Thinking Anglicans reports: WATCH (Women and the Church) responds to the Church of England House of Bishops Standing Committee:
WATCH is very encouraged to see that complete withdrawal of Clause 5(1)c received the most positive response in the Church of England’s summer consultation process (see GS Misc 1033).
Clause 5(1)c, was inserted by the House of Bishops in May and has caused widespread dismay. We are hopeful that the House of Bishops will realise, from the overwhelmingly negative response to this amendment, that Clause 5(1)c cannot stay in the legislation as it is, if they wish to see the legislation pass through General Synod in November.
We also note that, although groups representing those opposed are lobbying to keep the existing proposed amendment, they have not said they will vote for the legislation even if the current Clause 5 (1)c remains. If 5(1)c was insufficient for those opposed, then any diluted form of wording is even more unlikely to gain their support for a General Synod vote, whilst remaining potentially problematic for those who welcome the episcopal ministry of women.
We continue to urge the House of Bishops to adopt a cautious approach and not to introduce new and untested wording into the draft legislation at this late stage. The consultation period was extremely brief and the various options considered have not therefore been subject to any sustained scrutiny.
WATCH therefore considers that the wisest course is to return the legislation to General Synod in November in a form that is as close as possible to that approved by 42/44 dioceses; removing Clause 5(1)c and offering Clause 8(2) as reassurance to those opposed.
The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said, “We very much hope that whatever emerges from the House of Bishops on Wednesday will unequivocally affirm the ministry of ordained women and avoid any suggestion of a question mark hanging over their orders.”