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Women bishops and the apostolic succession

29 June 2012


From Anne Foreman
Sir, - Like Robin Lunn (Letters, 22 June), I have been a long-time sup­porter of legislation to enable women to be bishops, with adequate provision for those unable to accept this development. Mr Lunn asks that we remember the long, long journey of the legislation, and go for a final vote rather than support a procedural motion for an adjourn­ment of the debate.

But that journey re­sulted in draft legislation that 42 out of 44 dioceses supported send­ing on for a final-approval debate. Though the intention of the House of Bishops was for their amend­ments to enable the legislation to "command a wider degree of sup­port and welcome", regrettably it has become clear that they have only muddied the waters.

An adjournment would afford the opportunity for the House of Bishops to reconsider, hopefully to withdraw Clause 5.1c, and then bring the Measure back to Synod. We can cope with this small delay.

Whatever the costs involved in an extra Synod meeting, they pale into insignificance when set against the costs involved, both financial and emotional, if, after 20-odd years of prayerful, careful, and painstaking work, the Synod ends up debating these additional words that have caused such consternation.

Exeter General Synod member
5 St Leonards Road
Exeter EX2 4LA

From the Revd Mark Bennet
Sir, - I would like to thank Mavis Jacobs for her letter (22 June), which enables me to clarify exactly what is at stake in the legislation allowing women to become bishops.

I would love to work alongside her to present the good news of Jesus Christ to our nation, and for me or my colleagues to be invited to celebrate the eucharist or to preach in the church where she worships. But, as an advocate of the ordina­tion and consecration of women, I do not experience a universally warm welcome, or get any invita­tions to parishes where my views are thought to be wrong.

As a male priest ordained at the hands of a male bishop, I exercise a ministry that is declared valid in Canon A4 and Article XXVI, but, far from seeking to engage with that ministry, the Bishops' amend­ments to the women-bishops legislation would en­able people such as your corres­pondent to erect further legal barriers against our working to­gether.

The Rectory, 17 Church Gate
Berks RG19 3PN

From Canon John Goodchild
Sir, - Mavis Jacobs is right to be concerned about valid orders, but there is no evidence from the New Testament or early years of the Church of an apostolic succession where special powers were trans­mitted within a priestly caste.

The first succession lists were concerned with the public teaching of recognised leaders to combat Gnosticism. It is certain, however, that the God who produced Christ with the Virgin Mary can make Christ present again through the ministry of women who were given the Holy Spirit when baptised.

39 St Michaels Road
Liverpool L17 7AN

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