Comments: Pete Broadbent and women bishops

> The game is up.

This makes it sound as if the Bishop of Willesden regards opponents of the legislation as fraudsters.

What I cannot understand about all this is that the legislation was submitted to General Synod and after due process failed to achieve the required majority.

Why are the supporters of the failed legislation not prepared to accept the result which was arrived at fairly, honestly and in accordance with the Synod's own due process, as would be done in the case of any other piece of legislation?

Posted by Veuster at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 5:58pm BST

" There were those (particularly evangelicals) who were in favour of women bishops but voted against the legislation in order to secure better provision for those opposed."

I went through the laity voting records at the time they were first published, looking specifically for people who might fall into this category. I was unable to identify any such people, based on the limited knowledge of synod members that I then possessed.

Subsequently some people signed a letter to The Times claiming to be such people, but I doubted their sincerity, based on their own voting records in earlier debates, reported here
http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/005782.html

I would really like to learn that I was wrong in drawing this conclusion.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 6:39pm BST

"Why are the supporters of the failed legislation not prepared to accept the result which was arrived at fairly, honestly and in accordance with the Synod's own due process, as would be done in the case of any other piece of legislation?"

Because 42 out of 44 dioceses want women bishops, because there was a huge amount of outrage within the CoE, in the country and in Parliament.
And so the CoE does the same thing that would happen in Parliament - it accepts the vote but goes back to the drawing board to devise a new Draft Measure - something those who voted against it in November also urged everyone to do.

It just so happens that the new proposals will not be as generous as the ones in November had been.
You can deplore that or recognise that it was obvious after November.
What you cannot say is that it isn't following due process.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 6:50pm BST

Bishop Pete is probably right in his overall analysis. What he fails to reflect upon in his analysis is the likely reaction of priests and parishes who are left with almost nothing by way of provision. They are very unlikely to formally leave the CofE but in such circumstances they will almost certainly withdraw practical co-operation, withhold the Parish Share payments and ask the GAFCON Primates to ordain several retired priests to serve as bishops of their Provinces but with a ministry to Conservative Parishes in England. In effect the General Synod, if it is too mean by way of Provision, will bring on the internal disintegration of the CofE. Generous Provision, even if it has to be non-legislative, is the only way to promote the long term flourishing of the CofE.

Posted by Geo Nokes at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 7:10pm BST

I fail to see why the Bishop cannot accept the democratic decision of Synod. And if you remove those who voted yes but are not actually elected to the Synod the minority against in fact grows in size! Votes on such issues should not be made by those on the Church House payroll

Posted by Pip at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 8:08pm BST

> What you cannot say is that it isn't following due process.

But wouldn't 'due process' normally have been to bring it back to the next General Synod, to be elected in 2015?

You know as well as I do that if the legislation is approved next time round, this will be acclaimed as the verdict of the Holy Spirit, but if it is not approved - no matter how great the margin by which it fails - it will *not* be judged to be the verdict of the Holy Spirit and it will be brought back again and again and again and again until it's passed.

I'm left wondering why the General Synod is bothering to vote at all on this issue. Everybody knows that only one verdict is going to be accepted, so why waste time and money and emotion?

Posted by Veuster at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 8:09pm BST

"Everybody knows that only one verdict is going to be accepted"

Well, yes!
The whole point of the draft motion was to arrive at an agreement on how women could become bishops, not whether!
The "how" was not agreed, so a new "how" will have to be debated.

It really was a major fault of the debate that it gave the impression that the question was "whether" women could be priests and bishops.
It never was! The CoE has had priests for 20 years and the office of bishop is only one variant of ordained ministry.

This will continue until women are bishops, that much has been absolutely certain from the outset.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 9:42pm BST

If only the Bishop of Willesden were capable of applying such hard-nosed realpolitik to the church's stance on same-sex marriage, where in fact his comments would be rather more relevant. But the Bishop of Willesden is famous neither for his tact, nor for the logical consistency of his positions.

Posted by rjb at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 9:44pm BST

The complaint that the result should be accepted conveniently ignores the fact that most speakers against the legislation in November took great pains to say that they weren't arguing that we shouldn't pass legislation to have women as bishops, it was just that this wasn't quite the right legislation. So bringing back different legislation is exactly what Synod was asking for, whether or not you like these particular new proposals.

Posted by Miranda at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 9:54pm BST

Broadbent, himself totally committed to women priests and women bishops, has until recently fought very valiantly for 'proper provision' (vel sim.) for Fif (and similar) people, and has been commended for it by such as the bishop of London (and, indeed, myself), even though his personal irritation showed in that famous 'that will stuff FiF' leak. His view has changed. Nothing dishonourable in that ('when the facts change, I change my opinion', Keynes). But is he right? What if a united Church of England said: 'this is our package, we all stand behind it'? That could -in my opinion should - be tested. Of course, getting people lined would be difficult!

On another tack, as I have repeatedly said, I agree with Veuster (whom I understand to be pro- women priests and pro- women bishops, as I myself am)) that the current disregard of 'due process' ... stinks.

Posted by John at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 9:58pm BST

42 out of 44 dioceses wanting WBs is highly significant. The vote in November revealed a broken system, i.e. a Synod that was way out-of-step with vast majority.

If the Holy Spirit was at work, I believe it was to help the CoE steer away from continuing to enshrine discrimination and intolerance.

"In effect the General Synod, if it is too mean by way of Provision, will bring on the internal disintegration of the CofE. Generous Provision, even if it has to be non-legislative, is the only way to promote the long term flourishing of the CofE."

The vast majority, 42 of 44 dioceses, clearly believe that the long term flourishing of CoE involves accepting WBs and ceasing to enshrine discrimination, which some call "generous provisions."

I would not like to see break aways from the CoE, but there's something to be said for the church to be on the right side of a moral issue. It is a deeply moral issue. The theology of discrimination is utterly unconvincing. What is true is that humans have difficulty with change, even positive change that more closely resembles the radical and inclusive love of Jesus Christ.

In today's Gospel, after Jesus healed the demoniac and the swine herd plunged into the sea, the Gerasenes asked Jesus to leave. The Good News was in their midst and it horrified them.

Jesus's Good News is good news for women, equals in the eyes of God, and called to serve. Yes, there must be pastoral provision for those who are horrified by this radical love. But enshrining fear just doesn't seem like an appropriate response.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 10:50pm BST

In what way has due process been disregarded John? If you're going to say it stinks, you ought at least to provide some evidence.

Posted by Helen at Sunday, 23 June 2013 at 11:20pm BST

"Why are the supporters of the failed legislation not prepared to accept the result which was arrived at fairly, honestly and in accordance with the Synod's own due process, as would be done in the case of any other piece of legislation?"

Because, as with any other piece of legislation, the proponents can always try again.

The cry, "We defeated it! It can't come back!" is just naive.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 2:10am BST

As GS member I was very pleased to see Pete comments, we do have to get real now, the November result was a game changer, it is now about trust - why is that such a problem, not ever more legislation. Oh forgot we are all Christians, not warring factions (how naive some of you say).

It is either option 1 or dissolution and re-election time (whatever than brings).

Posted by Stephen B at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 6:50am BST

It doesn't give me any great joy to have written what I did. It just springs from my sense that opponents are out of touch with the way things have changed (and indeed, that in many parishes where the resolutions are in place, a large number of parishioners don't know why either!) The process at present still has a chance of making non-legislative provision possible. But each time opponents block the proposals, they get less provision, not more, and they are in danger of ending up with none of the things they are asking for. That's the point about "the game is up" comment. Many catholic opponents knew this in November; the evangelicals are less emotionally tuned in to the way things are. If you look at the (very full) code of practice in the appendix to my blog, you'll see that bishops looking after those opposed have genuinely full oversight built into the way in which they operate - they are able to be real bishops.

But there is no point (in my view) in carrying on pitching for legal provision - Synod won't wear it, and Parliament will block it.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 8:51am BST

It strikes me that what Pete B is proposing is very much what we currently have, but by consent and good will not statute. I'm sure there are nits to be picked but as a solution it strikes me as practical.

Of course, conservatives might look at the last Synod vote and consider that they could pull off such a defeat again (and again and again). Certainly, the attempt to get "Inclusive" candidates elected last time failed miserably and there is no guarantee next time round will be any better.

Posted by Peter Ould at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 9:24am BST

Pete's comments are helpful and realistic. On other specific points raised.

1) Does anyone really think of General Synod decisions as declarations from the Holy Spirit? If this is how the Spirit moves, we have bigger problems than this.

2)Geo foresees the "disintegration" of the CofE if opponents do not get further provision. Only 3% of parishes are "C" - I want those people to stay and to feel valued, but even if they all left it would be no more disintegration than that widely threatened when the Ordinariate was established (which now has 1,500 members) and before that when women were first ordained and we suffered the loss of Ann Widdecombe, amongst others.

3) There is much talk of due process. It would be due process for Parliament to decide this for us - due process, but a terrible indictment on the CofE's ability to run its own affairs.

Posted by Stuart, Devon at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 11:18am BST

"How" not "Whether" as Erika Baker (Sun 9.42pm) points out. Unfortunately the populace at large (mis)understood the November vote as being against WBs.

The question has always been one of trust, and it is a weakness of the CoE that members find it so hard even to consider trusting each other. That's what we need to pray for - a truly Christian spirit.

Posted by Sister Mary at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 11:44am BST

@Cynthia: Unaware that as a traditional catholic, I am "horrified by radical love", I had to resort to Google to see what this means. I am still no further forward as Google recommended "Radical love - an Introduction to Queer Theology". Could Cynthia explain what this has to do with proper provision for traditionalists?

Posted by Jill Armstead at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 1:42pm BST

'The question has always been one of trust, and it is a weakness of the CoE that members find it so hard even to consider trusting each other. That's what we need to pray for - a truly Christian spirit.

Posted by: Sister Mary on Monday, 24 June 2013 at 11:44am BST

But while the hierarchy and central church structures exclude and abuse lgbt - what trust can there be ? These things are all inter-linked you know !

C.f Changing Attitude has been excluded from the stalls area at York Synod.

Welby & Sentamu have said, "Sorry!" but they are not sorry, they continue to behave like abusive power-holders.

Posted by Laurence at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 2:34pm BST

"The question has always been one of trust... That's what we need to pray for - a truly Christian spirit."

I'm thinking about what it took for me to feel safe in my church. I was raised Greek Orthodox and the exclusion of women was hurtful. So I went to TEC and as a woman felt safer because there were plenty of women clergy. As an LGBT person, that feeling of safety isn't quite as established, even in TEC, but the general acceptance and movement toward specific acceptance helps.

I'm trying hard to think what might involve a feeling of safety within the CoE for the traditionalists, that does not include legally enshrining discrimination and intolerance. I have only one thought: choice. I don't know how rectors/vicars/priests-in-charge are selected. I just wonder if the solution is to empower parishes with a certain amount of choice. Maybe they already have that?

It doesn't solve the issue in the larger church, but on the day-to-day level, the personal level, it may well suffice for the majority of the minority.

I am definitely not equating losing on the WB issue with the persecution suffered by WB and LGBT persons in the church. Nonetheless, at the individual level a sense of safety and belonging is an important element in community. I agree that trust would be ideal. I agree the leadership should act with trust. I'm just suggesting that people need a certain amount of choice to feel safe.

This doesn't mean running a dual church. I'm just proposing letting people have a voice in selecting their clergy. Maybe they already do.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 5:05pm BST

"the game's up": Evangelicals have a curious preference for gambling metaphors. I seem to recall that the Prof. Oliver O'Donovan described the Anglican Covenant in one of his Fulcrum encyclicals as 'The only poker game in town'.

Posted by Tony Phelan at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 8:10pm BST

"This doesn't mean running a dual church. I'm just proposing letting people have a voice in selecting their clergy."

@Cynthia: I think this is the Gordian Knot that the CofE is collectively attempting to cut. "Traditionalists" want to have SO much "voice in selecting their clergy" that, for all intents & purposes, it would constitute a dual (separate) church. I think the majority of the CofE genuinely wants them minority to "feel safe" (as you put it), but that minority doesn't trust majority (and truthfully, "feeling safe" is SO subjective that, once again, it could extend to the point of a dual church).

***

"Unaware that as a traditional catholic, I am "horrified by radical love", I had to resort to Google to see what this means."

Q.E.D.? O_o

[Or would merely translating "radical" as "unconditional" help, Jill? As far as *knowing* God's radical love---Scripture, Tradition and Reason worked well enough for me.]

Posted by JCF at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 10:17pm BST

"Could Cynthia explain what this [radical love] has to do with proper provision for traditionalists?"

Sure. There are plenty of theologians, clergy, lay people, etc., who have looked at the life of Jesus Christ and come to the conclusion that his was one of radical, inclusive, love. Radical as in he upset the status quo tremendously to include people, healing on the Sabbath, hanging out with the wrong sort (upsetting the cleanliness laws), breaking taboos to talk with, heal, and include women. He didn't get killed for toeing the line! In the story of the Good Samaritan, he deliberately used a Samaritan because the Judeans HATED the Samarians. On this side of the pond there has been a lot of interest in the cultural, political, and economic implications raised in the NT by the life and teachings of Jesus.

This is a theological view that is quite different from a rules based theology. Jesus broke the rules to reach out to people. And his angriest words were for the establishment for using the Law to exclude or humiliate people.

So the radical, inclusive love idea means that to truly walk in the way of Jesus Christ is to include each of God's children. This would mean women and LGBT persons, and it would also mean including traditionalists.

My interpretation is that "proper provision" would be a pastoral one, because a legal, institutional one would be hurtful to girls and women. The whole problem of the "traditionalists" is that they are desperate to exclude women from the episcopate. So how can the church include and exclude simultaneously? I can only see the pastoral provision as one that best fulfills the call to love one another. Imperfect as that may be for "traditionalists," the larger church needs to consider the moral issue and the terrible impact that exclusion has on girls and women. (The "fruits").

Sister Mary talked about trust and behaving more Christian toward one another. I proposed the radical love concept.

How are you guys (CoE) going to work this out without looking at the larger picture and the life of Jesus? If it is all about legalese, political machinations, and winners and losers, that isn't church.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 11:37pm BST

+Willesden writes that the Act of Synod has become "a toxic, totemic and divisive mechanism". Yet his revised London Plan seems very similar in its outcome to the existing Resolution C scheme. This is based on the rejection by ResC parishes of male priests and bishops on the grounds that they support WO. The church-within-a-church mentality would surely still exist in the Fulham parishes. And what of those A & B parishes which accept the standard diocesan episcopal oversight but reject women priests? Will they be expected to move into the 'extended oversight camp'?

Posted by Original Observer at Monday, 24 June 2013 at 11:51pm BST

Helen,

Thanks for engaging. There is a game. There are rules. There was a decision. It was legitimate. OK, I fully accept there was a crisis and certainly the way this thing is dragging on is poisoning things. But the correct thing to do was to come back with a proposal which acknowledged that decision. As you know, I simply don't care that there would then be some fragmentation. It happens all the time everywhere de facto. We should live with it. And it couldn't be worse than what we have now. And there would be blurrings and grey areas, allowing degrees of active cooperation. Badman has written that FiF and radical Evangelicals will never accept anything. I think that's untrue. Anyway, it should be tested. I am absolutely sure that the likes of Father Trevor Jones, Colin Podmore, Jonathan Baker et al. want to stay, and because one bit of my soul is very Proddy, I'm glad they looked in the eye of an outstandingly shifty-looking pope and decided they preferred ... us.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 25 June 2013 at 10:53am BST

What would be so wrong with 'a church within a church', a 'dual church', a 'third province', or whatever you want to call it? People could then just get on with being Christians, rather than wasting their energies in a doomed struggle to reconcile the irreconcilable.

Anyone for a 'velvet divorce' and the greatest possible degree of co-operation thereafter?

Posted by Veuster at Tuesday, 25 June 2013 at 11:47am BST

The "correct thing to do" doesn't seem to be anything to do with the actual rules, John, but to be a matter of judgement. Yours differs from the House of Bishops.. In their judgement your solution is unrealistic in the established Church. That doesn't mean their procedure stinks.
Incidentally which pope do you mean?

Posted by Helen at Tuesday, 25 June 2013 at 9:45pm BST
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