Thinking Anglicans

Women bishops: WATCH asks bishops not to amend draft legislation

WATCH Press Release 12.15pm Monday 13 February 2012

Women and the Church (WATCH)

To the Bishops: ‘Keep faith with the Dioceses’ – do not amend the draft legislation for women bishops.

We urge the House of Bishops not to make any change to the draft legislation that would further discriminate against women bishops and those male bishops who ordain women: if they do this then the Measure will be at serious risk of being voted down in July.

Over and over again last week speakers urged General Synod, and the House of Bishops in their deliberations in May, to acknowledge the huge majorities across the dioceses and not amend the draft legislation which already contains substantial provision for those opposed to the ordained ministry of women.

We trust that the House of Bishops has heard this message and in its discussions will leave the draft Measure unamended and in the form that the dioceses have debated and approved.

Reasons for standing by the present compromise
In WATCH’s view, anything in either the Code of Practice or the Measure that tries to spell out what kind of ‘male’ bishop should be offered to parishes that do not accept female bishops would be unacceptable. This is because it would set in law two strands of bishops in the Church of England: those who have had sacramental contact with women, and those who have not. On no other issue about which Bishops disagree (sometimes profoundly) has such a structure been written into law, indeed it is the essence of Anglicanism not to do so.

This debate is about the place of women
The opposition to women bishops is based on their being women – whether that is about an interpretation of the Bible which maintains that women are forbidden to have authority over a man, or about following the Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches in not recognising that women can represent Christ at the altar.

Synod agrees that the Archbishops’ Amendment is not the right way forward
We are very pleased that the Archbishops’ Amendment has been fully debated by Synod for a second time, and that Synod has decisively voted not to follow that route.

Women lead the debate
It was particularly significant to see two women leading the debate: surely a foretaste of the way that women will lead as bishops – with wisdom, grace and understanding for those who have difficulty in accepting their ministry.

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Father Ron Smith
Guest

Let’s pray that WATCH, and the voice of Women are heard by the House of Bishops on this vitally important matter affecting the future of women’s ministry in the Church of England.

If all things were equal, we should not even have to talk about ‘Women’ or ‘Male’ Bishops, there should just be Shepherds of the Flock – with equal status – as they probably are already accredited in the divine economy. There is only ONE Integrity.

Father DAvid
Guest
Father DAvid

What’s the point of having bishops if they can’t, in Rowan’s words, offer some “fine tuning” to the proposed legislation?

Phil
Guest
Phil

I’m afraid that what you suggest, indeed the legislation as it stands, is thoroughly un-Anglican as it is basically seeking to remove provision for a sizeable minority within the church. What is worse is that you do not wish to show Christian love and understanding, i.e. sacrificial, to a group that you disagree with, yet you expect them to either do so to you or leave the Church of England. Don’t get me wrong, I am in favour of women in leadership at all levels, but not at the expense of anyone else. As it says in the Bible, if… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Any society is judged on how it treats its minorities – especially a Christian society.

Rosalind
Guest
Rosalind

There are always questions about how to include those who have conscientious objections to any development in a community of any kind, including the church. No one, least of all WATCH, is suggesting that those who find the ministry of women, priestly, episcopal or other should be ignored. History and good practice shows that the best way to to do this is by leaving “spaces” in the rules where relationships can grow – the Holy Spirit has a way of seeking out gaps and using them to bring about healing and reconciliation. That is why the legislation is drafted as… Read more »

Nigel
Guest
Nigel

At least they are clear about the ecumenical implications of the break with the churches of antiquity that the Church of England has already made.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Phil “Don’t get me wrong, I am in favour of women in leadership at all levels, but not at the expense of anyone else. As it says in the Bible, if something (that isn’t essential to Christianity) causes a fellow believer a problem then don’t do it.” Do you mean not at the expense of even a single person? Because there are, arguably, fewer men inconvenienced by women priests in the CoE than there are people completely put off the church because it still doesn’t treat people according to its own theology! What is a greater problem – some people… Read more »

Laurence C.
Guest
Laurence C.

“surely a foretaste of the way that women will lead as bishops – with wisdom, grace and understanding” WATCH

Surely, it could only be a foretaste of how those two particular women would lead, if they became bishops? I find these sweeping generalisations of women’s abilities somewhat sexist and patronising. I’m quite sure that at some point in the future there will be women bishops that lack wisdom, grace and understanding just as some male bishops do now.

Fr Paul
Guest
Fr Paul

Really Phil, come on! Ending slavery wasn’t essential to Christianity, opposing apartheid wasn’t essential to Christianity. There were plenty of fellow believers for whom ending these injustices was a problem, probably a sizeable minority. If showing Christian love and understanding means failing to stand up to those who support injustice based on race or gender or sexual orintation then I am afraid I would have to choose justice over love. And quite often it is those who cry victim in one case who are quite content to be the perpetrator against another group.

Clive
Guest
Clive

“…the way that women will lead as bishops – with wisdom, grace and understanding for those who have difficulty in accepting their ministry.”

It’s St. Valentine’s Day, isn’t it? Not April 1st.

Tom Downs
Guest
Tom Downs

Phil,your comment has caused me to question my faith (in the Church of England and what it stands for), therefore according to Paul’s advice you must stop making comments on this blog. Now that settles everything. Right? Paul wasn’t interested in preserving minority views, but in welding together the Church out of the many different people holding many different views. Nor was there ever was any expectation that we would all eventually agree about everything; sameness is not a condition for being part of the Body of Christ. Willingness to follow Christ and come to His table are the only… Read more »

Christopher (P.)
Guest
Christopher (P.)

Phil– With respect, but as a church that believes in responding to the call of God, would you say that God’s call were as not essential to Christianity? Or perhaps that Bishops were not essential? The instance that come up to my mind are far more like “meat sacrificed to idols.” In cases such as these, don’t do things to lead others astray. It’s more guarding the faith of others by setting an example, than not offending them. I don’t see the analogy here. Indeed, in the case of women bishops, those opposed must maintain that God nevers calls women… Read more »

Nigel LLoyd
Guest
Nigel LLoyd

The problem with Phil’s comment is that the legislation, as it stand, does make provision for this minority within the church, through a statutory code of practice. Those who want a male priest, ordained by a male bishop (etc), will be able to have one. The dilemma facing the bishops is that the required fine tuning is a request to provide separate bishops for that minority, a move which many of us feel will create two Churches of England and is legislation for schism. The proposed code of practice represents a huge compromise and makes a generous provision that should… Read more »

american piskie
Guest
american piskie

Well said, Phil! Let’s not not have women bishops.

JeremyP
Guest
JeremyP

Phil –
I am in favour of women in leadership at all levels in the church. Full stop.

What does this “at the expense of anyone else” mean? No one is going to be told they can’t come in if women lead. All are welcome. Again, full stop. If there are people who don’t want to come in because girlie cooties are in the sanctuary, then that is there choice. But in a world where we now understand and accept that women and men are to treated equally, any qualification of that is simply discrimination by another name.

john
Guest
john

I posted earlier. My comments were made in good faith, they abused no one. They have been excised. Why??

ED NOTE: No idea what you mean, John. None of your comments went into the Junk as far as I can tell. All of your comments have been published…

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

“What is worse is that you do not wish to show Christian love and understanding, i.e. sacrificial, to a group that you disagree with” – Phill How often have opponents of women bishops shown sacrificial Christian love and understanding towards people who approve of women bishops, and especially,m towards women who feel they are called to be bishops? How often have opponents of any level of participation by openly gay men and women in the life of the church shown sacrificial Christian love and understanding towards gay men and lesbians who feel called to positions of authority in the church?… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Any society is judged on how it treats its minorities – especially a Christian society.”

…and there’s no smaller minority in the CofE than bishops-who-are-women. By your logic, Fr David, you should be standing with—lifting up—them. So they can go from Zero to 1 to…however many God calls (which previous experience of Godly discernment suggests will be many!)

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Even I feel that the women are right and logical, in the context of an Historically Protestant Church.

As I have stated before the Anglo Catholics and the Evangelicals are not going to leave.

Shame on Williams if he allows this.

The Church in Wales got rid of what was Rowan’s innovation of the office of assistant flying bishop and not one cleric has since left.

Even the Ordinariate is dead in the water in Wales.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Will women bishops kill ecumenism….down in New Zealand a Catholic and an Anglican bishop celebrate together…

http://www.chch.catholic.org.nz/?sid=3068

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Willingness to follow Christ and come to His table are the only condidtions he set.”

Posted by: Tom Downs on Tuesday, 14 February

Precisely, Tom! And here we have some who are still reluctant to ‘come to His Table’ when the presider does not fit his/her personal understanding of whom God calls to minister in Christ’s Church.

What does that say about ‘sacrifice & obedience’?

MarkBrunson
Guest

Sacrificial love for conservatives, but no one else, huh, Phil? Community is *mutual* sacrifice, and the conservatives – who refuse community with anyone not them – are petulant, spoiled brats who want everything, giving nothing.

If you behave like a spoiled, unruly child, you cannot then be surprised when the adults ignore you!

Father David
Guest
Father David

JCF “and there’s no smaller minority in the CofE than bishops-who-are women”. With regard to logic JCF I don’t really think that “Zero” can be regarded as a minority.
Ecumenically, when looking outside the very small box of the CofE to the Church Universal then those in favour of the ministerial development are a very small minority.
On the even larger stage – looking beyond the Church Militant to the Church Triumphant – a very small minority indeed.

john
Guest
john

Simon,

Thanks. Work computer malfunctioning seemingly.

Others,

I predictably am with Phil and Father David.

Robert Ian,

Your posts don’t always give me pleasure, but this one certainly does. I know you don’t agree, but for me intercommunion is the way forward and is visibly happening more and more (I posted a couple of months ago on intercommunion arrangements in an area of the old city in Geneva), though unfortunately not so much in the UK.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“Ecumenically, when looking outside the very small box of the CofE to the Church Universal then those in favour of the ministerial development are a very small minority.” Well, then, what’s the big problem with letting that small minority do what they believe to be God’s call to them? There seem to be plenty of very safe places for those who disagree, whereas there are, according to your statement, virtually no other places those who believe God calls women to the priesthood can go. If tolerance was the issue, and not being a stumbling block, maybe its the large majority… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

re Father David’s remark – about the ‘majority’ of Christians outside of the Anglican Communion who wouldn’t approve of Women Bishops – you are obviously speaking of the clerical division, Father. I know many lay Catholics who are looking forward to the day when the growing lack of male candidates for the priesthood will open up their Church to Women – as both priests and bishops.

Also, regarding the Church militant, I’m not at all sure there will be gender discrimination in heaven – Ask Our Lady, Queen of Heaven!

Davis d'Ambly
Guest
Davis d'Ambly

I am disheartened by the many severe reactions to a plea for understanding.

JCF
Guest
JCF

Father David, I’m sincerely having difficulty understanding what you’re saying.

First, you said “Any society is judged on how it treats its minorities”

which suggested to me that (in your POV) minorities are to be honored and protected.

Then, it *seems* me that in characterizing a certain position (“those in favour of the ministerial development”: here’s where I don’t follow you at all. Disclaimer: I’m a Yank) as ” a very small minority indeed”, you’re saying that minorities do NOT need to be honored and protected (rather, dismissed).

Can you clarify?

JCF
Guest
JCF

“I am disheartened by the many severe reactions to a plea for understanding.”

Davis, in your cryptic comment, I’m rather reminded of the Delphic oracle to King Croesus: “A great empire will fall today” (Croesus assumed it meant his opponent: ooops!)

Severe reactions to WATCH’s plea?

Father David
Guest
Father David

Erica, you prove my point beautifully about how a society is judged by the way in which it treats its minorities – ANS – “There seem to be plenty of very safe places for those who disagree” i.e. Exile – which, I suppose is quite Biblical!
In actual fact quite a number of denominations have warmly embraced the ministerial innovation that you long for – such as many of the Free Churches – which, unlike the CofE, have never sought to uphold the traditional understanding of the threefold ministry of Bishop, Priest and Deacon.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Father Ron is, of course, correct in saying that there are lay people within the Roman Catholic Church who look forward to the priesthood and the episcopate being opened up to women. However, democracy has yet to reach that particular branch of the Church Universal and the previous pope – John Paul II has pronounced this innovation to be an impossibility. Next time I say my prayers I shall make enquiry of Our Lady, Queen of Heaven about the state of the Church Triumphant – although I seem to recall that not even Mary – “Mother of God” was included… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr David You were the one who started the numbers game. And if you follow that through, then the small CoE must follow its call. But it’s not about numbers it’s about discerned theology and about accommodation of those who do not see it that way. This church has discerned that God wants it to have women as priests and bishops. Once you know that, you really cannot ignore it or you would be ignoring what you truly believe to be God’s will. The church is unique among those who have trodden that path before it in that it actually… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

JCF – If I could discern the meaning behind your question I might be able to attempt to furnish an answer. It all seems perfectly clear to me this side of the pond but as GBS pointed out we are “two nations divided by a common language”. Similarly within the CofE we seem to be two integrities divided by an uncommon understanding of the true nature of the One, holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Dear Father David. Saying that there can be ‘Two Integrities’ in any sort of catholic perception of ministry in the Church is surely casuistry – but not logical. This, to my mind, was the problem when the Church of England tried to rationalise its empowerment of PEVs (Flying Bishops). The original idea of Episcopi Vagantes was surely different from the current idea of providing alternative episcopal oversight in a situation where the Diocesan Bishop happens to be either a Woman, or a Bishop who has been in favour of the ordination of Women. To try to balance the presumed ‘integrity’… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

So it would seem that Erica with her fear of flying bishops looks forward to the day when we have a House of Bishops where individual members of that House are not in Communion with one another if the episcopal innovation becomes a reality?
What was it that someone once said about a kingdom divided against itself?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr David, it seems the Kingdom will be divided against itself whatever solution one comes to. That verse provides as little support for my views as it does for yours. Throwing bible verses against each other rarely does, they usually apply to both sides. We have to go a bit deeper with our theology here. It’s quite simple, I believe. 1. We don’t have female priests and bishops. That would make for CoE not divided against Rome and it would be 100% accommodation of those who don’t agree with women as priests and bishops. But it would completely ignore the… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Dear Father Ron, As was clearly pointed out at the recent torturous meeting of the General Synod – “the language of two integrities seems to have disappeared” from the Draft Code of Practice. This, along with binding promisises that The Act of Synod would continue for as long as was required. Also, what has happened to the “Period of Reception” concerning women and the priesthood which also seems to have mysteriously fallen from the table? Yes indeed, any talk of Two Integrities in a Catholic understanding and perception of ministry is oxymoronic! The Bishop of Ebs & Ips expressed the… Read more »

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Surely there never were “two integrities” in the sense of two water tight positions about women’s ordination. There are rather two positions of integrity. The Church of England ordains women..that is enshrined in the canons etc, and that is the official position of the Church of England. There is also the right of conscientious dissent from that. This is a position of integrity but not a potential or quasi “church within a church”.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Well Erika, that is precisely the task the present House of Bishops has been charged with finding a solution to and, in so doing, their Graces and their Lordships will have to trip very carefully over eggshells.
It will all hang on an understanding of the Draft Measure being “substantially unamended”. Will Rowan’s little by little “fine tuning” approach win the day or, if the Draft is seen to be substantially amended, will it all have to be referred to the dioceses once more?

John
Guest
John

Why not let ‘happiness’ be the criterion? (Not the only criterion – but many other criteria are already satisfied.) Women priests and their supporters would be unhappy if there were any diminution of the powers of women bishops (beyond the code of practice). Opponents of women bishops would be even more unhappy if they were placed in a position where they would have to acknowledge the authority of women bishops. Their unhappiness, obviously, would be much greater. Therefore, their position deserves the greater protection.

QED.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

John,
you’re priceless!
By what criteria did you measure this potential happiness or unhappiness quotient?
He who shouts loudest?

Because when a church as discerned God’s will and the majority of the congregation, the majority of priests and the majority of bishops also support it, and when there are many women who have been hoping, praying and yearning for the day they can follow God’s call to them…. it’s a pretty strong claim to make that it’s “obvious” that the opponents will be unhappier if they don’t get the cast iron opt-outs they want.

John
Guest
John

Erika, I do think it ‘obvious’ that the suffering of the antis would be greater. The majority (of whom I am one) would have secured their principle and its implementation (aside from such minority side-steppings as proved necessary), the stakes for the latter would be far higher. This is not a matter of who shouts louder: the volume seems to me pretty equal. The latter would have to decide whether to swallow their consciences or trail wretchedly into exile from the church of their birth which they have served faithfully and well. There’s a dreadful disproportion and lack of charity… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Who’s playing “the numbers game” now, Erika?
Your argument, such as it is, seems to be saying that – my gang is bigger and has more supporters than your gang –
“the majority of congregation(s), the majority of priests and the majority of bishops” –
therefore your gang can go hang!

Helen
Guest
Helen

I just find the vocation of women priests utterly convincing. I have received Christ through their ministry.All six of them are generously endowed with gifts of His Spirit.I need no other proof.

If God is calling women to the priesthood-and the natural progression to the Episcopate- who am I to challenge His authority?

Helen.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Now Helen seems to have joined in “the numbers game” – although, at the last count I think there were slightly more than six women priests within the Church of England. In fact, I believe that the prediction is that by 2025 the ratio of male to female priesta is set to reach parity in number.

Helen
Guest
Helen

If only Father David, ‘if only’ I hear you cry!
Nevertheless I take your point.
I am so sorry that you appear to have overlooked mine however and really would be interested in your opinion of it?

Helen Rawdon

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr David, I explained it to David S on another thread, I’ll repeat it here. Numbers do not determine whether something is right. But the polity of the CoE is one in which majority decisions by PCCs, Deanery, Diocesan and General Synod as well as majority decisions in the HoB are the channels of discernment. The decisions arrived at through these processes are then binding for the whole church. Other churches don’t follow that system, Rome in particular has a much different system of arriving at discernment and at laws for the church. But while we’re members of the CoE… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

John, no, I’m sorry, I can’t play this game of deciding who hurts most. I used to share your view that no actual woman will be harmed in the process, but I have since met many who are indeed deeply hurt and who feel cast out by their church. Many have left. They leave into nothing, because there is no safe Ordinariate or large Roman Catholic church that reflects precisely what they already believe. There are other denominations that accept women priests but they are quite different from the CoE. Where Anglo-Catholics already often have pictures of the Pope stuck… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Helen,I have always understood that the will of God, as expressed through Christ’s Gethsemane prayer, is for the unity of his Church and people. Recent ministerial developments can in no stretch of the imagination be seen to promote the unity of Christ’s Church – the opposite is more to the point – i.e. disunity. Therefore I cannot see that such a dramatic departure from that which has been received from ancient times can possibly be accordance with God’s will.

john
Guest
john

Erika,

I think it’s pretty simple. Most of the opponents are priests. They have to decide whether to stay or to leave. It’s a life-changing choice. That’s important. Far less important for pro-WO people is minority provision being made for a minority.