Responses to GS Misc 1033 Women in the Episcopate – the Final Legislative Lap were requested from synod members (though not from the general public) by Friday 25 August (see paras 94 and 95).
Our original introduction to this document can be found here.
One such response that has been submitted is from April Alexander, a lay General Synod member from Southwark Diocese, and she has agreed to its publication here in full. It is available as a web page or as a PDF file. The response is in 12 numbered sections.
Section 1 argues that option 1 (retain the bishops’ amendment) is not a satisfactory outcome. In discussing the difficulties of qualifying “maleness” she notes that:
The Archbishop’s argument that qualifying maleness would allow charges of misogyny to be avoided is excruciatingly insulting (para 33). It is an idea which the traditionalists have developed in the recent past in the context of women bishops; (“we are rejecting male as well as female bishops and therefore we cannot be accused of discrimination”). Women and their supporters are already accommodating misogyny and have been doing so with astonishing generosity for years. The responses to the unamended Measure from the Dioceses indicated that there was very wide acceptance of this.
To say that the phrase “male bishop” is “insufficient [and] does not go to the root of [the problem]” is incorrect. The position of the traditionalists and of the conservatives depends totally on a theology of gender and pandering to the notion of “pedigree” on the face of the legislation does nothing to alter this.
And she goes on to quote a statement from senior women clergy issued way back in 2008.
Section 2 deals with Option 2 (delete the amendment) which is the course of action April Alexander supports. She notes that:
…If the Archbishops were to throw their weight behind the unamended draft Measure on the basis that it contains all the provision necessary for extremists at either end to continue to practice as they have been doing up to now by statute and by grace and trust, then the very few changes of heart which are required among the House of Laity could be achieved.
… If Simon Killwick’s estimate that the traditionalists and conservatives form 35% of the House of Laity, then the numbers who need to change their vote in order to achieve 66.6% in favour in that House would only be four. Changing hearts and minds is the life’s work of bishops and archbishops and it would be strange indeed if , between them, they could not effect a change of heart in this small number if they put their weight behind the unamended Measure…
Other sections discuss a range of issues:
the identification in the Diocesan Scheme both of the bishop or bishops who will exercise episcopal ministry by delegation to parishes who issue a letter of request and the circumstances under which alternative provision might be made in a particular case (adapted from draft CoP para 40)
‘At the root of some of the options set out is the view, apparently held by some, that “Bishops who had associated themselves with the ordination of women” would no longer be “valid ministers of the sacraments”. I find this an extraordinary attitude. The scholastic doctrine, that the “unworthiness of the minister hindereth not the effect of the sacrament” is enshrined in Article 26. It is also traditional catholic theology that unorthodoxy does not invalidate the sacraments. The opposite view seems to me to introduce uncatholic heresy. How could we allow a situation where individual church members or groups decide who are real bishops and who are not? To reject the bishop is to reject the Church that he represents. I do not believe that it is possible to be an Anglican and not be in communion with your bishop and – I say this with deference and due humility – with the See of Canterbury.’