Sunday morning we attended the service at York Minster. John Sentamu preached, largely on the parable of the Good Samaritan. Rowan Williams looked harrowed during the service, as he did in chamber yesterday. (I may do a further post tomorrow on media comments - with which I disagree- suggesting the Archbishops have lost authority over this defeat.) I met Justin Brett over coffee, see this great take on the women bishops debate from Justin Brett here as well as some interesting comment, offering a different perspective on his blog generally.
Colin Coward, Boby Egbele and I went on to a WATCH lunch and meeting. There was much discussion of yesterday's events. Many of WATCH had found the process painful, it is not nice for people to witness the distress of others, nor to hear themselves accused of a lack of generosity.
It should be pointed out that, contrary to some comments and reports in the media, there IS provision made for those opposed to the ministry of women. Traditionalists may not feel these proposals go far enough, but they are very substantial in comparison to the concessions that would be made in any other sphere. It is not unjust to say that, for some of those opposed, nothing would go far enough. It should be noted that the recommendation of the Revision Committee still represent a significant compromise for those who would dearly love to see genuine equality with no curtailing of women's rights to fully exercise episcopal ministry and authority.
Yesterday was most significant; tomorrow is also important, particularly in light of clause 2 and, possibly to a lesser extent, clause 7. Clause 2 relates to the single measure and there was some discussion at the WATCH meeting around this. Clause 7 is also interesting, this emphasises the Church's exemption from the equality act. There are some signs that the Church is nervous about its legal position on women bishops, perhaps not now, but with an eye to future amendments or clarifications of equality legislation. It is worth noting that the Revision Committee's decision to go back to the table and reconsider statutory vesting may have been influenced by the debate in the Commons which took place in November during their deliberations.
The Church of England is in a strange position if, as the established Church of the Realm, it asks Parliament to pass legislation which allows the kind of gender discrimination that is illegal in all other institutions. I believe it is also morally in a quandary as it would seem not to be practising what it preaches, to be asking others to do as it says, but not as it actually does.