What is shows clearly is WATCH's disappointment that the amendments will perpetuate the presence of those in the Church of England who cannot, because of theological conviction, accept the full ministry of women bishops (ie, beyond their legal powers as 'ordinary', which will be indisputable).
It objects to what it calls, "The creation of permanent space for dissenting voices" and "The doctrine of reception ... embodied in the revised Section 5" (whether they mean the doctrine per se or just the new version is not immediately clear).
It also argues on principle against bishops being required by law to 'do the right thing' by petitioners:
7. It [the amendment] changes the exercise of a pastoral power by the diocesan bishop into the exercise of a legal duty: the opportunity (and pastoral expectation) for the Diocesan bishop to offer an appropriate bishop to a parish becomes a requirement that s/he do so. In allowing our relationships to be governed by the exercise of law rather than grace it is profoundly untheological and cuts directly across our proclamation of the Gospel. There is a vast difference for anyone exercising authority between doing of it of their own free will – with grace, generosity, listening, cooperation, and acceptance of each party as human beings – and doing it because the law says so – which can be faceless, imply the imposition of the powerful on the powerless, and less commitment from both sides.It would seem to me, however, that at its most extreme this would mean there ought to be no legislation - a position possible where truth and the gospel prevail absolutely, but meanwhile surely Utopian.
What WATCH seems to be saying is that if people would only trust the bishop, he or she would give them, out of a heart of generous listening, cooperation and mutual acceptance what WATCH don't really want them to have - male bishops and clergy of the same theology.
There is also surely a problem with arguing that if the law says we should do it, we only do it out of compulsion. The law says, "Thou shalt not steal." Do I only refrain from stealing because that is what the law says? It is in the nature of laws that what they tell us to do ought to be what we should be doing anyway. The law is only necessary because people sometimes tend not to do it - which in this case makes me suspicious of those who object to this particular law.
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