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WATCH backs House of Bishops’ Option One

14 June 2013

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' report ( 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.

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