UPDATE: From Thinking Anglicans
The Group of Six (the six officers of the General Synod) has determined, by a majority, that the two amendments made by the House of Bishops to the draft Women Bishops Legislation do not alter the substance of the proposals, and so do not require a further reference to the dioceses. Their decision is contained in this press release.
From The Anglican Journal, Anglican Church of Canada:
Meeting in York on May 21, the House of Bishops of the Church of England concluded its consideration of long-awaited and much-debated draft legislation to permit the consecration of women as bishops. The legislation will go before the General Synod in July for final approval.
But in a move that has many women fuming, the bishops made two cop-out amendments to the draft measure. The first change would allow traditionalist parishes that reject the authority of female bishops to opt out and have recourse to an alternate bishop "consistent with the theological convictions" (code for male).
If, for example, a parish in the diocese of a female bishop does not recognize her authority, upon request, the bishop could delegate her powers to a male colleague to serve that parish.
The amendment is careful to say that although the alternative male bishop derives his legal authority from the diocesan woman bishop who appoints him, the authority to exercise the office of bishop comes from his own ordination.
Those who support women bishops view this as making women second-class bishops. Those opposed believe that a male bishop should not derive his episcopal authority from a woman in any way.
The second alteration concerns a new code of practice for bishops in the event the consecration of women bishops is approved. Guidance will be provided to the diocesan bishop for selecting the male bishops and priests who will minister in parishes whose parochial church councils have requested male-only clergy for theological reasons. The guidance will ensure that the exercise of ministry by bishops and priests appointed to serve in parishes objecting to female bishops will be consistent with those objections.
A female priest has compared the Church of England to an abusive husband following controversial last-minute changes to plans allowing women to be bishops.
The Rev Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, interim principal of Durham University's Ustinov College, branded the Church an "abusive institution" and questioned whether women should stay or flee.
She wrote in a blog post: "The question for women priests today is: do we stay with this abusive institution?
"Do we stay, hoping it will get better? Do we stay, because we feel called by God to be in this marriage? Do we stay, thinking we can continue to try to change it from the inside?
"Or do we flee to the nearest refuge (let's ignore the fact for now that they rarely exist) - leaving home, family, community, and our dreams behind?"
Dr Threlfall-Holmes, a member of the General Synod and also a historian, has been outspoken about women's ordination in previous blog posts.
She wrote on Monday: "One of the reasons women's ordination is important is because women's current exclusion from the church hierarchy justifies and entrenches sexist attitudes which have very serious consequences for women around the world.
"Rape, sexual abuse, violence against women and women's political and economic subjugation are repeatedly justified on the basis that it is 'natural' and 'God-given' that women should be below men on some divine hierarchy."
Sally Barnes, from Women and the Church (Watch), said the group fully backed Dr Threlfall-Holmes:
"What Miranda is saying, and what others have also said, is women in the Church are being treated in an abusive way and it contributes to the way some people view women in society and reinforces that negative view."
Men and women, both lay and ordained, had expressed anger over the latest proposed changes to legislation paving the way for women bishops, she said.
The amendments, agreed at a meeting of the House of Bishops, clarify the position of male bishops appointed to minister to objectors and ensure that these bishops also share the same views on women's ordination as those parishes that object.
The changes have been made after a decade of torturous wrangling over how to introduce women bishops within the Church of England while making adequate provision for traditionalists.
The amendments came after 42 out of the 44 dioceses of the Church of England voted to back legislation introducing women bishops.