Comments: Women Bishops - diocesan debates - 8 October

Where was Chichester's third bishop?

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 6:51pm BST

Exeter figures for main motion

Bishops 1 for and 2 against
Clergy 30 for and 18 against
Laity 45 for and 16 against
No abstentions

The usual Evangelical following motion was defeated

Bishops 2 for and 1 against
Clergy 15 for and 32 against
Laity 14 for and 44 against

A second following motion based on the Archbishops' amendment was passed

Bishops 3 for
Clergy 33 for and 13 against
Laity 26 for and 23 against

Posted by Maggie at Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 7:14pm BST

There are 500 churches in the Chichester diocese. On Forward in Faith's website some 29 are listed as having passed Resolutions A and B. Allowing for the grouping of churches in parishes that is still an enormous majority who accept the ministry of women (or at the very least don't feel strongly enough about the issue to adopt the resolutions) and yet all three houses in the Diocesan synod voted against the motion approving the legislation (forgetting that General Synod has already approved in principle the issue of women bishops) How representative then is our Diocesan Synod of the parishes and the people in the pew? Isn't this vote a scandal in the church? And what does this say about our prospects for less divisive diocesan and suffragan Bishops next year?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 7:40pm BST

I have never known the Ordinariate of Chichester get anything on its website so quickly! It is a shame that alternative episcopal oversight is not available for parishes that support women's ordination.

Posted by Peter at Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 9:04pm BST

Watching the results on the provision of 'Alternative oversight'(surely non-catholic)from the Church of England dioceses, is a bit like watching the matches of the Rugby World Cup - at present here in New Zealand: Tonga beats France & France beats England - Some of the most unexpected results. But Who knows the future of a divided C.of E?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 9:26pm BST

So (asked Ignorant Yank) wazzup w/ Chichester? High and Crazy? Low and Lazy? Some of each?

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 9:35pm BST

Surely the lack of churches under a flying bishop is because many are content with the anti- ordination of women ( other than the diaconate) Bishop they have. What is significant is that despite two bishops, over the past thirty years who have turned Chichester into an Anglo- Catholic ghetto, the anti women bishop vote only just made it. I don't think the vote would have been as resolute on gays!

Posted by robert ian williams at Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 11:08pm BST

@PB All three bishops were present for most of the debate, but one bishop had to leave before the ballot. Then again, so did the proposer of the main motion, who was preaching at a service at the cathedral.

@RA, @JCF Chichester has many traditional catholic and conservative evangelical parishes/clergy/bishops. Consequently, some have commented it was quite a close vote.

Posted by Alastair Cutting at Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 11:23pm BST

I note this comment from Chichester Diocese's announcement.
"The motion failed in contradiction of the votes of the Deanery Synods when the majority passed the motion."

It is plain that the Diocesan synod doesn't reflect the wider feeling on the ground.

Posted by Anne at Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 7:16am BST

Why should the Diocese of Chichester be described as a ghetto? Ghettos were created for people who were forced by civil authority to live together, largely for ethnic reasons. They were established in Vienna in the c19 as an anti-semitic regulation.

Every English Diocese has its own character. Are Rochester and Liverpool, for instance, to be described as Evaneglical ghettos? The dioceses reflect the diverse character of the Church of England. Simply because one of them does not conform to current Broad Church expectations does not make it a ghetto. It simply represents an illustration of democratic freedom. Nobody, as far as I know, has been forced to live there because of their convictions.

Posted by John Bowles at Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 12:26pm BST

It is a shame that alternative episcopal oversight is not available for parishes that support women's ordination.

Posted by: Peter on Saturday, 8 October 2011 at 9:04pm BST

No toleration is a one way street. It always has been. There has NEVER ever been provision for those in need of the ministry of women.

With those against women ministers it is, and always has been, All Or Nothing.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 1:42pm BST

So in response to the question "Are you in favour of ordaining women to the episcopate in the Church of England?" the Chichester Diocesan Synod voted YES by 86 to 62.

No wonder they didn't put the results of all the votes in the press release!

Posted by Peter at Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 3:35pm BST

Is the 2 : 1 vote against the legislation in Exeter's House of Bishops a little bit like turkeys not voting for Christmas? Maybe they know women would do a better job.

Posted by Mike Claridge at Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 5:00pm BST

I made my comment above when the raw information about the rejection of the main motion was all we knew about the day's events in Chichester. I do concur that the result of the vote on the Bishop's motion, asking for a vote on the principle of Women Bishops, was yes by 46 to 30 (laity) and 40 to 29 (clergy) is of great significance and shows that the diocese is perhaps not as obtuse as it might seem. It does though still seem odd and disapointing that in the vote on the substantive motion regarding the actual legislation the vote in all houses is No, but again perhaps not by the majority which might have been expected (perhaps because it was a secret ballot?). Interesting too is the Diocesan website and its comment. The trumpet sound from Chichester is perhaps more uncertain that might be expected when looked at overall.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 8:43pm BST

I lurk, I lurk, but the comment regarding oversight for those in favour cannot go unchallenged. Unlike in PECUSA, there is no 'no go' area for women in the Church of England and even where diocesans are opposed, every effort has been made to ensure women are ordained and licensed wherever desired.

To lament that there is no alternative oversight for those in favour is equivalent to complaining that there is no affirmative action for white people.

Posted by Clive at Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 11:34pm BST

Clive, you've missed the point entirely. At the moment we have no female bishops in the Church of England, and those who visit are politely asked not to exercise any episcopal ministry while they are here. Priests ordained by female bishops overseas - in churches of the Anglican Communion and others with whom we claim to be in full communion - do not have their priestly orders recognised in the Church of England at present: as if ordination is the act of a bishop alone and is not also the act of the Church, which in the ordination service signifies consent to the act, and also the act of God in perfecting what is always (humanly speaking) an imperfect act. So I am simply unable to receive the ministry of the Church through people I regard as validly ordained and consecrated.

Another point you might like to consider in citing "affirmative action" is that provision of support for women in ministry and those who support them is simply not uniform across the country or across the world. You would not trot out a phrase like this if you were thinking of the current regime in Zimbabwe, for example - to take a topical case. The treatment of white people there might give you pause for thought.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Monday, 10 October 2011 at 5:25am BST

If episcopal oversight was applied to every faction in the Church of England it would become ungovernable. Given that (disastrously in my opinion - look at the consequences) women were admitted to holy orders in 1992 this has become the official policy of the national Church and there is no need for independent oversight to administer it. Independent oversight is only justified for those who conscientiously cannot accept it yet want to remain Anglicans. This is becoming a diminishing constituency and has a limited life. Even Una Kroll has become a Roman Catholic because she became disillusioned by the ambition she witnessed among female clerics, mimicking, she thought, the worst aspects of male clericalism.

Posted by John Bowles at Monday, 10 October 2011 at 10:33am BST

The point about alternative oversight is that there are parishes who simply want a Bishop who will carry out their consecration oath. They do not want a Bishop who refuses to ordain candidates who have been appropriately selected and trained, and who have title posts. Forward in Faith parishes can demand an alternative Bishop, when their Diocesan Bishop is willing to do everything except agree with their theology. A mainstream parish cannot demand the oversight of a Bishop who will ordain their curate, or the ordinand whose vocation they helped identify, if that person happens to be a woman.

Posted by Peter at Monday, 10 October 2011 at 7:52pm BST

Points taken. Obviously I refer only to an English context. Since there are as yet no women bishops, and therefore there is no legal basis to recognize women bishops from elsewhere then yes, you have a point. That is about to change however.

My point is that I don't believe you will find many if any of us who are opposed out there trying to deny parishes that want a woman priest that option, and no diocese or bishop in England prevents parishes that want a female priest from having one.

Live and let live is what seems to me to be the prevailing attitude in practice.

Does the proposed code of practice not work both ways? I thought I had seen something about parishes under a conservative bishop being allowed alternative liberal oversight ?

Posted by Clive at Tuesday, 11 October 2011 at 1:41pm BST

Good post, Clive, especially your penultimate para. Lots of people 'on both sides' (but there are many 'sides') agree with this and practise it.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 11 October 2011 at 7:58pm BST

as you are neither a woman wanting to be a priest or with the possibility of becoming a bishop, nor a member of FiF, what is it that you are practicing other than just going to church without being personally affected by this debate?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 2:51pm BST


I am personally affected by this debate. (Odd criterion: because there are lots of important ways in which one can be affected by debates without its being 'personal' in your restricted sense.) This is the case because I know 'personally' alike women priests, prospective women bishops and anti-WO members of our congregation. It is true - alas! - that I am 'personally' debarred, because, through no fault of my own, I am a man.

Furthermore, 'Clive' (whoever) is explicitly a 'live and let live' FiF person, i.e. s/he can tolerate/acquiesce in/even - perhaps? - welcome the coexistence of anti-WO and pro-WO groups within the C of E. The present situation within the C of E regarding WO (and countless other issues) is like the situation of Constantinople in 1453 just before it was about to be sacked: vigorous theological debate about relative trivialities and a scandalous inability to concentrate on fundamentals.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 12 October 2011 at 8:26pm BST

at that level, we are all personally affected by the debate.
But there is a difference between being truly affected and just having a strong interest.

I am very conscious in the lgbt debate that the people calling me to moderation and to live and let live are finding their liberalism easy because it doesn't cost them anything, and they're quite happy to place the price for tolerance on me.

I am a little concerned that many liberals here are doing the same in the women bishops debate. There is a self righteousness about telling women priests and FiF to be tolerant, when we know this tolerance costs both dear, maybe too dear! while we don't find it at all difficult to be nice to both sides.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 13 October 2011 at 9:11am BST
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