Comments: Women Bishops - diocesan debates - 12 November

I am told that Newcastle Diocese also defeated the two following motions. In the case of the Archbishops'Amendment the Bishop of Newcastle voted in favour and the Assiatant Bishop abstained. It was 15 for and 15 against in the laity with 8 abstentions but was defeated in the House of Clergy.

In York there was little chance of defeating the Archbishop on his amendment but I congratulate those who stood up against him

Posted by Jean MAYLAND at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 5:07pm GMT

The most disturbing aspect of this legislation is the provision to make room for those who can't accept women as bishops. It's a big mistake to enshrine misogyny and present it to the public as "accommodation". It is all wrong. I believe it is better to accept women in all positions of leadership in The Church, or leave quietly and find another branch of Christianity that accepts the status quo.

Posted by Chris Smith at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 5:11pm GMT

Disagreement is one thing, but to label others as misogynist just because they share a different understanding of priesthood is not on. Individuals may or may not be misogynist - I personally wouldn't judge anyone about that without knowing how they lived their lives. You need to try and grapple with the theology of those you disagree with; don't just hurl abuse at them.

Posted by William at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 7:20pm GMT

I cannot help agreeing with Chris Smith (no relation- except en Christo). No matter what kind and cuddly measure is passed to enshrine the opposition of dissidents to the episcopal ministry of our Sisters in Christ, we have to consider what their official accommodation will proclaim to the Church and the World. It will certainly not echo the opinion of Saint Paul, that "In Christ, there is neither male nor female - all are brought together under the One spirit".

Jesus mercy; Mary pray!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 8:29pm GMT

If accomodations are made for those who do not agree with women in the episcopate, it will come back and bite later and it will continue to show the Church as addled and foolish. It did for TEC back in the 'conscience clause'. It was used by people who tried to 'ghettoize' themselves in 'conservative diocese' that eventually led to the schism that we are now trying to recover from. "Let your yes be yes and your no be no.."

Misogyny is a sin--discrimination towards 1/2 of the population is not scriptural or even traditional no matter what Rome says.

Posted by Lauren A. Gough at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 8:51pm GMT

Totals (excluding abstentions).
Bishops: For 88, Against 13 (85% in favour)
Clergy: For 1956, Against 464 (76% in favour)
Laity: For 2138, Against 490 (77% in favour)
Overall 77% in favour.

This includes the Europe Diocesan Synod (which was not the actual decision-making body).

Posted by Wilf at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 9:23pm GMT


You might believe 'it's a big mistake' etc. But can't you see that your follow-up 'to enshrine misogyny' is grossly prejudicial?


Posted by John at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 9:52pm GMT

Sorry, the previous comment came out more angrily than I intended. I don't think anyone was being abusive or deliberately insulting.
However, people who hold a Catholic understanding of priesthood, have so often been dismissed as misogynist, that the very word strikes a raw nerve sometimes. Admittedly there are probably people out there who have unpleasant views about women. But the majority of Catholics I know just want to remain faithful to the historic understanding of the Church. It is as simple as that. Suggesting that a line of argument is misogynist, is to claim that the argument has no validity. This is unjust and will do nothing to further the debate.

Posted by William at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 9:58pm GMT

"It's a big mistake to enshrine misogyny and present it to the public as "accommodation". It is all wrong."

Yes, indeed, Chris. Why must the Church of England accommodate misogyny? Of course, it's not my church, so perhaps I should not speak my piece.

June Butler

Posted by Grandmère Mimi at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 10:29pm GMT


I too now have complete stats – here: but they differ from yours.

Where have I gone wrong?

Posted by Dan Barnes-Davies at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 11:11pm GMT

William: For me, "remaining faithful to the historic understanding of Church" means women SHOULD be ordained to all positions the Church offers to men. To me, this is my understanding of the way Jesus would approach this. Inclusive. To pretend that misogyny is not at the heart of this issue further devalues women. I can find no valid theological argument that bans women from the same positions held by men in the Church. I do not find high moral ground by those who wish to disenfranchise women from all ordained ministries merely because "tradition" says it must be this way. The Roman Catholic Church can't win this argument either and the storm clouds have been gathering for decades over this same issue. Women and men are equal in God's eyes, period. To accommodate views that exclude women from certain ordained ministries is to participate in sin. Those in the Anglican Communion who agree with the Roman Catholic views on this topic are only going to find temporary solace in Rome. This issue is about to break wide open and Rome knows it can't contain it.

Posted by Chris Smith at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 11:19pm GMT

It is kind of Wilf to give us these figures.

When the half way goal was passed some time back Pete Broadbent's comment then suggested to me that the English General Synod were not going to be overly interested in the final outcome.

I suppose there are very few floating voters after all these years of debate but if there are a few they could hardly be unimpressed by the numbers Wilf has crunched for us. I understand that leaders of those opposed to women bishops have also found the figures overwhelming and have suggested that to torpedo the process now would result in a worse final outcome for them.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Saturday, 12 November 2011 at 11:22pm GMT

Understanding of the priesthood? Or misunderstanding?

Path dependence and theological correctness are not the same thing.

Posted by Jeremy at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 1:02am GMT

My results (on wikipedia, linked above), are now updated with a summary of the following motion "scores" – which generally give an indication that we the people would rather the legislation pass unfettered.

(The phrasing may be regarded as biassed, but that's because I am. The stats however are not.)

Posted by Dan Barnes-Davies at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 1:33am GMT

Surely (to my mind at least) the "Catholic view" is that the authority to decide who may or may be ordained/consecrated resides in the church, which in this imperfect world must mean that part of the church divided to which I belong. If "my" church could decide, as it did, that authority does not reside in Rome, then surely the decision to ordain/consecrate women is ever so much less earth shaking. As a woman, it is hard for me to understand how an ordained man can believe that "our" church has authority (not of Rome, or Constantinople, or Antioch etc etc) to ordain him, but it doesn't have the authority to ordain me. So, to me at least, it looks like misogyny by another name, and in many cases not even recognised as such by those who hold it. If Rome (or Constantinople, or Antioch etc) is the final authority, then that is so for male clergy as well, and they have not been ordained in God's church by that authority, and many perhaps wouldn't be.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 7:34am GMT

I suggest that everyone checks their figures. The ones I have are closer to Dan's than to Wilf's and mainly agree with Dan, but I have to deal with Remembrance before I have time to check.

I think there are two features of the voting which bear comment, because if they are validated by careful checking they will help to locate us in reality.

The first is that the votes in favour of the General Synod motion are distinctly more positive than the Diocesan votes before the Women Priests legislation was passed.

The second is that the Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) assisted the evaluation of alternatives by sponsoring a standard following motion which was debated in most of the dioceses. My data on this is not 100%, and I will be checking in detail. However, it is my understanding that - although other variants were debated in some places, and the motion was passed in a number of dioceses - the specific CEEC motion was lost in over half of the dioceses. Had legislation on this basis been referred to the Dioceses, the Dioceses have told us it would have failed.

Procedurally, it is my understanding that if the House of Bishops make a significant amendment to the legislation before they bring it back to General Synod, then, even if it is passed, it will require a further Article 8 reference to the dioceses. I don't think the Bishops will want to do that unless they are confident that what they propose will pass. Very few people want to tie up more Synod time and another set of elections to General Synod with this issue, whatever their views on the substance.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 7:45am GMT

Mark's comment is helpful in relation to putting things in perspective. There are two other things to be said about the Diocesan Synod voting.
1. As I've been trying to emphasise, it only carries moral weight. In 1992, four dioceses voted against (I think). This time only two. But General Synod takes very little notice of the DS voting, as GS members are not delegates but representatives. So, although supporters will talk up the DS voting figures, it won't carry much weight with those who actually have to make the decision in GS.
2. Because DS is elected by first past the post from deaneries, whereas GS is elected by STV, DS membership will always significantly understate the proportion of those opposed, whereas GS will give them much more of a voice. So again we should beware of underestimating the level of opposition, both in dioceses and parishes and in General Synod.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 8:59am GMT

Profound apologies, a spreadsheet is only as good as the person who transcribes the information. The votes in favour above are actually the total votes cast.

Posted by Wilf at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 9:28am GMT

The disagreement is surely about Spiritual Leadership and not Leadership as the World understands it? We are all priests - but Holy Scripture points to Spiritual Leadership Order does it not? I am not interested in tradition. Women are as valuable as Men in Gods eyes. If we fight Gods Spiritual order then do not we compromise the calling of Women and push them into a role that was never intended?
Someone please enlighten me because I want to get this right before Almighty God.

Posted by J Hassell at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 10:02am GMT

I unreservedly believe that women should be represented in broadly equal numbers to men, in the episcopacy.

However I have to say that I agree with William, both in the content and tone of his posts, because in my opinion one of the great strengths of the Anglican Community ought to be its ability to find unity in Christ, while allowing space for diversity of sincere belief on points of theology.

One of my problems with the proposed Covenant is that it could well be used to impose a dominant theological view on the whole communion, creating an imposed uniformity.

I have the same problem with imposing a dominant view of women in the episcopacy on what now seems like a minority who, while I don't share their view, are sincere and faithful in their understanding.


Posted by Susannah at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 1:53pm GMT


Furthermore, I believe the church doors should be kept wide open for as many and diverse views as possible, and as I value many aspects of catholicism myself, I would be deeply saddened if catholic Anglicans were locked out because of a sincere view of priesthood which they may hold with absolute integrity without being mysogynistic.

If I was a bishop I would be glad to help with provisions to hold and treasure a section of my communion who may have divergent views to my own, but love God, and offer much to our Anglican and Christian heritage.

How sad if we say "If you don't agree to submit to the majority's theology, you should leave." That is exactly the implicit threat in the Covenant provisions which I repudiate.

There should be enough space for us all, and the majority (I'm one of them) would still enjoy the blessings of women in episcopacy, but show care for those whose sincerity and integrity of faith is deeply troubled on this matter.

Posted by Susannah at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 1:54pm GMT

The draft legislation makes generous provision for opponents of women's ordination - they need never allow a woman priest or bishop to exercise their ministry inside their parish church. Children could grow up attending their church and never know that women could be Anglican clergy.

But women bishops would be at least nominally the bishop of the whole diocese, and this is the sticking point. For some of us, it would be far less orthodox to have, in effect, two bishops with authority in one diocese, and result in women bishops exercising substantially less than full episcopal ministry.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 6:08pm GMT

I am a little surpised by Pete Broadbent's comment:

'Because DS is elected by first past the post from deaneries, whereas GS is elected by STV'

I don't think it is correct, at least not in the Diocese of London. I assume that he is using DS as a short for Diocesan Synod.

Diocesan Synod members in the Diocese of London are - or certainly were in the past - elected by STV. The problem that often crops up is that insufficient people stand for the places and the method of election becomes irrelevant.

I would disagree with him about GS being more representative than Diocesan Synods. Those who wish to oppose the women bishops' legislation are far more motivated to stand for election and know how to get elected. I have looked at some very impressive election addresses where the candidates have been a little economical with the truth over their stance on women bishops.

The Archbishops' amendment provided a hostage to fortune. 'I supported the Archbishops' amendment......' without any indication of where their vote may be cast on the main motion.

I don't blame them, but I do believe that the House of Laity of GS may not be representative.

I do agree that the volumes of votes in favour in the dioceses will not greatly influence the votes in GS, but if there are any 'not certains' left, I am hopeful that some may be influenced.

God works in a mysterious way.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 7:02pm GMT

It is up to each diocesan synod to decide whether to use first past the post or STV for elections to the diocesan synod. They have to make this decision before each triennial election. (Church Representation Rule 32(6))

Posted by Peter Owen at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 9:43pm GMT

Re: Susannah's comment. As a moderate liberal within a conservative evangelical parish (don't ask why--it has deep reasons in family), I absolutely agree with you, but know that it's not reciprocal. On the presenting issue of blessings of same-sex relationships, those in my parish who are approving are seen not just as holding a minority opinion, but rather as holding to heretical doctrines and having fallen away from the faith; they risk being removed from any leadership positions, and they certainly may be encouraged to leave, not by the clergy, but by the prominent lay leaders.

In the eyes of the Roman church, women clergy are not allowed on doctrinal grounds--not disciplinary ones. Thus it's not a matter of two groups holding different positions, but from the extreme Anglo-Catholic view, it may be seen rather as one group holding to Christ and one holding to anti-Christ. Makes "tolerance" a bit of a challenge.

Posted by Christopher (P.) at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 10:16pm GMT

I find interesting the assertion that the diocesan results "only carry moral weight" – as if that will not be enough to sway our GS. Surely they are good churchpeople, and what have we in the church if we have not morals?!

Posted by Dan Barnes-Davies at Sunday, 13 November 2011 at 11:03pm GMT

I have problems with Bishop Pete Broadbent's assertion that General Synods are somehow more representative of the Church 'in situ' than the diocesan Synods.In the Anglican System the Church operates at the parish level, from whence come the representatives to diocesan Synods.

Perhaps, now that he has been elevated to the episcopate, the bishop thinks he might be more 'representative' of the Church than an ordinary baptized lay-person. It sound rather like a 'top-down' ecclesiastical idea to me. Or am I wrong?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 12:05am GMT

"If we fight Gods Spiritual order then do not we compromise the calling of Women and push them into a role that was never intended?"

The "calling of Women" as defined by whom? Misogynist men???

Surely, any discernment of calling to holy orders MUST BEGIN w/ the individual ***perceiving a call***.

If one is going to conclude that EVERY woman so discerning (in their thousands and millions) is lying or deluded (nevermind ignoring the EXPERIENCE of the ministry of ordained women!), then *I* am going to call that person a "misogynist": hurt feelings or no. >:-/

Posted by JCF at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 12:23am GMT

Father Ron, St. Paul also said that women should not teach or have authority over men. Equal, but with different places/jobs in Christ's body.

Savi, I hadn't heard that the provisions had been decided/written yet. Just that the liberals promised to make some. Are they available somewhere online?

As for those who think conservatives must fall in line or leave to keep the peace, why didn't you leave before and start your own inclusive church without tearing at the traditional one? If the only way they can keep their integrity is by leaving, why didn't you keep yours and leave before rather than stay in a church made up of bigots and misogynists?

Posted by Chris H. at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 12:25am GMT

A) If General Synod is unlikely to take notice of the diocesan results then what was the point of all the energy, time and expense of through the debates?

B) Could someone tell the rest of us what Jesus Christ said about ordaining men and women to the priesthood that gives the Church such authority on which it builds its "Tradition?".

Posted by sally barnes at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 7:17am GMT

Further to JCF's point:

I can only identify three possible options regarding women who feel called by God to the Priesthood.

1) They are all deluded without exception. Probably some of them are, just as some of the men are, but I find it hard to believe that all are.

2) God is calling them to something he doesn't want them to do. This raises very odd questions about God!

3) Their call should be tested (along with the men) with the intention of ordaining them.

Posted by Peter at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 9:14am GMT

"why didn't you keep yours and leave before rather than stay in a church made up of bigots and misogynists?"

Posted by: Chris H. on Monday,

May I point out, Chris H., the simple fact that the majority in the Church are not 'bigots & misogynists'. Therefore why should they (we, in this case) leave? Most Church members are level-headed - thus the positive overall vote for Women Bishops.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 9:23am GMT

Chris H.,
every church has always had an internal mechanism for the continuous discernment of God's will.
That does not mean that those who perceive a new possibility have to leave and set up their own church, but that they present their perception to the church which then tests that perception, in many cases over several decades, before arriving at a new discernment.

Knowing what to do with those who resist that discernment is indeed difficult. But to pretend that their view is still the only right one, simply because it's the older one, isn't going to work either.

You can discuss whether there should be accommodation and how formal that accommodation should be, but that's as far as it goes.

Ultimately, it's simple. You have joined a church with a particular mechanism for discernment. Once that discernment has been made, you really should abide by it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 9:47am GMT

I agree with Sally Barnes ....why on earth go through all this at the Diocesan Level( costing time and money) if at the end of the day the GS doesnt pay much attention. What is synodical goveenment all abouT? This can only breed cynicism..which is perhaps why it is difficult to get people to stand for Deanery Synods,attendance is often low especially among the clergy and few in the congregation show much interest in whatever has been discussed ( aside from the wrangles over the Common Fund!) One of the joys of retirement is not having to go to all these tedious church meetings...Today's C of E talks more and more ( mostly to itself) as the numbers of practicing anglicans gently declines decade by decade.

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 11:22am GMT

Erica said what I wanted to say in my last posting, only she said it better. @ChrisH, I believe that Paul was no absolutist, but that he said different things to different people in different instances, as indeed all intelligent people do. Problems, personalities, histories and much more create different circumstances, different problems which require different solutions. We have so little of what Paul wrote or said (I suspect) that we shouldn't become the absolutists which Paul certainly wasn't, and .... he had a lot of confidence in women and invested them with authority, if what has been passed down to us is any indication.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 3:10pm GMT

Father Ron, as I understand it the C of E synodical system *is* top-down.

Members of the General Synod are ex officio members of their local diocesan and even deanery synods, and so on; members of the deanery synod are ex officio members of "their own" PCC. Some of those who designed the system in the 1960s intended this to be the case, that it should be the very opposite of eg the Church of Scotland presbytery/synod/assembly. (This I had from Kemp). Others may not have realised what they were signing-up to.

Pragmatically, the business of deanery synods is structured so that Gen Synod members report what happened, rather than take any advice on what to do at Gen Synod.

Given the structure and given the way Gen Synod members have behaved to date it is unrealistic to expect Gen Synod members to feel bound even morally by the views of the lower orders.

But I see cynicism has crept in.

Posted by american piskie at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 3:55pm GMT

Most of us on General Synod are there because some of the voters liked our election addresses. For some of us, these gave a good idea of how we feel about women bishops. We are unlikely to change our minds on the principle. However, we are given the opportunity to hear a wide range of views and most of us listen carefully and my votes have been modified from time to time in an attempt to help accommodate those who think differently from me (I am not sure whether my jestures have been recognised or appreciated, but I have done what I felt was right in the circumstances).

There are some who may have been wavering about the adequacy of the provisions for who are unable to accept women bishops, who may be swayed by the overwhelming votes in favour within the dioceses.

Perhaps those with stronger views may be persuaded too.

I was elated by the vote by the laity in the London Diocesan Synod - who favoured the measure as it stands by a reaonable margin.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 10:22pm GMT

"If I was a bishop I would be glad to help with provisions to hold and treasure a section of my communion who may have divergent views to my own, but love God, and offer much to our Anglican and Christian heritage." - Susannah -

Well, Susannah (and bless you for that indication that your motivation is 'inclusive' rather than exclusive on this matter); If you, as a woman, were called to be a bishop in the Church, what I would want for you, and other woman bishops who are diocesans, to be empowered to delegate your episcopal authority to someone else for the purpose of ordaining someone who has problems with the 'Hands of a Woman' being laid upon them.

BUT, this would be the limit of my accommodation to dissenters. There should be no continuance of the non-catholic practice of exclusive authority allowed to extra-diocesan PEVs.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 10:42pm GMT

Common sense dictates that, because the Church of England has always been a broad Church, able to accomodate within its ranks a huge diversity of beliefs and practices, then it should be able to come to an agreement on this one. Anglo-Catholics have been expected to make concessions at every step, but the Code of Practice is just a step too far. To support it would be like the proverbial turkey voting for Christmas. The Archbishops' idea of coordinate jurisdiction is a suitable compromise, and it has been heartening to see a more fair minded approach to the problem from some of the dioceses. I have to say that the same cannot be said of some of the offerings on this thread. Some of the language used eg. "bigots", "misogynists", "dissidents" to describe traditionalists is sickening to the stomach. Coming from a congregation full of traditionalists, both women and men, I fear for the Church of England when such language is employed. I hope that those who hold and articulate such views can live with their conscience!

Posted by Benedict at Monday, 14 November 2011 at 11:39pm GMT

Similarly, DS members often are, as another person has pointed out, not elected but are often the only people who are willing to give up Saturdays to go to Synod meetings! (or who have their names down but don’t go to meetings)

A fallible system, but it is a significant part of the process that the C of E uses to discern God’s will. All synod meetings will have begun with prayer, often a eucharist, and the debates were being held in prayer around the country. Do we have the courage to believe that God might be willing to use something as flawed as the Synodical system to help us recognise where God is leading the church?

But the reason that I am so profoundly disturbed by Pete Broadbent’s comment is that it feels as though the vote of diocesan Synods across the country is being rubbished and a bishop is looking for a reason to over-ride a clear response from across the church. If so, this is a very cynical way of responding to the time and energy spent by members of Diocesan Synods and Diocesan officials over the last 6 months. I really, really hope that I am wrong and overly suspicions, and the (unelected, male only) House of Bishops has more integrity than this.

Posted by Rosalind at Tuesday, 15 November 2011 at 1:45pm GMT

What does STV mean? I can guess "first past the post," I think. Yes, I'm a Yank.
Columba Gilliss

Posted by Columba Gilliss at Tuesday, 15 November 2011 at 2:00pm GMT

It really comes down to a simple matter of politics (small "p"). In the face of such an overwhelming result from the diocesan synods, a defeat of the measure by General Synod would provoke a political crisis about the legitimacy of the General Synod. And given the massive rejection of the following resolutions in the vast majority of diocesan synods, any monkeying about along the lines of the previous archiepiscopal fudge would similarly case a meltdown of legitimacy.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Tuesday, 15 November 2011 at 4:28pm GMT

I've also made a graphical depiction of the results: here

Posted by Dan Barnes-Davies at Tuesday, 15 November 2011 at 7:14pm GMT

Single Transferable Vote

Posted by Susan Cooper at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 12:22am GMT

@Erika, Some of us didn't join, but were born into the church and don't like to be called bigots and misogynists because we believe what we were taught by the church.

All this "change or leave" fits in well with the question I've been struggling with for the last week or so since seeing a post about a group of TEC priests where not one in the group would admit to belief in Jesus' literal resurrection- a good thing according to the writer. Another blogger wrote that none of those leaving TEC to become Catholics, etc. had ever been "real" Episcopalians, priests and nuns included. So I asked, "What makes a person a "Real" Episcopalian?" The answer was to not believe anything too strongly as seminary teaches you to get beyond dogmas,literal truth, etc. and embrace spiritual "mystery" wherever it goes. So apparently a real Episcopalian (or Anglican?) must go with female bishops now, and whatever other idea is popular next, CWOB, perhaps? Which made the "Creed" from Rowan Atkinson's "Not the Nine O'clock News" sketch pop into my head. It may be inclusive enough to last a while.

Posted by Chris H at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 6:33am GMT

Chris H,
whether you chose a particular church or were born into it and stayed because you liked it makes no material difference.

If you were taught to believe certain things, did they not also automatically include the way your church does things? People born into the CoE might not have a clue about how the Roman Catholic parish system works in practice but they know about the CoE system of synodical government, how bishops are selected, how the discernment processes of the church work.

They have now had over 30 years of awareness women priests were at first a possibility, then a reality and that there were moves afoot to test the legitimacy of women bishops.
People who were desperately concerned about this would have looked carefully at the mechanics of the discernment process of their church.

And at that point at the very latest, they would have asked themselves if they truly believe that God speaks through this process or not.

If they discovered that they did not trust the process, they would have had to question every decision the CoE ever made – because if it is not God guided it is nothing.
If they felt that the process was sound in principle, they would have to ask themselves whether they might just be trying to stand in the way of God’s will for this church.

This has nothing to do with other people defining whether you are a Real Christian or a Real Anglican or whatever. This is ultimately about personal integrity. I accept that the Roman Catholic church believes it has the divine right to make decisions through the Pope and the Magisterium. I do not believe this to be true, so I could never be a Roman Catholic. But I would not want to grind myself down in a foolish attempt to tell the RC church that it’s processes are all wrong and could it please do a bit more to accommodate me.

I’m on the other side of this argument in the debate about lgbt equality. If the CoE ever formally discerns that it is not God’s will that lgbt people should have full equality, I will have no choice but to accept that this is the valid discernment of that church and that all I can do is take myself and my faith elsewhere to a church that has discerned God’s will differently.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 8:44am GMT

A calling is weighed by Holy Scripture and God believing Spirit filled Born again Christians. If it doesn't fit with Holy Scripture then the calling is obviously flawed and we can gently pastor the situation. Muslims feel called and there are millions of these dear folk! First fundamental lesson of the day!

Add or subtract Holy Scripture at your peril.
God is Spirit, Jesus is Lord and the Holy Spirit is our Councellor.

"Let go" - seems to be what God is saying to me now and so I will.

God bless you all.

Posted by J Hassell at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 9:37am GMT

Chris H -- Certainly The Episcopal Church is a more liberal church than the Church of England.

Apparently that troubles you? Perhaps you look to the Covenant as a means to enforce doctrinal uniformity?

Church of Englanders should realize that in North America the Roman Catholic Church is much more established denomination than it is in the UK--and is far larger than The Episcopal Church.

Imagine if the Roman Church in the UK were far larger than the Church of England. That would likely have effects on the Church of England's development and doctrinal stances.

"Local adaptations" and all that.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 12:36pm GMT

Of course, I am on the side of Susanna and Benedict (who are on different sides over the particular issue but who both wish for continued maximalist accommodation within the C of E).

Let me try to make a 'Christian benevolence' case. Recently, in Geneva I was looking for a 10 a.m. communion. The (Protestant) Cathedral had a service but no communion. So I attended an RC church which had mass (both bread and wine), which I received. At the end, I thanked the priest at the door and said, among other things, 'je suis Anglican'. He replied (in French): 'we have another Anglican in the congregation: let me introduce you'. The other Anglican, an American, told me that this church operated an intercommunion agreement with (a) a local Protestant church; (b) the local Anglican church; and (c) the local Episcopalian church. I do not know what the RC bishop of Geneva thinks of such arrangements (and actually, I'm afraid, I don't care), but I do know what the present pope thinks (and ditto). Benevolent Christians on the ground make arrangements that seem best to them according to their consciences (and no doubt necessities - the congregation here was very small and very largely elderly). So here we have benevolent inter-communion. Not for everybody. Some object. Some readers here would object. I suppose this is extreme liberalism (of one kind).

The same benevolence can however legitimately conclude that what is best for Christians on the ground in the C of E is to cut slack and allow anti-WO people a degree of independence, because there will remain a certain communality and considerable shared activity.

As for bishops' 'jurisdiction', (a) it always amazes me that 'liberals' are so hot for the maximalist interpretation of it in this area, when in most other respects they are against it (rightly, in my view); (b) pace father Ron, what is being proposed (and what applied in the last dispensation, with one bad exception) is not total independence but 'co-jurisdiction'; (c) the principle of 'Christian benevolence' can allow - indeed, demands, continued co-existence (in some form) with those with whom one disagrees (as I disagree with FiF people both on the particular issue and on the need for episcopal 'purity'). Is this shabby or unprincipled? I don't think so. Is it unworkable? Certainly not.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 1:20pm GMT

Two Anglican churches in Geneva, and at Emmanuel Communion is at 10 am. (At Holy Trinity, it depends which Sunday of the month...)

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 4:01pm GMT

@Jeremy: In terms of communicants on Sunday, the RC church is now larger than the Church of England, and the gap is growing, partially fuelled by immigration from eastern Europe.

I'm not sure that the proposition that ECUSA is more liberal than the CofE is even true any longer - certainly it's belied by almost everything written here. Even if true, you seem to be saying it's in reaction to a strong RC church... that may again be true in North America.

In England, I suspect that the cause and effect will be reversed, and a more and more liberal CofE will create a stronger RC church, not the other way around. This was the case throughout the 90s and the pace of change is increasing. Many English Catholics view the progressive slide of the CofE into moral relativism as the perfect opportunity for the conversion of England.

Posted by Clive at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 4:35pm GMT

no-one here is arguing against benevolent hospitality on the ground.
What we are discussing is an enshrined right to special hospitality to the expressed detriment of the authority of the local bishop.

The only way you can do this is precisely with your attitude of "I don't know or care what the local bishop thinks about this".

I don't think that's a path we should particularly want to follow.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 5:07pm GMT


I think your second sentence overstates the negatives. See my (a) and (b).

On your second para. perhaps you're right to some degree. In extremis, I would always assert 'Protestant' freedom of conscience (even though I greatly prefer 'Catholic' forms of worship!). In certain situations (such as finding a congenial Eucharist in a strange city which I do not know), I would/do assert my 'right' over the dictates (if they exist) of a local bishop. But, again, see (a) and (b). Under co-jurisdiction (or whatever), the local bishop would be, precisely, co-. I realise she would not be sacramentally 'co-', but I think enough would have been done to respect the rights/dignities of both sides. In the C of E context, I remain basically of the same view as Benedict above: that is, that it already accommodates huge differences (bigger, actually, than the disagreement over WO) of opinion, and ought to be able to accommodate this one.

I'm perfectly aware there are ironies/paradoxes here. 'Absolutists' like FiF people are invoking pluralism. I(part of me anyway) and I'm sure, many other C of E people, don't give a fig for bishops, but it's this (among other things) that counsels benevolence towards those who do.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 8:50pm GMT

but can you really expect the official government bodies of the church to concur with you about not giving a fig about bishops,about asserting individual people's rights over the dictat of local bishops?

You're talking as if the CoE was a congregationalist church. It isn't. And what they are debating at the moment is legislation.
They cannot possibly be expected to sit light to their canons and the whole structure and polity of the church.

In a well ordered system individuals like you and me have the leeway to express our independence, and I hugely welcome that.
But it is to misunderstand the system completely if you think it can enshrine that independence and that disregard for its own framework in its laws.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 10:21pm GMT

living with different opinions, huge ones even, is absolutely fine. But has there ever been an instance where those not accepting the prevailing discernment of the church have insisted on a perfect enclave for themselves within the church that even extends to separate governing structures affecting the office of bishop?

You're making it sound as if this was a minor inconvenience that should be tolerated, like two people taking communion side by side and one of them believing in transsubstantiation and the other not. Or like one priest blessing civil partnerships and the other not.

But the very idea of creating a church within a church is at least as much of an innovation as women priests and bishops.

In fact, it's the inverted mirror image of people from different denominations getting together in your church in Geneva. Only that we are to pretend that the difference is really quite minor. If it was, we would be able to make do with just the hospitality on the ground you advocate and would not need a tortuous permanent structural agreement.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 10:29pm GMT

John - I assume that you respected the authority of the priest in Geneva. The C of E has always been very good at allowing local solutions to enable those who disagree on some aspects of theology to get along with each other, cooperating in mission and in worship. But the necessary basis for constructive cooperation (as in Geneva ) is the mutual respect local solutions have been created countless times in countless parishes since 1994 when women were ordained priest, with many women doing all they can to meet those who found their ministry dificult to accept. It is either mischievous or lacking in real knowledge of the situation on the ground for the last 20 years, to suggest that this has not been and is not the case. This is the sort of cooperation that those who support the current legislation for making women bishops envisage and trust wil be the case (because those who are likely to be bishops are those clergy who have been making these sorts of working agreements for 20 years.)
AS far as I can see it, the demand for transferred jurisdiction or cooordinate jurisdiction is because those asking for it don't accept the authority of either women priests, or a potential women bishop, and so want to avoid the need for these sorts of conversations and ways of working together that you so admired in Geneva.

Posted by Rosalind at Wednesday, 16 November 2011 at 11:25pm GMT

Clive while I think the RC Church is gaining by immigration esp in London and the south, reading the Tablet suggests that northern dioceses: Liverpool, Lancaster, Middlesbrough, Hexham are declining rapidly...parishes are being amalgamated and clergy will be 40% less by 2020.
I do agree though that the RC Church has,despite public pronouncements, rather lost interest in ecumenism except in a few places and younger seminarians are a lot more conservative and anti-ecumenical than they were 30 yrs ago.But I dont think there should be much room for triumphalism..ask many english people and they talk about muslims, christians, catholics.....despite the last 50 yrs i suspect many english people are more likely to become buddhists than catholics....but more likely the C of E will lose out to house churches /groups meeting in schools / independent evangelical free churches etc

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 17 November 2011 at 1:07pm GMT

The Episcopal Church was from its inception radical and different. It approved divorce and remarriage.. one hundred and fifty years before the Church of England.

In 1873, many evangelicals left and the denomination took on ritualism and liberalism.

As a Catholic I would sadly have to concur that the English and Welsh Church are in decline. We are even losing the battle in the bedroom, with smaller families etc.

In Wrexham ( my home town) In the past ten years 12,000 Poles have settled.. of these less than 400 regularly attend Mass. That means the others,will be lost to the Church within a generation.

My main concern is the poor religious instruction in the schools and a lack of spiritual urgency in the pulpit. preach the Gospel truth and the fruits follow.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Friday, 18 November 2011 at 7:14am GMT

Just to try to clear up the stuff about the representative nature of Diocesan Synods and General Synod. Anyone who wants to get on Diocesan Synod can do so - there are loads of unfilled places, and you practically have to coerce people to go on it. It doesn't decide anything. And there's barely ever an election for most deaneries.

General Synod is deeply fought - and STV is bound to produce a Synod that is more "representative" - i.e. right across the spectrum of opinion. Most of the objections I've read in this thread have insinuated that because it doesn't necessarily reflect a 2/3 majority in favour (though we all hope it will!), it's somehow flawed. But unless we get that 2/3, all the rhetoric will have been useless wind.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Friday, 18 November 2011 at 7:51pm GMT

I completely agree that in the end a 2/3 majority in General Synod is needed for this legislation to become law. That's how it works. And those elected are representatives for the good reason that this allows them to modify their position and their voting over time and in response to circumstances and debate.
But different sorts of voting systems produce different sorts of representation. The sort of STV vote used for General Synod is designed to allow a wide spectrum of view points to be represented. This tends to produce a higher proportion of more firmly held (and extreme??) view points than is the case in either Diocesan Synods or the C of E in general. It is not designed to produce a membership which accurately reflects the proportions of those with a particular viewpoint across the church, though there may be some correlation.

But it is a fallacy to assume that because General Synod is elected by STV the proportions of those members holding any viewpoint is the same as the proportion of those who hold this view in the wider C of E. It does seem that this fallacious reasoning has underpinned a lot of the arguments in this debate until the Diocesan Synod votes began to show a different outcome.
General Synod members and bishops will also be well advised to be aware of the views of “ordinary “ members of our churches who are already talking about how angry they will be if it seems that members appear to ignore the views of the diocesan Synods

Posted by Rosalind at Friday, 18 November 2011 at 10:55pm GMT

Yeah, I'm talking realpolitik here. The Synodical system is pretty shot. The clergy in GS can claim to be pretty representative, since they are elected by the franchise of all the licensed clergy. The laity are elected by the membership of deanery synods (often defined as "a group of Anglicans waiting to go home"). Until we get universal suffrage of all members of electoral rolls, the house of laity will always be flawed. But we're using the word "representative" in two different ways here. My claim is that STV, as the purest psephological system, will give you a proper representation of all the views in the church. It would also give you a proportionate representation if there were universal suffrage. But since there isn't, and we don't hold a referendum on the matter, you have to work with a system that gives voice to all opinions, excludes none, and in that sense "represents" the whole church, including giving weight (perhaps disproportionate weight?) to the views of those opposed. That's more healthy than a one party state. It's more healthy than a whipped Parliament. But it leaves uncomfortable ends, where you have to take notice of the people you disagree with, and where you can't drive the tanks through them.

And the point about Diocesan Synods is that they voted much the same way in 1992 (6 out of 44 against, rather than 2), but that held no sway over the final vote in General Synod.

But the whole edifice is built on pretty shaky electoral foundations, reflecting a different political culture, which probably needs reinventing. Meanwhile let's get the legislation approved...

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Friday, 18 November 2011 at 11:46pm GMT

Why do bishops at their consecration in the Southern Province wear red chimeres yet those consecrated in the Northern Province more humbly wear black (magpie) chimeres?

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 5:56am GMT

But last time Bp Pete when it was approved the H of B was caught on the back foot..they expected it to fail ( and it would seem had no Plan B) There was a lot of sabre rattling from the antis who suggested a third of the Chuch would go into some kind of schism...the H of B panicked and Abp John of York ( ever the cool rationalist but perhaps never aware that many of the clergy arent as cooly rationalist as him and sometimes enjoy being difficult) rode to the rescue, as he saw it, with the PEVs. Before we knew where we were Extended Episcopal Care had become Alternative Episcopal Oversight /a separate "Integrity"..even the Diocese of Ebbsfleet!!!!! Surely we dont want a re-run. If it fails by a few votes in the House of Laity lets not have any gerrymandering and end up with 2 bishops of different genders with jurisdiction in one diocese, and leave it for 5 yrs...., there is a good chance surely it will pass then..painful and disappointing perhaps but who wants an institutionally fractured Church or a Church within a Church...we are fragmented enough as it is which greatly impedes mission...

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 10:14am GMT

@Father David I neither know nor care. Tat is tat. We wear what we're asked to wear. It all looks pretty stupid. But I've always hated dressing up games.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 1:02pm GMT

Bishops in the southern province wear black chimeres at their consecration too. They do at the consecrations I have been to anyway. So unless this has changed very recently ...

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 1:12pm GMT

Christopher Lowson wore a scarlet chimere at his consecration in September as these pictures show.

So too did Nicholas Holtam in July.

Posted by Peter Owen at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 2:49pm GMT

Tat is a harmless diversion as long as you dont take it seriously..but talking about it is rather Anglican! Red chimeres must be recent..I havent been to a consecration for a while and it was mag-pie then.When did red chimeres come in?...mid 19c I think, portaits of 16-18c prelates are all in black chimeres...I thought red chimeres had something to do with being a Doctor of Divinity...and of course Oxford DPhil clergy can wear them too............Was +Rowan the first Abp to wear a chasuble at a consecration?

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 19 November 2011 at 7:11pm GMT

I note that the Lord Bishop of Willesden's indifference since his reinstatement did not prevent him from putting pen to paper.

The bishops of Durham and Penrith at their recent episcopal ordinations in York Minster wore black chimeres. Do such robes signify the inferiority of the Northern Province?

Posted by Father David at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 6:05am GMT

The bishops of Durham and Penrith at their recent episcopal ordinations in York Minster wore black chimeres. Do such robes signify the inferiority of the Northern Province? (Father David)

Oh no, Father David, they signify the *superiority* thereof. (Grins, ducks and runs)

Posted by RPNewark at Sunday, 20 November 2011 at 9:58pm GMT

In which case how come Cantuar is known as the Primate of All England and Ebor simply as the Primate of England? Although I have to agree with Bill Bryon's comment about Durham cathedral i.e. "The finest cathedral on planet earth bar none." How about that for superiority!

Posted by Father David at Monday, 21 November 2011 at 3:33am GMT
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