Comments: Women in the Episcopate - Archbishops' Amendment

Strikes me as ingenious !

Posted by Pantycelyn at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 12:04pm BST

A significant question, since the purpose of this amendment is purportedly to keep the greatest possible communion:
Will this remove the theology of taint which has grown since the Act of Synod?

another significant question:
will any woman be prepared to be ordained a bishop if the theology of taint remains through this legislation?
This amendment feels like the Act of Synod itself which created the two tier priesthood in the church and again came from senior bishops panicking in 1993.

Posted by Rosalind at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 12:23pm BST

Dear old Solomon in all his glory could not split the proverbial baby in two any better than this.

Of course all you have is a divided baby but then it is easier to maintain the pretense of unity, even when certain folks refuse to be ministered to or receive communion from certain other folks who apparently have “the same legal rights” if not the same standing as God’s ministers.


Posted by Priscilla Cardinale at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 12:30pm BST

The Archbishops say:

"Since the amendments would not divest the diocesan bishop of any jurisdiction, they would involve no change in the Church of England’s understanding of the episcopate."


Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 1:49pm BST

What provision is there for those who cannot accept the ministry of male bishops? Come on - fair's fair.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 2:08pm BST

As someone noted years ago, this is totally equitable: the rich are as prohibited from sleeping under bridges as are the poor. Will a parish in a male-led diocese be allowed to request episcopal function from a female bishop?

Posted by F Harry Stowe at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 2:33pm BST

"women ordained to the episcopate will enjoy exactly the same legal rights as men within the structures of the Church of England and that there will be no derogation of the rights of any diocesan bishop, male or female;"

Not quite. Male bishops will not be subject to co-ordinate jurisdiction within their dioceses, only female bishops. Unless there is also provision in the Measure for parishes to request the ministrations of a female bishop where their diocesan is male.

On first reading, this proposal, on top of the various resolutions available to parishes to avoid contamination by female priests, is a further erosion of catholic order. Before implementing this scheme, the Church of England should consult with its Communion partners, in my view. This change in ecclesiology is significant and cannot be introduced into the Anglican Communion without its agreement. What touches all must be approved by all.

And, incidentally, what will happen to the jurisdiction of the Archbishops once a woman is appointed to York of Canterbury? when women are appointed to both posts simultaneously? For example, if a foreign cleric seeks permission from Canterbury to function in England and is for some reason denied, would he have recourse to the co-ordinate Archbishop to overturn the decision?

Posted by Nom de Plume at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 2:38pm BST

This will receive some careful scrutiny over the next few days, I am sure.

Here are a couple of subtleties which must not go unremarked:

Point 6, second bullet point,

"but the identity of such a bishop and the scope of his functions would be defined by the scheme made by the diocesan for his or her diocese"

This brings back nominated bishops in dioceses where the diocesan bishop is a man.

The second point is where judgment is to be exercised in the arrangements for establishing this 'co-ordinate' jurisdiction - eg in multi-parish benefices where the parishes express different wishes. In the current draft the diocesan has discretion in the arrangements to be made. It looks like this new scheme will take away such discretion, by giving legal authority to a second bishop too early in the process. No doubt there would have to be some way of refereeing disputes between the co-ordinate bishops?

I await the details, and will be studying the text with care - but it looks to me like another way of making complicated what should be simple.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 3:20pm BST

"Since the amendments would not divest the diocesan bishop of any jurisdiction." Written with a straight face? Words fail. What planet ....?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 3:23pm BST

And a parish that WANTS a female bishop? Or dislikes its bishop's opinions on the cause of flooding?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 3:39pm BST

"the small but significant changes"

"mutual trust"

This really is not a good time to be re-reading the Lord of the Rings; I am painfully reminded of that 'small token' of friendship that Sauron sought, the "trifle" as 'earnest of your goodwill' which was, in reality, the means to absolute power.

I should be sad to leave the Church of England, not least because of the clergy where I worship, but, as the weeks of this crisis have gone by, it seems to have had less and less to do with the gospel of Christ and more and more to do with the desire of those at the head of a patriarchal system to desperately try to acquire more, not less, power for themselves and patriarchs everywhere.

Presumably the Archbishops will be rewriting Paul to make it clear that whilst all Christians may theoretically be equal, some are more equal than others...

Posted by chenier1 at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 3:46pm BST

My favourite bit is:

"We prefer the term ‘co-ordinate’ as less likely to give rise to confusion."

Written with a straight face. Unbelievable.

The Archbishop's got no clothes on, the Archbishop's got no clothes on.

Posted by JF at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 3:46pm BST

What provision is there for those who cannot accept the ministry of male bishops? Come on - fair's fair.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 21 June 2010 at 2:08pm BST

I was wondering about that -after all fair's fair. I might not want to be faced by such Neanderthal theologising -- no insult intended to the historic Neanderthals mind you ! (They ere an advance -- in their time !).

Posted by Pantycelyn at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 4:32pm BST

'Not quite. Male bishops will not be subject to co-ordinate jurisdiction within their dioceses, only female bishops. Unless there is also provision in the Measure for parishes to request the ministrations of a female bishop where their diocesan is male.'

Yes, this is essential.

I should want to opt for a woman bishop on principle, until the time when true, full and equal equality finally breaks out.

All this, the 'Act of Synod' and all the anti-gay hullaballoo has put me right off Communion anyway -except as an exceptional occasional thing. I certainly don't want to take or 'celebrate' it very off under current circumstances --like most of the members of the C of E, etc........

I'd be even happier to see the discontinuation of bishops in their present 'form'. That 'order of ministry' has become almost meaningless (or a bad meaning) for me, personally. Nor do I take much comfort from my own 'orders'. (Though I still find my calling and ministry meaningful, that is not dependent for me on the institutional structures of the C of E.) There must be many of us.

Posted by Pantycelyn at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 4:41pm BST

"where a parish had requested arrangements, by issuing a Letter of Request, the diocesan would in practice refrain from exercising certain of his or her functions in such a parishand would leave the nominated bishop to exercise those functions in the parish in question;"

Please correct me if I'm wrong, but didn't Ed Tomlinson or someone else from FiF explain on this forum not so long ago that they could not accept anyone standing in for a female bishop because the difficulty is accepting the validity of the jurisdiction of the female bishop in the first place?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 4:50pm BST

And what about a parish in ... say Chichester which would like a bishop favorable to women clergy, whether the bishop of choice were male or female? Do they also get a bishop of their own persuasion too? Come on guys, even you can see that this isn't even-stephen.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 5:13pm BST

Two weeks before Synod and they come up with this? It reeks of desperation and doesn't look like equality to me!

Posted by Suem at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 5:23pm BST

Pantycelyn wrote, "Strikes me as ingenious !"

Are you sure? It sounds to me suicidal. First and foremost, it undermines the ancient understanding of the integrity of the diocese, and of the diocese as the basic (but not self-sufficient) unit of the Church. Others have raised the question of a congregation requesting a coordinate bishop who is a woman, and whether the man who is diocesan, and who presumably opposes ordination of women (or else why make the request), will choose to agree.

Also, will congregations that believe women cannot be ordained be satisfied with any measure that "would not divest the [woman] diocesan bishop of any jurisdiction?" After all, even choosing to withhold her legally authorized jurisdiction even for a season, the congregation could not prevent her choosing at some point to make a visitation. This was for conservatives in the Episcopal Church the "failing" of Designated Episcopal Pastoral Oversight (DEPO). Even though the "unacceptable" bishop might delegate authority to a visitor, the "unacceptable" bishop continued to have jurisdiction, including the expectation of visitation. That seems to me to remain in this amendment, since "the scope of [the coordinate bishop's] functions would be defined by the scheme made *by the diocesan* for his or her diocese." (Emphasis mine) Will those opposed to ordination of women trust an "unacceptable" bishop to develop an "acceptable" scheme? Certainly, some were not prepared to do so in the Episcopal Church; and often our Church of England siblings seem much more - how shall I put it? - *determined* than we are here.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 5:39pm BST

This reads like Rowan Williams's theology - on the one hand, on the other, both, in the detail. It looks ingenious until the big picture is confirmed that it is not clear and clean, not actually ethical, and creates all sorts of practical problems. Like his theology, it's a sort of postmodern literary approach that appears to be realist, and tries to be realist, except in this case it deals in the very real religious politics of the bureaucracy and it will, in reality, leave people at the very least scratching their heads. Rather like reading Rowan Williams's theology.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 5:44pm BST

I suggest that ‘co-ordinate’ bishops carry their mitres under their arms, and single bishops can put them on their heads.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 5:46pm BST

Would the "nominated" bishops be counted as suffragan or diocesan? If they are counted as diocesan, then it seems to me that this will ensure that the number of male bishops remains constant, since for each female diocesan bishop, an additional male "nominated" bishop will need to be consecrated, thus preventing the possibility of a majority of women in the House of Bishops.

Just a query?

Posted by Ueber-G at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 6:16pm BST

Very odd timing, in light of Sunday's RCL Epistle reading... Gal 3:28: There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.

I remember back in the mid 1980s when the parish where my dad was rector was the first place that women were ordained to the priesthood in the Diocese of Ontario (4 women were priested in a glorious ordination service).

My dad made a practical compromise for those who objected to the ordination of women; the two female priests (one curate and one hon asst) would administer the sacraments on one side of the altar railing and my dad and another hon asst priest, would administer the sacraments on the other side. Eventually it was abandoned when the objectors either left the parish or realized that it wasn't really an issue.

BTW, those two female priest have gone on to have very fruitful ministries, and one has recently become a chaplain in the Canadian Forces (along with her husband who was also a curate under my dad's care).

Posted by drewmtl at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 6:24pm BST

Granted, I am just a Yank who doesn't pretend to comprehend the mysteries of General Synod, but is not the document above the rationale for an, as yet unpublished, amendment to the draft legislation to come before the synod next month?

Isn't the proof going to be in the amendment itself rather than in this pudding published in the ether today?

Does anyone think this will be the only amendment proposed during the debate on this draft legislation?

Is it better that these proposers announce their intentions before the synod is called to order than to announce them once debate has begun?

Would that be true of others who intend to propose amendments?

Posted by Chip at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 6:41pm BST

It would seem to be an attempt to allow the opponents of women bishops to have a Father in God and a Mother in Law

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 9:28pm BST

Hmm, RW is doing it all, beautifully, again ... tilting his bully pulpit to sustain leeway for those who continue to preach horrid, flat earth things about women as essential to gospel and revelation, while simply presuming without evidence that such leeway will really exist as a mutual Anglican space. Clearly, this cannot be. Common sense advises all of us that you cannot simultaneously pledge a solar system where the sun circles the earth, and make good plans for your next space shuttle flights, let alone mars missions. If women have the cooties that the anti-women folks preach, we are best advised to get them out of orders, full stop. Repeat after me: kitchen, bedroom, nursery. (Oh okay, garden, too if you simply must?)

Those who preach so solemnly about these allegedly outlandish and deeply ungodly womanish cooties are hardly going to soft-pedal their high, holy obedience to God's preference for male genitals ... as after all, if they are right, none of us should even be daring to think such things in secret at three a.m. in the morning, let alone talk of these things openly, let alone discern women who have gifts, callings, and - gasp - are as untainted as men in God's dear heart.

It all replays the queer folks cooties business, point for point, except that instead of claiming that being female is innately dirty and dangerous, we suddenly get to hear that being female (with gifts, leadership talents, all that) is when the dirt and danger come into play.

Do any of these people have mothers? How do they treat (mistreat?) those women, now that they are all grown up and - above all - so powerful? Don't fall for any of it; it is all Bell Jar nonsense claiming to be care, claiming to be good news.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 21 June 2010 at 9:55pm BST

Paragraph 15 makes no sense. According to it, the "whole Church" would put in place a system whereby the actual and operational authority of women diocesan bishops would be limited, but there would and could be no such limitaton on the actual and operationl authority of men diocesan bishops?

It is simply inaccurate to say that "women ordained to the episcopate will enjoy exactly the same legal rights as men within the structures of the Church of England and that there will be no derogation of the rights of any diocesan bishop, male or female"---and they certainly wouldn't be expected to exercise the same rights.

Posted by Copyhold at Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 4:02am BST

"The draft legislation continues to make provision for those who in conscience cannot receive the ministry of women as bishops, by providing for certain functions to be undertaken by a male bishop under a diocesan scheme made in accordance with a national code of practice."

Whatever (if any) accommodation is made for the structured accommodation of the anti-women-bishop confraternity, this would not avoid the implication that, in the opinion of the Church of England, there is a place for those who consider the episcopal leadership of women in the Church is heretical - and against the doctrine of the Church - despite the fact that the Church still might consider ordaining women as bishops.

To deny a Diocesan Bishop's authority to carry out every episcopal function (or personal delegation of the same to another) in his/her diocese is to state that his/her ministry as diocesan bishop is null and void in certain situations. This seems to make a mockery of the orthodox tradition of the diocesan episcopate.

The question might then be asked - "How does the Anglican concept of episcopal jurisdiction differ from the catholic model"? (- leaving aside the question of gender roles, which has already been answered by the process of priestly ordination of women as well as men into the C.of E's ministry).

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 5:22am BST

Another Ignorant Yank (TM) here---but this strikes me as rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic!

[Re "with a sense that the full diversity of voices in the Church of England has been duly heard and attended to": wait a sec. Didn't Canon Kearon tell us TECers that *diversity* was a PROBLEM (to be solved---apparently, by making us stand in the corner, outside/beneath the Ecumenical Higher Seat), NOT a legitimate situation (gift?) to be "duly heard and attended to"? O_o]

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 6:52am BST

CoE stuff has lately taken a distinctive, deepening turn for an Alice Down A Rabbit Hole worse. RW is falling headlong into the dark, and that right fully in public view.

TEC - mainly encapsulated as queer folks plus allies - must be distanced, and thus become suddenly eligible for a dedicated sort of interfaith listening and respect to which TEC is otherwise not, not ever, due as a founding member of the global Anglican Communion. Women are fully human and fully beloved of God, except that they may on episcopal occasions bear awful stains of something ungodly and abominable (such that essential salvation is endangered); and once precluded from being equal-effective bishops may be acknowledged as queens who are supposed to be the ordained head of the CoE.

I do so look forward - from a properly punished-scapegoated TEC sort of distance of course - to the next round of quadruple-talk. Who knew?

Should we harrump? Or guffaw? Or?

Is this latest bit of overt leadership, just Rowam William's hyper-clever way of showing us via his meta-message, that either God is calling women and we Anglicans are honest enough to be discerning them among us; or not?

Old flat earth folk beliefs used to solemnly instruct us that gay men hated women, so therefore could not bear to be heterosexual; but these straight bishops and archbishops are giving all that alleged fear and distaste a very strong, very public test drive. Vroom, Zooom.

Posted by drdanfee at Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 10:55pm BST

"15. We believe that the amendments secure two crucial things:

1.......(as stated in the amendment)...and -

2. that those who request oversight from a nominated bishop under a diocesan scheme will be able to recognise in them an episcopal authority received from the whole Church rather than through delegation or transfer from an individual diocesan."

"..An episcopal authority received from the whole Church" ? And not from the Diocesan Bishop???

Where is the logic in this sort of casuistry? If this is the sort of Mickey Mouse deal that is going to be put into place in the Church of England's Statute Book, no wonder the rest of the Provinces are wondering what is going on in Mother Church. I would imagine diocesan lawyers having a field day on this one.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 11:07am BST
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