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Most bishops prefer code of practice

by
12 June 2008

by a staff reporter

Reporting: Bishop McCulloch PA

Reporting: Bishop McCulloch PA

WHEN the General Synod debates women bishops next month in York, it will have before it a motion that offers a code of practice rather than any structural protection for traditionalists.

The motion was agreed by a majority at a House of Bishops meeting last month. It reads:

“That this Synod:

(a) reaffirm its wish for women to be admitted to the episcopate;

(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;

(c) affirm that these should be contained in a national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and

(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.”

In a formal note, the Archbishops, writing as the Synod’s presidents, describe the motion as a “starting point”. They go on: “It does not represent a consensus within the House on what the conclusion should be, but rather the view of the majority on the best place for Synod to begin examining the options.”

The Manchester report posed two questions: does the C of E wish to continue to accommodate the present range of views about women’s ordination? And, does it wish to continue to make special arrangements for those who, on grounds of theological conviction, have difficulties over women priests and bishops?

A majority in the House of Bishops answered both questions in the affirmative, say the Archbishops.

They write: “A significant minority within the House was prepared to contemplate the possibility of a small number of new dioceses, or, alternatively, mandatory transfer of functions within existing dioceses. . .

“A majority of the House, however, was not persuaded that it would be right to pursue either a structural solution — in terms of setting up new dioceses, or a legislative scheme that involved the dividing up of a diocesan bishop’s functions and powers in a way that could be seen as radically altering or indeed undermining the nature of episcopal authority within the Church of England.”

As a consequence, the existing legal arrangements for parishes that object to women priests would be repealed, and the Act of Synod 1993 would be rescinded. Instead, provision for such parishes would be made under the new code of practice.

A key issue is how binding the code might be. “The House of Bishops noted that a code of practice included a spectrum of possibilities between, at one end, an entirely informal code and, at the other, one secured by legislation.”

Synod faces seven-and-a-half hours of women debate

DEBATE about women bishops will dominate the General Synod agenda next month. In all, the Synod will spend about seven-and-a-half hours discussing the various ways forward.

Synod faces seven-and-a-half hours of women debate

DEBATE about women bishops will dominate the General Synod agenda next month. In all, the Synod will spend about seven-and-a-half hours discussing the various ways forward.

The General Synod will meet on the York University campus from 4 p.m. on Friday 4 July until 1 p.m. on Tuesday 8 July. The chief item on the agenda is the consideration of the recent Manchester report (News, 2 May), which outlined the various options for introducing women into the episcopate in the Church of England, and accommodating those who find women bishops unacceptable.

The General Synod will meet on the York University campus from 4 p.m. on Friday 4 July until 1 p.m. on Tuesday 8 July. The chief item on the agenda is the consideration of the recent Manchester report (News, 2 May), which outlined the various options for introducing women into the episcopate in the Church of England, and accommodating those who find women bishops unacceptable.

The matter first comes up on the Friday evening, when the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, introduces the issue and briefs the Synod on the plans for the following morning. These involve an hour-and-a-quarter in group discussions, beginning with prayer. These are followed by a two-hour “take note” debate, in which the general concerns of the different positions in Synod can be aired.

The matter first comes up on the Friday evening, when the Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, introduces the issue and briefs the Synod on the plans for the following morning. These involve an hour-and-a-quarter in group discussions, beginning with prayer. These are followed by a two-hour “take note” debate, in which the general concerns of the different positions in Synod can be aired.

Controversial matters are customarily avoided on a Sunday during the York sessions, and the Synod returns to women bishops on Monday afternoon, spending three-and-three-quarter hours debating the motion proposed by the House of Bishops: no legislative security for traditionalists, but, instead, a code of practice. The Archbishops have said that they expect amendments to this motion in order to test the mind of the Synod. These can be submitted as late as Sunday afternoon; so it will be impossible to predict until the day what choices the Synod will be faced with.

Controversial matters are customarily avoided on a Sunday during the York sessions, and the Synod returns to women bishops on Monday afternoon, spending three-and-three-quarter hours debating the motion proposed by the House of Bishops: no legislative security for traditionalists, but, instead, a code of practice. The Archbishops have said that they expect amendments to this motion in order to test the mind of the Synod. These can be submitted as late as Sunday afternoon; so it will be impossible to predict until the day what choices the Synod will be faced with.

Apart from this, the agenda is full. There are two ecumenical matters for consideration, covering relations with the Orthodox and Methodist Churches.

Apart from this, the agenda is full. There are two ecumenical matters for consideration, covering relations with the Orthodox and Methodist Churches.

Two diocesan-synod motions will be debated: one, from St Albans, on the importance of Christian values in economic life; and one from Guildford, asking for a report from the House of Bishops clarifying the relationship between the different strata of the Anglican Communion. The only private member’s motion to be debated is in support of tourism in churches. (For more on a motion not on the agenda, see Letters.)

Two diocesan-synod motions will be debated: one, from St Albans, on the importance of Christian values in economic life; and one from Guildford, asking for a report from the House of Bishops clarifying the relationship between the different strata of the Anglican Communion. The only private member’s motion to be debated is in support of tourism in churches. (For more on a motion not on the agenda, see Letters.)

After a presidential address from the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, Sunday afternoon is given over to legislative business, to which the Synod returns on Monday. There is also a certain amount of housekeeping, including discussion about the 2009 budget and a debate on the levels of fees charged for funerals and weddings.

After a presidential address from the Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, Sunday afternoon is given over to legislative business, to which the Synod returns on Monday. There is also a certain amount of housekeeping, including discussion about the 2009 budget and a debate on the levels of fees charged for funerals and weddings.

In addition, the Synod will debate Readers’ ministry, and the challenge of climate change.

Synod agenda

Friday 4 July
afternoon
preliminaries; address by Metropolitan John Zizioulas; Anglican/Orthodox relations: The Church of the Triune God

In addition, the Synod will debate Readers’ ministry, and the challenge of climate change.

Synod agenda

Friday 4 July
afternoon
preliminaries; address by Metropolitan John Zizioulas; Anglican/Orthodox relations: The Church of the Triune God

evening
women bishops: introduction by the Bishop of Manchester; questions

evening
women bishops: introduction by the Bishop of Manchester; questions

Saturday 5 July
morning
women bishops: group work and take-note debate

Saturday 5 July
morning
women bishops: group work and take-note debate

afternoon
presidential address by the Archbishop of York; legislative business: Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure; Church of England (Pensions) Amendment) Measure.

afternoon
presidential address by the Archbishop of York; legislative business: Ecclesiastical Offices (Terms of Service) Measure; Church of England (Pensions) Amendment) Measure.

Crown Appointments legislation: Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure; Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure; Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation; Miscellaneous Provisions Measure

Crown Appointments legislation: Vacancies in Suffragan Sees and Other Ecclesiastical Offices Measure; Crown Benefices (Parish Representatives) Measure; Vacancy in See Committees (Amendment) Regulation; Miscellaneous Provisions Measure

evening
Reader ministry

evening
Reader ministry

Sunday 6 July

Sunday 6 July

morning
eucharist in York Minster

morning
eucharist in York Minster

afternoon
private member’s motion on church tourism

afternoon
private member’s motion on church tourism

legislative business: payments to the Churches Conservation Trust
climate change and human security housekeeping: appointment of the chairman of the Pensions Board; Audit Committee report; appointment of auditors; Archbishops’ Council annual report

legislative business: payments to the Churches Conservation Trust
climate change and human security housekeeping: appointment of the chairman of the Pensions Board; Audit Committee report; appointment of auditors; Archbishops’ Council annual report

evening
funeral and wedding fees

evening
funeral and wedding fees

Monday 7 July

Monday 7 July

morning
Anglican/Methodist Covenant
legislative business (unfinished business from Saturday)
Standing Orders Committee report

morning
Anglican/Methodist Covenant
legislative business (unfinished business from Saturday)
Standing Orders Committee report

afternoon
women bishops: debate on House of Bishops motion

afternoon
women bishops: debate on House of Bishops motion

evening
diocesan-synod motion on faith, work, and economic life

evening
diocesan-synod motion on faith, work, and economic life

Tuesday 8 July
morning
diocesan-synod motion on Anglican governance; budget; Church Commissioners’ annual report

Tuesday 8 July
morning
diocesan-synod motion on Anglican governance; budget; Church Commissioners’ annual report

farewells

farewells

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