Saturday, 7 June 2008

English House of Bishop proposes minimal provision, repeal of protection, for opponents of women bishops

As first reported in the Daily Telegraph, the House of Bishops of the Church of England is indeed bringing a proposal to the General Synod in July to adopt the first approach outlined in the Manchester Report to provide for the consecration of women bishops, which will remove the legislative provisions put in place in 1993 and replace them with a 'Code of Practice'. This will mean either the so-called 'Single Clause' approach, discussed here, or the first of the options in the second approach suggested in the Manchester Report which would make the 'Code of Practice' mandatory.

The relevant paragraphs from the accompanying document are these:

12. It would mean that the existing provisions (in part II of the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993) for parishes unable to accept the ministry of women as celebrant or incumbent would be repealed, to be replaced by arrangements made under the proposed national code of practice. In addition, the natural consequence of such legislation and a code of practice would be the rescinding of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993.

13. The House noted that a code of practice included a spectrum of possibilities between, at one end, an entirely informal code and at the other one secured by legislation, which itself set out in some detail the ground a code would need to cover. The majority of the House concluded that the next stage of the drafting group's work would have to involve the production of a draft code and a proposal about the extent of its statutory underpinning. There was, however, agreement that the code should be national and that there should be a clear requirement that all concerned should have regard to the code’s provision.

Credit for this news to the Thinking Anglicans website, here:

The document GS 1685A has been released, though not yet on the CofE website. This is the covering Note from the Presidents explaining what the House of Bishops has decided to do.

The full text of the document can be read here.

The text of the motion to be put is below, but do read this in the context of the whole document:

A member of the House of Bishops to move:

‘That this Synod:

(a) reaffirm its wish for women to be admitted to the episcopate;

(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;

(c) affirm that these should be contained in a national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and

(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions.’

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