GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) has issued a press release.
GRAS is deeply disturbed by the outcome of the recent House of Bishops meeting, particularly the amendment to Clause 5. This is being presented as a minor tweak, when in fact it pushes the Draft Measure beyond an acceptable level of generosity and compromise. The Measure that a huge majority of Dioceses voted in favour of was an extensive dilution from the Single Clause Measure that would have been the true and simple way to ensure full legal equality for men and women bishops. These final amendments from the House of Bishops send a further signal of disparagement to women of the Church of England. Women are once again expected to sacrifice the hope and expectation of being considered equal with their brothers in the eyes of the church. It also sends a dispiriting message that future women bishops are not trusted to minister to their parishes and clergy with generosity, grace and pastoral sensitivity… If this now nebulous Measure is passed, the 1993 Act of Synod will be replaced by law potentially even more damaging to women and to the unity of the Church of England…
Rachel Hartland has blogged Let us make the best of things – let us progress (towards women in the episcopate).
… If the measure is not supported by WATCH and therefore not passed at General Synod (and yes I believe the link is that strong), it will be a retrograde step, and damage both the future ministry of women and possibly the future chances of seeing women in the episcopate in the Church of England.
If this measure is passed at General Synod (with the support of WATCH) then that will be progress. It will mean that the Church of England will become a slightly better representation of what Christ came into the world to achieve, through the grace, love and forgiveness that we will continue to receive from the cross and proclaim to the world.
Stephen Conway, the Bishop of Ely, has included the following paragraphs in a letter to his clergy, that is also published in the diocesan newsletter.
I was party to the decision of the House of Bishops to make two amendments to the draft legislation to enable women to be ordained as bishops in the Church of God. I wholly supported the clarification about the derivation of episcopal authority from ordination. I am sure that the intention of the other amendment was to provide more secure clarification of the terms on which a male bishop would be chosen by a diocesan bishop to serve parishes asking for such extended care. This may now make it possible for some more conservative members of the General Synod to vote for the legislation if it advances that far.
I fully appreciate, however, that there is a difference between intention and effect. The draft legislation was already a compromise and enshrined further discrimination against women. The amendment has created great hurt among many [although it has given hope to others]. We must pray for all of our representatives among the bishops, clergy and laity to act according to their conscience, faithfully seeking God’s will and praying for each other in such a way that we can express our genuine anger, sadness and hope without anathematising one another. I pray that we shall find a way to pass the legislation in the coming months. It would be a dreadful witness to the world if we cannot. Many people are hurting and afraid. But we must not lose sight at any time of what we keep asking of God’s disciples in our Church who are women, not only those called to the sacred ministry, but most other women too.