Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 27 September 2023

Colin Coward Unadulterated Love A conversation about Christianity today in the Church of England

Martine Oborne ViaMedia.News Why Only 1 Diocesan Bishop in the Last 10 Appointments in the Church of England has been a Woman

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Fr Dean
Fr Dean
6 months ago

Whilst not wishing to diminish in any way Martine Oborne’s article about women; the current system also discriminates against candidates who are openly and happily LGBTQI+. We know that there are LGBTQ+ bishops but they are almost without exception in the closet. The closet is not a healthy place to be.

Peter
Peter
6 months ago

what exactly does WATCH expect ?

The maximum experience which a female suffragan will have is eight years. They are, in general, much less experienced than male suffragans.

Therefore, one would expect to see more men appointed to Diocesan office, if the decisions are being made on the basis of competence rather than identity.

Last edited 6 months ago by Peter
Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

I’m not sure time served can be equated with competence. And neither has lack of episcopal experience been a barrier before – ++Justin went from Dean to Diocesan and thence to ABC in barely more than a year. Now, one might argue that Mr Welby is not a shining beacon of competence, but he is hardly alone in that among the Episcopal bench.

Richenda
Richenda
Reply to  Jo B
6 months ago

I agree with you heartily about experience and competence not necessarily being the same thing! The first woman to be appointed a diocesan bishop had been an archdeacon not a suffragan in her previous post. And she is arguably one of the very best there is.

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Congratulations! You have probably just added age discrimination as well as indirect sex discrimination.

Appointments should generally be made on either recent experience or breadth of experience but certainly not years of experience unless it can be objectively justified and it’s hard to see how more than, say, five years as a suffragan could be seen as necessary – and even then it would have to be universally applied.

Last edited 6 months ago by Kate Keates
Peter
Peter
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

What on earth are you taking about. Nothing that I said remotely justifies your slur that I am engaging in age discrimination or any other kind of discrimination.

It is perfectly obvious that experience matters and that experience correlates with length of service.

If you needed neurosurgery are you seriously telling me you would elect to be treated by a surgeon with five years experience in preference to one with fifteen years experience. You would do nothing of the sort

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

On the contrary since years of experience is a proxy for age it is indirect age discrimination and is unlawful in most recruitment unless you show it is a) justified and b) the least discriminatory way of achieving the aim. It is also indirect sex discrimination. We know many women come to ministry later so they are less likely to have years and years of experience. Again indirect discrimination which in most settings is unlawful unless justified. Take an example. A shop wants a supervisor and says they need 20 years’ experience in retail. That’s impossible for someone in their… Read more »

Richard
Richard
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

I agree with you. Women have been consecrated as bishops only since 2015. A woman couldn’t have more than 8 years experience unless she was consecrated in another province.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Richard
6 months ago

It has never been regarded as essential for a bishop to be a suffragan before becoming a diocesan – let alone for 8 years.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Janet Fife
6 months ago

Nobody has claimed it is essential. That is not the point that was being made

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

‘The maximum experience which a female suffragan will have is eight years. They are, in general, much less experienced than male suffragans.  Therefore, one would expect to see more men appointed to Diocesan office, if the decisions are being made on the basis of competence rather than identity.’ You were suggesting that women could not expect to be appointed to a diocesan post, since none of them could have had more than 8 years as a suffragan. But having been a suffragan is not required in order to be a diocesan; and we might expect that a suffragan who had… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

I’d prefer the one with the better success rate in comparable cases, regardless of years of experience. Doubly so if I knew that some had been successfully assisting with operations for ages but had been arbitrarily barred from being surgeons until recently.

Richenda
Richenda
Reply to  Jo B
6 months ago

Again, I am completely in agreement Jo. When I was working in healthcare publishing, the general feeling among many health professionals was that they would be prefer to be treated by a registrar who was practising at the sharp end regularly than by a consultant who spent more time out of the front line than in. (Not that that applied to all consultants of course.)

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

This is the “one year’s experience fifteen times vs fifteen years’ experience” debate. There is very little reason to believe that past a certain point, which is not easy to define, people get better at their job. There is a lot of reason to believe that bad habits and fixed ideas harden. The surgeons at the centre of the Bristol paediatric coronary surgery scandal were extremely experienced, and that experience was at the heart of their failure. The captain of the 747 that caused the Tenerife disaster, the highest death toll of any aviation accident in history, was the chief… Read more »

Alan
Alan
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Does anyone know how long suffragans spend before they become diocesans? My not very accurate memory thinks that most spend less than eight years.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Alan
6 months ago

Are you suggesting there is no difference – in relation to experience – between male and female bishops ?

And that has happened in just eight years ??

I’m not convinced

Richenda
Richenda
Reply to  Alan
6 months ago

Justin Welby was never a suffragan. He was Bishop Durham for less than 18 months before becoming ABC

Rosalind R
Rosalind R
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Apart from the Archbishop of York, Stephen Conway being translated to Lincoln from Ely, and Jonathan Frost returning to the episcopacy, no diocesan appointed since 2015 has had more than 8 years as a suffragan, and the majority have been suffragans for 4 or 5 years. Several have never been a bishop at all. However, the point that is being made in this article is not to quibble over whether a diocesan bishop should have been a suffragan, and if so, for how long, but that it is very much harder for a woman, however experienced, to reach the necessary… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Peter WATCH wants exactly what the CofE says it is committed to – to be ‘fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all without reference to gender’, The article explains very clearly why this is not happening for women at senior appointment level in the church.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
6 months ago

The CofE is also committed to those who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests. Why quibble when institutional discrimination is part of our tradition? Or should just one theological conviction count?

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

“So they nominated two men: Joseph called Barsabbas (also known as Justus) and Matthias. Then they prayed, “Lord, you know everyone’s heart. Show us which of these two you have chosen to take over this apostolic ministry, which Judas left to go where he belongs.” Then they cast lots, and the lot fell to Matthias; so he was added to the eleven apostles.” – Acts Ch 1 I think there is a strong case for reverting to the casting of lots. That way if the Lord wants a college full of gay bishops, or all women bishops, or whatever He… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

A good idea as long as those chosen to be in the lottery weren’t handpicked beforehand.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

Sort of. Mostly it shifts the politics to who chooses the candidates. Or would you simply allow the name of any priest ordained in a church that is in communion with the CofE to be put forward?

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Jo B
6 months ago

I would try it for Diocesans first with the pool being all suffragans of at least 2 years standing. Then consider how best to roll it out further.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

‘And the traditionalists should be overjoyed at reverting to Biblical tradition.’

Except that, like most traditions, it wasn’t actually used very often. In fact, the passage you reference is the first and only time in the Book of Acts when Christian leaders are specifically said to be chosen by lots. After the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, that method seems to have fallen out of use.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

I’m not at all sure that Martine Oborne is correct in saying “While the Church of England has certain exemptions under the Equality Act 2010 to discriminate on grounds of sex, it does not have carte blanche”, except to agree with her that the C of E does not have carte blanche. Understanding the Equality Act can be hard work, but I am not aware that there is any provision which has the effect of ‘exempting’ the C of E from appointing women bishops, other than possibly their sexual orientation (perhaps this is what Martine Oborne means). Nor are these provisions… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

I think you are right.

I suggest that Martine gets a question to the Archbishop of Canterbury on the next Synod agenda asking how the Chair of CNCs ensures that any member of a CNC who doesn’t believe in the ordained ministry of women nonetheless votes equally for male AND female candidates according to ability only without any reference to sex. Expect an evasive answer but it feels like the best next step all the same.

FearandTremolo
FearandTremolo
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
6 months ago

I think this is an allusion to the ability for parishes to refuse priests who are women. Refusal on that ground for any other job – insofar as that jobs and callings overlap – would be discrimination.

I guess the same logic would apply to not appointing a women to Fulham, although flying bishops feel like a different thing.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  FearandTremolo
6 months ago

Thank you. Yes, that makes sense and I will give it some further thought. Of course it’s essentially a C of E matter. I will look again at how the Equality Act impacts on it.

Just sayin'
Just sayin'
6 months ago

Seriously, since when were bishops appointed primarily on the basis of competence?????

Tim
Tim
Reply to  Just sayin'
6 months ago

Thank goodness so many of them are doctors so they can deal with that burn……

Tim
Tim
6 months ago

Colin’s article is interesting to me… largely because I felt I needed to Google afterwards to understand what he means. Part of his argument seems to be that in the 60s/70s the church was very loose in the definition of God and Jesus/theology kn general, and now its more strict Evangelical. I doubt this… If that was so, why didn’t the church lead on lgbt+ rights? Many I talk to seem to think the church has been getting more liberal, and I think the evidence suggests this. However, he also argues a problem is the church isn’t openly discussing what… Read more »

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Tim
6 months ago

Tim, I’m wondering if Google helped you understand my meaning. I don’t think the church was loose in the definition of God and Jesus and theology in the 60s and 70s. I think the church was doing an amazing amount of very creative, intelligent, experiential theology, exploring what theologians of previous decades, often on the continent of Europe, had been writing and publishing. Nor do I think theology now is more strictly evangelical. I think conservative evangelical theology is hostile to the evolution of a far more radically inclusive, unconditionally loving church, and hostile to the theological developments from at… Read more »

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
6 months ago

I must confess, Colin, that I have difficulties with parts of your articles too. I’m OK when you’re talking about archaeology and early humanity – tangible things which I know something about, however limited. But when they become euphenisms for what I’d call ‘progressive’ Christianity, I’m afraid you very quickly lose me. Bishop Spong I did read, once (The Sins of the Scriptures), and that was about it. Incidentally, did you see the item on this morning’s news, about the Neanderthal sandals which are now the officially oldest human artefacts to have been discovered? I thought of your articles when… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
6 months ago

Colin Coward raises an important question about what version of Christianity the Church of England should espouse. Since an exploration in 1963 beginning with Honest to God, the CofE seems to have settled on Alpha Courses, evangelical church ‘planting’ , messy church and smiling ministers selling eternal happiness. In his book Stories We Tell Ourselves, Richard Holloway traces how we create our own sense of purpose with stories meaningful to local culture. Fr Colin is right to cite Christianity in the Republican Party in the USA and Christianity in the Orthodox Church of Putin’s Russia. These having nothing in common… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

Nicely put, FrDavid.

Shamus
Shamus
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

Yes, and if you neglect religious education in schools, it is all the more likely that people will be sucked into one of these distortions of the faith. Christianity is so rich a resource in so many ways that it is tragic when it is boiled down to some ghastly simplistic nonsense. The reason for religious education? Because religion is dangerous stuff.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

Regarding Honest to God, I remember a character in one of Susan Howatch’s Starbridge novels asking the bishop’s wife ‘Have you read Honest to God, Mrs. Ashworth?’ The reply was, ‘Of course. I read it in bed, so Charles could kick me if I fell asleep over it.’ I must admit that when I first read the Starbridge novels, I had never read Honest to God. I thought I ought to rectify this, so I bought it and read it. I quickly came to understand how Mrs. Ashworth felt; it was one of the most boring theological books I have… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

But do you interpret your faith more in line with American Republicans or Putin? Is your evangelical faith the truest? Is Trudeau’s faith the correct one? Is your version of the Faith right or wrong? I was excited by Honest to God. Christianity is just a matter of opinion.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

‘But do you interpret your faith more in line with American Republicans or Putin?’

Good grief!

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

I suspect, then, that you have not read many! Have you tried NTWright?

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
6 months ago

You suspect wrongly.

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

‘Honest to God’ is of its time, and when I read it back in 1966/67 as part of confirmation studies it had an impact. However, almost six decades later I doubt that I would be nearly so impressed. Given the time that has elapsed this should be no real surprise. EH Carr’s ‘What is History’ also came came out in the 1960s, with both book & author also much lauded, but that book has been overtaken, and the author’s professional reputation has suffered a lot.

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Tim, I really enjoyed the Starbridge novels – and I was and still am excited by reading Honest to God. I wonder whether Susan Howatch would have made such exciting narratives out of today’s Church of England.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
6 months ago

Some very exciting narratives could be written about the machinations being used to cover up abuse and avoid accountability; especially if some of the characters were closeted gay bishops, others former royal courtiers, and a few hypocritical moralists were thrown into the mix. But all that would be very far-fetched of course….

David Keen
David Keen
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Karl Barth reviewed Honest to God 30 years before it was written ‘one cannot talk about God by talking about man in a loud voice’.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  David Keen
6 months ago

I like that. Source?

Rev Colin C Coward
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

Fr David, thank you for stating succinctly what I don’t quite dare to say – that various segments of Christian churches hold to an extremism and level of hatred for other members of the human race that they justify as being orthodox, traditional and Christian. In earlier decades Christianity provided me with a centre of confidence and wisdom in my life that helped the disruptive movements within government that found its greatest focus in Thatcherism. The Church helped me survive the violence unleashed against the miners and idea of society. Faith in the City, and people like Eric James, author… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Rev Colin C Coward
6 months ago

I recall how Thatcher was a supporter of South African apartheid, at a time when Anglican heroes like Trevor Huddleston and (imprisoned) Gonville ffrench-Beytagh gave a greater vision of Christian love and inclusion. It was an exciting time to be a proud Anglican, which had an uncompromising message of love to a cruel society. Now the world has moved on and left us behind. We are obsessed with discussing which people are acceptable to sit with us at a nice Alpha course dinner – and the world wants nothing to do with us.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

Or which people are acceptable to preside at the altar.

Marise Hargreaves
Marise Hargreaves
Reply to  Janet Fife
6 months ago

Or simply which people are acceptable…..

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

When we ran Alpha in my last parish in the 1990s the ‘dinner’ was in a dingy church basement and the food was pot luck. Still, it was a northern Alberta town, population 1,800, and we were a very small church, so we didn’t really fit the popular narrative of the smart suburban evangelical megachurch. I certainly never remember a conversation about who was acceptable to sit with us.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Try Holy Trinity Brompton. Nicky Gumbel refuses to say who is acceptable.

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

But Alpha is not exclusively defined by HTB. It’s used by many different people around the world, and whether or not the HTB people like it, the users don’t all take the same approach.

John Davies
John Davies
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

Somebody said, a few years back, that they felt the 1960s were the last time that society generally felt a sense of hope; freedom to ask questions and challenge established ideas were the ‘new normal’, and I think Honest to God was part of that period. (I was born in ’53, and can remember the discussions about the book on BBC’s Meeting Point, but not in detail.) Unfortunately the world has changed since then – the sense of hope replaced by foreboding and fear – and at times like this people seek certainties, rather than debate. I can recall an… Read more »

Christopher
Christopher
Reply to  FrDavid H
6 months ago

I thought Colin’s article very timely. As a child of the 60’s it was many of the writers he mentioned who enabled me to hold on to a faith. And for many years there were enough people of apparently similar view in the hierarchy for me to feel part of the church, however much I might despair of it at times. Recently it seems that those expounding a much more fundamental/simplistic approach have virtually taken over. Having moved to the country on retirement I cannot believe how many absolutely ghastly sermons I have sat through – sometimes wanting to leave,… Read more »

Father David
Father David
6 months ago

Martine Oborne makes mention of the Five Guiding Principles in her article but what about the Five Senior Prelates? At present only 20% of the five top episcopal appointments is female (London). I would be surprised if a senior female diocesan wasn’t on the short list for York but was pipped at the post by Chelmsford, who was himself replaced by a preferred female suffragan in Essex and East London. Male Truro becomes Winchester so that means the top Five remain at 20% female. The next such opportunity to up the percentage to 40% will be at Durham. However, whoever… Read more »

Richenda
Richenda
Reply to  Father David
6 months ago

The current Bishop of Newcastle would certainly fulfil that description Fr David.

Fr Dean
Fr Dean
6 months ago

I’m bemused by the evident interest in episcopal musical chairs. These individuals male or male; queer or straight have presided over year on year decline in the CofE. It doesn’t seem to make any difference who is sat on the episcopal throne when the music stops.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Fr Dean
6 months ago

I agree. There’s not much point in having carefully selected bishops when there are no congregations over which they have oversight.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
6 months ago

“It is perfectly obvious that experience matters and that experience correlates with length of service.” There may be others on this TA thread with experience of discerning episcopal nominations, but this comment doesn’t seem to come from one of them. It is not a requirement that candidates for diocesan bishoprics should have been suffragans, nor therefore is it the case they should have held that office for a certain time. Skills and experience may have been acquired in many different ways, and from different ministries. ++Cantuar had been a diocesan for less than two years being being translated, and was… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Anthony Archer
Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

You misunderstand what I have said, Anthony.

Correlation is an observational statement. There is clearly a relationship between experience and length of time doing something. It is simply obtuse to deny that reality. That is an entirely different matter to saying length of service must be a calibrated factor in recruitment.

More generally, you seem to be resorting to a counsel of despair. If the pool of suffragan bishops is mediocre – on which point we agree – then the answer cannot be to find Diocesans with little or no episcopal experience.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Just to be clear, I have never suggested that the pool of suffragan bishops is mediocre. It is inevitably mixed and there are many who will never become diocesans. That’s just a practical reality. Where I and others disagree with you is on this thread is the relevance of your obsession with what you term the correlation between experience and length of time doing something. The ‘most experienced’ candidate, if that’s what you think a panel should be seeking, is rather a bare criterion. Discernment for episcopal office looks at myriad aspects of a candidate’s ministerial and pre-ordination career. Time… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

And it could be a negative correlation. In any field a professional who has completed advanced studies and with five years field experience could be more competent than someone with 15 years experience who is doddering around with dogeared notes and outdated knowledge. As a former archdeacon, I can tell you that there are are clergy who have had, say, experience in multiple parishes over 40 years; but have had pretty much the exact same problematic experience several times over. By contrast, a priest with less experience but better training and skills plus novel particular life experience could do a… Read more »

Kate Keates
Kate Keates
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

Well said. I feel the same when we get the regular moans that someone doesn’t have X years of parish experience. We get a more diverse house of bishops (in terms of outlook and experience) if we are open to multiple career paths.

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Kate Keates
6 months ago

The fact that path to bishop was not open for first 20 years of female priestly ministry means that female candidates for bishop tend to have built up plenty of parish ministry in their CVs. I would have though that this was a Good Thing.

Peter
Peter
6 months ago

Anthony, Rod, Kate,

You have entirely misunderstood my criticism of the piece by Martine Oborne.

I did not offer a view of any kind on how Diocesans should be selected.

Her piece implies that sexisn is the reason the majority of recent Diocesan appointments have been male.

I was drawing attention to the fact that sometimes in life there is more than one factor influencing events.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

“…in life there is more than one factor influencing events.” Just so. I’m responding to your focus on experience as time on the job i.e. here as earlier: ” It is perfectly obvious that experience matters and that experience correlates with length of service.” This seems to be the hill you have chosen to slug it out on. Experience in what sense? Brain surgeons and automotive technicians, as examples, can have ‘chunks of learning’ based on some accumulated experience post training. After several years of practice they can become intuitively adept at identifying problems quickly and correctly. However, per your… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

I am not “slogging it out” on any hill.

It is simply obtuse to ignore the objective reality that is the length of time a person has been involved in a particular set of activities.

My substantive point was and remains that interpreting the world through the single filter of sexism (as is clearly the case in the Oborne piece) is a mistake.

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

All that Martine has done is to point out that the dice are loaded on the selection committee & that the numbers of females getting through are ludicrously low. Your experience-based argument is a classic way of claiming that men have been chosen over women for all the right reasons. The same argument has been used in almost all professions, and has also been used to justify white promotion over blacks. In the CofE, where management skills are a complete joke, it is even more of a cop-out than usual.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Francis James
6 months ago

You misrepresent me.

I am saying it is perfectly possible that some of the men will have been chosen for some of the right reasons.

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Pointing out ludicrous bias in selection ratio in not misrepresentation, it is mathematical reality.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

There are likely lots of women priests who have never been suffragan bishops who based on other kinds of experience and skills will make excellent diocesans. For God’s sake, how hard can it be? But do try and hold that hill. In your initial comment you wrote: ” [women] are, in general, much less experienced than male suffragans. Therefore, one would expect to see more men appointed to Diocesan office…” Your assumption, which you have dug in with on subsequent comments, is that a quantitative amount of time as a suffragan ( you don’t specify the quantity but imply eight… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

I am not making a point about what Diocesans should or must have as previous experience. I am making a point about how we should interpret categories of data. If you go looking for mischief you will invariably find it, but that does nothing that helps anybody at all. The will be a set of reasons which explain the data that Oborne cites. No doubt sexism may be part of it. People (men and women) adopt unpleasant attitudes towards the opposite sex. It is wrong, but it happens. That does not mean we can discard our critical faculties and reduce… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

The analysis Martine Oborne offers in her article is coherent and clearly articulated referencing as it does the gap between high sounding policy statements and political reality. Sometimes questions do, in fact, have a single defining answer or point to a vector which rules out the significance of other marginal variables. Your arguments about the dearth of female suffragans with the ( in your opinion) dearth of experience among the same simply makes excuses for the problem Oborne is highlighting. Indeed when put in the perspective of sexism in the church your point can be seen to support rather than… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

What you articulate is the ideology of social justice, not Christianity

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

False dichotomies between Christianity and social justice aside, I’m simply agreeing with Oborne with regards to what appears to be so. Label it whatever you want. Oborne’s piece is hardly a political feminist discourse. Her analysis actually looks pretty pragmatic to me. Oborne’s conclusion reads: “All this implies that not only is there a long way to go in ridding the Church of discrimination on the grounds of sex but also there is something badly wrong with our governance and, in particular, how minority voices have gained such a lot of power in General Synod.” Your position appears to be… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

You make some reasonable points in your final paragraph.

I think eight years is too early to be crying foul. I accept you disagree but my point is not unreasonable.

My view is that there is now a diminished degree of seriousness in regard to episcopal preferment.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

We’ve hashed out the eight year business. Again, do you disagree with Oborne that there is a long way to go in ridding the church of discrimination based on sex? Your clear unequivocal answer to that would contextualize the apparent circumlocutions in your comments.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

There’s a huge amount of rubbish posted on this thread (I won’t say by whom). There are currently 21 women suffragans, excluding +Southampton. They have 3.6 years’ experience, on average (the range is 1-8 years), which means that (given CNC timetables and the time taken to translate) they will have on average at least five years’ experience were they to be translated to diocesan. At least six are, in my opinion, ‘ready now,’ and I reckon to know something about all of them. I would expect at the very least two to be appearing regularly now on shortlists. The problem… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Anthony Archer
Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

Look, Anthony Archer I truly appreciate your reply. ‘Full disclosure’ as it were. I have always supported the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopacy. I have a daughter who is a priest. Prior to retirement an archdeacon colleague of mine, a friend , and a person with advanced education excelling that of most of her peers, became first our suffragan and then our diocesan. My current bishop ( in retirement) is a woman, as is our current Primate. I realize that the Canadian situation of episcopal elections is very different from the selection process in the C… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

Rod, You appear to be asking me to disclose which “tribe” I belong to, because once you know that you will be able to make sense of not so much what I am saying as why I am saying it. I just don’t accept that view. Nor do I agree with the notion that my response to Oborne must reflect my religious motivations and be a failure to recognise that she is – in your words – “on the money” Her piece is weak because it flattens that which is complex in order to find a particular problem. It is… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Your final statement is a false dichotomy. Advocacy is often grounded in analysis. Oborne demonstrates the consequences of conservatives gaming the system.

TA can be like parliament i.e. there is a reason it is called ‘question period’ and not ‘answer period’.However, you’ve pretty much answered both my questions tacitly. The kind of rejoinder that your comments provide to Oborne evidence that she is indeed right. The C of E has a long way to go to rid itself of discrimination on the basis of sex. Anyway, I’m done with this circuitous discussion.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

We might actually make better sense of what you are saying if we knew who you were.

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

Thanks Rod. My comment wasn’t aimed at you! Yes, the ConEvos have form, and have gained in influence on the General Synod and its boards and councils since 2021, with predictable results. Their current game is to thwart LLF by whatever means are possible, whether legal or not. Those ‘tender consciences’ are beguiling!

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

Thanks, right. I didn’t think your comment was aimed at me. As I mentioned to the anonymous conservative commentator ‘Peter’, it’s called gaming the system. Unfortunately, in my experience, the institutional church is pretty much a sitting duck for obstructionist tactics.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Rod Gillis
6 months ago

I do wish you (and Anthony) would ease up on the tribalism.

Labelling me as a conservative is just a way of saying it’s obvious what I am going to think and say.

Play the ball and not the man.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

“Play the ball and not the man.” That sports analogy doesn’t work so well in martial arts where both you and your opponent are the ball. Sorry I can’t find an icon for a standing bow (rei), but be well Peter. -Rod

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

Actually it’s 23 women suffragans. There are eight vacancies. For transparency, I should disclose I am a member of WATCH.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

I am genuinely astonished by this analysis.

So your average female suffragan has served the equivalent of a curacy (that is 3.6 years) and you think that should be regarded as enough to be ready to be a Diocesan !

A Diocesan holds the most powerful office in the Church of England. (With two obvious exceptions)

For the avoidance of doubt I would take exactly the same view towards male suffragans.

Last edited 6 months ago by Peter
Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

I am so glad you take exactly the same view of male suffragans as female suffragans. Of the 10 most recent nominations to diocesan bishoprics of men (excluding translations of diocesans), the average tenure as a suffragan is 5.2 years. Two were not in episcopal orders (+Salisbury and the new +Birmingham), and the range for the others 5-9 years. You can think what you like about the analysis, or what experience is needed to be a diocesan bishop (you seem to know), but the reality is that there is little material difference between men and women in terms of their… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

I am more than happy to reach a view based on the data. Your evidence does validate Oborne’s argument. However, it is still reasonable to be surprised and disappointed by the evidence. Three to five years is just not that long. You obviously disagree, but you over state your position by being dismissive of my claim. To drive a steam train you needed ten years in the cabin behind you. (If you’re interested, the challenge was not operating the train – it was understanding the tracks over many hundreds of miles under many different weather conditions) Previous generations were not… Read more »

Last edited 6 months ago by Peter
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Well, it’s nice if you can get people appointed as bishops who have experience as suffragans, but I’d just like to point out that in many parts of the world that’s an expensive luxury, since most dioceses can’t afford to pay a suffragan bishop. Ergo, there aren’t many suffragans to pick from. Here in Canada, where dioceses elect their own bishops, successful candidates tend to be individuals who have won respect for their ministries in parishes and/or diocesan staff positions (mainly executive archdeacons, as most Canadian dioceses can’t afford many staff positions either). The bishop who brought me to the… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Hi Tim,

Good to hear from you and I hope you are well !

That is a really helpful reminder that affluence does shape our our outlook in England.

I am pretty gobsmacked by the data Anthony provided on episcopal length of service. (forgive my Northern vernacular).

I stand by my belief that previous generations knew what they were doing when they expected people to serve a decent apprenticeship but maybe the world has moved on !

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Doing fine, thank you, Peter. Cruising toward retirement at the end of the year.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
6 months ago

Tim, I’ve been retired for over a decade. I get up and embrace irrelevance every day. Lol. Lol.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Martine can hardly be criticised for representing through evidence the experiences of women and the church. The figures may not be everything but they are pretty powerful and undeniable, however others may seek to deny/ excuse them and their effect on women. I am happy to be corrected but, IIUC, the current Bishop of London was Suffragan bishop of Crediton for only four years. She is still only one of six of the 26 Lords Spiritual. Some way to go for gender equality yet.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  God 'elp us all
6 months ago

I’m not criticising her for representing the experiences of women in the church.

I’m criticising her for treating sexism as the filter through which everything must be viewed. That is an entirely different matter

Anthony Archer
Anthony Archer
Reply to  God 'elp us all
6 months ago

Yes, Peter has dug a hole and is not taking the usual advice to stop digging. I believe there to be considerable discrimination against women in the Church of England, including in the Crown Nominations Commission. Professor Oliver O’Donovan’s report Discerning in Obedience was commissioned following some shocking behaviour during the 2012-2017 CNC. Mercifully in my time this discrimination didn’t adversely influence a nomination. Not knowing who Peter is, I don’t know whether he has any experience of discerning nominations to the episcopate, but I assume not. In fact Dame Sarah Mullally was only Bishop of Crediton for less than… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Anthony Archer
6 months ago

Anthony you persist in mis representing me. I am not making a point about the episcopal discernment process.

I am making a point about the general conclusions Oborne wanted to reach about the figures.

If you think there is discrimination that is obviously important. You don’t need to rubbish other perspectives

Last edited 6 months ago by Peter
April
April
Reply to  Peter
6 months ago

Baroness Perry in her report (c1999) on the working of the CNC pointed out the differences in the nature of the job for a Suffragan/Area bishop and a Diocesan and strongly recommended that the CNC should look for a much wider pool of possible candidates. Professor O’Donovan (see Anthony Archer above) in his report made the same comment and also recommended casting the net much more widely. Coming back to the Equality Act (2010) I agree that the legislation is complicated especially when it comes to exemptions for religious groups. It appears to allow religious groups to persist in allowing… Read more »

Peter
Peter
Reply to  April
6 months ago

For what it’s worth, I would very much prefer a female bishop who is faithful to doctrine to a male bishop who is all over the place on doctrine.

Having said that, I’m not going back into the tiger country that is the argument over the meaning of the term orthodox.

Peter
Peter
6 months ago

Oborne’s piece is sounder than I had realised.

The reason is that i would never have believed it possible that people are being given one of the most important offices in our public and constitutional life after about the same apprenticeship as a curacy.

If that means I am wrong, so be it

Last edited 6 months ago by Peter
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