Thinking Anglicans

press comment on women bishops

Last Sunday’s Observer had a feature in the Magazine section written by Emma John and titled Should women ever be bishops?

It includes the following statistic:

Forward in Faith and Reform between them have a combined individual membership of 24,000; the Church of England has a regular worshipping community of 1.7 million (who attend at least once a month), the majority of whom – 65% – is female.

Monday’s Guardian had an article by Paul Handley titled Rowan turns rough.

Is Rowan Williams finally getting tough? And is he doing so with the right people?

So, here’s the scenario. Rowan Williams, just turned 60, eight years into the job at Canterbury, decides, at long last, to start throwing his weight around. People are always grumbling about the need for some strong leadership, so, right, he says, let’s give it a go…

…Next, women bishops. The General Synod decided in July 2008 to press ahead with women bishops without giving any cast-iron, legal safeguards to those who don’t accept them. There would be a code of practice, but nothing legally binding. Since then has come the Pope’s offer of sanctuary for traditionalists in the Roman Catholic Church.

In the light of this, New Rowan, joined by the Archbishop of York, a fortnight ago concocted their own cunning plan, introducing the idea of co- ordinate bishops for the traditionalists, so that each diocese has a sort of episcopal twin-set. Supporters of women bishops haven’t been overwhelmingly enthusiastic; but hey, says Rowan, I’m an Archbishop. So, there we have it: at long last, the bearded hippy finds his true voice, and it turns out to be a reactionary, authoritarian one…

But, read the whole article. This was a response to the week’s Cif belief question, which is Which way will synod jump?

(The latter article seems to assume that the synod will be considering the Covenant this weekend, which is not correct.)

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Perry Butler
Perry Butler
13 years ago

I simply dont know what to make of a woman church worker ministering in an Oxford church in 2010 who appears to believe there was a datable Fall, that before it there was paradise, that Adam and Eve were real people and that Adam was created first ergo…..

13 years ago

So trying to find a way for Anglo-Cath traditionalists to stay in the CofE is “reactionary” and “authoritarian”.

What tripe.

13 years ago

Pardon, Ignorant Yank here—but I really find this near-impossible to believe:

“many of its conservative evangelical churches are influential, flourishing and rich. St Ebbe’s is one such in Oxford; its congregation includes hundreds of women, many of them young, many of them in high-powered careers.”

Maybe cruising for their “Mrs degrees”, OK. Or the occasional front-woman for a conservative organization (such as we have in the US). But “high-powered” while NEVER having “authority over men”? Contradiction in terms. [The “rich” part I do believe, however. Calvinism’s emphasis that the Elect may grow rich as God Almighty! ;-/]

Andrew Brown
Andrew Brown
13 years ago

Synod won’t be considering the covenant. But the archbishops have made their preference clear there: that it should be passed, and by unqualified majorities. So I think it’s reasonable to consider these two decisions together.

13 years ago


I agree with you, but those are also – more or less – the views of Tom Wright, bishop of Durham and acclaimed by many as one of the C of E’s most distinguished living theologians.

Simon Sarmiento
13 years ago

Sure Andrew. But one difference is that the archbishops have persuaded the whole House of Bishops, it seems, about the covenant voting, whereas accounts are reaching me daily of diocesan bishops who disagree with the archbishops over their amendments about women bishops, and who do not intend to support them.

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