Someone who is a supporter of women bishops, but who also wants to see effective provision for those who cannot accept this, emailed me recently asking if I could suggest any alternative wording for Clause 5(1)c.
I also see that the Thinking Anglicans website is intending to run a discussion, with invited contributions, on the same issue.
I await the outcome of the latter with interest since, as I said to my correspondent, I am actually at a loss to know what to suggest.
Part of the problem is that Clause 5(1)c is barely good enough for Traditionalists. Contrary to what was being said on all sides when it was first announced, it does not ensure the provision of bishops or clergy with particular theological convictions.
All it requires is that the Code of Practice contain guidance as to the selection of the clergy who will minister to petitioning parishes so that “the exercise of ministry” by them is “consistent with the theological convictions” of petitioning parishes.
In other words, the way in which Clause 5(1)c will be put into effect has yet to be seen, and will itself be subject to the Synodical process involved in drawing up the Code of Practice. This particular horse is a long way from the water, let alone drinking it.
Then you have to ask another question. Is the proposed rewording primarily aimed at satisfying Traditionalists or assuaging Revisionists?
Frankly, if 5(1)c doesn’t suffice, then I find it hard to conceive of a form of words which will do both.
Of course, it is relatively easy to think in terms of proposals that would satisfy one party or the other. But that is not the point. We are where we are as a result of literally years of pleas, arguments and even negotiations (though I suspect there have been too few of the latter).
The proposed Measure presented to the dioceses was the result of that process, and the House of Bishops’s amendment was intended to be the final ‘tweak’ needed to get it past the Traditionalists.
In this, it almost succeeded. I can say, without breaching confidences, that (despite various public statements) there were serious discussions amongst Traditionalists as to whether the Measure might be acceptable, even whilst it fell a long way short of being desirable. (For those who are wondering, there are a number of other elements in the Measure which still give grounds for dissent.)
For this reason, however, I would also suggest that the withdrawal of Clause 5(1)c with nothing similar (or anything weaker) in its place would lead to a very clear “No in November”. This is one reason why I have gone to the effort of posting the petition to ‘Keep Clause 5(1)c’.
So if anyone has any suggestions they might be able to make — actual wording that they think would do the trick — please do post as a comment.
Without anything as a suitable alternative, I personally think the best thing is for the bishops to re-present the Measure with the Clause still there, on the grounds that this might, just, be enough after all for those who are willing to compromise, and then let the Synod decide.
Short of that, I think the Measure will fall. And I do not want to spend the next five years discussing this matter when the crying need is for the Church’s agenda to be the conversion of England.Please give a full name and location when posting. Comments without this information may be deleted. Recommend: