Thinking Anglicans

New proposals to enable women to become bishops

The Church of England has published this press release: New legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops published. The full text is copied below.

The proposals are contained in this document (PDF): Women In the Episcopate – New Legislative Proposals (GS 1886).
The report of the Working Group established by the House of Bishops is at the Annex of the document.

New legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops published

24 May 2013

The Church of England has published, today, new legislative proposals to enable women to become bishops which will be debated by the General Synod in July.

This will be the first occasion that Synod members have met since November 2012, when the previous legislation narrowly failed to secure the requisite majority in all three Houses, despite a 73% majority overall.

The proposals from the House of Bishops accompany the publication of a report of a Working Group which it had established in December. The Working Group’s report sets out four possible options for the shape of the new legislation. Of these the House of Bishops has recommended “the simplest possible legislation” (option one) which reads:

“A measure and amending canon that made it lawful for women to become bishops; and

“The repeal of the statutory rights to pass Resolutions A and B under the 1993 Measure, plus the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod.”

In addition, option one involves arrangements for those who, as a matter of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests being set out either in a declaration from the House of Bishops or in a new Act of Synod.

The short report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House sets out the text of a motion which invites the Synod to reaffirm its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency, require the legislative process to begin in November so that it can be concluded in 2015 and specify that the legislation should be in the simplest possible form.

The Business Committee of the General Synod met earlier this week and has scheduled the debate for the morning of Monday, 8 July in York. In addition, Synod members will spend a substantial amount of time in York on the Saturday in facilitated conversations, in which the various options can be explored further.

The Chair of the Working Group, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock, Bishop of St Edmundsbury and Ipswich, said on behalf of the Group:

“The mandate given to the Working Group in December reflected the House of Bishops’ view that new proposals would need both greater simplicity and a clear embodiment of the principle articulated by the 1998 Lambeth Conference that ‘those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans’.

“This mandate did not simply reflect the House of Bishops’ assessment of what was achievable, it also reflected its view of what was desirable – namely that the Church of England should retain its defining characteristic of being a broad Church, capable of accommodating a wide range of theological conviction.”

Bishop Nigel continued:

“Given this range of views it is essential to be clear on whether the Church of England is still willing to leave space for those who dissent from its decision. We have approached our task on the basis that the Church of England is so willing.

“To expect unanimity on where the limits of diversity should be drawn may be unrealistic, given the variety of strongly held views which exist and are maintained with integrity. Nevertheless it is necessary to see whether there might be an approach which could command a sufficiently wide measure of assent to enable progress to be made.

“We are perhaps at a moment when the only way forward is one which makes it difficult for anyone to claim outright victory.”

Concluding his statement, Bishop Nigel said:

“The Synod, guided by the recommendation that the House of Bishops has now made, needs in July to come to a clear decision about the proposals and options laid before it and give a mandate for the introduction of a draft measure and amending canon in November.

“That decision-making process will be greatly assisted by all Synod members having first the opportunity in York for facilitated listening and engagement of the kind that the group has found so helpful in producing this report. To that end, we are grateful to the Business Committee for making space for this to take place on the Saturday of our July meeting.”

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Father Ron Smith
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One can see from this report that Bishop Nigel is still hoping for discriminatory legislation that will allow dissenters to ignore the ministry of women – as bishops or clergy in the Church of England. One wonders what sort of Church Order this will continue to perpetuate in the Church of England, and what sort of ‘catholicity’, in terms of episcopal collegiality, will become entrenched within the ethos of the Mother Church of world-wide Anglicanism. One had thought that any Anglican who could not see their way clear to accepting the ministry of women – whether as clergy or bishops… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Could someone explain what it means to be a “loyal Anglican?” Is it some special terminology with a particular meaning? Loyal to what? Or to whom? Why is it so important to call people who wish to continue the traditional discrimination against women “loyal Anglicans?”

We are all part of the body of Christ. Is that membership not enough?

Labarum
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Labarum

Just read it – all 25 pages.

It does seem to set out the issues rather well.

Fingers crossed.

“Loyal Anglican”? You could drop the “loyal” and the meaning would be the same: both views are properly described as “Anglican”.

Rose
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Rose

Amazing! If the bishops bring proposals to synod as outlined in their statement the result will be: The proposals are accepted and form the basis of legislation (because a simple majority of synod will surely back them and there will not be majorities to pass amendments). This process will continue until 2015 when the legislation will come for a final vote. But, it is unlikely the legislation would gain the required majorities in a final vote in the present synod. The provision for opponents is significantly less secure than in the legislation that fell in 2012 because it did not… Read more »

Graeme Buttery
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Graeme Buttery

As one of those “traditionalists” who is also a member of Synod, can i offer a few points? Firstly, too much of this whole business has fallen short of how we should treat each other. I will not believe this is cynical in voting after the next election, because – what a way to live a life. it may be cynical, but I can’t let that colour my outlook. Secondly, the next elections may not turn out as any of us think. But what ever comes has to be for all anglicans and then it has to be put to… Read more »

Veuster
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Veuster

> One wonders what sort of Church Order this will continue to perpetuate in the Church of England, and what sort of ‘catholicity’, in terms of episcopal collegiality, will become entrenched within the ethos of the Mother Church of world-wide Anglicanism. (Fr Ron Smith)

> take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak (1 Corinthians 8:9)

Why such ruthlessness and exclusion? Why not mercy and inclusion?

Why put abstract questions of Church Order, catholicity and collegiality before the cure of souls?

Rose
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Rose

Graeme Buttery is right that the next synod elections might produce unexpected results. But by that stage the legislation will have completed every stage except final approval. All the new synod will be able to do is vote on it in the form it receives it. If the legislation is rejected in 2015, parliament may intervene. Re episcopal leadership, I am sure their Lordships will provide a greater steer this time – but, by opting for option 1 as the starting point, they are instigating a process which will leave all matters of provision, including sacramental assurance, to non binding… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“But what ever comes has to be for all anglicans and then it has to be put to bed, and left – not fiddled with in five years time.” This will not be possible. I think traditionalists have not yet understood the depth of outrage in Parliament and among the general public after November’s vote. The CoE has been given time to sort itself out but the expectation is that it will find a way to have women as bishops. If that does not happen, there will be no five years’ grace, there will be political intervention. After the November… Read more »

Susan Cooper
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Susan Cooper

I think it would be preferable to try and get final approval in July 2015. New Synods do not like to rubber stamp something that they do not own. There have been problems with far less controversial matters than this. A positive lead from bishops and less apology about the whole process. I think getting the measure through may have been possible but the bishops kept suggesting that ‘improvements’ could be made. They couldn’t deliver and those who were unhappy remained unhappy and anxious. If the positive feel can be maintained then we may get somewhere.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

“Why such ruthlessness and exclusion? Why not mercy and inclusion?”

Women have been asking these questions for, oh, about 2,000 years now.

Veuster
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Veuster

> Women have been asking these questions for, oh, about 2,000 years now.

Indeed. But two wrongs don’t make a right. Is a bald “conform or get out” a Christ-like way of doing things? I repeat – why not mercy and inclusion?

Jeremy
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Jeremy

‘Is a bald “conform or get out” a Christ-like way of doing things?’

It depends on what people are being asked to conform to.

The word “Christ-like” also begs the question. With some people who were not up to standard, Christ was quite exclusionary.