THE General Synod has
"reaffirmed its commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as
a matter of urgency", and has agreed to set a legislative process
in train again, on the basis of Option One, as proposed by the
House of Bishops.
Option One is the
simplest of the options on the table. It makes it lawful for women
to be bishops, and repeals the right of those who are unable to
accept the sacramental ministry of women to pass Resolutions A and
B. It also rescinds the 1993 Act of Synod. Arrangements for those
who are unable to accept the sacramental ministry of women would be
set out in a formal declaration by the Bishops, or an Act of Synod.
The Synod also approved a motion to introduce a mandatory grievance
Before the Bishops'
motion was moved on Monday, Andrea Williams
(Chichester) asked the Archbishops to consider postponing the
debate until the following day to enable all the bishops who were
members of the House of Lords to be present at today's "crucial
debate on the re-definition of marriage".
Bishop Stock said that a
number of bishops were present in the Lords: "We have made sure
that our voice is heard." He suggested that, at report stage, the
numbers in the House of Lords "do not make that much
Her procedural motion was
Opening the debate on
behalf of the House of Bishops, the Bishop
of St Edmundsbury & Ipswich, the Rt Revd Nigel Stock,
who had chaired the working group on women in the episcopate, set
up after the November Synod meeting, spoke about its work.
No member of the group
had approached its work "with a spring in our step", he said. "Yet
. . . as we talked and prayed together, we developed a sense of the
shared responsibility entrusted to us. For all our differences of
view, we saw the task as being to enable women to become bishops as
soon as possible, and at the same time maintain, so far as
possible, the richness and diversity of the Church that we
He thanked the Archbishop
of Canterbury's new director for reconciliation, David Porter, for
running facilitated discussions with the working group and Synod
members, saying that the private facilitated discussion groups on
the Saturday of that group of sessions had "rather exceeded my
The outcome in November
had caused "greater polarisation", he said; but the working group
had managed to "reach a substantial measure of agreement . . . on
five elements of a vision which we could all share", and "an agreed
analysis of four possible options".
"Those with theological
difficulties [about the consecration of women] recognised that it
is the wish of the overwhelming majority in the Church of England,"
he said. "Equally, the majority accepted that there needs to be
space for the minority."
Speaking of the four
options, he said that none of the bishops had favoured the maximum
legislative approach set out in Option Four. He said that some had
favoured Option Three, which would avoid removing statutory rights
available to parishes opposed to women priests; but it "enshrines a
gender-based differ-ence of treatment" in the 1993 Measure.
He said that Option One
"had by far the greatest degree of support for its clarity and
The motion "invites the
Synod to endorse the view of the Bishops that this is an urgent
issue . . . not simply because Parliament is looking attentively
and impatiently at what we are doing, though it is; it's because
last November's decision caused some profound mystification and
unhappiness around much of the Church of England."
The Bishop of
Lincoln, the Rt Revd Christopher Lowson, said that many
had been "destabilised" by the outcome in November, and had
"reached out to people and processes to blame". There was a need to
change the language of discourse "from one of suspicion balanced by
guarantee to one of mutual respect".
The debate in November
and the work undertaken since, including the "honest and painful
discussion" on Saturday, had all revealed that "reconciliation is
not possible in human terms. . . God is inviting us to respond to
his love by building new relationships characterised by mutual
respect." This would take time to achieve and would be
Although Option One
avoided provision for legislation, it was not "fluffy or
unreliable", he said. A Bishops' Statement would provide an
"evolving and authoritative framework for protection".
Roderick Thomas (Exeter) spoke as someone "actively
involved in encouraging people to withhold final approval last
November". Speaking for the "majority of Evangelicals", he did not
want to be in the position that Synod had been in last November. He
said twice: "We do not want to have to block the clear majority of
this Synod and of the Church who want to see women bishops in
He had found the
facilitated discussions that he had taken part in earlier in the
spring "refreshing", and they had led to a mutual fresh
understanding of people's sensitivities. A number of people who had
declined to give final approval in November had agreed that future
legislation should be "simpler and more straightforward", but they
had also talked of a "range of in- struments" that could be used to
ensure provision, such as canonical regulations.
He said: "None of this is
reflected in the motion that has been put before us by the House of
Bishops'. Instead of this sensitivity, we have a bald proposal for
a single-clause Measure and unspecified provision contained just
either within an Act of Synod or a House of Bishops declaration."
If this Measure before the Synod was passed, "we will not have
achieved that objective of mutual flourishing, because, instead of
allowing people of my integrity to flourish within the Church,
there will be a sense of . . . anxiety on our part."
This anxiety was about
how long the provision would last, whether litigation would be
started under the Equality Act, and whether ordinands would be able
to say an oath of canonical obedience. He asked the Synod not to
"start us down a track that is going to lead to confrontation", and
to pass one of the "helpful amendments" brought by the Revd Simon
Cawdell or the Revd Paul Benfield that "opens up the opportunity
for something on the face of the Measure and within the
The Revd Karen
Hutchinson (Guildford) drew the analogy of a pre-nuptial
agreement. She was uncomfortable about "the over-reliance on legal
provision being spelt out". If energy and resources were poured
into "haggling over legislative formulae", as they had been over
the past few years, this could cause yet more damage to our
relationships, she said; "and it is only good relationships that
will ease that gnawing anxiety." Option One presented the
opportunity to work in a more relational way, which would be far
Bell (Lichfield) said that the discussions on Saturday had
shown him that "there is no trust. . . [It is] simply not there."
It was impossible to imagine that trust might be created by
removing assurances previously given. "'I'm going to take away the
promise I made you yesterday in order that you will trust me more
tomorrow' does not seem to work."
Canon Bell also took
issue with the opposition set up between trust, grace and law. It
struck him as peculiar that Anglicans, of all people, should
consider the law a questionable thing, given that it was founded on
the law of the Church of England. Canon Bell also sought to
emphasise that traditionalists - of whom he was not one - were not
driven by misogyny, but by grief for the ongoing schism of the
Church. "It is a desire to do nothing which will be injurious to
our membership of the one, holy, Catholic, apostolic Church that
motivates traditional Catholic opposition to this idea. . . It is a
matter of ecumenism."
The Bishop of
Willesden, the Rt Revd Pete Broadbent (Southern
Suffragans), said that he had devised a "cunning plan" to resolve
the deadlock, which many had told him could work. The first part of
the proposal was that a large steering group be appointed,
"including people from pressure groups and from no groups at
The group would engage in
facilitated discussions with David Porter, and "come out with
something that has universal approval from the people there".
Bishop Broadbent acknowledged that this was a "risky strategy. It's
a different way of framing what we do, and it might just work."
The second part of the
proposal was that, as provided for in the standing orders, the
Synod forgo having a revision committee. Instead, draft legislation
devised by the steering group should come straight to the Synod at
Members of the Synod
would "own the fact that our folk, people who speak for us, have
gone together and come up with something we acquiesce in". If Synod
members agreed with Bishop Broadbent's plan, they were asked to
"please slip into your speeches: 'I agree with Pete.' It's a way of
doing things differently, and we might avoid train crash."
The vice-chair of the
House of Laity, Tim Hind (Bath & Wells),
supported Bishop Broadbent's suggestion. He told the Synod that he
had installed solar panels on his roof last October, and since
then, the only day they had failed to generate light and heat was
20 November: "I leave you with that thought."
His backstop, he said,
was that the office of bishop must not be compromised; and he urged
that the legislation should be framed in a positive way, "written
at the trust end of the debate".
Cook (Liverpool) had recently returned from a visit to
Egypt, where he had discovered that both Coptic Christians and
ordinary Muslims were concerned at the leadership of the former
President, Mohammed Morsi, who "had promised to govern for all, but
was only governing for his own party". The Synod, he said, "must
legislate fully for all and for the good of the whole Church of
The majority in his
facilitated discussion group thought that Option Four provided the
best option, as it provided legal certainty; but the majority also
thought that it would not get through. He urged the Synod to
"legislate for unity".
Raising a point of order,
Professor Tony Berry (Chester) complained that of
the nine speeches heard so far, "only one female voice had been
heard." The debate chairman, Geoffrey Tattersall
QC, said that he was not against calling anybody: "I'm
doing my best. You just have to trust me," he said.
The Revd Paul
Benfield (Blackburn) also agreed with Bishop Broadbent's
proposal. He spoke in favour of his amendment, which would
stipulate that "provision made for those who cannot receive the
ministry of female priests or bishops should be made by Measure or
regulations under Canon."
He referred to the
earlier debate on the Draft Miscellaneous Provisions Measure: "We
regulate our life by the law, because, as fallen human beings, we
recognise that we do not act in accordance with the Divine will."
The distinction between law and grace was a false one: law and
grace were two sides of the same coin, he said. "Without law there
is no grace; and without grace there is no law.
"If people feel unsure or
uncertain, they will be fearful," he said. "If everyone knows where
they stand, they are more likely to be outgoing, gracious, and
co-operative with those with whom they disagree."
Giddings (Oxford) urged the Synod to read the five
principles agreed by the working group: "There lies the possibility
that we might yet find a way of squaring the circle." He was
attracted by the amendment from the Bishop of Dover, which offered
"a way of providing reassurance that those who have problems with
all this will have a proper and fair hearing for those problems,
and those with responsibility will have a framework within which
they can operate with confidence."
He was also attracted by
Keith Malcouronne's amendment. He urged the Synod to "listen
carefully" to the Bishop of Willesden, but warned that his
intervention had come "very late in the day, and we need to think
about it carefully".
Sutcliffe (Southwark) re-minded the Synod that the
decision 20 years ago to admit women to the presbyterate had, for
some, caused "immense distress". Making a change to admit women to
the episcopate while also "honouring our promises about inclusivity
and re- spect" was "both difficult and deeply unsettling". The
minority with re- gard to women's ordination was larger than it was
20 years ago because of the growth among conservative
His amendment offered a
"simple solution: women bishops cannot be a different breed from
men bishops; so we need a system of alternative oversight that
functions on a different basis from the diocesan". It would make in
law co-provincial provision for those needing it to petition for
alternative oversight through the two archbishops. There would then
be no need for a code of practice.
He was also concerned
that the laity not lose any more existing powers, and suggested
that Resolutions A and B be allowed to "wither on the bough in
their own time".
Swinson (Archbishops' Council) described the motion as
"great" because "it has the word 'urgent' in it, and I think this
is urgent because I would quite like to be able to go to the pub
and not have to explain this."
Option One was "the
easiest thing for me to explain in the pub because it does what we
want it to do. It offers quite a good opportunity for those of us
that were perhaps not as embedded in the debate as other people to
be able to get involved. It is not full of complexity . . . We do
need something not as based in law."
Collard (Derby) spoke to his amendment. The principle was
"that we have bishops, men and women, full stop". This would
involve keeping in place the current arrangements: Resolutions A,
B, and C. "One of the problems we hit last July when one side
rejected the legislation, and in November when other side rejected
the legislation, was that over time the Measure and Code of
Practice had become a bit of a dog's breakfast. We had fear,
uncertainty, and doubt about how it would work." Mr Collard's
amendment was "designed to keep in place arrangements we've had for
over 20 years. We simply have bishops."
The Archdeacon of
Tonbridge, the Ven. Clive Mansell (Rochester), spoke to
his two amendments. On the first, he was concerned "to find a way
forward on which we can all come together and none feel left
behind". He sensed that Option One would leave some feeling that it
fell significantly short of where they needed to be. It would be
helpful to test the mind of Synod on Option Two, which would get
behind the Measure some of those are anxious about Option One, and
who were needed to secure final approval.
Adopting Option Two would
involve a new Act of Synod; a new Measure would link its coming
into force with the coming into force of the new Act of Synod. Both
items would need approval by all three Houses. This option would
give reassurance to those who needed it.
Speaking to his other
amendment, he said that it was important that it was "unacceptable"
that parish representatives and bishops could be vulnerable to
legal challenge, simply for doing their proper duty. "The amendment
doesn't specify how it should be done, just that it should be
The Bishop of
Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott (Canterbury), had
sensed from the discussions on Saturday that people were "searching
for something much deeper, beyond law, relational but robust enough
to withstand challenge if 'What if?' questions" arose.
amendment sought to provide, in addition to Option One, a
"mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in which diocesan
bishops are required to participate". "If a bishop were foolish
enough to ignore the provisions of the Measure, he or she must be
subject to discipline."
The Revd Simon
Cawdell (Hereford) warned of the risk of "missional
suicide", and described talk of dissolving Synod as folly.
"Implying that somehow the resulting Synod will be more compliant
treats the electorate with arrogant contempt. . . We, and nobody
else, have been tasked with this job, and we must not fail." They
needed simple legislation, and he "agreed with Pete
Mr Benfield moved his
amendment, which Bishop Stock resisted. He described it as "Option
Four with bells on", and said that the House of Bishops would be
uncomfortable with enshrining in legislation anything that
qualified their commitment to women bishops' being "full bishops
Vincent (Guildford) said that he, too, supported Bishop
Broadbent's call for a broader steering group and shorter synodical
process; but he warned that a Measure without provision was
unlikely to be approved. He urged those who had voted yes in
November to grit their teeth and vote for the amendment, "to
guarantee that it would pass next time".
Harper (Oxford) opposed the amendment, saying it would
"splinter the Church", and "minorities would be seen as niche." She
said: "One of biggest fault-lines in today's humanity is the
appalling way women around the world are treated in name of
tradition and religion. If our own Church enacts legislation which
is anything less than 100-per-cent equal, we are adding to the
burdens of the oppressed."
The Revd Jonathan
Beswick (Oxford) spoke of marriage, which had its basis in
law: "the legal commitment . . . which is the bedrock and beginning
which allows the marriage to flourish through thick and thin". He
concluded: "We need more than the unamended option offers to us . .
. if we are to be bound together and not put asunder from pressures
. . . coming from all sorts of directions."
Alexander (Southwark) described the two "light-bulb
moments" that she had experienced in York. The first had been on
Saturday, during discussions in which her group had realised that
they did trust the Bishops to do as they said they would. The
second had been on Friday evening, when she had asked: "Why do we
have all the security guards that we have around the building? What
are we wanting to protect ourselves from? Are security guards a
guarantee that whatever it is you have in mind could never
Corbet (Lichfield) said that Mr Benfield's amendment
required some Measures and Regulations under Canon. The amendment
from the Bishop of Dover applied if a bishop ignored a Measure:
"What are the Measures that a bishop might ignore if there are not
The Archdeacon of
Hackney, the Ven. Rachel Treweek (London), urged the Synod
to vote against the amendment, but not because she wanted to vote
against provision. The Church had an opportunity to model how to
live with difference. Option One offered this. The amendment would
put discrimination on the face of the Measure. Provision that
"respects theological difference and allows us all to live with
integrity" could be achieved through Option One, through a Bishops'
She referred to the story of Jacob and Esau, a story
of "broken relationship, human mess, fear and fleeing from one
another", but which concluded with Jacob meeting Esau's grace and
In a vote by Houses, Mr
Benfield's amendment was lost. Bishops: 7 for, 34 against; Clergy
48 for, 137 against, 4 recorded abstentions; Laity 75 for, 115
against, 4 recorded abstentions.
Mr Sutcliffe moved his
amendment, and Bishop Stock expressed scepticism about it, saying
that he was not sure what it meant.
The Bishop of
Ely, the Rt Revd Stephen Conway, resisted the amendment,
as the motion presented the possibility of moving forward "in
kindness and mutual regard". It would ensure that bishops "are made
to attend to strong provision in a declaration with teeth". It was
necessary to ensure that there was a "sustained succession of
bishops from traditionalist parts of the Church to make sure we can
have together a generous future".
Mr Sutcliffe's amendment
Mr Collard moved his
amendment, and Bishop Stock said that this was an important
amendment, because it was testing out the mind of Synod about
Option Three, with some additions. The difficulties that he had
stated earlier about the 1993 Act of Synod would still apply. The
1993 Measure and Act of Synod had caused a great deal of pain, and
retaining them might not be the best way of securing a new
settlement, he said. He urged the Synod to reject the amendment at
Back (Norwich) supported the amendment, because he was
happier improving existing legislation than inventing new
legislation. Option Three offered an "evolutionary path". In small
rural parishes such as his, it was much easier to sell evolution
Taylor (Derby) spoke to oppose his colleague's amendment.
Relying on old legislation did not speak of a new start, a new way
of taking this proposal forward, he said. "The 1993 Act of Synod is
not the basis of anything new; it carries far too much of
The Revd Stephen
Trott (Peterborough) said that if the Synod reached the
end of the day without adopting any of the amendments, he would
have to abstain. "I cannot countenance going through this
legislative procedure again with a fair degree of certainty as to
what the outcome might be." Mr Trott en-dorsed Bishop Broadbent's
Ward (London) opposed the amendment because "I don't think
Option Three does anything that will really help. Option Three
doesn't deal with the complex issue of jurisdiction of the
ordinary, doesn't deal with heart of issue." He agreed with Bishop
Broadbent that some tweaks could be made to Option One, but
suggested a rather dramatic tweak: scrapping the oath of canonical
Mr Collard's amendment
Archdeacon Mansell moved
his amendment, which was also resisted by Bishop Stock.
Dailey (Oxford) said that she found "attractive" the idea
of adopting Option Two with a requirement for a special majority
for the Act of Synod. Drawing on the experience of traditionalist
friends in the Anglican Church of Canada, Miss Dailey said:
"Whatever arrangements are put in place in terms of provision . . .
can be very easily eroded. Whatever the good will of people here
now, personnel can change, and arrangements can disappear very
easily in a generation."
The Bishop of
Gloucester, the Rt Revd Michael Perham, asked the Synod to
resist the amendment, because Option One, as it was being
developed, was "most likely to meet the needs of us all". Option
One had, both formally and in conversations, moved towards Option
"We're now very clear it
would have a House of Bishops' Declaration, five principles in such
a declaration, as well as provision for those unable to accept the
admission of women to the episcopate. Such a draft Declaration
would be before us in November, [and] we know that, if we pass the
Bishop of Dover's amendment, there would be a mandatory monitoring
process. It's Option One and Three-Quarters; it's almost Option
The main difference was
that in Option Two there must be an Act of Synod rather than a
Declaration of the House of Bishops. This was an "unattractive
possibility" to those who had found the Act of Synod difficult to
live with over the years.
The Revd Dr
Philip Plyming (Guildford) added to the voices agreeing
with Bishop Broadbent. He found the five principles "very helpful",
but asked: "How are we going to own those principles, going
forward?" Dr Plyming welcomed the idea that the principles would
find a place in the declaration of the House of Bishops, under
Option One. "But the question is: could they actually be owned
better? I would welcome the fact that these five principles should
be contained and approved by the whole Synod. That's an option
under Option One, but, from what I hear this morning, that's not
going to take place."
Dr Plyming agreed with
Miss Dailey that a special majority gave "a flavour of permanence"
to provision for those who had theological difficulties with
admitting women to the episcopate. Dr Plyming was one of those who
voted against the draft Measure in November, despite being in
favour, in principle, of women bishops; Option Two would give him
the chance to support the Measure.
The Revd Rosalind
Rutherford (Winchester) encouraged the Synod to think
about "who we are making this legislation for". It was not just for
those in the room, but for the Church, the world, and the community
it served. She said: "Option One is the one option that makes it
absolutely clear that we are wanting to serve the Church and the
world in the way that they want us to." They "just wanted the
Church to have women as bishops, with no 'ifs' or 'buts' or
She had had to defend the
concept of provision far more than anything else. Women clergy in
the same diocese as her had said that the only way they could
operate "without feeling diminished" was "if we have a clear legal
Measure that says women can be bishops and the rest is done in
other ways". Provision was wanted, but "the law is a toxic way now
of doing it."
Sugden (Oxford) warned that the Synod was "in danger of
rushing our fences". The debate was about "testing the mind and
giving a steer to the future process". The Synod must be "very
careful about the words we use". An Act of Synod had "some baggage
to it, but that may not be the terms we come out with. They are the
terms in which certain things are currently expressed. It is what
they express at the moment that this amendment is seeking to take
forward, as a steer, not as binding."
There was a "very
important issue of power" at play. It was "patronising" to say to
the minority: "This will be good enough for you." Instead, the
minority should be asked: "What is it that you really want?" He
urged the Synod to give the steering committee "space . . . to be
able to work within a wider perimeter to find a way of doing it".
He quoted from Lord Singh in the House of Lords: "Clarity of the
law benefits everyone. Unclarity benefits nobody but lawyers." He
urged the Synod to support the amendment.
The Revd David
Brooke (Durham) suggested that the question to be asked to
the minority was "Shall we walk together?" He was speaking with
"some" as, with the fall of the amendments, it "feels as though the
stakes are rising". The amendment before the Synod was "beguiling,
but should still be resisted".
Option Two risked a
situation where "we turn away from each other and face in the wrong
direction." He urged the Synod to vote for Option One, and give it
more than a two-thirds majority.
The Revd Janet
Appleby (Newcastle) spoke of the five principles in the
House of Bishops' report. "We all have to give ground if we are
going to agree with them." The Church of England had been founded,
she said, in the context of seemingly irreconcilable faith
positions, and "it is our genius and sometimes our problem that
sometimes we find it difficult to hold those factions
She referred to the
earlier statement that "we should ask what opponents want", and
said: "We should ask women what they want, too; and we want Option
In a vote by Houses,
Archdeacon Mansell's amendment was lost in all three Houses:
Bishops 10 for, 28 against, 1 recorded abstention; Clergy 55 for,
128 against, 8 recorded abstentions; Laity 93 for, 100 against, 4
Mr Cawdell moved his
amendment. Responding, Bishop Stock said it brought uncertainty
into the process, introducing elements of Options Two to Four; he
asked Synod to reject the motion.
Butler (Southwark) explained that he had declined to sign
in support of Mr Cawdell's amendment on the Saturday, because he
thought it might not be possible for the Church of England both to
admit women to the episcopate and to allow opponents to flourish.
"Nobody has said that yet, but we may have to recognise that
painful reality." A solution would be painful for everybody, he
said, but the amendment provided "room for manoeuvre that is
healthy and hopeful".
Cotton (Guildford) was concerned that the mo-tion singled
out opponents of women bishops as people whose ministry should be
allowed to flourish. "All traditions must flourish," he said, "but
must flourish together."
Goddard (Blackburn) said that if the Synod carried on with
Option One, without amendments, "we are going to end up re-visiting
what we have done up to now . . . knowing that it is not acceptable
to a third of the House of Laity."
The Bishop of
Dover, the Rt Revd Trevor Willmott (Canterbury), urged the
Synod to oppose the amendment, because, if it was carried, his own
amendment to allow a mandatory grievance process to work alongside
the Measure would fall.
The amendment fell.
Bishop Willmott moved his
amendment, which was accepted by Bishop Stock; and the Dean
of St Paul's, the Very Revd Dr David Ison, spoke in
support. It would introduce a mandatory grievance procedure, but
Dean Ison urged that a group of advocates be established who could
speak on behalf of others. "Whistle-blowing is supported in law,
and people are encouraged to do it," he said; "but most
whistle-blowers are ostracised and bullied by their colleagues and
superiors. I know there are things going on in my organisation, and
I can't find people to stick their necks above the parapet and give
me the evidence that I need to take action."
Bishop Willmott said that
there were "some very skilled people who can help us in those
Corteen (Salisbury) opposed the amendment. She was fully
in favour of Option One un-amended. She appreciated the Bishop
Willmott's reasons, but said that "the wording would need to be
very carefully crafted to prevent vexatious complainants hauling
people over the coals at every opportunity."
The Archbishop of
York, Dr Sentamu, supported the principle of the
amendment, but was unhappy with the word "grievance". He wanted the
Synod to carry the amendment, but wanted the steering committee to
bring back legislation that provided for reconciliation and
mediation but that didn't have the word "grievance" in it. This was
possible, he said, because "We aren't voting to put this in the
Measure; it is a steer."
Storkey (Ely) supported the amendment, recognising that
bishops, male and female, were part of the human race, and some
might not be very good at hearing the concerns that had been
expressed and continued to be expressed.
The amendment was
THE Synod adjourned for
lunch, and resumed debate on Monday afternoon.
Archdeacon Mansell moved
his second amendment. Bishop Stock said that there was some
difficulty with advising the Synod to accept this amendment to
prevent legal challenge. It was not usually possible to prevent
entirely the possibility of legal challenge. There would also be
some sensitivity in having to approach the Government to ask for
new arrangements for the Church of England under the Equality Act.
He warned that the Synod should not carry the amendment in the
expectation that there would be an easy answer.
Scowen (London) expressed strong support for Archdeacon
Mansell's proposal. "It is right that you can never prevent anybody
challenging anything, but you can put in place provisions that
minimise the risk of challenge." It was vital that the Synod did
its best to achieve this, he said.
The Revd Mark
Steadman (Southwark) urged the Synod to resist the
amendment. To give effect to the phrase "with provision to prevent
legal challenge" would require it to go to Parliament and ask it to
write a different set of equality laws for the Church. It would be
saying that it did not trust the equality laws to do what they said
they did. "I can't begin to imagine how damaging that conversation
(Bath & Wells) noted that the amendment made no mention of
archdeacons and lay chairs, who were also involved in appointments.
He requested that those words be included.
The Second Church
Estates Commissioner, Sir Tony Baldry MP, warned the Synod
not to "go anywhere which involves going back to Parliament to ask
Parliament to look at the equalities legislation so far as the
Church of England is concerned". Sir Tony said that he had been
pushing his luck recently. "There are many on both sides of the
House [of Commons] who think the equalities legislation already
goes too far, so far as the Church of England is concerned."
Sir Tony said that there
were a number in the House of Commons who were "genuinely hostile
to the Church of England, and who would see any possibility of
opening up the legislation in respect to the equalities legislation
as a really good hunting ground for them".
On the women-bishops
legislation in general, he warned: "I think I can hold the line in
Parliament for another couple of years, but if we haven't got this
sorted by 2015, then I can't account for the law of unintended
consequences at Westminster, as to the creative ability of
colleagues on both sides of the House of getting involved in
"A number of senior Privy
Counsellors are already putting their minds to how do they sort
this if General Synod doesn't. In the course of these debates, one
has to realise that we don't take these decisions in a bubble. The
world is looking at us - and, not least, Parliament."
Ward (London) was in favour of women bishops and voting in
favour of the amendment. The wording might not be "absolutely
perfect", but "we are not legislating now, but giving policy a
steer." He did not agree that it was necessary to go to Parliament:
"In principle, the Church of England can amend Acts of Parliament,
provided it relates to church business."
religious groups was already possible in equalities legislation. It
could be possible to require those making appointments to take into
account not only the Measure, but what was expressed in other
documents, such as the Act of Synod or a Declaration from bishops.
He called for "a bit of rational, cold-headed legal analysis".
The amendment was
narrowly lost in a division of the whole Synod: 200 for, 210
against, 15 recorded abstentions.
Malcouronne (Guildford), moving his amendment calling for
facilitated conversations to continue, agreed with Bishop
Broadbent, and said that he hoped that his amendment might be "a
vehicle for carrying forward the spirit of his desire to include a
wide range of voices in the next stage of the process". He praised
the facilitated discussions that had taken place as "very
valuable". He was "not specifying anything, but opening up a
Bishop Stock accepted
Sugden (Oxford) spoke in support of the amendment. It
could offer a way to affirm the five principles in the report from
the House of Bishops. Anecdotal evidence suggested that the
facilitated discussions a York had "unfrozen some aspects of our
dilemma, and produced some fruit". There were "further fruits and
prizes to be gained from taking this consideration further". It was
a "very Anglican way of doing things, to adopt a new way of working
together within established procedures".
It was also a means of
"speeding matters up and ensuring that we come to final legislation
and voting as fast as possible". The amendment might not work, but,
he concluded, "Let it not be said of it that we set out hands to
the plough and then looked back."
Winter (Newcastle) said that the Synod seemed to be
expecting too much. "Treating each other equally cannot be easily
transferred to endorsing every view equally." Canon Winter was
"confused about mediation suddenly becoming a framework". If the
Synod did vote for it, it needed to be "aware of what the
limitations are; what it can and cannot do".
amendment was carried.
Debate resumed on the
main motion as amended.
The Archbishop of
Canterbury said that history and contemporary experience
showed that detailed arrangements "not only embed division: they
are unworkable, and lead to frequent and prolonged litigation. If
they do not lead to litigation, they invite attempts through clever
reading to ensure a desired outcome. And if they do not lead to
gaming the system, they invite a box-ticking approach that seeks to
conform to the letter, not to the Spirit."
therefore, strongly supported "an approach that is between Options
One and Two", including Bishop Willmott's amendment and the extra
work suggested by Dr Sentamu. He also expressed strong support for
Bishop Broadbent's proposal, but warned that it would require "hard
work and generosity".
The Archbishop continued:
"As has been said, there are neither magic processes any more than
there are magic solutions that get us off the hook of needing a
commitment to mutual flourishing."
The approach before the
Synod presented "a radical way forward", providing the possibility
of building trust, and affirming "an inclusive approach that is
consistent with our previous resolutions, the commitment to
ordaining women as bishops on exactly the same basis as men, and
the flourishing together of all parts of the Church. It sets a
clear principle, combined with a follow-through to the
consensus-building approach that we are developing."
The five principles "must
be discussed, debated, and agreed, be very robust, and closely
followed and monitored", he said.
Allen (St Edmundsbury & Ipswich) expressed support for
the motion. If it was not approved before the next elections to the
Synod, the elections would be "bitterly fought". Electronic voting
records would be pored over by organisations such as WATCH, and
voters would be alerted to the identity of candidates who had voted
against. Mr Allen feared that a new Synod elected in 2015 would
thus be less broad in its churchmanship than the present Synod.
The Bishop of
Gibraltar in Europe, Dr Geoffrey Rowell, said that the
faith and order of the Church was not something invented, but
something received and then handed on. This would be his last
speech in Synod on the subject; and he regretted that "so often we
do not hear each other because we start from different
He hoped that the
facilitated discussions would enable the various ecclesiological
premises to "come out in the open" and asked the group Women and
the Church (WATCH) to prepare a "full written statement of their
ecclesiology in relation to the wider ecumenical context and the
Charman (Salisbury) said that she hoped that the Church
would now unite around Option One; but she warned that, if the
Synod failed to do so, it would have to recognise that it had
"reached the limits of our capabilities as a Synod. Duly elected
though we may be, we do not fully represent the considered mind and
prayerful will of the wider Church."
She said that there was a "substantial loss of confidence" in
the Synod. "If, in spite of our best mind and prayerful will of the wider
She said that there was a
"substantial loss of confidence" in the Synod. "If, in spite of
our best efforts, we cannot change the record at this point, and
if, as a result, we are unable to transact the Church's business in
this urgent and important matter, then we should go.
"The Church would not expect
less from us."
Swyer (Chichester) said the facilitated discussions had
been "honest and painful at times, but nevertheless had a real
sense of hope". The five elements of the Bishops' vision "must not
only be held together but reflected together explicitly in any legislation".
None of the amendments or options on Monday "encapsulate the vision
completely", and should be seen as "work in progress".
Gooder (Birmingham) said that members of the
Synod might have noticed that on 20 November, at the end of the
debate, she had not been "ecstatically happy". On reflection, she
said, this was because she had felt that she had seen "us mauling
our own small part of the body of Christ. I felt as though we were
savaging each other. I want to say we must never do that again. We
have a chance now to grasp a new future."
Option One provided a
different way of doing things. She suggested that, just because
Option One was the first, that did not mean that it was "an extreme
end". It had the potential to be "enormously robust, if we run the
process correctly". She urged the Synod to vote in favour of the
Measure, "to give us that new headwind into the future".
The Bishop of
Rochester, the Rt Revd James Langstaff, said that the best
way of showing agreement with Bishop Broadbent was to vote for the
Measure, because it would establish a steering committee. Although
some had reservations about Option One, it had already begun to
evolve, and there would still be possibilities to create an Act of
Synod or legislate for a special majority: "A lot of things are
still on the table."
(Chichester) requested that there be a vote by individual clauses,
and a division as whole Synod. Mr Tattersall ruled against the
first request, but the second was supported by more than 25 members
The motion, as amended, was
carried by 319 to 84, with 22 recorded abstentions. It
(a) reaffirm its
commitment to admitting women to the episcopate as a matter of
(b) instruct the
Appointments Committee to appoint this month a Steering Committee
to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that
(c) instruct the Business
Committee to arrange for the First Consideration stage for that
draft legislation to be taken at the November 2013 group of
sessions, so that the subsequent stages can follow the timetable
set out in paragraph 141 of the annex to GS 1886;
(d) instruct the Steering
Committee to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described
in paragraphs 79-88 of the annexe to GS 1886 as "option one" with
the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure for parishes in
which diocesan bishops are required to participate; and invite the
House of Bishops to bring to the Synod for consideration at the
February 2014 group of sessions a draft Act of Synod or draft
declaration to be made by the House to accompany the draft
(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations
continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and
consideration of the draft legislation.