Thursday, 31 May 2012

Women Bishops Could be a Trojan Horse

No, it’s not my paranoia — it’s actually the suggestion of a supporter of women bishops  which has been sympathetically received on the Women And The CHurch Facebook page.
The argument is simple: we don’t like the amended legislation, but vote it down and we won’t get any bishops. Vote it through, however, and we’ll have women bishops and then we can have more women bishops, and then we can deal with this issue finally and forever.
Well, it makes sense to me politically. But I do wish some of our milder mannered brethren out there would just take note of what’s going on here.
I now have it on good authority that the ommission of any qualifications other than ‘maleness’ for alternative bishops was indeed a ‘deliberate oversight’. Attempts were made in the revision stages to give more substance to their qualifications than this, but this was apparently resisted strongly.
In other words, people knew what they were doing.
Now call me naive, but I’m still a bit shocked by this. I expect us low-lifes to be doing skull-duggery. I genuinely thought that at the higher levels of church management there was a bit more openness and even-handedness.
It seems I may have been wrong.
Personally, I’m moving to the view that it would be better to kick the whole thing into touch (ie to vote ‘no’) and put up with having to try again. Better that, anyway, than Trojan Horses.

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  1. I'm flattered that you noticed my little blog post- two of them, even!

    Actually, my main objection to voting against the Measure at this stage is that 42 out of 44 diocesan synods have already voted in favour. Forget the battle of the sexes, what is the point of consulting beyond the hothouses of Lambeth and the blogosphere if you are going to take no notice of the result?

  2. The answer to that one is very simple. The consultation was wide ranging - not just in the dioceses. I was peripherally involved in some of them. And the results of that consultation have been taken into account.

    Moreover the powers of the bishops are just that.

  3. Sorry, being a bit thick here.

    What you are saying is that the amendments are the result of conversations the bishops had outside formal diocesan synods with those who felt adversely affected by the Measure, is that right?

    But I don't really understand 'the powers of the bishops are just that'? Are you saying that the Church of England is not a democratic organisation (agreed) and the bishops have power to make any amendments they like. Given that power why should they not use it?

    Or have I misunderstood?

  4. LA, On the first point, that's part of, but not the whole of, the story. There were, of course, discussions in Diocesan Synods as well where, although amendments were outvoted they were proposed and supported. I would presume that the bishops, having been at their own Synods, were also taking that into account.

    But yes, there were consultations throughout the Church and I'm sure voices on both 'sides' continued to be heard.

    As to what the bishops then did, I'm simply saying this is how Synod works. They have the powers to do this and no, the Church of England is not 'democratic' simpliciter. Not everyone gets a vote, for a start, and then look at how bishops are appointed.

    However, it is ironic, I think, that those who have been saying "No one should ever be able to pick a bishop who agrees with them," are complaining quite loudly because the bishops they've been given have done something with which they've disagreed.

  5. I think John's last paragraph is a moot point. To which you could add, why does anyone want to be a bishop or open up the office to a new group of people unless they have some sort of power.

    Synods are actually even less democratic than either of you have suggested. E.g. elections for PCC, Deanery, Diocese and General are out of sync and to get on one is to automatically be on the "lower" ones. So, people often get elected onto a Synod, but the next Synod down, whilst they can't secure votes into double figures in their own church (sometimes perhaps only a couple). I've come across this tactic a number of times.

    Also, on issues of the order of the church and doctrine I'm not sure democracy is the right approach. If we believe the liturgy that we say, e.g. "I believe in one holy catholic and apostolic church" AND, "With angels and archangels and all the company of heacen" AND, "The Church of England is part of the one holy catholic church", then there is a significant problem with "reps" on Synod voting, seeing that a significant part of our church is in glory and Scripture forbids that we consult them. Although quite a few have left their views in print.

    Darren Moore

  6. I think you are right; every effort should now be made to defeat the measure at the July Synod. It then gives time for further consideration to be given to the provision for those of us who are unable for theological reasons to accept women either as priests or bishops.

  7. 'Now call me naive, but I’m still a bit shocked by this. I expect us low-lifes to be doing skull-duggery.'

    Can I blog/report therefore that I have it on good authority that you a) support skullduggery but b) think it should only be used by those opposed to the episcopal ministry of women? and are c) heartily dismayed that women may now be thinking about imitating this example, (perhaps having found it rather demoralising to have the door repeatedly slammed in their faces?) Or would that be just be putting words in your mouth?

    I'd like to challenge your poor self image. Personally, I've never thought of you as 'low-lifes' but as much loved brothers and sisters in Christ. ( I'm hoping you will be able to take that at face value and and not reinterpret it in any hostile way.) Blessings, Lindsay

  8. I think that this exchange simply demonstrates the futility of such exchanges. If you want to get a liberal's attention, then say this: "My parish will no longer send any money to support the diocese until this problem is resolved to our satisfaction." They will then engage in a meaningful conversation, because then you will be speaking a language they understand.

    Personally, I have long thought that conservatives should 'starve the beast.' Liberal bishops can't pursue liberal agendas, or appoint liberal clergy without money.

  9. rev.leonard.payne12 June 2012 at 18:48

    @Phil Roberts --- big assumption that all conservative parishes are rich!

    re : Main Post. Yes of course its a trojan horse although the 2nd amendment does at least give considerble power to parishes that they can have a male Bishop who they agree with theologically unless I've misread it. If it only refers to a male bishop who himself has had hands laid on him by a 'clean' Bishop, we get into a theology of taintedness which I find unpalatable.

    My long experience of liberal/left politics tells me that those who approve of Women Bishops will never give up until its a done deal -- its like a war of attrition - it wears you down.

    The consultations at Synod levels, certainly here, were a mockery and in my 14 years of serving in this Diocese, there has never been an encouragement to do any theology.

    conservative evangelicals have been sorely let down by the PEV's who only seem to be bothered with their catholic flock. The latest pastoral letter from them makes this quite clear and evangelicals seem content to just get on with the job locally. This may have been OK pre-Keele but I'm beginning to wonder whether Dr Lloyd-Jones was right and our involvement with the structures has come at too great a cost.


  10. Oh-oh. That last remark was a guaranteed thread-stopper if ever there was one!

    Which pastoral letter are you referring to Leonard?

    Dan Baynes
    Barton Seagrave