Monday, 22 July 2013

Membership of Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation

The membership of the Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation for the Church of England General Synod has just been announced.

Membership of Steering Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation
22 July 2013

The Appointments Committee of General Synod has announced the membership of the Steering Committee to take charge of the preparation of draft legislation to enable women to become bishops. The Committee will meet a number of times in September and October to prepare the draft legislation for consideration at the November meeting of the Synod . The size and membership of the Committee will be reviewed by the Appointments Committee after this initial phase of work.

As outlined at this month’s Synod in York the size of the newly formed Steering Committee reflects the suggestion from the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent, urging “facilitated discussions” to continue. Canon David Porter, the Archbishop of Canterbury’s director of reconciliation, who guided the facilitated discussions at Synod, helped advise the appointments committee.

Steering Committee members
The Revd Paul Benfield
The Revd Canon Jane Charman
The Revd Canon Robert Cotton
Dr Philip Giddings
Dr Paula Gooder
The Ven Christine Hardman
Dr Jamie Harrison
The Rt Revd James Langstaff (Chair)
Mrs Susannah Leafe
The Revd Dr Rosemarie Mallett
Canon Margaret Swinson
The Revd Preb Roderick Thomas
The Rt Revd Dr Martin Warner
The Rt Revd Trevor Willmott
The Revd Canon Dr Dagmar Winter

The Very Reverend Vivienne Faull (Consultant)

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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

Thank you to the appointments committee & Canon David Porter for his guidance - this looks like a very well-balanced committee with a breadth of views represented and people with significant prior involvement with this subject who will be au fait with the previous work done and hopefully be able to prevent the C of E running round the same hamster wheel again. Moreover these are people of integrity, profound prayerfulness, theological astuteness and generosity of spirit. I can almost bring myself to be hopeful.

Posted by: Lindsay Southern on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 4:45pm BST

This is clearly a good group but it also seems clear that the legislation is not really capable of being changed much going forward. The Steering Group must give effect to the mind of Synod in July. My understanding is that it will essentially be revised, if at all, on the floor of the Synod. The cynic in me would have Revd Rod Thomas nominated for Ebbsfleet fairly quickly, and if that is unacceptable then create a new see, Wessex might do (you get the drift). That will satisfy the ConEvos. Dr Giddings was bound to be included, but he alone it was who had the power to influence the outcome in November and I am not persuaded that that qualifies him for this new task. However, as the senior Prolocutor is included, no doubt the Chairman of the House of Laity also needed to be. There is only one question. Can a new package be created that will secure two-thirds majority in the House of Laity in July 2015? The business managers will not dare put something to Synod that is not guaranteed to pass. They have already made that clear, given the view in Parliament. If there is any doubt, it will be left to the Tenth General Synod in November 2015, not quite in the presence of the Queen.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 10:37pm BST

I can't be as positive as Lindsay. Philip Giddings is a key Anglican Mainstream man.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 11:28pm BST

pace Jeremy Pemiberton, it would be an odd definition of well-balanced that excluded conservative evangelicals.

Posted by: Doug Chaplin on Monday, 22 July 2013 at 11:50pm BST

What percentage of this committee is required to approve their draft for submission to those moderating the agenda for November's General Synod?

Posted by: Sister Mary on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 5:44am BST

This announcement seems to have been made relatively quickly by Church of England standards. I'm please to see the name of the Bishop of Chichester included therein, one of the very few remaining Traditionalist bishops on the Bench. Contrariwise - Justin seems to be dragging his heels over the appointment of his new Provincial Episcopal Visttor for the See of Ebbsfleet!.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 6:29am BST

For me the question is whether the group will move from discussion of the options to delivery. Synod have sent the package to the steering committee, and I believe that the final vote did show a 2/3 majority (though I haven't seen the breakdown of votes) - so though it is not everyone's preferred option, it has currently passed the "sufficiently good" test.

Now the spotlight should fall on the supporters of the legislation and our commitment to delivering on principles 4 and 5 - and whether the words about generosity and pastoral provision can be cashed out.

What has changed is the new Archbishop making a real commitment to delivery. On my count there are a number of people who won't think this is adequate however it is put together. But there are others who haven't believed we have it in our hearts to keep opponents on board - and these are persuadable. Those of us in favour of this approach should have no illusion that it will be easy for us - and that is why it may work better than advertised - because it asks more of us than we have yet realised.

The possibilities here are rich, and have been sketchily investigated in the past - every prospect of progress.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 8:11am BST

The really big question - at least for those of us in the Communion who are not members of the Church iof England, and who already have women diocesan bishops - wil be; whther or not the ensuing legislation will still provide 'alternative provisonal oversight' that is in any way a threat to the authority of any woman who might be given charge of a diocese in the C. of E.

Even to the 'catholics' in the Anglican Communion Churches, who might have originally protested against women's Orders, must surely be aware of the dififculties of allowing a two-tier episcopate to continue to exist in that Church.

As for those in the conservative evangelical school, for who women are not fitted for either priestly or episcopal ministry; how could they possibly compromise their deep-seated fear of such ministries by accpeting that they belong to a Church that officially and canonically ordains women as priests and bishops? Or is that simply the price they will have to pay for their being part of a decision that allows for it?

For those Anglican Churches, like my own, in ACANZP, that have long accepted that God has created both female and male in the Divine Image and Likeness, and is calling both into the fullest Orders of Ministry in The Church; any continuance of 'special provision' for dissenters would seem to be a compromise too far, and a denial of the Gospel ethos of innate spiritual equality before God of both women and men.

Posted by: Father ron Smith on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 11:03am BST

"But there are others who haven't believed we have it in our hearts to keep opponents on board - and these are persuadable."

Mark, I don't know about ConEvos, but traditionalist Anglo-Catholics are pretty much 100% covered by this now that the fringe has shaken out to the Ordinariate in my experience.

If in practice it continues to be possible to operate according to conscience within the CofE - for existing priests, as well as for ordinands from the traditionalist camp, and the laity, with no harrassment or time limiting statute, then that should be enough. The issue has been the lack of trust (on both sides). In some ways the ACs have made good on that by having a clearout of unhelpful leadership to the Ordinariate, leaving only those that want to stay. It remains to be seen whether this new leadership will be matched by any new leadership, or reasons to trust, from the ginger groups on the "other side."

FiF has changed its leadership, the old guard are gone. Does the "other side" have the ability and willingness to recognise this, or are we just going to be treated like the old guard are still there. Like I say, I don't know about the ConEVOs, but I do feel there is a deal there for the making with FiF.

Posted by: primroseleague on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 11:47am BST

It is a well balanced membership. But it has to deliver enough to convince "No" voters to change their minds. The legislation could have passed in July 2012 had not WATCH blocked proposals from the House of Bishops which would have secured approval. WATCH could again block any proposals which would move the whole thing forward. The ball is in their court.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 12:25pm BST

In 2012 the Archbishops Amendment was defeated not by WATCH but by the House of Clergy. They were fully able to understand why it was totally unacceptable as it would have put 'the second class nature' of women Bishops into law.

The new proposals must be acceptable to the great majority of Church members and not just to the fringe groups on each side who will not afford to women bishops their full and equal status with male bishops

Posted by: Jean Mayland on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 3:09pm BST

It's nonsense to accord WATCH so much influence, Alan. They simply don't have the Synod members to block legislation. However, members of Parliament and the Ecclesiastical Committee have signalled strongly that they won't accept anything that discriminates against female bishops; that's what the steering committee need to keep in mind.

Posted by: Helen on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 9:22pm BST

"with no ... time limiting statute"

None at all? Regardless of duration? Certain dioceses would just be out-of-bounds to called&ordained women FOREVER?

That's an extremist position, that the CofE would be wise to refuse.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 23 July 2013 at 9:42pm BST

This group is very heavily slanted to male-headship evangelicials, who make an awful lot of noise for a small group. In Synod, they will not let any legislation pass in July 2015 - final approval will have to be after the elections, and all will depend on those elections. Failing that, it will be down to Parliament ... which will overturn all discrimination in the church, not just that against women. I see con evos heading (under Rod Thomas' suicidal leadership) for a second Pyrrhic victory in 2015.

Posted by: Simon Taylor on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 8:15am BST

In the spirit of the age, "I agree with Jean."

Posted by: Laura Sykes on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 9:46am BST

"None at all? Regardless of duration? Certain dioceses would just be out-of-bounds to called&ordained women FOREVER?

That's an extremist position, that the CofE would be wise to refuse."

JCF talk about tilting at windmills - how on earth did you manage to misrepresent what I said so magnificently??

All I was saying with "no time limiting statute" is that "traditionalists" should be allowed to carry on without worrying that there will come a time when they won't be.

No diocese in England is now or ever should be "out of bounds" to anyone - woman or traditionalist man. I've said before I'd even go further and not make traditionalists diocesans - on the understanding that there will always be a traditionalist suffragan/PEV/whatever available.

Admittedly none of that was in my post above, but I must admit even then I'm struggling to see how you got from what I wrote to what you wrote!

Posted by: primroseleague on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 1:56pm BST

cont... (and sorry for double posting)

Which actually comes on to the other point I made - the Anglo Papists have gone. The people left are the people that want to remain. There is a weary sense of realpolitik I sense amongst those of us that are still trundling along in the "traditionalist" camp, and yet the "other side" are carrying on as though Messrs Broadhurst, Newton, etc are still calling the shots and seeing birettas under every bed.

I can only hope the working group can see further than the animosity of the past - to misquote Roger Livesey in A Matter of Life and Death "if there's one that can only see twenty years into the past I want another that's looking 20 years into the future" (and vice versa). The Bishop of Willesden's plan is excellent and workable. Make it nationwide, and I genuinely think that's the ACs dealt with...

Posted by: primroseleague on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 1:57pm BST

"None at all? Regardless of duration? Certain dioceses would just be out-of-bounds to called&ordained women FOREVER?"

What would happen when the Church runs out of people who are both (a) plausible candidates as bishops and (b) also willing to be "men only" bishops. Would people have to be conscripted? What?

Posted by: Interested Observer on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 2:17pm BST

I am not as sanguine as some here about this group. GS has signalled very clearly it wants Option 1 Plus. This group includes too many who I think want another Option. If anythiong other than Option 1 returns in November, it will be defeated and back we go again.

The assu,mption seems to be that the task is to get WATCH, REFORM and FinF to agree a deal. That is not the task and this procedure ignores the actual role of the campaigning groups. In the end, legislation has to be framed that carries 2/3 in each House of GS - not simply members of the pressure groups. As Jean said, WATCH did not defeat the Archbishops' amendment in July 2012 - they shold never have brought it as enough people had told them it was unacceptable since it made women second class bishops.

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 2:28pm BST

> any continuance of 'special provision' for dissenters would seem to be a compromise too far, and a denial of the Gospel ethos of innate spiritual equality before God

Fr Ron, how can this be reconciled with the fact that the Anglican Church in New Zealand split itself into three 'cultural streams' in 1992, in keeping with the principle of 'the right of every person to choose any particular cultural expression of the faith'?

Posted by: Veuster on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 2:45pm BST

> The new proposals must be acceptable to the great majority of Church members and not just to the fringe groups on each side who will not afford to women bishops their full and equal status with male bishops

Two pragmatic questions:

1) Supporters of women bishops have been offered 99% of what they want. Why don't they take it, rather than holding out for the last 1%? Had they been a little more flexible, there would be bishops in the Church of England today.

2) What would be so wrong with a 'Church within a Church', allowing both the majority and the minority to flourish in co-operation with each other, albeit being in imperfect communion? Why must there be winners vs losers, and included vs excluded, when both could live side by side as Christians, as, say, Anglicans and Methodists, or Anglicans and RCs, do today?

Posted by: Veuster on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 5:41pm BST

If Parliament were to interfere it would indeed be a Pyrrhic victory, turning the historic episcopate of the Church into functionaries appointed by the state, lacking credibility as Christian ministers. Not to be commended as a way forward.

Posted by: Alan Marsh on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 6:42pm BST

Are we liberals conceding too much electoral power to the so-called 'mainstream' advocates against women's ministry - like Rod Thomas and Philip Giddings? After all, they are only 2 voices, though admittedly more vociferous than most - among those in the group here.

'Mainstream' seems to have become more of a slip-stream of late - especially where the heartland of the Church lies. The real problem for the Church of England - and its relationship to other provinces of the Church, for whom Women Bishops are acceptable and appreciated - would be if the desire for a false unity, based on giving way to an institutionalised misogyny, led to a compromise too far.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 7:39pm BST

how can traditionalists be so calm about a complete break with episcopal ecclesiology and any theology of what church is about, and not worry about creating a church within a church, something completely new and unorthodox?
By what theology is that still a church and not two churches? Only that the separation isn't side by side but one inside the other? How can you have one church in which 2 groups are not in communion with each other and closed off from each other?

What would be the point of such a church? If you want that level of seclusion, why do you want to stay in the CoE in the first place?

This is a genuine question not an attack, I really do not understand this.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 24 July 2013 at 10:14pm BST

"Fr Ron, how can this be reconciled with the fact that the Anglican Church in New Zealand split itself into three 'cultural streams' in 1992, in keeping with the principle of 'the right of every person to choose any particular cultural expression of the faith'?"
While I have only been resident in NZ for less than 4 years, to my knowledge this division is only due to cultural differences in forms of worship and administration. Maori, Pakeha and Islander priests and bishops are welcome in each others churches. The 3 archbishops are usually involved in the consecration of any bishop of the Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand. One example given to me was when one town had a combined vestry meeting with the Maori and Pakeha churches. By the end of the very long night, all the Pakeha members except the priest had gone home to bed and he was struggling to stay awake. Maori have a representative from each whanau (extended family) on the vestry and each member expects to make a speech on every matter before the meeting.

Posted by: Brian Ralph on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 12:50am BST

Erika, can I ask why liberals who don't believe in heaven, hell, the virgin birth, the resurrection, miracles, the sanctity of the unborn, male priesthood, heterosexual (only)marriage, The BCP, The Bible, etc. didn't just leave and start a new church? Why remain in a misogynistic church? The traditionalists were there first. I really don't understand why they've infiltrated rather than just begun a new prophetic work. And if they are truly "liberal" in the best sense, why expect anyone who disagrees to get out?

Posted by: Chris H. on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 3:23am BST

It's evolution , Chris, not "infiltration". Like most other "liberals" I'm a baptised cradle Anglican. And no-one expects anyone to "get out"; that's just your unfortunate use of inflammatory language, as I suspect you well know. Unfortunately (again) "traditionalists" tend to resort to this sort of thing; easier than engaging with the arguments I guess.
Having said that you do lump an awful lot of stuff together. Where does one start on these misconceptions? I'll have a go:Biblical scholarship has cast some doubt on the virgin birth, the literal interpretation of the miracle stories, the origins of exclusively male priesthood and the inerrancy of the Bible itself; the resurrection doesn't appear in Mark's gospel. To what extent heaven and hell are Christian concepts is doubtful. The BCP has undergone quite a lot of revision in the last 80 years or so (and some traditionalists prefer the Missal anyway). None of this is new. Believe what you like, but don't expect the Church as a whole to remain preserved in aspic.

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:00am BST

Chris H
you have not answered my question.
I asked about how those who claim to stick faithfully to an orthodox theology can so calmly contemplate the idea of a church within a church, which is a break with everything that went on before.
How a church within a church differs from two churches alongside each other.
And what moves someone to accept such a theological novelty and to which extent they would still actually feel as part of one CoE.

I am not interested in slanging matches about what groups of people apparently believe or don't believe and I'm not saying anyone should leave.

But I do like to understand those who see things differently. After all, if we don't even try to understand each other any longer, we really have lost any reason for staying together.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:08am BST

Ah, Chris H, if only you were crafting a Poe...'s_law

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:13am BST

Helen, yes, I do lump stuff together, because when the local klatch of "progressives" get together, the only thing they seem to agree on is that they don't agree with traditional beliefs. This priest doesn't believe in the resurrection, that one says, "Just be a good person, work for social justice, forget the rest." This member is a religion professor with a reputation that a real miracle is having any faith left at the end of the course. That one is mixing Buddhist teachings with it to give it more meaning. Nobody believes the BCP teachings on marriage, etc.

Erika, both here(U.S.) and when I shared a house with a bunch from around the Commonwealth, "Why are you still here/Why are you staying?/You're still here?" is another way of saying, "I don't want you here. Get out." If that's not what you mean, you'll have to ask in another way, because that's how it's understood by many. Anyway, to answer your question: because the church has the BCP that traditionalists love and believe, the hymns they love, apostolic succession, and yes, the idea that you don't have to agree on every jot to stay together. Why leave if you actually believe it? There's also the Biblical precedent for a "loyal remnant". Even when the rest of society runs the wrong way, stay. Don't follow everywhere society goes, but hang on. And if you believe that a priest is to guard the faithful, and believe the warnings about bad teachings, do you run away or try to protect those that stay even if you can't protect them all? Changing a rule of order like which priests to accept seems easier to many than changing the Faith.

Helen, is all change progress? If you're heading in the wrong direction, continuing on doesn't help. What does being a cradle member mean when it's the official church and anybody can get baptized in it? In TEC many/most of the liberals are transplants from other denominations who found theirs too strict. This isn't the case in England? Anyway, if everything that's been taught in the church is wrong, what's the point? What is "Real Christianity"? And should we bother with it? If Christ was just a good teacher(and he didn't seem to think he fit that category) why be a Christian? It's not really any different than any other religion and the humanists/atheists are probably right. The Bible is a myth like Hercules, Isis, Gilgamesh, Quetzalcoatl, a good bedtime story with a moral. The questions I can't get liberals to answer is what is a real Christian or real Anglican/Episcopalian? What are the required/real beliefs in a world where priests say they aren't crossing their fingers during the creeds, but they don't mean it literally either?

Posted by: Chris H on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 2:21pm BST

Chris H.

Christ did not come here to uphold the Law. He didn't get crucified for toeing the line of the status quo. He came to tell us to love our neighbor (neighbour for our British friends). All of our neighbors, black/white, gay/straight, male/female, Hebrew/Greek, Judean/Samaritan - ALL of our neighbors without excuse.

"Traditional" exclusions look increasingly like traditional personal bias, the same sorts of things that brought about the burning of witches, anti-semitism, support for slavery, etc.

Bonhoeffer said that humans have matured in our relationship to God and were called to take our place to assist God in the healing of the world. Oppressing people, women, LGBT persons, or others doesn't exactly fit with healing and reconciliation.

I am very liberal and yet I do hold many of the traditional beliefs, like the divinity of Christ and the Resurrection. I just don't believe that mankind's traditional interpretations, such as racism and excluding women and gays, ring true with the life, the teachings, and the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

It is a huge mistake to think that liberals don't have a solid theological basis. Jesus was a Radical and he would not be leading the charge to keep women and gays in an oppressive box.

It would be comforting to have black and white answers to keep things "as they've always been" (such as polygamy and no divorce). I don't think Jesus calls us to that.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 3:36pm BST

Chris H
you have still not read my questions.

Maybe Veuster, to whom they were originally addressed, can respond to them?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 3:48pm BST

> how can traditionalists be so calm about a complete break with episcopal ecclesiology and any theology of what church is about, and not worry about creating a church within a church, something completely new and unorthodox?

Erika, it seems to me that the break with episcopal ecclesiology, as traditionally understood and as understood by traditionalists, came when the CofE decided to admit women first to the presbyterate and then to the episcopate (the first made the second inevitable).

That, again it seems to me, represented a clear and irrevocable decision by the CofE to turn away from the idea of reunion with Rome and Orthodoxy and instead, after four and a half centuries of uncertainty, to take up its position finally on the Protestant side of the divide.

Having decided to stay, I don't see anything awful about having become a Protestant; and in many ways I enjoy it! But to pretend that the CofE remains Catholic in the way that Anglo-Catholics used to claim seems to me just silly. If traditionalists want to do their own thing with male-only bishops, let them. Better that than simply lapsing. For those of us who embrace the 'new' CofE, isn't it an opportunity to escape from the pomposities of ecclesiology and just enjoy grace wherever it is to be found?

Posted by: Veuster on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 4:09pm BST

Your latest comment on "progressives" simply isn't worth answering Chris; it says more about you and your urge to stereotype those you do not agree with than anything else.
Perhaps a basic difficulty for you is that TEC is different from CoE. Yes, most CoE Anglicans were born into it and anyone can get baptised in the CoE (though priests have been known to set conditions); so why should anyone leave? You seem to have assumed also that certain aspects of the Anglican Church that you know and love have somehow always been there. Not so: the BCP was "progressive" in its day and our best loved "traditional" hymns were once contemporary. Apostolic succession is not a core Anglican doctrine (and has slight historical evidence to support it).
Why be a Christian? Well, some of the US theologians involved in the Jesus project could tell you why. Try Jack Spong (that's not a joke). Or read the gospels again and think why one might want to commit to Christianity even if one knows that "virgin" is a mistranslation and the "prophecy" in Isaiah referred to someone else entirely, and that he himself referred to himself as "Son of Man" rather than Son of God. To a "liberal" there is a dynamism about Christianit rather than stasis, and the faithful need to be challenged rather than guarded.

Posted by: Helen on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:30pm BST

I must have misunderstood you all this time. I thought you were a traditional Anglo-Catholic asking for a church within a church so you could remain within the CoE without being affected by women bishops.
If you're not a traditional Anglo-Catholic it makes more sense that you should be asking why a church within a church would be a problem.

My question remains.
What FiF have had until now was, almost, a church within a church but at parish level only.
Those who want to extend those provisions to bishop level will have to answer why they do not mind that level of unorthodoxy.

I don't think Chris H's perspective helps, because if I understand you right, Chris, you are opposed to liberalism but you do not appear to share the theology of Anglo-Catholics. You seem to be more evangelical.
I know the 2 groups are united in their dislike of anything liberal and of women priests, but apart from that they share very little and their views are based on completely different, even opposing theologies.

I'm sorry to go on about this... it niggles... I find it so hard to understand why people to whom orthodoxy matters so much are so easily prepared to abandon it now.
Because it strike me that in order to stay within the CoE, Anglo-=Catholics have to give up some orthodoxy. It's the definition of church and of the episcopate or the definition of priesthood.

Why does it seem that one can be given up so easily, whereas the other cannot even be compromised?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:37pm BST


I'll have a go for you in the absence of anyone else, but it is a hunch more than anything (and please don't all jump on me for it, I'm just trying to work it through)as an intellectual exercise.

Many trad A-Cs don't want to go to Rome, because they don't accept *all* its claims. Therefore, there is more intellectual honesty in remaining Anglican.

However, they would then see the departure of the majority of the Anglican church from what they believe - male priesthood, BCP, whatever (insert own pet hobby horses as appropriate) as them maintaining catholicity and doctrine while others wilfully depart from it. With PEVs, although this was not what was intended the church within a church could more fairly be represented from the trad pov as a "church within an ecclesial community." If you were a Trad AC then remaining within the CoE might present a hope, however tenuous, that the old position can be grown back outwards into the wider CoE, parish by parish.

I admit there're some fairly tortuous intellectual gymnastics to perform to be able to assent to that, but then tortuous intellectual gymnastics have been the hallmark of anglo catholicism since Frs Tooth and Maconochie! It's a part of the church which has had to struggle for all it's existence. The roots of the separatism and "do different" (to use a great Norfolk expression) go much further back than WO and 1992 - we're back in Pusey, Keble, Darwell Stone, diocesan banning orders, Benson's ritualism trials territory here.

There's a strain of traditionalist AC that will stay and fight even if it looks like they're going to die in a ditch, because it's what has always been done (corporately, and leaving to one side individual converts like Newman).

Frankly, it's a mess.

Posted by: primroseleague on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 9:19am BST

"Frankly, it's a mess."

I'm seeing this and reflecting on Erika's question on another thread of how traditional AC's stay in TEC.

The short answer is that the AC's can maintain a male only line of priests indefinitely, given the size of TEC (the geography calling for over 100 dioceses). And some female bishops are fine with sending male bishops to AC churches. I think our Presiding Bishop is a more Protestant thing than the UK's ABC... Which perhaps contributes to the idea that traditional AC's in TEC seem to have settled for calling their own male line priests. They've probably always felt that they exist as islands in a sea of Protestantism.

Are UK traditional AC's OK with having male line priests and male bishops visit? Is there any problem with CoE providing that without going to statutory and arcane lengths?

If AC's are not happy with male bishops who ordain women as well as men, that is a level that is hard to understand. The RC's accepted sacraments as valid coming from priests who were married, partnered, fathering children, etc. The idea that gross sinning doesn't negate the sacrament but ordaining women does... doesn't really wash. It seems that a male line can be continued, just not necessarily with bishops who exclusively ordain men.

I don't see that it's a church within a church to have male lines, per se. That looks like diversity. Unfortunately, I can't see that it's OK to have leadership, i.e. bishops, who won't support women in their ordained ministry.

Can the AC's accept male line priests without exclusivity? If so, surely that can't be a big problem.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 8:29pm BST

Although I'm a Brit, I am reading this thread in a hotel room in Pittsbugh PA. I'm here attending a Christians for Biblical Equality Confrence. There are about 250 of us - maybe more. All but about 20 of us are from the USA or Canada. Since CBE is an evangelical group there must be a few hundred folk in the USA who believe in egalitarian leadership in the church. I don't think any of them has abandoned belief in the great credal doctrines as you imply happens when you embrace egalitarianism.

CBE president Mimi Haddad is fond of saying "When God gave gifts to his people they did not come wrapped in pink and blue."

Posted by: Charles Read on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 5:19am BST

Cynthia, I can. The problem was the direction FiF was led in for the best part of 20 years. However, those people are gone. My sense is that the ACs can be accommodated and worked with, because their/our objections are fundamentally rooted in uncertainty rather than the inerrancy arguments of the ConEvos.

Posted by: Primroseleague on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 7:02am BST

thank you. I will have to think about that a bit longer. But it's given me something to think about!

a male line of priests is exactly what traditional AC parishes have had, supported by Flying Bishops.

The problem arises because they cannot accept bishops they do not believe to be validly consecrated.
I happen to think that the Flying Bishop scheme is the root of this problem and that it had absolutely nothing to do with sacramental assurance - because every single male bishop in this country is validly consecrated and therefore in Apostolic succession providing sacramental assurance.

A woman bishop makes it more complicated because bishops do go into parishes to celebrate the Eucharist and they do ordain priests.
You can keep a register of male priests ordained by women to make sure you never end up with one of them. But you cannot really say that you will never accept any sacrament from your bishop.

Interestingly, some of my FiF friends say that swearing canonical obedience to a woman bishop is not a problem, because ACs do not have a problem with women in authority, just with sacramental assurance.
Canonical obedience is a problem for conservative evangelicals.

But as you cannot have priests who are not in communion with their bishops, you have to find a way of providing traditional ACs with a male bishop who was not ordained deacon, priest and bishop by a woman.
The question is how to do that without making women Diocesans second class bishops.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 7:57am BST

'But as you cannot have priests who are not in communion with their bishops, you have to find a way of providing traditional ACs with a male bishop who was not ordained deacon, priest and bishop by a woman.'

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 7:57am BST

And (a man) who has not ordained women in any shape or form whatsoever.

A big ask / stretch !

Posted by: Laurence on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 1:07pm BST

that's contentious. Because while people might like that it's nothing at all to do with sacramental assurance and not all traditional ACs actually ask for it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 6:05pm BST

"Cynthia, I can. ... My sense is that the ACs can be accommodated and worked with, because their/our objections are fundamentally rooted in uncertainty..."

Thank you for answering my question, Primroseleague. It really seems that that aspect ought to be solvable without a lot of fuss, or statutory provisions. Or even "flying bishops."

"But as you cannot have priests who are not in communion with their bishops..."

I'm pretty AC myself. I'm not seeing an unsolvable problem between AC priests and female diocesan bishops. The issues are sacramental, not leadership, per se. So the choices are (and both have happened in TEC):
1. The female bishop shows up for a visit and the objectors stay home that day (or attend a different service). There's a short-lived kerfuffle and lingering resentments, but everyone survives; or
2. The female diocesan takes a pastoral stance and invites the suffragan or a neighboring bishop to visit that parish. She might want to enter into dialogues about numerous topics, other than WB's to build relationship other than sacramental.

How hard can that be?

Laurence throws a wrench in the works with this:
""And (a man) who has not ordained women in any shape or form whatsoever."

There is no doctrine that says that if a male bishop ordains women the sacrament is invalid on the males he ordains. Ordaining women doesn't create "cooties" that invalidate the sacrament for all others! Bishops can be murderers, adulterers, etc., and the sacrament is still considered valid. Ordaining women does not nullify the sacrament for all!!! This would be sheer superstition, far beyond traditional understandings of the sacraments.

Did someone come up with a "Cootie Doctrine" or something?

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 7:15pm BST

But we have got people in the CofE saying that any old male bishop will not do - it has to be one who has not ordained women. I cannot see how this is not taint - those who hold this view repeatedly tell me they do not think it implies taint. This is part of the circle we can't square - and why the process which sees the task as finding agreement bewteen pressure groups will struggle....

Posted by: Charles Read on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 4:37am BST

Laurence is on our side, he just mentioned that some traditionalists will not accept bishops who ordain women.

It is true that some AC's don't, but as you say, that has nothing to do with sacramental assurance.

The problem is greater for traditional evangelicals, because they are not interested in sacramental assurance but in obedience to Scripture. And a bishop who ordains a woman, knowing that women should not be ordained, is clearly not obeying Scripture.

The other problem is your point 2. "The female diocesan takes a pastoral stance and invites the suffragan or a neighboring bishop to visit that parish. She might want to enter into dialogues about numerous topics, other than WB's to build relationship other than sacramental."

And you ask how hard that can be.
Very, actually, when people do not trust the process. Traditionalists from both spectrums do not trust the process.
Rightly or wrongly, they feel wrongfooted by the women bishop development because they believe (again rightly or wrongly) that they were promised that their views would be treated with integrity for ever and ever and they misinterpreted this "integrity" to meant that it would translate into "you never ever have to deal with a woman in any capacity you don't like".
They are genuinely aggrieved and believe that the church is about to break its promises.

And let's get real - it is, up to a point.
Theology moves on, society moves on, even church moves on.
Views that were seen as acceptable 20 years ago simply are very widely no longer seen as acceptable.
We just about accept the integrity of the people who hold those views, we no longer really accept the integrity of the views themselves.

So I can see why traditionalists don't trust us.
I believe they're wrong - the current group of people involved in the process can be trusted. WATCH have compromised time and time again and while Pete Broadbent rightly points out on another threat, they are a pressure group, but they are not extreme in a political sense.

But your system depends very much on women bishops being sympathetic in perpetuity and if they no longer want to be, there's nothing to make them.
That really is not a system that will work here.

It wouldn't get the votes it needs and it would be seen as lacking integrity.
Rightly or wrongly.
And yelling that people should just see it our way isn't going to make them change their minds either.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 6:41am BST

I hear you, Erika, you are so fair minded. However, my perspective includes having WO and WB my entire adult life. I'm in a profession that is ridiculous to women, and of course, I'm gay.

I am tired from the hurt that discrimination causes, in my life, that of others, and society at large. Tired, exhausted, I've had enough. And then there was Rowan insisting that TEC throw me under a bus to be in "unity" with human rights violators.

I can't believe that all of the focus goes on "proper provision" without any on the injustice and horrible suffering that has been inflicted upon women and girls by inequality and the powerfully insidious message that girls and women are not equal to boys and men in God's eyes. The less equality, the more horrific, look at Haiti and Africa. Look at the rate of depression and whatnot amongst women in our cultures.

It is time to take stock of the pain that's been caused, and raise this to the moral issue that it is. No other province with WB's has enshrined discriminatory provisions. None. And rightly so. It's hurtful and thus immoral.

It is a pastoral problem that some want things to be as they've always been for them. The fact that they can't reflect honestly on the history of the church getting things wrong, like burning witches, supporting slavery, and anti-semitism, for examples, should not be an excuse for the larger church to continue to subjugate women and send that awful message to girls.

Woman can't teach! Really? They want to enshrine policy informed from a distant culture in pre-scientific, pre-modern times? Sharia Law comes to CoE? This is the most insidious of the picking and choosing. They choose one line of Paul over other lines of Paul, the life of Jesus, and the second Genesis Creation Story where it says God created male and female in God's image.

It is a moral issue, and needs to be solved as a moral issue. What CoE says about women and equality is going to give them credibility, or remove any credibility, for decades to come.

I support pastoral provision at the parish level because people can choose their parish. If the larger church enshrines discrimination, that ugly brush paints everyone, including the girls.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 2:18pm BST

"But we have got people in the CofE saying that any old male bishop will not do - it has to be one who has not ordained women."

This needs scrutiny. I keep mentioning the "cootie doctrine," the idea that ordaining women invalidates the sacrament for men is crazy. The RC's decided in the Middle Ages that the sacrament is not compromised by the character of the priest. So the idea that the sacrament is valid when administered by a pedophile or adulterer, but not by a bishop who has ordained women is sheer superstition. A brand new spin on the sacraments, totally new doctrine. It's an idea that really needs to be challenged.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 4:32am BST

I hear you too.
You and I and millions of people are sick and tired of this whole nonsense.

But but but... and this has nothing to do with being fair minded ... you cannot argue with people if you do not listen to what they are actually saying and if you do not deal with the issues they mention rather than with the ones you believe them to have or with your own.

And, please, a little bit of realism would also help. Yes, you can continue to tell everyone that they should just get on with it and follow TEC's example.
But again, it would help to recognise that this is simply not a conversation the CoE is having at the moment.
We might wish it did, but that doesn't make it so.

The CoE is committed to a structure that includes solid provisions for traditionalist ACs and Evangelicals, that are not dependent on the goodwill of any given female bishop, while at the same time not being discriminatory to women.

I agree - that circle will be very very hard to square, especially as traditionalists have voted down the only genuine compromise there were going to get.

So we are now starting again, with less tolerance for traditionalists and with Parliament breathing down our necks.
But still with the common will to find a compromise that works for all.

Anything else is wishful thinking.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 8:43am BST

"And, please, a little bit of realism would also help. Yes, you can continue to tell everyone that they should just get on with it and follow TEC's example."

I am not saying CoE should follow TEC's example. I'm saying that there are other models out there and that provides useful information to fashion a solution based on data. There's also Canada, New Zealand, Australia, South Africa, etc. CoE is acting like it's never happened anywhere and is re-inventing the wheel with tortuous twists and turns... It is true that calling our rectors gives us more confidence that we'll get the rector that fits our needs. There are other ways to get that match (though they probably involve some representation). I can't provide data from the other provinces.

I am also saying that there needs to be a look at real theology. Liberation Theology, Women's Studies, these are real theologies with decades of research, reflection, and stories. There is a long line of Sacramental Theology and the cootie doctrine just isn't part of it. That is a red herring, and I think it is designed to get better provisions and even possibly to keep fighting WO.

I am not advocating no provisions, I'm just advocating provisions that actually make sense theologically and are localized so that CoE doesn't continue, as an institution, to tell me that I'm not created equally in the image of God.

I'm also implying, with every syllable I write, that CoE's credibility on the Good News and justice in the first world hinges on a solution with integrity to women and girls.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 5:16pm BST

Quite so Cynthia

Posted by: Helen on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 6:22pm BST

yes to all of that - in theory.
In practice, these are not the conversations the CoE is currently having.

Are we talking about what the CoE IS discussing and that possible outcomes there might be, or are we talking about what we would like to happen in a different world?

In the context of a thread that started with the Steering Committee I thought it would make more sense to discuss reality and to talk together with our traditionalists here what might actually be possible.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 29 July 2013 at 8:33pm BST

It isn't theory. This is the opportunity of a lifetime to reset the moral tone in CoE.

Maybe this steering committee will embrace the moral and theological issues that I raise - I can't possibly be alone!

Maybe this steering committee has more sophistication on issues of social justice and would therefore have a stronger understanding of what is at stake. Stronger than the conservatives who post here. They are in denial that their positions have actually done real harm. The don't mean harm, but suffering is the result, nonetheless.

While I hope that historical, theological, and justice issues are fodder for thought for TA conservatives, I think there is only one way that hearts and minds are really changed. It takes real dialogue where people tell their stories. Some in TEC, and other provinces, have embraced Quaker concepts like deep listening. When one hears the stories of injustice, that is when some hearts will change. I'm not sure that TA is the place where stories can unfold in deep ways. CoE has been "top down" for so long that the channels for dialogue seem closed. The Synod requested that the Steering Committee go into dialogue, it may be late, but this is an opportunity.

There is more at stake here than legalistic maneuvers. The answers can be found in good solid theology, prayerful listening, and a concern for others, all others.

Vision is the way through, big picture vision. The details have to support that vision. I believe the vision can include almost all (male headship isn't working...).

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 2:25am BST

"This is the opportunity of a lifetime to reset the moral tone in CoE."

That is precisely what it isn't. That is what I keep trying to explain.
The only way we'll have women bishops in the CoE is if the next Draft Measure gets through the actual political system the CoE has in place. That's the system that has just voted down a Draft Measure because sufficient conservative Lay representatives in General Synod found it too weak.

You know, Americans kept telling Rowan that he showed no understanding of their polity and just kept telling them what they should do.

This conversation reminds me a little of that.
If the CoE starts a major new conversation about the morality of accepting conservative Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic theology, we will have women bishops possibly in a hundred years' time.

If the objective is to get the women bishop's vote through in 2015 then we will have to deal with the political reality within the CoE.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 8:41am BST

Well, it's true that my being on this blog has everything to do with Rowan's interference, however there is a huge difference between Rowan's actions and my advocacy:

Rowan actually had power and he wielded it against TEC (getting our representatives off of committees, being horrifically rude to our PB, and excluding our bishop Gene). He wielded it to try to force TEC to throw me, my LGBT brothers and sisters and our female and gay clergy under a bus to be in unity with human rights abusers in Uganda and Nigeria; places where women are being raped and gay activists are getting killed.

I think my advocacy for human rights stands in significant opposition to Rowan. Not to mention the fact that I actually go out, roll up my sleeves, and do the work from time to time. A fact that makes Witness particularly important. Domestic violence sends women and their children onto the streets, for example. The mother's can't get work that pays as much as the men's, the cycle of poverty continues and it is based in gender inequality, in undervaluing and abusing women.

Do I not get all aspects of your polity? I'm sure not, even after spending a fair amount of time there and reading up. But it is clear to me that CoE has missed the bus on human rights, social justice, and the prophetic call to share the Good News with ALL people. God provides more opportunities to hop on that bus, so I'm hopeful.

You are resigned to gender apartheid within CoE? Is that really the only answer? Because it is an answer that robs CoE of moral credibility to help in the work of healing that is needed. There are other ways and I hope the steering committee has their creative juices flowing.

I'm keeping hope alive for a better message.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 5:52pm BST

I'm not comparing your power to Rowan's.
I'm saying the he asked things of TEC TEC could not have given him even if they had wanted to.

On another thread you call our debate legalistic. But that is precisely what process is.
We have no choice but to stick with the polity and the processes we have.
And they require a 2/3rd majority in all three houses.
There is no way of discussing that away by appealing to morals, principles of equality and by reminders of people's suffering.

We really do have a stark choice here: Do we want to roll up the whole women priest debate again until we have convinced the last dissenting conservatives?
Or do we accept that we do have a strong conservative Lay representation and that, in order to get women bishops by 2015, we have to come up with a proposal they will support in sufficient numbers?

The prophetic call to human rights you call for can only be expressed in a Single Measure and, to be truly about equality, there can be no pockets where those rights are not respected. That goes beyond even what TEC have achieved.

So these things are processes, not jumps from inequality to 100% equality from now to November 2015.

I get what you're saying. I share your ambitions.
But they are not realistic. They cannot be implemented within the political framework the CoE happens to have.
That's my point.

Even if TEC had wanted to please Rowan, you could not have refused Gene Robinson's consecration after he was elected.
Even if the CoE wanted to follow your advice, it cannot push through a Draft Measure that answers all your concerns.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 10:09am BST

All these references to 'cooties' in relation to sacramental assurance caused me to check out the meaning of the word, as it's not one I had ever heard used in England. The nearest British English translation would appear to be the playground use of the word 'fleas'.

Posted by: Laurence Cunnington on Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 11:28am BST

I get the process. I just think process is best done when led by vision. I think there is a way through, thinking local vs. national, and there are powerful moral reasons for thinking in that direction.

"Cooties" is definitely a childhood playground thing. At a certain age, if touched or kissed by a girl, a boy may complain "yuck, she gave me her cooties!" It's also a term for lice. So it's like the girl has infected the boy with invisible lice.

Theologically, it doesn't make a lot of sense to say that if a male bishop ordains women, the sacrament of ordination will then be invalid for males. Ordaining women does not leave "cooties" that invalidates the sacrament. Thus I call it the false "cootie doctrine."

There's a pre-Reformation doctrine that the sacrament is valid, regardless of the character of the priest or bishop. This doctrine has been invoked recently with the RC pedophile priests. Parents wanting to know if their children's baptisms were valid and whatnot. They are. Not that I look to Rome for modern guidance, but that doctrine is pretty old.

Consequently, it seems a shame to continue to humiliate women with a national provision for the "cootie doctrine." If the cootie doctrine is off the table, then traditional AC's get what they actually need for sacramental assurance, male line priests. They can deal with female leaders, that is not the problem.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 6:07pm BST

ok, let's think local.
You would still have to have a male bishop available for those parishes who cannot accept their female Diocesan.
Apart from not being enshrined in law or a code of practice, how is that different from the Alternative Episcopal Oversight we have? And how does that make your female bishops 100% equal if individual parishes can request not to be served by them?

What am I missing?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 7:21pm BST


The only concession I'm making in terms of bishops is working out a scheme for visits to the traditional AC churches, for sacramental reasons. There is no way to accommodate those who can't accept episcopal oversight from women. One would think that half of the regular bishops would be men, thus, plenty of men are available for Trad AC ordination and visits. No need for a special set of bishops (which automatically undermines women and says we're not actually equal).

The visitation issues can surely be handled without inscribing it in law.

As I've said, I see no way to accommodate male headship. There will be an ABC, women will be making policy, there just isn't a way. That position is decidedly minority and fundamentalist, it really isn't very Anglican.

I just don't see how any governance can work making separate legal structures for every minority view.

Is the local scheme perfect? No. I just think it's least imperfect.

To equal things, if a parish in a male bishop diocese requests a visitation from a female bishop, shouldn't it happen?

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 2 August 2013 at 3:37pm BST

you'd have to add into that "male bishop ordained deacon, priest and bishop by another male bishop", I suppose.

And I'm a bit concerned about not accepting the Evangelical arguments. They are a major part of the current Church of England and they would not take kindly to AC theology being accommodated and evangelical theology being rejected wholesale.

This is further complicated by the fact that the majority of those in the House of Laity who threw out the November proposals were evangelicals.

So now we have our vision, on to step two. How do you get this through General Synod?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 2 August 2013 at 5:08pm BST

"And I'm a bit concerned about not accepting the Evangelical arguments. They are a major part of the current Church of England and they would not take kindly to AC theology being accommodated and evangelical theology being rejected wholesale."

I've heard that male headship is not even a majority Evo theology. Is that true?

I'm just trying to be practical. There's no solution that isn't an end run around a women's authority. By definition, that is not equal, and it is humiliating.

Also being practical, I don't see how your Parliament would accept that one.

The AC's can accept women's leadership. And it would behove WB's to have good relationships with the traditional parishes if at all possible.

The AC "problem" is simply easier to solve without a national policy of 2nd class bishops, rather with localized, pastoral situations. It isn't favoritism, per se, although I understand sacramental theology far better than evangelical.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 2:15am BST

no, most evangelicals are not struggling with male headship, just as most Anglo-Catholics do not reject women priests.
But bring practical means recognising that those who do have last November ensured that the Draft Measure failed.

Being practical also means knowing that Parliament would not accept a solution that enshrines inequality in law.

So, to my mind, being practical means accepting that a compromise withe both ACs and Evangelicals is necessary and that it has to be in the form of a Code of Practice that is binding but outside the scope of Parliamentary intervention.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 10:37pm BST

Well, Erika, we'll just have to see how it turns out. I'll be praying for the Steering Committee.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 4 August 2013 at 5:32am BST

That makes two of us!

Posted by: Erika Baker on Sunday, 4 August 2013 at 11:37am BST

I still maintain, despite Erika's protestations, that a two-tier episcopate, where one set of bishops (women) can be ignored by a small percentage of the membership of the Church, as invalid ministers; is undermining the very 'unity' it seeks to provide.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 7 August 2013 at 10:44am BST

"I still maintain, despite Erika's protestations, that a two-tier episcopate, where one set of bishops (women) can be ignored by a small percentage of the membership of the Church, as invalid ministers; is undermining the very 'unity' it seeks to provide."

I agree. And I'm eager to see if they are going to dismantle the "flying bishop" bit. Because the message is women aren't actually equal if they exist.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 7 August 2013 at 6:10pm BST

I have not read all the comments, but a few suggest that most of the Anglo Catholics or Anglo Papalists have already departed.

A study of the Ordinariate website, and the various blogs that follow ordinariate matters will show that there is still a modest but persistent flow in that direction. It shows no sign of being at an end. Furthermore, anyone who looks into the affairs of the Anglo-Catholic parishes will realise that they are still alive and kicking.

It is for too soon to write off Anglo-Catholicism.

Posted by: Paul Waddington on Monday, 9 September 2013 at 4:35pm BST
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