Comments: Women Bishops: House of Commons debate

One of the most interesting contributions to the debate came from Frank Field MP, who announced a Bill he has introduced that is to come up for second reading on 18 January 2013 (ironically, on the same day that the House of Laity of GS will be debating a motion of no confidence in its chairman). The Bill, if enacted, would preclude any further writs being issued to allow male bishops to fill vacancies on the bench of bishops in the House of Lords. Instead, the power to issue a writ would go to the archbishop, who would choose from among the senior women deans to fill a vacancy.

Not only would this proposal secure places for, and give a voice to, senior women clergy in the House of Lords, where the repeated criticism has been of a wholly male bench of bishops, but it has the merit of addressing the composition of the House of Lords—a proper matter for Parliament—without interfering with the internal processes of General Synod in reconsidering (as nearly all recognise it must now do as a matter of urgency) the legislation that would allow women to be consecrated as bishops.

Posted by David Lamming at Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 10:35am GMT

Diana Johnson: "I hope that the House will support the one-clause Bill that I intend to bring forward in the spring to introduce women bishops."

Posted by Jeremy at Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 10:56am GMT

Kudos and gratitude to our Parliament, which is often more progressively thoughtful and godly than the Churches.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 12:17pm GMT

I may have misunderstood the process but, even when women are allowed to become bishops, won't it be a very long time before any of them sits in the House of Lords as, apart from the 'big five', the places there are allocated on length of service?

Posted by Laurence Cunington at Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 4:40pm GMT

Thinking about Parliament - I always thought it was 12 Lords a leaping but news from Wantage confirms that it is actually 12 Anglican nuns who have leapt over the Tiber in order to join the Ordinariate. One of the sisters who was ordained in the CofE said:-
"The call to Christian unity must always be the primary motivating factor in the decision of Anglicans to enter the Catholic Church. Anything which impedes that process cannot be of God, and so must be set aside to acheive this aim, which is the will of Christ."
Amen to that Sister, Amen indeed.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 6:41pm GMT

Question: If the C of E Bishops were to formally petition parliament to enact a female bishops provision, would parliament entertain such? Serious quesiton. Humor me, I'm Canadian.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 13 December 2012 at 8:54pm GMT

In deploring the episcopal inexperience of the ABC designate - Justin Welby - Frank Field M.P. said that he was chosen from a "pretty poorly based gene pool" (which tops Churchill's reference about William Temple as the only half-crown item in a sixpenny bazaar). He then suggests that as vacancies appear on the Bench of Bishops in the House of Lords - they be filled by senior women Deans of cathedrals. Has the Birkenhead M.P. not realised what a pretty shallow gene pool that is with only four possible contenders - York, Salisbury, St. Edmundsbury & Ipswich and Birmingham? Why limit this novel suggestion to female deans - surely a greater choice would be to bring hope, joy and gladness to the ever growing regiment of female Archdeacons and thus deepen the "pretty poorly based gene pool".

Posted by Father David at Friday, 14 December 2012 at 7:15am GMT

The photograph of the Wantage Sisters going over to Rome depicts 12 nuns - but the Church Times reports that 11 sisters are making the leap (half of the 22 nuns who currently make up the convent).
So - what is the true story? Is is 12 Nuns a leaping or 11 Ladies dancing? I think we should be told.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 14 December 2012 at 7:22am GMT

Father David, perhaps he does realize this and is implicitly saying that there ought to be more senior women deans, eligible to be elevated to the Lords, and soon.

Do not mistake what is for what ought to be.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 14 December 2012 at 9:04am GMT

@Father David - 11 sisters from Wantage will join one sister from the Society of St Margaret in Walsingham who has already become a member of the Ordinariate, joined, according to this blog from the Southwest Ordinariate:

Posted by Pam Smith at Friday, 14 December 2012 at 9:22am GMT

This is such good news.

There have been months of negotiations and some years of growing division within the community at Wantage.

It's good to see no open squabble over the very valuable property, the R C bishops have taken a firm hold there.

Now, we can hope that both communities might be open to flourish. It would be wonderful to think that some of the sisters who have left over recent years might feel able to return ..... These matters are never easy or clear cut, despite the spin we see now from Rome.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Friday, 14 December 2012 at 10:26am GMT

As the priestly ministry of the CofE currently stands we have a 2/3rds male to 1/3rd female split. Therefore as there are 43 Anglican cathedrals in England - should there not be at least 1/3rd female deans? After 20 years experience of women in the priesthood should there not be by now at least 14 or 15 women deans - rather than a mere 4? English diocesan bishops are highly influential in deciding who should become Dean in the place where their cathedras sit; so, if they are so keen on having women to join them in the episcopate - why are they so reluctant in suggesting the appointment of female Very Revs in their cathedrals?

Posted by Father David at Friday, 14 December 2012 at 10:59am GMT

Thanks for publishing this, it makes fascinating reading. The number who agree that a one clause measure will have to be on the table next time round is significant. Good also to see TA mentioned with appreciation.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 14 December 2012 at 2:54pm GMT
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