Comments: Women in the Episcopate - diocesan synod votes 7

So good to see that many diocesan synods have now voted for women bishops in the Church of England. Welcome to the club.

What, perhaps, is more important, is that obdurate minds can be changed - to understand the essential equality of all human beings in the sight of God.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 10:29pm BST

With the London vote opponents must be hoping Chichester will hold out

Posted by confused sussex at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 10:52pm BST

A couple of observations.

3 bishops in London voted in favour. There are six bishops (at least) eligible to vote.

Just as a random sample, whilst the lay vote in favour in Coventry was 100% this time, fewer lay people (33) voted in favour than last time (34) when the majority was 89%.

Best case interpretation is that opponents who cannot in principle vote in favour are simply opting out of the vote so as not to derail it. Worst case, powder is being kept dry. It's not over until the General Synod votes are counted.

Posted by Wilf at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 11:12pm BST

It was an interesting evening in the London Synod.

There were two votes to shorten proceedings and hasten to the vote itself. One to cut out the proposed 'groups' for discussion proposed by someone in favour of the motion and the other to curtail speakers on the grounds that 'they were going over ground we had all heard before' proposed by an opponent. Both were passed easily and after a break for refreshments the actual vote became a forgone conclusion.

Last time round the motion was lost in the House of Clergy by two votes, this time even abstentions and noes together would not have produced a majority in favour.

The Bishop of London to the best of my knowledge has always managed to avoid voting on the issue for one reason or another. This time he was absent from the London vote due to an important preaching engagement in Germany. The Bishop of Edmonton was absent recovering from illness and the 'London scheme flying' Bishop of Fulham away on pilgrimage at Fatima. Thus the three bishops of the six who might have voted against or abstained were nowhere to be seen.

In all, even in conservatively minded and eccentric London, the mood is categorically in favour of women entering the episcopate.

I hope that the General Synod takes note of what the dioceses, are saying regardless of what might yet happen in Chichester, and doesn't do anything silly in July.

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Thursday, 15 May 2014 at 11:30pm BST

It's worth remembering that this vote is about 'process' not principle. The principle has been affirmed time and again, the Church of England holds that there is no theological objection to the ordination of women, nor to their consecration as bishops. This vote is about how to effect that principle. The 2012 proposals were rejected, the 2014 proposals, which arguably are a worse deal for those opposed to the principle, have been accepted by synod and have been accepted by all dioceses so far and will go back to synod later in the year. For some diehards, principle and process have got mixed up, some will never vote for anything that forwards the sacramental role of women in the Church. Just how large that number will be in the vote in the Chichester Diocesan Synod on Saturday remains to be seen. Nevertheless, whatever Chichester does, the mind of the Church is quite clear now for all to see.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 10:01am BST

Surely it's obvious that everybody (pretty well) just wants this thing to go through so that we can all get on with essential other things. In the end, I think the C of E has handled this thing well, and all (well, some) credit should go to Welby (gulp).

Posted by John at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 1:06pm BST

Interesting analysis by Concerned Anglican of the bishops' absences.

It looks as though the shepherds are again behaving like sheep.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 1:08pm BST

There will always be those who want to see conspiracy theories in everything. We arranged for the (extra) Diocesan Synod to take place on a date that was already in the diary for a Bishop's Council. It so happened that the Bishop of London was committed to a long-standing preaching engagement in Germany and was never going to be able to make that date. We needed to get the date sorted in time for the response deadline of 22nd May. The Bishop of London has been off and on study leave throughout May, so he hasn't been around. I've been covering for him on a few things. The Bishop of Fulham similarly had a pilgrimage in his diary before we fixed the date. The Bishop of Edmonton has been ill and needs to take time out to recover. So on all three counts the "they were avoiding being there" insinuation doesn't work.

It was great that we got such a big majority in a Diocesan Synod that has never in history previously voted for women priests or women bishops. Very pleasing.

The tactic of an unholy alliance of Trad Caths and Lib Caths to curtail debate was interesting on two counts:

First, that it might come back to bite some of them when they ask for listening and conversations on Another Topic. It doesn't help any listening process if you show that you aren't prepared to listen to others - and there were quite a few new people at Synod last night who felt that they hadn't had the chance to explore and ask questions, not about the principle, but about the specific proposals before the Synod and how they will work.

Secondly, the con evos (whose votes we need to change when it comes to General Synod) felt that they weren't being listened to, and that may rebound on us when we get to our required 2/3 majority at Final Approval. So I suspect that the "cut the discussion and debate" proposals were seen by at least some as intolerant and draconian.

Didn't matter to me; I got a great evening in the pub to celebrate the Synod vote with friends. But a little more political nous might have been helpful to prevent trouble down the road...

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 3:33pm BST

John nails it: everyone wants this one done and filed away. Opponents know that it's a done deal. They've got "provision" they can live with, and have vanished into the shadows. The pass is well and truly ceded.

The Synod vote's a rubber stamp now.

Posted by James Byron at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 3:58pm BST

Curious then that half of the bishops of the Diocese of London did not attend a meeting of the Bishop's Council.

Curious too that its President, the Bishop of London, had scheduled the Council meeting for a time when he would be out of the country.

Has the Bishop of London indicated which way he would have voted, had he been present?

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 8:38pm BST

Jeremy, it surely stands to reason that if the Bishop of London is not in favour of ordaining women to the priesthood then it is highly unlikely that he would wish to see them consecrated to the episcopate. One of the very few bishops to stand by a traditionalist and orthodox view of ministry. The greatest Archbishop of Canterbury we never had.

Posted by Father David at Friday, 16 May 2014 at 10:18pm BST

How fortunate that he was not inflicted on the country. The CofE's public standing would be even worse than it is now--difficult though that may be to imagine.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 1:42am BST

"The greatest Archbishop of Canterbury we never had". - Fr. David - re the Bishop of london -

A voice from the colonies says: "Lets have more of them" (the ones we never had)

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 2:27am BST

As someone attending the London Diocesan Synod, I was dismayed when the groups were so easily dismissed. For me, it is far easier to hear and try understand views when they spoken by individuals in small groups where there is some time to tease out the real concern. However, I find it very difficult to listen to set piece speeches propounding views that raise anxieties and often show little thought of the Church of England as a whole. I voted to keep groups, but curtail open debate - although the later was a little more difficult given that we had ditched the groups.

The person I was sitting next to had a concern that she should have had an opportunity to voice, but I don't think she was planning to speak in the main debate.

Posted by Susan Cooper at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 9:29am BST

We often do Bishop's Council without the Bishop being present for all or part of the meeting. It's a charitable company, which does governance, policy and finance, not a throne. And the comments show how little you know or understand the Bishop of London or how the Diocese operates.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 3:15pm BST

"We often do Bishop's Council without the Bishop being present for all or part of the meeting. It's a charitable company, which does governance, policy and finance, not a throne."

But if a director is often absent from the board meeting of a charitable company, he is breaching his duty as a director.

I can understand one bishop being absent. It's hard to imagine three--unless there were some ulterior motive, such as avoiding a difficult vote.

I fear that I understand the Bishop and Diocese of London all too well.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 17 May 2014 at 9:21pm BST

"The person I was sitting next to had a concern that she should have had an opportunity to voice,"

For the sake of inclusion and everyone being heard, or because it was truly a concern that had never yet been raised and satisfactorily answered?

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 18 May 2014 at 5:25pm BST
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