Tuesday, 18 June 2013
House of Bishops - senior women clergy representatives
I reported here on the rules that had been made for the election of senior women representatives to attend meetings of the House of Bishops. The rules contained a few errors
- Chelmsford was accidentally included in two regional electoral colleges
- The first regional electors did not come into office until after the first elections
and these have now been corrected.
The date by which the first elections must be completed remains 1 October 2013, so the first representatives will be able to attend the next regular meeting of the House of Bishops, which is in December.
House of Lords: Monday in committee on the Marriage bill
Updated again Wednesday morning
The more detailed list showing speakers names is over here.
Two bishops engaged in the debate, the Archbishop of York and the Bishop of Hereford.
The debate continues on Wednesday.
There is already a Second Marshalled List of Amendments here. There is now a Revised Second Marshalled List.
David Pocklington has listed out what happened yesterday to each amendment that was discussed, see Same Sex Marriage Bill – Committee Stage, 1st Day.
Andrew Brown has written John Sentamu and the Church of England’s slow retreat on gay marriage.
…The archbishop, John Sentamu, asked: “What do you do with people in same-sex relationships that are committed, loving and Christian? Would you rather bless a sheep and a tree, and not them? However, that is a big question, to which we are going to come. I am afraid that now is not the moment.”
No. It isn’t. That moment passed years ago, when civil partnerships were first brought in, and the archbishop’s was one of the loudest voices demanding that the Church of England have nothing to do with them. The bishops still don’t realise what damage they did then…
Paul Johnson has written at ECHR Sexual Orientation blog Same-sex marriage in England and Wales - more references to the ECHR.
David Pocklington has written again, Clarifications from withdrawn amendments, Same Sex Marriage Bill, Day 1 which adds a lot of useful explanation about the various amendments discussed.
Chris Sugden has written an Update for the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.
Monday, 17 June 2013
Joint Committee on Human Rights reports on Marriage bill
The Joint Committee on Human Rights has published a report on the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill.
The full text can be found here, as a PDF file.
The uncorrected transcript of oral evidence given to the committee is available here as a PDF file.
The Telegraph has a news article based on what is said in this report, here.
Marriage Bill: Committee stage starts today in the Lords
Updated Monday evening
There is a revised Marshalled List of amendments.
David Pocklington has written another very helpful article at Law & Religion UK entitled Same-Sex Marriage Bill – further legal issues. He comments:
… With the exception of the amendments relating to holding a referendum on the Act, (which would take place after the Act had gained Royal Assent, but before its other provisions come into force), the majority concern the clarification of issues specific to groups who are likely to be impacted by its provisions: followers of Judaism, [clause 5, amendment 21]; or Sikhism [clause 5, amendment 22]; or by challenges to their actions in relation to these and various equality provisions; publicly held appointments, [clause, amendment 5]; registrars, [clause 2, amendment 15 to 18]; teaching, [clause 7, amendment 23].
A number of amendments refer to “exercising a function that is a function of a public nature for the purposes of the Human Rights Act 1998”, one of the “grey areas” of particular interest to the Church of England which was discussed at length in the ‘Prayer to Annul’ debate on 15 December 2011 and is reported here. Other proposals seek to identify and protect the concept of “traditional marriage”, [clause 1, amendment 7], or “matrimonial marriage”, [clause 12, amendment 46].
In addition, potential new provisions include requirements for the Secretary of State to: create a statutory list of religious bodies owning or controlling premises that they do not wish to be eligible to undertake an opt-in activity, [clause 1, amendment 6]; and review the operation and effects of the Act to be reviewed, two years and five years after it is passed, [clause 15, amendment 47]…
The uncorrected Hansard report, running three hours behind real time, can be found here. (This link will only work until Tuesday morning).
The Archbishop of York spoke in this debate, and has published his text here.
There is a news report in the Telegraph Archbishop of York: would the church rather bless sheep and trees than gay couples?
Saturday, 15 June 2013
Civil partnerships review – terms of reference and timetable
The Government Equalities Office has published a policy paper which sets out the terms of reference and timetable for a review of the operation and future of the Civil Partnership Act 2004 (CPA) in England and Wales.
See this announcement dated 13 June: Future of Civil Partnerships review to start in autumn 2013
Continue reading "Civil partnerships review – terms of reference and timetable"
Terms of Reference published for a formal review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004
The Government has today announced its intention to launch a full public consultation in the autumn to kick start a review of the future of Civil Partnerships in England and Wales.
During a debate in the House of Commons of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, concerns were raised by MPs over the issue of civil partnerships and their role in light of same sex marriage legislation.
To ensure these issues are fully understood the Government tabled an amendment to the Bill which would allow for a formal review of the Civil Partnership Act 2004.
Read the Terms of Reference for a formal review of the Civil Partnership Act. [Full text copied below the fold]
Although the Church in Wales was disestablished in 1920, disestablishment was not complete (for example in the area of marriage law). The Constitutional and Legislative Affairs Committee of the National Assembly for Wales has been inquiring into Law-making and the Church in Wales and their report was published yesterday. It recommends “that the Church in Wales should be fully disestablished”.
There are links to the report of the inquiry and to the evidence given to it by Professor Norman Doe, Professor Thomas Glyn Watkin, and the Archbishop of Wales here.
Frank Cranmer of Law & Religion UK explains it all in Disestablishing the Church in Wales – at last?
The Church in Wales has responded with this: Church responds to National Assembly law report.
Press reports inlcude
George Pitcher writes in the New Statesman that For the new Power Christians, God is the new CEO.
Diarmaid MacCulloch writes in The New York Times that Same-Sex Marriage Leaves the Bishops Behind.
William Oddie writes in the Catholic Herald that On Friday, the Pope will meet Archbishop Welby. So, why do we continue talking to the Anglicans after they have so wilfully made unity impossible?
The OUP blog speaks (in six YouTube videos) to Brian Cummings about The origin and text of The Book of Common Prayer.
Jonathan Clatworthy of Modern Church asks Was there an original Revelation?
Giles Fraser writes for The Guardian about From the Golden Calf to Gezi park: religious imagery and modern protest
Friday, 14 June 2013
Choosing Bishops - The Equality Act 2010 (revised)
TA readers may recall that back in June 2011, a document was published by the Church of England, which was numbered GS Misc 992 entitled Choosing Bishops - The Equality Act 2010. We reproduced the full text of this document here at the time and it attracted some comment then.
In fact the identical document had been leaked to the Guardian newspaper the previous month when it attracted quite a lot of media comment.
Today, the Church of England released a new document, numbered GS Misc 1044, which is described as an update to the earlier one, but whose content is in some respects quite different. The cover note observes that the update has been made to take account of the decision taken by the House of Bishops in December in relation to civil partnerships and the episcopate.
We reported on that in House of Bishops decisions taken in December, and then again here, and finally, when in January the Church of England eventually issued a press release, in Civil partnerships and eligibility for the episcopate in the CofE.
The new document is now reproduced in full here.
The old document is still available here, and readers may find it instructive to look at the two side by side.
John Bingham has written today in the Telegraph about this document, see Archbishops to ask clergy: ‘Are you having gay sex?’
Archbishop meets Pope in Rome
Updated Friday evening and Sunday lunchtime
In their first meeting, Archbishop Justin and Pope Francis both spoke this morning of the bonds of “friendship” and “love” between the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion.
The two leaders agreed that the fruits of this dialogue and relationship have the potential to empower Christians around the world to demonstrate the love of Christ.
The Archbishop and the Pope agreed on the need to build an economic system which promotes “the common good” to help those suffering in poverty.
Archbishop Justin said that Christians must reflect “the self-giving love of Christ” by offering love and hospitality to the poor, and “love above all those tossed aside” by present crises around the world.
The Pope said those with the least in society “must not be abandoned to the laws of an economy that seems at times to treat people as mere consumers”.
They also agreed on the need for Christians to act as peacemakers around the world, which they acknowledged could only be done if Christians “live and and work together in harmony,” the Pope said…
The article includes the texts of the addresses that the two men gave in public after their private conversation.
Ed Thornton of the Church Times writes that Archbishop Welby and Pope Francis speak up for the poor at first meeting
The Telegraph reports that Pope Francis tells Archbishop of Canterbury to stand firm on traditional family values.
Martha Linden writes for The Independent that Pope Francis meets Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby in Rome.
BBC News has Archbishop of Canterbury and Pope meet for first time.
The Washington Press carries this piece from Associated Press Pope meets Archbishop of Canterbury, seeks to promote marriage as UK heads to gay marriage.
Catherine Hornby of Reuters writes Pope Francis and new Anglican leader meet, note differences. The Huffington Post carries the same article under the headline Pope And Archbishop Of Canterbury Meet, Note Differences On Women Ordination, Gay Rights and adds a gallery of photographs.
Lizzie Davies of The Guardian, who is in Rome, writes that Pope and archbishop of Canterbury find common ground at talks in Rome.
Gerard O’Connell of Vatican Insider writes that Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury have very friendly and successful first meeting.
Agenda for the July 2013 General Synod
Updated Friday afternoon twice
The usual pre-synod press release has been issued by the Church of England today, and is copied below. It provides a summary of the business to be transacted.
I have listed the available online papers here.
Agenda for the July 2013 General Synod
The General Synod meets in York on 5th - 9th July for the first time since the rejection of the draft legislation on Women Bishops last November. A large period of time on the Saturday will be devoted to work on this issue with a debate on the Monday. The Friday afternoon will see the first Presidential Address by the new Archbishop of Canterbury, which will be an opportunity for him to outline the main challenges facing the Church of England over the coming period.
The meeting of Synod will also include debates on Safeguarding following the Chichester Commissaries’ reports and Welfare Reform and the Church. There will also be a vote on the Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme.
The agenda provides for the Synod to meet in private on the morning and afternoon of Saturday 6 July for reflection and facilitated discussion on the issue of Women Bishops. Some of this time will be spent in groups and some in plenary. The group work will take the form of 24 groups of 20 people with a trained facilitator, with Synod members from each House in the groups. On Monday morning there will be a debate on a motion from the House of Bishops which proposes that draft legislation be prepared and introduced at the November group of sessions on the basis of option one in the report from the working group. Synod members will have until 10am on Sunday to table amendments to the Motion.
On Sunday afternoon at 5pm there will be a debate on a Motion on Safeguarding as a follow-up to the reports of the Commissaries appointed by the former Archbishop of Canterbury to conduct a visitation into safeguarding in the Diocese of Chichester. This will take the form of motion endorsing an apology by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for past errors within the Church of England and agreeing plans to take further legislative and non-legislative steps to improve the Church’s policies and practices on safeguarding. These include planned changes to the Clergy Discipline Measure (CDM) which will be consulted on over the summer and brought to the Synod in draft legislation in February 2014. In addition there are plans to carry out an audit of diocesan safeguarding resources and practices, and to do more work at national level on developing and implementing safeguarding policies and supporting dioceses with training and roll-out of these polices.
On Sunday evening there will be a debate on Welfare Reform and the Church. This will be an opportunity for Synod members to discuss how the Church is and should be responding to the changes to the welfare system being introduced by the Department of Work and Pensions and in particular how the impact on low income households is being felt at parish level.
Saturday evening will see a debate on Challenges for the Quinquennium. It is exactly half-way through the Synod’s current five-year term (Quinquennium) and this will be an opportunity for the Synod to take stock of how the goals set at the beginning of this period are being met and any further areas of work required. The main themes are:
Contributing as the national Church to the common good
Facilitating the growth of the Church
Re-imagining the Church’s ministry
The debate will be an opportunity for Synod members to add their own views on how the Church is responding to these overall themes and to prepare the way for more focused debates on each of them in future.
Legislative business will be taken on Saturday afternoon, Monday morning and afternoon and Tuesday morning. A key item, for the Monday afternoon, will be the proposed Yorkshire Diocesan Reorganisation Scheme which aims to bring together the existing Dioceses of Bradford, Ripon and Leeds and Wakefield and create a new Diocese of Leeds (also to be known as the Diocese of West Yorkshire and the Dales). The Archbishop of York has authorised the Diocese Commission to lay the draft Scheme before the General Synod, even though the Diocese of Wakefield has not given its consent to the scheme.
Other items of legislative business arise from the work of the Elections Review Group, a sub-group of the Business Committee, relating to how members of the General Synod are elected. The Synod will also be debating a second report from the Elections Review Group on possible changes to the electorate of the House of Laity and the options for using online voting in future.
Contingency business takes the form of a Diocesan Synod Motion (DSM) from the Diocese of London on the Review of the Workings of the General Synod. This calls for the Business Committee to look at a number of areas including the frequency and length of groups of sessions, the ways in which debate takes place and decisions are made and whether the current synodical framework and structures are still fit for purpose. This DSM will be taken if there are any gaps in the Synod agenda.
The General Synod will meet at York University from 4.15 on Friday 5 July until lunchtime on Tuesday 9 July.
Read the full Agenda.
Madeleine Davies reports on this morning’s press briefing in the Church Times: Synod: ‘There will be arguments’ despite group talks.
Sam Jones writes for The Guardian: Church of England synod told not to delay over women bishops
General synod - July 2013 - online papers
Online copies of the papers for the July 2013 meeting of General Synod are now available online; they are listed below, with links and a note of the day they are scheduled for debate.
In addition a zip file of all papers circulated today is available,
The Report of the Business Committee (GS 1889) includes a forecast of future business, and I have copied this below the fold.
The Church of England’s own list of papers is presented in agenda order.
Papers for debate
GS 1886 - Women in the Episcopate [Monday]
GS 1888 - Full Synod Agenda
GS 1889 - Report by the Business Committee [Friday]
GS 1890 - Appointment of the Clerk to the Synod [Friday]
GS 1891 - Appointment of the Chair of the Appointments Committee [Friday]
GS 1892 - Appointment of the Chair of the Finance Committee [Friday]
GS 1893 - Appointment of the Chair of the England Pensions Board [Friday]
GS 1894 - Appointment of the Auditors to the Archbishops’ Council [Friday]
GS 1895 - Progress on meeting challenges for the Quinquennium [Saturday]
GS 1896 - Safeguarding: Follow-up to the Chichester Commissaries’ Reports [Sunday]
GS 1899 - Draft Resolution for Approval [Monday]
GS 1900 - The Archbishops’ Council’s Draft Budget and Proposals for apportionment for 2014 [Monday]
GS 1901 - The work of the Elections Review Group: First Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]
GS 1902 - Draft Amending Canon No.32 [Tuesday]
GS 1903 - Draft Convocations (Elections to Upper House) (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1904 - Draft Clergy Representation (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1905 - Draft Church Representation Rules (Amendment) Resolution [Tuesday]
GS 1902-05x - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1906 - The work of the Elections Review Group: Second Report by the Business Committee [Tuesday]
GS 1907 - Clergy Discipline (Amendment) Rules 2013
GS 1908 - Clergy Discipline Appeal (Ammendment) Rules 2013
GS1907-08x - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1909 - Amending Code of Practice under the Clergy Discipline Measure 2003
GS 1909x - Explanatory Memorandum
GS 1913 - Archbishops’ Council’s Annual Report [Monday]
GS Misc 1044 - Choosing Bishops - The Equality Act
GS Misc 1048 - Simplification Group Report
GS Misc 1049A - Moving Towards a New Dioceses for West Yorkshire and the Dales
GS Misc 1049B - The New Diocese and the Mission of the Church
GS Misc 1049C - Yorkshire Scheme for Financial Estimates
GS Misc 1050 - Statement from the Archbishop of York
Annex 1 - Blackburn Diocesan Synod notes
Annex 2 - Ripon and Leeds Diocesan Synod notes
Annex 3 - Draft Wakefield Diocean Synod notes
Annex 4 - Bradford Diocesan Synod notes
GS Misc 1051 - Clergy Discipline Rules as amended by CD Rules July 2013
GS Misc 1052 - Clergy Discipline Amendment Rules as amended by CDA Rules July 2013
GS Misc 1053 - Code of Practice amended July 2013
GS Misc 1054 - Making New DisciplesContinue reading "General synod - July 2013 - online papers"
Thursday, 13 June 2013
Marriage Bill: House of Lords moves to committee stage
Updated Friday morning
Three days have now been allocated for the committee stage of the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Bill, Monday 17th, Wednesday 19th, and Monday 24th June.
So far, three pages of amendments have been tabled, all can be reached via this page.
Update a Marshalled List is now available here. Several amendments include bishops as sponsors.
David Pocklington at Law & Religion UK has an informative post: Same-Sex Marriage Bill – some legal issues.
Conservative Christian opposition to the bill continues, see The House of Lords, Church of England Bishops and the Same-Sex Couples bill by Chris Sugden at Anglican Mainstream.
The statement by the Convenor of the Lords Spiritual was reported here.
The Church of England Briefing Note issued for the Second Reading of the bill can be found here. It indicates the type of amendments that may be pursued by the bishops.
Pope and Archbishop to meet
The Archbishop of Canterbury will be meeting Pope Francis for the first time tomorrow.
The Guardian has two articles looking forward to this visit.
Sam Jones Justin Welby and Pope Francis meet in hope of finding common ground
Andrew Brown Shift in style as outsiders Justin Welby and Pope Francis get together
The Tablet reports that Welby and Pope meet to review relations between Churches.
Alessandro Speciale of Religion News Service writes Pope Francis and Archbishop of Canterbury to meet for the first time.
New website for Anglican Communion News Service
From the new website
New website for Anglican Communion News Service
Posted on: June 13, 2013 1:53 PM
By ACNS staff
The news service of the Anglican Communion has today launched its first ever purpose-built news website AnglicanNews.org
The site comes almost 20 years after the electronic news service was first launched. Since then subscribers around the world have received thousands of news articles via email.
“This site brings the Anglican Communion’s ability to share its stories of life and mission to a whole new level,” said Jan Butter who is the Director for Communication at the Anglican Communion Office.
“Until now we’ve been restricted to sending news stories to people’s email inboxes. Anglicans and Episcopalians around the world can visit the new site for, not just news, but also comment, feature stories, podcasts, videos and photos. We hope that the diverse content helps to reflect the richness and variety found across our Anglican Communion.”
Mr Butter added, “Existing subscribers will still receive email alerts, but just one a day summarising the newest content on the site.”
In a comment piece written exclusively for the new website, Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby highlighted the importance of effective, grace-filled communication between Anglicans, saying it was part of the gift of the Anglican Communion.
“If the Communion is a gift, then communication between us is part of that gift. This means sharing insights into what God is calling us to do, wherever we are. It means sharing our witness and our inspiration.”
He added, “There have been times [members of the Anglican Communion] have used communication as a tool to hurt each another. But we must remember that above all we are called to share the love of Christ with the world. That means nothing less than communicating in a way that reflects Christ – a way that is loving and generous, patient and forgiving.”
Secretary General of the Anglican Communion Kenneth Kearon said he was excited about what this site would mean for the Churches of the Anglican Communion.
“It has been suggested that the theology of Web 2.0 is Body of Christ theology,” he said. “If so, then good communications is the lifeblood that allows that body to work together to fulfil God’s mission.
“I am delighted that we are able to offer this resource to the people of the Anglican Communion and I invite them to contribute content that they think will be of interest to their brothers and sisters around the world.”
The site was made possible thanks to funding from The Compass Rose Society and the Church Mission Publishing Company, and to support and guidance from members of Anglican Communion worldwide. It was built by Zebedee Creations Ltd.
It is part of a broader communications strategy that includes the relaunched Anglican World magazine (available at http://shop.anglicancommunion.org) and a new website for the Anglican Communion due in 2014.
Visit the new website at http://www.anglicannews.org.
Read Archbishop Welby’s article in the comment section.
Tuesday, 11 June 2013
WATCH responds to Bishops' proposals on women in the episcopate
First there is this press release.
Tuesday 11 June 2013 12noon
WATCH (Women and the Church) Response to the House of Bishops’ report GS1886
Press Release Summary of WATCH’s response:
WATCH is very encouraged by this report by the Archbishops with its very welcome commitment to opening all orders of ministry to women without equivocation. The proposals that they are asking General Synod to support in July are, in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse. We are particularly heartened by paragraph 21 which says: “The conviction of the House [of Bishops] 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 [General] Synod were to enshrine in legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment.” We agree wholeheartedly with their conclusion that Option One offers the best way forward. WATCH’s full response can be found on the attached document. The Reverend Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said: “It is very heartening to see the House of Bishops give such a strong lead to enable the Church to open all orders of ministry to women without equivocation. The gifts of ordained women should be welcomed and celebrated by the Church and all the signs are that the Bishops are now committed to making that happen.”
And then there is this detailed response.
WATCH response to GS 1886 ‘Women in the Episcopate – New Legislative Proposals’
WATCH is very encouraged by this report by the Archbishops with its very welcome commitment to opening all orders of ministry to women, without equivocation.
The proposals that they are asking General Synod to support in July are, in essence, ones that WATCH can fully endorse.
(1) Following the meeting of the House of Bishops on 20-21 May, the report of the Working Party on Women in the Episcopate, together with a report by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on behalf of the House, was issued on 25th May. The WATCH committee has taken time to consider the implications of the report, before issuing this response.
(2) We wish to register our thanks to the House of Bishops and the Working Party for seeking an early resolution within the Church’s own processes to a situation which is undesirable and untenable for the Church of England, and which hinders our mission and credibility in society at large.
(3) Members of General Synod will devote a significant proportion of the July group of sessions to discussion of the matter, and we urge General Synod to support the motion as proposed in the report, following the House of Bishops’ guidance in seeking to frame legislation within the parameters of the Working Group’s ‘option one’.
(4) The Archbishops’ report displays a significant change in tone towards the prospect of having women in the episcopate, and we are greatly encouraged by the positive commitment to this now being demonstrated by the House of Bishops. This, we hope, may go some way to repairing the damage done by the outcome of the Synod vote in November, which is noted in paragraphs 1 and 2 of the report.
We are particularly heartened by paragraph 21 which says: “The conviction of the House [of Bishops] 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 [General] Synod were to enshrine in legislation a series of rights, duties and definitions that would inevitably be seen as qualifying that commitment.”
(5) The principles underlying the Working Party’s thinking (namely, simplicity, reciprocity and mutuality [Annex para. 32f]) seem to us broadly good ones, and we recognise the challenge inherent in moving from principle to legislation.
(6) We welcome particularly the Working Party’s recognition that support for women’s ministry is grounded in theological conviction (Annex paras 37 and 53), something which seems often to have been regarded as the preserve of opponents of the ordained ministry of women.
(7) In this vein, we welcome the commitment to avoiding ‘unacceptable theological or ecclesiological confusion for the whole Church of England’ (Annex para. 31) as we regard such confusion as detrimental to the health and mission of the whole Church of England.
For this reason, we are pleased to see noted as elements of the vision in Annex para. 24 (copied in the Archbishops’ report para. 12) that: • Once legislation has passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England will be fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being equally open to all, without reference to gender, and will hold that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to the office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience; Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must then be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter. It seems to us very important that, as Annex para. 39 notes, ‘There should no longer be any dioceses where none of the serving bishops ordains women as priests.’
(8) Should General Synod follow the House of Bishops’ leadership in commending Option One, the question will arise as to what should be the nature of the provision for those unable to accept the ordained ministry of women, a House of Bishops’ Declaration or an Act of Synod. It seems to us that there would be merits and drawbacks to each, and that (as for all parties) the detail of the content would be paramount.
(9) We were encouraged to see that there was little support in the House of Bishops for Options 3 and 4, and we would find ourselves unable to support Option 2. The strong support among laity and clergy alike at every synodical level for the previous draft legislation, together with the 2/3 majority achieved in Synod last July in favour of the adjournment of the debate to allow reconsideration of the first iteration of Clause 5(1)(c), convince us that there is no appetite in the Church at large for enshrining discrimination in statute. Even if such discriminatory provision could command the requisite majorities in any General Synod, it is clear that the Ecclesiastical Committee would be unable to recommend such a Measure in Parliament.
We are therefore convinced that the wisest course would be for Synod to follow the House of Bishops’ lead in eschewing any discrimination in law, and thus to allow the Church of England to resolve the matter via her own processes.
(10) Encouraged as we are by the positive tone of the Archbishops’ report, we nevertheless retain some concerns about assumptions. In particular, we again wish to highlight the use of ‘majority/minority’ as shorthand for ‘support/opposition’ to the ordination of women. It is clearly true that, in numerical terms, these are equivalent; however, as we have previously pointed out, ordained women constitute a cultural minority within the Church of England, particularly as regards senior and stipendiary posts. Moreover, we are concerned that such shorthand pays little regard to those – most especially lay people – in favour of women’s ministry in areas where the diocesan hierarchy is predominantly opposed. It seems to us that any pastoral care for ‘minorities’ must, on the basis of reciprocity, take this into serious account. In this connection, we note with concern the overwhelmingly clerical emphasis of the Working Party’s report.
(11) We are interested by the recurrent language of ‘mutual flourishing’. ‘Flourishing’ is, we note, a word with uncertain biblical and liturgical resonances, normally indicating (as in the Prayer Book and Common Worship burial and funeral orders!) impermanence and transience.
We wonder whether it might be more helpful and hopeful for all parties to consider the health of the whole Church, growing together: such growth together in Christ demands coherence of orders, necessitates proper regard for weaker and more vulnerable members (determined on bases other than simply numerical ones) and would enable us to be more credible and more effective for the society we all seek to serve.
WATCH National Committee 10th June 2013