CHURCH TIMES – Latest on Women Bishops in C.of E.

Most dioceses back women legislation

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Sharing: the Bishop of El Camino Real, in California, presides at a eucharist as part of the “Transformations” conference on women’s ministry, hosted by the Archbishop of Canterbury, last month LAMBETH PALACE
A MAJORITY of dioceses have now backed the draft legislation on women bishops, which means that it will now return to the General Synodfor debate and a final-approval vote next year.On Monday, Truro became the 29th of the 44 Church of England dioceses to vote in favour of the draft legislation, after yes votes by the dioceses of Carlisle, Blackburn, Nor­wich, Rochester, St Albans, Wake­field, and Winchester over the weekend. Just two dioceses, Chi­chester and London, have voted against the proposals so far.

The main motion, which all synods have to vote on by houses and without amendment, reads: “That this synod approves the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and or­dination of women) Measure and in draft Amending Canon Number 30.” This needs to be carried by both the houses of laity and clergy in the diocesan synod in order to be carried.

A following motion, put forward by the Church of England Evan­gelical Council (CEEC), asks for further provision for opponents of women bishops, and for the House of Bishops to ensure that those unable to accept women bishops “receive episcopal oversight from a bishop with authority (i.e. ordinary jurisdiction) conferred by the Measure rather than by delegation from a diocesan bishop”.

A total of 25 out of the 31 dioceses that have voted have also rejected this following motion.

The Chichester vote was lost in the House of Clergy by five votes, and the House of Laity by four. The vote in London was even tighter: the main motion fell in the House of Clergy by two votes.

Sally Barnes, from the cam­paign­ing group Women and the Church, said that it was pleased with the results, but remained cautious. She recalled the introduction of the Act of Synod in 1993, and said she feared the creation of a “two-tier bishopric”.

At the Forward in Faith National Assembly last weekend (story, below), the CEEC following motion was supported; but delegates were also told of a motion effectively to reconsider the Archbishops’ amend­ment from July 2010, which, if passed by the Synod in February, might also encourage the Bishops to amend the draft Measure before it comes back for final approval.

The remaining 13 dioceses are scheduled to carry out their votes within the next three weeks.

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Forward in Faith sets hopes on Bishops’changes

Glyn Paflin reports from the FiF UK National Assembly

DELEGATES at the Forward in Faith (FiF) UK National Assembly in London last weekend were urged to nurture vocations, to sign up to the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, and to be of good cheer. “Our situation looks a lot more hopeful than it did a year ago, and indeed the situation for the Church of England looks a lot more hopeful, too,” Canon Simon Killwick, who chairs the Catholic Group in the General Synod, told them on Friday.

It was the first national assembly under new leadership. A number of absences were explicable by members’ having joined the RC Ordinariate; others were at diocesan synods debating the draft legislation for women bishops, which FiF seeks to amend.

But the former chairman, now a Roman Catholic, Mgr John Broadhurst, was seated among the rank and file with his wife, as were other “Ordinariate observers”.

The new secretary, the Revd Ross Northing, suggested that in the past a more conciliatory note ought to have been struck. “Unfortunately, while seeking to be obedient to scripture and the consensus of the Church Catholic, from time to time many of us have spoken too harshly and too rashly about those who do not share our understanding of the Universal Church’s understanding of this matter. It behoves us to speak and act charitably. We want to move forward in faith rather than, as some have said of us, ‘backward in bitterness’.”

Equally, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, as the new chairman, asked why FiF was a sort of ecclesiastical Marmite. For 20 years, they had made the case for a continuing home in the C of E for those who believed passionately in the apostolic min­istry, and who wanted to flourish and contribute to the common life and mission.

Perhaps we have sometimes presented too sharp or too rebarb­ative a face to the world. But this has been a process that has often been lacking in charity and a willingness to see the best in others on all sides.”

It was the last assembly, Fr Northing said, before the Synod intended to vote on a measure that threatened disruption, as the Arch­bishop of Canterbury had himself warned. “Ecumenical consequences and isolation are clearly very real prospects.”

FiF members feared the “demise of the Church of England”, and wanted to help people to be loyal to the faith. The territory that the Synod was considering entering was inconsistent with the faith as the C of E had received it, he said.

Canon Killwick, however, was encouraged that the draft legislation looked likely to fall short of the nece­ssary two-thirds majority in the House of Laity unless it was amended. “Many members of Gen­eral Synod are uneasy about this legislation as it stands. They recog­nise that, if it is not amended, there will be a train crash, whichever way the vote goes.”

The House of Bishops was the only body that could now amend it. So FiF supported a following motion from the Church of England Evan­gelical Council. Although this was likely to be carried in a handful of diocesan synods, Canon Killwick said, “Sadly, this is not enough to encourage the House of Bishops to do the decent thing and amend the legislation.”

In some diocesan synods, where they had had no one to put their case, “the debate has not been about the legislation itself: it’s simply been about the principle of women bishops in its own right.” But in others where FiF was better repres­ented, “We may not have carried the day, but we have gathered significant support, and that does rather refute the claim by WATCH that the draft legislation is receiving overwhelming or unanimous support.”

He was aware of another follow­ing motion that called on the Synod effectively to reconsider the Arch­bishops’ amendment from July 2010 (lost in the House of Clergy). “We are already virtually guaranteed a debate on this new following motion in the General Synod in February of next year. If a majority of General Synod pass it, it will hugely encourage the House of Bishops to do the decent thing, the Anglican thing, and amend the legislation.”

The Archbishops’ amendment would provide for complementary bishops with oversight in their own right, not delegated, who would have to act in close partnership with the diocesan bishop.

This was a compro­mise “in the best tradition . . . be­cause it could enable the Church to move forward with women bishops, and at the same time keep most of her loyal members on board.” He prayed for a positive debate in February, and for wise counsel in the House of Bishops. “We can now see how a win-win position could be achieved.”

The Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett, told the As­sembly that the new Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda was not an attempt to produce an alternative to the Ordinariate, but to meet the needs of those driven by conscience to remain in the C of E.

They wanted bishops who were truly their fathers-in-God, who could empower them in mission. “The idea that we can answer to any bishop, regardless of gender or orthodoxy, and then be grateful for someone whom we regard as being genuinely a bishop being parachuted in for us to undertake certain sacra­mental actions falls far short of a truly Catholic understanding of the episcopate. I might add, in passing, that the present legislation does not even propose that level of sacra­mental and pastoral care for us.”

The Assembly also heard about the New Oxford Movement, which has been started by young members of FiF; and heard reports from overseas traditionalists.

About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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2 Responses to CHURCH TIMES – Latest on Women Bishops in C.of E.

  1. kiwianglo says:

    Chichester and London were two Church of England dioceses that most Anglicans expected would have voted NO to Women Bishops. Surprisingly, the Truro (Cornwall) Diocese) voted YES! The reason for this surprise (re Truro) is that this was the one-time diocese of the former Bishop of London, whose opposition to women’s ordination moved him to enter the Roman Catholic Church.

    The reason for London and Chichester’s opposition to Women in Ministry is that both dioceses of the C.of E. are strongholds of the more militant Anglo–Catholics whose opposition to women in the ordained ministry of the Church is based on sacred tradition. Mostly, these militant A.C.s belong to the organisation called ‘Forward in Faith’ – dubbed by their more liberal colleagues as ‘Backward in Despair’. The reason for this antipathy is that the F.i.F. clergy are fearful of a takeover by women in the ministry and leadership of the Church.

    In the second article here, F.i.F. is shown as clearly hoping for a continuation of the un-catholic and potentially divisive scheme whereby parishes opposed to women clergy have had access to ‘untainted episcopal oversight’, provided by what the Church has been pleased to call P.E.Vs, or Provisional Episcopal Visitors, (usually known for their opposition to women clergy) – bishops ordained by the Provincial Archbishops to administer the sacraments of Holy Orders and Confirmation in dissident parishes.

    The oddity here is that even the P.E.V.s. may have hands laid upon them by bishops who have, themselves, ordained women clergy, and are therefore not entirely ‘untainted’.- a term that might describe precisely what those demanding their ministry do not require of them.

    The big questions are:
    (1) whether the General Synod of the Church of England in 2012 will actually bring the necessary legislation for Women Bishops into being, because, though there may be a majority of Diocesan Synods for the Measure; the final decision lies with General Synod.

    (2) Despite the majority of Diocesan Synods who have voted on the issue so far having turned down requests for alternative provision (P.E.V.s) for dissenters; there may still be pressure brought upon the Archbishops and General Synod by F.i.F. and other dissenters to make some conciliatory Special Provision for them – in order to keep them in the Church of England.

    One can now expect in the months before general Synod for various attempts to be made to be made by ++Canterbury & ++York, and the remaining members of F.i.F. who did not join the R.C. Ordinariate, to offer some sort of amending legislation to allow for alternative provision.

  2. Brother David says:

    ‘Forward in Faith’ – dubbed by their more liberal colleagues as ‘Backward in Despair’

    That is as funny as our nickname for the vicious website Stand Firm in Faith. We call it Viagraville.

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