The following letter was published on December 7th in The Western Mail [here]
SIR – The recent decision of the General Synod of the Church of England not to proceed with the measure to allow the ordination of women has focused attention on the same process in Wales.
We need to see that there are two issues at stake in the debates ahead: one is whether women can or should be made bishops; the other is what provision should be made for those who in conscience cannot accept this move.
It is clear that the failure to proceed in the Church of England was caused by the failure to make proper provision. Many of those who voted against were in favour of the principle but saw that there was no fair treatment of traditionalists.
A recent survey of church people in Wales showed that more than two thirds (70%) consider that those opposed to the ordination of female bishops are faithful Anglicans who should not be forced out of the Church in Wales or should be enable to stay in the Church in Wales by some form of provision which meets their position of conscience.
Whether or not the Church in Wales follows the proposed method of proceeding by means of two Bills the crucial issue here as in England will be whether provision is made and whether that provision meets the needs of those who hold to the tradition of the church. If it does not, it will fail here as it did there, for there must be a place in our church for all faithful Anglicans.
While we remain opposed to the ordination of women as bishops and would be bound by conscience to vote against it we would be willing to enter into talks to make sure that if the first Bill is passed the provision that might be provided in the second truly meets our needs and will help to further the mission of the church in our land.
THE REV ALAN RABJOHNS
Credo Cymru; Forward in Faith Wales "
The fact that a public letter has been written at all could perhaps imply to the interested observer that, despite all the favourable comments made in England about the 'better way forward' which has been adopted by the Church in Wales' Governing Body over the issue of women bishops, no substantive discussions about the way forward are taking place between the Bench of Bishops and those who, though opposed to women's ordination in principle, are nevertheless concerned to make adequate provision for traditionalists in order that they may be able to remain within what is historically as much, if not more, their church as it is that of the (now) revisionist majority.
If any discussions, or consultation worthy of the name, are to take place, they need to begin soon.
It would be a great shame if the cynics (and I can find little evidence so far to justify disagreeing with them) are proved right, and the much-praised Welsh 'two-tier approach' turned out to be only another shameful example of the use of 'smoke and mirrors' by a theologically liberal hierarchy intent on getting its way and imposing its own 'solution' on the province regardless of the cost...
An object lesson from the Church of England on the dangers of not getting it right this time can be found here