Rod Thomas Chairman of Reform, writes:
The General Synod
At the General Synod’s meeting in York earlier this month, I moved an amendment to the proposed measure on women bishops which, had it passed, would have enabled parishes to opt for a ‘complementary bishop’ when it came to key issues like selecting ordinands for training, disciplining clergy and appointing incumbents. There was a good debate but the amendment was lost in the subsequent vote. The voting figures were:
Bishops 10 28
Clergy 52 124
Laity 73 118
These figures are significant because they show that more than 1/3rd of the House of Laity felt the present draft Measure to be in need of major revision…
The Irish Civil Partnership Bill was signed into law by the President of the Republic yesterday. The bill was passed without a vote in the Dail (the lower house of the Irish parliament) and was supported in the Seanad (Senate) with only 4 dissenting votes, out of 52.
Irish Times Signing into law of new civil Bill welcomed
Some earlier reports:
According to RTE in this report Civil Partnership Bill passes the Seanad:
The Seanad rejected, without a vote, an amendment that would have allowed Registrars opt-out of presiding over civil partnership ceremonies.
The so-called ‘conscientious object’ amendment had been tabled by Independent Senator Rónán Mullen, however the matter was not put to a vote because not enough Senators called for one.
Senators spent three hours discussing the amendment, in total there were 77 amendments down for discussion.
The BBC Radio 4 programme Profile featured the Bishop of Fulham last week. Here is the BBC blurb about the programme:
The Rt Rev John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham and chairman of Forward in Faith, the mainly Anglo-Catholic organisation opposed to the ordination of women. Traditionalists like Bishop Broadhurst were left more isolated this week after the Church of England’s ruling body the General Synod moved one step nearer to the concecration of women bishops. Those close to him say frequent accusations of misogyny have been wounding but are completely misplaced.
Listen to the 15 minute programme via this page.
The programme’s presenter, Mary Ann Sieghart wrote about it in her latest column for the Independent newspaper, Women on top? You’ve got to be joking:
…Even in the Church of England, which now has women priests and is close to accepting women as bishops, the hatred and vilification are shocking. At last weekend’s meeting of the General Synod, some women priests were spat at. And a male bishop who appeared on the radio programme I made complained that the Synod had now been “swamped” by part-time women clergy or – as he put it – “ladies with time on their hands”.
Hearing a word like “swamped”, you might expect the House of Clergy to have been taken over by women. In fact, they account for just 39 of 197 members. In other words, men still take up 80 per cent of the places. But if women are seen as threatening and monstrous – as in that priest’s painting – even their minority presence is hugely amplified.
This overestimation of the power and representation of women is commonplace. Research shows that when women speak in the classroom exactly 50 per cent of the time, both men and women think they spoke more. When I took part in an internet debate recently about whether Oxford University was sexist, James Kingston, president of the Oxford Union, said: “Most of the History tutors at Christ Church seem to be women.” In fact, there are six women and six men there…
A recent UK Supreme Court case concerned the deportation of gay asylum seekers. As the UKSC blog explained:
Under the Convention on the Status of Refugees, members of particular social groups (which can include groups defined by their sexual orientation) are entitled to asylum where they can establish they would face a well-founded fear of persecution if they returned to their home states. The issue concerned the extent to which those who seek asylum will, if returned to their countries of origin, be able to conceal, or at least be discrete about, characteristics of themselves which give rise to the fear of persecution. The Supreme Court unanimously overturned the Court of Appeal’s decision that it was permissible to return a person if they would conceal their sexuality in order to avoid being persecuted, provided their situation could be regarded as “reasonably tolerable”. To compel gay people to pretend their sexuality does not exist is to deny him his fundamental right to be who he is. Simple discriminatory treatment does not give rise to protection under the Convention, but the Convention does not envisage applicants being returned to their home country “on condition” they take steps to avoid offending their persecutors.
The full judgement is available here.
In HJ (Iran) v Secretary of State for the Home Department  UKSC 31 the UK Supreme Court held that gay people cannot properly be required or expected under international asylum/refugees to conceal their sexuality/pass as straight to avoid State sponsored but usually religiously inspired persecution in their home countries. The central point about the UKSC decision is that the court rejects the cogency of any distinction between acting on one’s sexual orientation and being of a particular sexual orientation. It was argued by the Home Office that it could properly send back avowedly gay men to Iran and Cameroon respectively on the basis that, if they were to be discreet (not – openly – act on their sexual orientation) they would not invite persecution…
He goes on to review some American legal comment on the decision, and concludes:
…what seems to concern the Professor and what he seems to be driving at, is a suggestion or feeling that the specifically religious motivation for discriminatory attitudes and practices resulting in State persecution, should be worthy of some respect and deference from the courts. But his objection to Lord Hope’s use of the word “misguided” itself seems to be misguided, in that it is clear from the passage quoted that Lord Hope was not there seeking to make any theological point, or to suggesting that the anti-gay views expressed were not in fact true expressions of the particular religious beliefs described. Rather the tenor of the whole court’s decision in HJ (Iran) is that those religious beliefs when acted upon are morally wrong because inimical to the proper respect for individual human dignity that is incumbent upon all States and societies.
The (anti-relativist) realization that there are absolute moral values (captured in the concept of “human rights”) which are not culturally relative or religiously specific and which States and societies and religions must protect and promote in order to have legitimacy is a post WW11/post-Nuremberg phenomenon common to the political/legal cultures of the civilised world. An expression by the court that the actions by another State or significant religious or cultural or political non-State institutions within that state contravene fundamental human rights is very much the province and duty of the judge. There is no usurpation of power in the judges so doing in this particular case.
Press Statement from WATCH (Women and the Church) 17 July
Generosity Offered to those Opposed as Draft Legislation Overwhelmingly Endorsed by Synod
General Synod overwhelmingly agreed last weekend to have women as bishops alongside provisions for those opposed. The decision to include provisions was passed by 373 votes to 14. This was urged on Synod by senior clergywomen who, despite the consistent demands on them to ‘be gracious’ towards opponents in the past 16 years, still want to offer those who disagree with them an honoured place.
Hilary Cotton, WATCH Campaign Coordinator commented, “This has been described as uncharitable by the opponents because it does not give them what they say they need. But generosity does not always mean giving people what they want: it means weighing up the issues and coming to a judgement about the best way forward for as many as possible. Women had made it clear in the debates that they could not accept appointment as bishops under the conditions of the Archbishops’ amendment. The provisions in the legislation ARE generous: no parish will have to have a female bishop or priest – meaning there will still be no-go areas for ordained women”.
Elections for General Synod take place in September. WATCH hopes that the new Synod will be truly representative of the majority of Church people who want women bishops and want to be generous to those opposed. This legislation has been given overwhelming endorsement as the will of this Synod. We trust that will be confirmed by the next Synod, and that women will be appointed bishops by 2014.
Does Hywel Williams have the answer to one of the Church of England’s problems? He writes in The Guardian: Ditch the bossy-boot bishops. Rather than debating if women are eligible, the church should scrap the absurd post of bishop.
The archbishop of Canterbury spoke on the precious gift of Martyrs on BBC Radio 4.
Gerald Warner writes in the Telegraph about Why it is a mistaken policy for Rome to offer Anglicans converting en bloc a church within the Church.
Janet Street-Porter writes in The Independent that The C of E will die if it shuts out gays and women.
Ruth Wishart in HeraldScotland Why won’t men in frocks let women wear the trousers?
Christopher Howse writes in the Telegraph about Religious pilgrimages: The hard slog that refreshes the soul.
This week’s The Question at Comment is free belief is Can science explain everything? Here are the responses.
Monday: Sue Blackmore Science explains, not describes. The experience of consciousness seems incommunicable and ineffable. Yet science can hope to explain how it arises.
Wednesday: Mark Vernon Chaos theory and divine action. Physicist John Polkinghorne is often accused of offering up a God-of-the-gaps argument. But his work has subtler shades.
Thursday: Adam Rutherford Ever-increasing circles. The domain of knowledge amenable to science has only ever changed in one direction: at the expense of all others.
Friday: Keith Ward The parts science cannot reach. We need to distinguish in detail all the different sorts of explaining we do in life. No one key opens every lock.
British Religion in Numbers has a report Gender and the Anglican Episcopate.
The Church of England has hit the media headlines again during the past week or so over its continuing internal divisions about the issues of women’s ministry and homosexual clergy. The general public’s reactions to all this have been explored by YouGov in an online survey of 2,227 adult Britons aged 18 and over on 11-12 July.
The Church Mouse has also reported on this at Public perceptions of women bishops.10 Comments
The Archbishop of Nigeria, Nicholas Okoh addressed a press conference on Wednesday. The full text of his prepared remarks can be found at ADDRESS OF PRESS CONFERENCE DELIVERED BY THE MOST REVD NICHOLAS OKOH.
Among his remarks was this:
We congratulate Pastor Ayo Oritsejafor, the new CAN President and wish him a very successful tenure. We invite him and all denominational leaders to protect Christian interests and our cherished way of life, including speaking out against the invading army of homosexuality, lesbianism and bisexual lifestyle under any guise. In this matter silence can be detrimental to public well being. The issue at stake of human sexuality is not an Anglican prerogative and it is by no means limited to the Anglican circle as it is clearly shown all over the world. Same sex marriage, paedophilia and all sexual pervasions should be roundly condemned by all who accept the authority of Scripture over human life…
And then he continued:
…Recently, our Church was classified along with Churches who have broken call for moratorium by the Anglican authorities in Canterbury, in certain areas such as ordination of Gay Bishops, conducting of same sex marriage and border crossing. Our church is said to have crossed borders in its pastoral work in the USA. We reject being put in the same category with churches conducting gay ordination and same sex marriage, and the equating of our evangelical initiative (for which we should be commended) with those who are doing things unbiblical. But for the Nigerian initiative and others like her, many of our faithful Anglican American friends who cannot tolerate the unbiblical practices of the Episcopal Church in America could have gone away to other faiths. The great commission to go in to all the world to save souls is our compelling constitution. The step taken by Canterbury in this regard therefore is ill-advised and does not make any contribution towards the healing of the ailment in the Anglican extended family.
The Church in the West had vowed to use their money to spread the homosexual lifestyle in African societies and Churches; after all Africa is poor. They are pursuing this agenda vigorously and what is more, they now have the support of the United Nations. We therefore call on parents to ensure that their children obtain their first degree in Nigeria before travelling abroad. Parents and guardians should closely watch and monitor the relationship which their children or wards keep so that deviant behaviour could be timely corrected. The sin of homosexuality, it must be reemphasised, destroyed the communities of Sodom and Gomorrah.
Hat tip Episcopal Café which reported it under the headline Primate of Nigeria speaks on homosexuality and border crossing.37 Comments
Today’s Church Times summarises the debate last weekend: Traditionalists face threadbare future as Measure is passed by Ed Beavan.
Scroll down for a very useful sidebar on What happens next.
There is a very full report of the debates in the paper edition, that will be online next Friday. Subscribers to the newspaper can find them via this link.
There is a Leader: Extra time, or game over?
Last week’s newspaper, published just before the debates, had a number of letters on the topic.
Giles Fraser’s column has some bearing on the issue, see It’s still time to stick together.
In addition to the above, unofficial copies of documents published on TA during the debate:
Like you, I was very disappointed at the outcome of last weekend’s debate at General Synod in York and appalled at the intransigence of some feminist clergy and their supporters. What kind of a church is it that is willing to ignore the leadership of its Archbishops and to renege on a solemn promise given to Parliament about an honoured and permanent place for us?
We now face a most serious situation, made all the worse by the refusal of the Synod to pass the Archbishops’ amendment. Resolutions A & B – which provide the basis in law on which the ordination of women can be opposed – are to be removed. This means that any opposition which might be tolerated will be based on the recognition of supposed prejudice rather than the respect of theological principle. Further, the abolition of the PEVs is proposed, which will leave our constituency in an intolerable position. All we would be allowed under the draft Measure as it now stands is access to a male bishop, whose own beliefs need not coincide with ours. That is sexism writ large.
Despite the dreadful result in York, we owe a debt of gratitude to the Catholic Group in General Synod, along with all those who supported them in the debate. In the coming weeks, a new Synod is to be elected and it is vital we all do all we can to ensure the return of as many orthodox candidates as possible, in order that a Catholic presence on the Synod can be there to continue to represent the interests of Catholic Anglicans throughout this divisive and unnecessary process.
That these are very difficult times for all of us goes without saying; we need, above all, to take time to pray, to consult together and to support one another, as we try to discern our respective ways forward – not just in faith, but also of course in hope and in love.
TA note: Bishop John Broadhurst is Bishop of Fulham, a Suffragan in the Diocese of London.28 Comments
Here’s some more articles about General Synod from people who were actually there.
First, there is the GenSyn blog of Alastair Cutting and Justin Brett. Alastair has written this very helpful article Synod: updates on the blogs. And earlier he had written Lots of reasons to vote against the Archbishops amendment.
Colin Coward wrote on the Changing Attitude blog: General Synod and women bishops – is the Holy Spirit calling the church to adulthood?
Justin Brett appears yet again at the Church Mouse blog, with What the papers don’t say.
John Martin wrote several articles for the Living Church:
Rod Thomas wrote about it for Cif belief Opponents of women bishops are part of the church too
Over at Reuters Miranda Threlfall-Holmes wrote a guest piece, Pragmatism beats idealism in fight for women bishops.10 Comments
Dear Brother/Sister in Christ
So, General Synod has voted to send the draft legislation on women bishops to the dioceses. Any debating chamber anywhere would have been proud of the consistently high level of debate over two long, hot days (and discussions that went on well into the night). I was bobbing up and down all one morning trying to get called to speak! Some of the votes were very close; some were very definite. For example, the vote on the Archbishops’ amendment was only lost in the House of Clergy, and that by just 5 votes, but the final vote on clause 2 which laid a duty on diocesan bishops to make arrangements for the care of those opposed to the legislation, was a decisive 373 to 13.
The outcome is that General Synod is now inviting the dioceses to join them in discerning God’s will for the consecration of women as bishops and the care of those who cannot accept their episcopal ministry. We are therefore another step along the way but the process goes on. To those who are delighted with this decision, I want to say: ‘I share your pleasure; the gifts of women to every order of the Church are a step closer to being recognised’. To those who are deeply disturbed by this development, I want to say: ‘Please don’t panic – there’s still a process going on and we still want you.’
For the record, I voted for the draft Measure and against the Archbishops’ amendment. +Rowan specifically said they did not want their amendment to be a test of loyalty (although I suspect that many people probably saw it that way). I voted against it for a variety of theological reasons: I believed it would entrench two sorts of bishop in the Church’s life; I saw it as creating an even stronger variety of ‘flying bishop’; it seemed to be ‘transfer of jurisdiction’ by any other name, ‘when is a bishop not a bishop?’ and so on. I also want to affirm in the strongest possible terms the quality of ministry that women priests are offering to the Church, particularly in this diocese. But I recognise that the vote at this point was ambiguous and that if the voting had not been by Houses, the amendment would have been passed. It’s clear therefore that many people were looking for a way through which both affirmed women in the episcopate but also made space for traditional catholics and conservative evangelicals which went beyond the Code of Practice. Given that voting, I have to think therefore in terms not just of what is desirable but also of what is possible. I want to be pragmatic as well as idealistic in what we do now.
Sue Booys used a vivid image. She said that the conscience of those in favour allowed them to get to a certain point, and the conscience of those opposed to the legislation enabled them to get to another point – and these lines are only ten yards apart, but the chasm between them is very deep and full of sharks. The task therefore is to see if we can yet close that gap. To develop the image, we might not attempt to leap over a ten yard gap, but we might be prepared to try three. Perhaps we should try to get behind the rhetoric and focus entirely on what makes up those ten yards and what might close that gap. It might be impossible; the gap may be too deep and the sharks too hungry, but it might just be achievable, and that’s why we need to look in a number of directions.
Firstly, we need to look to the Code of Practice which the House of Bishops has now to start drawing up. Although a Code can only be approved by General Synod after the Measure has been passed, it will still be important that the dioceses know what kind of opportunities and constraints the Code might contain in order to judge whether the whole package seems fair. The Code will need to be robust and imaginative and the House will get on with it in September.
Secondly, we need to trust the wisdom of the wider Church, speaking through deanery and diocesan synods. They will have before them the draft Measure from General Synod (together with headings for the Code of Practice), and they will simply be asked to vote on that legislation. However, dioceses can come up with ‘following motions’ to go through to General Synod and those might have some very helpful thinking in them.
Thirdly, it isn’t over until the fat lady sings, and the archbishops may yet do more work on their thinking. Their amendment had not been seen before Synod by either the Revision Committee or the House of Bishops and they might now want to develop it differently.
It’s inevitable that the coming elections for a new General Synod will have this important issue as a major backdrop. I very much hope, however, that they will not be ‘single issue’ elections. We need the most thoughtful, Christ-centred people standing for election in order to tackle the whole range of issues facing the Church in our time. Please consider standing if you are in a position to do so and feel you have something to contribute, and encourage others to do the same.
What I very much recognise, however, is that the Body of Christ is both rejoicing and hurting. It’s very important that women priests should not feel any blame over this. It was Synod that made this decision. In any case, women priests have borne their cross of ambivalence and prejudice very graciously for a long time. But other parts of the Body are hurting now and that has to be recognised with sorrow as well. Many in the Body are wounded. As Archbishop Rowan said, ‘It’s that kind of Body.’ He also asked us to see the way ahead as an opportunity to serve one another. Mutual recrimination is not a helpful way of being Christian. Supporting and serving one another as we examine that ten yard gap is a much better way. We need to remember that conscience matters deeply to people on both/all ‘sides’.
I and other members of the Bishop’s Staff are available at any time to discuss these things, so do keep in touch.
Brothers and sisters, pray on. And think.
With warm good wishes in Christ,
To All Clergy
The procedures of General Synod are difficult enough for its members to understand so it is excusable that media reporting is sometimes wide of the mark. It’s often forgotten that the General Synod is the only body in England which can frame parliamentary legislation and which Parliament itself cannot amend but simply approve or reject. Hence, when it comes to legislation the process is very similar to that within Parliament itself with the addition that the framing of that legislation is also subject to a complex synodical procedure.
I begin this letter in a rather technical way since it may help to explain why the General Synod seems to be having so many ‘final’ votes on the Ordination of Women as Bishops. It’s been reported for several years that the Synod is about to have a decisive vote but we haven’t got there yet and will not be there for about another couple of years.
What the General Synod did this past weekend was to send the draft legislation to be considered in each diocese. Our own Diocesan Synod will consider it sometime next year and I hope every Deanery Synod will have the legislation on its agenda too. Recent meetings of our Diocesan Synod have begun to prepare the ground for this and our Agenda Planning Group will soon recommend a process and timetable for our diocesan consideration. The majority of the dioceses will need to approve this legislation before the General Synod begins the concluding stages and does reach a final vote.
I have described the process before offering any opinion of my own. However, I think you should know how I voted this weekend and the conclusions I have reached.
I believe that the Church of England would be enriched by women in the episcopate. The gifts and graces which women have brought to the ordained ministry seem self evident to me and I am convinced that in the ordained ministry it is our humanity which is more important than our gender, just as it is in relation to our salvation in Christ.
What is also evident to me is that many of those who are opposed to the ordination of women in our Church also believe it is right for the Church of England to ordain women to the episcopate. They see it as an inevitable consequence of a Church which ordains women to the diaconate and the presbyterate. However, they do want appropriate provision for those who do not believe this to be a legitimate development in the one holy, catholic and apostolic church.
This is why there has been so much focus on what sort of provision should be made to enable those who are opposed to remain with integrity within the Church of England. I have come across very few people who do not want to make some sort of provision for enabling conscience to accept this development in our tradition. But what should it be?
A Code of Practice which means that a woman bishop would delegate her authority to a male bishop (for pastoral and sacramental care) for parishes which cannot accept her authority does mean that the parish concerned would have to recognise the apostolic authority of the female bishop in order to make this request. That’s what some of the opponents find so difficult. That’s also why our Archbishops proposed an amendment which suggested co-ordinate jurisdiction deriving from the Measure itself. It would not have impaired the jurisdiction of the female bishop but required her (and male bishops too) to work with an episcopal colleague in order to provide pastoral and sacramental care for every parish within any diocese. It was this amendment which was carried by majorities in the House of Bishops and House of Laity but fell by five votes in the House of Clergy.
The Archbishops made it clear that it was not a test of loyalty to them but a way of so re-shaping the Code of Practice to make it something which could work for everyone without any losers. I voted for it and regret that it failed so narrowly to receive the Synod’s approval.
However, the House of Bishops is intending to get on with the work of drawing up the Code of Practice with some urgency. One of the difficulties is that we do not have a Code of Practice to work with yet which is why so many people were in the dark about the Archbishops’ intentions or what the consequences would be of what they had suggested at what seemed like the last minute (though this was inevitable).
I am very glad that the process of considering this legislation continues and I’m also glad that the present General Synod indicated such significant determination to make provision for those who find the proposal that women should be bishops so difficult. Under God I believe we are charged to do what we believe God calls us to do. For St. Paul this meant that the food laws he had cherished as a Jew should be set aside in a new dispensation brought by Jesus Christ. But he did continue to honour them among Christians who still observed such laws. We now live in a world which is likely to treat minorities in a cavalier and callous way. I long to see women as bishops in our Church but I also want the world to see that we honour and include the minority who do not believe this to be God’s will. The secular world may find that hard to understand but it seems to me to reflect both a New Testament principle and an honouring of our humanity redeemed in Christ.
This comes with my prayers for you all.
Another milestone passed
Inclusive Church gives thanks that General Synod agreed the draft legislation for the consecration of women as bishops by an overwhelming majority. The process in Synod over the weekend was thoughtful, respectful and gracious.
“Another milestone has been passed” said Canon Giles Goddard, Chair of Inclusive Church. “The Church of England is gradually reaching the point when all are able to live out their vocation as bishops, clergy or laity. As a church we can now move forward after forty years of discussion.”
“This is good news for the whole church and we are delighted,” said the Rev’d Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH and a member of IC’s Executive Committee. “Synod’s decision gives the church a powerful mandate to move forward enthusiastically; welcoming the ministry of women at all levels whilst making space for those who are opposed to stay within our body.”
The legislation will now be discussed in Dioceses before its final return to Synod in about 18 months time. The provision for those opposed represents a compromise for all sides. We hope that over the coming months and as the Code of Practice is agreed, many of those who have questioned the provision will find that it does in fact meet their needs.
We were alarmed however that the adversarial nature of the debate means that there seems to be very little trust between the two sides on this issue. There are strong partnerships on both sides, but there’s an urgent need to build friendship across boundaries. Inclusive Church is committed to trying to make this happen.
We hope that in the coming months the various groups and organisations involved can meet and talk, so that we can develop bonds of love in what is likely to continue to be a difficult process. Our prayer is that when final approval comes, it can be something the Church of England welcomes unequivocally.
We already linked to the full text of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s remarks at the beginning of Monday’s debate.
This was the second of three interventions. The first was in the course of Saturday’s debate and is reproduced immediately below.
The third was at the end of Monday, and is reproduced below the fold, i.e. after the Saturday text.
There is a comprehensive set of links to these texts and others on the Lambeth Palace website here.
Thank you Chairman. Archbishop of Canterbury, 001.
As I indicated this morning, the moving of this amendment doesn’t betoken any lack of appreciation for the labours of the revision committee. We wish to test Synod’s mind on whether the kind of provision already outlined in the draft legislation can be adjusted so as to give it just enough extra credibility with those for whom it’s intended, to help us towards an outcome which we can all find constructive.
Feelings have run quite high in recent weeks and the Archbishops’ amendment has been presented by some in very negative – not to say sinister – terms. It may help to make just one or two points in response:
First, we know it is unusual for archbishops to move amendments. But we should both be very disappointed if this was seen as some kind of covert loyalty test. Synod must scrutinize our suggestion in the way it would scrutinize any other. Because, of course, Synod’s task is scrutiny, including the scrutiny of draft legislation. It’s odd to claim that this piece of draft legislation – whatever its virtues – should be exempt from that kind of scrutiny and the possibility of an amendment. Now, the archbishops have a responsibility for trying to find ways of preserving the highest degree of communion possible, and it’s with those responsibilities in mind that they are asking whether this would help. When the revision committee’s report was published we tried (both of us) to give ourselves time to reflect on what it did and didn’t say on the history of the discussion, which references have already been made to, and to digest the possibilities and explore them. During that time, naturally, we had conversation with a range of people. But again I need to say no group saw these amendments before publication; they’re not the result of ‘horse-trading’. They’re neither a long-framed plot nor a hasty response.
Second, it’s essential to stress what’s already been stressed by the Archbishop of York and by the Bishop of Coventry, that the idea of a coordinate jurisdiction does not take away any liberty or any prerogative from a diocesan bishop in law. Nor does it carve out any community from a diocese. What it does is this: it allows a dissenting parish or congregation the ministry of a bishop whose right to exercise that episcopal ministry is agreed by the diocesan and, so to speak, guaranteed by the decision of the bishops, clergy and laity of the Church of England in Synod – that’s us.
And I would want to echo what’s been said earlier today in debate about the seductions of a view of episcopal jurisdiction that sees it as completely territorial and exclusive. Even a seamless robe may be a coat of many colours, you might say. And we’ve already had allusion to those models of interweaving and cooperative jurisdiction which the history of religious orders – not to mention of course the example of service chaplaincies in our dioceses – already provide.
And third, with a nod in Christina’s [Rees] direction if I may: Many of the points of unease raised today and elsewhere are already recognized in the existing report as unfinished business. The revision committee explicitly does not rule out (for example) the formation of a society or societies that will give more solidity to minority groups. There’s a recognition that a code will have to deal with this. The amendment introduces no distinction between male and female bishops. It preserves the principle that every diocese must draw up a scheme, not those presided solely over women. Such schemes must be worked through in the light of a national code of practice, they are subject to scrutiny, once again, and are appropriate to revision and reworking. The legislation does not seek to answer every possible question here and if there are issues between a diocesan bishop and a nominated bishop – issues which could occur anyway in the present draft – there is the possibility of discussion, consultation and adjustment in the scheme. And I might just add here in parentheses that I didn’t feel able to support the previous amendments partly because I was wary to attempt to do too much on the face of the legislation, and to produce something too detailed.
There are other questions which I think could arise on the existing draft which I don’t think our amendment in any sense makes any more complex – the business has to be done.
In short, this amendment doesn’t introduce any complexities not already present in the proposals. What it does is to put, we believe, one crucial element on the table that we hope might allow significantly more people in the Church of England to own the legislative outcome. It does not sanction prejudice or discrimination. It does not envisage any automatic obligation that disadvantages women bishops as distinct from men. It attempts to be faithful to the visions set out in paragraph 459 of the report if you want to look at that.
The Archbishops have been seeking a solution that goes with the grain of Synod’s wishes to preserve a church in which dissidents from the majority view may still live with – and I’m sorry about the word but I can’t think of any other – integrity. But they do not wish to pursue that at the expense of the integrity of their commitment – and I want you to be in no doubt about the commitment of both archbishops to seeing women ordained to the episcopate – at the expense of the integrity of their commitment and Synod’s commitment to the ordination of women as bishops.
Some of the debate today, I think, has illustrated a real risk that in excluding or marginalising the theological position of certain persons in the Church, division is actually made more serious, not less. We’re trying to give some ground for showing those who are in a minority that their views are taken with a degree of seriousness.
And so the question I want to leave you with is quite simply: Who loses if this amendment is passed? The Archbishop of York and I have offered it in the hope and the prayer that the answer just might be: no-one.
Statement from Catholic Group
Jul 14, 2010
The Catholic Group in General Synod is encouraged by the remarks of the Archbishop of Canterbury that there is still ‘unfinished business’ and that ‘the Church is only part of the way through the process’ of determining the way forward for women bishops legislation.
The Group was, however, disappointed that there was a lack of support for financial hardship where clergy feel by conscience that they need to resign from the Church of England. The onus now is on the Church of England to provide for its clergy to remain within the Church for which we have always fought as loyal Anglicans.
We remain committed to both the process and our Church, and would wish to play a major part in helping the Church in its ongoing journey in a spirit of unity that is Christ’s way.
Most of us get information about what is happening in the rest of the church beyond our own patch from the mass media. Understandably in a fierce ratings war and in the struggle to get religious news of any kind reported there is tendency to hype and dramatise and to give undue prominence to extreme voices.
Almost every week we are told that that the Church of England faces “the greatest crisis since the reformation” and “that a split is imminent”.
Actually the weather at the 2010 General Synod in York was much more temperate than in July 2009. I was very proud of the way in which your representatives from the London Diocese, speaking from different viewpoints, made a constructive contribution to many of the debates. The Bishop of Willesden in particular with his characteristic candour shone a bright light on the complex business before us.
The outcome is that the measure to permit women to be consecrated to the episcopate has been remitted for consideration in the Dioceses. This process will take about eighteen months before the matter returns to the General Synod.
There is no doubt that a substantial majority in the Synod and in the Church is strongly in favour of this change and for many, the Synod’s decision will be a cause for heartfelt rejoicing. It was also significant that only a very few of those opposed to this measure sought to delay the process. There is a general feeling that it is urgent to conclude a debate which can appear somewhat introverted when our real focus must be on our unity in mission and in service to a country facing turbulent times.
In consequence much of the discussion was about how to secure an honoured place for those who cannot accept such a decision as one authorised by scripture and tradition and who believe that it will erect new obstacles in our relations with other parts of the “one, holy catholic and apostolic church” to which we claim to belong.
It is emphatically not true to say that the measure as it stands contains no provisions for those who hold such a view. Attempts during the two days of debate to amend the draft measure to remove any arrangements to assist those who adhere to the present practice of the Church were decisively rebuffed.
The draft as it stands offers a “statutory code of practice” to protect the position of those opposed to this development. The question which occupied much of our time was – “Is it enough?”
There was clearly an anxiety in some parts of the Synod that given the sense among a number of supporters of the proposal to ordain women as bishops that this was a gospel and justice matter, “a code of practice” would not be strong enough to ensure respect for the minority who on theological and biblical grounds continued to resist the change.
It is a complex question particularly given the fact that the contents of such a code have not been worked out. At the same time a number of words which have been used in the debate thus far, such as “delegation” and “transfer” have become freighted with negative connotations.
The Archbishops attempted to clear a way through the impasse by introducing the concept of “co-ordinate jurisdiction”. The contents of such a “co-ordinariate” would also have to be settled by reference to the, as yet undrafted, code of practice. Although I voted for the amendment, it is unsurprising that there was a good deal of confusion about what such a concept might mean in practice. The Archbishops’ proposal failed to secure a majority in the House of Clergy although it passed the Bishops and the Laity.
The important point is that valiant attempts are being made to open the way for women to be consecrated bishops without excluding from the church those who adhere to the present position and who share the faith which inspires our mission.
We now have an opportunity to consider the draft legislation in the Diocese and I shall be setting out the process for doing this in due course. At the same time the House of Bishops is charged with working on the vital question of the Code of Practice. The Bishop of Willesden and I will be fully involved in these discussions.
There will be a special meeting of the Diocesan Synod to ponder and vote on the advice which London will be sending back to the General Synod. I do hope that anyone questioning their place in the Church of England on the basis of media reports or premature judgements about the final shape of the legislation will get in touch with me or with their respective Area Bishop before making any personal decisions or public statements.
I returned from York clear both that the majority will is to ordain women bishops while at the same time preserving, as far as possible, the unity of the church in her mission and service to our country.
With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel
The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA
The General Synod at York
IT IS now 40 years since the Church of England General Synod came into being. It was an exciting new development, replacing an even more cumbersome system of dual control by Convocations of Clergy and the Church Assembly. The laity at last had a full and effective voice in the government of the Church of England. There were some safeguards in place. Certain matters had to be passed by two thirds’ majority and there could be a call for a vote by Houses, even when one was not strictly required. That meant that there needed to be majorities in each of the three Houses, Bishops, Clergy, and Laity.
It was this last safeguard which torpedoed the attempt of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to introduce an amendment to safeguard the ministry of traditionalist bishops. (As far as the democratic process is concerned, the archbishops are simply two members of the Synod). The amendment was voted down by five votes in the House of Clergy. This followed an earlier vote, where only 34% of the Synod supported new dioceses. Finally the whole draft Measure was approved, the only safeguard for traditionalists being the promise of a Code of Practice. The matter now moves from the General Synod, whose quinquennium has now ended, to the dioceses. It will return from there to the new General Synod. In 18 months’ time, November 2012, the hope of supporters of women bishops is that the Measure will be finally passed by the necessary two-thirds majority in each House, the hurdle which the Ordination of Women to the Priesthood Measure cleared on November 1992. Thereafter it must pass muster in Parliament, receive the Royal Assent, and be promulged as a canon. Last time, all of that took another 15 months, which would take us to February 2014, with the first consecrations of women bishops soon thereafter.
13th July 2010 Reform statement on women bishops draft legislation
The Archbishop of Canterbury said to Synod yesterday that “we still have not cracked it”, and we agree.
There are two main problems with this measure as it stands.
First the provisions made for those who cannot in conscience accept the oversight of a female bishop are inadequate. This measure does not provide a secure future for our ministry within the Church of England.
Second we think that given the voting patterns we saw this time, unless the Dioceses recommend some significant changes, we will very likely see this voted down at the 2012 General Synod.
The positive response to the Archbishops’ own amendment shows that there are still options available which have not yet been fully explored and which could give Reform members and others adequate provision. We want to see these explored and will seek discussions to ensure they are.
Reform was established in 1993 and is a network of churches and individuals within the Church of England. Current individual membership is around 1,700, in addition to 35 member churches. More than 350 ordained clergy are Reform members.
Here s the official summary of the final session of this month’s meeting of General Synod.0 Comments