THE Archbishop of Canterbury has described the General Synod's
provisions for those who are theologically opposed to the
consecration of women to the episcopate as an "expression of
Archbishop Welby made his comments as he appeared alongside
senior officials and members of the General Synod at Parliament's
Ecclesiastical Committee, which was considering the Bishops and
Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure which had
received final approval from the General Synod on Monday of last
week (News, 18
The former President of the Methodist Conference, Lord Griffiths
of Burry Port, said that the inclusion of provisions would lead to
"wider incomprehension to the public at large".
The Archbishop said in response: "This is a very short Measure
with an expression of love and concern for those who struggle with
it. We are a family, not a political party. We don't chuck people
out who disagree with us."
He said that the Church was seeking to "love one another, wash
each other's feet, love your neighbour, love your enemy." He
quipped: "If we had done that in the 18th century, then you
wouldn't be a Methodist."
The Prolocutor of the Lower House of the Convocation of
Canterbury, the Ven. Christine Hardman, rejected a claim from the
Labour peer Lord Judd that, because of the provisions, "looked at
from another planet it might well seem . . . that women are not on
the same footing as men."
"Up until now we talk about, in our canons, women priests and
women deacons", she said. "In this canon . . . from now on, we will
talk about bishops. We will talk about priests. We will talk about
deacons. The gender of the bishop, priest, or deacon will no longer
be like some separate species where you have got bishops and women
bishops, or priests and women priests. We will have bishops, and
priests, and deacons."
Archbishop Welby told the committee that the procedures used to
prepare the legislation, using facilitated discussions, had
"substantially reduced" the "culture of suspicion" that had
developed in the Synod.
After taking evidence for about 75 minutes, the committee
deliberated in private before announcing its unanimous support for
the Measure, declaring it to be "expedient".
Parliament has now risen for the summer recess. Sir Tony Baldry,
who represents the Church Commissioners in Parliament, said that he
hopes to take the Measure to the Commons in September, and that the
Lords will consider it in October. If approved by both Houses, it
will go for Royal Assent before returning to the Synod to be
THE Archbishop of Canterbury has said that he remains
committed to the appointment of a conservative Evangelical bishop,
and has suggested that procedures for selecting bishops may need to
On the specific promise to appoint a conservative
Evangelical bishop "within a matter of months", he told MPs and
peers: "We have undertaken to approach the Dioceses Commission to
see if we can create a suffragan see," before immediately
back-tracking and saying: "not 'create', but if we can use a vacant
suffragan see for the appointment of someone holding the
conservative Evangelical view on headship.
"This was promised long, long ago in various ways. One
of the things that both the Archbishop of York and I feel about
this - as did the House of Bishops - is that if we are going to
create a climate of trust . . . we have got to keep our word on
everything we promise. If you stop doing that, people will not
believe you on anything."
A Church House spokesman later said that "no proposal
has yet been put to the Commission. A specific proposal with role
specification will need to come from the diocesan bishop in whose
diocese the see is.
"As was said at the Synod, conversations are going on,
and options explored. The situation hasn't changed since last
Archbishop Welby also suggested that changes may be made
to the procedures for appointing diocesan and suffragan bishops,
saying: "There are some absolutely outstanding clergy in both the
traditional Catholic and the complementarian Evangelical groups;
and we are going to have to develop . . . processes and procedures
to make sure that they are considered fairly and equally, to see if
they are the most appropriate person for a given
Archbishop Welby has also accepted that consecrating
women to the episcopate will be a "further difficulty" on the road
to unity with other Churches.
In a letter to the Church of England's ecumenical
partners on Thursday of last week, Archbishop Welby wrote that,
while some denominations would welcome the vote at the General
Synod, "our other ecumenical partners may find this a further
difficulty on the journey towards full communion."
The Roman Catholic Bishops' Conference of England and
Wales said in a statement after the Synod vote that the decision
"sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between
In his letter, Archbishop Welby acknowledged that the
decision had divided the C of E. "This is an occasion of deep
rejoicing for many, especially for many of the women clergy in the
Church of England. They feel that this decision affirms their place
and ministry in the life of the Church. For others in the Church of
England, the decision may be a source of disappointment and
Archbishop Welby's letter also praised the "Christian
charity" of the Synod debate, and said that there was a
determination not to let sincere theological differences split the
Church in two.