The Guardian asked me to write a piece for them on the Archbishops' proposals on the introduction of women bishops. I don't think the strap line quite gets it, though: "A conservative evangelical condemns the Archbishops' measures to make room for opponents of women priests." Either that, or I didn't make myself clear, but it was done at very, very short notice.
[...] Analysts may detect the intricacies of Rowan Williams' thought and the niceties of John Sentamu's legal background. Yet whether or not it upsets the supporters of women bishops, the real question is whether it will satisfy the opponents. And here I have to say the answer is probably not.
The solution to the issue of "delegation" certainly does have something to commend it, since this is a genuine anxiety for many. If the duties of the female diocesan are simply delegated to a male substitute, then those to whom he ministers are still under her authority. Jurisdiction given under the amended Measure could, as the Archbishops hope, instead be regarded as being conferred "by the decision of the Church as a whole", independently of the diocesan.
Many will feel, however, that the Archbishops overemphasize the issue of delegation whilst overlooking anxieties about the essential shape of the proposed legislation. For at the moment we would see each diocese developing a local scheme essentially under the control of the diocesan bishop. And whilst that bishop would have a "duty to have regard" to a Code of Practice, opponents simply do not trust this requirement or the posited Code. Indeed, on the basis of past and present experience, nothing less than legally defined and conferred jurisdiction will allay these worries. Read more
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