Comments: Women Bishops: bishops' votes

The Catholics understand women bishops are coming - even though priests and bishops do not square yet with holy tradition. Their opponents ridicule them and clearly are not hot on ecclesiology. The most surprising absolute traitor in this list is Stephen Platten and the Bishop of Derby (Our Lady of Derby pray for us). The others - Portsmouth, Carlisle, Chelmsford, Southwark, Bristol, Liverpool, Gloucester and Birmingham are not so surprising (though their clergy I am sure will be surprised and ought to face them with consequences)

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 11:42pm BST

Oh - and I forgot the Bishop of Oxford. Which is the godliest and holiest men amongst their ranks?

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 11:45pm BST

PPS And the most pleasant surprise was to read the voting record of the Bishop of Lincoln who turns out to be a true liberal and not as bigoted as some of his fellow bishops in trying to unchurch his opponents. He is spot on as well in his opposition to the appalling Covenant.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 16 July 2008 at 11:48pm BST

A big hip, hip, hurrah to Peter and Simon for providing us up-to-the-minute media reports and other coverage of the past several IMPORTANT months and weeks! Thanks, guys.

Posted by Jay Vos at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 12:44am BST

Interesting exercise trying to discern the politics of these votes.

The Catholic minded bishops, +London, +Rochester, +Europe, and +Beverley voted as expected, but on the crucial point, amendment 72, which would have allowed some latitude for placating traditionalists, they were let down by figures such as +Chichester (perhaps not surprising given his weakness in failing to censure his arch-Calvinist suffragan +Lewes).

Striking also is the way that the ABC voted with the Catholics on almost all amendments, which makes it all the more surprising that many present felt he was unclear in giving guidance.

++York, on the other hand, voted pretty much with the liberal wing.

+Durham seems to have sat in his bunker and hoped to push off any decision to another day, though his vote against amendment 72 was crucial.

Posted by John Omani at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 3:35am BST

"The most surprising absolute traitor in this list is"

Traitor? Is that really acceptable language for anyone participating in this vote? Whatever we may feel about women bishops, using language that conjures up images of war, of hostile countries and betrayal is wrong when we speak of our brothers and sisters in Christ, however deeply we may wish they thought and believed differently.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 9:12am BST

Here's what puzzles me (well, one of the many things that puzzle me about this), neil says that Platten is an 'absolute traitor' for the way he voted. Yet he also says that Saxbee is 'a true liberal and not as bigoted as some of his fellow bishops in trying to unchurch his opponents'. As far as I can see, Saxbee and Platten voted in exactly the same way on every single point, except the move to adjourn. Am I missing something?

Posted by poppy tupper at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 10:38am BST

Poppy - sorry I misread the list:
Sorry I read the list wrong re John Saxbee:

TOTAL TRAITORS (no provision for opponents inc. wanting to require 2/3 majority even for code of practise) Lincoln, Portsmouth, Chelmsford, Oxford, Gloucester, Wakefield

TRAITORS (no provision for opponents but accept code of practise with a majority) Carlisle, Derby, Southwark, Bath and Wells, Hereford, Birmingham, Southwark, Bristol

Erika - war is indeed what is waged by bishops who have reneged on promises/guarantees/assurances/commitments already given to their opponents. The total traitors are those who cannot abide holy tradition and would be first to unchurch others and kick them out. The traitors again have reneged on promises, but at least seem to want to allow the possibility of a code of practise, but which in their case would probably not to be worth the paper it will be written on. History has proved that! Trad Catholics have never tried to rid the church of those they disagree with.

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 1:31pm BST

I still object to your language.
Go to a real war zone and tell the people there that our bishops are waging a war against their own congregations.
Go to a place where people are physically driven out of their homelands and tell them that your bishop is trying to kick you out of your church because he believes you should get used to some people being consecrated.

Now, I'm not a particular friend of the Bishop of Bath and Wells, it is because of him that I am not allowed to be as active in my church as I would like to be.
But he is a man of deep convictions, he is gentle and kind. According to my personal views, he is misguided in some aspects of church life, infused with the Spirit in others.

We disagree often, I have paid a high price for not conforming to some of his beliefs. And I will continue to campaign against his stance on lgbt Christians.
But he is not a traitor. He is a man of integrity, and he is our brother in Christ.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 2:10pm BST

'war is indeed what is waged by bishops who have reneged on promises/guarantees/assurances/commitments already given to their opponents. The total traitors are those who cannot abide holy tradition and would be first to unchurch others and kick them out.'

Well, yes, the liberal bishops have behaved as total hypocrites, and failed to uphold their professed belief in a broad church, or to respect what is the faith of the historic communions. It is sadly clear they are no longer interested in restoring eucharistic unity with the Catholic or Orthodox churches. For Anglicans who do wish such an outcome, there is little choice now but to hold out and see what Benedict XIV may offer them by way of an Anglican rite, or better still join the Western Rite Antiochan Orthodox Church in Britain, which was set up to receive traditional Anglicans in 1995.

'Trad Catholics have never tried to rid the church of those they disagree with.'

Unfortunately, that is exactly what FiF tried to do by entering into an unholy alliance with Reform and the 'Global South'. I've never understood what they thought they would gain from allying with the uncompromising bigotry of these groups. Now, when they plead for tolerance and latitude, it is hardly surprising that sympathy is running low.

Posted by John Omani at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 2:28pm BST

neil, thank you for the clarification. I shall now raise my glass tonight to the health of Lincoln, Portsmouth, Chelmsford, Oxford, Gloucester, Wakefield.

Posted by poppy tupper at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 2:56pm BST

Perhaps toast the Bishop of London too, who seems to be a man of his word:
'The question remains of how to honour the promises made when women were
ordained to the priesthood that those who could not accept the decision
of General Synod as one authorised by scripture and tradition would
continue to have a secure and honoured place in the life of our church.
It was clear from the debate on Monday that there are profound doubts
about whether a national code of practice could provide such a "secure
and honoured place".
With all this in mind I am summoning a Sacred Synod for those who wish
to consult about how to reaffirm and reinvigorate the London Plan. We
shall be able to discuss the potential of the Plan for keeping open that
"secure and honoured place" which has been promised to those who share
the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all the
nations but whose convictions do not enable them to accept that the
consecration of women as bishops is authorised by scripture or

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 3:22pm BST

John - I neither belong to nor support all the actions of FiF Reform or the Global South, the last two of which clearly wish to unchurch people and would kick them out given the chance. Your analysis fails in that FiF has never had the aim of taking the church over, or refusing to allow those who believe in the ordination of women to prosper. The body arose simply as one which wished for survival with integrity. And the huge majority of trad Catholics have indeed shown tolerance cooperation respect and latitude to the pro-women CofE which has reigned in the last 20 years. This is why there is a huge sense of betrayal by, yes Erika, traitors.

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 3:36pm BST

Neil, while actually agreeing with much of what you say - I think you're being hard on +Birmingham. I was present at York and he spoke and voted in favour of the new dioceses option and against the whole thing at the end. I'd like to know why so many were absent though

Posted by Ian at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 4:15pm BST

Well, Ian, as Peter has already pointed out Salisbury is on sick leave, Leicester was on House of Lords duty, and Coventry was only consecrated last week, and may well not have completed the formalities to take up his seat in the house.

That leaves Ely, Chester and the bishop of Sodor and Man.

3 unexplained absentees is not so very many.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 4:29pm BST

Ian - I apologise a second time. Bishop David of Birmingham I read on the wrong line plus I left out Liverpool from the list of those who 'failed to uphold their professed belief in a broad church'. The key lines I am interested in (though I realise it is more complex) are 72 (Packer) and how it realtes to 20 (final vote)

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 4:37pm BST

I was surprised there was no debate on the Tablet leader:
'If one tries to be prophetic without at the same time being traditional, what weight does it have? On whose behalf is one being prophetic? It is one thing to say that the entire thrust of Christian history leads ultimately to the conclusion that ordination to the priesthood and episcopacy should be open to either sex. It is quite another to say that the thrust of Christian history can be ignored if it does not point that way. Indeed, if such ordination is advocated as an act of justice to women, it gains far more from being a historical culmination than from being a historical departure. If the price of victory is to force tradition into unconditional surrender then it becomes a somewhat pyrrhic one, all the more so if it is widely depicted as Christian faith being forced to bow the knee to secular post-Christian values. That is the danger in saying, as some at the General Synod did this week, that if the Church of England does not allow women bishops it will look ridiculous in the eyes of society at large. Instead, the question ought to be: does what is proposed look ridiculous in the eyes of tradition? On that, the debate is far from over.'

The shame is also that the debate has hardly begun in those Churches who historically have best guarded holy tradition...and what a great day it would be if women's ordination sprang from tradition as a culmination rather than a departure.

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 5:51pm BST

7 July was Tynwald Day this year, and the Bishop of Sodor and Man was on the Isle of Man taking part.

Posted by Peter Owen at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 6:05pm BST

Is that a better excuse, or a worse excuse than being on duty in the House of Lords?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 6:12pm BST

A slightly better excuse, I think.

The bishop of Sodor and Man is an ex officio member of the upper house of the Manx parliament, Tynwald. I understand that he is expected to take a full part in its proceedings and that this takes a significant fraction of his time. On Tynwald Day there is a joint meeting of the two houses of Tynwald and the acts passed during the previous year are promulgated. The Lord of Mann or her representative (this year the Princess Royal) presides. There is a religious service at which the bishop gives the blessing. I doubt that it is done for him to send his apologies for absence with the excuse that he has a more important appointment elsewhere.

The House of Lords can function without the bishops as there is provision for someone else to read the prayers at the beginning of the day's business if no bishops are present.

Posted by Peter Owen at Thursday, 17 July 2008 at 8:18pm BST

Motion 76 that inserted the qualification 'statutory' for the Code of Practice was carried. No votes are shown. Was this because it was a show of hands. How significant is this qualification?

Posted by Brian at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 9:23am BST

Yes Brian it was a show of hands. Its significance is questionable. It seems to mean that it is statutory for the Bishops to have a Code of Practice but not statutory for them to apply it (indeed Synod threw out the option of forcing Bishops to " follow" it and settled on them simply "having regard" for it). It was confirmed (I think by the vicar general of York) during Synod that for a Parish to challenge a Bishop if he or she had not applied the Code of Practice would involve a judicial review - how many parishes could afford that?

Posted by Ian at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 10:42am BST

Here is what the proposer of the motion said about it:
(from last week's report in the Church Times)

Jacqueline Humphreys (Bristol) moved an amendment to make the national code of practice statutory. If her amendment was accepted, she said it was still for the Manchester group to decide the content of the code. It would belong to the Synod, but making it statutory could meet everyone’s needs. It would be guaranteed to be in place at all times, it would be robust, “with real teeth”, it could be exactly tailored to meet the fit perfectly, and it was “the last chance of real, practical, and on-the-ground trust”.
It was “the best chance of keeping us together”. When someone was required to “have regard to it”, it meant they must comply with it or explain why they did not, and their explanation must be good, logical, and convincing.

These conditions were not easily satisfied, she said. The code could be in plain English and stretched to fit different situations in different places, while being uniform. As the procedure was implemented, it would necessitate all parties’ talking, working, and praying together. As they worked on it, so they would “own” it.
In her professional life, she helped families broker agreements. The ones that were successful built on a shared understanding and kept the lines of communication open.
Bishop Perham commended it to the Synod, and it was carried without debate.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 11:15am BST

It should also be noted that the final motion was an instruction to the legislative drafting group as to the form of the draft measure that they should prepare. This will be subject to the usual revision processes in Synod. So whatever is the status of the code of practice in the draft measure presented to Synod next February for initial consideration, it can be changed at a later stage. Undoubtedly some members will try to persuade Synod to do this.

Posted by Peter Owen at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 11:48am BST

Also of note is that the the whole system of provincial episcopal visitors (a.k.a. 'flying bishops') was only invented after the passage of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Bill through the synodical process in the early 1990s, and whilst it was awaiting scrutiny by the parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee and subsequent approval in the Lords and Commons.

There was no provision in that Bill itself for codes of practice or extra bishops, or anything of the sort. (The Bill did contain the provision for PCCs to declare that a women priest should not minister in their parish; but nothing about flying bishops or codes of practice.)

The episcopal visitor scheme was dreamt up and implemented as an Act of Synod, something which gave it moral standing and authority, but no statutory basis at all.

So it can be argued that far from dismantling the current schemes, the synodical motion asks the legislative committee to bring forward proposals which, from the first, make greater legal provision for conscience than did the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure.

I do think that it is a bit disingenuous for objecters to say that the motion means there is less place for them than before. I mean, clearly objecters are not happy, that's understandable, but the claim that the motion effectively pushes them out of the Church does not, it seems to me, have much basis in what has actually been done. (And that's without taking into account the fact that whatever the form the Bill and draft Code are brought to the Synod in, they are still subject to amendment by the usual synodical process, as Peter, notes above.)

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Friday, 18 July 2008 at 12:08pm BST
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