Thursday, 10 July 2014

Women bishops - is there a plan C?

Andrew Brown reports in The Guardian: Church of England women bishops: archbishops will overrule synod.

The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby is preparing to drive through legislation to allow women bishops even if it is rejected by the church’s governing body, the General Synod.

The synod is poised to vote again on the vexed plan next week but senior sources have told the Guardian that should the move be blocked again, there are now options being considered to force the change on the church.

Options under consideration include an immediate dissolution of the synod so that fresh elections could produce a sufficient majority by November, or even a move by the bishops in the House of Lords to introduce the legislation without synodical approval…

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 11:02am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England | General Synod

I think it was unwise for whoever talked to Andrew Brown to signal this. It actually encourages Synod opponents to die in the last ditch there.

Posted by: Iain McLean on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 11:43am BST

This is clearly the right thing to do if General Synod (the House of Laity)ignores the will of the Diocesan Synods and the Church at large for a second time, now expressed even more clearly than the first time. If it does so again the damage done to the Churches reputation and its mission will be even worse.

General Synod will have shown itself not fit for purpose. Provision has been rightly made and endorsed by most of the groups in difficulty over this, it is a shame that some cannot abstain or vote for something seen by over 90% of those voting in Dioceses as being for the good of the whole church. This is not to deny their respected position as loyal Anglicans.

I said as a member of General Synod I was ashamed to be a member of the House of Laity last time. I hope I shall not be again.

Posted by: Stephen Barney on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 11:52am BST

I agree with Iain, it will encourage those who want to be seen to "die for the Faith" ..........

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 12:28pm BST

Is this really so surprising?

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 12:35pm BST

There is a small bit of me that I would like to vote against the measure. There would be no carefully crafted safeguards for those unable to receive the ministry of bishops if Plan C has to be used. Neither House of Parliament would be happy with some of the safeguards in the HoB Declaration.

But I am an honorable person and will vote in favour so that my friends of other persuasions are catered for.

Posted by: Susan Cooper on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 1:22pm BST

Oh dear! Not again. Before a single word has been spoken, we already assume the apocalyptic ( as if that is where secretly we all like to be). While I applaud having a plan, can we actually believe that this will go through this time. I am totally confident it will. Please as a Synod and as a church, whatever has happened in the past, let us not be morosely antagonistic to each other now.

Fr. Graeme Buttery

Posted by: Fr. Graeme Buttery on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 2:38pm BST

Interesting that as the debate over ordaining women to the episcopate in England muddles on, Communion Secretary Canon Ken Kearon has announced that retired Canadian bishop, The Rt. Rev. Sue Moxley, has been appointed convener of the Anglican Network for Peace and Justice, which advises the Communion on issues around the world.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 3:26pm BST

100% agree with Fr. Graeme Buttery.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 3:43pm BST

The synod election process 'favours the old and fanatical'. Well said and very true. Unfortunately until the process is revised to make a far more direct representation of the person in the pew, no mere dissolving of the synod and new elections under the current system are likely to produce better and more representative results. Personally I would like an almighty car crash and the imposition if the Equalities Act on the Church, but that is probably too much to ask for.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 3:52pm BST

Over-riding General Synod, tempting as it so often is, would set a dangerous precedent, one that could later be used against us.

Immediate elections I'd have no problem with.

Posted by: James Byron on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 4:48pm BST

Well I for one am not at all sure Andrew Brown knows what he is talking about - but it sells copies

Posted by: David Runcorn on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 5:06pm BST

Interesting report in this morning's Times on the updated version of "Rowan's Rule" in which Archbishop Williams is reported to have told a senior colleague after a bishops' meeting - "I can't tell you how much I hate this job." This reminds me of a tale told of his eminent predecessor Michael Ramsey who on a flight back to the U. K. was reported to have repeated over and over again the mantra "I hate the Church of England. I hate the Church of England"
I do hope that the current ABC does not hold the role and the institution of which he is currently the chief pastor in similar contempt. So much so that if next week's vote doesn't go the way he wishes then he will prorogue the governing body and call for fresh elections to the General Synod. It has come to a pretty pass when ABCs express such a strong word as "hate" in describing the office and the institution. I had thought that we were supposed to be "the Body of Christ". At least those are the words that I use every Sunday before exchanging "The Peace"

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 5:29pm BST

OK. So Pope Justin takes his policy of ignoring the structures of consensus to its logical conclusion and forces a woman bishop on the C of E, despite the General Synod. Is that actually going to enable such a bishop to be received joyfully, as the outcome of a process which is an expression of the 'mind of the Church'? Ireland voted to ordain women bishops as far back as 1990 - but has never elected one. Pat Storey was appointed by the Irish House of Bishops as Bishop of Meath and Kildare last year (after the electoral college failed to reach consensus), with less than universal euphoria, precisely because she was not elected in a process which expressed 'the mind of the church.' Welby may be frustrated about this and a lot of other things, but we want women bishops to be received as an expression of the 'mind of the church' - not because Justin Welby says it will happen. Is there a summer school on Anglican ecclesiology he can attend in the next few weeks, where he can mug-up on the essentials of Anglican polity as well as the scope and limits of his own authority? His lack of a coherent theological vocabulary in the public domain is becoming something of an embarrassment.

Posted by: Simon R on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 5:34pm BST

James Byron - the issue is not necessarily of overriding Synod, but possibly of keeping as much control of the process as possible in circumstances where other people might bring legislation before parliament. But speculation about what might happen is just that. No doubt those involved will be thinking and praying carefully about what to do. Having an eye to apparently extreme possibilities to forestall them or to avoid being taken off guard by them comes under the heading "wise as serpents" in my book. I hope and pray that the legislation passes. The mess for the mission of the CofE if it doesn't is to my mind rather extreme, and that is what I want General Synod to avoid.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 6:51pm BST

'Over-riding General Synod, tempting as it so often is, would set a dangerous precedent, one that could later be used against us.'

I agree. But I'd put it more strongly: over-riding General Synod would be immoral. Of course, one doesn't look to our Archbishops for morality.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 7:44pm BST

May I suggest a plan d..give up this democratic nonsense..the majority shouted for Barrabas after all.

Submit again to the loving authority of the Bishop of Rome, successor to St Peter.

Posted by: robert Ian williams on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 8:19pm BST

It's clearly not yet a done deal, but it seems highly unlikely that the Measure will not secure Final Approval. The great strength of ++ Welby is that he does his homework. There is a Plan C but it has constitutional implications. Most of the last five years has been spent trying to find a formula that meets the demands of those who for reasons of theological conviction cannot countenance the development. The theological principles have not been debated since it was agreed by the Church that there is no theological objection to women in all three orders. The process has furthermore now shown that the new machinery (House of Bishops declaration - a masterly document) commands widespread support. The end result is that voting against on Monday will be a very poor witness. Those who vote against are still trying to prevent the Measure and clearly do not get it. If they are not prepared to abstain they would not better to not turn up. I can think of some in that camp.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 10 July 2014 at 11:18pm BST

I agree with the above posters--this is perhaps the worst-timed leak one can possibly imagine.

If the Archbishop of Canterbury is trying to force Synod to pass the measure, that pressure will backfire.

Lambeth has set up process that aspires to achieve a broad consensus, democratically supported. Nothing could be more damaging to that consensus than to have Canterbury jerk Synod's chain in this way.

As a result of this foolish leak, if the measure passes this weekend, it will look as though a cowed Synod did Canterbury's bidding. Which is never the way to have a controversial outcome achieve general acceptance.

Not for the first time do I seriously question the public-relations skills of Lambeth Palace.

Having said all that, some of us have been calling for the dissolution of this Synod ever since November 2012. Nice to have Canterbury finally join the party.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 12:05am BST

It's fine Andrew Brown dismissing traditionalists as "old" - but he might like to remember that this year 14 traditionalist ordinands from St Stephen's House were ordained this year, 12 of whom were between the ages of 24 and 32.

The fact is trad ordinands are much younger than the average, and therefore receive a far better formation of 3 years' residential training. With so many in the CofE coming to ordination as a post-retirement hobby, these young men are among the highest quality clergy the Church has, and as such they should be valued and provided for rather than dismissed and laughed at.

Posted by: Barrie McKenzie on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 1:47am BST

As for 14 so called traditionalists being ordained ( 3 per cent)....what of the hundreds of women ( nearly 50 per cent of the ordained)..still treated as less than equal and excluded from hundreds of parishes?

Posted by: robert Ian wiliams on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 5:54am BST

It is insulting to describe those who are ordained later in life as wanting a 'post retirement hobby'. Older ordinands bring a wealth of experience of the real world and how it works as well as a mature spirituality and their pastoral gift should not be under estimated. Many parishes would not have a priest without them and the church as a whole would be much poorer. One could as well speculate about the motives of the 14 so called traditionalists and why at such young ages they wish to ally themselves with the mysogynist and homophobic wing of the church.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 9:09am BST

I don't understand any of this.
All indications are that the legislation will pass this time without a problem.
Where does this sudden talk of failure and subsequent measures come from?
Does anyone have a particular interest in whipping up a storm just before the vote and are the rest of us falling for it?

There is no need for all the strong comments here against those who oppose women bishops.
They have rightly been offered provisions to keep them in the CoE and it looks as if all major groups and the right number of laity will vote in favour.

Re-starting the whole "you're wrong, no you're wrong" debate is counterproductive.

The principle isn't being voted for, just the means of its implementation.
And if a very small number of lay people can still scupper the process it's not exactly helpful to come down on them like a ton of bricks before they've even had the chance to say and do anything.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 10:07am BST

Noone has confirmed Andrew Brown's "source" as correct yet have they?

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 10:58am BST

There were indeed thirteen candidates from St Stephen's House ordained to the diaconate this year, but it would be wrong to describe them all as traditionalist if by that we mean opposed to the ordination of women, not least because two of them are women.

Posted by: Robin Ward on Friday, 11 July 2014 at 12:27pm BST

The Principal of St Stephen's House might like to remember the 5 traditionalists ordained priest this year as well as his deacons. No one is trying to deprive him of his achievements regarding affirming women's ordination.

Posted by: Barrie McKenzie on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 12:09am BST

I'm actually at St Stephen's House Barrie and I can tell you that only 7 of the 13 leavers were trads.

Posted by: Anon. on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 1:53am BST

"The Principal of St Stephen's House might like to remember the 5 traditionalists ordained priest this year."

Who surely knew they were ordained by a church that will soon ordain women bishops.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 2:16am BST

Whatever the veracity of the report, the situation is simple. If (heaven forfend) the vote on Monday fails, the House of Bishops will need to take urgent counsel together. Parliament would be very interested in over-riding Synod to get this sorted. So there's truth in the fact that there will need to be a Plan C. Not a threat to those opposed. Just a reality of political life.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 10:26am BST

Why on earth is the church ordaining *anyone* who refuses to recognize the orders of priests who happen to be women?

Creating "provision" for them is not only a drain on resources, it often comes at the expense of the women subjected to innumerable slights (such as being asked not to take communion alongside a "traditionalist" for the sake of the trad's pampered "conscience.") This open-ended coddling goes well beyond tolerance into endorsement. Allowing traditionalists to stay in-post until retirement is one thing; restocking their ranks in perpetuity is another entirely. It's as absurd as it would have been for the Southern Baptists to create a conscience provision for segregationists who believe in the Curse of Ham.

If someone who doesn't believe that women can be priests wants to be ordained, OK, but only so long as they're willing to function with no provision, and treat them like they are.

Posted by: James Byron on Saturday, 12 July 2014 at 5:22pm BST

I've no idea if Simon will let this one through.

I think that James Byron's comment is most sinister thing I've ever read on Thinking Anglicans. I fear that comments like James refelct the true face of supposed Anglican liberalism, where no dissent - is allowed.

Please, please remember, those who dissent *are* loyal Anglicans, and keeping to the faith of the Eastern and Western churches, that same faith that has been part of this land for centuries.

The amount of hatred on this site really, truly makes me despair - and, if I am honest, I don't think I actually trust liberals any more.

Posted by: Tristan on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 12:04pm BST
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