Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Welsh Code for Women Bishops published

The Church in Wales has published its Code of Practice in relation to the Ministry of Bishops following the Canon to enable the Ordination of Women as Bishops. Drawn up by the Church’s seven bishops, it was presented to the Governing Body, which is meeting in Lampeter, this afternoon. The Church issued this press release.

Code for Women Bishops aims to keep all included – Archbishop

Guidelines for new legislation to ordain women as bishops aim to make everyone feel valued in the Church, regardless of their views on the issue, the Archbishop of Wales said today (September 17).

Drawn up by the Church’s seven bishops at the request of its Governing Body, the “Code of Practice” accompanies the women bishops’ legislation which came into effect on September 12, exactly a year after the Church’s historic vote.

Publishing the Code at the Church’s Governing Body meeting today, the Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, said it was designed to be as inclusive as possible as the bishops saw God’s call in people on both sides of the debate.. He urged the Church to unite in proclaiming the Gospel.

He said, “The Code of Practice we have produced has not been produced for the benefit of one side or the other in the debate but for the whole church. That is what you asked us to do. The Bill explicitly says that the Code should be drawn up in such a way that every member of the Church in Wales might feel secure. In other words, this Code is not just for those who in conscience dissent but is a code for every member of the Church in Wales.”

He added, “Bishops have a particular responsibility for matters of faith and order and we want to be as inclusive as possible which is why we are able to affirm wholeheartedly the ordination of women to the episcopate and can also accept that provision should be made for those who cannot accept their sacramental ministry. By making such a provision, our hope is that no-one will feel the need to leave the Church in Wales…

“In the Church in Wales, we, as your bishops, quite frankly see Christ at work in our members, married or single, gay or straight, we perceive the call of God in women to all three orders, and we are respectful of the faith of those who cannot in conscience receive such ministry. In these issues, as in others, we invite the Church to unite in the greater task of proclaiming the Gospel.”

The bishops wrote the Code after consulting widely across the Province. Its guiding principles were:

  • Any woman Diocesan Bishop becomes such on exactly the same terms, and with the same jurisdiction, as any other Diocesan Bishop in the Province;
  • Provision for those who object to the ministry of women bishops has to be pastoral, not structural;
  • Those who in conscience cannot receive the sacramental ministry of women should not be excluded from being considered for ordination;
  • No specific alternative bishop should be provided for those who are unable in conscience to accept the ministry of a woman bishop, but there should be a means to request and receive alternative sacramental provision.

The Code of Practice itself, and the Archbishop’s address to the Governing Body are also online.

The Code of Practice and explanatory note.

The bishops’ full explanation of the Code of Practice, as outlined by the Archbishop in his Presidential Address to the Governing Body.

The Code is short, and is copied in full below the fold.

Yr Eglwys yng Nghymru : The Church in Wales
Mainc yr Esgobion : The Bench of Bishops

A Code of Practice in relation to the Ministry of Bishops following the Canon to enable the Ordination of Women as Bishops

Principles

1. The Church in Wales is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender. It holds that all those whom it duly elects, canonically ordains and appoints to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience.

2. Anyone who ministers within the Church in Wales must be prepared to accept that the Church in Wales has reached a clear decision on the matter.

3. Since the Church in Wales continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including other Churches of the Anglican Communion, the Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches, which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Bench of Bishops acknowledges that this decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment and reception within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God.

4. Within the Church in Wales, those who on grounds of theological conviction and conscience are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion. The Church in Wales therefore remains committed to enabling all its members to flourish within its life and structures as accepted and valued. Appropriate provision for them will be made in a way intended to maintain the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church in Wales.

5. Since the Code of Practice needs to be both strong and flexible enough to respond to a changing situation in the future, and since the Governing Body has entrusted the Bench of Bishops with the task of agreeing a Code which commits the Bench to making provisions for all the members of the Church in Wales, the Bench reserves the right to amend the provisions of this Code as may be necessary in the future.

Provisions

1. Should a woman become a diocesan Bishop in the Church in Wales, her jurisdiction as a diocesan bishop is recognised unreservedly and without qualification as set out in the Canons and Constitution of the Church in Wales for a diocesan bishop.

2. Individual members of the Church in Wales who, on grounds of conscience, are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of a woman diocesan bishop, shall not be required to do so against their conscience, and alternative provision shall be made.

3. A diocesan bishop shall make for such members within their dioceses all reasonable provision for appropriate sacramental episcopal ministry on such occasions as necessary upon submission of a request in writing from those individuals supported by their parish priest.

4. The bishops of the Church in Wales commit themselves to making themselves available to their colleagues to assist one another in facilitating any such provision.

5. No bishop shall be obliged to bring proceedings against any member of the Church in Wales on the grounds that such a member dissents in conscience from the provisions of the Canons enabling Women to be Ordained as Bishops or Priests.

Posted by Peter Owen on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 5:48pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church in Wales
Comments

So the opponents will have to content themselves being served by male bishops, who may have had female bishops participate in their consecration!

Posted by: robert ian williams on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 9:34pm BST

Having been at one of the consultation meetings in my diocese, I can witness to the strong feelings on both sides. ++Barry's address on behalf of the Welsh college of bishops is clear and balanced. I congratulate the bishops on the strong statement on catholicity so that there cannot be any question of there being two grades of bishop or of gender distinction or of alternative oversight undermining the diocesan's role and authority. The provision of sacramental support on a pastoral basis moves the issue away from arguments over legalities. Its reciprocal nature between the bishops specifically allows not only for those who cannot accept the sacramental ministry of a woman to receive confirmation and ordination from another bishop, but also those who wish to receive those sacraments from a woman bishop who is not their diocesan will be able to do so. All in all, and recognising that there will be those who will be disappointed, this has to be a good day in the life of the CinW.

Posted by: Roger Antell on Wednesday, 17 September 2014 at 10:25pm BST

"So the opponents will have to content themselves being served by male bishops, who may have had female bishops participate in their consecration!"

'Have to content' sounds so begrudging! It is the desire on the part of opponents for the ministrations of such bishops that prompted the CiW to work so hard to develop a procotol ensuring their ongoing recourse to the same. (The presence of female co-consecrators is an academic question, since a consecration by only female bishops is difficult to imagine, and after all the opponents assure us that the sort of "theology of taint" which might make it a problem is unknown among them).

Posted by: Geoff on Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 3:38pm BST

"No bishop shall be *obliged* to bring proceedings..." (my emphasis)

Am I alone in being concerned that this permits the possiblity that a bishop could choose so to do on those grounds?

Posted by: Richard on Thursday, 18 September 2014 at 5:15pm BST

Richard, I'm not sure why provision 5 speaks to "members."

But I suspect that if a bishop knew that a rector dissented from a canon, then that bishop would be required to consider whether or how to proceed formally against that rector.

In other words, there seems here to be a special protection for people who dissent from this particular canon.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 19 September 2014 at 4:36pm BST

Thanks, Jeremy. That makes sense but I'd have felt decidedly more comfortable with "No bishop shall bring proceedings..."

Posted by: Richard on Friday, 19 September 2014 at 9:49pm BST

It is interesting that in Wales it is "individual members" who will need to request alternative oversight, whereas in England it is complete congregations, or at least their PCCs.

I wonder how that will affect the dynamics going forward?

Simon

Posted by: Simon Dawson on Saturday, 20 September 2014 at 11:22am BST
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