especially their daughters?

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 5:57pm BST

"whatever arrangements General Synod might wish to come to, these will have to be acceptable also in Westminster."

I get that, but have to wonder, is your Parliament going to accept enshrined discrimination in law? The noises from November made that appear unlikely. Someone on another comment section mentioned the hamster wheel...

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 July 2013 at 9:58pm BST

No, discriminatory legislation will not be acceptable in Westminster. Moreover, Parliament has made clear, as did the Second Church Estates Commissioner in the debate on Monday, that this needs sorting.

Posted by: Hannah on Thursday, 11 July 2013 at 9:05am BST

You're dead right Cynthia. The process of discussing WB started in 2000 and was mismanaged thereafter, the hierarchy failing to show any commitment to WB until it was too late. They consistently presented WB as a problem rather than something to be welcomed, and were more concerned with FiF than their own women clergy. The fact that the process dragged on through the entire 10 years of Rowan Williams' tenure of Canterbury tells its own story. The November vote at least had the merit of making HoB realise how the CoE is perceived by the country at large and has given them some sense of urgency, though frankly I wish that Parliament would give them an ultimatum: WB by 2015 on equal terms with men or Act of Parliament.

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 11 July 2013 at 10:40am BST

I entirely agree with Cynthia and Helen. Long-time Synod members and observers may think a three year process can be described as acting with urgency, but that is three years out of someone's potential WB ministry. Given that most priests are not appointed bishops until they are at least in their fifties, those 'three years' might constitute a quarter or more of someone's remaining years in office. This ill serves both women priests and all those who might have benefitted from their ministry as WB's during that time.

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Friday, 12 July 2013 at 12:50am BST

The power that FiF holds absolutely baffles me. The comments on the Guardian blog against the CoE were blistering. It's one thing to stand on principle against the masses for the purposes of liberation, MLK and Nelson Mandela come to mind. But for the purposes of humiliating and degrading a group of people? Wow. On spurious theology no less...

Rowan baffles me too. But I'll stop there except to say that I'm praying for the CoE. I usually spend summers in England, but not this year. Hopefully I'll return next summer to a more liberated church.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 12 July 2013 at 4:16am BST
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