Last week’s Church Times carried a detailed report which is now available to non-subscribers: Synod given chance to signal its wishes on women bishops by Margaret Duggan and Ed Thornton.
THE subject of women bishops will dominate the General Synod’s meeting in Church House, Westminster, next month.
Dr Colin Podmore, the new Clerk to the Synod, said at a press briefing a week ago that there were four separate items about it on the agenda, with ten documents to back them. It would be the first time that the membership of the current Synod, elected a year-and-a-half ago, has tackled the subject, and so it would be of great interest to see which way they might go.
The secretary-general, William Fittall, refused to speculate on any outcome. He said that it would be a very significant chapter in a debate that had already gone on for more than a decade. It would be a chance for the Synod to reflect on the draft legislation, and on the Illustrative Draft Code of Practice.
Members would be invited to make suggestions and recommendations, but not to make amendments; only the House of Bishops could amend the legislation when it met in May. Should any of those amendments be substantial, the legislation would have to be referred to the diocese again; otherwise, the final vote could be next July…
Scroll down the same page for a second article: Illustrative code by Glyn Paflin.
THE Code of Practice on women bishops cannot be settled until the Measure itself has been passed, but the Synod will debate an Illustrative Draft Code of Practice on the Tuesday of its next meeting.
Drafted by a House of Bishops working party, chaired by the Bishop of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, it supersedes the illustrative draft produced by another group in 2008, owing The House of Bishops debated the new draft code in December, and the Archbishops’ foreword to the report says that the House “does not wish to see any outcome that would entrench radical division or given any impression of a ‘two-tier’ episcopate”. But it is committed to “the most adequate and sustainable provision for theological dissent over the ordination of women”, and seeks “a balanced provision” that will enable all members of the Church of England to “flourish”.
The House has committed itself to three principles: (1) ensuring that bishops do not discriminate when selecting candidates for ordination on grounds of their theological convictions about the admission of women to holy orders; (2) paying heed, when new bishops are chosen to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes, to the theological convictions on women’s ordination of those who issued the Letter of Request for their ministry; and (3) maintaining a supply of bishops who can minister to those unable to accept women bishops…
Earlier this week Andrew Brown wrote for the Guardian that The Church of England’s fudge on female bishops is breathtaking.
The Church of England’s House of Bishops – for which, read the archbishops of Canterbury and York – has explained how they hope to mollify the opponents of female clergy. The proposals are breathtaking.
The archbishops envisage that the Church of England, once it has female bishops, will continue ordaining men who do not accept these women, finding them jobs they will deign to accept, and promoting some of them to be bishops who will work to ensure the continued supply of male priests who refuse to accept female clergy. In fact, the church will pay three bishops (the formerly “flying” sees of Ebbsfleet, Richborough, and Beverley) to work full time against their female colleagues, and to nourish the resistance.
The General Synod, last summer, rejected the archbishops’ plan to fix a reservation in law where the opponents could live as if nothing had changed. Now they have brought back the same proposals, but call them “a code of practice” instead. In theory, this gives both sides what they want. In reality neither will find it easy to accept.
Obviously this will be unacceptable to most supporters of women’s ordination. But the cream of the joke is that it will probably be unacceptable to their principled opponents as well. The unscrupulous ones will, of course, be very happy with the deal.
Despite all these concessions, there will be female bishops, as there are already female priests, and these will be treated exactly the same as male ones – except by the men who don’t want to treat them equally and who believe that God has called them to undermine women’s authority wherever it appears.
This is apparently Rowan Williams’s idea of justice…
To read in full what the archbishops wrote in their Foreword to the Report of the Working Group on an Illustrative Draft Code of Practice, see the first couple of pages of GS Misc 1007, available as a PDF here.