A "SHARP" argument about the provision afforded to those who
cannot accept the episcopal ministry of women is expected at the
next meeting of the General Synod, William Fittall, the Secretary
General, said on Friday.
At a press briefing in preparation for the July meeting, Mr
Fittall said that there was a "very sharp division of views on
those questions . . . of giving people the protection that they
need . . . as to how much you need to put in legislation and how
much you can rely on declarations and Acts of Synod. There will be
sharp argument in this Synod."
The motion from the House of Bishops which proposes that draft
legislation be prepared and introduced in November on the basis of
option one of the working group (
News, 31 May) will take place on Monday 8 July.
Mr Fittall thought that, in the wake of the fall of the November
measure, there was a general desire, even among those who could not
accept the ministry of women bishops, to avoid a protracted process
ending in legislative failure again: "One train crash is extremely
bad; two really would be unacceptable."
Saturday 6 July will be largely dedicated to facilitated
discussions about women bishops with members divided into 24 groups
of 20, each combining those who had voted for and against the
November measure. The Synod would not be sitting during this time
and members of the public or press would not be admitted.
The Synod will also debate safeguarding, after the reports from
the Chichester diocesan Commissaries (News, 10
May). A motion will be brought asking Synod to endorse an
"unreserved apology" from the Archbishops for "the failure of its
systems to protect children, young people and adults from physical
and sexual abuse inflicted by its clergy and others; and for the
failure to listen properly to those so abused."
The motion will also invite the House of Bishops and the
Archbishops' Council to "pursue as a matter of urgency" the
enhancement of the Church's safeguarding arrangements with final
approval of the necessary legislation within the lifetime of this
Synod. The final report of the Commissaries warned that the law of
the Church of England was "presently not in line with the rest of
the civil law of employment," and called for "urgent consideration"
to be given to amending the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003 to
permit the compulsory suspension of accused clerics.
On Monday, the Synod will vote on the proposed Yorkshire
Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme (News, 10 May). This
will be the last opportunity to halt the scheme, which Wakefield
On Tuesday, the Synod will consider recommendations from the
Business Committee based on a report from the elections review
group. This includes a potential reconsideration of the allocation
of seats between York and Canterbury and a proposal to reduce the
number of universities seats. The Synod will also debate
recommendations from the Business Committe concerning the
electorate for the House of Laity (the Committee believes that a
new electoral college would be better than the present system) and
online voting (it is proposed that the nominations process for 2015
be conducted by email).
The agendas and papers for the July group of sessions can be