Posted in Church of England, women bishops

Women Bishops: a sense of hope

Having returned earlier today from the College of Bishops, leaving the House to decide what might happen to the amendment which caused so much trouble earlier in the year. I was hoping, and praying, that the outcome would be what has in fact occurred. To quote from the press release

“The final text proposed by the House of Bishops is:

“Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c):” the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which parochial church councils issue Letters of Request under section 3″

Simple words – words which fill me with a sense of hope – at two levels.

I really really hope this will enable the legislation to pass. If there was one thing all of the bishops had in common was a realisation of the disaster it would be for the church if we fail to pass legislation in November. We really have to move on – and I really hope we will. To those who fear that they will be excluded from the church when we have women bishops, I hope this will provide reassurance that they will not be. To those who fear that the legislation will pay too great a price, I hope it will also say – yes, we do want to make provision for those who are opposed, but we are doing so within a church which is unashamed of ordaining women bishops as absolute equals with men.

And the second level of hope is that we might just start to work together a little more. If we do ‘respect’ in the legal term, maybe we can build on the many individual respectful relationships between those of different opinions, and build a greater culture of respecting our differences in the whole church. God cannot be completely understood by any person or system: respecting those who differ from us within the faith is a recognition of the mystery of the God who is beyond knowing.

10 thoughts on “Women Bishops: a sense of hope

  1. To my jaundiced self, this is like arguing about different ways of closing a door. Why could they not ditch the amendment? The church is losing credibility because while the men who rule it argue about how to exclude women from positions of power, their fellow men in positions of power are being revealed as abusers of children and vulnerable adults. You have lost two generations.

  2. The answer is clear – any attempt to remove the “two integrities” agreed back in 1994 (and those who claim such was not agreed are historical revisionists) would be interpreted as nothing less than an outright attempt to eject traditionalists from the CofE. So a compromise wording *has* to be found that somehow maintains that distinctive. “respects the grounds on which parochial church councils issue Letters of Request under section 3” just about manages that.

    1. ‘Integer’ is a whole UNDIVIDED number. It was logical nonsense from the start. ‘A HOUSE DIVIDED AGAINST ITSELF CANNOT STAND.’

  3. I have always thought that the ‘two integrities’ had been agreed – the CofE has sold its birthright for a mess of pottage, and has mistaken Sacramental Issues of Priesthood with all the equality legislation!
    The Ordinareate awaits – what a LIberal minded ship we seem to have now!

  4. I am new to the Anglican church but have have several friends who are female Anglican priests so I have some historical insight to this debate. The problem seems to be that a bar on women becoming bishops was left in place in 1994 (?) when women were first allowed to become priests. Since then all of the women priest to whom I have talked have pointed out that they have been subject to abuse from male colleagues and have not had equal access to posts above parish priests. If women priests had been treated as equals with their male contemporaries from day 1 this clause would not have been a problem but in view of their experience it becomes another way to treat them as second class priests.
    The church is arguing about issues that society dealt with in the 1960’s and 70’s and now appears hopelessly old fashioned and bigoted to the people we claim to serve.
    Wouldn’t it be better for the church to follow the example of Jesus who treated women as equal with men? Listen to what Jesus said when Mary sat at his feet in the place of a disciple claiming equality with the 12: “Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.”

    1. Hugh, none of the female Anglican priests I have met in the course of their ministry has suggested to me that she has been subject to abuse, in fact many enjoy good relations with male colleagues who take a different view of the priesthood, each accepting the position of the other in good faith. The problem arises when vocal lobbyists are prepared to make all sorts of assertions to achieve their aims. Unsubstantiated claims of abuse, misogyny, and of course discrimination, bigotry and inequality to which you refer to in your comment.
      Unlike you, I am not new to the Anglican Church, a church which, despite what you claim has, in common with the wider Christian Church, followed Christ’s example for 2,000 years. You may not agree with us but can you not respect our position? If not, there is no hope.

      1. AncientBriton, The experience of the women priests we have known has obviously been different but I have heard from their lips stories of misogyny and abuse that startled me – I was not lobbying but stating facts as I know them.

  5. Perhaps you should not believe everything you are told Hugh. Have you experienced any hatred, dislike, or mistrust of women? For those of us who are married with daughters and granddaughters the claim is absurd, especially for female opponents of the ordination of women. You appear to be a victim of propaganda circulated by WATCH in their bid for power having no concept of service which the priesthood is all about. If I may reiterate, there can be no hope for the Anglican Church unless respect is allowed to prevail.

    1. AncientBriton, I haven’t even heard of WATCH, I was only stating what I have heard from women who have been called by God to be priests in His, not our, church.

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