Women in the Church of England

The Independent on Sunday carried this article

‘Even outstanding women struggle to rise in the CofE’ which refers to a Westminster Hall debate to be held tomorrow, Tuesday, of which information is now available here:

Tuesday 28 February Subjects proposed to be raised on the Motion for the Adjournment: 9.30 am – 11.00 am Diana Johnson Women in the Church of England.

A press release from WATCH  (Women and the Church) : Monday 27 February 2012

Parliament to debate Sex Discrimination in the Church.

On Tuesday morning there will be a Westminster Hall debate on Sex Discrimination and the Church of England. Currently the Church of England, along with other religions, has specific exemption from some parts of the Equality Act 2010. This includes the right to discriminate against women in appointing clergy to parishes and in appointing bishops.

The current draft legislation that will allow women to be bishops includes continued exemption from the Equality Act, so that women may still not be appointed to some parishes, and will have to delegate their care of such parishes to a male bishop.

This debate is an opportunity for MPs to consider whether it is right that the Established Church should continue to be exempt from Sex Discrimination law.

Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH, said ‘WATCH has always worked towards ending sex discrimination in the Church of England, and is delighted that the subject will be aired in this way.

Most people in this country would be astonished to realise that the Established Church is allowed to enshrine sex discriminatory provisions in law when that has been against public policy for over thirty years. Having women as bishops will be an important step on the journey to full inclusion – but there’s a long road ahead of us’.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 26 February 2012


Thanks to Simon Sarmiento of ‘Thinking Anglicans, for this report of a Meeting to take place in Westminster, on Tuesday, 28 Feb. 2012 at 09.30 GMT.

This will be an opportunity for British Parliamentarians to reflect on the situation of Women in the Church of England, as the Church works towards its seminal debate on the issue of the Ordination of Women Bishops.

Already in process is a General-Synod-sponsored charge upon the House of Bishops to amend the original ‘Code of Practice’ passed by G.S. in a previous sitting that would allow a Woman Diocesan Bishop the right to invite another Bishop (neither female nor an advocate of female bishops)  to exercise episcopal ministry in her diocese, on her behalf, to those who will not, in all conscience, accept her ministry directly.

What the amended ‘Code’ might be is anyone’s guess, but is likely to by-pass the Woman Diocesan Bishop’s authority, by direct intervention from an archiepiscopal surrogate ‘Provisional Episcopal Visitor’ who will operate independently of the Diocesan Bishop – if she is a Woman.

What this parliamentary debate on Tuesday might do, hopefully, is make Members of Parliament aware of the implications of just such a limitation on the authority of a Woman Bishop to make her own decisions about who may, or may not, offer episcopal ministry on her behalf in her diocese. 

To allow an extra-diocesan bishop (PEV) to act independently of a woman diocesan bishop’s authority in her diocese, would be to set up a two-tier episcopal ministry in the Church of England. This would be unique in the life of the Anglican Communion.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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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1 Response to Women in the Church of England

  1. Brother David says:

    I think that it does more than establish a two-tier episcopacy in the CoE, I think it wrecks complete havoc on the theology of the bishop as the chief pastor in her diocese. It sets both laity and clergy in her jurisdiction free to do away with her completely, as if she did not exist, in a manner unthinkable for most male bishops in the same established church. That is a church apart. Part of the CoE in name only and in communion with but parts of the CoE and not in communion with other parts of the CoE. And technically, why draw the line at just women bishops? Why not also allow folks to opt out of the jurisdiction of the male bishops who ordain women as priests, or worse, participate in the consecration of women bishops? Why not a multi-tiered CoE, with an unfathomable number of in communion, non-communion statuses? Why not a church were you did not know from one minute to the next, who the bloody hell was in or not in communion with whom?

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