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Women-bishops committee and proposals

by
01 April 2009

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From Professor Anthony J. Berry
Sir, — I note (from your news item last week) the memberships of the steering committee and the revision committee for the women-bishops Measure. It is admirable that there are three female clergy and five lay women among their number, with four (male!) bishops and six male clergy.

It is, however, quite astonishing that there is but one lay male member of these committees, while there are ten male clergy. This severely compromised outcome does call into question the decision processes of the appointments com­mittee and perhaps its leadership.

In order to get a better balance of representation and to accommodate lay males, perhaps one of the For­ward in Faith trio in the revision committee (the Bishop of Beverley, the Revd Jonathan Baker, or Canon Simon Killwick, which must be overstating that important if par­ticular constituency) could volun­tarily stand down and encour­age the appointments committee to recon­sider and re-balance the member­ship of the revision committee to include more lay male members.

ANTHONY J. BERRY
(Synod member for Chester)
24 Leafield Road, Disley
Stockport
SK12 2JF

From Mrs Ruth McCurry
Sir, — Our organisation has campaigned for many years for the ordination of women as bishops; but we believe that the legislation proposed at present would institutionalise a division in the Church, based on accepting that people would collectively refuse to receive communion from others.

When people are, as a parish or other organisation, not in communion with their bishops and archbishops, this is schism. What else is schism but the refusal of communion? The current proposals are in danger of institutionalising and perpetuating schism.

The legislative drafting group has done its best, but we cannot in the end avoid the stark choice. There are only three possible ways to go: ordain women bishops without dis­crimination or provision for schism; enshrine schism in the Church’s day-to-day life; or aban­don the proposal for women bishops.

We in GRAS, which has hundreds of members, strongly urge the first of the three. The second must surely be unacceptable to everyone, and it is time to face this.

RUTH McCURRY
Chair of the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod
7 Clemence Street
London E14 7TR

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