Comments: Women Bishops Consultation - response by Rod Thomas

How very depressing, put this together with the Watch submission and you can see nothing has changed. Everyone restating their positions just as before, apparently irreconcilable positions, so no Women Bishops anytime soon.

In the long term the only solution may be the sort of simple legislation in other provinces, but not during this trienium.

Posted by Stephen at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 7:27am GMT

Yes, I can't see this process moving forward very quickly in this synod. I also wince every time I hear Reform asking for "non-discrimination"...

Posted by Alastair Newman at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 9:57am GMT

We didn't seriously expect anything to change though, did we. We were told in November that the proposed Draft Measure was the one possible compromise solution that everyone had been able to put together in years of hard work.

Then we were treated to a few hours of naive speeches about how we could all easily find a better solution if we only tried - the impression given being that no-one had been particularly bothered until now, but hey, a nice cup of tea and a chat will soon sort that one out.

Well, it won't. That's why November was such a catastrophic mess.

But as for "not during this trienium...." let's not pretend that the CoE will be allowed to play many more delaying games.
If we don't sort this soon and comprehensively, Parliament will intervene.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 2:35pm GMT

The inclusion of some women priests in the discussions of the House of Bishops is a wise move and extremely welcome. But I thought that women were currently excluded from the episcopacy on the ground of their biological sex. I am puzzled by the suggestion that a similar provision might be made for representatives of conservative evangelicals.

Posted by Flora Alexander at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 3:35pm GMT

A thought experiment. Suppose Reform and its supporters were the overwhelming majority in the dioceses and Synod. How would they propose to protect the minorities' theological sensiblities and allow them to have the women bishops they desire?

Posted by Tom Downs at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 4:28pm GMT

Probably the most dreadful thing that could happen would be to institutionalize discrimination. Or do anything that would perpetuate discrimination.

Looking down the road, what happens once WB's are in place and all of the bishops have ordained women and nearly all of the clergy have been ordained by female bishops?

At the local level, bishops can be pastoral towards the discriminating members for quite awhile. Eventually, it would get harder to do so.

It seems to me that this fellow is asking for the impossible. Time is going to run out on the discriminators. Perhaps it already has.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 4:59pm GMT

The term "legislative package" doesn't occur in my words or understanding of the New Testament. Whereas themes like trust, mutual love, in honour preferring one another, heirs together would sound more familiar. I do not find these concepts in this response.

If members of REFORM really think as Rev Rod Thomas thinks, why do they want to remain members of a body where they distrust the majority of the membership and suspect those who differ from them of wishing to thwart and eliminate their theologically based convictions? Why?

Posted by Sister Mary at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 7:56pm GMT

I don't, instinctively or intellectually, like Reform. Nor, for that matter, Forward in Faith. But I want to suggest - as I have done many times in the past and will continue to do many times in the future - that C of E people in the UK - and Christians everywhere - have to acquire a sense of perspective. For why? Well, our 7 year old (goes to Sunday school - likes church) said recently: 'Some people don't believe in God, but they're wrong, otherwise how was I created?' And on another occasion, watching some Disney dvd, 'Did God create dinosaurs?' To which I replied: 'Not exactly - it's complicated'. Those are the stakes - those are the battles. Christians of good will and common sense and with some survival instinct should recognise the scale of the challenge, do deals, and minimise differences.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 8:05pm GMT

Cynthia: go one further and in the context of Justin Welby being elevated to Canterbury so soon after becoming a bishop, ('long experience of being a bishop no barrier....')might not the same happen with the next vacancy at York or Canterbury where women are concerned? Both of whom of course are the bishops who ordain bishops! Has this situation been aired? It could come sooner than we think once women are ordained to the episcopate, but leaves the obejectors in, as far as I can see, an impossible situation. Maybe that's why they are so frightened....

Posted by peter kettle at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 8:26pm GMT

I'm not sure I want Rod Thomas' ministry to "prosper" if that means encouraging the pernicious notion of male headship.

Posted by Helen at Tuesday, 5 March 2013 at 9:15pm GMT

Alastair Newman "I also wince every time I hear Reform asking for 'non-discrimination'"

Translation: "Don't discriminate against our discrimination!"

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 6:12am GMT

Is John's 7 year old a boy or a girl? Because my 10-year old daughter, told that some people thought that women couldn't be bishops, responded with both the unanswerable "Why?" and the instinctive "That's not fair". All her life we've worshipped at a church with a female vicar; she's grown up in a world in which girls are expected and encouraged to be able to do whatever job their skills are suitable for. For half the population, at least, equality is a fundamental issue within society and the church. (She also has difficult questions about dinosaurs, by the way).

Posted by magistra at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 6:57am GMT


Boy. And entirely at ease with women priests, who regularly celebrate at our church.

Dinosaurs aren't actually difficult but they (and countless other things) do of course kick large holes in unadulterated orthodoxy.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 7:39am GMT

Tom: not just a thought experiment - as I see the dynamics of Synod elections, the larger parishes tend to be evangelical and better organised and so their strong position in the House of Laity is only likely to strengthen as the years progress. There's no mechanism for a liberal 'revolt' against the November vote come the next Synod elections, and I suspect that Reform et al know this.

Posted by Jonathan Jennings at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 11:37am GMT

As I have said before Jonathan...its actually getting people to vote that is the problem, with only 35-50% of the electorate bothering..It may be the large evangelical parishes make sure their lay reps vote..and for the right candidate....perhaps the more moderate /liberal parishes need to take note.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 12:41pm GMT

Jonathan: my thought experiment is intended to counter the argument that justice requires that those with a minority theological point of view must be accommodated with a separate scheme. If this were what justice demanded, then there would already be women bishops serving the needs of those whose theology requires them. This is just power politics in Synod... justice has nothing to do with it.

Posted by Tom Downs at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 3:30pm GMT

It is highly unlikely that we will have a female Archbishop of Canterbury for many years to come, since the majority of Anglican provinces do not ordain women to the episcopate. This is largely forgotten in the debate in England. The Archbishop is first among equals, so some of the stronger Evangelical provinces concerned abour headship would fight it tooth and nail.

Posted by Benedict at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 4:49pm GMT

"some of the stronger Evangelical provinces concerned abour headship would fight it tooth and nail"

That's all very well, but how much sway would they have on a CNC?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 6:41pm GMT

Is it still a minority Benedict? Could someone enlighten us?
At present England,Scotland ,Wales,Ireland,TEC, Canada, Central America,Mexico,Brasil, Australia, NZ, S India,N India,Hong Kong, Korea, Japan, Uganda, Kenya, S Africa,Sudan,Philippines,West Indies...that is a good number to my knowledge.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 7:21pm GMT

I don't think that other Anglican provinces are involved, Benedict, in the choosing of the ABC. Even if they were, that still leaves York: there's no reason why a woman bishop should not be considered for the ABY in the future. Male headship is not a doctrine of the Church of England, and it's extremely unlikely that those evangelicals who promulgate it will get the accommodation they demand.

Posted by Helen at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 8:35pm GMT

Benedict, re: no female ABC because of the provinces.

The ABC is selected by a small group of British people. There was no international input what-so-ever. Well, except Wales, and I think most of the world doesn't get that Wales is separate from England, but is still in the UK. We're not even clear about the spiritual component of the selection, it just looked political.

This is not a formula for international recognition as anything but a historical connection. It is a position where someone of great moral authority can have a positive impact, or where a less competent meddler can ruffle feathers. But I think you are far over stating the international standing of the ABC in the provinces. Some tried to use Rowan, unsuccessfully.

Truly the CoE should choose the person who is right for CoE. This tiny group of selectors can not possibly represent the broader Anglican communion. They can not possibly know the various dynamics and it would be arrogant and presumptuous of them to try.

If CoE is selecting for CoE, then the scenario of a woman ABC is potentially not that far off, as I believe Peter noted.

If they want the ABC to have a stronger international standing, then the election of the ABC needs to include representatives from each province.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 6 March 2013 at 8:36pm GMT

"The Archbishop is first among equals, so some of the stronger Evangelical provinces concerned abour headship would fight it tooth and nail."

- Posted by: Benedict -

Then, Benedict, this should prove to you just how little political influence the Archbishop of Canterbury holds within the Provinces of the Anglican Communion. Some of us, of course, relish our connection our historic roots in the Church of England, but in today's politicised world of 'Church Politics' - especially when embroiled in democratic governmental Politics - The different Provinces of the Anglican Communion (it is not A CHURCH, but a Communion of Churches) seem to prefer to support their own particular culture.

For instance, in the USA and Canada, where Women's Rights have long been embraced by society, the Church has had to adjust to that. The same is true of the rights of sexual minorities; society has come to experience the legitimate need to affirm their relationships - where these have been made lawful. The Church, being the Church in that society, has understood the need for change.

It may be that, in the U.K., the Church is not ready yet for such changes; and therefore it may need the change-agencies in society that will bring them about.

In parts of Africa, Women and Gays are unjustly treated; and the Church in some of those countries is still aligned with their governmental policy.

It is in this environment that the different Provinces of the A.C. have been torn apart by those in their respective Churches who have decided that they cannot go along with what they see as more permissive (rather than just) polity.
This has caused local schism, and with GAFCON distancing itself from both Canterbury and the more justice-oriented Provinces of the Communion by intentional schism - the eirenic genrosity of the 'Unity in diversity aspect of our relationship - via Canterbury - seems no longer attractive to the conservative in the mix.

Thus, Canterbury may no longer be seen as the focus for all elements of the Communion, whose
missionary endeavour would seem to be based on different ideals. Those of us who struggle with the Church of England to show leadership on very important issues of justice - especially at this crucial time, to Women and LGBT persons - want to stay in communion with Her. However, we cannot force any other Province to stay with us!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 7 March 2013 at 8:49am GMT

John, I am far more concerned about how my young grandchildren receive their Christian formation. Three of them are very keen on Dynasaurs but their parents are totally unimpressed with the Church of England playing about with their children's minds on gender issues. They don't remain to kick holes - they walk away attending only weddings and baptisms and the odd 'safe' area such as Christingle and Crib services. I understand their fears, especially when their little one's have been subjected to mindless anti-gay anti-women tirades. They failed to find what they would regard as a safe environment for their children. Christ weeps.

Posted by Rosie Bates at Saturday, 9 March 2013 at 11:51pm GMT
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