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Women bishops: reconciliation and tactics regarding the draft legislation

by
20 June 2012

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From Professor Anthony Berry and Christine McMullen

Sir, — Canon Simon Killwick is right to seek reconciliation (Letters, 15 June). We were both happy to be present at the meeting in Coventry to which he refers. We were there as individual members, not as repres­en­tatives of WATCH.

The meeting was under Chatham House rules, and even its happening was to be kept confidential. No ordained women were present. We had no thought that we were present to seek a “deal”, but rather that we were there to listen.

The meeting happened in De­cem­ber 2011. As the General Synod was to meet six weeks later, there was not enough time to prepare properly for a further and more representative meeting before that. As the broader synodical process concerning women bishops had been in motion for more than five years, it seemed best to the WATCH conveners that we should await the outcome of that process. As your readers will know, that process con­tinues this July.

Unlike Canon Killwick, we see the synodical processes of conversations and debates as carrying reconciliation; and the present Measure (be­fore the House of Bishops amend­ments) was a reconciliation of difference.

Reconciliation is made more demanding should any “ordaining” contact between a man and a woman render the man’s orders unacceptable. To regard that to be the case is to see the woman as having “tainted” the man. How the reverse position might be seen does stretch one’s mind.

ANTHONY J. BERRY
Chester General Synod member
24 Leafield Road, Disley
Stockport SK12 2JF

CHRISTINE McMULLEN
Derby General Synod member
Farm Cottage, Montpelier Place
Buxton SK17 7EJ

From Mr Robin C. Lunn

Sir, — It is with sadness that I read that a procedural motion is planned at York to prevent the taking of a final vote there in July on the women-bishops draft legislation.

After the House of Bishops’ meeting in May, and the very minor amendments proposed, which were agreed not to constitute any sig­nificant changes to the legislation, I, like (I am sure) many others in the Church, naïvely believed that a decision would finally be made on 9 July. It is, therefore, bemusing to read that this is under threat from some of its strongest supporters, for reasons that are rather opaque.

I ask those who wish to move such a procedural motion:

First, referring the legislation back to the House of Bishops will achieve what — particularly if the Bishops send it back unchanged? Also, how could you justify the cost of a November Synod meeting?

2. How do you explain to all members of the Church, and to the wider world, why the C of E would appear incapable of making a de­cision after so many years of debate and a referral to all the dioceses?

3. As supporters of the principle, do you really wish to defeat this legislation for a generation (that, in effect, is what you will be doing)?

As a long-time supporter of this legislation, while always with a desire to make provision for those who in all conscience have a differ­ent view from mine, I urge all Synod members to go for a final vote.

I also pray that those who have always supported this Measure and are now talking about voting it down consider fully the stark reality of what they would be doing. Re­member the long, long journey of this legislation, and think again.

ROBIN C. LUNN
Worcester General Synod member
Little Hambledon
10 Malthouse Crescent
Inkberrow, Worcs WR7 4EF

From Mavis Jacobs

Sir, — It is becoming more apparent that the divisions between the factions about to present their cases yet again in the Synod can never be resolved, as they are to do with a totally different perception of what it means to be a priest in the Catholic tradition of the Church.

We do not believe that the C of E and the General Synod have authority to change the doctrine of the Catholic Church. Legislation may assure us that women are now ordained as priests, but that does not mean that we believe it; and no amount of hectoring, bullying, threats, and even tears of rage (that I have heard) can alter this.

We know that most people do not understand, prefer not to understand, or have a different understanding of ordination, and so had come to accept the inevitable ordination of women as bishops. The delegation from a woman bishop whose orders we do not recognise could not possibly be acceptable; all we need to be able to survive with these differences is the provision of bishops whose apostolic succession is unquestioned.

We are now threatened that if the Synod agrees to the moderate con­cessions proposed, the vociferous pro-women-bishops lobby will plunge the C of E into further con­flict and disarray, putting their own cause before the mission of the Church. They have no desire to work alongside us.

I pray that either the Measure is passed with proper provision, so that we can move on according to our consciences, or that it fails in July, and again, and again. . .

MAVIS JACOBS
34 St Augustine’s Gate
Norwich NR3 3BE

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