Sunday, 20 May 2012

Not at any cost

WATCH stall at York Synod last year
"There will be interventions" I wrote yesterday on the subject of the legislation being considered by the House of Bishops tomorrow and Tuesday, and this morning we woke up to the news that a petition has been organised  by a group called Proper Provision  which has the signatures of over 2,000 women who wish to see greater concessions to the opponents to women bishops in the draft measure which will go before Synod in July. My words yesterday were not actually that prophetic as I was stating what was pretty much a foregone conclusion. The names are drawn largely from the evangelical churches which have large numbers - both male and female - who believe in the idea of male headship.
However, WATCH has already stated its position and I hope and believe it will hold its ground. The provisions already seen within the draft measure are substantial concessions. To have women bishops on a wholly unequal basis to male bishops in the church is not just, but leaving that aside, it is not practicable and will create a legacy of division and the potential to undermine authority and callings which will damage the church  both in the immediate and long term. I was inspired at Synod in July to hear Bishop Victoria Matthews speak so intelligently and reassuringly about how she has worked productively in Christchurch with many who are deeply opposed to women's ministry - and that is without even so much as a Code of Practice.
I hope that Synod has the courage to continue on its course and implement legislation which has been discussed, debated and finally approved by 42 out of 44 dioceses. If it does not, I hope there will be the courage to say no. We want women bishops, that does not mean we want them at any cost.


  1. You were right of course, the bishops have made amendments and a group is now looking at whether those amendments will mean the legislation cannot be brought to Synod in July at all. I really don't know what the bishops were thinking - a relatively small and very unrepresentative group of people to attempt to overturn the broad consensus of the vast majority of Anglicans, reached over many years of discussion and negotiation. It passes all understanding.

    It would certainly be better not to go ahead at all, than to go ahead with female bishops unequal to male bishops. But some MPs have indicated that the House of Commons will step in if satisfactory legislation is not passed, and passed soon.

    The tragedy is that the best qualified candidate for Canterbury is Victoria Matthews, and she's disqualified simply because she's got the wrong kind of genitalia!

    Iffy Vicar

  2. Indeed! I think there is also a major issue of transparency, for the Archbishops to be meddling with the legislation behind closed doors at the eleventh hour (again) just seems insane, especially when the amendments are then declared not to be a substantial change (why tinker then?) by a group of only six people- and so does not need to be voted on.
    I think there is also (unsurprisingly) a lack of trust on this issue. At some point both "sides" are going to have to let go of the legislation and try to trust each other and trust that Christian grace will see us through. That is where we could do with someone of Victoria Matthew's calibre to help us through.

  3. And two of the group of six are the Archbishops! The thing stinks, I'm really losing my patience with the CofE. How can we hope for change with such a closed shop?

    Still, amazing what the Holy Spirit can do! Might take a bursting wineskin, though, and then a new wineskin altogether....

    Iffy Vicar

  4. Yes, hang in there (that's what I am sort of doing anyway.) It is hard not to despair though:)