DISPUTES over the implementation of arrangements for parishes
that seek ministry from a male bishop will be heard by Sir Philip
Mawer (below), a former Secretary General of the General
Synod, it was announced on Friday.
As independent reviewer, Sir Philip will be responsible for
considering grievances from PCCs that believe a bishop, or other
priest, has acted inconsistently with the House of Bishops'
declaration - part of the legislative package on women bishops
agreed by the General Synod in July (Synod,
The declaration included arrangements for congregations that, on
grounds of theological conviction, require ministry from a male
bishop; and requires the bishops to provide a disputes-resolution
procedure for these cases.
Sir Philip, who was Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards
from 2002 to 2007, has accepted an invitation to take on this
part-time appointment until the end of 2017.
The announcement was made during a press briefing about the
November meeting of the General Synod, which will be held on 17 and
18 November. On the Monday, the Synod will be invited to promulge
Amending Canon No. 33 to allow women to be bishops. The Secretary
General of the General Synod, William Fittall, said that the
outcome was "not really in doubt": a simple majority on a show of
hands was all that was required. He would be "surprised" if a woman
were not appointed to the episcopate by the end of 2015.
"When we have half the human race who have not been eligible for
consideration, at the point at which they do become eligible, there
are many people who might have been considered in the past and who
have already done important and senior jobs in the Church of
England, and it would be surprising if they were not considered,"
Under the current system, he said, bishops were "invited to
identify people who they think are suitable for greater
responsibility. Over the past months, they have been invited to
think about women; so the system is ready to go. From 17 November,
if the Crown Nominations Commission [CNC] or a diocesan asks, 'What
is the pool of people?', names of women are already there." There
had also been "work to ensure that those women who might be
identified as suitable have been prepared for that".
"We do have the possibility of using positive action," Mr
Fittall continued. Under the law, this meant that, if there were a
dead heat between two people, "we are able to say, 'We will go for
the woman rather than the man,'" since women were
under-represented. It was "rare" that such dead heats came about,
but the possibility was there.
Currently, there are four diocesan sees vacant for which the CNC
might, after 17 November, consider a woman: Southwell &
Nottingham, Gloucester, Oxford, and Newcastle. Six suffragan sees
are also vacant, but, as the diocesan bishop takes the lead on the
appointments processes, it is not clear how many of these will
still await an appointment after 17 November.
Full Synod agenda