Comments: Women Bishops: clergy votes

More difficult to read into these votes, since most of the clergy will be unknown to most of us.

In certain places the flavour of each diocese can be discerned: as expected the clergy of hardline liberal sees such as Bath and Wells, Southwark, or the Universities block allowed no room for the traditionalists.

Only in Anglo-Catholic bastions such as Oxford, London, and Chichester did the clergy vote in force against the motion and its lack of provision for the Catholics.

Posted by John Omani at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 6:07pm BST

Interesting to see so many open evangelicals, affirming Catholics and liberals voting the same way on this one - with the conservative Catholics and evos on the minority side.

Posted by Merseymike at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 6:12pm BST

One woman against the substantive motion. Interesting.

More interesting is the number of Archdeacons against the final motion. Not sure why.

Posted by Wilf at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 7:27pm BST

"its lack of provision for the Catholics"

For "the Catholics who don't agree", please. Anglo-catholics as a group are not united in this. Many of us are quite happy with the idea of ordained females.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 1:10pm BST

Many of us are quite happy with the idea of ordained females.

In North America this may well be true, but in England the majority of Anglo-Catholics are traditionalists. And they do have a point. In what way can one possibly claim to be catholic if i) one doesn't believe in the restoration of eucharistic unity with the churches of the first millenium, or ii) believes that the synod of the Church of England is unilaterally able to sweep away two millenia of church tradition, or iii) seeks to exclude those who are faithful to the patristic and conciliar heritage of the church? Lest it be forgot, the liberal and evangelical majority rejected a motion suggesting that those on both sides were loyal Anglicans (amend. 66)!

The traditionalist position is legitimate, even if we disagree with it, and provision should have been made for those holding such a position within the proposals. Alas no, the liberal bishops in Synod last week behaved like the Focas.

Posted by John Omani at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 3:57pm BST

"its lack of provision for the Catholics"

->

"its lack of provision felt acceptable enough by the Catholics who don't agree"

Not only, as Ford notes, is this not all Catholics, but there provision is also intended to be made. The question is not whether provision should be made, but what provision should be made.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 4:38pm BST

"there provision is also intended to be made."

There is a lack of adequate provision. The safeguards promised to the Anglo-Catholics in 1992 have been broken - the code of practice would result in the repeal of the 1992/3 provisions.

As the Bishop of Ebbsfleet suggests, codes of practice are shifting sands subject to the fashions and whims of the moment, and do not provide the legal safeguards necessary to protect the historic sacramental basis of the faith.

The fig-leaf of a code pretends to work on the basis of trust. But as +Ebbsfleet argues 'How could we trust a code of practice when those who are offering it include those who have done most to undermine and seek to revoke the code of practice in force for these last 14 years?'

Hopefully, from the general unease and outrage at the debacle last week, there is still chance for the Synod to put in place proper provisions as this process continues.

Without such provisions, I suspect that this debacle will be more damaging to the Church of England than the whole homosexuality crisis, since it marks the death knell for a whole wing of the Church: those who wish for the restoration of communion with the historic Catholic and Orthodox churches. Without this wing, the Church of England cannot lay claim to be a comprehensive and apostolic church, and should be disestablished quickly.

The Anglo-Catholics ought then to be allowed then to take their parishes and property with them, whether to an Anglican Rite under the Catholic church, or to the Western Rite under the Antiochan Orthodox Church. I see that movement in this direction is already underway:
http://www.forwardinfaith.com/artman/publish/article_428.shtml

Posted by John Omani at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 7:15pm BST

"In what way can one possibly claim to be catholic if i) one doesn't believe in the restoration of eucharistic unity with the churches of the first millenium, or ii) believes that the synod of the Church of England is unilaterally able to sweep away two millenia of church tradition, or iii) seeks to exclude those who are faithful to the patristic and conciliar heritage of the church?"

Give me a break! In what way can one possibly claim to be *Anglican*, with such an (anti-Anglican) BIASED FRAMING of the disputes in question?

Tiber, Bosporus? That-a-way...

Posted by JCF at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 8:49pm BST

So - Simon K. What provision would you suggest for those 'whose convictions do not enable them to accept that the consecration of women as bishops is authorised by scripture or tradition' (Bishop of London's words) and who face the removal of guarantees given over women priests?

First they cannot accept the sacramental ministry of women priests or bishops, and then it gets further complicated regarding any men a female bishop ordains as well (though the 'softer' Catholics I guess would regard the men as validly ordained if at least a male bishop in the apostolic line is present). Any thoughts?

Posted by Neil at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 10:03pm BST

"who face the removal of guarantees given over women priests"

What do you think that a code of practice will say? I imagine that a code will allow a PCC to prevent a women from exercising a presbyteral ministry in its parish, to prevent a women suffragan or assistant bishop from exercising an episcopal ministry in the parish, and to request a woman diocesan bishop to make other provision for episcopal ministry to the parish.

So why do you think that in practice things will change for those parishes where the majority of the PCC do not accept the ministry of women priests and bishops?

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 11:08pm BST

"The Anglo-Catholics ought then to be allowed then to take their parishes and property with them"

I suspect that "the Anglo-Catholics" (Anti-Anglicans, more precisely) will be no more welcome to dismember and STEAL from the CofE, than are those attempting to do the same to TEC (probably, they'll be a lot LESS welcome, to steal from the Established Church!)

Posted by JCF at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 11:20pm BST

Simon K - well apart from the complication of men ordained by women in the future there was in the past also a structural guarantee (required by parliament I might remind you). What seems missing from your analysis is the redefining (in some people's eyes...both within the CofE and amongst the majority of Christendom ie the RC and Orthodox) of the CofE as a purely protestant and liberal body in the future. This is what threatens to unchurch people - the cutting of catholic and apostolic roots. It didn't get the Methodists very far (though I admire them and good Methodist ministry just as I admire women's ministry within the CofE...actually they compare fairly well) and this will prove the problem for the likes of Giles Fraser who discover they are in what will effectively become a Methodist Church.
And there is a lot to be said for Methodism!

Posted by Neil at Saturday, 19 July 2008 at 6:12pm BST

Neil -- there is not and never has been any 'structural guarantee' in the past. Nor has there been any 'requirement' from parliament for there to be one.

In 1992, the General Synod, guided by John Habgood, the then Abp of York, agreed to pass the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod, which in essence allowed parishes to ask their diocesan bishop to exercise his episcopal ministry via another bishop, and provided upto three suffragan bishops to be available to provide such ministry where it is not otherwise easily available to the diocesan bishop.

There is no concept here of separate development, of PCCs voting to join a different non-contiguous diocese or parish, with a bishop more to their taste. 'Structural' is code for a scheme along these lines -- separate dioceses or even a separate province. In my opinion any such scheme would be disastrous.

I don't see why one should see any of this as changing the status of the Church of England as both Catholic and Reformed. The ordination of women as presbyters and the ordination or consecration of women as bishops should be seen as the culmination of a process, and development, not as an abrupt change.

As for changing the status of the Church of England -- why is this different from, say, 1660 or 1688? Or 1649 or 1538 for that matter? On the contrary, the Church of England continues as the catholic church in this land.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Saturday, 19 July 2008 at 7:02pm BST
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