Simplifying the process towards women bishops


An advisory group set up by the House of Bishops in the Church of England has proposed a streamlined process to move along legislation for women bishops.

The Church Times reports:

A consultation document, over the signature of the General Synod’s Secretary General, William Fittall, issued to all members of the Synod today, sets out “ideas and issues that are beginning to emerge” after “facilitated discussions” on Tuesday and Wednesday this week.

Its first proposition is that the draft Measure that fell at the November General Synod must be abandoned: “it would not be sensible to try to take the rejected draft Measure as a starting point and tweak it. . . Though so narrowly lost, its moment has passed.”

The second proposition is that “any new approach should not seek to reopen questions around jurisdiction and the position of the diocesan bishop, in law, as the ordinary and chief pastor of everyone in the diocese.” Any transfer or sharing of jurisdiction risks “introducing confusion where there needs to be clarity” and “any notion of a two-tier episcopate is anathema.”

The third proposition is that “there needs, so far as possible, to be a complete package of proposals that can be assessed in its entirety before final approval, without the possibility of further amendments to some parts of it between the final approval of the legislation and its coming into force.”

The final proposition, described as “arguably the most important and also the most subtle”, is that “From the recent conversations it is clear that any new package needs to try, so far as possible to achieve two things. While at first sight they appear to be in tension with each other, they may in fact offer a possible way forward.”

The two objectives are: “Produce a shorter, simpler Measure than the one that was defeated; Provide, through the totality of the elements in the package, a greater sense of security for the minority as having an accepted and valued place in the Church of England while not involving the majority in any new element of compromise on matters of principle.”

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