St Thérèse of Lisieux and women bishops

14 October 2009


From the Revd Jean M. Mayland

Sir, — When I opened my Church Times (9 October) and saw the pic­tures of the casket of bones of St Thérèse of Lisieux at York Minster, I felt quite sick.

Church unity, for which I have worked most of my life, does not mean throwing one’s integrity out of the window. We are a Church of the Reformation, as well as of a Catholic heritage, and at the Reformation we rejected the superstitious venerating of human remains.

People cannot freely enter the Min­ster any more to pray and medi­tate, but only by paying for entry. On this occasion, that requirement was suspended. I am glad people prayed, but am horrified that they were en­couraged to pray around relics in an Anglican cathedral.

The same day (9 October), I was grieving at the press release issued by the Church of England, stating that the revision committee on the or-dination of women as bishops had voted to amend the draft legislation so as “to provide for certain func­tions to be vested in male bishops by statute rather than by delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statutory code of practice”.

This decision is contrary to the will of General Synod as voted in July 2008. It is also degrading to women and against Catholic order.

I wonder how many of those who prayed in York Minster remembered that Thérèse wrote: “I feel in me the vocation of priest, with what love I would carry you in my hands. . .” She also said that at her death (aged 24) God had let her die so young to pro­tect her from the disappointment of not being able to be ordained.

We women priests are ordained, but we pray with love that some of our number will be consecrated bishop — but not to a two-tier epis­copate. We do not intend to die of grief, but we will fight until our last breath for legislation that recognises that women and men are “equally made in the image of God and equally graced to hold the offices of priest and bishop”. In this we are supported by many of our Roman Catholic sisters.


5 Hackwood Glade, Hexham
Northumberland NE46 1AL

From Mr Stephen Barney

Sir, — As a member of the General Synod, I have heard all the discus­sions over the past five years and have been privileged to be involved in considering all of the many pro­posed solutions to the difficult issues surrounding women’s becoming bishops.

Eventually, after six hours of de­bate, we came to a clear mind on this in July 2008. I am mystified by the outcome of the legislative group’s proposals on women in the episco­pate as announced last week, and the subsequent comments in the na­tional press.

As you may recall, in July 2008, the General Synod voted by large majori­ties for the drafting of a single-clause Measure with a statutory code of practice. The Bishops voted by 28 to 12 for the motion, the Clergy by 124 to 44, and the Laity by 111 to 68.

How is it that what is now being proposed can be so different from what was agreed, to the extent that the Church will now be asked again to approve the plans for “super bishops” which were rejected in July last year, and which will create a new class of bishop, operating in tradi­tionalist zones “untainted” by the spectre of women bishops?

Either what is being proposed is unconstitutional, in the light of the July vote, or what the General Synod votes for has no bearing on the legi­sla­tion that is drafted.

Can anyone cast light on this ap­parent conundrum, please?

The Dower House
Brook Street, Wymeswold
Leicestershire LE12 6TT

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