Comments: Women bishops: some more analyses

The Archdeacon to the Dales has written that - to continue with the "two integrities" approach seriously endangers the coherence of the episcopacy. But surely the opposite is, in fact, the case? For the moment the first woman is consecrated the coherence of the episcopacy will be utterly destroyed. At least at present the entire Bench is in communion one with another - that will no longer apply if the episcopal innovation comes to pass. I note that the Archdeacon, who looks forward to the introduction of women bishops, urges the rejection of the amended Measure and concludes that "we are in for a turgid time". I think we can all agree on that!
The current Church Times' "Question of the week" asks - "Do you think that the amendments increase the Measure's chances of receiving final approval in July? To date 32% say YES - 68% say NO.
The writing is on the wall.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 8:56am BST

I think the Church Mouse is wrong about this.

Moving what might seem a point of detail from the Code of Practice to the legislation is a big change.

It is a change from "may" to "must". It is a change from "for the time being" to "permanently". If the consequences are damaging, it will, for practical purposes, be impossible to put things right.

Posted by badman at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 9:32am BST

I think Church Mouse is wrong about this, and I think the Clause 5 texts needs some acute and accurate analysis, because I've not met anyone who really understands it, or has imagined how it will operate in practice. It requires the code to provide for

"the selection of male bishops or male priests the exercise of ministry by whom is consistent with the theological convictions as to the consecration or ordination of women on grounds of which parochial church councils have issued Letters of Request under section 3"

So what happens, for example, if a bishop is selected on this basis, and then presides at the induction and institution of a woman to a post as incumbent? Or considers presiding, as his view of matters is changing? Bishops selected on this basis will find themselves under huge pressure to conform to a range of practices, and the leverage this clause gives has not been thought through. There will be no middle ground to be explored, reaching out to each other will be discouraged (because such reaching out would be part of "the exercise of ministry") ...

Posted by Mark Bennet at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 11:09am BST

I too, think Church Mouse is wrong on this issue. The whole idea of 'Flying Bishops' and 'Alternative Episcopal Oversight' has been a tragic failure. It did not prevent the Roman Ordinariate from hosting C. of E. dissidents in the expectation of Women Bishops, nor will it prevent 'theologically compromised' others from moving out when women are eventually promoted to the episcopate.

If F.i.F. and others are seriously concerned about their theological objections, it ought to be impossible for them to remain in the Church of England when Women are actually ordained bishops.

Any other accommodation must surely be spurious - from their point of view, never mind that of the women they choose to exclude from God's calling into the ministry of the Church

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 11:56am BST

badman - the code is a statutory code enforceable through the High Court and Judicial Review. So if it is in there it is not a 'may' but a 'must'. In terms of strength of compulsion it makes no difference. In terms of whether it is 'for the time being' or 'permanently', Mouse would point out that legislation can be amended by General Synod, whilst the Code of Practice can only be revised by the House of Bishops. In other words, putting it directly in the legislation puts it in Synod's hands for the future - Mouse reckons that makes it far more likely that it would be revised than if it is up to the HoB.

Posted by The Church Mouse at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 12:52pm BST

"A lot of us thought we were doing this in the patient expectation that one or other group would eventually become less sustainable."

Interesting logic. Surely she didn't think that she was waiting around to see if her own position would 'become less sustainable' so to what state of affairs does this actually refer?

Conservatives presumably thought two integrities meant just that, without any sell-by date. People at TA can get outraged about this or that, but this point should at least be conceded. I just find it intriguing that the author exposes that she never thought two integrities was an actual viable notion. It was just time-buying, as the march of progress worked its political 'magic.'

Posted by cseitz at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 2:46pm BST

Christopher Seitz accidentally reveals what one of the problems is here. Nowhere in the legislation for women priests (or deacons), nor in the Act of Synod, does it refer to two integrities. It deliberately refers to the integrity of dissenting from ordaining women being the right thing to do.

(Likewise, the reference is to extended - not alternative - episcopal oversight. Some people still confuse the two.)

Posted by Charles Read at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 4:42pm BST

Surely there arent "Two Integrities" in the sense the Church of England holds two positions ,rather there are "two positions of integrity".The Church of England ordains women priests, that is the canonical position. It also caters for conscientious dissent from that position.It seems to me that since 1992 the waters have become muddied..the extended episcopal care originally intended, somehow became alternative episcopal oversight, ending up with the "Diocese of Ebbsfleet"."Its a mess" ( Michael Ramsey in conversation with me in 1974) and the mess gets worse it seems to me.

Posted by Perry Butler at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 9:46pm BST

Church Mouse, why would 'Anglo-Catholic parishes requesting an alternative bishop... being given an evangelical to do the job' be 'just as unacceptable as the woman they were seeking to avoid', whereas ordinarily many Anglo-Catholic parishes have evangelical bishops and vice versa?

Posted by Savi Hensman at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 10:51pm BST

"why would 'Anglo-Catholic parishes requesting an alternative bishop... being given an evangelical to do the job' be 'just as unacceptable as the woman they were seeking to avoid',"

Especially since the ontolotical argument Anglo Catholics make has everything to do with a bishops having to be male, ordained deacon, priest and bishop by another male, and nothing to do with this bishop's individual theology.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 7:30am BST

On the other hand, Pete Broadbent commented on another thread that this "right thinking" clause was already a part of the agreed measure.

Is there someone here who agreed to it back then who can explain why it got to be in there?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 7:33am BST

"Conservatives presumably thought two integrities meant just that, without any sell-by date. People at TA can get outraged about this or that, but this point should at least be conceded."

That I find hard to believe because conservatives are not intrinsically dense and they would have known that it would only be a matter of time until women bishops would be discussed and eventually a woman archbishop.

This position can only ever have been a time limited compromise, the only thing no-one knows is how long that time is.

So I suggest both sides thought that time would tell that they were right and the other side would slowly wither away. At the very least conservatives must have thought that their integrity would remain superior and dominant so that the question of a female ABC could never arise.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 7:38am BST

cseitz - some proponents of the ordination of women - particularly evangelical ones - have always taken the Gamaliel principle seriously - if God is in it, it will flourish; if we are mistaken, it will fail. The logic you suggest is "interesting" is Biblical logic.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 7:54am BST

Erika - the phrase "two integrities" in the way it is now used (as a "right") was a short-hand term used by opponents of WO after 1992/3. AS has been said earlier on this thread, it is not in any legislation, but began to be used to create a church within a church which was not the intention of the majority who voted for the Act of Synod - but may well have been the intention of those who were trying to find more wriggle room than resolutions A and B allowed. The 1992 legislation also provided for financial compensation for up to 10 years after the legislation was made law for any member of clergy who found he had to resign on grounds of conscience. The clear assumptions were that all clergy remaining would have the integrity (there is that word again) to recognise and act according to Canon A4:
"...those who are so made, ordained, or consecrated bishops, priests, or deacons, according to the said Ordinal, are lawfully made, ordained, or consecrated, and ought to be accounted, both by themselves and others, to be truly bishops, priests, or deacons."
but they were given 10 years to work out if they could conscientiously accept the implications of this canon once women were ordained. A generous provision - though everyone recognised it was very painful for all.

All of these demands for wriggle room are based on demanding a right of accommodation those who still do not believe that women can be lawfully made, ordained or consecrated,despite (in the case of clergy) oaths made at ordination and licensing. They have a right to this personal belief. To what extent this belief can/should shape legislation 20 years after the church of England decided that it did have a right to ordain women as priests, is at the heart of the arguments.

Posted by Rosalind at Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 12:23pm BST

"this ‘two integrities’ approach" -- a quote from the article referred to, not my own confection.

Posted by cseitz at Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 2:48pm BST

cseitz: The "two integrities" approach is the creature of Forward in Faith, stretching passing statements on the accommodation of their views and the generous recognition of the integrity with which they are held into a (very uncatholic) doctrine constitutive of the Church of England. Janet Henderson tells us that it is unsustainable, and she is right.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 6:30pm BST

"A generous provision - though everyone recognised it was very painful for all."
And a very financially costly one too Rosalind...wasnt it something like £23 million? Think how that could have helped the mission of the church in these financially straitened times.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 30 May 2012 at 8:12am BST

'Not my confection.'

My point had to do--and it was obvious--with the logic articulated in the original comment. Re:

"A lot of us thought we were doing this in the patient expectation that one or other group would eventually become less sustainable."

Posted by cseitz at Wednesday, 30 May 2012 at 8:43am BST

cseitz; That's the Gamaliel principle, as I put in my first response ...

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 30 May 2012 at 3:37pm BST

Just to answer Savi and Erika's question, I didn't say that any evangelical would be unacceptable, but that one "may be". There are many reasons for this why this could be the case.

Posted by The Church Mouse at Wednesday, 30 May 2012 at 10:44pm BST

Mouse,
it is true that there are many reasons any evangelical would be unacceptable. Just as there are reasons why a gay bishop may be unacceptable, or a liberal one with a too free personal theology...
that doesn't mean that we need special legal provision to protect us from them.

I have this vision of all bishops lined up underneath the Archbishop of Canterbury and every single parish in the land declaring its individual allegiance to a particular one depending on who most represents the mix of theological convictions of that particular parish. Lines of allegiance would be criss-crossing from the parishes up to the bishops.
We could even have an X-Factor style popularity contest with PCCs pressing the red button.

I still don't understand why the "conviction" issue ever made the original Act of Synod and why it's allowed to remain there now.
Nor do I understand why WATCH agreed to it, then and now.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 8:22am BST

So those in favor of women in the episcopate thought their position might be unsustainable? That never occurred to me.

Posted by cseitz at Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 8:38am BST

"So those in favor of women in the episcopate thought their position might be unsustainable"

I shouldn't think so. But everyone must have known that the interpretation of 2 integrities that began to crystallise as "living 2 equal realities at the same time" as not sustainable.

I expect everyone thought "their" side would win the day.

And all we're doing at the moment is still pretending that both is possible.
When we finally get to the question of a female Archbishop the CoE will have to grasp the nettle and settle the question once and for all.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 31 May 2012 at 12:49pm BST
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