Caution: nervous bishops ahead

A few Bishops in the Church of England want a go-slow approach to approving women bishops while four organizations have written a joint letter to the Bishops saying now is the time to act boldly.


The Church Times reports on the Bishops urging caution:

On Wednesday of last week, the Archbishops’ Council stated that the women-bishops issue should be resolved “as a matter of urgency” ( News, 30 November). It urged the House of Bishops at its meeting next week to “put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year, with a view to bringing legislative proposals before Synod in July”.

On Tuesday, however, the Bishop of Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott, suggested that the House “ought to be able to share with people a process” at the Synod in July. “That will lead in due course to fresh legislative proposals.”

Also this week, the Bishop of Chester, Dr Peter Forster, called for a “concentrated period of reflection”. There were “good reasons” why the legislative group and Synod had not pursued a single-clause Measure or “stronger safeguards”, and “the greatest problem would be if we started the process quickly and ended up with another mess.”

Bishop Willmott, who was a member of the steering committee for the last Measure, also expressed concerns about restricting it to a single clause. “We are trying to get away from some of these words which actually are too blunt: so, for example, a ‘single clause’.

Thinking Anglican reprints a letter urging the elimination of the double standard for women bishops that was built into the failed measure.

We welcome the statement issued on the conclusion of the Meeting of the Archbishops’ Council on 27-28 November 2012, and the decision that a process to admit women to the episcopate be restarted as soon as possible.

We offer our prayerful support to members of the House of Bishops as they prepare to meet shortly in December and ask them to explore, as a matter of great urgency, every possible avenue to effect the will of the Church on this issue.

We urge them to support the recommendation of the Archbishops’ Council to put in place a clear process for discussions in the New Year with a view to bringing new legislative proposals before the General Synod as a matter of urgency, convening in February 2013 if necessary.

We ask the House of Bishops to end the theological anomaly of women priests who cannot be ordained as bishops by bringing forward the simplest possible form of legislation without delay, thus fully recognising and affirming the vital importance of women’s ministry in the church.

We strongly support the principle that a woman appointed to be a bishop must be a bishop on exactly the same terms as her male colleagues, whilst recognising the need to make pastoral provision for those unable to accept the ministry of women bishops. However a new way forward must be found and one which does not enshrine discrimination on the grounds of gender.

Category : The Lead

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