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FiF backs women-bishops deal

15 November 2013


THE hope expressed by the Steering Committee that women-bishops legislation may be passed in the lifetime of this Synod was given a fresh boost this week when Forward in Faith recommended that the current package should progress to revision.

In a statement issued on Monday, the Chairman of Forward in Faith, the Bishop of Fulham, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, said: "Though these proposals are still far from what we have long said would be ideal, we believe that they may have the potential to provide workable arrangements for the future, which will ensure that our people, clergy, and parishes have continued access to a ministry that will enable us to flourish within the structures of the Church of England, and make our full contribution to its life and mission.

"Much will depend on the continuance of the atmosphere of trust that has at last begun to be fostered by the process that produced these proposals.

"We therefore encourage the General Synod to send the legislation for revision in full Synod, so that the process may continue as expeditiously as possible."

Last month, the Steering Committee given the task of preparing fresh women-bishops legislation published a package comprising a draft Measure and Amending Canon, a draft House of Bishops' declaration, and draft regulations establishing a procedure for resolving disputes (News, 1 November).

On Monday, Bishop Baker said that this represented a "very significant improvement" on the legislation that failed in November. But he warned that "any weakening of the proposals would require them to be opposed vigorously."

The package was also welcomed by the Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod (GRAS). A statement issued last week said that there was "much to commend" in the Steering Committee's report, and expressed hope that the proposals would be implemented "without further delay".

On Tuesday, Affirming Catholicism published several of its concerns about the package, including a lack of clarity about the status of the sees of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors. It recommended that the decision to issue a letter of request should be made by all those on the electoral roll, and argued that the commitment to appointing a bishop with a Conservative Evangelical view on headship sounded like a "quota system".

The proposal to state that a bishop does not hold a public office, for the purposes of the Equalities Act was "an unfortunate concession".

Consultation on women bishops. Last Friday, the Bishops of the Church in Wales launched a consultation on a code of practice setting out provision for those unable to accept women bishops. It will be possible to ordain women as bishops in the Church in Wales from 12 September 2014.

Written submissions can be emailed to julianluke@churchinwales.org.uk before 31 December.

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