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
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.
FiF asks Synod to reject legislation and start to