Traditionalists face threadbare future as Measure is passed

by
15 July 2010

by Ed Beavan

AFTER two emotional days of debate on women bishops, Synod members’ reactions ranged from joy to deep disappointment.

Owing to the number of amend­ments to the draft legislation, its re­vision stage was a long haul last week­end. But every bid to give opponents bishops with their own jurisdiction — even “co-ordinate”, as proposed by the two Archbishops — fell.

Though supported by a majority of Synod members, the Archbishops’ amendment lost by five votes among the Clergy when a vote by Houses was required. An amendment for hard­ship provision for clergy resigning office also fell. Traditionalists are left with a code of practice (as yet unseen), which they have repeatedly said “will not do”.

Writing to his clergy, however, the Bishop of London, the Rt Revd Richard Chartres, said that it was “emphatically not true to say that the Measure as it stands contains no provisions”. But he recognised there was anxiety among traditionalists because the contents of the code had not yet been worked out.

He had voted for the Archbishops’ amendment. Despite its defeat, it was important to note that “valiant attempts are being made to open the way for women to be consecrated bishops without excluding from the Church those who adhere to the present position”.

He urged any of the clergy questioning their place in the C of E “on the basis of media reports or premature judgements about the final shape of legislation” to contact him before making any decisions.

The Bishop of Norwich, the Rt Revd Graham James, wrote to his clergy that he believed the C of E “would be enriched by women in the episcopate”.

He had voted for the Archbishops’ amendment and regretted that it had “failed so narrowly”; but he was heartened that the “Synod indicated such significant determination to make provision” for opponents.

Advertisement

Preaching at the Synod, the Bishop of Exeter, the Rt Revd Michael Langrish, urged members to “put aside personal ambition” and seek a “common vision”. “Seeking to be faithful to one another around whose table we gather is going to be un­comfortable and messy,” he said.

In a pastoral letter, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Revd Andrew Burn­ham, wrote that the Arch­bishops’ amendment had been “tor­pedoed”. If the Measure came into force, it would mean that there are “no guarantees that male bishops and priests ministering to us will . . . derive their orders from an unbroken apostolic succession of bishops in the Catholic line”.

Bishop Burnham said that the assurances given in the early 1990s had been broken, and promises made then were now “very hollow”. Liberal pressure groups had always been “intent on destroying them”.

The Bishop of Winchester, the Rt Revd Michael Scott-Joynt, had observed a “sea-change” in the Synod. He had not expected an overall majority to vote for the Archbishops’ amendment. They “could not put the genie back in the bottle and pretend Synod can go back to saying ‘We’ll have women bishops but take no notice of those who can’t accept them,’ which is what the revision committee was saying.”

Women and the Church (WATCH) was delighted that the Church had “affirmed its wish to appoint women as bishops on the same basis as men”. By supporting the draft legislation, it had made a “significant compromise” in “a spirit of generosity to make space for those opposed”.

WATCH was disappointed that traditionalists were seeking to “dis­credit” the rejection of the Arch­bishops’ amendment by a vote in Houses, since it was by the same procedure in 1978 that the first moves to ordain women had failed.

Canon Chris Sugden of Anglican Mainstream emphasised that the debate had been about “the liberty to hold within the Church of England two views about leadership in the Church which are compatible with scripture and tradition”. He feared “one-issue” diocesan elections.

Prebendary David Houlding, a leading member of the Catholic Group in the Synod and of Forward in Faith, was dismayed that those who took a hard line had prevailed. “They were pursuing a purist agenda,” but they had no sense of being the Church, he said. Much of the ecumen­ical work of the past 20 years had been destroyed. He was “an Anglican churchman through and through, but a Catholic Christian first”, and would not stay in the C of E unconditionally.

Advertisement

The Catholic Group “deeply re­gretted” the rejection of the Archbishops’ amendment. This had “made it very difficult for those who in conscience cannot accept the ministry for women priests and bishops”. But it took heart from Dr Williams’s comments that there was still “unfinished business”.

The Society of Catholic Priests, which includes male and female clergy, welcomed the outcome, but acknowledged that many were unhappy. It was “confident” that the code of practice would enable traditionalists to remain.

Did Synod do the right thing for traditionalists? Vote here.

What happens next

What happens next

THE Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and Draft Amending Canon No. 30 will now be referred, under Article 8 of the Synod’s Consti­tu­tion, to the 43 diocesan synods and the Bishop in Europe’s Council and Standing Committee, write Ed Thornton and Glyn Paflin. This process is expected to last about 18 months.

THE Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and Draft Amending Canon No. 30 will now be referred, under Article 8 of the Synod’s Consti­tu­tion, to the 43 diocesan synods and the Bishop in Europe’s Council and Standing Committee, write Ed Thornton and Glyn Paflin. This process is expected to last about 18 months.

Each diocesan synod may, if it wishes, consult other bodies in the diocese, such as the deanery synod, but is not required to do so. The House of Bishops intends to draw up the “statutory code of practice” for the draft legislation in the next few months, to inform the debates.

Each diocesan synod may, if it wishes, consult other bodies in the diocese, such as the deanery synod, but is not required to do so. The House of Bishops intends to draw up the “statutory code of practice” for the draft legislation in the next few months, to inform the debates.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Monday morning that it would be possible for the dioceses to shape “following motions” for the Synod to debate and vote on. Dioceses will also be invited to send in comments, to be considered by the steering committee. If it thinks that there is strong feeling on an issue across dioceses, or if the feedback highlights an issue that has not yet been debated, it can consider moving a “special” amendment.

The Archbishop of Canterbury said on Monday morning that it would be possible for the dioceses to shape “following motions” for the Synod to debate and vote on. Dioceses will also be invited to send in comments, to be considered by the steering committee. If it thinks that there is strong feeling on an issue across dioceses, or if the feedback highlights an issue that has not yet been debated, it can consider moving a “special” amendment.

Advertisement

For the legislation to proceed further, it must be approved by 51 per cent or more of the diocesan synods, by majorities of 51 per cent or more. If this happens, it returns to the Synod for final drafting, when there will be the opportunity to debate the code of practice.

For the legislation to proceed further, it must be approved by 51 per cent or more of the diocesan synods, by majorities of 51 per cent or more. If this happens, it returns to the Synod for final drafting, when there will be the opportunity to debate the code of practice.

At final drafting, only the steering committee can move amendments, either “drafting amendments”, which change wording but not substance, or “special amendments”, which can also be used to clarify the legislation.

At final drafting, only the steering committee can move amendments, either “drafting amendments”, which change wording but not substance, or “special amendments”, which can also be used to clarify the legislation.

If the Presidents, the Prolocutors, and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity consider that any special amendments would alter the substance of the legislation, it would have to return to the dioceses.

If the Presidents, the Prolocutors, and the Chair and Vice-Chair of the House of Laity consider that any special amendments would alter the substance of the legislation, it would have to return to the dioceses.

Once the final drafting stage is complete, the draft legislation is referred to the House of Bishops, which is entitled to make amendments that it thinks fit. These could be substantive, but the Bishops will be mindful of the two-thirds majorities required.

Once the final drafting stage is complete, the draft legislation is referred to the House of Bishops, which is entitled to make amendments that it thinks fit. These could be substantive, but the Bishops will be mindful of the two-thirds majorities required.

Once the House of Bishops has considered the draft legislation, it is returned to the Synod for the final-approval debate. A key factor in determining the outcome will be the composition of the new Synod after the elections. The election results will be announced in October.

Once the House of Bishops has considered the draft legislation, it is returned to the Synod for the final-approval debate. A key factor in determining the outcome will be the composition of the new Synod after the elections. The election results will be announced in October.

If final approval is given, the legislation is referred to Parliament by the Legislative Committee, for the parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee to decide whether it is expedient to put it before the Commons and Lords for approval.

If final approval is given, the legislation is referred to Parliament by the Legislative Committee, for the parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee to decide whether it is expedient to put it before the Commons and Lords for approval.

(On women priests in 1993, it was possible that Ecclesiastical Committee members would press for an amending Measure. The legislation was not found expedient until the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 had supplemented the statutory provisions.)

(On women priests in 1993, it was possible that Ecclesiastical Committee members would press for an amending Measure. The legislation was not found expedient until the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 had supplemented the statutory provisions.)

If the legislation receives Parliamentary approval and the Royal Assent, a petition for promulging the Amending Canon can be made, after which women can be admitted to the episcopate.

If the legislation receives Parliamentary approval and the Royal Assent, a petition for promulging the Amending Canon can be made, after which women can be admitted to the episcopate.

Church Times: about us

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read five articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)