Believing in the common good put the Church of England into a mess over women bishops according to Linda Woodhead at Modern Church:
The historic churches have come to love the idea of the common good. It’s there at the heart of Catholic Social Teaching, and it shapes the whole ethos of the Church of England. It seems to have been the guiding principle of Rowan William’s leadership, and it shapes the way decisions are taken from parishes up to Synod. Unity at all costs.
It’s been a disaster. It’s a charter for minority views to hold everyone [hostage]. …
You can see how it plays out in the way meetings are run. Taking a vote is seen as divisive, unfraternal. You have to come to a common mind. What this means in practice is that he or she who speaks up – or runs the meeting – often wins the day, regardless of whether anyone agrees. Protest is difficult, for it appears strident and ‘selfish’.
You can see the same principle at work it in the way Rowan has considered maintenance of the unity of the Anglican communion a greater good than support for the cause of women and gay people in the church. Even the slow death of the church in Europe is considered a price worth paying for the ever-receding goal of the common good.
The very constitution of synod has been set up according to this principle. Not first past the post but a 2/3 majority in all houses. This is why 72.6% of synod members can vote for women bishops, all but two dioceses support it, and 6 lay votes can defeat the measure. Don’t complain or celebrate though, because we should all maintain the image of one happy family.
But isn’t ‘oneness’ Christian? Shouldn’t the church be showing the world a higher way? Yes it should. But it’s actually rather hard to find Biblical support for ‘Christianity unity’ or the common good. John 17:21 ‘they all may be one’ is made to do an awful lot of work. There’s rather a deal more in Jesus’ teaching about hating father and mothers, and setting brother against brother. ‘Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I came to bring not peace but a sword.’