WATCH (Women and the Church) issued this statement this evening.
WATCH PRESS STATEMENT
Tuesday, 19th January 2010 – for immediate release
FURTHER DELAY FOR WOMEN BISHOPS
Following the publication this week of General Synod’s February agenda, WATCH notes with deep regret that there will be no debate on the draft legislation for women bishops. The Revision Committee set up to prepare the legislation which will open the Episcopate to women has failed to complete its task in time for February’s synod, as requested in a synod motion one year ago. Although not explicitly asked to do so, the Revision Committee considered a range of options for the legislation, including models already rejected by General Synod.
Despite this disappointing setback, WATCH would like to thank those members of the Revision Committee who have worked hard and with dedication in their attempt to achieve the aims of the General Synod to create something that offers a moment of transformation of historic proportions in the life of the Church.
“At least no one can say that any stone has been left unturned” said Christina Rees, chair of WATCH. “We now expect the very best legislation to be presented well in advance of the July meeting of General Synod. We hope to see a clear, workable and straightforward set of proposals, which are closely aligned to what Synod requested in July 2008, namely legislation making it possible for women to be bishops within the existing structures of the Church. Perhaps all the extra time this is taking will help the Revision Committee to reach the simplicity that lies beyond complexity.”
WATCH is pleased to see that the Bishop of Manchester, as Chair of the Steering Committee, is to give February’s Synod a report on the process so far and hopes that he will provide a full explanation of the reasons for the delay. WATCH also hopes that he would agree that it would be unthinkable if their report is not brought to the July 2010 meeting of General Synod. This matter is of such ecclesial and public importance that should the Church fail to honour its decisions to allow women to be bishops, especially as women account for nearly 40% of the Church’s active clergy, it risks becoming an object of ridicule. WATCH therefore hopes that the Bishop of Manchester will provide assurances that the report will indeed be brought to the July 2010 meeting of General Synod without suffering further prevarication and delay.
Further, WATCH believes it is now incumbent upon the Revision Committee to produce a comprehensive report that will obviate the need for past models and options to be considered yet again in July 2010. Along with doubtless many members of General Synod, WATCH would also expect the Revision Committee’s report to be available well in advance of the July meeting, so that proper consideration and consultation may take place.
WATCH also hopes that the Business Committee will make every effort to ensure sufficient time and flexibility is scheduled at the July Synod to complete all the stages necessary for the draft legislation to be sent to the dioceses.
Revd Hugh Lee
(General Synod member)
Revd Rachel Weir
Revd Dr Charles Read