This article is concerned with what GS Misc 1033 calls “Option 5”. To encourage a constructive discussion of this option, I have brought together below the specific sections of the document which deal with this. This option is titled Focus on suitability/appropriateness and it builds in a specific reference to the ‘suitability’ or ‘appropriateness’ of the person selected for the particular context in which he was to exercise ministry.
Paragraph 59 contains the suggested possible rewording of sub-clause (c)
(c) the selection, following consultation with parochial church councils who issue Letters of Request under section 3, of male bishops and male priests, the exercise of ministry by whom appears to the persons making the selection to be [suitable][appropriate] for the parishes concerned.
The full text of the relevant section of the paper, paras 58 to 67 is copied below the fold.
The paper also comments on what wording in the Code of Practice would be appropriate in conjunction with option 5. Reference is made to the most recent draft code, contained in GS Misc 1007 and a few extracts from that are included as an annex at the end of GS Misc 1033.
Here is what it says:
88. In the case of option five, an alternative version would be preferable. There would also need to be a revised version of paragraph 97 (which could incorporate some of the elements from paragraph 91 below), with consequential amendments to paragraphs 126 and 127. The text to go in after paragraph 40 might be along the lines of the following:
A diocesan scheme should provide that the arrangements for selecting bishops who will exercise their ministry by delegation will enable parishes to receive ministry that is [suitable] [appropriate] to their circumstances given the basis on which the Letter of Request was issued.
This does not mean that the arrangements should allow a parish to choose its own bishop or insist that the person selected should be of its own churchmanship. But they should provide for the diocesan bishop, through consultation with the PCC, to seek to establish the nature of the conviction that underlies the Letter of Request, and, in the light of that, to select someone whose ministry can be effective in that context.”
Paragraph 91 which is mentioned above, as being partially relevant to option 5, reads as follows:
91. Paragraph 97 [of the draft code] would then be replaced (and there would be corresponding amendments to paragraphs 126 and 127 in relation to priestly ministry) by the following:
Before sending the PCC the written notice setting out the arrangements to give effect to the Letter of Request, the diocesan bishop should inform him – or herself, by consulting the PCC of the parish (either personally or through a representative), of its position in relation to the celebration of the sacraments and other divine service and the provision of pastoral care.
The Measure does not allow parishes to ask that their bishop should hold a particular set of beliefs, or subscribe to any statement of faith beyond what all bishops have to affirm when making the Declaration of Assent. Nor does it allow parishes to choose their own bishop or insist that the male bishop selected for them reflects their own churchmanship.
In determining what arrangements to set out in the written notice the diocesan bishop should seek to accommodate the parish’s concerns relating to holy orders and the exercise of ordained ministry of women so far as those matters are relevant to the parish’s position in relation to the celebration of the sacraments and other divine service and the provision of pastoral care. But the diocesan should not take into account other, unrelated matters. In practice, the needs of conservative evangelical parishes, and traditional catholic parishes, in this respect are unlikely to be identical.
Option five – Focus on suitability/appropriateness
58. A further approach, which would incorporate elements of option four but attempt to avoid some of its downsides, would be to build specifically into the provision a reference to the ‘suitability’ or ‘appropriateness’ of the person selected for the particular context in which he was to exercise ministry.
59. A possible formulation along these lines might be as follows:
“(c) the selection, following consultation with parochial church councils who issue Letters of Request under section 3, of male bishops and male priests, the exercise of ministry by whom appears to the persons making the selection to be [suitable][appropriate] for the parishes concerned.”
60. Again, as with option four, this approach identifies the broad subject on which guidance must be given. And, as in its second variant, it builds in a reference to process – there has to be consultation with the relevant PCC to discover more than is apparent from the Letter of Request before a male bishop or priest is selected to exercise ministry there.
61. But it goes a step further in identifying an objective, namely that the person selected by the diocesan bishop (or in the case of a parochial appointment, by those with the relevant responsibilities) should be ‘suitable/appropriate’.
62. The advantage of this approach is that it would signal on the face of the Measure that for some parishes more was at stake than simply being offered the ministry of any male bishop or priest. Thus, for the first time, there would be an acknowledgement of the much discussed ‘necessary but not sufficient’ issue.
63. The potential downside is that words such as ‘suitable’ or ‘appropriate’ are very broad unless related to particular criteria. The nature of the guidance given in the Code of Practice would, therefore, be of particular importance.
64. As between ‘suitable’ and ‘appropriate’ either would be possible. In legislative drafting ‘appropriate’ is generally used as a convenient shorthand to avoid spelling out what is clear but complex to spell out in full (so that, for example, Acts of Parliament may refer to ‘the appropriate minister’ or ‘appropriate authority’ where from the context it is clear which one is being referred to).
65. ‘Suitable’ tends to be used when the emphasis is on provision which reflects particular contexts or needs (for example ‘suitable alternative accommodation’).
66. The guidance given in the Code of Practice would need to be framed in terms which avoided carrying any implication that the parish could regard as ‘unsuitable/inappropriate’ anyone who did not match their expectations in all respects.
67. Equally it would need to provide confidence to parishes that they would receive episcopal or priestly ministry that would be effective in their circumstances, given the nature of their convictions concerning the ordained ministry of women.