Women Bishops – Live

July 9, 2012 § 3 Comments

Good morning all. We are just about to start our debate on Women Bishops.

You will know that the smart money is on the debate being adjourned so that the amendment made by the House of Bishops can be rethought, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.

The Bishop of Manchester is about to move the main motion. We will then immediately debate whether to adjourn, and the Chair (the Archbishop of York) has said we’ll debate the adjournment for a good half of this morning. If we don’t adjourn thn we debate the main motion (and the feel is that if we do it may well be lost).

Off we go…

10.01: Bishop of Manchester says that his own Steering Committee is about to ask for an adjournment, so he can’t make the normal kind of speech to move the motion. Instead he will sketch out the general situation.

10.07 The ‘dilemma’ around women’s ordination is the same as it was 20 years ago, but we have ‘travelled a long way’ also. It will be worth getting the legislation right so that it can pass sooner rather than later. Let’s take a little extra time to do it, but let’s not lose our nerve.

10.08 Bp Dover to invite us to adjourn to give us the time to get things right.

He notes that the first two speeches are given by members of the Steering Committee who are also members of the House of Bishops. He speaks to those who actually like, or at least don’t mind, the amendment in question – 5 (1) (c), and asks them to allow it to be looked at again. The Steering Committee had advised the House of Bishops not to make the amendment, but the SC is not arguing this out of ‘pique’.

Essentially he says that it was rushed, with no illustrative documentation or specimen Code to go with it, and there are two other principles which the Archbishops had stated earlier which didn’t make it into the Measure. Why insert this one?

If we go ahead and fail to pass the final Motion morale will be seriously damaged. The best chance of getting it through is after the House of Bishops has had another look, not before.

We will need material which illustrates what a new Code would look like taking these things into consideration. It would not be good news if we failed now, and not be good news if it just squeaked through. ‘There are worse things than unfinished business’.

10.21 Speeches. Keith Malcourrone, a Guildford Layman, and ‘floating voter’. Bps amendment makes explicit what was implicit before. Let’s vote now.

Rachel Treweek, Archdeacon of Hackney. Amendment puts law in the way of grace. The Code said enough about this. The Scheme drawn up in each diocese can recognise the differences – doesn’t need to be legislated for. The amendment moves the ground of the theological conviction about women’s ministry to the centre, and endorses an objection for years to come. The amendment does not allow for grace.

++Rowan to speak.

10.30 He explains what was in the mind of the House of Bishops – the majority of whom want women bishops asap. They wanted something the C of E could celebrate together. There were two problems to be addressed. The Bishops did not think the Measure was ‘as good as it could be’

1. Pragmatic Uncertainty – the Measure might not have passed. The ‘theological conviction’ bit could help some people to vote for rather than against.

2. Theological Uncertainty. The word ‘male’ in the Measure is not enough, as if anything else is irrelevant. That could have accommodated simple misogyny, and untheological prejudice, and be as offensive to women as the amendment has been seen to be.

The Amendment did not succeed…but some people’s anger is based on more than the Measure as it was. However, where lots of people are offended they must be heard, and the Bishops will be aware that they misread things. An adjournment will give a chance to lower the temperature, even if some of the response has been based on flawed communication.

At present he’s OK about an amendment, but wants to hear the debate as it might not just be the panacea people think.

Bishops are not infallible but are responsible. Was their diagnosis of the problem right, even if their solution wasn’t?

10.40 Bishop of Durham. Supports the adjournment. It is possible to do the right thing in the wrong way. We are at the height of a conflict, and if something can ease that then there is the time to work out a reconciliation. This does not undermine the Bishops. “Christian humility affirms and does not undermine authority” (+James Jones).

It’s looking like most of the speakers are ‘pro’ the amendment. Tim Allen, and now Rosie Harper. But what will +Norwich say? He is uncertain about the value of an adjournment but ‘open to persuasion’. Not sure what an amendment would do. The amendment was ‘slender’, and does not break the camel’s back. ‘The camel has already been swallowed’. The amendment says nothing new, and was included to ensure that discrimination would not be on gender grounds alone. An adjournment would, though, at least allow passions to cool. “God works through the imperfections of an imperfect church”.

11.00 Christine Hardman, Archdeacon of Lewsham and Prolocutor of the Convocation. ‘We are prepared to compromise’ – that’s why there was no challenge to the amendment to Clause 8. The Clause 5 amendment tries too hard. Before the amendment there was a level of trust about possible misogyny which has now been changed to putting theological convictions into the DNA of the C of E.

Mary Durlacher: let’s vote, and not adjourn.

Simon Killwick (Chair of the Catholic Group) – the amendments helped many traditionalists. If 5 (1) (c) is removed the Measure will not pass. ‘Read my lips’! Adjournment is a high risk strategy. The amendments enable the Measure to make sense with itself. It is unbalanced otherwise. The word ‘male’ is not enough – there needs to be a ‘link’, a qualification to the maleness of the Bishop.

11.10 Peter Hill, Archdeacon of Nottingham. Was determined to vote against an adjournment. Now he’s not sure. Possible that delay will just allow positions to harden.  This is not about the ‘power of men in the House of Bishops’. Thank you to them for giving a lead and for providing for a focus of unity. ‘We all need to climb down a bit’.

11.20 +Europe says he voted for the amendment, so that traditionalists could remain in the C of E. Let’s vote onthe main motion.

11.25 Lorna Ashworth (Chichester) finds the assertion that ‘women’ don’t like the amendments offensive. ‘Not any woman will do’. The amendment is OK by her. Let’s vote now.

11.27. +Willesden – the House of Bishops is not without Emotional Intelligence. The Clause 5 amendment was intended to clarify. It is not something about misogyny or taint. It must be about theology alone. Not sure an adjournment would help. He believes that there are some for whom the amendments are not enough but pleased that the House of Bishops gave it a try, and that may be enought to keep them in. Grace and trust need a legal framework too. We must “give an assurance to those who are opposed that they are being listened to and not just being cast aside”.

11.32. Christina Rees says that putting 5 (1) (c) in the Measure would put the Queen in a difficult position. Put the phrase in the Code, not the Measure.

Couple of speeches against an adjournment – it does enough to help traditionalists. One for: don’t put this in primary legislation.

2nd Church Estates Commissioner (Sir Tony Baldry) about to speak. Let’s have an adjournment so that ‘the usual channels’ can get going. Parliament is used to ping pong. Don’t have a train crash now – it will make keeping Bishops in the Lords more difficult.

11.50 Hannah Page, from the Church of England Youth Council, feels an adjournment will help us restore joy into this debate, so that in 20 years time her successor will just see ‘Bishops’, who happen to be either male or female.

11.55. +Liverpool. We do need a bit more time so that we can be more confident in it. Warm applause.

12 noon. +Beverley still against Women Bishops, and would probably have to vote against, but he could now envisage staying in the C of E, and he probably couldn’t have before. Let’s get on with a vote.

12.02 Jane Charman. The amendment would pass into English Law a view that the ministry of women is objectively dangerous and that the citizens of this country are entitled to be protected from it. Adjourn please.

+Dover now responding before we vote on the adjournment. I (Jeremy) can’t call this…my desire is to get on with it now, but my head says that few minds have been changed and an adjournment is probably wise.

+Dover says that minds are not clear enough. If doubts have been expressed then ‘there is work to be done’. Please vote for the adjournment.

And so we vote whether to adjourn:

For:  288   Against:  144   Abs: 15

We adjourn!

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§ 3 Responses to Women Bishops – Live

  • Margaret Oldroyd says:

    Just get on with it, for the sake of the folk we are called to serve and for whom the faffing about is a further indication that the church is self-obsessed and inward-looking.

  • Paul Seymour says:

    Oh for the simplicity of all humans made in the image of God being treated as such. Oh for the joy of a gospel of freedom and liberation to be put into direct practice.

  • Helen D says:

    Thanks, Jeremy, for enabling us to follow the proceedings.

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