Thinking Anglicans

Women in the Episcopate: Catholic Group, FiF and WATCH respond to new proposals

Updated Tuesday

The Catholic Group in General Synod has also issued a statement:

STATEMENT FROM FATHER SIMON KILLWICK, CHAIRMAN OF THE CATHOLIC GROUP IN GENERAL SYNOD
on the report of the Steering Committee on Women in the Episcopate to General Synod for November 2013 Group of Sessions

“The Catholic Group recognises that a huge amount of work has gone into producing a comprehensive and detailed legislative package, work which has been costly in spiritual and emotional terms, as well as in time – we are deeply grateful to all the members of the Steering Committee for all that they have done for the Church.

“Naturally, such a complex package will need careful study and prayer by all, rather than instant responses, and we will comment further in due course. However, as important as the detail of the proposals themselves, will be the spirit in which they are received and taken forward – a spirit of reconciliation and trust, which we believe has been growing this year, by the grace of God; it is in that light that we shall study them.”

Forward in Faith has issued this response:

Women in the Episcopate: Initial Response to the Proposals

Forward in Faith thanks the members of the Steering Committee for their work.

The proposed combination of a House of Bishops’ Declaration with a Mandatory Disputes Resolution Procedure represents a new and different approach which deserves careful consideration.

In line with the resolution passed at our National Assembly, we shall be examining the proposals closely over the coming weeks to see how far they would ensure that our parishes and their clergy and people have continued access to a ministry that will make it possible for us to flourish within the life and structures of the Church of England. We shall also be attentive to the responses of others within the Church.

After discussion, prayer and reflection, we envisage commenting further during November, in the run-up to the General Synod debates.

Women and the Church has issued this response:

WATCH encouraged following publication of WiE Steering Group’s draft legislation

The Women in the Episcopate draft legislation put forward for General Synod next month by the Steering Group contains much to encourage those campaigning for the full inclusion of women at every level of the Church. WATCH’s thanks and prayers go to those on the Steering Group working hard to achieve this and who worked under the principles of simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality.

There is much in the report that is welcomed by WATCH. Firstly, that the legislation put forward is simple and General Synod’s desire to resolve the issue as quickly and as simply as possible has been reflected in the draft legislation. WATCH also supports the recommendation of the Group to legislate on this issue through a Bishops’ Declaration, not an Act of Synod, and the wholehearted endorsement of women’s ministry in the five guiding principles. It is particularly encouraging that every diocese will have a bishop, whether the diocesan or suffragan, who ordains women to the priesthood with emphasis on consultation between diocesan bishops and parishes and diocesan bishops and PEVs.

The appointment of an Independent Reviewer is a new proposal and one which allows a forum for all sides to raise issues and concerns. As a new development, it will be interesting to see how this is received by all groups involved.

WATCH has noted the proposed arrangements for those opposed to women holding leadership roles in the church. The church will rarely be unanimous about the appointment of particular people as bishops but it is important that the leadership of bishops is widely recognized and respected amongst those they are appointed to lead.

WATCH thanks those involved in the Steering Group for their hard work and commitment to this issue and remains committed to working towards the highest possible degree of communion.

Anne Stevens, a WATCH vice chair said, ‘It’s good to see draft legislation that is so clear and concise, and we look forward to a day of great national rejoicing when women are finally made bishops. We’re grateful to the Steering Committee for all their hard work on the Bishops’ Declaration, which offers people on all sides of the debate a new opportunity to move forward in a spirit of trust and openness to one another.’

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Father Ron Smith
Guest

“which offers people on all sides of the debate a new opportunity to move forward in a spirit of trust and openness to one another.” – Anne Stevens – Just as long, Anne, as a woman bishop is not burdened with the necessity of having to pretend that her episcopal authority is in any way compromised. What is, I feel at issue here, is whether or not the nay-sayers are prepared to accept that any ‘special arrangement’ made for them to avoid the ministry of a women diocesan will still be at the disposition of their (female) diocesan bishop. (Or… Read more »

Alastair Newman
Guest

Fr Smith, I suspect the conservative catholic wing *will* accept that, but the conservative evangelical wing won’t…

John
Guest
John

All very encouraging.

As for the representation of a Conservative Evangelical, they are entitled to it, and one can hope that fairer representation across the board will lessen acrimony and plotting.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

It seems to me that the legislation will maintain a degree of compromise so that traditionalists will still in good conscience be able to call on the ministry of traditionalist bishops. Good!

Pete Broadbent
Guest
Pete Broadbent

This “entitlement” is a nonsense. Bishops aren’t appointed in order to represent a constituency. ConEvos aren’t *entitled* to their (?) bishops. And many of them simply don’t “get” the rest of the Church. If God’s calling someone to be a bishop, then that’s a different thing. But we don’t do this office to be representatives of a particular theology of so-called headship. A bishop is a bishop is a bishop.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“This “entitlement” is a nonsense. Bishops aren’t appointed in order to represent a constituency. ConEvos aren’t *entitled* to their (?) bishops. ….

. But we don’t do this office to be representatives of a particular theology of so-called headship. A bishop is a bishop is a bishop.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Sunday,

Thank you, Bishop Pete, for your stance here on the nature of the episcopate. This is what was so wrong with the idea of ‘Flying bishops’ who were appointed expressly to minister to the No-Women Brigade. That is where the Church failed us.

John
Guest
John

Seems as if bishops can be as bad-tempered as the rest of us. One can quarrel about a word (‘entitled’). I am not personally a Conservative Evangelical, but I do think it is folly when a distinctive and fairly substantial strand of the C of E goes unrepresented at episcopal level. Seems as if the Steering Group as a body agrees.

Stephen B
Guest
Stephen B

The mood music seems to be encouraging, a Conservative Evangelical Bishop in the House of Bishops shows graciousness, which is needed by all.

All I can think of is pray for General Synod when in meets in November – come to think of it that is what most of us have been doing for some time.

RPNewark
Guest
RPNewark

Stephen, it’s not a ConEvo bishop in the *House* of bishops but in the *College* of Bishops. The *House* comprises all diocesans and a small number of suffragans (elected, I believe, by the suffragans to represent them). The suggestion is that procedures might be put in place to ensure that there is always at least one ConEvo bishop in the *College* and there is no suggestion that the process would grant such a post-holder any jurisdiction. But then, as Bishop Pete points out, a bishop is a bishop is a bishop and, PEVs apart, we don’t select our bishops to… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

The Archbishops currently have three sees at their disposal to minister to those opposed to the ordination of women. Presumably any appointment such as that referred to in the proposals could be made to one of those three sees.

That said, I think that it is a Bad Idea to enshrine in the Declaration a particular churchmanship and (worse) a particular interpretation of scripture and (worser 🙂 a place on the episcopal bench.

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

Thanks, Bishop Pete, for your contribution. It’s the fact that you and other distinguished contributors feel able to contribute openly that makes this forum so much better than any other I can think of. Whilst I’m sure you are right that ‘a bishop is a bishop is a bishop’, I’m also sure that it must be very difficult for a woman priest to be so undiscriminating when the particular bishop to whom she is required to swear canonical obedience is one who does not believe her orders to be valid. Although the Steering Group has given much thought to the… Read more »

Charles Read
Guest
Charles Read

Thanks to +Pete for hitting the nail on the head. There is no problem with appointing a Complementarian Evangelical (let’s stop pretending it’s anything else that is being talked about) as a bishop if such a person can function effectively as a bishop and can regard those who take a different view from him as equally Christian. But to appoint someone for their stance on one issue is dangerous. Plus, we need to face the question of whether male headship really is an acceptable theological stance – especially if it entails seeing subordination in the Trinity. This last facet is… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest

Many of the problems of the Anglican Communion can be traced back to the fateful decision of the Church of England to “square the circle” on the ordination of women by introducing the heteropraxy of the so-called “flying bishops.” This heteropraxy led to the appalling heterodoxy that every theological minority is entitled to the ministry of a bishop who agrees with them. This is a 20th century heresy unknown to either Mr. Pusey nor Mr. Wesley.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

@Malcolm and others: as so happens, when a diocesan bishop doesn’t ordain women, his suffragan can only do it at his behest. In Europe, and probably elsewhere, although our suffragan bishop is in favor of women, he cannot ‘priest’ us because that would mean he was acting in place of and at the behest of our diocesan, who will not permit that. So two bishops – one who does and one who doesn’t isn’t really the answer. Thank you to Bishop Pete for reminding us that a bishop is etc

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Sara. Neither the Chichester diocesan, nor his suffragan of Horsham, will ordain women as priests. However the diocesan, +Martin, has promised that the next Bishop of Lewes will ordain women as priests and will do it across the Diocese. So a variety of belief and practice, even within this small minority.

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

Sara – I don’t think that the situation you describe in Europe is replicated in all other dioceses where the bishop won’t ordain women, although it may be in some of them. In London, where the diocesan doesn’t ordain priests of either gender, one of his suffragans does it, presumably with his permission. In Chichester, a bishop from outside the diocese has to be brought in to ordain women, and that can only happen with the diocesan’s agreement. But, if the situation you describe exists in any diocese, it only reinforces my belief that we shouldn’t have any more diocesans… Read more »

Chuchu Nwagu
Guest
Chuchu Nwagu

I am in two minds about +Pete Willesden’s comment! The main problem I have is how people are arguing that a Bishop shouldn’t be appointed on his stance on one issue but laity/clergy in +Whitby, +Blackburn and others would insist that they want a Bishop appointed who ordains women (Surely that’s appointing a Bishop on their stance on one issue) On the other hand, I can understand the basis of such a statement! I have always believe a Bishop should be appointed on the basis that they can fulfil the role and not solely on their integrity – Like I… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

“I would personally hope that no new non-ordaining bishops will be appointed to any post having jurisdiction”. The Steering Group’s work all represents quietly encouraging progress. I agree with Malcolm on this. But the fact is that the number of diocesans who do not ordain women as priests is dwindling. Someone will correct me, but the list is limited to +London (who ordains woman to the diaconate and has a comprehensive area scheme in place), +Chichester (mentioned above) and +Europe, which becomes vacant in 10 days. I suspect the PEV machinery will remain in place for a time and, on… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

“I have always believe a Bishop should be appointed on the basis that they can fulfil the role”

But that’s not how the CoE has operated. It has always tried to balance Anglo-Catholics, Liberals and Evangelicals, which is how it has managed to be the wonderful big tent church that it is. The office of ABC is deliberately given to a Catholic and an Evangelical Bishop in turns.

So all we’re seeing here is a heartfelt attempt to retain this system and to make sure all can remain in the church.

Rosalind R
Guest
Rosalind R

To pick up a phrase from July: “I agree with Pete”. I can understand that Con Evo’s might well feel aggrieved that all the PEV’s are from the Catholic wing of the church; arguments could be made for finding ways of enabling their voices to be heard when bishops meet up as a college. But to specify one theological viewpoint as being the criterion on which a bishop should be selected opens the door to all sorts of arguments for another 20 years (at least) and a mentality that sees bishops being appointed to represent a grouping in the C… Read more »

Marlene Gray
Guest
Marlene Gray

So what happens when your parish and PCC is in favour of full inclusion but the priest is not and your Patron is The Guild of All Souls.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

You have to wait until there is a vacancy. And you then have to have a PCC prepared to say what it wants. And you have to have a candidate available with credentials the Guild will accept but prepared to move things on.

It can happen, believe me. We were in exactly this position until two years ago, with Resolutions ABC in place etc etc. The Guild exercised its patronage. And this year’s diocesan handboook lists a woman as associate priest in the parish.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

With regard to Marlene Gray’s offering, I am rather sceptical about her comment that says both the parish and PCC are all in favour of full inclusion. It is a sweeping statement which is not backed up by evidence. If what she says were really the case, the current PCC could have done something about it. In most parishes I know where the Guild is patron the resolutions have been passed, simply because those parishes tend to be Anglo Catholic in character. And again, even were this not true the claim could not be made that ALL the parish and… Read more »

Nigel LLoyd
Guest
Nigel LLoyd

‘You have to wait until there is a vacancy. And you then have to have a PCC prepared to say what it wants. And you have to have a candidate available with credentials the Guild will accept but prepared to move things on.’

…and if you cannot come to agreement as to a suitable candidate, the patronage is eventually passed on to the bishop (at least for this appointment). A parish in our deanery was in this position, with resolutions in place. In time, they got the priest they wanted. Her name is Lucy.

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Sara referred earlier to the Diocese in Europe and Richard referred to the Diocese of Chichester. I think that in the former case, the reason why the suffragan does not ordain women is a little more complicated than suggested. My understanding is that this arrangement – suffragan not to ordain women – was put in place some time ago to avoid any possibility of a European chaplaincy petitioning for oversight by another bishop under the 1993 Act of Synod (so-called Resolution C).

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

Thank you Simon, but I’m not quite sure what that would mean. If say, the Diocesan bishop didn’t ordain women and his suffragan did, why would any parish opposed to women priests need to ask for more than the diocesan to do their priestly ordinations (ie why would they need resolution C at all? they would already have a bishop to hand who didn’t ordain women as priests). And if this is so for Europe, it is so also for any other diocese – or have I missed something (undoubtedly…..)?

Lorenzo
Guest

I love Anne Stevens, but anyone who confidently asserts that ‘we look forward to a day of great national rejoicing when women are finally made bishops’ lives in a bubble. We, the church, have blown it long ago on this matter and are probably about to blow it again on the gay debate. Most people will smirk and move on.

Barrie
Guest
Barrie

The reason flying bishops were needed was not only because traditionalists didn’t ‘like’ the idea of being ministered to by someone they disagreed with. Another important issue was that of ordination. Unlike deacons, whose ordinations put them in a one-to-one personal relationship with their bishop, priests are ordained into a College surrounding their bishop. Traditionalist ordinands could not, therefore, countenance belonging to a College of Priests which contained women. It was therefore necessary, to allow traditionalists to be ordained with integrity, to have them ordained by a bishop whose college was all-male.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Except Barrie the PEV’s were meant to provide Extended Episcopal Care ( not Alternative Episcopal Oversight) at the behest of the diocesan.They weren’t meant to have a “College” of Priests…indeed when did this idea enter the C of E theological vocabulary??? I doubt if it was thought of pre 1960’s in any meaningful way.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Barrie,
so there were parishes that accepted only male priests and these parishes also needed their own bishops because they could not tolerate being in a college of priests that included women.

Could you explain to me to which extent this group of people is actually part of the CoE?

I’m not having a go, it’s a genuine question. It strikes me that in order to remain in the church you seal yourself off almost completely from it.

I can see the practical reasons for wanting to remain within that church, I cannot see the theological ones.

Barrie
Guest
Barrie

Erika, because traditionalists in the CofE do not consider the CofE to be “the Church”, but to be only a small part of the one Church of God. Traditionalists therefore feel that the departure from the rest of the universal Church’s teaching on church order is an act of separation from the one body. It is akin to the CofE determining it’s own unique date for Easter. Trads therefore, far from not being part of the Church, are calling on the CofE to return to the mainstream of orthodox Christianity.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Barrie, but if the CoE has, according to traditionalist views, departed from mainstream orthodox Christianity, then why would you want to be remain in it, if orthodoxy matters so much? And how is creating a hermetically sealed church within a church orthodox? And how does it differ from leaving the church and having a separate group outside it? Is there a difference between separate inside and separate outside? Every single traditionalist knows that the CoE will not go back to not ordaining women, that is so abundantly clear that it is impossible that a single person genuinely believes otherwise. Wouldn’t… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Barrie, the CoE is both Protestant and Catholic. CoE broke off from Rome (as a person raised Greek Orthodox, I have never looked to Rome as “the church universal”). CoE has married priests, tolerates divorce, contraception, abortion, and a host of issues that differ from Rome, and Rome differs from the Orthodox… Meanwhile, there exists a host of Protestant churches for which the issues of women and LGBT persons in CoE seem absolutely barbaric and arcane. Are you including those Protestant Churches in “the church universal?” If not, why not? CoE has a foot in each camp. Your request is… Read more »

Barrie
Guest
Barrie

The CofE has always been fundamentally catholic in its character. It retains an apostolic episcopacy and priesthood, and while Rome doesn’t alone constitute the church universal, the CofE is historically part of Western Latin Christianity rather than Orthodox, and so it is natural for it to look to Rome rather than the East for those cultural, historic and doctrinal reasons (the Filioque being a case in point). It is for that reason of it’s essentially catholic nature that the CofE should look to Rome and the Orthodox churches (which make up over 70% of the church universal) rather than the… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Yes, that “offends” and no doubt “hurts” you, but that really can’t have any bearing on truth.” The truth is that God is calling women to ministry, to the priesthood and the episcopacy. The sacraments are my lifeblood and are not at all “compromised” by my female priests and bishops in TEC. The idea that sacraments can only be administered by men and that our stingy God withholds grace when a women administers them is sheer superstition, no matter how many times you call it “the truth.” God created male and female in God’s image, and calls us all to… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Barrie, the CoE is an independent church with its own discernment processes.It does not subscribe to the idea that there is a “universal” church that has to come to the same conclusions it does before it can discern God’s will. All priests are ordained into the CoE and promise to accept and uphold its Canons. These Canons include the provision that the church can make major discernment decisions if the right process is followed and the right majorities are obtained. It seems to me to be pretty clear that the CoE does not define itself with a view to Rome,… Read more »

Barrie
Guest
Barrie

Erika, I will try to answer your questions as best I can. Is the sealed off church within a church an orthodox concept? It is difficult to answer this question. On the one hand, no, because there is only one Church, and so no logical distinction can be made between a church ‘within’ and a church ‘without’. However, it is an orthodox position to hold that while some in the church are wrong, others are right, but still both remain in the Church by virtue of their baptism. It is in this way traditionalists in the CofE stand apart from… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Barrie, thank you. I agree that we are all part of the church in as far as we refer to the Body of Christ. But we are not all part of the same expressions of that body. Some of us are quite deliberately not Roman Catholic, others are quite firmly not Protestant, and our array of churches and churchmanships reflects those very major differences between us. My second question had referred less to the Reformation but more to the CoE and to the requirement of Anglo-Catholic traditionalists to have a structure of sacramental assurance that places them in a position… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Barrie, you argument about Rome and the Orthodox completely falls down in the fact that lay members have no say at all. Plenty of Orthodox and Catholics would welcome women’s ordained ministry, but the leadership rules with an iron fist and won’t even allow a discussion. You are not talking about vast millions in the misogynistic camp, you are talking about a handful of leaders who hold on to their power tightly and won’t even allow the conversation. Sorry, but that’s the truth. Most Orthodox leave the church. Those who stay tend to do so for cultural reasons. In countries… Read more »

Barrie
Guest
Barrie

Erika, I don’t think it follows that if we have our own structures we are no longer part of the church. If you look at religious communities, they have their own structures and even their own bishops or ordinaries. These communities exist geographically within a diocese, but of course they aren’t governed by the diocesan bishop. Nonetheless, they are still fully part of the church. I think you would find that traditionalists are less willing to cooperate with the local woman priest in the next parish as long as we feel we are sitting on a time bomb or that… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Barrie, thank you, your point about religious communities makes sense. And please don’t think that I’d want you or anyone else to leave! It’s the other way round, if the boot was on the other foot I would no longer feel at home in the church and would personally want to look for somewhere else. I would not be pushed out but I would have to leave for my own spiritual sanity. But my questions were not about personal preference but about the undergirding theology for wanting to remain somewhere if you have to isolate yourself from it as effectively… Read more »

Barrie
Guest
Barrie

Cynthia, it’s not the job of the sheep to guide the shepherds. Most people are not learned in the Scriptures or the Fathers. Many don’t understand that the Holy Tradition is not ‘tradition’ in the Werther’s Originals and grandma’s apple pie sense. One of the reasons we have a priesthood is so that there are people who can guide the flock in sound doctrine. Otherwise there would be chaos!

Erika, I’m glad I could answer your questions even if we disagree. I sense that even we may have discovered a ‘spirit of reconciliation and trust’!

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Barrie, reconciliation and trust, I sincerely hope so! It am still puzzled, mind you. You say to Cynthia that it is not the role of the sheep to guide the shepherds. And yet you have been baptised into a church and desperately wish to remain in it, that follows precisely that principle through its synodical government. The CoE has always employed a system of lay participation and of majority voting to come to discernment about God’s will for this church. I can just about understand that you believe the church is wrong to change and that you need it to… Read more »

Barrie
Guest
Barrie

That’s true. ‘Episcopally led, synodically governed’. I’m not against lay participation, but I do think it’s the job of the priesthood to defend sound doctrine. Paul was doing this all the time against the apparent wishes of the laity. This is especially important when society’s secular values are so far apart from the Church’s. We’ve been warned from the earliest times that “The time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.”… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Barrie, isn’t the point where our difference arises precisely because the CoE believes that through it’s synodical system its House of Bishops and the Clergy it has discerned something they believe to be sound doctrine? And the polity of this church foresees that it is possible for this kind of discernment to be made. This is not the sheep leading the shepherds, this is the majority of the shepherds leading their sheep… and if we look back to last November, it was actually the Lay Chamber, the sheep, who narrowly rejected the new discernment. It’s really not as simple as… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Cynthia, it’s not the job of the sheep to guide the shepherds. Most people are not learned in the Scriptures or the Fathers. Many don’t understand that the Holy Tradition is not ‘tradition’ in the Werther’s Originals and grandma’s apple pie sense. One of the reasons we have a priesthood is so that there are people who can guide the flock in sound doctrine. Otherwise there would be chaos!” That’s very amusing! I can’t possibly see myself as a “sheep.” In my congregation, many lay members have M. Div’s (Master’s degrees in Divinity) and/or like me, graduated from the 4… Read more »

Barrie
Guest
Barrie

I think sheep and shepherds is a perfectly intelligible biblical term that most can understand. It refers to the priest’s responsibility for their congregation’s spiritual well being, part of which is to make sure they are taught the sound doctrine. This has nothing to do with college degrees. I would actually say it was unpastoral of a priest to allow his people to form their own doctrines as you seem to advocate. I’m surprised you didn’t understand my point.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Barrie,
your answer to Cynthia does not take into account the fact that women bishops were approved by over 2/3 of the Bishops and the Clergy in Synod.

Whatever other churches may believe, this church believes that God calls women to the priesthood and that affirming this is sound doctrine.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Barrie:

How wise is it for a shepherd to lead his flock into an enclosed pasture, lock the gate and then throw the key away? Eventually, the sheep will eat all the forage and die.

That is exactly how I see the hierarchy of the Roman church having acted in the past 50 years…they have led their parishioners into a doctrinal cul-de-sac. The smart sheep have taken the courage to “jump the fence” and look for the grass on the outside.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“I’m surprised you didn’t understand my point.” I get your point. I just find it Medieval, perhaps childish, and a completely inappropriate relationship for 21st Century people to have with God. Again, despite being raised Greek Orthodox, I am embracing both the catholic AND the protestant aspects of Anglicanism. You are completely ignoring the Protestant bit. I have a personal relationship with God. It was helped mightily by a number of priests, 2 women in particular. The interesting thing is that those holy moments are about my healing and my discernment. I have never felt the presence of God in… Read more »