Comments: Women Bishops Legislation

Excellent news. I'm especially pleased that the greater provision motion was defeated in both dioceses.

Posted by Grandmère Mimi at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 12:23am BST

Bring it on!

Posted by A J Barford at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 7:38am BST

This is a landslide..but is the General Synod as representative?

Posted by Robert Ian williams at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 8:00am BST

Could someone please remind me of the voting figures on this issue at General Synod. If my memory is correct there would appear to be a huge difference in attitude between the General Synod and the various Diocesan Synods.

A significantly large and vocal grouping in General Synod is arguing for greater provision for the opponents of women bishops, but when put to the vote at diocese level across the country that same view is held by only a very small percentage of synod members.

It might appear that the vocal activists at the centre of the C of E are out of touch with the wider mood nationally and in the pews.


Posted by Simon Dawson at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 8:33am BST

Is it the job of the church to be in sympathy with public mood?

One might ask if those voting at these synods have a full grasp of all theological arguments

Posted by visitor at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 9:25am BST

Simon - I think the significant statistic is that the Archbishops' amendment proposing greater provision for those opposed was lost by five votes in the House of Clergy, securing a majority in the other two houses. That at least hints at the possibility that, without further such provision, General Synod might back the proposals by a majority but not the two-thirds majority required. I'd have guessed that it will be much more difficult to get through General Synod with the required majorities.

Posted by Philip Hobday at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10:03am BST

"It might appear that the vocal activists at the centre of the C of E are out of touch with the wider mood nationally and in the pews" - Simon Dawson

They should be directly elected from the parishes...

Posted by A J Barford at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10:20am BST

Simon, You may be right but this suggests that our General Synod election mechanism is failing. It favours the organised, the established, and those with the time to lobby in person We desperately need to embrace new technology so that the hustings can be more probing, debate more substantial and available to wider numbers In my area there was one hustings with 30 people held in the richest church that alone delivers 4 votes to Synod with others from the same deanery, whilst swathes of the poorer parts of the diocese have no representation. This is where the problem may lie.

Posted by martin sewell at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10:21am BST

When did S&N Synod meet? I've been seeing today's date, but you had the results yesterday!

Is this a miracle?

Posted by Dan BD at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10:28am BST

According to figures I have just received from WATCH, Salisbury Diocese voted on 4 following motions, two of which were passed. Does anyone reading this know what those motions were?
(Quite a few of the Dioceses seem to be passing following motions, but without details of the wording it is hard to know what this is telling us.)

Posted by Anne at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 11:51am BST

The system we have odd one. Diocesan synod votes only materially matter to deny a piece of legislation. Even if all dioceses approve this current legislation it has no real authority or effect on General Synod's final vote. it may have some persuasive effect, it may not. Is this a fair system? I doubt it, but then we are where we are, and knew what the system was when we started.

Posted by Fr. Graeme Buttery SSC at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 2:13pm BST

S&N Dio/Syd met on Tuesday, 28th June.

Posted by RPNewark at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 2:20pm BST

Anne - none of the following motions proposed in Salisbury diocese was passed - 2 were voted on by houses and failed by significant margins in all houses; one was lost on a show of hands (ie the majority against too big to be worth voting on) and one was not put.
The information that they had failed was on Salisbury diocesan website last Sunday or Monday; the WATCH figures show clearly that they were lost - just check the column headings!!!

AS far as I know, Sodor and Mann met on 17th June.

Philip -The archbishops' amendment was only lost in the house of clergy - but this does not mean that church members in the parishes think that transferred authority is the best solution (which was what it was in effect offering, otherwise those seeking more provision than delegation would not have supported it)
What I am hearing is that a lot of parishes are saying "What's the problem? just get on with it"

Of course it is possible that this legislation will not get through General Synod, even if this pattern of voting continues in the dioceses - but this is not a reason to suggest that it would be a good idea to amend the legislation. This would be a very cynical way of behaving, particularly if current voting patterns continue, and anyway, there is more evidence (based on voting records over the last 10 years) to suggest that if the legislation were amended to include transferred authority it would certainly be voted down by Synod, than evidence that the current legislation will not get through.

Posted by Rosalind at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 2:40pm BST

“Is it the job of the church to be in sympathy with public mood?”

No, but the public is often years ahead of the church in its perception of changes and new issues. The established hierarchy is entrenched, often old, frequently deeply conservative, and its lethargy drives thousands of young people into thinking that the church is stuffy and irrelevant.

“One might ask if those voting at these synods have a full grasp of all theological arguments”

Rather a snarky question, don’t you think? You seem to have decided already, but many of us may feel that the Holy Spirit can actually work through the democratic process; surely that is not too great a task for it?

Posted by Nat at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 3:45pm BST

Anne - many of the Dioceses seem to be debating following motions, but they are not being passed.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 6:13pm BST

If the results continue to come in like this, and General Synod does not vote the legislation through - some suggest defeat by a blocking vote in the House of Laity - there will be a huge credibility problem for the House of Laity in General Synod. But there has been talk of passing following motions in lots of dioceses, and suggestions that the votes in some of the Dioceses would be much narrower (eg Chelmsford, Guildford) did not come to pass. So rather than speculate, let's see what happens - the talk of the legislation failing is an attempt to get leverage for changes which the Dioceses say they don't want.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 6:22pm BST

I don't regard these results as unequivocally good news. They are good news in that they affirm a very large majority for women bishops. They are less good news in that they appear not to countenance the provision for anti-WO people that the latter want. I don't understand - and actively dislike - the primitive triumphalism here exhibited by some on 'my side'. No issue here (we're not talking genocide) is a single issue; all issues intersect with others. I had a conversation last night with an equally liberal Anglican in which we agreed to liking far more and for a host of reasons greatly preferring an anti-WO Anglican priest of our acquaintance to a rather well-known liberal woman priest of our acquaintance and an equally liberal local priest. There are complicated calculations and constant cross-overs here. It seems to me egregiously dishonest and morally crass to deny this.

John Moles.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 8:08pm BST

Having been at the Salisbury Diocesan Synod I can assure you that all the following motions were lost. The two asking for greater provision were lost thus:

1. Clergy for: 2; clergy against: 31; abstentions 3
Laity for: 4; laity against: 44; abstentions: 2

2. Clergy for: 1; clergy against: 35; abstentions: 1
Laity for: 6; laity against: 46; abstentions: 2

There was also a following motion which was in effect a 'one clause' motion. This also lost but less heavily (some abstentions from supporters of women bishops). I didn't keep records of this vote.

The whole debate went very heavily indeed in favour of the legislation.

Posted by Richard Franklin at Wednesday, 29 June 2011 at 10:15pm BST

"primitive triumphalism" - John

Steady on John! Isn't this a clear matter of principle? After all, we don't talk about a partial abolition of slavery, or partial equality for black people. It's all or nothing. You get sidetracked into talking about personalities.

Once the legislation is passed, the effects will be revolutionary. After all, the pool of talented women priests who qualify for the episcopate is far larger than the male one. To paraphrase the late Gwyneth Dunwoody in relation to MPs: 'Equality will only be achieved when there are as many stupid women as there are stupid men'...

Posted by A J Barford at Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 8:54am BST

In this connection it is interesting to see that there is a paper from the London Diocesan Synod requesting a review of the way the laity in Diocesan and General synods are elected. As they say, it is highly questionable as to how representative synod members are of their parishes or their electoral rolls. Judging by the result shown above, were GS more representative of the person in the pew there would be no problem at all with the Consecration of women to be Bishops, nor, I suspect of GLTB people either.

I do hope that the London proposal will be gladly acted upon and that the review is thorough and open and not stifled by either the forces of inertia or the conservatism of current GS members

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 9:59am BST

'After all, the pool of talented women priests who qualify for the episcopate is far larger than the male one.'

Can someone explain this, please?

Posted by Lister Tonge at Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 11:55am BST

We onlookers from other provinces of the Anglican Communion who have already approved of, and lived fruitfully with, the ordination of women clergy and bishops, are still wondering why the Church of England should still be dragging her heels on this issue.

This is probably why we are in no great hurry to be imprisoned within the proposal of a 'Covenant' that promises yet more examples of an ultra- conservative and restrictive culture of mission in and to the modern world for which Christ died.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 12:35pm BST

“Is it the job of the church to be in sympathy with public mood?”

In the United States, the Church has consistently come late to full acceptance and support of issues of social justice which a large segment of society has been demanding for some time. From slavery to civil rights to the role of women, and so on, down to this day.

Posted by Old Father William at Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 8:47pm BST

The argument for women priests and woman bishops is a profoundly theologically one, and people understand it well. It is that there is no great profound difference between man and woman, that Christ is in both and both are images of him. Understanding this, people have very very little time for the other argument - though they may have sympathy for those who hold it. Equally, I get the feeling that post people are now losing sympathy with those who fail to get the argument... It is arguable they should keep remembering their needs, but - but...

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Thursday, 30 June 2011 at 9:08pm BST

[Well said, AJ Barford. An unpleasant "well-known liberal woman priest of {y}our acquaintance", John M, may be a great argument for THAT woman to not be consecrated bishop, not that NO woman should be consecrated bishop!]

@Lister Tonge: I assume "the pool of talented women priests who qualify for the episcopate is far larger than the male one" because the male pool has had an *outlet*---y'know, the episcopate?

Posted by JCF at Friday, 1 July 2011 at 4:45am BST

Dear A J Barford,

Implicit in my comment was rejection of any polarity between doctrine and 'personality' (not the word I'd use but let it stand): 'personalities' embody doctrines. (I know at the very extremes this is not true - Stalin was nice to his house-keeper, Hitler nice to his dog, etc. - but we're not talking 'very extremes' here.) Explicit was the claim that moral calculuses are difficult and require consideration of a host of factors.

Dear JCF,

I have never argued that there should be NO women bishops. I am entirely in favour of women bishops. I am also in favour of pastoral provision for those who cannot accept them. If I were them, I would find present proposals adequate, but I'm not them and they don't (and I see why they don't from their premisses), so, especially since they have shown their wish to remain Anglicans, I think they should have such provision. It's really not a big deal. And I continue to think there are many factors: there are circumstances in which I and mine might prefer to attend a FiF church (say at the Easter Vigil) to (say) nothing at all (it can be hard to find such services if one's away from home) or to a non-numinous service at some right-on, impeccably liberal, impeccably pro-WO and LJBT church (both causes to which I am absolutely committed).

On a website I sometimes look at of the church of a SSC priest I recently saw that a party was setting out to attend the ordination of a former woman Reader of theirs. I don't suppose that priest is wild about the prospect. Many of his congregation will have no objection to WO, some may. Similarly, some of us from our pro-women, pro-gay church attended the ordination at a FiF church of a former ordinand who'd been trained up at our church. It's messy, it can be uncomfortable, it's also reality on the ground, it involves recogniton of 'different integrities'. It's what a lot of people do, at least here in the UK. I think it's inevitable.

Posted by john at Friday, 1 July 2011 at 9:10am BST

Yes, John, I gathered you were in favor of OOW. But why cite any given less-than-bishop-material woman then? Does not follow.

Not being CofE, I try not to get involved in the specifics of CofE legislation...

...nevertheless, I *get* that any legislation which would make a woman diocesan juridically *less than* her male episcopal counterpart, is a non-starter.

Even among putatively for-equality, feminist men, I often find a curious ***lack-of-trust of women***, collectively. For example, in abortion restrictions: "we can't have a 'health of the woman' exception, because women will lie." And so also here: "we can't leave pastoral provision up to a woman diocesan to decide, because she will be a humorless b@ll-breaker who won't permit it."

It seems like there's still a suspicion that, "ever since the apple, we can't trust Eve."

This (gendered) lack of trust is disturbing.

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 2 July 2011 at 4:40am BST

John - if you fully support clause 1 of the current C of E legislation to enable women to be appointed bishops then this excludes transferred authority as a possibility. Transferred authority is only needed if the person asking for it does not believe that his/her (sic) diocesan bishop who is also a woman (or also a man who has ordained a woman priest) is truly a bishop.
So, if women can be made bishops, then there is no need to transfer authority directly to a man.
If you argue for transferring authority rather than delgating, you are by implication accepting that it is OK to have a church which believes that some of its bishops may not be bishops....

Humpty Dumpty in "Through the Looking Glass" comes to mind....

It's also worth remembering that the Revision committee did try to find a solution including transferred authority and gave up because they could not find any roles of a bishop that the committee could agree on to transfer!

Posted by Rosalind at Saturday, 2 July 2011 at 11:47am BST

'they could not find any roles of a bishop that the committee could agree on to transfer!'

Indeed. They couldn't agree. That's the point. The next step doesn't seem to me to be absolute majority rule: it seems to me precisely to agree to disagree. I repeat, for the umpteenth time, this is not a big deal. It's actually a very small deal.

Posted by John at Sunday, 3 July 2011 at 4:07pm BST

The fact is the majority of members in the Church of England (in which I am an Emeritus Reader)
does not want the catholic wing in its midst at ANY cost.
I have no allegiance to the Roman Church and never will have, so where do I go? as I believe the C of E is (or was) the true catholic church of this country,and that is the faith I was baptised and confirmed into.

Posted by Ted Badger at Wednesday, 6 July 2011 at 11:19pm BST
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