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.
Before I invite you to pray, just a very brief word about where I think we now are:
We have decided to invite the dioceses to join us in prayer and reflection. We have decided to send to the dioceses a number of suggestions, proposals, by way of draft legislation, about which the feelings of many people in this hall are still very mixed. Some will have decided to, in effect, to send forward to the dioceses proposals, suggestions, which they are not themselves committed to but which they believe need to be discussed as fully and deeply as possible.
I might, perhaps, just say, to read into the record, I had technical difficulties this morning with my voting machine – I was not able to vote on the motion around clause 2 standing part of the measure. In spite of having proposed amendments and in spite of my expressed doubts about that, I believe that that should be discussed by the dioceses because that is an opportunity for doing necessary work, so I should’ve voted in favour had I been able to master a recalcitrant machine. And I do that with some difficulty.
But that is where we are. We are inviting the dioceses to give to this business some of the depth and honesty of feeling that members of Synod have given to the business. We are hoping and praying that the dioceses will regard this as something more than a ‘mechanical’ task. And I would remind you that there are further stages to this process in which we all need to revive flagging energies, looking forward to what I spoke of this morning which is that possibility of finding a way of serving one another through all this, however challenging it is. Like the Chair I’m grateful, as one of the Presidents of the Synod, for the degree to which people have attempted to listen to each other, and I hope that – to echo my fellow President – what emerges is – in the long run, and whatever way – a witness to the resurrection of Jesus Christ; after experiences which, for people on all sides of the debate, have involved a good deal of carrying the cross. And by that I mean those who are in a minority and are feeling at the moment bruised and excluded, but also those of our sisters in ministry and in baptised identity who have also had moments of feeling deeply bruised and excluded. The Body of Christ is that sort of body. But it’s also the body which is raised, so in that hope I invite you to pray.