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Women-bishops lobby split over clause

05 October 2012

by a staff reporter


Celebration: an event in Birmingham Cathedral on Sunday marked 25 years of women and men working together in holy orders. Women ordained deacon in 1987 were present

Celebration: an event in Birmingham Cathedral on Sunday marked 25 years of women and men working together in holy orders. Women ordained deacon in 1...

CAMPAIGNERS for women bishops are divided over the new wording agreed by the House of Bishops ( News, 21 September).

The group WATCH (Women and the Church) has announced that it will not campaign from now on either for or against the Measure, as its consultation with members found them to be split. Instead, it will "highlight the arguments and issues at stake for those who support the full flourishing of women in the Church and allow voices to enter the national debate that often go unheard", its committee wrote in a letter to supporters.

Its latest paper, produced after a consultation with members, said that "probably the majority" of members had decided that the new wording should be supported, on the basis that "it is the best arrangement we are likely to get."

The new wording - known as the "Appleby amendment", after the Revd Janet Appleby, a team vicar in the diocese of Newcastle, who proposed it - speaks of respecting the grounds on which traditionalist PCCs seek male ministry.

WATCH says that many of its supporters believe that the new wording "creates a space for trust and grace to operate", but others are concerned that the full implications of the wording cannot be known until a Code of Practice is drafted.

The conservative Evangelical network Reform has issued its verdict on the new amendment, announ- cing, after its autumn conference, that its members would not be supporting the Measure.

Speaking at the conference, the chairman of Reform, the Revd Rod Thomas, said: "We have sadly been left with a draft Measure which in the long term is likely to have very detrimental effects on our ministries, however benign it may appear in its first few years."

The Catholic Group in the General Synod said in a 12-point statement that the proposed legislation was "unfair, unstable and incoherent", and lacked a consensus. "The word 'respects' has no legal definition - meaning that the amendment is not prescriptive of the contents of the Code [of Practice]."

It suggested that "a better way" would be to follow the Church in Wales in looking at "two linked pieces of legislation": one "for women to be made bishops, and the other to provide for traditionalists".

The General Synod will be asked to vote on the draft legislation in November.

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