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For CofE Synod, it’s decision time on women bishops

For CofE Synod, it’s decision time on women bishops

It’s coming down to the wire. Next month’s General Synod of the Church of England will spend much of its time on the question of women bishops. 42 out 44 dioceses have expressed a desire for women in the episcopate, so now comes the question of how to make it happen, and that question is hinging on the related issue of how to accommodate the minority who is against the idea. So much of the debate will focus on what is called the “Code of Practice.”


Thinking Anglican’s has a link to the Church Times article, now peeking out from behind the paywall, about what is before the Synod next month. It provides useful background for those of us watching with interest from across the ocean.

There was no doubt from the voting in the dioceses, where only two of the 44 dioceses had voted against the principle of women bishops, that the majority were in favour of women in the episcopate; so the real arguments in Synod were “not so much about when” as about how to accommodate those who could not accept women bishops.

After the Code of Practice debate on the Tuesday afternoon, there will be a take-note debate on the Wednesday morning on the Business Committee’s report on the Article 8 reference to the dioceses. At this debate, following motions passed in diocesan synods can be discussed.

The key debate is on the Wednesday afternoon, when the Synod will focus on two diocesan-synod following motions that take opposing views on whether the House of Bishops should amend the legislation in May.

A motion from Manchester dio­cesan synod requests that the Bishops amend the legislation in the way proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in 2010 (News, 9 July 2010). Their chief proposal, which the House of Clergy narrowly voted down at the time, was that the authority of a traditionalist bishop requested by a parish would derive from the Measure, and not be delegated from the diocesan bishop, who might be a woman; though without detracting from her own jurisdiction.

A motion from Southwark diocesan synod, which will be pre­sented as an amendment to the Manchester motion, takes the op­posite line. It asks the House of Bishops to note the “significant support” that the draft legislation has received from the dioceses, and make no further amendments to the legislation whatsoever.

The Synod has no power at this late stage to dictate what the House of Bishops does or does not do to the legislation, but it would be likely to take note of what Synod members request.

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Leslie Scoopmire

The “system” outlined here seems one destined not only for chaos, but for promoting that caos for as long as possible.

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