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Women-bishops legislation and the child-protection issue

28 September 2012


From Mrs April Alexander

Sir, - Canon Judith Maltby was surely right to take the Chichester Interim Report as a prompt to look at the draft women-bishops Measure in a wider context ( Letters 21 September). In particular, she mentions the importance of accountability.

It is one of the footnotes (no. 4) that is very specific on this point: " . . there is a question over to whom a suffragan or area bishop is responsible" (not my italics). The footnote continues by differentiating its arguments from those around the Clergy Discipline Measure, and examines the position in Canon Law. It concludes: "We believe there is, indeed, room for confusion and that this ought to be addressed nationally."

If there is this confusion about authority, accountability, and responsibility which requires attention at the national level, then one could be forgiven for suggesting that this may not be the right time to pass primary legislation that enshrines a regime involving a new layer of delegatee bishops about whom there is likely to be similar confusion.

It might make one particularly nervous if one reflected that those same bishops had doubts about the validity of the orders of the diocesan bishops who delegated some aspects of episcopal ministry to them. The fact that Lambeth Palace has found it impossible even to suspend the bishop in question in Chichester (Letters, 21 September) adds to the problem, which can clearly only be resolved if the national Church does, indeed, bend its will to sorting out these matters.

Meanwhile, we are not in a position to delay a vote on the women-bishops Measure. Those charged with voting on it will need to bear these risks in mind as they do so.

Southwark General Synod member, 59 High Street, Bletchingley
Redhill Surrey RH1 4PB


From Canon Wealands Bell

Sir, - Canon Judith Maltby's opportunistic attempt to use recent events in Chichester as a sinew-stiffener for the Synod as it looks again at legislation concerning women bishops is regrettable and irrelevant.

It is clear in the Bishops' amendments that delegation of certain functions by a diocesan bishop would neither compromise her authority nor unburden her of any of her responsibilities.

To inject a note of party politics into this most unhappy story is, at best, unhelpful.

23 The Close, Lichfield WS13 7LD


From Mr Stephen Barney

Sir, - I applaud and welcome the Revd Janet Appleby's amendment to Clause 5(1)c ( News, 21 September), as a solution to achieve what the Church of England wants and has expressed its will, via diocesan-synod voting, to achieve, i.e. women able to become bishops, and the provision of an honoured place r those who can not accept the ordained ministry of women.

Given the voting in diocesan synods on this matter, it would be a PR disaster and could cause irreparable damage to the Church if the Measure were to fail to gain the two-thirds majority required in all three synodical Houses in November.

I can understand why some will feel unable to vote for the Measure, and therefore abstain, but voting against is very difficult to understand, given all that has gone before, and what is at stake.

Leicester General Synod member
The Dower House, 77 Brook Street, Wymeswold LE12 6TT


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