Saturday, 8 May 2010

Revision Committee publish report

The Revision Committee set up to oversee the legislation for the admission of women to the Episcopate has now published its 142 page report. The document is fairly heavy going, but does prove fascinating reading (...but maybe only if you are as sad as I am...) as it gives some glimpse of the pressures the Committee faced both externally and internally. The document describes the "traffic light" system that was used, and reveals a certain defensiveness over the charges that the Committee delayed matters and acted outside its remit in the controversial vote of October 8th. The decision to allow statutory transfer is defended as having been "not taken lightly" and that they were "decisions that were perfectly in order for us to take" and that the public statement on October 8th "commanded support right across the Committee" - the tone seems just a tad touchy on those points, I think!

What is also clear is that the committee clearly did not anticipate the controversy their decision would cause. They write that "within 24 hours f the 8th October vote there was some uncertainty as to how definitive it would prove. The green light was already shining less brightly."

The report also goes on to describe the impact of the Vatican's intention to establish Personal Ordinariates on 3rd November and the Parliamentary debate on 11th of November on sex discrimination in religious organisations." It outlines how various pressures led them finally to reverse the decision on November 23rd. It really is a fascinating account of a volte-face.

The bulk of the report covers in detail proposals for a statutory Code of Practice and, as I understand it, there is an added statutory duty on bishops to draw up diocesan schemes in line with the Code of Practice. The C o E website offers a helpful outline.

The pressure group Women and the Church (WATCH), whose former chair Christina Rees has been replaced by the Rev'd Rachel Weir, has welcomed the report and will be examining the details over the next few days. The legislation will be debated at Synod in July and will then have to return to diocesan synods and back to General Synod. For those who are longing for a green light that really means "walk", the earliest we are likely to see women consecrated as bishops is in 2014.

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