YES 2 Women Bishops has published this useful Infographic: women bishops in the Anglican Communion showing the status of women in the episcopate around the Anglican Communion.
They have also published a summary of what General Synod did last week, Synod’s resolve, and these thoughts on where we are now.
So where does this all leave us? A few thoughts:
1. It seems premature for anyone to try to decide whether this form of legislation is acceptable or not. Whilst on the face of it, the proposal seems to be closer to what supporters of women bishops wanted and further from what opponents wanted, the reality of how this works will be in the Act of Synod or House of Bishops declaration which will set out the provisions for those opposed. There is a bit of a phoney war already underway with opponents of women bishops claiming that only provisions set out in the face of the legislation are adequate. In truth they already operate very happily under an Act of Synod which is detested by women clergy. This would imply that this form of provision is perfectly acceptable in other areas for those who cannot accept women bishops. It is perfectly possible, therefore, that any new Act of Synod provides precisely the provisions that opponents are looking for and is problematic for supporters of women bishops, so we really don’t yet know what the final package will look like. There is still a lot of work to do.
2. The synodical arithmetic has clearly not changed in any significant way – opponents remain opposed and supporters remain supportive. If it were put to another final vote today, requiring a two thirds majority in each house, it looks like it would still fail. For this reason, the legislative timetable is intriguing. In theory the final vote could come in the last sitting of the current synod, before elections are held and a new synod is formed. It seems implausible that a final vote will be held in the current synod session if it looks like the blocking minority remains opposed to the legislation in the run up to the final vote. Instead, the final vote will be shunted into the next Synod session when a new group have been elected, in the hope that the blocking minority is removed. Such a tactic is high risk, as there is no guarantee that this would be the outcome of synod elections. This means that unless some hearts and minds are won over in the next 12-18 months, synod elections will be dominated by this issue as each “side” seeks to get more of their number into general synod.
3. We’re back on our way. We must remain hopeful that Synod will succeed this time. The resolution passed last week is strong and positive, and so must we be. We must give thanks to those who have worked to make this happen, and resolve to pray and support them in the months and years ahead until we finally see the day when Christian women are able to fulfill their divine calling and serve as bishops.