Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure

Updated Wednesday

The House of Lords today passed the motion to approve the Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.

John Bingham The Telegraph Women bishops approved by House of Lords

BBC Women bishops change approved in the House of Lords

Women bishops: Archbishop’s speech in House of Lords debate

As John Bingham also notes:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, also disclosed during the debate that all the main Westminster political parties had signalled their support for a plan to fast-track the first women bishops into the Lords.

The debate in the House of Commons has now been scheduled for Monday of next week. Subject to a favourable vote in the Commons (which everybody expects) the measure will then only require the formality of the Royal Assent to come into effect.

The verbatim Hansard report of the Lords’ debate is now available here.
David Pocklington of Law & Religion UK has written this summary of the debate.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 at 9:32pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

All very good and encouraging really.

Whatever next ?

A clue from the pope's homily perhaps ?


Posted by: Laurie R on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 at 10:16pm BST

The Lambeth/Chicago Quadrilateral is not a definition of Anglicanism. It was intended as a definition of Church order. It provided the basis for a proposed united Anglican/Lutheran Jerusalem episcopacy that never materialised and for a hoped for but never achieved united Protestant episcopal Church of the USA. It formed the basis of the failed 1980s Methodist/CofE/URC covenant and of the successful Porvoo Communion settlement.
Yet again the Lambeth Palace "curia" Is failing its understanding of Church History, ecclesiology or both!

Posted by: paul richardson on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 at 11:09pm BST

I rejoice that women will be bishops in the C of E soon ... but 'fast tracking' into the House of Lords is positive discrimination too far.

The office of bishop will not be helped by such a move, neither will the new women bishops. They should wait their turn, it won't take long in the normal course of events.

Posted by: Concerned Anglican on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 at 11:23pm BST

While the idea of fast-tracking the first women bishops into the House of Lords is commendable, it is likely to require new legislation on how bishops are allocated seats in the House of Lords. It doesn't seem to be that Cameron (who seems not to know anything about law) and Welby realise that fast-tracking would likely lead to MPs debating whether to get rid of all reserved seats for bishops.

Posted by: Gareth Hughes on Tuesday, 14 October 2014 at 11:23pm BST

Actually somebody worked out it will take a while in the normal course of events - that's why we are thinking of a fast track. Having an all-male bench of bishops in the Lords when there actually are women diocesans will not play well with the Lords or the commons.

Posted by: Charles Read on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 at 3:03pm BST

How anyone can think that *not treating female bishops equally* advances the cause of equality is utterly beyond me.

Posted by: Richard on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 at 7:05pm BST

It will be interesting to see what the Government and Abp can come up with.

One possibility perhaps is to say that alternate vacancies are filled by the senior female diocesan then the senior male diocesan, turn and turn about, provided there are candidates of that sex available (and if not then that turn is simply omitted).

Something like that is at least arguably equal and fair in that it is not just giving women bishops priority over men, but is saying that from now on the two sexes are treated equally.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 at 7:15pm BST

The first woman diocesan bishop could just be made a life peer.

Posted by: Robin Ward on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 at 9:28pm BST

This business has become a disgrace, concerned almost solely with status, rights and equality. Whatever became of the notion that being a bishop was a vocation, and that bishops should be appointed on merit and for no other reason? What happened to the conviction that the only person truly fitted to be a bishop was one who protested (honestly) that they did not want to do it? Where is our theology of episcopacy?

Posted by: Barry on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 at 11:34pm BST

As I suggested on another thread some months ago, another way would be to persuade the current incumbents in London, Durham, and Winchester to translate to other vacant sees (or retire), and appoint women to fill the resulting vacancies, all of which lead to immediate membership of the House of Lords.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Wednesday, 15 October 2014 at 11:36pm BST

"How anyone can think that *not treating female bishops equally* advances the cause of equality is utterly beyond me."

Well, to some, it seems like a small but good start at undoing centuries of injustice. Even in modern times, CoE is 40 years behind on WB's. The reason for having WB's at all, and in the Lord's Spiritual in particular, is to include diverse voices. Given CoE's disconnect from the rest of society, why would anyone want to wait another hour to include those voices?

It isn't about those lucky fast tracked women! It is about including, affirming, and representing women as created in the Image of God, same as the men. It's also a nice anecdote for the awful, misogynistic language that was used before WB's passed in the Synod. It made the CoE look like neanderthals who were not worthy of having all those male only seats reserved for them in Parliament. Best to erase that image with awesome WB's, as soon as possible.

The reserved seats in the House of Lords is a remarkable privilege. Perhaps it isn't seemly to feel too entitled to them.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 2:03am BST

"How anyone can think that *not treating female bishops equally* advances the cause of equality is utterly beyond me."

So how long are you willing to risk women only having a token presence amongst the Lords Spiritual? That hereditary peerages pass only down the male line (with a tiny number of exceptions that don't affect the general point) was one of the reasons why the passage of the legislation to massively reduce their number was so easy: it was obviously discriminatory. If women bishops are appointed but there's no sign of them being appointed to the Lords, the pressure to simply remove bishops from the Lords entirely will grow. And justifiably so.

Posted by: Interested Observer on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 7:44am BST

David Pocklington's post is VERY important. Clause 2 of the Measure states

2 Amendment of Equality Act
In Schedule 6 to the Equality Act 2010 (c.15), there is added at the end—
The office of diocesan or suffragan bishop is not a public office.”.

Two thoughts.

1 In one view this is the CofE legislating for its own disestablishment.
2 See the interaction between Lady Howe and the ABC. Lady Howe asked for an assurance that this would not be used to claim Equality Act exemptions on any matter other than gender. The ABC's reply was guarded. David Pocklington points out that it does not seem to cover hospital chaplains; also, that it can't be used in litigation as if it were a statement by a government minister (this is the "Pepper v. Hart" rule to which David refers).

Posted by: Iain McLean on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 9:26am BST

Perhaps helpful to see a broader issue here: seniority of appointment is not necessarily the best route for selecting parliamentarians - one ideally wants to ensure a broad geographical range, diversity of background, experience, and talents, and so on. There may also be people who would be excellent diocesans but are not appointed because they are not interested in (or suitable for) appointment to the Lords, and that problem too would be solved. For those reasons - which include the question of gender representation but actually range more widely - reform which allowed the Church to select its own nominees would be in its interest. Even if some did use it as an opportunity to raise the more basic question of the Church's role in Parliament, a straightforward amending bill would I think go through very quickly if the political party leaderships supported it.

Posted by: Philip Hobday on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 9:39am BST

Seniority has some real advantages though. It entirely depoliticizes the process. No one can lobby for an early place, whether on their own behalf or that of someone else. No one can claim that they achieved their place on any grounds other than length of service. No one has to decide who will get the places -- the bishops themselves, the Archbishops, the Archbishops' Council, the General Synod, everyone on a parochial electoral roll or equivalent, Parliament, nor any other body. Who would be trusted? And once meddled with once there would be every incentive to meddle with it again every time it doesn't provide the votes in the HoL that some group or other wants.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 10:52am BST

Interested Observer,

My difficulty is that I simply cannot see why we would fast-track anyone into the ranks of the Lords Spiritual. It is done, as Simon Kershaw says, on length of service. I may think that, say, the newly-appointed Bishop of Blogtown to be a far wiser man than the Bishop of Smithston who has been a bishop for several years and is next on the list. Nonetheless, the way it works is that +Smithston is next. I don't see the issue.

Robin Ward,

Would you not prefer a matrilineal hereditary peerage?

Posted by: Richard on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 11:18am BST

The alternate vacancies option is an interesting one.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 12:42pm BST

I have it on good authority that a draft bill has been drafted to effect the fast tracking of women bishops into the Lords. No details of how yet, though.

A female diocesan being given a life peerage would not bring her into the same category in the Lords as the other bishops. She would hold her seat for life rather than retiring and would have to sit separately - this might not give off the right message.

Posted by: Wilf on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 1:52pm BST

No issues with fast tracking women bishops, if that is what the second chamber wants. Think it would need primary legislation though. The Kershaw formula would probably work, for a transitional period of say 15 years. The life peer route has less to commend it as, by definition, they stay for life, adding to ++Eames, ++Carey, ++Hope, +Harries, ++Williams et al!!

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Thursday, 16 October 2014 at 2:28pm BST
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