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Rationale of supporters who voted against women bishops in CofE

Rationale of supporters who voted against women bishops in CofE

According to a letter published today in the Times of London, 12 supporters of women bishops voted against allowing them to serve in the Church of England. This was enough to make a difference in the outcome. Subscribers to the Times may read the letter, signed by eight of those supporters, here. Thinking Anglicans provides these details:

The following excerpts make clear, first their point of view, and second their specific proposal for the way forward.

First their point of view:

…Most of us who make up the dozen, whose votes against the Measure did not reflect any serious opposition to women bishops, had taken the trouble to state clearly in our election addresses in 2010 that we would vote against the Measure if it did not in our judgment make ample provision of oversight in the way that the minorities needed, or honour promises made to the same minorities only 20 years ago.

Many of us 12 were prepared to vote for the Measure as it stood in July with a clause referring to “theological convictions” of those requiring alternative oversight, had the Bishops not lost their nerve and decided under pressure from “senior women” to reconsider their proposed “helpful” clause…

Second their proposals for the way forward:

…But we now all believe there can be a simpler way forward. A new briefer Measure could incorporate the 1993 Act of Synod governing alternative oversight as we have it, with all the valuable experience it has provided of living together with fellow Anglicans who cannot accept women priests and bishops. The new Measure should provide for alternative oversight on a churchwide basis to those unable to recognise their woman diocesan bishop and also to those parishes that accept or have women clergy which are unsuitably served by a traditional orthodox male diocesan bishop in a predominantly conservative diocese. It will minimally amend but not repeal the 1993 Measure which has served us all well. The Church must be concerned for, and provide for, all its members…

See more, including previous voting records of the letter’s eight signatories, at

Also, Savi Hensmen offers this perspective on the issue, at

The proposals contained elaborate measures to accommodate those who still believe that women cannot validly, or should not, be ordained. Parishes could still have chosen to be ministered to only by male clergy, with male vicars, and male bishops carrying out confirmations even in areas where the bishop was a woman. What is more, the choice of men would have been influenced by the reasons a parish expressed for wanting only male clerics.

However, it would have involved at least acknowledging the reality of women’s ordination, which was perhaps the sticking point for those most ardently opposed. Meanwhile some pro-inclusion campaigners who had made major concessions felt that their efforts had been spurned, while members of the public tried to make sense of the controversy.

Imagine, say, that a surgeon had started working at a hospital when all the medical staff were men and, even as the workforce changed, did not hide his belief that only men could be proper doctors. It would be remarkable if, instead of disciplining him, hospital managers agreed that he should work only with male medical students and doctors and even that the new head of surgery, a women, should delegate his supervision to a male colleague.

If this surgeon nevertheless loudly accused the hospital of not valuing him by making no significant adjustment for his views, and managers apologised for the distress they had caused him, most observers would be baffled, even if some of his admiring women patients agreed with his claims.

Yet many opponents do feel victimised. These tend to be conservative Anglo-Catholics or conservative evangelicals, though many other Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals are keen supporters of women’s ordination. Some object on the grounds that, supposedly, women cannot validly celebrate the sacraments such as Holy Communion, and that men’s ability to celebrate may also potentially be invalidated under certain circumstances (‘sacramental assurance’), while others claim that the Bible insists that only men should head families and churches (‘headship’).

The doctrine of male headship held by some conservative evangelicals also has profound implications for laypersons seeking to live out their faith, since it involves submission of women to men in homes and congregations and, some even argue, affects how and when women should lead in the workplace.

Read her full post here.


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Dave Paisley

We can live without your patronizing, so-called support.


File this similar to “I’m not a racist, but [bunch o’ racism]”.

As the Brits would say: give them the sack!

JC Fisher

Michael Russell

Sadly the full article is behind a pay wall. It would be great to have their whole letter.

My preferred course is to hope Parliament will simply remove the C of E’s exemption from the Equalities Act. Let all the maneouverers deal with the harsh light of those provisions which they have heretofore avoided.

These twelve have brought shame on the C of E and instead of advancing their cause are likely to find (if there are indeed other swing votes of people who were being nice) that nice is not exhausted and a less kind provision will be passed.

Either course will be a conclusion to the issue they richly deserve.

Cynthia Katsarelis

I agree with Ann. They are not supporters of WB’s. Their words are disingenuous at best. My guess is that in July the measure will pass without provisions for those of the “no-girl cootie cult.” I think they passed up the best deal they were ever going to get, and they’ve drummed up a lot of disgust from the public. Read the Guardian blogs for an eyeful. The new ABC has his work cut out for him at home.


Agreed. These women are not supporters of women bishops, and they never were. Why not be honest and say so?

June Butler

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