Sunday, 19 September 2004

women bishops?

Update for coverage of the report when published go here

Christopher Morgan in the Sunday Times reports that Women may be bishops but not archbishops. Here are two extracts that list the eight options:

The findings of a three-year inquiry headed by Michael Nazir-Ali, the Bishop of Rochester, this weekend drew accusations of misogyny after it emerged that three of its eight key options would deny women equal rights with men.

The options propose to allow women to become bishops but not archbishops of Canterbury or York; to deny them the chance to have their own dioceses; or to require them to be part of a team with at least one male bishop to chaperone them.

Of the five other proposals, one would see the church retain the status quo where women are allowed to be ordained only as priests or deacons. Three others anticipate a split in the church or exodus of male priests, while only one would give women the full rights to be appointed to every post in the church.

The report by Nazir-Ali, who was a leading contender for Archbishop of Canterbury two years ago, is an attempt to appease both the supporters of equality in the church and the traditionalist opponents of women bishops. However, this weekend it appeared unlikely to satisfy either camp as it does not come down in favour of any of the eight options.

… Of the three options that would entail a permanent junior role for women, one would allow women to be suffragan bishops but prevent them being a senior bishop in charge of one of the church’s 44 dioceses.

Another option would allow women to become diocesan bishops but not archbishops. This might satisfy the evangelical lobby who believe that within the church women should be under “male headship”. The report points out that this would “still entail the existence of a ‘glass ceiling’.”

Other possibilities could see the introduction of combined male-female teams of bishops in each diocese, or the division of the church to create a “male-only” province. This would provide a third, independent province, overlaying those of York and Canterbury and led by an archbishop catering for all who did not wish to be under a female prelate.

Nazir-Ali warns that if the church opts for straight equality for women bishops, this could mean traditionalists refusing to recognise them and leaving the church altogether. “This would be an extremely grave situation,” warns the report.

A final option would see priests opposed to women bishops being paid off to leave the church.

I’m not sure what’s so special here: for months now we have been told that the report does not make any recommendation but merely sets out the options. Now we have some data about the options listed. Only in the Church of England would it take three years to create a list of options…

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 19 September 2004 at 12:48 PM GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England