THE "strikingly warm and
friendly" tone noted by the Archbishop of Canterbury after the
women-bishops debate at the General Synod last week was reflected
in reactions issued in the days that followed.
Immediately after the
debate, the Revd Anne Stevens, a vice-chair of WATCH, said: "What a
difference a year makes. For the last 12 months, people on all
sides of the debate have worked closely together on the new
provisions, and we saw the fruits of that in today's very positive
and good-humoured debate." A statement from the Catholic Group
issued after the vote said that it "welcomes the new atmosphere of
trust and reconciliation".
MPs celebrated news of
the vote with questions to the Second Church Estates Commissioner,
Sir Tony Baldry, in the Commons. Martin Vickers, the Conservative
MP for Cleethorpes, asked whether Sir Tony was confident that "the
Church can now move on from these endless internal debates and
start preaching the gospel and working for the good of
Those unable to accept
the ministry of women bishops had begun to prepare for a changed
landscape. On Monday of last week, the Bishop of Pontefract, the Rt
Revd Tony Robinson, chairman of the Council of Bishops of the
Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, wrote to all supporters of the
society, which was was formed in 2010 to give "some sort of
identity" to Catholic clergy and laity who are opposed to women
bishops, but do not wish to leave the Church of England (
News, 1 October 2010).
The letter explains that
the so- ciety and Forward in Faith will be "two sides of the same
coin", the former focusing on "mission, sacramental ministry and
The same day, Prebendary
Rod Thomas, who chairs Reform and was one of the members of the
steering committee that voted to commend the proposals to the
General Synod, said that "key issues" remained unresolved,
including the nature of the oath of canonical obedience. He warned:
"If major concerns remain at final approval, we will not support
On Wednesday of last
week, after the vote, the Bishop of Oxford, the Rt Revd John
Pritchard, said: "We still need to work hard with conservative
Evangelicals over headship."
On Monday, Margaret
Brown, who chairs the Third Province Movement, suggested that
provision for those unable to accept women as bishops should take
the form of three Catholic provincial episcopal visitors, an
Evangelical one, and two parishes in each deanery that were free
from women priests.
On Wednesday of last week, the Prime Minister said that the
Government was "ready to work with the Church to see how we can get
women bishops into the House of Lords as soon as possible".