The campaign group WATCH
has expressed strong support for the legislative proposals for
women bishops set out by the House of Bishops, in which it sees an
"unequivocal" commitment to women in the episcopate.
In a statement issued on
Tuesday, WATCH said that it was "very encouraged" by the Bishops'
News, 31 May) and its "very welcome commitment to opening all
orders of ministry to women without equivocation".
The legislative proposals
that the House would place before the General Synod in July were,
"in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse". These (Option 1)
have been criticised by Forward in Faith and others (
News, 7 June).
WATCH believes that the
report "displays a significant change in tone towards the prospect
of having women in the episcopate". It was "particularly heartened"
by paragraph 21 of the report: "The conviction of the House is that
the Church of England should now commit itself fully and
unequivocally to all orders of ministry being open to all, without
reference to gender. It would, in the view of the House, sit very
uncomfortably with that if the Synod were to enshrine in
legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would
inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment."
WATCH said that it would
be "unable" to support Option 2, which would link the coming into
force of the Measure with that of a new Act of Synod in relation to
episcopal ministry, and include a special-majority requirement for
amendment or repeal of the Act.