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Women bishops: reconciliation and legislation

14 June 2012


From Canon Simon Killwick

Sir, — The Revd Donald Reeves (Letters, 8 June) is absolutely right about the need for reconciliation in the Church of England in the debate over women bishops. The Church of England desperately needs closure on this issue, and to move on, but there can be no closure without reconciliation.

To this end, I and two senior colleagues from the Catholic Group in General Synod attended a one-day meeting last December with medi­ators at the Centre for Reconcili­ation in Coventry, together with senior conservative Evangelicals, and repre­sentatives of WATCH. It was a useful meeting, and a further meeting was planned for January this year.

Unfortunately, WATCH later decided not to participate in any further meetings, stating that they preferred to follow the processes of the General Synod instead; so the January meeting was cancelled.

The problem is that the General Synod itself is too big and unwieldy for the kinds of conversation that lead to reconciliation; members end up talking at each other, with prepared speeches, rather than to each other in genuine dialogue.

Whatever the outcome this July, there will need to be reconciliation between the various parties to this debate — it is a gospel imperative, as Fr Reeves says.

I very much hope that further meetings can be arranged, in Coventry or elsewhere, to enable the necessary reconciliation to take place. This process should have begun a long time ago; it could still be really helpful if a meeting with mediators could take place before the July Synod meeting.

Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod
Christ Church Rectory
Monton Street
Manchester M14 4GP

From Mrs April Alexander

Sir, — Just after the statement from the House of Bishops on its amend­ments to the draft Measure for women bishops, I asked the Arch­bishop of York, Dr Sentamu, in writing, whether he would sponsor the following pieces of work:

1. an outworking of the amend­ment to Clause 5 for the draft Code. Without that, the Synod would be working on a Measure all of which is supported by a draft Code with the exception of this single sub-clause. As it was this sub-clause that was exercising everyone’s mind, it could not be right that we were being asked to take a view on it without this extra information, albeit only in draft.

2. an analysis of the new Clause 5 amendment alongside Canon A4, which the Synod has consistently refused to have amended. The argument runs that Canon A4 was written for a totally different purpose; but I reminded myself, using the report of the revision committee, that that committee recognised that the Canon was still in force and that, unamended, it served the current purposes of the Church admirably. It is essential to check that it and the revised Measure are consistent.

I sincerely hope that this work is under way in time for the General Synod meeting in July, since I have not heard to the contrary.

Southwark General Synod member
(Member of the revision committee for the women-bishops Measure)
59 High Street, Bletchingley
Surrey RH1 4PB

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