Comments: Update on progress on women bishops legislation

That is a non-update.

Posted by Dan BD at Tuesday, 26 March 2013 at 6:19pm GMT

Can anyone detect real "progress" here?

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 26 March 2013 at 8:09pm GMT

This is the C of E being swift and decisive. How many meetings does it take to square a circle?

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 12:58am GMT

This does make one seriously consider exactly what the hierarchy of the Church of England consider to be a legitimate up-date'. However, one can only take the hint that, in its legislation for justice for women, there just is no progress.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 9:47am GMT

What a depressing set of comments. A group of people was given a job to do (which there is no reason to suppose they are not doing) and a timetable (which they appear to be keeping to). Like the synodical process or not, unless and until it is changed it is the way the Church of England is governed. And if even that didn't impose certain time constraints, it's surely better to take time to produce legislation which has the best chance of being passed rather than rush, produce something shoddy, and risk a repeat of the highly unsatisfactory outcome to the last round of synodical debates.

The constant demand for action now and updates every minute is one of the more depressing and least helpful features of contemporary debate, in politics and elsewhere, as is the tendency to pick over and pull apart every public utterance of an individual or group. The text says what it says, no more, no less.

Posted by Philip Hobday at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 12:13pm GMT

Philip Hobday: The problem is that the impression given in the wake of the mess last November was that things would happen really quite quickly. The concern that many of us have is that quickly means something rather different in the C of E. (Look at how quickly the RC Church moved to elect a new Pope in unprecedented circumstances). I still discover regular, well informed church members who believe that the General Synod will make a decision about this in July. Clearly that will not now happen. What can only possibly happen in July, it seems, is that a fresh set of proposals comes to GS, who then debate them and decide whether or not they will send them round the dioceses all over again. It feels cumbersome, and to many of us, pretty hopeless. It becomes clearer and clearer that those who do not accept the development will not accept any proposal that is not enshrined in law. It also becomes clearer to many of us that the whole nonsense about resolutions and Acts of Synod that we created in 1992 simply has to go. Women need to be bishops and priests on exactly the same terms as men. Anything else is just discrimination and not worth consideration.
Of course those who can't accept this have an honoured place in the C of E and should not have to negotiate a place at the table. What they should not have is a separate table.
The C of E could decide this and get on with this tomorrow if it really wanted to. The delay indicates that it still prefers to find ways to do what it did post 1992 - to make discrimination legal.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 2:10pm GMT

Re: 'rather than rush, produce something shoddy'

Just how long, exactly, did it take to produce the legislation that was presented last November? Presumably everyone breathing and with an interest had been consulted before that vote? Who on earth is there left to 'consult?'

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 2:37pm GMT

Hear, hear Philip. Two things are undoubtedly true at the moment:

1. There is a huge work of (re)building trust to be done after November's vote. That is before people can hear each other and discern a way forward.
2.The fact that the legislation was defeated in November means that it's not going to be easily passed again, however much we supporters might wish it were. Nobody wants a second failure.

In the short term, this means talking and listening before acting; in the longer term, if the talking and listening doesn't work, then it's the General Synod elections in 2015 that will settle the matter.

So accept the press release as a "we're still working hard at this" update and calm the hell down!

Posted by Simon Butler at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 3:38pm GMT

"So accept the press release as a "we're still working hard at this" update and calm the hell down!"

Or ask your MP to settle things sooner.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 4:28pm GMT

I wish I could believe that a solution is possible and that all those who want more time than we have already spent on this want a solution other than the status quo - i.e. women bishop free zones.

Posted by Stephen at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 5:33pm GMT

What is needed, it seems to me, is not so much 'squaring the circle' as 'circling the square.'

The small square of 'No' should be surrounded and included in the large circle of 'Yes.'

Posted by Graham Kings at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 7:27pm GMT

I suspect that quite a lot of people, including a number of bishops, are simply in denial about where we are now and what options we still have. Hence the happy fiction that keeps being presented (and was reinforced by Abp Justin in last week's Church Times), that we are urgently working towards a solution which will miraculously see the light of day in July to rounds of unanimous applause. The House of Bishops is understandably anxious that Parliament will intervene, either with an alternative solution or by meddling with the constitution of the House of Lords. So they are trying very hard to create the impression that everything's under control. They also want to keep out of Synod a number of Private Members' and Diocesan Synod motions on women bishops including one which would repeal the Act of Synod. So long as there is other legislation under consideration that can be done - hence the haste to restart a new process immediately even if it's going nowhere. It will be interesting to see what happens in July when people finally understand that there is no rabbit in the hat - those that haven't already.

Posted by Jane Charman at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 8:06pm GMT

Graham Kings: they sound nice words. What do they actually mean?

Jane Charman: this is a brilliant assessment. Thank you for it. Please let's have no more denial.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 8:45pm GMT

The small square of 'No' should be surrounded and included in the large circle of 'Yes.'

Posted by: Graham Kings

The only problem with your solution Bishop - with all due respect - is that the enclosed square (opponents of Women's ministry in the Church) is suspiciously like a malignant growth in the 'body' that is intrinsically 'out of sympathy' with the surrounding tissue. It lives on the surrounding tissue, but in no way integrates for the health of the whole body. I'm sorry to have to use this paradigm, Bishop, but it seems to be most apt in the circumstances of your own.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 9:30pm GMT

Andrew: Thanks. The words came out of pondering questions at the Yes 2 Women Bishops/Fulcrum conference, 16 March.
They may spark ideas or not. What do they mean to you?

Jane: your comments are partly echoed in Rachel Treweek's fine, realistic address at that conference:

Ron: your malignant growth concept of the square is profoundly disturbing, and would compound the worst nightmares of ejection and surgery of those who oppose women in the episcopate.

Posted by Graham Kings at Wednesday, 27 March 2013 at 10:40pm GMT

Speaking of unwanted bishops, The Southern Cone has reversed its decision on Canadian Michael Pollesel
as Bp. of Uruguay. Te Deum Laudamus! One wonders what, or perhaps who, has changed in the original equation?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 12:39am GMT

Fr Smith, it is not a question of opposition to "women's ministry". By applying that term you are misunderstanding the whole issue. Women's ministry does not always equal bishop or priest. For example, a female Reader is exercising women's ministry, and as a traditionalist, I am not in any sense opposed to it. A female pastoral worker has been called to ministry. Or a Church Army member, none of which i would be opposed to. Please do not misrepresent us in the way that you do.

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 8:17am GMT

Although its rather off topic, as a Friend of the Diocese of Uruguay I am delighted that the small but courageous diocese of Uruguay has got its bishop.

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 8:39am GMT

"Women's ministry does not always equal bishop or priest."
Benedict, I fear that's simply a stock response from traditionalists which predictably attempts to shift the goalposts. It is very clear that we are discussing the ministry of women as bishops and priests here. That's the topic - not Readers and Pastoral Workers. Please show a little more respect for women who are ordained to these ministries.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 10:18am GMT

Re 'It also becomes clearer to many of us that the whole nonsense about resolutions and Acts of Synod that we created in 1992 simply has to go.'

My last priest was a true liberal - he believed passionately in the ordination of women as bishops, priests and deacons but, knowing that a significant number of his people could not accept this, he ensured that in one of his three churches a male priest would celebrate the Eucharist on every occasion and always made it clear that those who couldn't accept it were a valued part of his parish.

Presumably Andrew Godsall would have us looking for a new church.

Posted by Steven at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 11:07am GMT

Andrew Godsall, please indicate where my lack of repect applies, where I am simply making the point that women's ministry, and indeed men's, is not to be defined so narrowly?
I think you have missed the point. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 11:50am GMT

"Presumably Andrew Godsall would have us looking for a new church."
No Steven. Wrong assumption. I'd have us all in a Church where we negotiated these things like grown ups rather than a church where some people seek legal protection from other people they don't consider capable of being a priest or bishop.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 1:14pm GMT

One way to reconcile squares and circles is to view them edgeways on.

Similarly one might say that all latecomers, quaint bipeds, homo sapiens, cross bearers, apostles, bishops, priests and deacons, are all the same when viewed askance.

Perhaps bishops could be abolished? Perhaps draw a line in the sand?

Even look askance at a line and ask – what’s the point?

Posted by Paul Edelin at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 2:12pm GMT

Benedict: it is good to know that you accept the ministry of female Readers. Some opponents of women's ordination do not. A few years ago, at the National Evangelical Anglican Conference, a speaker at a seminar women bishops said "Ordination is not really the issue. Where the Church of England crossed the line was in admitting women as Readers." (This person has since changed his mind and now supports the ordination - and Readership - of women.)

This view is logical if you think that the locus of authority in the church is in preaching and that women should not exercise authority in church. Yet we have never allowed parishes to refuse the ministry of female Readers. There is some evidence though that some so-called Conservative evangelical parishes do just this. Watch out for questions at the July Synod!

Posted by Charles Read at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 2:29pm GMT

Charles, I am not a conservative evangelical, hence my acceptance of the ministry of Readers, both male and female.

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 4:03pm GMT

Re the news from Uruguay being off topic, I would say slightly, but not entirely, it is a related matter, with some touchstones regarding the debate over women in the episcopate i.e., what is a stake regarding the structure of the episcopacy, the role of synods, the stance of "traditionalists" to changes they don't like,and so on.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 28 March 2013 at 5:06pm GMT

Whatever Bishop Graham says about the need to include 'nay-sayers' on the issue of Women Bishops; I still contend that this promises, for the Church of England, a two-tier episcopate Bishops acceptable to the whole Body, and those unacceptable to a few.
That sounds remarkably like apartheid to me.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 29 March 2013 at 3:40am GMT

Father Ron Smith:

May I commend to you and others the text of the address by Rev. Canon Jane Charman, Director of Learning for Discipleship and Ministry in Salisbury Diocese to the GRAS 2013 Conference this March, in which she quoted a letter from an African bishop, making exactly that withering comparison with apartheid that you so sensibly draw yourself.

See page 7 of

Posted by Paul Edelin at Friday, 29 March 2013 at 11:03am GMT

This is such a conundrum. Separate is always unequal and lacks dignity and respect. Any scheme that allows institutional discrimination against women would be horrible. CoE is viewed as wickedly regressive in the eyes of the British public, let alone progressive Anglicans (Canada, US, South Africa, New Zealand, etc.).

How to appease those who insist on discrimination?

How could a double tiered system be sustained as WB's participate in ordinations, and that's not acceptable to the "discriminators?"

With the discriminators there needs to be a way to value the person, but not the position. The divided house can't stand much longer.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 30 March 2013 at 7:58am GMT

Cynthia, you are applying a pejorative term 'discriminator' to those with whom you disagree. Are you not discriminating, by your own definition, against those with a recognised integrity? We traditionalists are loyal Anglicans no less than you, so wake up and smell the coffee and avoid using such intemperate and unnecessary language which does not make for healthy conversation and debate.

Posted by Benedict at Monday, 1 April 2013 at 9:05am BST

My term "discriminators" is unkind, I'll admit. It is designed to be the very wake up call that you ask for, Benedict.

Discrimination does harm. In the first world there is much domestic violence in homes, rape on campus, and depression amongst many women who are barred from their calling and their potential because of discrimination. In the third world, the manifestations of discrimination are hideous.

I guess I've got some of John the Baptist in my DNA. I will not let folks get away with saying that discriminating is a valid opinion, equally deserving, without bringing them to face the hurt and destruction that it causes.

It is naive to say that barring women on the basis of gender doesn't mean you support domestic violence, sex slavery, etc. Of course you aren't FOR that! However, the ROOT CAUSE of the suffering is the belief that women are inferior, unworthy, unequal, not created equally and lovingly in the image of God.

Those are the fruits of the discriminatory beliefs, so I'm going to call it as I see it, from a church that has had women bishops for more than my entire adult lifetime.

How's that for an honest and healthy discussion of the truth? Wachet auf! Yes, please.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 2 April 2013 at 6:36pm BST
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