(RNS) Church of England faces backlash over rejecting women bishops

Posted by Kendall Harmon

When the Church of England scuttled plans to allow women bishops on Nov. 20, incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called it “a very grim day for women and their supporters.”

Now, that grim day is turning into a church-state nightmare for Britain's established church.

Read it all.

Filed under: * Anglican - EpiscopalAnglican ProvincesChurch of England (CoE)CoE Bishops* Culture-WatchLaw & Legal IssuesChurch/State MattersReligion & CultureWomen* International News & CommentaryEngland / UK

8 Comments
Posted November 27, 2012 at 11:29 am [Printer Friendly] [Print w/ comments]



1. Br. Michael wrote:

I see. Voting is nice until it gives the wrong results.  Let’s simply have a voting sham so long is the right result is delivered.  This simply makes one sick.

November 27, 9:41 pm | [comment link]
2. MichaelA wrote:

“A full 42 of the 44 dioceses of the church voted for legislation that would have made women bishops next year.”

Yes, but only on a simple majority.  A 2/3 majority is required to get through General Synod. 

And of those 42 dioceses who voted for it, 10 of them also passed “following motions” i.e. desired amendments to the measure.  These were ignored by the hierarchy.

“37 female bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion”

Only 23 of them are active, and almost all of those are in USA or Canada.  The vast majority of the Anglican Communion do not have women bishops and most likely will never have them.

November 28, 3:59 am | [comment link]
3. MichaelA wrote:

“Now, that grim day is turning into a church-state nightmare for Britain’s established church.”

More correct to say that it is turning into a church-state storm-in-a-teacup.  Lots of froth and bubble from the English liberal establishment, a fair dose of hot air, and nothing much else.

November 28, 4:05 am | [comment link]
4. Peter dH wrote:

Yes, but only on a simple majority.  A 2/3 majority is required to get through General Synod.

And of those 42 dioceses who voted for it, 10 of them also passed “following motions” i.e. desired amendments to the measure.  These were ignored by the hierarchy.

Not quite; remember, the draft Measure that the diocesan synods voted on was different from the one put before General Synod. Yet another reason why you simply cannot compare the latter to the diocesan voting figures.

If I’m not mistaken, the hierarchy did not ignore the following motions. The bishops did take note, foresaw the train wreck (which would have been quite consistent with the disquiet expressed in the diocesan votes, contra the popular narrative), and introduced the original 5(1)c. Correct me if I’m wrong.

At this point, of course, WATCH et al threatened to vote the whole thing down and General Synod, rather than facing the embarrassing situation of women blocking their own purple, referred the matter back to the bishops. This should make short work of the notion that “traditionalists scuppered it all, despite all the efforts to compromise by WB proponents”. Unfortunately the press (and certain pressure groups) prefer to remain high on heat and short on facts.

In response, 5(1)c was softened with “respect” language in a context where neither side seems to feel particularly respected at all. How anyone thought that would work out, or that it would be a good idea to put it before Synod as it stood, I don’t know.

The 2/3 majority in three houses is a high bar to clear. This is intentional: it forces the church to build consensus when considering major changes in its doctrine. No consensus had been reached. The system has therefore worked exactly as intended. It seems to me that the attempts to undermine the House of Laity, or the system generally,  range from mistaken to downright disingenuous.

November 28, 4:52 am | [comment link]
5. MichaelA wrote:

PeterdH, I agree - my simplistic three sentence summary must make way before your symphony!  Although, I was correct to say that the hierarchy ignored the following motions - of course they read them.

November 28, 7:56 am | [comment link]
6. Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] wrote:

Further to my prior thoughts on this, there seem to be two main things happening at the moment:
1. A great deal of thud and bluster as people throw their toys out of the pram, led by our bishops who should know better.  There are various outlandish suggestions going round from imposition of direct rule from Westminster [which took the Northern Irish a generation to get rid of]; to diocesan motions of no confidence in Synod, the Synod that is, and its rules, which have been approved by Parliament; to changing General Synod, which would also probably require the approval of Parliament particularly if constitutional amendments or proposals for important legislation are not to require a supermajority in all three houses.  Then there is a campaign of vilification of those who voted in the laity and dark threats to vote them off in 3 years time.

2. But there are also some quieter and more reflective voices who are taking a larger and longer view:
- pointing out that Parliament cannot just provide a quick fix
- warning that political interference may come at a greater price in the long term
- pointing out, as Frank Field MP has, that it was the intransigence of the pressure group WATCH shouting down both other women in the church and giving no quarter, who sealed the fate of the measure in Synod.  Field has basically told them to grow up.
- noting that there is one positive effect of the vote, and that has been that no one has had to leave the Church of England, for which I certainly give thanks, notwithstanding the considerable bruises which have resulted.  Has anyone reflected that the result in terms of splits and althernative jurisdictions could have been far more damaging for the integrity and indeed the reputation of the CofE?

There are some, Welby included it seems, who think that they can use the parliamentary pressure for their own ends, perhaps to achieve the institutional aims of the church to get a one clause, no provision for dissenters, quick fix through.  Expediency is trumping the long term health and independence of the voice of the church in this myopic vision.

I gather the Archbishops’ Council is meeting.  I hope people allow heads to cool and some more thoughtful engagement to take place, but given Williams is in charge, and given his reaction to the Dublin Primates meeting boycott was to redouble his ridiculous efforts to undermine the Global South Alliance with Indaba, Alliance bribing and various other futile efforts, it is almost certain that he will try to get some quick slight of hand way back on those who have frustrated him, as he pretty much indicated in Synod.

That would be the culminating foolishness.  The time has come for him to stop making more of a mess for his successor; but instead to hand over to Welby, and we will see if he also makes a mess of it, but he has as the new Archbishop designate the right to deal with the matter without his predecessor tying his hands making a shambles into a crisis.

November 28, 8:40 am | [comment link]
7. Pageantmaster ن [Repent Justin Welby] wrote:

Yup, the old bags are at it again, having taken no note of anything including Frank Field’s advice.  What else does one expect from TEC infiltrater Christina Rees?

It is an interesting time for the many onlookers:  How do Christians in the Church of England deal with one another?  How do our bishops conduct themselves?  How fit is the Church of England to play a leadership role in the Anglican Communion?  Indeed, how fit is the Church of England to have a role in the Anglican Communion, or is it set to marginalise itself as TEC has?

Stay tooned for the next gripping episode of Purple Haze, the church that lost the plot.

November 28, 9:30 am | [comment link]
8. MichaelA wrote:

PM at #6, wise words.

November 28, 5:33 pm | [comment link]
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