Statement on Women in the Episcopate from the House of Bishops of the Church of England
21 May 2013
At its meeting in York the House of Bishops of the Church of England has committed itself to publishing new ways forward to enable women to become bishops.
In its discussion on the issue of women in the episcopate, the House received and approved for publication the report from the Working Group on Women in the Episcopate which was set up on 11 December to prepare new legislative proposals following the General Synod’s rejection of the last legislation on 20 November 2012.
The report of the Working Group presented four new options as a way forward and proposed that the General Synod should consider those options at its meeting in July. The Working Group also proposed a timetable which would involve the legislation starting its formal stages in the Synod in November and receiving Final Approval in 2015.
The House of Bishops has agreed that the report of the Working Group should be published with a separate report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House setting out the House’s recommendations to the General Synod. The House has also asked the Business Committee of the General Synod to arrange for a substantial amount of time to be available at the General Synod in July for facilitated conversations in small groups before the Synod comes to a decision on the way forward.
The House also approved the necessary changes in its standing orders to ensure the attendance of senior women clergy at its meetings. These changes were proposed following the House’s decision at its meeting in December to ensure the participation of senior female clergy in its meetings until such time as there are six female members of the house, following the admission of women to the episcopate.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento – ‘Thinking Anglicans‘ – on Tuesday, 21 May 2013
Perhaps the most important indicator of the seriousness with which the Mother Church of England’s House of Bishops have now considered the issue of forthcoming legislation that will provide for Women Bishops in the Church, is their decision to allow ‘senior women clergy’ to attend House of Bishops’ Meetings, prior to passage of the legislation – until ‘such time as there are six female members of the house, following the admission of women to the episcopate’.
This phrase, occurring in the final paragraph of this article, seems more than hopeful of the legislation being passed by the November Synod, which would enable Women Bishops to join their male counterparts in the House of Bishops in 2015. When this finally happens, the Church of England will nearly have caught up with some of its fellow Provinces in the world-wide Anglican Communion on issues of gender and sexuality.
The only outstanding worry, for some members of the Church is whether or not there will be provision made for continuing discrimination against women’s ministry in the Church of England by finagling the legislation to accommodate dissenters.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand