Wednesday, 22 May 2013

C of E House of Bishops Statement on Women in the Episcopate

Latest statement from the House of Bishop, May 2013.
"On May 21 2013 the House of Bishops released the following statement on Women in the Episcopate.
"At its meeting in York the House of Bishops of the Church of England has committed itself to publishing new ways forward to enable women to become bishops.
"In its discussion on the issue of women in the episcopate, the House received and approved for publication the report from the Working Group on Women in the Episcopate which was set up on 11 December to prepare new legislative proposals following the General Synod's rejection of the last legislation on 20 November 2012.
"The report of the Working Group presented four new options as a way forward and proposed that the General Synod should consider those options at its meeting in July. The Working Group also proposed a timetable which would involve the legislation starting its formal stages in the Synod in November and receiving Final Approval in 2015.
"The House of Bishops has agreed that the report of the Working Group should be published with a separate report from the Archbishops on behalf of the House setting out the House's recommendations to the General Synod.  The House has also asked the Business Committee of the General Synod to arrange for a substantial amount of time to be available at the General Synod in July for facilitated conversations in small groups before the Synod comes to a decision on the way forward.
"The House also approved the necessary changes in its standing orders to ensure the attendance of senior women clergy at its meetings. These changes were proposed following the House's decision at its meeting in December to ensure the participation of senior female clergy in its meetings until such time as there are six female members of the house, following the admission of women to the episcopate." [The full statement is here]
At least the long discredited fiction has been dropped that, even where the principle of legislation has been given general approval, 'final' General Synod votes, on the detail of legislation, are somehow guided by the Holy Spirit and express the will of God for the Church. 
Clearly and unambiguously this latest Statement tells us that this issue has already been decided. There can be no turning back. The synodical process is simply there to engineer the ecclesial and, conveniently, the secular, establishment's desired result.  
We have reached, on that,  a certain agreement at last...


  1. Joseph Golightly23 May 2013 at 08:00

    I posted earlier about communion and of course received the correct reply that all Anglicans are in communion with each other. I have always been puzzled by those who do not enter a full relationship with women priests and bishops and yet consider themselves Anglican. That just does not pass the logical test. If, sorry when, there are women bishops all Anglicans will have to accept that she has authority and exercises leadership in their church and go along with it all - something that appears to be happening in the "opposition" camps. Anybody who knows better than I do please do comment.

  2. You say you "received the correct reply that all Anglicans are in communion with each other" - well, correct up to a point. There are degrees of communion. All Christians who are baptised in the name of the Holy Trinity are in a degree of communion with one another,; obviously it isn't necessarily full eucharistic communion. To take an example, those who become (Roman) Catholics are now described as entering not the communion of the Catholic Church but "the full communion of the Catholic Church."
    The undoubted anomaly of the contemporary state of the Anglican Communion is that there are now degrees of communion within what (probably somewhat deceptively) is described as a single ecclesial grouping. That this is a somewhat ecclesiologically unsatisfactory response to a series of unacceptable innovations or developments within parts of the 'Communion' is very clear, but, like it or not, the "correct reply" is that Anglicans worldwide are no longer held together together either by doctrinal agreement or eucharistic fellowship - ask the bishops of the Global South.
    Interestingly, the argument you use could equally well apply to the imperative for St Athanasius to accept the predominant Arianism of his time.

  3. A developed ecclesiology is, of course, something the Church only feels the need of when people are wanting to declare ‘This is our Church, and not yours.’

    I love Connop Thirlwall’s response to the proposal at the 1867 Lambeth Conference that the assembled worthies describe themselves as: ‘bishops of Christ’s Holy Catholic Church in visible communion with the United Church of England and Ireland’. He said: “My desire would be simply to take out all mention of what we are. What the Bishops of the Church of England hold, or do not hold, is a strange thing to define in the year 1867. I think it would be very mischievous if such a gathering as this attempted to come to any understanding of such a nature.”

    Anglicans have been ill-served by the attempts by Sykes, Avis and others since the 1970s to define the nature (and thereby the boundaries) of communion, and especially by the introduction into ecclesial polity of the idea of ‘impaired communion’ as proposed by the Eames report. It doesn’t have a great deal of warrant either in scripture or tradition: people are either in communion or out of communion; the Church decides whether to take a comprehensive view of communion or a narrow view, and where to set the boundaries.

    We now have the spectacle of people from every wing of the Church excommunicating each other instead of recognising our unity in Christ, and devoting precious time and energy to this instead of the proclamation of the Gospel.

    There is no Athanasius among the opponents of WO; and those of us who support WO are not Arians. Athanasius may or may not have come down on one side of the WO debate, but I would submit that even in his moments of ill-humour he would not have made us heretics, schismatics, or a partial version of either.

    1. Actually, I have 'some' sympathy with what you say...
      On the other hand, one might argue the same about credal formularies.
      We have contrived in just over half a century to put some considerable distance between ourselves and that statement of Archbishop Geoffrey Fisher: “We have no doctrine of our own. We only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and these creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that rock.”
      But, as always, I envy your certainty...

    2. And, I should add, that although the supporters of innovation are generally suspicious of anything which could be suggestive of a developed ecclesiology (such as the Anglican Covenant) in those provinces where they hold sway those who adhere to the tradition have found themselves, in practice at least, increasingly excluded from office and seem about to be barred from ordination itself. This may not be an ecclesiology as such, but it is a very definite and exclusive attempt at self-definition far from a 'comprehensive' view of communion.

  4. Not certainty, but a determination to live with uncertainty.

    There are those on both sides of this debate who have become unrecognisable in the terms of Christian faith or order, but I think it is the Anglican way to muddle along with all the others.

    Far better deal with the areas of sin in us and the world which put us out of communion with God...

    1. Well, even living with uncertainty, as we all do, must have it's limits ...
      On your latter point - wouldn't it be wonderful if we could - without being distracted by doctrinal and ecclesiological disputes.
      But, alas, it was always thus...

  5. joseph Golightly23 May 2013 at 14:08

    Michael. I think what I was implying was that the opponents seem to want to be part of what they would have said was heretical. There won't be any bishops/priests who will be "orthodox" and as the Abervicar states "There is no Athanasius among the opponents". So that's it then?


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