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Williams urges waverers to back women-bishops Measure

by a staff reporter

THE Archbishop of Canterbury has begun a campaign to persuade General Synod members to back the new women-bishops legislation when it returns to debate it next month.

Writing in the Church Times this week, he addresses waverers, those who find the legislation "not quite good enough, or not quite simple enough". To vote against the legislation, which he admits is "not perfect", would be to risk "committing us to a period of continued and perhaps intensified internal conflict, with no clearly guaranteed outcome . . . a period of publicly embarrassing and internally draining indecision".

Dr Williams pleads with Synod members to be clear about what the legislation does and doesn't say, ascribing the failure of the Bishops' earlier amendment to a mistaken assumption about the rights that it gave parishes.

There was now an "equally mistaken assumption that the word 'respect' in the new amendment ( News, 21 September) is little more than window-dressing.

"The truth is that the word does have legal content. If you're required to show 'respect', you need to be able to demonstrate that what you do takes account in practice of someone's conviction. You will need to show that it has made a difference to how you act; it doesn't just recommend an attitude or state of mind ('with all due respect . . .').

"The word leaves enough flexibility for appropriate responses to different circumstances, but it isn't so general as to be toothless."

Dr Williams argues that "rectifying the anomaly" of having ordained women as deacons and priests while denying them access to the episcopate is good news for women, for men, for the Church, and for the world. "Our challenge has been, and still is, to try to make it good news even for those within our fellowship who have conscientious doubts."

Dr Williams was due to fly to Papua New Guinea and New Zealand on Thursday, for the forthcoming meeting of the Anglican Consultative Council. In his absence, Lambeth Palace is organising a series of YouTube videos from supporters of the new legislation.

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