Thinking Anglicans

Women in the Episcopate – more Synod papers

We linked earlier to the report of the revision committee on the legislation to enable women to be bishops, and the accompanying draft measure and canon. These papers have now been reissued in standard synod form.

GS 1708-09Y Revision Committee Report Women in the Episcopate
GS 1708A draft Women in the Episcopate measure
GS 1709A Amending Canon No 30
GS 1708AX Explanatory Memorandum to the draft Measure as revised in committee

The last of these is new. It has been prepared by the Legal Office and explains the effect of each clause of the draft measure in understandable, lay language.

There is also a paper from the Business Committee explaining how the draft legislation will be handled at the July meeting of General Synod (and subsequently) and an outline agenda for July.

GS Misc 952 This July’s Synod
Outline Agenda July 2010


  • Charlotte says:

    Thank you for posting the explanation in non-technical language of the Synod’s provisions for those who cannot accept women bishops. The provisions seem very reasonable and generous; they would also avoid the problems generated by allowing a “Church within a Church.” I hope those who cannot accept women as bishops will be able to accept them. I could wish such provisions would serve as a model for peacemaking generally among the Churches of the Communion.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    Viewing the content of GS Misc 952, one is struck by the complexity of the process needed in order to change the current climate of suspicion about the leadership of women in the Church of England.

    However, if this is what is necessary before that situation can be normalised within the structures of Mother Church, so be it. One can only pray that the Holy Spirit’s wisdom and grace will open the way to further enlightenment on the need for an inclusive Gospel initiative that will enable the Church of England to catch up with other Provinces of the world-wide Communion on justice issues.

    A positive result from this General Synod Meeting may help our Roman Catholic sisters and brothers come to terms with the fact that women are co-equal partners in the propagation of the Gospel.

  • Ed Tomlinson says:

    Trouble is Charlotte that the ONLY people saying these are generous and workable are those they are NOT designed to help. I do not know of ONE traditionalist who says ‘yes we can run with this’. Not one and that is surely proof that it is totally inadequate.

    Furthermore it is worth noting the votes. I can find not one instance when a traditionalists motion or suggestion was voted for. The comittee was skewed in favour of WO supporters and they just rolled through what they wanted with a crumb of code thrown to the losers. It looks like democracy but how can it be when we lost all votes due to lack of representation?

    What we have legislates for sexism – I can hide from my women bishop but she is still my bishop. Trouble is I have no problem with women. She is not a bishop in my eyes and so who stands in her place is neither here or there.

  • “Not one and that is surely proof that it is totally inadequate.”

    There is, however, an alternative explanation to this.

  • “The comittee was skewed in favour of WO supporters and they just rolled through what they wanted with a crumb of code thrown to the losers. It looks like democracy but how can it be when we lost all votes due to lack of representation?”

    I would think that having the committee made up mostly of the supporters of WO would be the definition of democracy, Father. Aren’t most people in the CofE in favor of WO?

    “Trouble is I have no problem with women. “

    Except in Holy Orders, of course.

  • Pat O'Neill says:


    It seems to me the problem, then, lies with those on your side of the question–who seem to think that “compromise” is defined as “give me what I want”. And, again, there’s your continued stance that you have “no problem with women”…yes, apparently, except when they are given authority over YOU. You consistently say that it’s not that women shouldn’t be bishops, but that they can’t be–and I have yet to see you explicate exactly why that is so, other than that they are women.

  • Charlotte says:

    So, Ed Tomlinson, let me be plain-spoken in my Yankee way, and say the only thing these provisions do not do is permit the formation of a church within a church, not accountable to or within the diocesan structures. But no Anglican body has ever permitted such a thing. The mendicant orders (Chaucer’s “friars”) did form such an independent group, not accountable to diocesans, and the abuses that resulted helped fuel the Reformation. So, no, Synod will not allow a portion of the Church of England to declare its independence from the diocesan structure while still benefiting from the privileges of membership.

  • Chris Smith says:

    Women in the Episcopate is a JUSTICE issue and the Ed Tomlinsons of this world are never going to get it. They are not in the least interested in opening their hearts and minds to the sound and healthy theology as to why women must be able to serve equally in the Church. Yes, some members of the Roman Catholic hierarchy will use this move by The Church of England as a teaching moment and a very profound one at that, but the right wing elements of the hierarchy which have been largely appointed by John Paul II and Benedict are the majority in the world college of Catholic bishops and therefore will follow in lockstep to the tune of the current Bishop of Rome, who, like his predecessor, has a closed mind and heart on this issue. The consecration of women bishops in the CofE will move the dialogue forward significantly and it will have a positive influence on the discussion. Nothing in the current motions for the upcoming synod will please the Ed Tomlinsons and therefore it is only an exercise in futility.

  • Ordinary Vicar says:

    “Nothing in the current motions for the upcoming Synod will please the Ed Tomlinsons…”

    Yes; didn’t Ed say this himself, and isn’t this the whole point? There are no proposals that would allow Ed to support them before the Synod precisely because the revision committee hasn’t approved any.

    That leaves getting the whole thing voted down as the only way in which those concerned at the lack of provision.

    Don’t underestimate the potential for the House of Bishops to do precisely this; they’re not campaigners, they’re shepherds and responsible for the whole flock, even (indeed especially) the ones they think are wrong. And yes, they would be defying the will of the rest of Synod and possibly their own instincts in doing this, and they’d hate themselves for having to do it but hey, that’s what episcopacy is about.


  • Erika Baker says:

    I can understand Ed’s point of view.
    As Charlotte says, the only thing they haven’t been given is a church within a church, but that is the only thing that would satisfy the idea that women bishops are impossible.

    I don’t agree with Ed, not one little bit. But his logic and that of FiF is sound.

    A compromise was never possible from the outset. You can either create a church within a church or you have to separate out – that’s the only genuine choice there has ever been.

  • “Women in the Episcopate is a JUSTICE issue…”

    I wonder if that’s the best way to put it, since it seems to say that ordination to the priesthood and consecration to the episcopate are rights. I think it’s much better to say that women in the episcopate is an issue of obedience to God (if God is calling them, then surely the Church has an obligation to ordain them in response to that call).

  • Lois Keen says:

    The Ed Tomlinson’s, I imagine, subscribe to the theology that women are not made of fit matter to be able to be ordained, even if hands are laid on them and the words said over them. They are – I am – not a priest in spite of being ordained because the matter of which we are made can’t be made priestly.

    It’s like the story about one of our non-WO bishops, no longer with TEC, who is said to have stated, “You can baptize a horse but it doesn’t make it human.”

  • evensongjunkie says:

    Always interesting to see how puritanism has affect Anglo-Catholicism. It always comes down to sex, or problems with.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “Trouble is I have no problem with women. She is not a bishop in my eyes and so who stands in her place is neither here or there”. – Ed Tomlinson –

    So here we have the real issue, Ed – the fact that you cannot live with the prospect of women bishops in the Church of your habitation, no matter what provisions might be made for your accommodation.

    Then, clearly, you have no place within the Church of England if it allows women to become Bishops. End of story. As the Church of England General Synod has already declared the women bishops are likely to be ordained within the C.of E., it’s time you learned to live with this reality and prepared for your departure to your new spiritual home with the Roman Catholics.

    This is not our ultimatum. It is your own!

  • Joe says:

    I disagree with Ed: there is more balance here than he thinks. The draft measure still permits male bishops not to ordain women, not to recognise their ordination due to theological conviction. This allows a diocesan bishop not to be in communion with ‘his’ women priests: recognition of each other’s orders is a precondition for communion between churches and so also within churches.

    This is a huge, painful, ongoing concession, reflecting a very un-catholic notion of order, etc. In addition, the church is enabling those who do not recognise women’s orders to continue not to do so. Even if an alternative to a women bishop has delegated authority from a women diocesan, the delegation is not a sacramental act; the authority of the delegation stems from a canon, not from her orders. This again is a huge, painful ongoing concession, hardly catholic.

    So not one-sided at all….

  • Erika Baker says:

    Fr Ron
    I think you could possibly be a little more charitable to Ed.

    Lois Keen puts the underlying principle very well: you can baptise a horse but you can’t make it human.

    You and I believe that God calls women to the priesthood and that they should be bishops.

    But if someone genuinely and truly believes that it is absolutely impossible (not undesireable, but truly impossible in a very real way) for women to be priests and bishops, then any compromise apart from a church within a church cannot possibly work.

    I don’t understand Ed, I have no sympathy with his views. But I do see someone who holds his views sincerely and who is really and truly hurting quite desperately because of the way his church is moving, and because of the increasing awareness that there can be no satisfying accommodation apart from the creation of an equally modern and un-Anglican church within a church.

    I don’t understand why we cannot all be a little more compassionate.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “I don’t understand why we cannot all be a little more compassionate.”

    Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday

    Erika, I’m sure that there were Bishops in the Church of England who were ‘compassionate’ with those in their flock whose fortunes were in some way dependent on employing slaves – at the time of their emancipation – but it still didn’t do the slaves any good.

    And O.V., in your comment about the Bishops maybe feeling they have to look after the ‘erring sheep’ as well as the majority (who might want women bishops)- by refusing to take the next step of opening up preferment to women in the Church – are you suggesting that this would be a deliberately perverse action on their part (the Bishops) but that they would feel it a pastoral necessity?

    Then what about the women whom God might call into episcopal leadership? Does that not matter? Does that not need at least an equivalent amount of pastoral care?

  • evensongjunkie (formerly cbfh) says:

    Erika, I think that some of us on this site are quite frankly sick to death at trying to be compassionate to those we differ only to be told that we are heretics, using unsound arguments, also being mean-spirited, etc., etc. The difference for them is that it is a theological argument; for us it is how we are created and occasionally, life-threatening. When the empathy isn’t returned and their anger flies in the face of logic, not to mention common sense, my answer isn’t unlike that of ignoring a bawling toddler until they get over their tantrum and deal with life’s changes.

    Remember, some on this post have chosen to believe what they believe, others, like you and me, never had that choice.

  • Susan in Georgia says:

    What exactly does compassion for Ed mean? Because it seems to me that what supporters of WO (and I am one) are saying to those who disagree is this: We know your beliefs are strongly held and that our actions are causing you great pain, but the fact of your pain, much as we regret it, is not going to change our actions. And, while we will scurry about for a bit trying to accommodate you, eventually others will be in charge who will not have the time, patience, or resources for those accommodations. Ed cleaves to his position, and there is no way to remove the pain from that position. He could change his belief (he say that’s impossible), he could stay and endure the agony of a restricted situation, living in dread of the ultimate removal of “accommodation,” or he could bear the agony of leaving COE all together. Either way, he gets agony. So, what does our compassion for Ed add up to? “I’m sorry, but it can’t be helped.” We can pray for Ed’s relief, for his change of heart, but since we are not going to change our course and Ed declares he cannot change his mind, we are still leaving Ed by the way, no matter how sadly we wave good-bye.

  • Pluralist says:

    Are you in favour of that then Erika, of another province, or big non-geographical diocese only loyal to the Archbishop of Canterbury for as long as he is male and was ordained by lines of men? And that such a diocese or province has ‘a future’ and not just a transitory arrangement?

    It’s a non-starter, and there are plenty of choices out there, and the pope has added another. When you arrive at a position where you are no longer ‘in’, or the body decides to shift so you are no longer ‘in’, either you accommodate or leave. There are other choices, including setting up your own.

  • Rev L Roberts says:

    Baptism ‘makes’ us Christian not human. Or rather, it can be a sign of a desire to follow Jesus’ message. Many of Christian people aren’t / weren’t baptized.

    Why did that bishop demean horses though ? To demean women ?

    What was holding the human sensitivity of that bishop in abeyance I wonder ? Let alone his Christianity ….

  • Rev L Roberts says:

    I think Ed will do just fine,and be just fine.

    However, the Church could arrange for any who are unduly upset to receive an offer of counselling or other support they would find of help.

  • Chris Smith says:

    Erika: I believe Fr. Ron Smith has more than demonstrated charity and good will toward Ed Tomlinson. As far as compassion is concerned, I think it may be Ed Tomlinson who has shown a lack of it for women and their value in the Church. Just because his views are expressed “sincerely” does not make them right for the Body of Christ. There is an abundance of sound and healthy theology behind the issue of women in the episcopate, and Ed Tomlinson just isn’t able to open his mind and heart to these views. It is time for him to move on and I think it may be unhealthy to try to accommodate his views in light of the theology of women’s roles in leadership positions (priesthood and episcopate), in the Church. Do I wish him well? Yes, I do. Women have waited for nearly two thousand years to have their value in priesthood and episcopate roles to be validated. It is Ed Tomlinson and those who think as he does, who seem to be showing a lack of compassion for women and for glbt people.

  • Erika Baker says:

    No, I’m not in favour of that, but I recognise that it would be the only alternative that would allow FiF people to remain in the CoE.

    I have no sympathy for Ed’s views, I don’t understand how anyone can hold them.

    But I can see that they have an internal logic and I can see that he’s hurting.
    And I really really don’t like the slow clapping him out of this church that’s happening on this forum.
    It’s completely devoid of compassion and it’s not necessary.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    Erika! For goodness sake! Are you suggesting that Ed Tomlinson’s need of comfort in his recalcitrance about the dignity of women in the Church is more important than the probable injustice involved in continuing on the path of emancipation for women whom God might be calling into Leadership?

    Compassion may be in order, but not indulgence of impure prejudice. Incidentally, I do hope Ed gets a situation where he can indulge his own requirement for a male boss – without anyone having to suffer because of his stance.

  • Pat O'Neill says:


    Some 35 years ago, I realized that the Roman Catholic church and I had parted ways on any number of issues–women’s ordination among them. I chose to leave a church I had grown up in and floundered religiously for about a decade until I found the Episcopal Church (through my wife).

    I fail to understand why Ed Tomlinson and others who agree with him cannot take the same road I did.

  • JCF says:

    “She is not a bishop in my eyes”

    Um, Ed: if your eyes offend thee, then… }-/

  • MarkBrunson says:

    Is it more compassionate to allow him to stay and poison everyone else’s well? Where is your compassion for those Ed is willfully hurting, Erika? Is his “hurt” more valid than their “hurt?” Does it count more? If it is your concern that he have his own little domain – perhaps you can create one.

    I have no sympathy for the man, frankly. He chose to become a priest and – my doubts about the choice aside – that entails being held to a higher standard of compassion, ecclesial obedience and submission to suffering for the community. If he doesn’t wish that, he may leave. That *is* compassion – you may leave, not I will make you like me or pretend to be like you – that’s weak-kneed deception. Compassion doesn’t alleviate suffering, it recognizes it and “suffers along with.”

  • I still haven’t heard any arguments against WO, other than the nonsensical.

  • Erika Baker says:

    No, I’m not suggesting that Ed’s traumas should be evaluated as more important than the continued injustice to women in the church.
    But I do believe that we can purposefully walk our own way without continuously telling the losers that they were right to lose and that everyone will be better off once they’re gone.
    And what I really don’t like are comments like “recalcitrance about the dignity of women in the Church”, when he has time and time again explained that it isn’t like that for him.

    In many respects the conversation resembles the anti-gay debate, where those who don’t want to hear me keep telling me they know everything about me, about my chosen life-style and about my motives, and nothing I say makes them even take on board my arguments. It is hugely frustrating when it happens to me, and I find it hugely frustrating to watch it happen to Ed.

    Ed is saying that God does not permit women priests. Therefore, ordaining a woman is an actual impossibility.
    Now, you and I completely disagree with this view.
    But it doesn’t help to pretend that the view isn’t genuine.
    Ed is empathically not saying that women have no dignity in the church. For him, a woman priest is as impossible as a male giving birth to children. There’s no value judgement in it, it’s just stating what, to him, is fact.

    We can disagree – I do!
    We can say that, for us, it’s also issue of justice and dignity – it is!
    We can say that we believe there is some underlying misogyny of which he isn’t aware – I suspect so.
    And we can be grateful that our church is moving in the right direction.

    But to insist that people like Ed are saying something they’re not saying is a huge misunderstanding at best.

  • Erika Baker says:

    You clearly have found a way to a new church life that was right for you.
    As a bisexual woman married to another woman, I would much rather I was able to stay in this church than have to leave, and I will leave only if it becomes absolutely impossible to stay. I completely understand Ed’s emotional struggles. And just because some gay people shout at me from other places to cut loose and join them doesn’t mean I’m anywhere ready for it. Or that, should it ever come to it, it would not be a hugely traumatic thing to do. I expect that one day, Ed will look back like you, knowing that he made the right choice although it was one of the hardest choices in his life.
    We’re not doing ourselves any favours if we pretend that it is easy and that those who feel compelled to make it deserve no compassion.

    I can’t see anything in Christianity that says “treat your enemies with as much contempt as they treat you with, and distort the truth about them as they distort the truth about you because it’s more entertaining and makes your contempt and your moral superiority more obvious”.
    Ed will not be happy in this church any longer, the church has rightly moved on, the battle is won. What is gained by kicking a man when he’s down?

  • Achilles says:

    Erika – where can I sign up to the Church of Erika Baker? Forgive me for being forward but I can only say that you are the best reason why women’s ordination and women being consecrated as bishops should become ordinary practice. Stick to your compassionate guns. Brava!!

  • Rev L Roberts says:

    Erika – where can I sign up to the Church of Erika Baker? Forgive me for being forward but I can only say that you are the best reason why women’s ordination and women being consecrated as bishops should become ordinary practice. Stick to your compassionate guns. Brava!!

    Posted by: Achilles on Friday, 28 May 2010 at 12:21pm BST

    Let me sign up too.

    Her compassion seems excessive = is excessive! Her Christianity puts the likes of me to shame.

  • MarkBrunson says:

    “I can’t see anything in Christianity that says “treat your enemies with as much contempt as they treat you with, and distort the truth about them as they distort the truth about you because it’s more entertaining and makes your contempt and your moral superiority more obvious”.
    Ed will not be happy in this church any longer, the church has rightly moved on, the battle is won. What is gained by kicking a man when he’s down?”


    He comes to *be* kicked, and kick at others.

    Where. Is. Your. “Compassion.” For. Those. He. Kicks?

    Is he more important than they are?

    He chose to be a priest and that entails more forbearance, which he does not show.

    If you want to be the mother angry that others want her spoiled child to stop tearing apart a room in a tantrum, fine, but stop treating the rest of *us* with contempt because we’ve had enough. You want to talk of showing off your moral superiority? What do you think your comments are doing?

    Pretty soon, though, Rowan’s gonna chuck us in TEC out, and then you can have Ed all to yourself.

  • evensongjunkie says:

    Now tell us how you REALLY feel MarkBrunson!

    I probably can’t stand Special Ed’s pontificating anymore than you do Mark, but Erika’s probably correct that fighting fire with fire just burns the house down.

    I’d be looking at why your reaction to her is so visceral; that’s something to ponder at 0300 behind that motel check-in desk.

  • Father Ron Smith says:

    “But to insist that people like Ed are saying something they’re not saying is a huge misunderstanding at best.” – Erika Baker, Friday –

    Dear Erika. I am not aware that I’ve ever suggested Ed Tomlinson has said something he has not said. If you really want to read what he actually is saying, log onto his web-site. I’ve just done so and am appalled – mostly at his insistence that the Church he joined (with eyes open to the fact that women were already being ordained into the C.of E. when he agreed to abide by its Statutes) has no business ordaining any of of its women priests into episcopal ministry.

    The Church of England has not yet ordained a woman bishop but: according to Ed. Tomlinson’s own understanding of ‘catholic tradition’ – which he claims to be already practising within the Church of England, despite his doubts – a Diocesan Bishop has episcopal authority in their own diocese. To suppose any other would be to deny the very catholicity he affects to defend to the death! Where is the congruity (or integrity) in that?

    For Ed to continue under the illusion that he can live a double life under what has been previously known as ‘Two-Integrities’ is to deny one of the oldest traditions of the True Church. Then, if he considers the Church of England to be no longer the ‘True Church’, to maintain his own need for unblemished integrity, he must move.

  • Jaycee says:

    I spent last evening at a Deanery meeting to discuss “Women in the Episcopate”.

    It has to be said that the greater majority were for women bishops but the general arguments seemed to be that it’s about time or it’s a good idea. Historical argument on Apostolic Succession seemed not to be understood or ignored altogether.

    I still write as one of the 75% of Christians who oppose this.

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