Thinking Anglicans

WATCH responds to Steering Committee membership

Women and the Church (WATCH) issued this statement today.

Response to the announcement of the membership of the Steering Committee Appointments Committee to prepare women bishops’ legislation

The prompt formation of the Steering Committee, demonstrating the Church of England’s determination to proceed with its commitment to opening the episcopate to women, is welcomed by WATCH.

We are glad to receive information on the committee’s makeup, particularly the inclusion of experienced, respected women, lay and ordained, in the discussions. We note the strong presence of those representing groups opposed to the episcopal ministry of women and requesting provision and hope that presence of the Archbishop’s Director of Reconciliation will enable the different groups to work together to produce constructive legislation.

We look forward to seeing legislation produced that will:

  • honour and uphold both the content and spirit of Option One, which received strong support from General Synod in July
  • reflect the House of Bishops unequivocal support for women within all three orders of ministry.
  • enable women to flourish in all ministries to which God calls them; lay, ordained and episcopal, on equality with men, reflecting the inclusive heart of Christian scripture and tradition.

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Benedict
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Benedict

WATCH appears to be wilfully blind to the arithmetic of the various votes at the last synod. The last of these was about process, not about strength of support for Option 1. I urge members of WATCH who remain so entrenched in their position to scrutinise the figures carefully and realise that without provision of some kind for traditionalists we will in 2014/15 perhaps be where we were in November 2012. However, the more reasonably minded membership of the Church, and a balanced steering committee, will hopefully adopt a fairer approach than the stance WATCH consistently occupies.

badman
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badman

I don’t think that’s correct, Benedict.

The final motion “instructs” the Steering Committee “to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure”

So it’s a vote for option one.

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

Benedict – everyone has to respect the process, but the whole point of the General Synod votes was to come to a point where the direction of travel would be clear – a definite place on the spectrum to carry forward – there were four options canvassed, and something between Option 1 and Option 2 emerged. Other concerns were expressed – I think some of those votes were “lost” mainly on technicalities i.e. we want to do this, but the suggested means are not quite right. The remit of the steering committee is not to revisit the Synod debate but… Read more »

Alastair Newman
Guest

WATCH are hardly the only people to be entrenched in their position…

Lindsay Southern
Guest
Lindsay Southern

Am I missing something? Is Benedict implying that unless the traditionalists get the provision they want they will work to block the legislation again? Whilst accusing members of WATCH of being entrenched in their position? Benedict, please could you outline what is unfair about WATCH’s position? There is nothing in the statement that suggests WATCH are opposing all provision…

Stephen Morgan
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Stephen Morgan

It is not WATCH who are ‘wilfully blind.’ Over the last twenty tortuous years we have done ‘process,’ we have done ‘fair,’ we have done ‘reasonably minded’ and we have done ‘balanced.’ None of it has made the slightest bit of difference to those traditionalists who are opposed to the idea of women priests and bishops, and remain ‘so entrenched’ that they fail to see that the world, the CofE and (even) the government have moved on.

Simon Taylor
Guest
Simon Taylor

Er, Benedict, wake up and smell the coffee. The final vote does not have to be in the currency of this Synod – it could be in November 2015, after the elections. That is where it will be pushed to if it looks doomed in this Synod. And if the con evos and trads again get sufficient laity seats to block it, then Parliament will step in, and it won’t just be gender equality imposed on the church. Reform et al have already won one battle and now got a worse position than before their ‘victory’. It looks to me… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Perhaps Benedict ought takr the advice of Simon Taylor her, to relax and smell the coffe. Hhas done his best on this site to scuttle the expressed mind of the Diocesan Synods, and more recently of the majority of the members of the Church of England, to go forward with the Ordination of Women as Bishps in his Church. Short of transferring to the ark of his R.C. or Orthodox co-believers in male supremacy in ministry, he may just have to accept that the C. of E. in common with the non-GAFCON provinces of the Anglican Communion, welcomes Women as… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Too bad that we can’t just burn those uppity women as witches, like we did in the good old days.

I wish the best of luck to the steering committee. Even I think it’s better to kick the can to 2015 rather than enshrine discrimination into law.

Benedict
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Benedict

Lindsay Southern knows full well that Option 1 which WATCH is so supportive of is nothing short of a single clause measure which is consistently what WATCH have argued for, so there can be no pretence that somehow WATCH is suddenly all in favour of provision for traditionalists. And I must correct some of the contributors on this site who claim that it is the traditionalists who scuppered the vote in November. That is not the case. It was scuppered because of fair minded laity, who although in favour of women bishops, could see that the then proposed Measure was… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Someone on another thread pointed out that WATCH is the only organization that actually represents the mainstream view. It is the only one that represents the mind of 42 out of 44 dioceses that voted for WB’s. It is the only one that represents the moral view of the broader public, that is disgusted with CoE right now. My maths says that 42 out of 44 is 95.45 percent of the CoE dioceses, therefore, perhaps WATCH should have 95 percent representation on the Steering Committee. It is really important to keep firmly in mind that the anti-woman crowd is the… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Disgusted? How about ashamed?

Yes, ashamed to be in the Anglican tradition, when the Church of England cannot bring itself to ordain women bishops.

Two more years? What a travesty. What an embarrassment.

Bring on the parliamentary bills!

Laurence
Guest
Laurence

It’s time for that rhetoric to go the way of the dinosaur.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 8:08pm BST

Another really good post Cynthia.

Spot on !

Is the C of E totally devoid of ethical sense and integrity ?

On another matter related in terms of ethics and witness, we hear tonight that our Church is itself an investor in pay day loans companies !

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I need clarity here if someone has the answers. I get that some of the Evangelicals have difficulty with WB’s because of “male headship.” This absolutely gobsmacks me, but it seems to be the position. The traditional Anglo-Catholics simply don’t believe in either WO or WB, it says as much on the FiF website. But do they have a problem with male line priests if the male bishop who ordained them also ordains women? It was in the Middle Ages, or so, when Rome came up with the doctrine that the sacrament is valid regardless of the character of the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict,
you know you are not speaking the truth.
WATCH would always have liked a Single Measure, they never pushed for one, and even within a Single Measure they have always supported provisions – just not provisions enshrined in law.

It does you no credit to misrepresent those you disagree with.

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

Being retired on Thursday afternoon I watched part of the debate in the House of Lords on the position of humanists and agnostics. The humanist mover of the motion, very politely, was rejoicing in the fact that, according to a recent survey, so many people under 25 do not believe in any kind of God. He even expressed the view that by the time baby Prince George became King the Church would and should have no influence at all.Some other peers of all ages, who spoke, had some vague kind of belief in some kind of supreme being but not… Read more »

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Erika, please do not imply that I am a liar. WATCH did consistently call for a single clause measure. Dress it up how you will, but that is the truth of the matter. Cynthia, 25% of dioceses also passed following motions requesting proper provision, but you conveniently omit that in your post, and as to the commentator who makes mention of dinosaurs, we are in good company, given millions of orthodox and roman catholics who remain faithful to the teaching of over two thousand years.

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

I think it is a bit rich of Benedict to call WATCH entrenched when it is clear to me that the opponents of WO are completely entrenched, as a reading of their publications confirms. Moreover, Miranda Threlfall-Holmes points out* that in 2006, FiF wanted a single-clause measure because it was the only theological way forward. Where is the consistency now? Alan Edwards in FiF’s ‘New Directions'(January 2013) speaks of the pressure being off ‘to think up new arguments’ against WB. As an observer of these discussions, it seems to me that those in favour of WO have constantly modified their… Read more »

Peter Owen
Guest

The article by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes is available online.

http://mirandathrelfallholmes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/an-equal-episcopate-theological.html

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict,
a Single Measure but with provisions.
And WATCH supported the Draft Measure that was voted down in November and that was no single measure at all.
I’m not implying anything, I’m stating very clearly that you are misrepresenting them.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“given millions of orthodox and roman catholics who remain faithful to the teaching of over two thousand years.” You are conveniently leaving out the vast numbers of Protestant Christians who have female leadership. I was raised Greek Orthodox, the patriarchy has much more to do with culture than theology or Jesus. Faithful teachings such as the burning of heretics, support for slavery, anti-semitism, and racism, let alone the indulgences and abuses that drove the Reformation? The history and “faithful teaching” depicted in this thread seem to be seen exclusively through rose colored glasses. The church has erred and sinned mightily.… Read more »

Helen
Guest
Helen

Actually Benedict none of us knows the views of the millions of orthodox and RCs since they’re not allowed to discuss even the ordination of women. We know the views of the old men in power all right, but don’t assume that everyone else feels the same way.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“This is our huge challenge – not pandering to a minority who have ‘hang ups’…”

Very well-said, Jean.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia,
evangelical male headship problems are not negated by the Queen. She does not “teach” anything within the CoE and conservative evangelicals do not mind women in leading roles, provided it’s not within the family or in a teaching role in church.

It’s completely barmy but it is what it is. Mentioning the Queen does not address their concern.

David
Guest
David

The suggestion was made to WATCH after the November vote that since it was now clear that the majority of the church at large backed the position they have been supporting that this was the time for WATCH to cease to exist – honourably so after a long, faithful and surely lonely campaign that has too often lacked support even among those who shared their position. It would now be for the main stream church to take responsibility for its own convictions and seeing this through at last. But it would also mean that those opposed to the majority church… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

David – when was this suggestion made? I’m a Vice Chair of WATCH and don’t recall anyone saying such to me.

Plus, although WATCH has recently focussed on the WB campaign, it is not our only concern. We have other concerns too – we are about equality generally, not just this issue. We are not going anywhere just yet….

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

That is an interesting thought, David. It doesn’t seem realistic, however. It has the feeling that if WATCH wasn’t present, the conservatives would have pulled things more their way.

I love what you are saying, it’s beautiful. It just doesn’t jive with any justice experience I’ve ever witnessed, especially for women. It would be new territory, welcomed, but new and untested.

It looks like the conservatives are fighting WO, not just WB. That’s a really, really, tough nut.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Erika, the so called provisions in November were not worth the paper they were written on and WATCH knew that, hence the outpouring of invective after the measure fell. Please do not pretend that what was on offer was sufficient. Had WATCH and their supporters gone with coordinate jurisdiction, which would have been a major compromise for traditionalists, we would not be in the mess we are in. I have not misrepresented WATCH, which has only ever compromised on their terms alone. Cynthia, you are confident the sacraments are valid. I cannot be confident that they are. In terms of… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Benedict:
1. the coordinate jurisdiction as you term it would have rendered WB second clas bishops. That is why GS rejected it – WATCH did so yes, but the vote was in GS and was taken by people who were, by and large, not WATCH members.
2. It is Jesus who guarantees the validity of the sacraments not the priest – read the 39 Articles.
3. The Cof E is Catholic and Reformed. We cannot ignore the Protestant churches – and our closest ecumenical partners are the Methodists – Covenant, remember?

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Benedict, surely there is no doubt about the sacraments amongst male line clergy, right? And there will likely always be male bishops, at least 50 percent of them are likely to be male at any given time. I don’t see a problem with AC parishes getting male line priests. I see no barrier what-so-ever. In TEC we call our rectors and I’m sure our traditional AC parishes call male line clergy. There’s no need for a fuss to have that. Further, the sacraments are valid from male bishops who also ordain women. Long, long, ago it was determined that God… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict,
you are conflating two issues.
You say that WATCH are extremist and not willing to give anything at all.
That is patently false.

You also say that they are not giving enough and that they are therefore solely to blame for the failure of the Draft Measure.
That rather suggests a lack of willingness to compromise by other parties in the process.

But whether you believe the compromise offer to have been sincere or not, or sufficient or not – it was made, the vast majority of members of WATCH supported the Draft Measure.

To say anything else is a misrepresentation.

David
Guest
David

Charles
The suggestion to WATCH to consider disbanding was made in a personal letter to one of the WATCH leadership. It was acknowledged but obviously not considered an idea for wider debate. I make no comment on that. I can see arguments either way. Meanwhile thank you for what WATCH continues to contribute – and endure – as this rolls slowly on.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia, I am astonished that you still do not see the problem. You don’t have to agree with it, but is it really so hard to see it? This is not about women priests. We’ve had those for 20 years and we have a structure that helps ACs to remain within the CoE without having to have a woman priest. The problem arises because of women bishops because if you do not believe that women can be bishops, then you cannot cope with a female bishop. So your very first woman bishop is going to cause a problem for traditional… Read more »

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Charles Read, you refer to the vote in GS concerning coordinate jurisdiction. You are happy to accept as the will of the GS. Do you do the same for November’s vote? By citing the 39 Articles you are on difficult ground as unworthiness of the minister has nothing to do with gender, and rightly so.Yes, the C of E is indeed Catholic and Reformed. Since when did we deem her Protestant? They are not interchangeable terms.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Benedict
“In terms of your argument about numbers of protestants, it is irrelevant, since we are considering episcopal ministry which is a unifying factor between the great churches of East and West.”

Only that the reason the Draft Measure was defeated was because of the conservative Evangelical lay vote against it, and the campaign by well known non-Catholics like Susie Leafe.

In that context, you might be able to dismiss the Protestant churches, the CoE that has to find a compromise that pleases you and Evangelicals cannot.
A bit of realism, please!

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Erika, I understand the problem. I am AC and have a rich understanding of the sacraments. I’m saying that the view that traditional AC’s “need” a bishop who doesn’t ordain women is simply not supported by any traditional doctrine. You are on a slippery slope if new superstitions take precedence over established sacramental doctrine. Traditional AC’s will want male line clergy and visits from male bishops. The visits are the worst of the problems. As primroseleague pointed out, AC’s do not have the “male headship” issue. They can accept female leadership, they just want their sacraments administered by male line… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Speaking of Anglo Catholicism… Desmond Tutu is Anglo Catholic. He supports WO (his daughter is a priest) and WB, as well as full LGBT equality and inclusion. His theology, faith, and courage is certainly inspiring. He loves to talk about the Incarnation and how all of us are created equally and loved by God, and that to love God requires loving our neighbor, black/white, male/female, gay/straight. Clearly, it is not automatic in Anglo Catholicism to exclude women at all. The male line clergy would be an assurance for those with less faith and conviction than beloved Desmond. Given that there… Read more »

Helen
Guest
Helen

I think , Benedict, last november’s vote has in a sense been superseded by the GS’s own decisions in July. It’s no use hanging on to the past as though the Nov vote were somehow definitive.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia, we really are talking cross purposes. We also have liberal ACs, the vast majority of them. But they are not the ones who have voted down the Draft Measure in November, they are not the one we need to sit down with to find a solution for the current crisis. And as for Evangelicals struggling with male headship not being mainstream – of course not! But the November vote was lost largely by the small but vociferous and well organised group of Lay Evangelicals who do have problems with it. Telling them all to just listen to our enlightened… Read more »

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

Cynthia wrote: “… WB’s will be making policies and leading their dioceses, ….” Cynthia, my understanding is that it is exactly that which will cause problems for Evangelicals who hold to “male headship”. I don’t know how it works in TEC but in the CofE all priests are required to swear an oath of canonical obedience to their diocesan bishop. Some (possibly many) clergy on the Evangelical wing of the church will find it, in conscience, impossible to swear that oath and will feel obliged to leave the church. That will make it very difficult for, in your words, “those… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

I hope and pray that a Measure can be given Final Approval in this Group of Sessions, but I have yet to see any evidence that this is likely, unless there is a major change of heart in the House of Laity. And it is simply untrue to say that it was scuppered by ‘fair-minded laity’ who, while in favour of women bishops, wanted better provision. Some of the ConEvos have been on synod a very long time, in a handful of cases (which is all it took) since the last very divisive election in 1990. They have never supported… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“I don’t know how we deal with that without creating two classes of bishop – which to me is unthinkable.”

Exactly. I am a very creative person and I can’t see a way to accommodate the “male headship” minority without sending the message to all of the world’s women and girls that we are inferior in the eyes of God; a devastating message that leaves women vulnerable to myriad kinds of abuse.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Telling them all to just listen to our enlightened ideas and uplifting messages will not help to get the next Draft Measure through in 2015. And whether we like it or not, we are not in a position to dictate terms. The CoE has expressed very clearly that it wants provisions. We are only talking about which ones.” I would love to see this Steering Committee raise the dialogue to the level of moral and theological issues, and be well aware of the messages they are sending to women and girls the world over. I support provisions, just not enshrined… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia,
“I also would hate to see discriminatory provisions enshrined in law based on theological rubbish.”

Where did that come from? Discrimination provisions will not be enshrined in law, regardless of what theology underpins them.
That is precisely one of the immovables in this debate.
Not only would no pro-women representative in the Synods ever agree to it, Parliament wouldn’t allow it either.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I’m looking at the .75 portion of Option 1.75. There is the wiggle room and I’m wondering how it’s going to go. It is problematic to have bishops who won’t ordain women. Apparently, right now there’s a whole system in place for that, yes? This is a problem. That system is institutional discrimination. What is the plan for that? It isn’t theologically necessary for the sacraments to be valid, and it doesn’t solve the “male headship” problem. What’s going to happen there? I’ll be eager to see the nature of provisions, pastoral and local, or a national system that continues… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Cynthia,
At the moment I’m trying to stay positive. Realistic but positive.

I keep thinking about the system you describe for TEC, where women bishops provide voluntary support for their clergy.
It seems there are successful examples and less successful ones.

Could you see any problem with enshrining the successful ones as guidelines in a Code of Practice to make sure that only those happen across the whole church?

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

And I agree that the system in place to have bishops who won’t ordain women is a problem. I’ve never understood it. It’s an Anglo-Catholic invention, yet as you say, they did not need it for the last 20 years because every current bishop guarantees sacramental assurance. For Evangelicals it’s a bit more of a problem. Not directly because of male headship but because the big problem for conservative Evangelicals is Scriptural Authority and not disobeying that. So if Scripture mandates male headship, then you cannot have a bishop who disobeys Scripture and ordains women. And yet, Evangelicals have, to… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Erika, I welcome the CoE learning from our “mistakes.” And Canada’s and New Zealand’s, etc. I don’t think CoE is suddenly going to turn to elections of bishops and calling rectors in the same way as TEC. But it doesn’t have to be the same. The concept is that people just need to feel really confident about their parish. Male headship doesn’t have a solution. I wish it did. But there will be a female ABC some day. There will be numerous female bishops in the nearer future. I don’t see a solution that doesn’t insult women. I hope that… Read more »

magistra
Guest

Cynthia, One of the problems with too strong an attempt at sending “a moral message” is that the Church of England may also inadvertently end up sending an immoral one as well: “See how these Christians hate one another”. Schism and legal attempts to claim/reclaim church property send a very negative message to the outside world about the church. In particular, in England there is always a lot of incoherent public support both for “tradition” and for “the underdog” in any conflict. I don’t think that’s an issue if ConEvos left the C of E en masse, because there’s not… Read more »

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Erika, I see that you are trying to claim that WATCH is not opposed to provisions. But you know as well as I do, and so do members of that organisation, that it is provision only on their terms. The giver of the gift saying how generous is the gift. I am not misrepresenting anything or a propagandist as you suggest. Look at the outcry when the bishops brought their amendment before the adjournment. Many of the senior women signing up to the letter were WATCH members. I stand by my original comments.