A CONSULTATION conducted earlier this
year suggested that a majority of members of the Governing Body
(GB) were in favour of women bishops, the Archbishop of
Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said.
"Seventy-nine per cent of lay members
and 83 per cent of clerical members indicated either strong or
broad support for legislation being brought forward to enable women
to be ordained as bishops. The bishops were 100 per cent behind
that," he said.
"There is significant support for some
form of provision for the protection of individual conscience, and
it means that, if this is not protected in some way, people will
not feel able to vote for the legislation; but there is little
support for structural or parochial opt-outs."
The Bishop of Swansea &
Brecon, the Rt Revd John Davies, said that the Bishops
wanted to bring forward a Measure to permit women to be ordained as
bishops; but that this would not take effect until a second
Measure, dealing with individual conscience, was passed.
Canon Peter Williams
(Swansea & Brecon) questioned the wisdom of such a move, saying
that theory and practice must go together.
Kathryn Hall (St
Asaph) said that she had difficulty with the term "conscientiously
object". It was subjective. She was "struggling to accept that
objections aren't merely a matter of prejudice".
The Archdeacon of
Llandaff, the Ven. Peggy Jackson, said that respect for
individual conscience was a "hugely important principle", and a
matter of "great personal integrity". "But what conscience doesn't
require is that the majority changes what it believes to be the
right way forward, or the right rule, just because some, in
conscience, would find it difficult."
The Rt Revd David
Wilbourne, Assistant Bishop in the diocese of Llandaff,
recalled the story of David, who broke the impasse between Goliath
and the Israelites. He said: "Today we face an impasse seemingly as
impossible to reconcile as that faced by David. The stone I'd like
to fire at each and every one of us, including me, is a stone
Dr Gillian Todd
(Co-opted, Swansea & Brecon) said that those "who can't, in all
conscience, accept the ordination of women . . . have a harder job
than the rest of us, because they have to live in a Church working
alongside women, which challenges their conscience." She said that
it was a joy to see such people work together with women
Canon George Bennett
(Swansea & Brecon) said that "those of us who think deeply and
treasure the Catholic and apostolic tradition of the Church in
Wales would pause and pray and wonder; because it isn't just a
matter of human resources, but divine resources. The episcopate is
a gift God has given to his Church."
The deputy chairman of the
Representative Body, James Turner (St Asaph),
welcomed the two-stage proposal.
The Revd Hadyn
England-Simon (Llandaff) said that the Church's first step
had to be formally to accept the principle of women bishops; but
that it also "had a duty to support and not to ignore" those who,
in conscience, could not support this matter. "Dealing with these
matters separately and sequentially gives sufficient weight to the
two key issues," he said.
There was no motion to vote on; but Dr
Morgan asked for an "indicative non-binding show of hands" to guide
the bishops. About 80 to 85 were in favour of the proposed
approach; 15 to 20 were against.