Thinking Anglicans

WATCH consults membership over Clause 5 amendment

Women and the Church (WATCH) has issued a press release about the House of Bishops’ amendment to Clause 5 of the draft Women bishops measure.

Women and the Church (WATCH) Press Release

Monday 28th May 2012: For immediate release

WATCH consults membership over Clause 5 amendment

The WATCH committee met on Saturday to consider the House of Bishops’ amendments to the draft legislation for women bishops and agreed the following statement:

“WATCH recognises that some amendments were rejected by the House of Bishops. However, the WATCH committee is unanimous in its serious concern about the amended Clause 5 and is therefore consulting further about how to proceed as we approach General Synod in July.”

A consultation paper has been sent to WATCH members reporting the arguments that WATCH has heard both for and against the Clause 5 amendment. This is a work in progress and does not represent WATCH’s considered view but shows that, at the time of writing, the arguments against the amendment heavily outweigh those in favour.

The principal arguments WATCH has heard in favour of the amendment are pragmatic. Those against come under a variety of headings: the problems with process; the unforeseen legal effects; the institution of a permanent state of ‘reception’ for women; the consequences of qualifying ‘maleness’ and including taint on the face of the Measure. For full details see attached paper ‘For and against’.

Many people continue to express enormous anger that these changes have been made at this late stage.

The WATCH committee will meet later in the week to consider the merits of these and other arguments. We will then consider how best to respond to the House of Bishops’ intervention.

The Rev’d Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said:
“We have not found anyone who thinks the Clause 5 amendment is helpful in substance. The Church Times poll currently shows 68% people consider it will not improve the chances of the legislation passing in July. This is a very serious situation and we need to consult more widely before deciding our response.”

We have made a copy of the For and against paper available online.

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Father David
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Father David

The Church Times opinion poll has now risen from 68% to 72% of respondents stating that they do not think that the amendments to the Measure will increase its chances of receiving final approval -only 27% said yes they would.

Chris Smith
Guest
Chris Smith

I believe this was a sneaky and underhanded move and it will haunt those who have cooked this strategy. This is so typical of the way things are done in the back halls of the Vatican, that it is somewhat shocking that Anglicans in power positions behave in this manner as well. It reeks of misogyny and contempt for the Synod. A few males try to control the entire dialogue on the subject of women in the episcopate, ignoring the work the Synod achieved when the individual diocese voted their views. A shameful strategy with no transparency and a great… Read more »

robert Ian williams
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robert Ian williams

Jean Mayland has a brilliant letter in The Times….sjhe wants the supporters of women bishops to vote against the measure.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Chris , you couldn’t resist a knock at the Roman catholic Church. No, we are not sneaky ( as in any institution, some individuals may be)…from day one the magisterium has taught women cannot be ordained. However I am very sympathetic to Jean Mayland and the women proponents in general. They need to invite a retired overseas woman bishops to come to England and minister to them. Maybe even arrange an ” illegal” consecration. Also they need to ask a public question, why in a “Reformed” House of Lords, will there be a section still reserved excluisvely for men. the… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

As you were – make that 76% now saying that the amendments to the Measure will reduce the chances of it receiving final approval. That’s more than three-quarters of those who voted which is pretty decisive in anyone’s book. If such proponents of women bishops as the Archdeacon to the Dales (by the way – are they still worrying about Jim?) and Jean Mayland are urging that the Measure in its current amended form be not passed – then does it have a hope in Hell? I have now been reading out Banns of Marriage for 35 years and not… Read more »

karen macqueen+_
Guest

What is it with +Rowan Williams that he feels compelled to play “Father knows best…” with so much that comes before him? That strategy failed spectacularly for the Covenant. No one, however strong his/her reputation for wisdom, could convince him of the folly of the effort. The failure of the Covenant to win majority support in +Rowan’s own Church ought to have sobered him a bit. The Covenant failure left +Rowan no option but to pre-emptively resign his office. The House of Bishops of the Church of England was left to answer the question, “How did they get so out… Read more »

John
Guest
John

My view is that this is all crazy. Opponents of WO like Father David need to catch themselves on and accept that this is as good as it gets. Equally, supporters of WO (of whom I am one) need to allow people like Father David the extra wiggle room that the bishops have provided. It is essential to get this thing done without further wrangling, expense of energy and waste of time. Enough posturing and silliness.

Father David
Guest
Father David

But, dear John, if the Measure as it now stands pleases no one and make all feel unhappy – then surely another five years to attempt to find a better solution is far from an eternity. If you cast your mind back the Measure to ordain women to the priesthood failed first time round under Coggan – it was only passed at the second attempt under Carey.

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

The Church Times poll doesn’t mean an damned thing – anyone can log on and vote. I did. What is significant is that Synod’s vote on the HoB’s revised measure requires a 2/3 majority for passage. Between supporters of women bishops strongly opposed to the Clause 5 in its revised form and prepared to sit things out until it comes back to Synod for a full, open vote, and ACs & Evangelicals opposed to women bishops under any circumstances, could be rocky going.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

RIW:

“…from day one the magisterium has taught women cannot be ordained.”

Really? Day One would be the first Pentecost, the “birthday of the church.” I recall nothing in this past Sunday’s reading of the relevant section of Acts that indicates there were no women in the group who were speaking so that all could understand. Surely the Spirit did not refuse to visit Mary Magdalene, “apostle to the apostles”?

David Keen
Guest
David Keen

I wonder, if Anglicans actually trusted one another, would there be all this sabre rattling from pressure groups? It’s because of the lack of trust and genuine communion that everyone is lobbying for a legal/verbal safeguard which will 100% satisfy their position: anything less is open to interpretation by people you don’t fully agree with. So the fundamental question is: can I remain in a church on equal terms with people with whom I don’t fully agree, and whom I don’t fully trust? If the answer is no, then there are three options: – get your own position enshrined in… Read more »

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

David Keen – look at our consultation document, and the questions it poses – it is not sabre rattling at all, and genuinely asks the question “can we live with this” and also asks whether we are clear what it means. It reports arguments pressed on us that we should do live with the amendments, and also contrary arguments. The arguments for the legislation are few and brief – we considered bulking them out, but thought they would lose their force if they were diluted. Some of the arguments against are technical and explained at length. As we have said… Read more »

Robert ian Williams
Guest
Robert ian Williams

Would it help WATCH if it was also enshrined that in a diocese where the bishop would not ordain women, that pro-women parishes had a mandatory right to alternative episcopal cover?

Father David
Guest
Father David

The so called – “Gang of Six” have, in their collective wisdom decided by a majority rather than a unanimous vote that the now notorious two amendments do not alter the substance of the proposals to allow women to join the episcopate. In their sage opinion the House of Bishops merely “fine tuned” the Measure rather than giving it a major overhaul which would have required the whole thing being sent down to the dioceses, once more, for further debate. The hue and cry which followed the publication of the two amendments seems to suggest that many regard this tinkering… Read more »

Benedict
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Benedict

Compromise, Mark Bennet, ought to mean you go half way towards agreeing with those of the other disposition. As far as I can see, WATCH is simply about having everything its own way or not at all, rather like a spoilt child.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Father David,
how do you define “govern”, when it seems not to mean “making and administering policy” but “spend years in careful negotiations to arrive at a compromise only to have 6 people override your compromise at the last minute without you having a say in it at all”?

Do you really think that the “collective wisdom” lay with the 6 not with the huge number of people who, collectively, worked out the final proposal?

John Richardson
Guest

I don’t usually post here, but I wonder if I might just commend an article on my own ‘Ugley Vicar’ blog? I’m not expecting people to agree with it – I just put it forward as a view on this matter from ‘the other perspective’.

If you want to read it, it’s here.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“a) When and how will the Church of England have finally accepted the ordained ministry of women, and when will the Church of England as a whole be able to rejoice at their ministry? This amendment pushes that day further away” – WATCH – I believe with the Women of WATCH, that the Church of England’s credibility is really on the line here. How the amendments are finally worded – or better, scrapped – will determine how 50 percent of the Church (who happen to be female) will judge the capability of the Bishops to render justice on their behalf.… Read more »

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Father Smith, just a technical point about the actual working of Synod here. I believe that the amendments are already worded and thus final. The only decision left to take now is whether the Measure is to be passed or defeated, unless an adjournment motion is successful. The House of Bishops has not “interfered”, as you put it. We in the Church of England are episcopally led and synodically governed. The House of Bishops was simply exercising a constitutional right, which although it may cause offence to members of WATCH and yourself, it is entirely at liberty to do. Your… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Oh dear, Robert, here we go again: “…from day one the magisterium has taught women cannot be ordained.” – R.I.W. You are speaking of apples and oranges. The Church of England – to which you once belonged, does not subscribe to the ‘Magisterium’ that dominates your new environment. We believe in collegiality – or we did until Women were rumoured to become acceptable as Bishops. It seems that there might soon be two classes of episcopal authority in the Church of England. But don’t worry, it will never happen to you – while you have a Pope. Don’t worry so… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Erika, it’s a long and vexed question as to where Authority lies within the Church of England. But the House of Bishops and the “Gang of Six” have done nothing illegal and are perfectly within their rights to do what they have done. It is now up to the General Synod to govern and democratically vote on the amended Measure that is now before them – as Benedict had justly stated.

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

“…sabre rattling from pressure groups”, David Keen? I refer you to Malcolm French’s (Moderator of No Anglican Covenant) post, “Wrecking amendments and modern heresies”, in which he points out that when the Woman Bishops Measure was was approved 42 of 44 dioceses, “each approval saw a following motion demanding additional “protections” for opponents – and in the vast majority of cases, these following motions were defeated”. The dioceses intended no leeway for the HoB’s subsequent revision of General Synod’s measure. Hardly surprising that the Gang of Six would rule that “do not alter the substance of the proposals”, given that… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict
Where does this strange idea come from that WATCH is a spoilt child that will not compromise and that people like Ron Smith want things all their way?

No-one is calling for a single Measure, the only no compromise solution.
WATCH was happy to accept the compromise of “provisions”.

It’s not WATCH who are acting like spoilt children here.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Fr David I don’t know where the “Gang of Six” comes from, it is not a term I would use. And, yes, the Bishops had the legal right to do what they did. I still don’t believe it was a particularly intelligent thing to do – quickly riding roughshod over what has taken years to prepare is not usually a helpful response to a complicated issue. It looks like a power game, like contempt for the process that had gone on so far and it has clearly not achieved anything positive. If all you can do is to defend your… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Re ‘Gang of Six’ — I think the term that has been used elsewhere is ‘Group of Six’, preferably with the quotation marks. ‘Gang of…’ is an accidental or perhaps deliberately disparaging allusion to the ‘Gang of Four’ that succeeded Mao Tse-Tung (Mao Zedong) as the leadership of Communist China in 1976; and the slightly joking re-use of that term for the four members of the Labour Party who left to found the SDP in the early 1980s. But they are just the chairs of the three houses of the Synod, elected to that post in the case of Clergy… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Benedict – in using the word “compromise” you will see that I was referring to people, rather than to WATCH as an organisation – people who, in their heart of hearts believe that a simple single clause measure with pastoral provision would be best for the church in the long run, but for the sake of the church of the present have supported the measure with its uncomfortable provisions. They have stepped away from a principled position for the sake of the church in faith that it can be made to work – and in the hope that their step… Read more »

Philip Hobday
Guest
Philip Hobday

In making use of their their clear and distinctive role in the synodical and legislative process, isn’t it possible that the House of Bishops are not seeking to diminish the ministry or theological convictions of anybody, but might actually be trying their best to accommodate the diversity of opinion on this subject?

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Erika, in response to your claim about WATCH, it is NOT a compromise when the donor suggests how generous the gift. WATCH only accepted the original Measure very grudgingly, and they would indeed want a single clause Measure could they have it their own way. It’s what their members argued for on the floor of Synod when the debate began. You know that, and I know that, so please don’t dress up their acceptance as compromise.

John
Guest
John

Well, when it comes to a vote in Synod, I hope that all people of good will (whatever their stance re women priests or women bishops) will vote in favour. Passions should have cooled a bit by then, and anti-WO people should have come to realise that this is as good for them as it gets.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Erika, Simon has kindly provided an explanation as to the origin of the phrase “Gang of Six”. I suppose there is a danger of this descriptive phrase being used in a similar way to what happened post Watergate with every single crisis being suffixed with “….gate” – it certainly looks as though we are heading this summer towards women bishops-gate with the inevitable show down at the July General Synod. Others have already described the position we find ourselves in a “a mess” and “turgid” The trouble with democracy is that it doesn’t always arrive at the conclusion you would… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Father David,
it is precisely because the situation is so emotional that we all ought to be careful to use measured language.

I am appalled at the actions of the bishops (which are the opposite of the more democratic compromise that was actually negotiated), but that doesn’t mean I would want to use language that can be interpreted as dismissive and could make the the discussion more polarised and emotive than it needs to be.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict,
acceptance of something you don’t actually like is precisely the definition of compromise.

Where do you think your side has compromised?

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Mark, whether your comment was a reference to people or not, the word compromise is simply inappropriate, because a compromise is something acceptable to both parties. As you yourself admit, even the original Measure, with its provision, feels uncomfortable for you and others on the liberal wing of the Church, because it is was a step too far. It certainly felt uncomfortable for Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals, because it didn’t go far enough, in respect of the provision it made. A true compromise should leave no one feeling uncomfortable. What is currently on the table is at least a step in… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“As far as I can see, WATCH is simply about having everything its own way or not at all, rather like a spoilt child.”

Might there be a *mirror* determining as far as you can see, Benedict? WATCH would then be just beyond your point-of-view. ;-/

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Dear Benedict, perhaps I should have written “attempt to compromise” – such attempts, if rebuffed, tend, in the normal course of human behaviour (not being perfect) to entrench views. I pointed out that some (a great number of) people have been prepared to move from a principled position for the sake of the church. There are some who have said “no compromise”. You can reinterpret the word “compromise” however you like, that does not change the behaviour, belief or action of real people. I think we have seen in the dioceses that WATCH represents pretty much the mainstream on this… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Benedict – sorry but that’s nonsense.

First off, many of us who support O/W are not liberals.

Second, we felt compromised before but could live with it for the sake of the Church. This is now making us compromise a step too far. Your definition of compromise as leaving no-one uncomforatable is not the only one….

Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer
Guest
Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer

There is nothing “extreme” about a measure that has the support of 95% of the dioceses, Benedict.

Father David
Guest
Father David

Erika – of course this is an issue that is emotional which is why those on both sides of the debate are tempted to use emotive language at times – to do otherwise would be quite unnatural. I’m not so sure that Benedict is correct in saying that “a compromise is something acceptable to both parties”. More often than not surely a compromise ends up with both parties being dissatisfied with the eventual outcome. Also – “A true compromise should leave no one feeling uncomfortable” – that does not appear to be the case with regard to the present ammended… Read more »

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Erika, the dictionary definition of compromise: “a settlement of differences in which each side makes concessions”. There has been no settlement of differences, as far as I can judge, and the only concession made by WATCH has been grudging acceptance of a Code of Practice for us. As to the concessions we have been prepared to make, our starting point was the idea of a Third Province, and when that didn’t happen, we stayed the course, and eventually conceded coordinate jurisdiction, which could have offered a way forward. Then we looked to the Bishops to help us. We have been… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Robert Ian Williams is always full of useful suggestions, Fr Ron!

He’s also quite prescient. I believe it was he who predicted “the Butler did it!” in the letter columns of the Church of England Newspaper. That journal doesn’t run an edition without one of his offerings – though I think he also thought it was “in the Conservatory, with the lead pipe” ……. Ah, well …..

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Benedict:

“A true compromise should leave no one feeling uncomfortable.”

I sincerely disagree. On this side of the pond, it is often said that when the two sides of a question both dislike the solution, chances are the right decision has been made.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict
a true compromise leaves both sides uncomfortable because both had to give up something that’s important to them.
I would still like to know what you think your side has compromised on.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict it is true, there has not yet been an agreement, so the position of WATCH is that they are offering a compromise. My real point, though, is that every single woman bishop will personally have to grit her teeth and accept that she is not a bishop on equal terms with men, that there are parishes who can legitimately reject her. Just as every woman priest has to grit her teeth and know that some parishes are forever closed to her. This affects her at a very direct and personal level. And WATCH are to be highly commended for… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Whatever happens in July, it would seem that, if F.i.F get their way, they will be like cuckoos in the nest of true Anglicanism, when their true home might be with the Ordinariate. I blame the hatching of that rara avis, the ‘Flying Bishop’, an unnatural phenomenon in any aviary.

Lindsay Southern
Guest
Lindsay Southern

Thank you Erika and Mark for your comments regarding WATCH’s willingness to compromise to date. Benedict, I do agree that several of the solutions FiF and Reform would have like to see develop were rejected by both the Legislative Drafting Committee and General Synod – and if they had then supported the proposed Legislation that would have represented a compromise for them and yes considerable discomfort. As far as I am aware, however, they have not offered to support the Legislation at any stage, even now after the Bishop’s amendments. The message has always been – its not good enough… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

The word “compromise” has been much used in this particular Blog. Writing in The Trefoil – Arthur Benson (son of Archbishop Edward White Benson) expressed indirect regret that his own father had been too dictatorial when he wrote this:- “The most successful Archbishop is the man who does not only tolerate compromise but believes it enthusiastically as the best means of obtaining co-operation and loyalty.”

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Lindsay Southern, where is the gesture of graciousness in articles like those by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, a member of WATCH, comparing the House of Bishops to an abusive husband, and therefore by implication and extension, those they were seeking help with these amendments? Or the Archdeacon of Richmond’s suggestion that the Church of England should simply grasp the nettle, make a decision without provision and basically say goodbye to traditionalists, whatever the cost to the Church? And if you look at some of the the threads on this website, they are hardly the epitome of that gesture of graciousness you mention.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Benedict – perhaps you would give an example or two of a gracious concession by anyone opposed to the ordination and consecration of women. At the moment your posts become more personal and more toxic the more you are put on the spot. So it would be helpful for the general health of this debate if you could post something constructive. Give an example of a gracious view of women from your perspective, please – then we might understand what graciousness means to you. At the moment your “flexibility” in the use of language seems to inhibit communication, rather than… Read more »

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Mark Bennet, where has my post become more personal and toxic? In the two examples I cite I am simply stating a fact, and that’s what you don’t like, hence your own more personal attack on me. As to credibility and agreement, it seems to me that you yourself are unable to accept anyone who disagrees with you. If you look carefully at the media over the last few days you will be hard pressed to find the outpouring of invective in the same way as that exhibited by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Benedict – you have pulled Miranda Threlfall-Holmes’s thought out of context, and suggested it means something that it does not, and suggested that the Archdeacon of Richmond wants “traditionalists” out of the church, which is not what she has said. [I would put it as – it is impossible to provide the legal structures people say they want and need without creating two churches] Your latest post is predictably more personal about Miranda and still doesn’t justify your comment by any accurate analysis of what she has actually said. In doing so you have invited us to trade unpleasantries –… Read more »