Comments: Archbishops' Council says restart process to admit women to the episcopate at July 2013 General Synod

surely doing the same thing again and expecting a different result really is insanity. Looking at the voting returns it seems that Chichester, Winchester and London dioceses are the main opponents of the legislation, others voting in what seems to be a proportionate way. Do the representatives of these dioceses actually mirror their electors views?

Posted by Dave Hargreaves at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 2:38pm GMT

So Dr. Carey's advice has been heeded and they are tearing up the rule book?

Posted by Father David at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 3:05pm GMT

Is this good? Depends. In so far as the women bishops issue is a major problem for the C of E which is causing immense destruction, it is good. If it involves rewriting the rules, to secure a desired end, it is bad. See Father Jones' (St Peter's Wapping) penultimate posting on 'gerrymandering'. So I hope that the 'process' will include solid guarantees for traditionalists, and that at long last everybody will be able to get behind a comprehensive package which will lay this issue to rest.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 8:49pm GMT

Well said John, I agree. Solid guarantees are what is needed for the legislation to be passed. This gives the opportunity to not have to wait until post 2015 and shows that the church is being proactive in trying to solve the problem as well as the fracas of GS elections.

Posted by Bob at Wednesday, 28 November 2012 at 11:08pm GMT

I will be interested to hear if, in the light of the disastrous interventions in the last process by the HoB, they will this time act more transparently and invite some of the concerned parties to talk to them about what is an acceptable way forward. And let us all know who they are meeting and so forth. It would be a new way to operate - but a healthy one.

Further, I think they will need to get clear in their understanding that nothing that in any way suggests that women are not bishops on exactly the same terms as men will do, and that accommodations for those who cannot accept women as bishops will have to be built around that reality, uncomfortable as it undoubtedly is. The victory for those who felt they had not got enough in terms of guarantees and so voted down the Measure is likely to be phyrric: the mood of the majority, it appears, and the mood of parliament (certainly) is for women bishops on an equal basis with men.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 1:00am GMT

The Council's statement seems one sided:

"to affirm all women serving the church - both lay and ordained - in their ministries"

which gave me some concerns on first reading; but the subsequent joint statement by FIF and Reform seems to be a counter-balance.

I do hope we are proceeding to a new measure with solid guarantees for the minority.

Posted by Labarum at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 1:26am GMT

A solid guarantee that women will be second-class bishops?

You won't get it.

Stop deluding yourselves. Your position is now weaker than it has ever been.

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 4:03am GMT

Apparently Synod's Standing Orders only prevent the reconsideration of the same legislation during the period of the present General Synod. So, how will any new proposals be significantly different from that which failed last week to receive a 2/3rds majority in all three Houses? The inclusion of the much heralded word "respect" was far too woolly and vague to receive approval; so can expect to see that omitted from the new and improved magic formula currently being dreamt up by the Archbishops' Council?

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 5:36am GMT

"Solid guarantees are what is needed for the legislation to be passed."

Any solid guarantee given to the traditionalists must mean legislation that makes women "second class" bishops. Such legislation may pass synod but will be rejected by Parliament (see Tony Baldry's comments for the past 5 years). It might also be rejected by the progressives in synod.

The CofE has a choice. It can appease the traditionalists and decline into a minor sect. Or it can attempt to stay in line with the values of the country it serves, which are also the values of the majority of the Christian worshippers in the pews, and have a chance of remaining the established church.

In the process one side will get hurt. But which side will it be?


Posted by Simon Dawson at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:02am GMT

Since any measure will require parliamentary approval (all measures do), it seems to me that there is little prospect of any approach which goes further in making legislative provision for dissent passing parliamentary scrutiny - just as, last time round, concessions, in the form of the Act of Synod, were required to ensure that the priests legislation passed. The measure presented to Synod could have been approved by Parliament this time round. But Parliament seems determined to act as a reality check for the Church. The history of the CofE over the last 150 years or so has been of internal groups playing the "erastian" card in fairly consistent accord with their own interests, rather than any theological or ecclesiological consistency. Likewise there has been inconsistent exegesis of Romans 13.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:34am GMT

Would someone please remind me when the "Period of Reception" with regard to the priesting of women was brought to a satisfactory conclusion?

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:42am GMT

"The inclusion of the much heralded word "respect" was far too woolly and vague to receive approval"

No it wasn't. It had a precise legal meaning that should have satisfied people

You might not think the legal definition is firm enough but it's maybe about time to stop saying that it is nothing but a woolly concept that had to be rejected.

I sometimes do wonder whether people actually read what they rejected.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:53am GMT

There was a film that showed people being locked in the cellars of Westminster Palace to push through the Elizabethan Act of Uniformity. There was a degree of artistic Iicence as some of those so depicted were dead by 1558.

Still, there may be some merit in the general principle, the same cellar must be close by and while those so detained may not be dead, their ideas surely are.

Those who say this is a time for more concessions are just not reading the signs ......... Less is more!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:53am GMT

Even as a "traditionalist" I'm not supporting it necessarily, but one thing that would work is the society model, constituted along the same lines as the current bishopric of the armed forces.

Take all the refusenik parishes out of their dioceses regardless of whether the bishop is male or female and put them under someone else -it's how we currently do it with a couple of hundred military chaplains without the diocesans batting an eyelid, so 300 res Cs shouldn't present a problem.

I'm afraid, as I've consistently said for the past 2 weeks, that neither side is going to like what comes out of this - and the pro side need to recognise that just as much as the antis...

Posted by primroseleague at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 9:06am GMT

Who's for a 'Single Clause' proposal; to take the place of a two-tier Church of England? I'm sure this would help dissidents to avoid perjuring themselves in any promises future clergy make to 'obey' one's Ordinary - that's if the C.of E. is to retain the tradition of the diocesan Bishop being owed loyalty by his/her clergy.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 9:33am GMT

As far as Forward in Faith are concerned the period of reception has not yet ended. Perhaps it would clarify things if this was voted on as soon as possible.

It would certainly clarify my personal position to know whether the whole C of E had now 'received' my ordination or not.

Posted by Pam Smith at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 9:50am GMT

Primroseleague suggested: "Take all the refusenik parishes out of their dioceses regardless of whether the bishop is male or female and put them under someone else -it's how we currently do it with a couple of hundred military chaplains without the diocesans batting an eyelid, so 300 res Cs shouldn't present a problem."

This solution is called "forming another church" as far as I can see, or perhaps "joining another church" as happened with the Ordinariate.

The analogy with Military chaplains is not, it seems to me, a helpful one for two reasons.
1.Military chaplains (like hospital and school chaplains) while having their own structures are still very much part of the C of E and subject to its rules. Having been a priest in a naval town I know that the navy chaplains were often at clergy chapters and took as full a part alongside the rest of us as they could.
2. Parishes are not chaplaincies. Military and other chaplains are only responsible for those within their institutions or organisations. Parish clergy have responsibilities for everyone who happens to live in their parishes, not just their congregations. These people have a right to expect that their parish church is fully part of the Church of England, with views, policies and procedures that are in line with those of the C of E generally, not some sort of offshoot, going its own way in perpetuity.

Posted by Anne at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:08am GMT

For information:

The Bishop *to* the Forces (more properly the ABC's Episcopal Delegate to HM Forces) is often but not always a suffragan of the Diocese of Canterbury. The Ordinary to HM Forces is the ABC himself. Anglican clergy recruited from all parts of the UK receive his licence and he is the Ordinary of Naval, Military and Air Force Chapels throughout the UK and abroad. The Armed Forces Chaplaincy is indeed extra-diocesan.

The RC Bishop *of* the Forces sits atop an Ordinariate established by the Vatican in accord with international policy for Armed Forces Chaplaincies. The Ordinariates established recently for other reasons are similar legal entities.

The centralised Roman Church seems to live with parallel jurisdictions . . .

Posted by Labarum at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:15am GMT

I take it your comment was tongue in cheek.

I find it astonishing how those who insist on an orthodox catholic way of doing things would have no problem with a church that changed its system from one where Dioceses are regional entities and everyone lives with their bishop regardless of his churchmanship from one where the diocesan division runs along theological lines.

To what extent would that still be the CoE and not just a loosely connected federation of small churches?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:29am GMT

I have reflected on the women bishops vote over this past week. It is not simple and there are huge issues at stake.

First, my personal belief is that female bishops should have exactly the same standing and powers as male bishops, and I believe that belief accords with the mood of government and the country, and the mood of most of the Church. To many decent people outside the Church (who we would like to reach) the failure to pass the measure was viewed with incredulity and is a terrible witness that subverts the Church's credibility.


What I believe (above) has consequences and is also not presently possible to implement as things stand.

(a) it is unrealistic to suppose that a single clause yes or no vote, or 'less generous' clause, or even the same clause - if the measure is re-introduced in 2014 or 2015 - will be any more capable of gaining two-thirds consent of the laity.

(b) although I believe women and men should be treated the same, I do not desire the consequences of an exodus of anglo-catholic and some evangelical Christians from the Church of England. A lot of my views are catholic, and I believe the diverse make up of our Communion is a grace and a blessing.


Posted by Susannah at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:32am GMT


In the end, I suspect a choice has to be made between a compromise that wounds and disappoints supporters of women bishops in order to protect the diversity and integrities of our Communion; or a radical decision to suspend the two-thirds condition and even, possibly, the bishops, clerics, laity division, and go for a vote that seeks to effect what the majority actually wants.

The latter is probably the only short-term process that could get the vote passed, and in that case there would indeed only need to be a single yes or no clause.

But the price would be the alienation (and probable loss) of a valued part of our diverse Anglican community here in England.

So, as I see it, there are two choices. Re-order the voting arrangements, in a kind of coup, in the interests of what the majority regard as the right and just outcome. Or wait until after a new House of Laity has been elected, and wait and see if *then* they accept a respect-based accord like last week's one.

The stakes are so high, both ways. I don't even know myself which outcome is less harmful.

Personally, although it is a huge test of patience, I'm possibly just inclined - against what I desire and believe - to wait until new laity elections, because if we can possibly somehow all live together, then I think that way offers a way of grace.

If at that point, no breakthrough is achieved, then and only then, I think the rule book should be torn up and the two-thirds majority reduced to winner takes all. But it is hard to see that anyone wins without immense grace and generosity.

I think Lord Carey may be a little impetuous. I think a process of patience and forbearance may need to continue a little longer. I think the Church still needs to be protective of its minorities.

But a two-thirds 'yes' on similar terms to least week, is simply not going to happen any time soon with the present voting system.

Posted by Susannah at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:40am GMT

Response to Dave Hargreaves - No

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:43am GMT

As an outsider looking in, but with some knowledge of the parliamentary constraints, I think that primroseleague's idea has "legs". A Measure embodying discrimination on its face will be rejected by the Ecclesiastical Committee. Tony Baldry has said so as clearly as possible - have Reform and FiF been listening? That the C of E faces a major constitutional crisis is not the overheated imagination of extreme pro-WB people. It is the leaked phrase of William Fittall. I hope that the forthcoming discussions will get all to understand how deep the constitutional crisis is. No Measure means disestablishment. A discriminatory Measure will be thrown out. Any solution must face these constraints. A single non-territorial diocese might do the trick.

Posted by Iain McLean at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:58am GMT

The problem with the 'society' model is that it is predicated on congregations, not parishes. In many resolutions parishes the raw number of those who vote for the resolution concerned is very small. Under s3 of the 1993 measure it need only be a majority of a quorum (50%) of a PCC, so in a small parish with only, say 12 PCC members, this could be as few as 4 people. The effect of such a resolution would be to take the entire parish, including those who do not attend church but who are nevertheless parishioners, out of the diocese and away from their bishop.

Posted by Wilf at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 11:35am GMT

If any new Measure were to reach parliament it would by definition have already cleared all the hurdles the Church itself would have imposed. If the church had declared itself "happy" it is surely nigh inconceivable that parliament would reject the legislation and derail the process all over again.

Judging from their comments many politicians seemed to think that synod had rejected the principle of women bishops when it had not.

Posted by Original Observer at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 11:43am GMT

Fr David - the concept of "reception" is fluid, as you know. The Church of England has, I would suggest, received the ministry of women as priests so far as any recognisably colloquial meaning of the term is concerned.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 1:19pm GMT

Father David - you ask about the 'period of reception'. Satisfactorily or not is always going to be in the eye of the beholder but, for me (and for most people I believe), the period ended gradually as it became apparent that women priests were not just tolerated, but welcomed, treasured and affirmed, by their congregations and by the vast majority of their fellow clergy, and finally when it became apparent that, in many areas, the CofE could not function on the scale that it has without the ministry of women priests.
A few others, presumably including yourself, cling to the belief that the last 20 years have all been a dreadful mistake, that tradition and not reason will prevail, and that Knox's 'monstrous regiment' will be stripped of their stoles, told that they have never been priests, given back their aprons and put back in the kitchen where they belong.
Don't let me trample on your dreams!

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 2:06pm GMT

Our diocese approved the legislation and also sent back a following motion requesting that there be no further provision. There is no further provision to be had that satisfies all of the remit given to the legislative drafting committee. Its worth re - reading the press statements after the original clause 5.1c was proposed which also say that was not enough. The legislation presented was the best on offer, those who rejected it should not come back demanding more.

Posted by Lindsay Southern at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 2:12pm GMT

The Armed forces Bishopric is designed to tackle the specific geographical challenges of the military, and as someone who was selected through that process, that is extremely necessary to address the issues of a peculiarly mobile community. It is not formed on the basis that they refuse to recognise the orders of some other members of the Church of England. The creation of a separate diocese who are not in communion with other diocese is simply schism.

Posted by Lindsay Southern at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 2:20pm GMT

Adding to Erika's post at 8.53 am, in which she gives the link to the legal advice given to the House of Bishops on the meaning of 'respect' by Stephen Slack, Chief Legal Adviser at Church House, contained in the Annex to paper GS 1708-09ZZZ, little attention seems to have been paid to one of the speeches in the GS debate last week in which the speaker referred to the fact that the meaning of the word 'respect' has already been considered in the context of its use in the European Convention on Human Rights.

Article 2 of the First Protocol (set out in Part II of Schedule 1 to the Human Rights Act 1998 and usually abbreviated "A2P1"), "Right to Education", provides: "No person shall be denied the right to education. In the exercise of any functions which it assumes in relation to education and teaching, the State shall respect the rights of parents to ensure such education and teaching in conformity with their own religious and philosophical convictions."

In Campbell and Cosans v UK (1982) 4 EHRR 293 (at para 37) the European Court of Human Rights held that 'respect' "means more than 'acknowledge' or 'take into account'; in addition to a primarily negative undertaking, it implies some positive obligation on the part of the state. This being so, the duty to respect parental convictions in this sphere cannot be overridden by the alleged necessity of striking a balance between the conflicting views involved."

In Valsamis v Greece (1996) 24 EHRR 294, in which the ECtHR repeated these words from the Campbell case, it also pointed out that the court had said in a case in 1981 that “although individual interests must on occasion be subordinated to those of a group, democracy does not simply mean that the views of a majority must always prevail: a balance must be achieved which ensures the fair and proper treatment of minorities and avoids any abuse of a dominant position.”

Clearly, what is needed, and was missing from many of the speeches in the GS debate last week made by those opposing final approval of the Measure, was the necessary element of trust surely involved in the word ‘respect’.

Posted by David Lamming at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 4:00pm GMT

Original Observer - perhaps you do not remember the Prayer Book Crisis of the 1920s, where Parliament (acting on "evangelical" views) twice rejected revised liturgical texts which had received the approval of the church. I believe a Churchwardens measure was rejected by Parliament in the days of General Synod - so it has been done, and is not inconceivable, just infrequent.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 6:27pm GMT

Wilf - I'm not sure, but isn't a 2/3rds majority on a PCC required before Resolutions A B or C are accepted? In addition to proper notice (like an APCM) of the relevant meeting at which the vote is to take place.

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 6:36pm GMT

Mark, you tell me that the period of reception is "fluid" - personally I'd prefer it to be watertight. Malcolm informs me that "the period ended gradually" - well, as he further suggests I must have been sleeping and dreaming at the time for I don't recall any Synodical debate which formally brought this period to its terminus.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 6:57pm GMT

I have to say, though, that although I quoted the TA link to the meaning of respect myself, I have to say that it was not a concept that had been highly publicised before the vote.

After the Appleby amendment when people complained about the word respect being a woolly concept, 2 bishops said that they had had legal advice about its meaning which helped them to agree to the proposal.
But despite several weeks of asking on TA what this meaning was I got not a single reply from anyone.
Watch did not seem to have heard about it, in fact, in the end some of their senior representatives also asked the same question.

Simon's link came late in October and that one place on TA was the only location I saw this explanation.

It is not really surprising that the majority of those who voted in GS did not feel fully confident about it.

Why was this information not circulated far more widely and much sooner?
Or was it sent to all the members of Synod?
Could it be expected that they knew about it?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:27pm GMT

Am I missing something obvious or are those who want a separate diocese effectively ruling out their having any further significant influence on General Synod? Assuming the Diocese gets as big a quota of places in General Synod as London, that means 2 bishops out of 50+, 10 clergy places out of around 200 and 10 laity out of over 200. That means that they could never gain a blocking quota on General Synod and the rest of us wicked libruls could do almost anything we wanted to via that. Or have I misunderstood how this extra diocese is supposed to work?

Posted by magistra at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:38pm GMT

What is wrong with being a "second class bishop." we have those already- PEVs and suffragans. Are you to raise PEVs to the status of diocesans? Is it really all about status and not service then? Why is something not "resolved" just because you don't accept the outcome. I'm not leaving but a vote for women bishops will not resolve the matter for me.

Posted by the Revd Robert T at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:40pm GMT

Fr David - I didn't say the period of reception was fluid, but that the concept of "reception" was fluid. The word cannot just be interpreted by cherry-picking tradition, particularly when the original context in which it was used was unconscious of that cherry-picked tradition. There is an open question as to what "reception" means, and I think you would like to resolve it in your own favour without having the conversation. That is precisely what is wrong with the supposed separatist structural solutions - neatness without relationship is not church.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 10:27pm GMT

Erika is, I think, referring to this article of mine on the meaning of "respect".

This quotes the advice from the chief legal advisor in GS 1708-09ZZZ. This GS paper was circulated to all members of General Synod at the end of October, along with all the other papers for last week's meeting.

Posted by Peter Owen at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 11:12pm GMT

So "respect" has a legal definition but it is "an open question as to what 'reception' means"
Sounds to me like it's Make it up as you go along-time!

Posted by Father David at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 7:29am GMT

thank you. If they have all received that paper then my question is redundant.

There ought not to have been a single person who though that "respect" was a woolly concept.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 7:57am GMT

Fr David "reception" was your word, not one in the legislation. I reject having your meaning of the word foisted on me.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 8:44am GMT

Neil, you may be correct but the maths is still the same. A combination of the Church Representation Rules and the 1993 Measure makes it possible for 4 people to turn a parish into a resolutions A and B parish.

Posted by Wilf at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 8:50am GMT

It isn't an open question to me what reception means.

Those who oppose women's ordination believe that, until it is 'received' to their satisfaction, the decision is reversible. And it will never be received to their satisfaction. This is the basis on which they can remain in the Church of England until we see our error.

I would very much like 'reception' to be debated and voted on in General Synod, then we would all know exactly where we are.

Posted by Pam Smith at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 9:41am GMT

Neil -- Although 'Resolution C' (the Act of Synod one) requires a 2/3 majority of the PCC, passing or rescinding either or both of Resolutions A and B requires a simple majority. At least half of the eligible members must attend, and due notice of the meeting, and of the motion(s) concerning the Resolutions, must be given -- that's 4 weeks I think.

If there is a change in state of the Resolutions then the PCC must inform the Bishop, the Patron, the Registrar, the diocesan secretary (or other person responsible for initiating processes in a vacancy), the Rural Dean and the deanery Lay Chair.

As it happens, the PCC I am on passed such a motion just last week (a day after the General Synod vote). We voted to rescind Resolution A. And on Sunday a woman will preside at the Eucharist. I think that is 'reception' isn't it?

Simon K

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 10:12am GMT

"I would very much like 'reception' to be debated and voted on in General Synod, then we would all know exactly where we are."
Precisely so, Pam Smith - I totally agree. Let us bring the period of reception to a formal conclusion with regard to the priesting of women before rushing once more, like the Gadarene swine, headlong into the maelstrom which is the Measure concerning women in the episcopate.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 11:05am GMT

I think that is 'reception' isn't it?

Yes indeed, although odd that the resolution was there in the first place. Hopefully your PCC would still have rescinded the resolution had the historic vote of General Synod not to pass legislation for women bishops gone the other way?

Posted by Neil at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 11:49am GMT

Fr Ron, I am in agreement. There is now no clear call for any discriminatory clause whatsover as this plainly will not work, as already witnessed by much past and current opposition. Neither does it seem good to many of us and the Holy Spirit. God protect us from more confusion, pain and discrimination which overshadows all peoples. Posting something to you in a mo. Rosie

Posted by Rosie Bates at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 9:00pm GMT
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