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Women-bishops draft legislation: further responses to the revision committee

by
19 May 2010

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From Prebendary Donald Barnes and others

Sir, — As members of the Church of England, we welcome the report of the revision committee (News, 14 May) on the legislation for women bishops, and are encouraged by the shape of the legislation proposed.

We thank the committee for the immense, detailed work that went into their deliberations in consider­ing all possible options, and believe that this should obviate the need for any further discussion of areas that have been rejected either by the committee or by General Synod in previous debates.

We hope that the draft legislation can go now unamended to General Synod for consideration in July and that it can be approved for referral to the dioceses for their considera­tion without further delay.

We believe that to give credibility to the proposed statutory Code of Practice, nothing discriminatory or redolent of the Act of Synod 1993 should be incorporated.

We urge the House of Bishops to ensure that the group appointed to prepare the Code of Practice should draw at least one third of its members from among senior women clergy.

Donald Barnes, Sally Barnes, Angela Broome, Katherine Campion-Spall (Synod member), Mary Clarke, Jonathan Clatworthy, Hilary Cotton, Clare Cowlin, Caroline Edelin, Paul Edelin, Janet Goodyer, Valerie Gore, Laura Hamilton, Clare Herbert, Colin James, Ruth McCurry, Deirdre Munro, Alyson Peberdy, Peta V. Vaught, Peter R. Watkins, Claire Wilson
c/o 7 Clemence Street
London E14 7TR

Donald Barnes, Sally Barnes, Angela Broome, Katherine Campion-Spall (Synod member), Mary Clarke, Jonathan Clatworthy, Hilary Cotton, Clare Cowlin, Caroline Edelin, Paul Edelin, Janet Goodyer, Valerie Gore, Laura Hamilton, Clare Herbert, Colin James, Ruth McCurry, Deirdre Munro, Alyson Peberdy, Peta V. Vaught, Peter R. Watkins, Claire Wilson
c/o 7 Clemence Street
London E14 7TR

From the Revd Nigel Lacey

Sir, — I am sure that I am not alone in feeling a sense of frustration at the responses to the draft legislation regarding women bishops. It seems to me that the Church has bent over backwards to offer suitable accom­modation for “traditionalists” (what­ever that actually means). Yet I think that this goes too far.

It is time to acknowledge what is going on and name it for what it is. Those opposed to women bishops, and the whole ministry of women, are simply being discriminatory. It is simply unacceptable that, in the 21st century, there are members of the clergy and Christian churches that discriminate against people simply because of gender.

It is high time that some in the Church woke up to the fact that we no longer live in the 19th century. “Faithful and loyal Anglicans”? I think not. If you wish to be so, then accept what our Church has de­cided, and, as the common parlance goes, “get over it.”

There is room for a diversity of opinions, thank God, but discrim­ination can have no place within our modern world.

NIGEL LACEY
The Rectory, Church Lane
West Wycombe, High Wycombe
Bucks HP14 3AH

From the Revd Jean Mayland

Sir, — The claim of The Sunday Telegraph, quoted by Andrew Brown (Press, 14 May), that the draft legislation on women bishops offers nothing to those opposed, and the extravagant claims about the legislation contained in the letters in your columns for that day, need to be refuted.

Two years ago, the General Synod agreed that women should be or­dained as bishops and that provision should be made for those opposed in a statutory Code of Practice. After two years of meetings, and hours of reading and listening to presenta­tions, the revision committee has come to the same conclusion.

The rights of those opposed would be protected by a statutory Code of Practice. They would never be obliged to experience the min­istry of women priests nor the sac­ramental ministries of women bishops. Those rights are guaran­teed, even though they will require exemption from numerous clauses in the Equality Bill that binds the rest of the UK.

We hope and pray that the Archbishops and Bishops will not surrender to these outbursts, but will vote for the Measure along with the rest of General Synod, and move towards the resolution of this issue for the good of the whole Church.

To do this will not just free us to have more time for mission. It is part of our mission to demonstrate that we can be in tune with modern society in its desire for equality, which, in my view, is in keeping with the mind of Christ, in whom there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female; for all are one in him.

JEAN M. MAYLAND
5 Hackwood Glade, Hexham
Northumberland NE46 1AL

From the Revd John and the Revd Christine Shillaker

Sir, — It is, of course, important that we should respect the views of Christians whose theology differs from our own, even if we come from the same spiritual background. We experienced that same Anglo-Catholic culture as the “traditionalists”. But we cannot help feeling that the term “traditionalist” reflects something of the sort of difficulties that Jesus faced in trying to open up and expand the traditional faith in which he was nurtured.

Jesus wanted to bring new per­spectives into the world, something that the traditionalists of the time strenuously opposed. It is our experience, hard won, that convinces us that God is in fact calling women into the priesthood, in spite of the history of the Christian Church, which has for so long held very strange views about the female com­ponent of humanity.

We are very glad to have found fulfilment for both of us in the partnership of ministry, and are aware that the sacramental ministry of women brings as much blessing from God as does the male ministry. Those to whom we have ministered, together and individually, assure us that they have also received God’s blessing, both in word and sacra­ment. Deo gratias!

JOHN SHILLAKER
CHRISTINE SHILLAKER
21 Nelson Road
Colchester CO3 9AP

From Mr Adrian P. Beney

Sir, — Now that the revision com­mittee — a group of men and women good and true — have com­pleted their deliberations on women bishops, I would ask the Synod meeting in July to hold three things in mind as they debate the resulting draft Measure.

First, that this committee, a carefully chosen group of people of all integrities, have given this matter many, many hours of prayerful consideration over recent months. I hope that anyone who wishes to amend the Measure will do so armed with an alternative into which he or she has put at least as much thought about its effect on all concerned.

Second, that, as the Bishops speak on this matter, it is remembered that, uniquely, their House in Synod speaks without the benefit of the voices of women among them.

Finally, the Synod may be told that large numbers of lay people will leave the Church should the revision committee’s proposals be accepted. These lay people will be mostly from parishes that have passed Resolution B or C. Yet, just as the voice of women is silent in the House of Bishops, the priestly voice of women is also silent in a Resolution B or C parish.

I recognise that the question of women’s ordination goes to the very core of a traditionalist priest’s understanding of his calling and of the nature of priesthood, but I wonder how much most of the lay people in the parish will connect with this. They will recognise the obvious distress caused to their parish priest by the possibility of a woman bishop, but will large numbers of laity across the country share in this distress to the extent that they will uproot themselves from their parish church in order to worship somewhere else?

Evidence from parishes that rescind B and C after their priest moves on suggests to me that this assertion is more a negotiating position than a likelihood.

Let us, therefore, accept the hard work of a group of people chosen by the Church — one hopes, with some divine wisdom — and explore the path they have set out before us.

ADRIAN P. BENEY
9 Wanless Terrace
Durham DH1 1RU

From the Revd Stanley Baxter

Sir, — In reference to Bishop Urwin’s letter (14 May): can he let us know about the equality of love and provision that is being made for women priests and others who have a devotion to our Lady, but do not share his views about a closed priesthood; what altars at the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham are offered to them; and whether they are welcome to assist in the healing services.

If not, what is the equal love and acceptance that is being offered?

STANLEY BAXTER
Hildegard House
5 Glendale Road, Wooler NE71 6DN

From Mr Derek Jay

Sir, — I have strongly supported the ordination of women for the past 30 years, having previously opposed it for 20 years; so I am one of those “fair-minded Anglicans” to whom Bishop Urwin appealed to make their views known.

One reason why, as Forward in Faith states, “a code of conduct will not do” is that a parish may request a male priest, but cannot specify that he was ordained by a male bishop. To put it bluntly, if one believes that apostolic succession can be conferred only by males, then such a priest is not validly ordained, and the bread and wine remain such, and the congregation are effectively denied the Blessed Sacrament.

The promise of “an equal and honoured place” in 1993 will be replaced, in effect, by excommunica­tion. As an Affirming Catholic, I am ashamed to belong to such an ex­clusive, inhospitable, and intolerant Church.

DEREK JAY (Reader)
41a Alma Vale Road, Clifton
Bristol BS8 2HL

From Dr Jonathan Tottle-Forbes

Sir, — I have no problem whatever with the consecration of women bishops, as I feel that if it is the intention of the Church to make them bishops of the Catholic Church, that is what they will be, and their sacramental ministrations will be valid, and the apostolic succession will remain intact.

I am, however, deeply concerned about my many traditionalist friends who feel that this will be a serious breach of Catholic faith and order. The totally unacceptable provisions at present on offer will result in many of our most faithful bishops, priests, deacons, and people being forced out of the Church of England.

There was a letter in the Church Times (5 March) from a well-known Devon priest, the Revd Geoffrey Squire, in which he suggested that the Church of England provide something similar to the pending Roman Ordinariate for its “traditionalists”. Many people who hold views similar to mine, including many female priests, see the concept of a totally Church of England or Anglican Ordinariate as being an acceptable way out of the problem for both sides.

If the Vatican Curia with its strict rules is able to offer its Ordinariate to Anglicans without feeling that it creates a double-standard epis­copate, surely the Church of England, with its often lax attitude to Catholic order, should be able to be equally generous and offer a similar solution to its own faithful, to save driving them out of the Church?

If something more acceptable to faithful traditionalists is not offered, I trust that members of all persua­sions on the General Synod will ensure that the proposals are firmly rejected. Neither side wants that de­lay, but justice must be done to all.

JONATHAN TOTTLE-FORBES
Rosewarne, Cordery Road
Exeter, Devon EX2 9DL

From Mr Alan Bartley

Sir, — I am as saddened as anyone that our Church cannot offer traditionalists more than a Code of Practice. This seems incom­prehensible when at the same time many of us would like to see Methodists offered the equivalent of an Anglican Ordinariate, where they might prosper through having their own hierarchy, discipline, traditions, property, etc.

Are we so used to thinking in denominational terms that we have forgotten that all the baptised in England form one ecclesia anglicana, one Church of England? We have always admitted as valid the Trini­tarian baptisms of others. Gone are the ipso facto excommunications of 1604, and we now welcome to our eucharists our separated brethren in good standing with their own communions.

Further, at Lambeth in 1920, we tentatively recognised their non-episcopal ministries as owned of God. Now, in the Anglican-Methodist Covenant, for Methodists at least, we have removed all caveats.

If the argument against giving traditionalists an Anglican Ordin­ariate or Third Province is that it is unthinkable to recognise Christians and priests existing in a diocese who do not recognise and submit to our bishops, let us get real: either roll back ecumenism, or admit that we have this situation in so far as we recognise Methodists and others as fellow Christians and presbyters, effectively as third and other integ­rities.

From Christ’s vantage point, are we not all like Corinth saying we are of Paul, Peter, Apollos, or even of Christ? Have we not our Pope, Wesley, Cranmer, et al.? To us, our bishops are centres of unity, but, in the wider perspective, are they not the leaders of our party?

From Christ’s vantage point, are we not all like Corinth saying we are of Paul, Peter, Apollos, or even of Christ? Have we not our Pope, Wesley, Cranmer, et al.? To us, our bishops are centres of unity, but, in the wider perspective, are they not the leaders of our party?

It is the radical un-Anglican spirit of the early Nonconformists to insist on Reformation without tarrying for any. It is the mantra of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to demand change, and demand it now, refusing all quarter or compromise irrespective of who gets hurt or harmed in the process.

It is the radical un-Anglican spirit of the early Nonconformists to insist on Reformation without tarrying for any. It is the mantra of Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals to demand change, and demand it now, refusing all quarter or compromise irrespective of who gets hurt or harmed in the process.

As such, it is uncharitable, unchristian, and unbecoming to us.

As such, it is uncharitable, unchristian, and unbecoming to us.

ALAN BARTLEY
17 Francis Road
Greenford UB6 7AD

From Dr Alan Sheard

ALAN BARTLEY
17 Francis Road
Greenford UB6 7AD

From Dr Alan Sheard

Sir, — Your report on women bishops (News, 14 May) refers to men and to women, but not to intersex people. The latter have either male genes and female hormones, or female genes and male hormones. Intersex people grow up either as men or as women, usually as the gender declared at their birth.

Sir, — Your report on women bishops (News, 14 May) refers to men and to women, but not to intersex people. The latter have either male genes and female hormones, or female genes and male hormones. Intersex people grow up either as men or as women, usually as the gender declared at their birth.

As your readers may recall, some months ago there was a female athlete who broke all records for women’s running. There was an investigation, the results of which were not published, but her achievements were upheld, on the grounds that she had been accepted as female by her parents from her birth.

As your readers may recall, some months ago there was a female athlete who broke all records for women’s running. There was an investigation, the results of which were not published, but her achievements were upheld, on the grounds that she had been accepted as female by her parents from her birth.

Extreme physical strength is usualy a male attribute, but surely this is not a criterion in the selection of bishops.

Extreme physical strength is usualy a male attribute, but surely this is not a criterion in the selection of bishops.

ALAN SHEARD
7 Northfield, Swanland
North Ferriby
East Yorkshire HU14 3RG

ALAN SHEARD
7 Northfield, Swanland
North Ferriby
East Yorkshire HU14 3RG

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