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Church of England bishops must be equal

Church of England bishops must be equal

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes writes that legislation allowing women to be ordained as bishops must not compromise the authority of bishops. In The Guardian at Comment is free:

On Monday the House of Bishops will meet to discuss whether to try to “tweak” the delicately balanced compromise legislation to allow women to be bishops.

If they do tweak, the General Synod, which must approve the results, should reject the legislation altogether. Any further changes will make the legislation pointless, by undermining the legitimacy of having women as bishops at the same time as saying they can be. How patronising! Those opposed to women’s ordination – and, worryingly, many who say they support it – seem to think that this is just about a few ambitious women wanting the pointy hat. How hopelessly, and sadly, wrong that is.

This is about the church finally and unambiguously proclaiming that women and men are both equally made in God’s image and able to relate to God in the same way; that gender is not a fundamental dividing line, let alone one that necessitates a hierarchical relationship, between two fundamentally different parts of humanity.

The current legislation is a major compromise for all parties in this debate, and we can’t find a better compromise than this. We can’t compromise away the entire point of having women and men together in the threefold ministry, or the theological integrity of our church. There is no point having this legislation just to get female bishops at any price. If the House of Bishops can’t bring itself to wholeheartedly endorse women’s ordination, I think I will feel I have to vote against the measure at final approval, rather than vote for enshrining theological incoherence and gender discrimination in canon law.


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