Comments: women bishops debate: Canterbury's 3 contributions

"It does not sanction prejudice or discrimination. It does not envisage any automatic obligation that disadvantages women bishops as distinct from men."

How true is this statement? As I understood the Abps' amendment, it did put in place an automatic transferral of oversight from a female diocesan to an acceptable male if a parish requested. The difference was that it did it under the authority of the legislation rather than by delegation of the unacceptable female diocesan.

In the nuance of it all and in an English context, +Rowan may be right in the above statement, but it sure is hard to see that in any plain understanding of the words, and it is certainly impossible to see how female diocesans are fully equal to male diocesans since this whole process is designed to protect the consciences of worshippers from the ministry of women, or ministry 'tainted' by women.

Sadly, the legislation as it currently stands still seeks to protect members from ministry tainted by female leadership . . .

"And I would want to echo what’s been said earlier today in debate about the seductions of a view of episcopal jurisdiction that sees it as completely territorial and exclusive. Even a seamless robe may be a coat of many colours, you might say. And we’ve already had allusion to those models of interweaving and cooperative jurisdiction which the history of religious orders – not to mention of course the example of service chaplaincies in our dioceses – already provide."

While this may be true, too, it seems to open the door much further to having ecclesial communities based solely on people like me or people whom I like.

In a more forceful, hierarchical church like Rome, where one bishop has both universal and local jurisdiction over the entire world, there is still an underlying unity binding catholics together despite overlapping jurisdiction. At the end of the day, every RC will stand around every altar.

We don't have that in Anglicanism, and I suspect even in England the Abp's authority in specific dioceses is limited so that there is no unifying witness. The overlapping jurisdictions won't acknowledge the legitimacy of the other and won't stand around one altar together.

A communion of churches might be able to handle that if its bonds are bonds of affection rather than juridical, but I don't see how a national province could handle that and still provide a witness where unity overcomes estrangements. All theses accommodations seem to do is concretize estrangement.

Posted by Dirk Reinken at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 1:38pm BST

Just for the record, the posting of the Archbishop's Monday remarks is incomplete. At the end of the text we have the Archbishop went on to make further comments about the votes on Saturday and what they said about the mind of Synod. It was interesting stuff.

You can listen to his comments here but perhaps the text might be updated in due course.

Posted by Philip Plyming at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 1:50pm BST

One thing I think this legislation would have done that previous arrangements did not is allow proper pastoral care for women priests who are in dioceses with bishops who are opposed to women's ordination. A relative of mine is a priest in Chichester diocese, where all the bishops (until recently) were very opposed and she said she could really have done with a 'flying bishop' who would have 'flown the other way' and supported her in her ministry.

Posted by magistra at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 4:56pm BST

The key problem is the belief that this issue can be solved in a way that will "allow significantly more people in the Church of England to own the legislative outcome." If you want to talk about "more" then you are dealing with majority rule -- not some magic middle muddle that _everyone_ will agree to. The fact that the ABps' proposal failed surely indicates that "significantly more people" don't see it as a way forward.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 5:10pm BST

Williams' 'third statement' (in TA terms) was given on Monday. He seems not to (care to) know that his ammendment was defeated in Synod.

A case of 'If at first you don't succeed....'

Is that it ?

Posted by Pantycelyn at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 5:25pm BST


You're arithmetically wrong: 'significantly more' did in fact see it as the way forward. A majority of priests (on this occasion, in this setting) did not. That's why it failed. But the overall majority won.

One of the aspects of this mess which I find both heartening and dispiriting is that priests (such as yourself), bishops, archbishops and the like are patently no better than the rest of us in matters of the most elementary morality.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 7:37pm BST

"And by that I mean those who are in a minority and are feeling at the moment bruised and excluded, but also those of our sisters in ministry and in baptised identity who have also had *moments* of feeling deeply bruised and excluded."

Moments? MOMENTS?!?! :-O

Try, the better part of 19 CENTURIES???

I don't believe in comparative victimization. Pain is pain.

But for the ABC to so *diminish and dismiss* the LENGTH of time that women-with-calls have been shown the door (if not the burning stake!) is outrageous.

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 10:33pm BST

"The fact that the ABps' proposal failed surely indicates that "significantly more people" don't see it as a way forward."

Apart from the fact that a majority across the 3 houses voted for the ABps' amendment!

Posted by tommiaquinas at Wednesday, 14 July 2010 at 10:59pm BST

I am puzzled by Rowan Williams' statement that the amendment does not sanction discrimination. It might be argued that discrimination is justified in order to minimise discomfort to opponents of women's ordination, but that is a different claim. Even the Revision Committee's proposals sanction some measure of discrimination - for instance there is no requirement for male bishops (unlike female bishops) that they delegate their functions in a part of their diocese to a bishop of the opposite sex. Campaigners for women's ordination have accepted this, but in a secular setting covered by the usual anti-discrimination laws I cannot see how such an arrangement would be lawful.

Posted by Savi H at Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 12:17am BST

The sticking point from the No Go Women sides is simply the categorical, unremitting hostility to any glimmer of any notion that God is at work in womens' vocations; ... implicitly, aside from the standard conservative-traditional calls for a woman to be somebody's dependent relative (sister, mother, wife), and of course, her unavoidable duty to conceive and bear children then hand them over to the powers that be as directed, when directed.

Cagey wordings will hardly humanize or amend this very long-standing, very traditionalist schedule ... no matter what Canterbury and/or York and/or others cleverly think or dream up to describe it ... ever so mildly?

I predict: More mischief ... the hostility towards women is unmoderated, so far at least.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 12:27am BST

John, I take your comment on morality very lightly. I've never thought myself to be more "moral" -- only to do the best I can.

You and tommiaquinas are correct in your disregard for the vote by houses. The motion failed on a vote by houses, yes, and if you tote up the numbers fewer voted against than for. Of course, that's not how a vote by houses works. I was speaking about the result, which is held to reflect the will of the church. And in thinking about the wider church, those who are opposed to the ordination of women are a minority. The vote was on a special provision to keep an even smaller minority of them appeased with an extraordinary accommodation. I do not believe that the majority of Church of England members wish to see this special provision enacted.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Thursday, 15 July 2010 at 10:38pm BST

" A majority of priests (on this occasion, in this setting) did not. That's why it failed. But the overall majority won. "

- John, on Wednesday -

John, what you seem to be discounting in this argument, is the fact that General Synod previously decided that there should be a simple majority in each House of Synod before any new legislation could be passed. This is now the Rule of Synod - passed by its own regulations. Finis!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 19 July 2010 at 7:21pm BST
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