LAMBETH PALACE stepped up its campaign to persuade the General
Synod to approve the draft women-bishops Measure this week, amid
signs of growing opposition among some Evangelicals.
The General Synod meets next month to debate final approval. The
Measure includes a new version of the 5(1)(c) amendment, which
states that the Code of Practice should cover "the selection of
male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the
grounds on which Parochial Church Councils issue Letters of Request
under section 3" (
News, 14 September).
In a video posted on YouTube by Lambeth Palace, on
Tuesday, the Bishop of Chelmsford, the Rt Revd Stephen Cottrell,
says: "This Measure is a compromise. It's not saying, 'We'll have
women bishops and that's the end of it,' but nor is it saying that
we're going to have some sort of parallel jurisdiction. It's saying
that if those who conscientiously disagree with this send a letter
of request to their diocesan bishop, they will have a male bishop,
and the grounds upon which they've made that request will be
Bishop Cottrell says that he hopes that "those who disagree may
choose to abstain." If the Measure is not passed, "it would look
terrible in the eyes of the world, would hold back our mission, and
would plunge us into years more debate on this issue."
Writing in the Church Times last week, the Archbishop
of Canterbury said that voting against the legislation would be to
risk "committing us to a period of continued and perhaps
intensified internal conflict" (
Comment, 19 October).
video posted on YouTube by Lambeth Palace, Rebecca Swinson,
who is 26 and the youngest ever member of the Archbishops' Council,
says: "It seems like a bit of a strange situation to have women at
all levels of the Church, apart from sitting in the House of
Bishops. . . For so many people out there, there are much more
important things for us to be talking about."
A video of the Bishop of Willesden, the Rt
Revd Pete Broadbent, was posted on YouTube yesterday by Lambeth
Palace. He said: "We've been around the houses a long time
trying to get this legislation right and I've been involved quite a
lot in trying to make that happen. I think we've got to the stage
now where there is a consensus in the Church that this is the best
possible way forward."
The Church of England Evangelical Council (CEEC) warned on
Monday that "undue pressure" was being brought to bear on Synod
members who are opposed to the Measure.
A statement, issued after the CEEC met on
Tuesday and Wednesday of last week, said that "a majority of the
Council believes that the current Measure does not make adequate
provision for the substantial number of the Church of England who
cannot support this development."
Synod members should "vote with a clear conscience, which,
for opponents, may mean voting against the Measure rather than, as
they are being asked, to abstain".
A spokesman for the CEEC said that about two-thirds of the
Council, including supporters of the Measure, were concerned about
provision for opponents. He said that there had been reports from
members of the CEEC that opponents were coming under pressure from
their diocesan bishops, and others in their dioceses, to abstain
rather than vote against.
A statement from Fulcrum, the network of Anglican Evangelicals,
said that it believed that "most Evangelicals in the Church of
England" supported the Measure that would be put before the
"We hope that all those who want women bishops will vote for the
Measure. We further hope that those who are against will be able in
good conscience to abstain, recognising that it is clearly the will
of the Church to proceed, and then work with the provision, which
is unlikely to be strengthened, should the legislation fall this
The Chief Executive of the Church Army, Mark Russell, a former
member of the Archbishops' Council who resigned from the CEEC last
month, said that the CEEC's statement "doesn't speak for the whole
Evangelical constituency [in the Cof E] at all". If the Measure
fell next month, it would be "missional suicide".
A new blog, Fair Measure 2012, was launched by Anglican
Mainstream on Wednesday. Anglican Mainstream said that the blog,
which contains a number of papers and links, would "show that the
Measure as it stands is not fit for purpose, because of its unjust
treatment of significant minorities within the Church of England.
It must be stopped before it damages the Church irreparably, and
replaced with a new, fairer Measure which enables us all to go