England: Synod approves next steps for women to become bishops
From the Church of England
The General Synod of the Church of England has today approved a package of measures as the next steps to enable women to become bishops.
In the debate in the morning session the synod welcomed the package of proposals outlined in the report of the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation of Women in the Episcopate (GS 1924).
The Steering Committee’s package of proposals follows the mandate set by the synod in July and includes the first draft of a House of Bishops declaration and a disputes resolution procedure. This debate invited synod to welcome the proposals and the five guiding principles, already agreed by the House of Bishops, which underpin them.
Proposing the package of measures Bishop James Langstaff of Rochester said: “These measures look to the day when the Church of England as an ecclesial entity will have made a clear decision to open all orders of ministry to women and men without distinction, whereby all those so ordained are true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy.”
The following motion was carried this morning with 378 votes for, eight against and 25 abstentions:
‘That this Synod, welcoming the package of proposals in GS 1924 and the statement of principles endorsed by the House of Bishops at paragraph 12 of GS 1886, invite the House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consultation in February a draft declaration and proposals for a mandatory disputes resolution procedure which build on the agreement reached by the Steering Committee as a result of its facilitated discussions.”
In its afternoon session, the synod also voted to progress the legislation to the next legislative stage of revision at its meeting in February 2014.
As a result of the votes carried today, synod has agreed to dispense with the normal Revision Committee process and move straight to revision in full at synod which next meets in February 2014, thereby clearing the way for a possible vote on final approval later in 2014.
[Editor’s note: To date 35 women have been consecrated bishop in the Anglican Communion. Of these, 25 are currently serving. As at 20 November 2013, three Anglican women are bishops-elect.]
The most important paragraph of this statement from the Church of England General Synod is here:
“In its afternoon session, the synod also voted to progress the legislation to the next legislative stage of revision at its meeting in February 2014.
As a result of the votes carried today, synod has agreed to dispense with the normal Revision Committee process and move straight to revision in full at synod which next meets in February 2014, thereby clearing the way for a possible vote on final approval later in 2014.”
At long last, the Church of England looks to be within sight of ordaining its first women bishops. All that needs to happen now, for this to take place, will be the implementation of the delicate business of sorting out what the special ‘Code of Practice’ with consist of – in order to gain the support of those in the Church whose theological objections to women in Holy Orders can be accommodated within the system.
The date of the next round of negotiations will be coming around quite quickly – with the normal Revision Commission process being put aside, in order to expedite the necessary legislative package to be brought to fruition. After the long delays in getting to this point, it must be acknowledged that, at last, the fears that the Church of England might reasonably be perceived as still lingering in the culture of endemic patriarchalism could be put aside.
Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand