THE report of the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group (the Manchester report) contained an illustration of what a statutory code of practice might look like. Its principal elements were:
• the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 and the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 would be repealed in their entirety; • the code would outline the arrangements to be made for those conscientiously unable to receive women’s priestly and episcopal ministry, involving the voluntary delegation of certain episcopal functions by diocesan bishops to “complementary bishops”;
• the code would be drawn up by the House of Bishops, subject to approval by the General Synod; and
• bishops and others would be placed under a legal duty to “have regard to” the code of practice. “Complementary bishops” do not equate with the existing flying bishops, specially appointed by a province to oversee traditionalist congregations. Instead, they might be suffragans or assistant bishops within the diocese, or diocesan bishops from elsewhere, providing “sacramental and pastoral care” on behalf of the diocesan bishop. The diocesan would not relinquish his or her general oversight or legal jurisdiction.
A code of practice, since it is not a law, could not be enforced under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003, which speaks of clerics acting “in contravention of the laws ecclesiastical”. Read more
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