The Bishop of Durham, Tom Wright has a letter to the editor of The Times published today in which he explains his position:
Bishops’ views on women
From the Bishop of Durham
Sir, Anthony Howard (T2, July 12; see also report, same day) describes my action in signing, with 16 other bishops, an open letter pleading for fuller debate on women bishops as a “defection”. This is a complete misunderstanding. I have for some years argued strongly in favour of women bishops, in public and private, in person and in print. I have not changed my mind.
The motion before us at the General Synod was not whether we were in favour of women bishops, but whether we favoured a particular way of proceeding towards that goal. I want the train to get to that destination not only as soon as it can, but with as many passengers as possible still on board. I therefore agreed with the other signatories not that we should have further delay for its own sake, but that we should have what synod had specifically asked for when commissioning the Rochester report on the subject, namely proper theological discussion before taking steps which presupposed such discussion.
The Church now copies the world in treating all issues in monochrome, with goodies, baddies and “defectors”. Like an examination candidate on a bad day, synod was determined to discuss the question it wanted to discuss rather than the question on the paper. I could not vote for the actual motion, but could not vote against the perceived one, and I therefore abstained.
That was not a “defection”. It was a silent vote for that reasoned discourse which, in company with the Archbishop of Canterbury, I still believe is the best hope as we move forward into uncharted territory.
Auckland Castle, Co Durham