Comments: Forward in Faith responds to House of Bishops on changes to draft legislation

"The draft Measure now recognises that our position is one of legitimate theological conviction for which the Church of England must provide. This principle will be enshrined in law."

So is this an amendment that is not of substance, since this was what all the debates in synod and the dioceses have been about for years?

Posted by Rosalind at Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 3:30pm BST

Basically nobody is really happy with what the Bishops have done!

Posted by Alastair Newman at Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 4:39pm BST

'but who share the theological convictions of those to whom they will minister.'

We can never expect to 'have' a bishop or any minister, who will 'share the theological convictions of those to whom they will minister.'

That really is going a bit far...

Posted by LaurenceR at Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 9:33pm BST

"who share the theological convictions"

Behold the confessional *Protestantism* of the (supposedly) More-Catholic-Than the rest of us.

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 9:46pm BST

One wonders. It appears to undermine the legislation in the form which it has been approved by the overwhelming majority of diocesan synods. Part of me thinks that any concession which will shut up the whingeing self styled "traditionalists" is probably worth going for. However the verdict of history and experience is that whatever's offered, that's not going to happen anytime soon.

Posted by AdrianNK at Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 10:41pm BST

These pretendy catholics have taken a charitable offer from the last round (we'll assign you some bishops who agree with you) and turned it into a modern heresy (each Christian is entitled to a bishop who agrees with them).

Mr. Pusey, Mr. Keble and Mr. Neale never had bishops who agreed with them, nor did they ever claim they were entitled to such.

Fr. Green, Fr. Dale, Fr. Enraght, Fr. Cox and Fr. Tooth were rposecuted by (or with the acquiescence) of their bishops so little was the agreement among them. Fr. MacKonochie certainly never had a bishop who agreed with him.

Of course, those were real Catholics, not whiny exceptionalists.

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Wednesday, 23 May 2012 at 10:55pm BST

"The draft Measure now recognises that our position is one of legitimate theological conviction for which the Church of England must provide. This principle will be enshrined in law." - F.i.F. -

It may well be a 'legitimate theological conviction' for members of a Church that totally subscribes canonically to that conviction, but the Church of England is not one of them - or will not be, once it agrees to the Ordination of Women Bishops - unless, of course, the Church of England means to perpetuate the mistaken understanding of two different degrees of validity for Bishops.

Such a situation would not only deprive a Woman Bishop of her canonical authority as a diocesan Bishop; it would also enshrine the permanence of discrimination on the grounds of gender bias within the life and ministry of the Church.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 12:03am BST

Malcolm, the same thing happened to evangelicals. I'm reminded of the story of how Lady Huntingdon was once visiting the Bishop of London, and her next stop was Clapham (home of the famous evangelical so-called 'Clapham Sect'). The bishop said that he would be glad to lend her his carriage to take her there, so long as she would be content to be set down round the corner from the rectory. The bishop did not want his carriage and horses seen outside John Venn's rectory!

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 12:18am BST

" For traditional catholics, that means bishops ordained into the historic episcopate as we understand it. "

This is, of course, anything but traditional catholic. Bishops are ordained for the whole church, not just into a particular understanding of it. There seems to be a revisionist agenda at the heart of FiF which has no understanding of the historic episcopate as the Church of England understands it.

Posted by Canon Andrew Godsall at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 7:03am BST

Talk about turkeys voting for an early Christmas! Just weeks after the Covenant fell flat on its face, we are presented with another top-down 'solution' of ever-increasing complexity, and an episcopally-driven charter for congregationalism to boot.

Posted by Andrew at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 7:51am BST

When the legislation comes to Synod in July ,does it have to be voted on as it is...or can Synod try to vote out the House of Bishop's amendments? As it stands it looks as if the legislation will probably fail..but perhaps in 5 yrs time it can come back in a more theologically coherent form. I often think if women's priestly legislation had happened a bit later we would have been spared the Act of Synod and "Flying bishops".
As with Anglican Communion affairs, trying to keep everyone on board seems increasingly hopeless.In the case of the C of E history shows that far fewer ever depart than say they do ( non-jurors in the 17th, "Western" ( evangelical) schism in the 19th....Time to be a bit bolder?

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 12:33pm BST

We are much too apt to look at schism in our church as an unmitigated evil. Moderate schism, if there may be such a thing, at any rate calls attention to the subject, draws in supporters who would otherwise have been inattentive to the matter, and teaches men [sic] to think upon religion.

Anthony Trollope, Barchester Towers (ch. XX)

Posted by Scot Peterson at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 1:50pm BST

I don't really see why anyone is surprised. What did you expect? Since there is only a promise of a Code of Practise and no idea yet of what it will contain, did you really expect conservatives to accept the liberals, "Trust us, we'll be generous"? If the tables were turned would you believe a simple "Trust us" from the conservatives? There's no trust left on either side. From the moment they decided to give conservatives a future and unknown Code of Practice instead of concrete accomodations, I expected nothing else.

Posted by Chris H. at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 2:10pm BST

It used to be said, "There'll always be an England." Now I'm not so sure. This drive to placate and comprehend logically (and theologically) contradictory positions within one ecclesiastical enterprise seems to be working in direct opposition to all of the talk about the bishop as "focus of unity" heard in recent days -- how many contradictions can be simultaneously embraced in a single church? And what happens when a woman becomes Archbishop of York or Canterbury? Or is this just a waiting game, in the hopes that the opposition will end with this generation? But which will end first, the opposition or the Church?

Posted by Tobias Haller at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 3:25pm BST


General Synod is no longer able to amend the legislation. At final approval in July all it can do is vote for or against the text sent to it by the House of Bishops.

Posted by Peter Owen at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 5:20pm BST


There is an option, which is to send the legislation back to the House of Bishops under Standing Order 94. This looks to be a provision which is precisely designed to deal with the case when Synod and the Bishops disagree, or when important legislation is on the brink of being defeated. Most of the available options at this stage kill the legislation for the Quinquennium. SO94 allows General Synod to keep it alive. In particular there are powers reserved to the Steering Committee to avoid their legislation being mangled by the Bishops.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 7:26pm BST

Peter - it can also send the legislation back to the House of Bishops and ask them to reconsider.

Posted by Lindsay Southern at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 8:35pm BST

FiF want to be as RC as possible just when everyone's leaving !

Posted by Mary Marriott at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 10:02pm BST

"There'll aways be an England", of which Michael Flanders observed "that's not saying much, is it? I mean, there'll always be a North Pole, if some dangerous clown doesn't go and melt it".

As to dangerous clowns, little could he imagine.

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 10:24pm BST

I've long thought that this is a huge problem with Synod. This is clearly not a process that respects or reflects the mind of Synod. It basically allows the bishops to veto legislation by changing it, leaving Synod with an option only to reject the changes without being able to affirm anything as an alternative. Very frustrating. Patently unsynodical. Better to have a system that allows the original and the amended options to stand alongside each other. If I am correct, if the amended version is defeated, the legislation cannot come back in the same quinquennium. The thing is, given how clear the problem is, when the bishops exercise this power (and it is a very real power), changing things that did not win the support of Synod previously, they are showing a certain contempt for synodality itself -- even if they are following the procedural rules.

Posted by Joe at Thursday, 24 May 2012 at 11:02pm BST

The more one hears of the 'Forward in Faith' contingent in the Church of England, the more one questions the direction in which their vision is heading. From the trajectory so far, I would have thought that 'Backward in Panic' might be a better nomenclature for such thinking. Mind you, the Roman vision since Vatican II would seem to be headed in the same (reverse) direction. "Without vision, the people perish!"

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 25 May 2012 at 2:07am BST

I am still not convinced, that even with these enforced changes that the legislation will pass in July. I still think it will be blocked in the House of laity.

Yet the patient women have not threatened internal schism like Reform and FIF.

If it did pass by a whisker, I do hope the women would continue in their campaign to get these changes thrown out.

Posted by robert ian williams at Friday, 25 May 2012 at 5:29am BST

Thanks Tim. Indeed, leading evangelicals were historically denied the hitherto unknown right to have bishops who agreed with them. I suspected this was so, though obviously I was more familiar with the catholic cases.

(Serious question and not intended as tendentious, were CofE evangelicals ever pursued wth anything parallelling the Public Worship Regulation Act?)

Posted by Malcolm French+ at Friday, 25 May 2012 at 7:00am BST

Robert, I'm quite surprised by your reaction here. does this mean that you, yourself, are in favour of Women as priest and bishops?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 25 May 2012 at 11:59am BST

Not that I'm aware of, Malcolm. The closest they got to falling foul of the law, I believe, was the famous Gorham controversy over baptismal regeneration (

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Friday, 25 May 2012 at 3:17pm BST

Ron, I want the Church of England to be true to its historic and intrinsic Protestantism. I think that will be better all around. Women bishops will make the ecumenical direction clearer for all.

Why are Canterbury and york bending over backwrds for men who have no intention of leaving?

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Friday, 25 May 2012 at 8:38pm BST


They - not only they - are, in your terms, 'bending over backwards', because they want these people (not only men) to be happy within the C of E. I want that too.

Posted by John at Sunday, 27 May 2012 at 6:54pm BST

Yes, please don't overlook the 2,228 Evangelical Anglican women who recently handed their petition to the Archbishop of York opposing the introduction of women bishops. They quite rightly seek "Proper Provision" for those who seek to uphold traditional episcopal ministry.
Who was it that once said You can please all of the people some of the time and some of the people all of the time - or words to that effect? Alas, the two amendments to the Women Bishops legislation seems to have upset all of the people all of the time! It's going to be an interesting meeting of the General Synod this July.

Posted by Father David at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 7:07am BST

It's perhaps as well the Church of England does not have a trade union. Otherwise, women could just withhold their 'labour' until this is sorted out. And how would the Church manage then?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 28 May 2012 at 12:30pm BST

As usual, the CoE is going about this tail first. A late friend of of mine, an ardent 'traditionalist', said that, had the church decided that women could (or could not) be bishops to start with, then the other orders would have followed by implication, and everyone would have known where they were. But no, it pettifogged its way through approving first the diaconate, then the priesthood, and now the episcopate, causing more upset each time. Talk about making rods for one's own back ...
(I seem to recall that the 'flying bishops' were to be one-off appointments, too.)

Posted by Nicholas at Tuesday, 29 May 2012 at 4:22pm BST
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