Comments: Archbishop's comments

Are there any details yet of which Bishops opposed and abstained?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 11:08am GMT

A sad day for everyone in the Church of England. It seems so idiotic that the majority of Dioceses were in favour of the measure to admit women to the Episcopate. Also the motion is passed by the House of Bishops, and the House of Clergy; but falls by six votes in the house of laity. This means the majority of the Synod voted for the measure.
To the outsider it must seem madness, when the national parliament can pass Acts of Parliament with a simply majority
It is high time the Synod reformed itself, and came in line with the national parliament
The Church of England is made to look ineffective by a few.

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 11:58am GMT

Whoever the Bishops are who abstained and voted against, they are clearly more in touch with those laity who felt the provision for traditionalists was ungenerous. All need to work together now, for the sake of the Church and a more satisfactory consensual outcome.

Posted by Benedict at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 11:59am GMT

[The Archbishop of Canterbury] said that the failure to approve the draft Measure meant that the Church of England has “lost a measure of credibility” and that the Church could be seen as “wilfully blind” to modern trends and priorities.

Replace 'a measure of' with 'all and 'could be seen as' with 'is' and he has got it about right.

The 'militant secularists' of which the church is so afraid have been handed the victory. The church is toast. It can have nothing to say to the modern world. Society will no longer listen.

The conservatives who brought this about have ensured that Christians can no longer have anything to say about the world and that what they believe or do is irrelevant to the vast majority of the English.

Those who have ensured that the church is kept pure from the taint of women are destroying it.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 12:32pm GMT

I thought I heard the Bps of Chichester, Chester and Europe say during their speeches yesterday that they would be voting against. +Chester certainly wrote in his article in the CT that he would be voting against.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 12:57pm GMT

Richard, weren't there several posts here about Liberal/progressive groups that were against the measure because it made women bishops second class and gave conservatives too many protections? For a while there it seemed many liberals were going to vote it down, though apparently they decided in the end that some progress was better than none. I don't think this vote can be laid only at the feet of conservatives, unless the CoE has more conservatives in the ranks of the laity than the leadership wants to admit. Perhaps some of the progressive laity that heard the earlier calls against it didn't get the memo to vote for it this time.

Posted by Chris H. at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 1:39pm GMT

As a simple layman I do not understand the rationale behind this decision - can someone please explain?

Posted by D Weston at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 1:54pm GMT

I've started a petition at

to ask the CofE "Group of Six" to authorise another vote in 2013, to allow Dioceses to reflect on the results of this vote and to make their views even more clear to their General Synod representatives.

Please consider signing it if you consider, as I do, that this vote actually frustrated the wishes of the vast majority of those in the pews that we should have women bishops.

Thank you.
Rose Braisby

Posted by Rose Braisby at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 2:13pm GMT

Like it or not, the church now needs to win the trust of those opposed to having women Bishops. Appointing some conservative evangelical Bishops might be a good start.

Posted by Erasmus at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 3:00pm GMT

Readers may find this article by the A.P. from Boston News of interest. Looks like political leaders outside the parochial world of the church don't see civil rights as a luxury or liberal fad at all. Here's a teaser.

"The Church of England has much explaining to do following its failure to vote to allow women to serve as bishops, its leader said Wednesday — and politicians from the prime minister downward are already demanding action or answers.One legislator even suggested there might be an issue under anti-discrimination laws."

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 3:24pm GMT

"The armies separated; and, it is said, Pyrrhus replied to one that gave him joy of his victory that one more such victory would utterly undo him. For he had lost a great part of the forces he brought with him, and almost all his particular friends and principal commanders; there were no others there to make recruits, and he found the confederates in Italy backward. On the other hand, as from a fountain continually flowing out of the city, the Roman camp was quickly and plentifully filled up with fresh men, not at all abating in courage for the loss they sustained, but even from their very anger gaining new force and resolution to go on with the war."

Posted by Political Realist at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 4:58pm GMT

This is presumably too simplistic an idea, but why not invite all members of General Synod to reflect on yesterday's vote, take in the national reaction and then vote again in February - without speeches, just prayer before hand.

Posted by peter kettle at Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 5:56pm GMT

'The church now needs to win the trust of those opposed to women bishops'? Actually, no. The church just spent 12 years trying to do that, and the painful compromise the opponents were offered, they just rejected, to the humiliation and embarrassment of all the thousands of woman priests on whose devotion the functioning of the church depends day by day, and to the despair of many of those trying to believe that it is an organisation devoted (despite its inevitable flaws) to justice, mercy, and generosity. So that's over, I think. What we need to do is to make sure that the next General Synod more accurately reflects the overwhelming preponderance of lay opinion in favour of treating women with decency and dignity. What we need to do is to make sure that as many as possible of the 74 'nay' voters are challenged and removed; and then we need to pass the measure.

Posted by Francis at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 12:02am GMT

There has been a failure of leadership over this issue. Had Rowan Williams devoted half the time and energy that he gave to the failed and discredited Covenant, there is a strong chance that the measure would have passed. But he has never challenged the "theology" behind the objections, a mishmash of sexism, misogyny, myth and fundamentalism. All he and Sentamu have done is try to pacify the objectors with disastrous results. He is good at pointing out the ills of society, but far too scared to challenge the members of his own church. Unfortunately it looks as though Welby will take the same path. Time for the Commons to save the established church from the incompetence of its leaders.

Posted by Helen Lewis at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 12:32am GMT

Now I'm a Catholic so none of this really matters to me. However from the outside two things seem very odd. 1) it's theological nonsense not have women bishops if you have women priests. Granted. 2) Those in favour implored those against (the measure and/or the principle) to trust them to make it work. But since that debate I have read very little (on this blog and others) that doesn't vilify those opposed. For example read Giles Frasers article. There are those on this blog who are now saying 'no more concessions- single clause only' Those opposed know that had they voted for this measure in its present form they would have been slowly killed. The and tragic fact of the last 20 years (it seems to me anyway) is that groups of Anglicans on all sides have learned that they simply don't/can't trust each other. What is called for is not more legislation (that's a secondary issue now) but a deep and sustained focus on the Lord Jesus Christ. Only when all eyes are on him will the central issue of trust be settled.

Posted by Mark Wharton at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 8:49am GMT

"As a simple layman I do not understand the rationale behind this decision - can someone please explain?"

The rationale is that lay members of the Church of England need to be more careful about whom they choose to represent them at Synod.

"Had Rowan Williams devoted half the time and energy that he gave to the failed and discredited Covenant, there is a strong chance that the measure would have passed."

True. The Covenant has always paled in importance to this. But Rowan Williams had his eye set on international uniformity, rather than internal peace.

He is retiring having secured neither.

No wonder Cameron gave him an elegant verbal dismissal.

If Dr. Williams had in fact done an "excellent" job as Archbishop of Canterbury, there would have been no need for the PM to assure everyone of this.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 22 November 2012 at 10:22am GMT
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