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Monday, February 13, 2006

C of E to press ahead with women bishops -09/01/06

The Church of England is to press ahead with the ordination of women bishops despite warnings that the move could tear it apart, reports The Times newspaper in London. According to a report leaked to the newspaper, the first woman could be consecrated as soon as 2012. The document setting out how the Church should proceed is expected to be approved by bishops this week at a meeting in Leeds. The report will then go to next month’s meeting of the General Synod for debate.

The proposals include the grounding of the three “flying bishops” consecrated to care for opponents of women priests. In their place will rise a new hybrid, the PRB, shorthand for “provincial regional bishop”. However, one senior traditionalist told The Times: “This report is worse than a fudge, it is a bodge stuffed full of incomprehensible jargon.” His concerns are shared by some rebel bishops who will use the Leeds meeting to attempt to delay the whole process by a further five or ten years. They fear that the controversy over gays has left the Church so fragile that to add women bishops to its burden could finish it off.

Another newspaper reported last year that the Archbishop of Canterbury might decline to consecrate women if the Church decides to allow them to become bishops. The report, to be published officially next week, gives warning of “significant implications” following from the consecration of women. But in a “fractious and often brutal world”, the ordination of women as bishops would allow the Church to illustrate its taking part in the “sacrificial graciousness of God’s love,” it says.

The proposals allow for a woman to be appointed as both Archbishop of Canterbury and Archbishop of York. But a woman would only be appointed to Canterbury at a time when she would not cause further disunity within the wider Anglican Communion. Where a diocese or province would not accept a woman Archbishop of Canterbury, the Bishops of London or Winchester would undertake her archiepiscopal functions. The new regional bishops will operate under a system called Transferred Episcopal Arrangements by which the episcopal functions of a woman diocesan bishop will be transferred directly to a PRB where parishes chose to opt out of her care. They will carry out ordinations, confirmations and other duties.

Traditionalists are also planning an emergency rally in London at the end of the month. More than 2,000 clergy, laity and bishops are expected at Westminster Central Hall to fight the plans. They contest the authenticity of sacraments celebrated by women bishops and priests but also, crucially, by any male priests ordained by a woman bishop. However, there is unlikely to be a further large exodus from the Church. Most who could not accept women’s ordination left after the first women were ordained in 1994. Women now account for 16 per cent of full-time clergy. The traditionalists’ own preferred solution, for a “third province” with their own bishop appointed as primate, has minimal support among the bishops because it would create “major schism”, the report says. At present, 315 parishes have opted for the care of the flying bishops. More than 1,000, of the total of 13,000 parishes, have passed resolutions banning the appointment of a woman as their vicar.


craziequeen said...

well, this should come as no surprise to cyberkitten....but I just don't see the issue....

of course women can be clergy - d'uh!!


CyberKitten said...

CQ said: but I just don't see the issue....

Me neither. I mean... What's the difference between male & female clergy. With the decline in the numbers wanting to be priests etc.. you'd think that the church would welcome women with open arms... Well, at least some of them do.

..and there I was thinking that God created ALL of his people equally.

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Lately I've been seeing a lot of press that is negative toward women. I was fuming when I got through reading about Japan canning the legislation to let women inherit the throne when they found out the princess was pregnant again so there might be a chance at a male heir. What is it about women in power that is so damn threatening? Are men really that insecure? If they are, do we really want them in power? :-&

CyberKitten said...

I heard some of the 'reasoning' against women priests & bishops... Surprisingly it doesn't make a great deal of sense. [chuckle]

I also cannpot understand the level of discrimination against women in power positions. It's not like they can't do the job equally well.

Random said...

Funnily enough, it all comes down to religion again.

CQ, I'd be interested to hear what scripture underpins your assertion "of course women can be clergy-d'uh!!" Especially something sufficiently authoritative to overtuen 1 Timothy 11-12 -
"A woman should learn in quietness and full submission. I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

You may not regard the New Testament as providing definitive guidance, but it seems somewhat odd not to expect a Christian church to do so.

VV - the Japanese situation is somewhat more complicated than that. But again it comes down to religion - to put it bluntly (and as I understand it), part of the coronation ceremony of a Japanese emperor involves a ritual whereby the emperor symbolically has sex with the sun goddess Amaterasu. Allowing a woman to be emperor raises some questions as to just what will happen during this part of the coronation ceremony!

Yes this sounds weird to us but Shinto isn't our religion, whereas it most certainly is the religion of the people who worry about this sort of thing. I'm delighted to hear the princess is pregnant again, BTW.

CyberKitten said...

random said: You may not regard the New Testament as providing definitive guidance, but it seems somewhat odd not to expect a Christian church to do so.

..and is the Church guided by every word in the NT? Or just those bits it wants to be guided by? Also - Why shouldn't the church chose *not* to be guided by that particular gem you pointed out? Why should a modern church hold rigidly to an ancient view of the role of women?

Random said...


I expect this going to be a dialogue of the deaf, but I'll repeat myself anyway. I do not expect an atheist like you to ascribe any particular weight one way or the other to scriptural teaching. The Church however does have an obligation to do so, and needs to come up with a more compelling argument than fitting in to contemporary society to set scripture aside. If you really can't see this, then frankly you're guilty of a failure of the imagination when it comes to getting your head around a worldview you don't share and I'm honestly not sure how I can enlighten you.

CyberKitten said...

random said: The Church however does have an obligation to do so, and needs to come up with a more compelling argument than fitting in to contemporary society to set scripture aside.

The Church clearly has changed over time. One example is the change in the UK during the 1960's (IIRC) of the Catholic Mass from Latin into English - in order to 'fit in with contemporary society' - so things like that are possible.

Also - The CofE is most certainly changing its attitude to women clergy despite the passage you quoted from the NT. Do you think that the Church (of whatever flavour) should treat women as 2nd Class citizens merely because it was generally accepted as true when the Bible was written? Is it actually impossible for the institution of the Church to change some of its policies when deemed to be necessary?

Obviously not - as we have seen and will continue to see.

Random said...


I defy you to come up with a biblical instruction ordaining Latin as the language of Christianity. Such a thing was merely a matter of church tradition not holy writ, and as such can be changed.

The CofE is indeed changing it's attitude. The question however is whether it has the right (as distinct from the power - "might makes right" is not a commandment in any religion that I know of) to do so. If it is just another protestant sect then it can do what it likes, but if it is (as it likes to maintain) the English branch of the universal catholic church then it cannot change such a thing as the scriptural nature of the priesthood without the authorisation of a council of the whole church. It really cannot have it both ways.

Oh, and nice segue, but I ain't having it - we're talking about the nature of the priesthood here, not citizenship. They're completely different things.

CyberKitten said...

random said: I defy you to come up with a biblical instruction ordaining Latin as the language of Christianity. Such a thing was merely a matter of church tradition not holy writ, and as such can be changed.

Saying Mass in Latin is indeed probably a tradition rather than anything 'biblical' - but as I know very little of Church history I can't really argue the point with you. The point I was trying to make is that a many hundred year old tradition was overturned in order to make the Catholic Church more relavent to the modern day. It may not be an exact precident for the ordination of women.. but it is an indication that long standing traditions can be changed.

As to scripture - you are right in your assertion that it doesn't carry much weight with me (actually any weight). However, as with most of the Bible, the passages apparently restricting the power of women in the Church are open to interpretation and contradiction.. apart from the fact that the policy against ordination is just plain wrong...

Also.. wasn't the woman ordination thing decided in a mass meeting (Synod??) which caused the whole threat of break away sects etc.. Always nice to see Christians fighting to perpetuate discrimination.... not. Isn't everyone supposed to be equal in the eyes of God?

Vancouver Voyeur said...

Random, if the issue was women having sex with a goddess, how did they get around that in the 1700's and earlier when women were emperors in Japan?

Random said...


I think you'll find that the female emperors (there were eight in total, IIRC) were all essentially regents holding the throne until a suitable male came along, at which point they abdicated. I strongly suspect (evidence is hard to come by) that this means they didn't go through a full coronation ceremony.

The situation is complicated somewhat by the fact that, as is the case with many "ancient" traditions in Japan the rules for Imperial succession were not firmly laid down until the Meiji restoration period (roughly speaking the 1870's) - before then it seems to have been a highly secretive business.

I fully agree that it seems bizarre that the Japanese are finding it so difficult to amend the rules to something at minimum that looks closer to the British system, I was simply trying to explain why so many people seem to be getting bent out of shape over it.