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Synod gives new steer on women bishops

12 July 2013

Women bishops


Strictly not Synod: one of the small groups of General Synod members brought together to hear each other's views, especially those that conflict with their own, is about to start its facilitated discussion on the Saturday; these groups, and the plenary held in the afternoon, were closed to the public and the media (except for this authorised incursion by our photographer), and did not count as a session of the Synod

Strictly not Synod: one of the small groups of General Synod members brought together to hear each other's views, especially those that conflict wit...

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 procedure.

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 difference".

Her procedural motion was lost.

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 love."

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 expectations".

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 simplicity".

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 difficult.

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".

Prebendary 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 place."

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 Canons".

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 healthier.

Canon Wealands 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 all".

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 revision stage.

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".

Canon Christopher 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 England".

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."

Dr Philip 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".

Tom 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 Evangelicals.

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".

Rebecca 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."

Peter 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 done."

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.

Bishop Willmott's 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 [Broadbent]".

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 unequivocally".

Adrian 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".

Canon Rosie 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."

April 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 happen?"

Christopher 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 any Measures?"

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' Declaration.

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 forgiveness.

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 was lost.

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 this stage.

Robin 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 than revolution.

Simon 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 baggage."

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 proposal.

John 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 obedience.

Mr Collard's amendment was lost.

Archdeacon Mansell moved his amendment, which was also resisted by Bishop Stock.

Prudence 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 Two.

"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 Two."

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 anything".

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."

Canon Chris 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 together."

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 One."

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 recorded abstentions.

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.

Canon Simon 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".

Canon Robert 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."

Vivienne 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 areas".

Christine 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."

Dr Elaine 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 carried.

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.

Clive 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 might be."

Tim Hind (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 this.

"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."

John 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."

Discrimination for 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.

Keith 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 possibility".

Bishop Stock accepted this amendment.

Canon Chris 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."

Canon Dagmar 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".

Mr Malcouronne's 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."

Archbishop Welby, 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.

Tim 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 ecclesiological premises."

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 Anglican tradition".

Canon Jane 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 Church."

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."

Canon Rebecca 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".

Dr Paula 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."

Jacob Vince (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 of Synod.

The motion, as amended, was carried by 319 to 84, with 22 recorded abstentions. It read:

That this Synod:

(a) reaffirm its commitment to admit­ting women to the episcopate as a matter of urgency;

(b) instruct the Appointments Com­mittee to appoint this month a Steer­ing Committee to be in charge of the draft legislation required to that end;

(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 legislation; and

(e) urge that the process of facilitated conversations continue to be used at significant points in the formulation and consideration of the draft legislation.


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