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Women and the Episcopate around the world

Women and the Episcopate around the world

The Diocese of Grafton in Australia has elected the Rev Dr. Sarah Macneil as bishop. Dr. Macneil will be the first woman to serve as diocesan bishop in Australia, 3 other women have served assistant or suffragan bishops in Australia. Sydney has the report:

The Reverend Dr Sarah Macneil has been elected unanimously as the 11th Bishop of the Anglican diocese of Grafton.

The Sunday night announcement comes a day before the Anglican church and the Grafton diocese in particular is due to appear before the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse, which will open in Sydney on Monday. Dr Macneil replaces Keith Slater.

He resigned in May this year, apologising for his failings in handling complaints about sexual abuse and brutal beatings that took place at the North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore, which was run by the Grafton diocese of the Anglican church.

The Rt Rev Alan Wilson notes on his Facebook page:

Today’s Sunday Programme on Radio 4: Pat Storey, shortly to be ordained bishop in the Church of Ireland, explains how much easier it was for them because they just legislated the lot in one go. Then cometh the big interview on next week’s general synod debate on this subject leading to the killer question “what was all the fuss about?” — something some of us have wondered about for ages. Outbreak of common sense all round, facilitated by Canon David Porter… or, as Owd Horace used to say, “parturient montes, nascetur ridiculus mus…”

Regarding progress on women in the Episcopate in the Church of England, The Telegraph notes that a compromise resolution is being discussed:

Under the new proposals, an independent ombudsman would be appointed to intervene when traditionalist parishes complain they are not sufficiently “protected” from women bishops’ authority. Leading opponents of female bishops believe the measure will “go sailing through” this week’s debate and on to final approval by next year or 2015.

The package was drawn up by a specially convened steering group made up of a cross-section of Church opinion. It was aided by professional mediators, including Canon David Porter, director of reconciliation to the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby.


As a matter of conscience, those who, with Forward in Faith, are opposed on theological grounds to ordaining women to the episcopate will not be able to vote at the final approval stage in favour of legislation whose purpose is to permit this. What attitude is taken to the possibility of principled abstention will depend on whether the proposals survive intact. Any weakening of the proposals would require them to be opposed vigorously


In Canada, the Diocese of New Westminster (Vancouver BC area) has nominated 4 women and 4 men for election as bishop.


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JC Fisher

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