This appears, at long last, to be positive, clear, and straight-forward progress in attempting to resolve the situation which should have been settled many years ago. It is a nonsense that women can be priests but not bishops in the CofE (although they are elsewhere) and especially since the most senior member of the CofE is a woman with the status of Supreme Governor ! If the 'Boss' can be a woman, why not in all the lower ranks also ?
This is a rational, creative and sensible way-forward. I feel very encouraged.
I can now begin to imagine human scale, rational, and 'simple' ways forward in addressing other issues; and other visions.
"Following the discussion with the working group, the House went on to consider issues arising from its current all male membership. It decided that until such time as there are six female members of the House, following the admission of women to the episcopate, a number of senior women clergy should be given the right to attend and speak at meetings of the House as participant observers. The intention is that eight members would be elected regionally from within bishops' senior staff teams (that include deans, archdeacons and others). The necessary change to the House's Standing Orders will be made in May.' - Bishops' Statement -
This is really the nub of the statement - that Leading Women will be part of the House of Bishops' ongoing discussion of the process. This can only lead to a more balanced outcome of whatever legislation is eventually put into place.
Good to hear something positive about the process and the emphasis on facilitated conversations. Encouraged by the House of Bishops offer of hospitality to senior women. Think their very presence may have a radical impact.
I apologise for my own mis-reading of this article. In my previous post I have assumed that women would be a part of the discussion BEFORE the House of Bishops decides on the legislation it will put to the voter in General Synod.
Instead, the suggestion is that once the legislation to ordain Women Bishop is approved; THEN the number of women allowed to take part in discussion in the House of Bishops will be up to Eight Women, elected by regions.
This still leaves a distinct LACK of Women being allowed into discussions by the House of Bishops BEFORE the legislation wording is decided upon. This situation is not so forward-looking as one might have hoped.
'Participant observer' status for senior women suggests a few things.
First, the bishops have heard the frustration of government and parliament, and want to mollify Westminster before the bishops' seats in the Lords are threatened. Second reading of several women-bishops bills was scheduled for March, so this announcement gets ahead of that reading.
Second, the bishops have heard the anger, nay fury, of women clergy and the laity who support women's ordination, and wish to mollify them as well.
Third, the House of Bishops is essentially telling the House of Laity that there is a limit to what the Laity can do to keep the Bishops a discriminatory house.
Fourth, the House of Bishops is disassociating itself from the false doctrine of male headship. Judging from the November CofE debate, this is a salutary and necessary teaching move.
Fifth, does anyone think that the former Archbishop of Canterbury would have done this?
Having said all that, "participant observers" are not bishops and will be second-class attenders.... Perhaps their presence, and obvious second-class status, will cause some bishops to show more leadership.
Meanwhile, we await the more recommendations as to how the CofE shall move forward--and soon--to ordain women bishops.
May I correct Fr. Ron. There is no suggestion that the 8 elected women will have to wait for legislation to pass. The House will make the necessary changes to its standing orders in May and from the moment in the meeting that is done I would expect the women to be participant observers.
This is the turning of the tide
This is great, the House of Bishops is showing real leadership at this critical time.
However...'eight [female] members would be elected regionally from within bishops’ senior staff teams'. Who is doing the electing? Male bishops (with the danger they elect women who are not going to be too troublesome)? Female clergy? The House of Clergy? General Synod (and with what majority required?)?
My past experience is that when a woman or women are looked for, often they want a man wearing a skirt. That is, they don't really want someone who is going to put the women's point of view clearly, and carry forward the women's agenda.
I really hope it's going to be different now.
At this rate we'll be electing our bishops too before too long ! Yes, seems like a real turning point.
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