WATCH Press Release 12.15pm Monday 13 February 2012
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.