Thinking Anglicans

Church Times guide to women bishops

Last week’s special feature in the Church Times is now available to non-subscribers for a while.

Glyn Paflin reviews the history in detail in Hoops and hurdles — the long search for agreement.

And there is a note about The Measure and the Code: not yet fixed.

The arguments against are put in two articles:

David Houlding Sacramental assurance: any man won’t do

Jonathan Baker This is not about justice and equality. We agree on those

The issue of male headship is discussed by two evangelical women, Clare Hendry and Lis Goddard in Male headship: two opposing views

John Saxbee is in favour of the legislation, as it stands There is no need to tread on any toes.

Pat Ashworth talks to four women who are serving as bishops in Women in post: the news from overseas.

Paul Handley has a report on a woman bishop already ministering in Britain, Only an issue when it comes to Anglicans.

And finally, there is a Leader: At this stage, it’s not about women.


  • Peter Sherlock says:

    This is an interesting collection. What I find slightly amusing is that there are so many bishops who are women in the Anglican Communion that we can’t even keep track of them anymore. I make it 29, not 26 (7 have retired and 1 has died). Cuba has had two bishops who are women in addition to Australia, Canada, the USA and New Zealand.

    The leader isn’t quite right. This is still about women, and for women whose entire lives, vocations and very salvation has been questioned for so long, it is still extremely difficult to be open to the concept that at this last stage, the admission of women to the episcopate, women will somehow still be seen as a problem to the church. That’s why the resistance to stronger provisions for (so-called) traditionalists remains present.

  • William says:

    “This is still about women, and for women whose entire lives, vocations and very salvation has been questioned for so long.”

    I don’t believe any sane Christian questions the salvation of women. What on earth do you mean by this?

  • JCF says:

    Well, William, if a Roman Catholic woman is ordained (“purportedly ordained” in Vatican parlance), she receives automatic excommunication. Assuming she doesn’t repent, sacramentally confess (to a male priest in good RC standing), and receive absolution (and dies in that state), wouldn’t it be fair to say that—again, strictly from the Vatican POV!—her *salvation* is at stake?

    As far as all the rest of the links: I simply can’t be bothered by this silliness anymore. In my church, TEC, we’ve had women ordained as priests for 35 years, and as bishops for 23 (and Presiding Bishop for 5!). Lo, God’s Grace has continued to flow through our church and its sacraments, unimpeded by a lack of a Y chromosome. To call this debate “settled” would be a gross understatement. C’mon, CofE, kick in! Catch up! The Holy Spirit leads *ahead*, not behind…

  • Rod Gillis says:

    The arguments Jonathan Baker puts forward are conventional and tired (“This is not about Justice and equality. We agree on those.”). Mr. Baker may be sincere, but he is wrong. The argument that women cannot be ordained priests/bishops on theological grounds is a shill argument based on gender bias. Religion is the last bastion, a virtual organizational Masada, where men can make these kinds of arguments while hiding behind the ramparts of “theology”. The fact is, that even Churches like Canada that ordain women do not yet do so based on an unqualified commitment to gender equality. Most Canadian Anglicans in most places support the ordination of women most of the time–but not because the Canadian Church and its leadership are committed to equality on principle. Provision for both formal and informal opting out is allowed in Canada lest the conservative boys make a fuss. We are not agreed on equality Mr. Baker nor is it the basis of our decisions. Women priests and bishops are almost universally tolerated in Canada–but only tolerated none the less. But, carry on. Issue those scathing prophetic critiques of policy to government, to banks, to companies. Hopefully they won’t notice how fuzzy our own thinking and how weak in the knees our own resolve within our own area of jurisdiction.

  • Gary Paul Gilbert says:

    The term “woman bishop” is problematic because it makes it seem as if the Church of England were about to create a new parallel institution to that of the episcopate. This issue is about opening the episcopate, like other ordained ministry, to candidates who happen to be women. As Catherine Roskam, Suffragan Bishop of New York, said in a Wall Street Journal interview, “I have to say in my own diocese I am not a ‘woman bishop.’ I don’t even feel like a ‘woman bishop’ in our synod [a governing body made up of clergy and laity in a diocese], I am just a bishop who happens to be a woman.” She was consecrated a Bishop in Christ’s Holy Catholic Church, not a “woman bishop.” I was happy to be at the consecration and see that there were no protests.

    Gary Paul Gilbert

  • Dave Paisley says:

    “Church Times guide to (CofE) women bishops”


    Just wait 20 years…

  • It would have been interesting had the Church Times interviewed Canadian Bishop Jane Alexander.

    1. She is an expatriate Brit.

    2. She is the first female bishop to directly succeed another female diocesan bishop in office (Victoria Matthews, now of Christchurch NZ).

    3. She shares a name (Bishop of Edmonton) with a certain suffragan bishopric in London which is traditionally reserved for an opponent of the orddination of women.

  • Robert ian Williams says:

    There is a woman bishop on ARCIC too and it doesn’t seem to have jeopardised the dialogue.

  • “There is a woman bishop on ARCIC too and it doesn’t seem to have jeopardised the dialogue.” – R.I.W. –

    Thanks for drawing our attention to this fact Robert. I would be most interested to hear what is your gut-feeling about that fact. Does it diminish your faith in Roman Catholicism – that a Roman Catholic Bishop could consent to be in an R.C.-sponsored discussion with a woman who happens to be an Anglican Bishop. OR, do you think that ARCIC is really all a game – played on the sidelines by the Pope as a gesture to ecumenism?

    If you were the Pope, Robert, what would you do?

  • Robert ian williams says:

    Plus the fact the Diocese she comes from is very pro gay with blessings!

    If I was the Pope I would curtail the charade, and
    stop telling myself the lie that it will end in corporate reunion.

    The Pope must believe that the 9,000 Anglican women priests will voluntarily resign!

    That anglicans will give up divorce, contraception etc

    He sacked the Bishop of Toowoomba for speculating there could be women priests.. seems inconsistent to me. I think his ecumenical vision is tired and failed.

  • Dear R.I.W., I rest my case!

  • Columba Gilliss says:

    At General Convention in 1973 I heard a bishop say you could no more ordain a woman than you could baptize a cow. But the formal statement that hurt most was that Christ had only assumed male nature. I knew “what he did not assume that he did not redeem” spoke originally of the body and not just the mind or soul but it still terrifies. I was frequently reminded that Paul said wives were to participate in the church through their husbands. Jerome and others had said that if a woman was very holy she could attain a male soul. Ordaining and consecrating women — even if only one woman — shows at least our part of the Body of Christ affirms our salvation and our worth. That scares many. Columba Gilliss

  • “Thus it was that Cardinal Walter Kasper, the then President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, addressed the bishops of the Church of England in June 2006, on the theme of the mutual recognition of ministries, especially episcopal ministry, and the unity of the Church.”

    – Bishop-elect, Jonathan Baker –

    In quoting Cardinal Kaspar on ‘Mutual recognition of ministries, does Jonathan really believe that Anglican Bishops (or clergy, at their level) are considered by a Roman Catholic Cardinal to be the equal of Roman Catholic Bishops (or priests, in their own order)?

    What would Cardinal Kaspar know about the problem we have with obtaining recognition of our Orders by his own Magisterially-governed Church? Is he seriously suggesting that we have a valid equivalence with Roman Catholic Orders? Or is this just another ‘come-on’ for the sake of appearances?

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