Thursday, 8 November 2012

The Women Bishop's Measure: remember what might have been

In the final campaigning before the vote on the Women Bishop's Measure, some people are saying, quite vociferously, that the 'trads' are not only refusing to compromise now, but have been stubborn all the way through, whereas the supporters of women bishops have been generous in their willingness to compromise.

In his own section in a booklet hastily published by Forward in Faith and Reform, however, Simon Killwick makes reference to "the draft Measure as it stood after First Consideration in Synod", which (I presume!) is this document, GS 1708 Draft Bishop's and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure.

A quick read through reveals a very different set of proposals from those now before the General Synod. I hope the image below is readable, but it gives some idea of how different:

When you think of the apoplexy that greeted the House of Bishop's very modest proposal in the original Clause 5(1)c, you'll understand why this was strangled at birth. Nevertheless, it shows very clearly how far - how very far indeed - we have come from what was first put on the table as proposed legislation and what was finally brought back to General Synod for approval.

I do remember a couple of years ago actually mistaking this for the final form of the legislation and wondering what there was to make a fuss about from the Traditionalist perspective. So if anyone asks now, "What would satisfy you?" my answer would be, "Let's go back and look again at what was first drawn up."

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  1. I think it's something of a misnomer for traditionists to talk about 'compromise' because, what, after all, is the compromise you are prepared to make?

    You're effectively saying that you can live with women bishops as long as you don't have to have anything to do with them. What sacrifices in the name of compromise are you being asked to make? Fern Winter, London

  2. Fern, that is a little unfair. By remaining in the Church of England's ecclesial structures we all have to have 'something to do' with women priests and eventually will have to have 'something to do' with women bishops.

    In the same way, women priests and bishops in the Church of England have to accept that there are those who dispute the propriety of them holding those offices - as the Church more generally continues to do and has done for millennia. The Church may have been wrong, but there are still those who think it was not.

    The outstanding question at the moment, though, is whether the proposed legislation will preserve that tradition in the Church of England's ecclesial structures or force it to become, in the words of the Manchester Report, a much narrower body than it has been for some time. There are those who would like it to be so. Had the first draft Measure been put to the Synod, however - or even the original Clause 5(1)c - I believe we might be on the home stretch by now.

    The mood of some is clearly 'no compromise', but I am talking about WATCH and GRAS, not (or at least not just) FiF and Reform.

  3. "women priests and bishops in the Church of England have to accept that there are those who dispute the propriety of them holding those offices" - John Richardson -

    And, John, herein lies the problem. Once the Church of England agreed to ordain women as priests; where is the propriety of staying with a Church that does this when you believe it does not have the authority to do such a thing?

    The whole charade of PEVs is totally un-catholic. Church members either accept the legitimacy of Women Clergy, or they don't. Why bother trying to accommodate something you don't believe in?

  4. And where, kiwianglo, do you suggest I go? Whatever happened to one Church in Christ? And what about those people who believe in women bishops who choose to belong to an ecclesial body that doesn't have them? Shouldn't they leave and start another body?

    All this makes no sense to me if we think there is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of us all? Were women bishops crucified for us?

  5. Kiwianglo wrote:

    The whole charade of PEVs is totally un-catholic. Church members either accept the legitimacy of Women Clergy, or they don't. Why bother trying to accommodate something you don't believe in?

    A cynic might suggest that the CoE should have heeded that advice 20 years ago when it first approved WO. But I digress.

    This was truly a LOL moment. Does the church require that members believe in the Virgin Birth? Well, maybe or maybe not. Or the divinity of Christ? Heavens, no. Or the existence of Hell? Or the reality of the miracles? Or the physical resurrection? Or the exclusive truth of the Christian faith? Or even of the existence of God? Are you kidding me? This isn't the 16th century! The modern church is .. well ...modern. It holds such things as adiaphora - and slightly embarrassing adiaphora at that since we moderns know such things are indeterminable, and therefore (how should we say this) unimportant.

    But what does the modern church require of its members? It requires that they must accept the legitimacy of women as priests and bishops. And people who don't agree should just get out! There is an insight in there somewhere to the actual functioning Creed of liberal Christianity. And that creed ain't Nicean.


  6. Carl, methinks you've been reading Cranmer's fisks! That said, you hit the nail on the head, as did John when he asked why those believing in women's ordination didn't leave the CofE before 1993. All I can to is add /facepalm and /headdesk to show my thoughts on Kiwi's suggestion.

  7. 2 thoughts about John's comments;
    1st: The 1 Church of Christ; Yes, true BUT, we don't believe that the C of E = the one true Church do we? Doesn't our catholicity mean we recognise other churches/denominations? In fact, arguably they are more catholic (I don't mean Rominish).

    2nd: You say "where would you go?" (lots would have you, I'm sure) & "where would those who want women bishops go". As far as I'm aware nobody opposes male bishops (not openly), & so it isn't male bishops that cause controversy or division. But it isn't a bad question, why didn't a group leave such an unjust institution and join the URC, Methodists, or bring a big dressing up box and start their own thing? The problem is rather different for anti-women bishops, is rather different to pro.

    Darren Moore

  8. A brave man takes on John re: Grammar.

    I'm pretty sure he's right though. Women is usually lower case, so are bishops and no ' after the s, as it isn't about what that group own. So women bishops would be right. If it were a specific bishop with a title then it would be capitals.