Monday, 14 July 2014

Women bishops - immediate reactions to today's vote

Archbishop of Canterbury Church of England approves women bishops

Archbishop of Canterbury “delighted” at result but stresses this is not “winner takes all” but “in love a time for the family to move on together.”

Andrew Brown The Guardian Church of England General Synod approves female bishops

John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England General Synod votes for women bishops
and Women bishops: a century of campaigning

Anglican Communion News Service Church of England says yes to women bishops

BBC Church of England General Synod backs women bishops

Lizzie Dearden The Independent Women bishops approved: Cheers as Church of England General Synod votes for historic change

The Council of Bishops of The Society under the patronage of S. Wilfrid and S. Hilda has issued this statement, the Catholic Group in General Synod this statement, and Forward in Faith this statement.

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Categorised as: Church of England | Opinion
Comments

Quite ironic that the YES vote for women bishops should take place on the very day we remember and give thanks to God for John Keble whose Assize sermon launched the Oxford Movement.
Having listened to much of the good natured and highly respectful debate today in York I pray that the much mentioned words of "trust" and "mutual flourishing" may indeed be signs of the new look Church of the future.

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 6:27pm BST

As began to happen in the American church a generation ago, I'm sure our English cousins will produce marvelous women bishops who will enrich church life as female presbyters have done, in ways unimaginable. Before you know it, you'll find yourselves unable to imagine how anyone could have doubted. BRAVO!

Posted by: Daniel Berry, NYC on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 6:31pm BST

It's natural and it's right.

Posted by: Susannah Clark on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 6:42pm BST

Finally, good news from the Church of England! Now the short-listing begins.

Posted by: Karen MacQueen+ on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 6:42pm BST

Congratulations on this too-long delayed sign of progress. Yet part of me wants to say that with this, the C of E marches bravely forward into the second half of the 20th century.

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 8:06pm BST

Thank God that's finally over. Only the Church of England could spend twenty years sitting on the fence and call it a virtue.

I hope the campaigners for equal ordination will now rededicate their efforts and resources to ending the church's discrimination against gay and lesbian people. That priority was given to getting a handful of women a palace was, at the least, dubious, but what's done is done.

It's probably too much to expect any of the women raised to the purple to set aside the Bible for others as it's been set aside for them, but as ever, I would love to be pleasantly surprised.

Posted by: James Byron on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 9:39pm BST

Not ironic at all -- quite appropriate really. It was as a result of the Assize Sermon (this day in 1833) and the movement that sprang from it that John Henry Newman came to his understanding of the development of doctrine.

Today's vote, and previous similar votes in other provinces, is in that line. Not, as Robert Piggott described it on the BBC today, a 'major theological shift'; rather, a gentle, even a minor, development of doctrine. (A major change of policy, yes, but that's a different question, not a theological one.)

So highly appropriate that the decision was taken on this anniversary.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 10:57pm BST

Simon, I wonder what Keble, Newman and Pusey would make of this interesting development?
Is this the end of the "pale, stale and male" episcopate as we have come to know it in recent years?

Posted by: Father David on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 11:34pm BST

A very appropriate and logical move for a Protestant Church.

This will assist ecumenism as it lays out our differences clearly, and allows the Church of England to bring home the Methodists.

Doctor Welby said on Newsnight , "we are a family and we don't like to exclude"...tell that to Canon Jeremy Pemberton!

Posted by: Robert ian williams on Monday, 14 July 2014 at 11:36pm BST

"A very appropriate and logical move for a Protestant Church."

Or indeed, any Chalcedonian church. (As Tobias Haller has pointed out, if the charism of ordination were really incapable of "adhering" to a woman's human nature, then our problems would go all the way back to Maundy Thursday's "invalid" celebrant).

Posted by: Geoff on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 6:06am BST

Simon, don't you think there was even the teeny-weeniest bit of irony in the fact that Keble's Assize Sermon was on the subject of "National Apostasy"?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 7:18am BST

"That priority was given to getting a handful of women a palace was...dubious"....James, the history and principles behind the campaign for women in the episcopate seem to have passed you by. Take heart:one of the most eloquent proponents of an inclusive Church is Katharine Jefferts Schori. TEC made "getting a handful of women a palace" (if you must express it quite so grudgingly and ungraciously) many years ago, and it's not unreasonable to see TEC's more civilised attitudes to LBGT resulting, at least in part, from that enlightened move.
Ised

Posted by: helen on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 7:31am BST

James ungracious comments are just the sort to put people who would normally support "efforts and resources to ending the church's discrimination against gay and lesbian people" off from doing so

Posted by: confused sussex on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 7:57am BST

The same Katharine Jefferts Schori who, in 2006, shoved a "moratorium" on consecrating lesbian and gay people through General Convention. She was happy for LGB people to occupy, in her words, a "crucified position," until the next General Convention corrected its error. Don't get me wrong, she's a lot better than any recent occupant of Canterbury, but her record is far from spotless.

There's nothing grudging in my support of equal ordination. The thing I'm not especially gracious about is the decision of the church's progressive wing to prioritize one groups' rights over another. My point wasn't that it should've held back on women's rights, but that it should've fought for both, together.

If equal rights for *all* are now pursued, it'll set that right. An excellent start would be, say, WATCH rededicating itself to overturning Higton and 'Issues ...'

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 8:04am BST

Today's Times has a splendid photo of the Dean of York on its front page (all that's missing is the mitre) as The Thunderer is suggesting that Vivienne Faull is the most likely candidate to be the CofE's first woman bishop. But surely, as the England Team in the Brazilian World Cup proved, you can't be first at everything! The Princess was the first woman Dean or Provost, as the first ministers of the lesser cathedrals were then known, (Leicester A.D. 2000) so how about giving someone else a go at coming first? My suggestion would be Lucy for Oxford, I'm sure that a return to her home diocese would be most welcome.
++ Justin can see a woman Cantuar in his own life time but can he envisage a female Chichester in the life time of those yet unborn?
By the way, the soon to be retiring Burnley was one of the two bishops who voted against the Measure but who was the other one? My guess would be + Martin?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 8:49am BST


We are in good hands. We are in God's hands and His facilitators,Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu have competently eased the Christian Church of England into the 21st century....a church which now promises to be fit for purpose, declaring a faith which is astoundingly relevant even to this generation.

Posted by: Helen Rawdon on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 8:58am BST

Keble's sermon on 'national apostasy' (a copy of which sits on a shelf just a couple of feet above my desk) was about parliamentary interference in the life of the Church. He was concerned that Parliament, now containing men not in communion with the Church of England and Ireland, could of its own mere motion suppress 10 Irish bishoprics, without any approval or agreement from the Church. His reminder that the Church had an existence independent of the apparatus of the State was timely.

One of the fruits of that reminder has been the system of synodical government in which the Church is able to make these decisions on ecclesiastical grounds. And that is what the Church did yesterday: it was the General Synod that expressed the mind of the Church in England.

So, no, I don't see it as ironic that it happened on the anniversary of Keble's sermon. It was appropriate for a number of reasons.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 9:47am BST

Great decision by Synod members and what a wonderful tone of conciliation as the Church of England showed we can live together and encourage the floursihing of one another despite our deeply held different viewpoints. I do hope that when we have news of the appointment of women as bishops it wil be more than one. Two consecrated together will not only ensure that none has to bear the burdern of being the sole first, but also signals this will be no token gesture

Posted by: paul richardson on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 9:48am BST

What would Keble, Newman amd Pusey have made of it?

I expect that they would have been shocked, surprised, and opposed.

What would they have thought of women in Parliament? Of women fellows or even undergraduates at Oriel? Of women lawyers and doctors, or women in the armed forces?

I suspect they would have been shocked, surprised and opposed to all these and other similar developments of the last couple of hundred years.

They probably would have supported the male headship argument -- now discredited apart from a footnote in the College of Bishops -- that men should rule and women should follow. In 1833 a man ruled his family including his wife. Anything else would have been considered to be challenging the very foundations of society and indeed civilization. It's impossible for us to live in those times.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 9:53am BST

'a faith which is astoundingly relevant even to this generation.'

Not when it's a church which maintains a 'quadruple lock' on LGBT people marrying, it isn't. I think you'll find the church is 'astoundingly irrelevant' to most of this generation.

If any credit is due for finally nailing this flawed measure, which still manages to discriminate against women; it should go to Bishop James Langstaff, not Sentamu and Welby. I'm surprised Welby has not been bleating about how the Ugandans and Nigerians are going to feel about the CofE adopting this 'new' attitude towards women?

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 10:04am BST

"The male headship argument - now discredited" That in a nutshell sums up the Church of England's Synodical disregard of Holy Scripture.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 10:16am BST

"I'm surprised Welby has not been bleating about how the Ugandans and Nigerians are going to feel about the CofE adopting this 'new' attitude towards women?"

Yes. The double standard is a bit tough to take. Especially since there's no evidence that Western tolerance for LGBT people is the cause of any massacres, while it is tragically clear that educating girls (both Christian and Muslim girls) is an excuse for extremist violence.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 11:03am BST

Is saying 'the male headship argument -- now discredited' any different from saying, for example, 'acceptance of slavery -- now discredited'?

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 12:22pm BST

Simon, is Satan now discredited seeing that any mention of Old Nick is now to be removed from the Church of England rites of initiation? Wasn't it C. S. Lewis in the Screwtape Letters who said that the Devil's greatest trick was to convince people that He didn't exist? Well, the trick certainly seems to have worked as far as members of the General Synod are concerned. I'm sure that they will be having one hell of a party in Hades with regard to recent developments within the Church of England.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 1:42pm BST

So consecration of women to the episcopate should have been delayed until justice was achieved for LGBTs James? I don't get it.
Incidentally some of the firmest opponents of women's ordination were gay priests in the London diocese, and again it was London where there was least support for women bishops.

Posted by: helen on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 2:21pm BST

The same Katharine Jefferts Schori who, as presiding bishop, has overseen over 70 secular lawsuits against dioceses, parishes, clergy, and volunteer vestry members ... from yesterday on it is not gender that matters but the willingness to be true to the Word of God. Hopefully the first female bishops will look beyond gender when defining their role models.

Posted by: Andrew F. Pierce on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 2:54pm BST

"The thing I'm not especially gracious about is the decision of the church's progressive wing to prioritize one groups' rights over another."

Preach it, brother! This was a missed opportunity for the liberal wing to make much more headway than it has.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 3:02pm BST

Simon, I am not a believer in the male headship position, but my mother and my late father were. I can assure you that my mother was not a slave in their marriage; far from it. I find your comparison incredibly arrogant and judgemental toward people like my parents.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 3:07pm BST

Tim, you misread what I intended: to clarify -- I was not comparing male headship and (acceptance of) slavery. I was saying that each of them is *separately* discredited.

To spell it out ... I hope no one would argue with the idea that the acceptance of slavery (which has clear biblical suppport) is discredited. And therefore why should it be wrong in principle to say that the idea of male headship is also discredited (which Fr David was commenting on)?

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 3:24pm BST

Thanks for mentioning Chalcedon, Geoff. At the conclusion of the Council, the bishops chanted, Peter has spoken through Leo....and the successor of Leo, Pope St John Paul confirming the brethren infallibly pronounced , in the 2Oth century, " No female ordination in the Catholic Church."

Posted by: robert ian williams on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 3:41pm BST

So now we have it in black and white, Simon Kershaw knows better than Saint Paul! So, what else do you regard as "discredited" from Holy Scripture? Now there's a marvellous opportunity for you to create an edition of "The Discredited Bible". Funny, I was always of the opinion that "all holy Scripture" was "written for our learning" and contained all that was necessary for our salvation. Do you also regard Article VI of the Thirty Nine Articles of Religion to be similarly "discredited".

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 4:19pm BST

Ha ha! Are you then, David, disagreeing with my suggestion that acceptance of slavery (for all its Pauline support) is not a notion that we should feel compelled to accept? Or would you argue that all women should wear hats in church? Etc. If not, then presumably you agree with me.

The Anglican line has been, has it not, that scripture contains all things necessary for our salvation? But that is a different thing from saying that everything in scripture is necessary. This is a position consistent with Article 6. (Not that one should necessarily regard the Articles as infallible.)

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 4:46pm BST

Personally, I find it profoundly depressing and pretty reprehensible that after the Synod vote, which was good for all sides, the tedious, soul-destroying squabbling and sneering starts up all over again.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 5:11pm BST

Dear Stephen BST 10.04hrs 15/07/14,
Please note, I used the word 'faith' not 'church.' I maintain the Christian faith 'is still astoundingly relevant, even to this generation'
Meanwhile, 'the church' which was intended to be a channel for that faith and has persisted in its present dysfunctional state far too long,is trying its best to move forward with fresh commitment to that end.
Lets just say,in my view this revolution is not only about the Episcopy of Women but rather the church's necessary self- examination on how it might translate that faith to a changing world, something it has needed to do from time to time throughout its long history. My comments were borne out of my own optimism (which shall remain unquenchable) in response to yesterday's legislation.I think you might agree that one thing at a time on the agenda is more than sufficient to consider.Your issue needs space all of its own to
allow our undivided attention to its cause.
I wish you well.
Helen Rawdon

Posted by: Helen Rawdon on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 5:17pm BST

"[A]fter the Synod vote, which was good for all sides, the tedious, soul-destroying squabbling and sneering starts up all over again."

So you thought this vote, all by itself, would have the power to "settle their differences, silence their complaints, and scold them into harmony"?

Really?

Methinks, rather, that human history continues....

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 6:30pm BST

"So consecration of women to the episcopate should have been delayed until justice was achieved for LGBTs James?" Just the opposite, Helen: justice for LGB people (the church has, to its small credit, not condemned transgendered people) should not have been put on hold for a quarter-century until gender equality was achieved. As I said above, both should've been fought for at the same time.

As for the closeted Anglo-Catholics, their secretive club is the opposite of out and proud campaigning for equality. You'll see the Pope marry a gay couple before you see them appear on Changing Attitude!

Posted by: James Byron on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 7:08pm BST

John, this is the sad result of a resolution that did not resolve the presenting issue, but offered a work-around. "Dual integrity" is almost a guarantee of an eventual boiling-over of problems. That's in part why the Elizabethan Settlement did not long outlive Elizabeth. The argument within the C of E is sure to continue, though I do hope and pray it can be kept at a low simmer. But simmer it will.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 7:19pm BST

Dear Simon, I'm all for women wearing hats in church (mitres excepted). It would be good for employment and would greatly assist the millinery industry and help the economy to grow.
I seem to recall that when women did wear hats during times of worship the churches were much fuller than they are now. Perhaps you would like to offer reasons for the dramatic decline in attendance, would it perhaps have anything to do with those things that you now regard as having been "discredited" by any chance?

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 8:06pm BST

Tobias,

Absolutely do not agree with you. 'Dual integrity' demands mutual respect - even when one thinks the other side wrong (as I do). The scrapping here, post-resolution, is low-grade. The lack of proportion, when Christianity in the UK (as in the US), is pretty well collapsing, is disgraceful.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 8:19pm BST

You may like hats in church David -- but do you think it acceptable to mandate that they are worn? More importantly you seem to be suggesting that rejecting the acceptance of slavery is linked to the decline in church numbers over the last few decades?

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 8:53pm BST

John, I'm not entirely sure we disagree. My point is that "Dual integrity" as a theory in which mutual respect reigns is not always what is practiced -- in fact, in my experience, usually not. Given human frailty, pressure builds for a resolution from one side or the other.

This is exactly what happened in TEC concerning the ordination of women. I suppose neither of us will be around 30 years from now to look back, but, looking back 40 years ago on the course of things in TEC reveals a pattern I can well imagine will also take place in the C of E.

I'm not saying that's a good thing, by the way; I'm just not an optimist on this subject, and find it rare for such "dual integrity" or "separate but equal" or "partition" solutions to produce truly lasting peace.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 10:34pm BST

"The lack of proportion, when Christianity in the UK (as in the US), is pretty well collapsing, is disgraceful."

Lack of proportion forsooth.

In my experience, people my age want little or nothing to do with Christianity because they find it narrow-minded, irrational, and intolerant.

So by combating intolerance within the Church, we are combating the very reasons why it is losing sway in society at large.

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 15 July 2014 at 10:52pm BST

"Archbishops Justin Welby and John Sentamu have competently eased the Christian Church of England into the 21st century... "

Well, at lest the latter half of the 20th; there is still the issue of full inclusion of openly and honestly LGBT persons...

Posted by: Nathaniel Brown on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 12:40am BST

In the wake of the general Synod's acceptance of the role of Women Bishops; it seems quite apposite that the Church celebrates, on Tuesday, 22 July, the Feast of St. Mary Magdalene - the first Apostle.

We know that Jesus commissioned Mary to tell the Good News of his resurrection to the male disciples - the work of an apostle (to the apostles - but, surprise, surprise, they did not believe her. Why? Because she was a woman. It's taken a long time to reverse this obduracy in the Church of England. But you got there in the end.

Let's hope that, 'ere long, Women Bishops will have a totally equal voice with the male of the species in the Church of England - as they do in other Churches of the Anglican Communion.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 1:55am BST

Simon, you're just as good as I am in not answering the question posed! We should have gone into politics rather than the Church, we might even have reached the Cabinet, except that we are the wrong gender.

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 5:37am BST

I disagree jeremy... people have deserted Christianity, because the Gospel is not preached and no one fears eternal punishment.

Christianity without Hell, has no spiritual urgency or relevance, and I can think of better social clubs to belong to.

Also remember, even in Victorian England , less than half the population regularly attended Churches.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 6:22am BST

If all that's keeping you going to church is fear of eternal punishment, that's not faith in God. That's simply fear of the Devil.

*Religion*, not just christianity, is collapsing because it offers no real answers, no way of living, and no living God to have faith in. In that sense, RIW is correct - they are *all* social clubs, for people who fear this, or want that, or just like belonging to something, but have as little engagement with God's Life and living creation as a museum of abandoned machinery.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 8:58am BST

I think actually James that justice for both groups is being fought for at the same time, and probably by the same groups of people. But justice for both requires different actions, synod decisions, laws etc. so it is practically difficult to address both together in the same process.
It is also perfectly legitimate to concentrate efforts on one achievable thing (and the public response to the 2012 vote showed that consecration of women bishops was not only achievable but widely desired), at a time. It doesn't mean you then stop all your efforts to achieve a truly inclusive church. It just means that you're one step further on the way. the notion of "priorities" therefore seems to me to be misplaced in this instance.

Posted by: Helen on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 1:56pm BST

"people have deserted Christianity, because ... no one fears eternal punishment.

"Christianity without Hell, has no spiritual urgency or relevance."

A Christianity based on what I can get out of it is, in my opinion, a very poor Christianity. The focus is not on God but me.

As the hymn (TEC Hymnal 1982, No. 682) notes:

"I love thee, Lord, but not because
I hope for heaven thereby,
nor yet for fear that loving not
I might for ever die;

...

"Then why, most loving Jesus Christ,
should I not love thee well,
not for the sake of winning heaven,
nor any fear of hell;

"not with the hope of gaining aught,
nor seeking a reward;
but as thyself hast loved me,
O ever loving Lord!"

Posted by: dr.primrose on Wednesday, 16 July 2014 at 4:22pm BST

"no one fears eternal punishment"

I don't fear eternal punishment (supported by neither Scripture, Tradition nor *esp* Reason, IMO).

I DO fear people who believe in eternal punishment---they so often create Hell-on-Earth! [See re Inquisitions, Pogroms and, in the U.S. South, lynch mobs]

To bring this back on-topic: if a belief that ALL human beings are potentially called to the episcopate coincides w/ a belief that ALL are, through Christ's victory on the cross, SAVED---so much the better!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 1:41am BST

"[N]o one fears eternal punishment."

Why do you so badly want God to punish people?

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 17 July 2014 at 3:47pm BST

Jeremy 17/7 in response to Robert I.W. 16/7

'Why do you so badly want God to punish people'...

A very interesting comment and one I've been reflecting on since the comment was made.
In every organisation, it seems, there are those who yearn for personal power.
This, in my experience, is no less true of the established Christian Church.
Over the centuries its hierarchical governmental bodies have inadvertently, it seems, created structures and opportunities for the power lovers to exercise control.

However, when I consider Christ's earthly ministry (if I can disentangle the reality from the fictitious) I get the impression that His emphasis was far less fearsome.

In fact we read in St Paul's letter to the Corinthians ch.13 that Love should be regarded as the supreme virtue (Faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love)
Christ Himself said that of all the commandments there were two from which all the other codes of conduct had their source. 'Love the Lord your God' and 'Love your neighbour as yourself'

Although Christ clearly observed the Jewish practices, His mission was surely revolutionary.
He denounced the temptation to wield power and rather preferred to draw alongside people in their need (out in the community more often than not) whatever their state..sickness, depression, rejection, alcoholism, destitution etc. His message was one of liberation, pure love and forgiveness.

He never coerced,or threatened. He simply invited us to follow and trust Him
'I am come that you might have life to the full' He said
Helen Rawdon

Posted by: Helen Rawdon on Friday, 18 July 2014 at 3:31pm BST
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