Grass roots women reject CofE bishops’ amendment for ordaining women
In 1992 when the Church of England accepted that women should be allowed to become priests, it was assumed that in due course they would inevitably also become bishops.
But the traditionalists and evangelicals have pulled out every stop since then to prevent women from achieving this rightful completion of their long overdue acceptance as full and equal members of the Christian faith.
It’s now 2012 and the wrangle continues with a meeting of the General Synod of the Church of England (CofE) that starts today for five days of debate. It will then take a vote on Monday about draft legislation that would finally allow the ordination of women bishops.
A group of senior women clergy have, however, written and asked the Synod to postpone the vote, following an amendment to the legislation put forward earlier this year by male bishops who came up with some amendments to the legislation to placate the traditionalist dinosaurs.
And their proposal? To continue to provide male bishops to parishes who feel unable to accept the oversight of a woman bishop, despite the fact that this was exactly the same fudge that was included in the original measure for ordaining women priests.
The House of Bishops put forward two amendments, which, taken together, would provide male oversight for those who reject women’s ordination but only by specially appointed male bishops who themselves clearly and demonstrably reject women’s ordination and who would not themselves be under the authority of a woman bishop.
This would provide a parallel system that takes no account of the authority of women bishops at all, or of ordained women at any level of priestly ministry within the Church of England.
The response of supporters of women’s ordination was fast and furious. Although the male bastion rolled out a group of women in support of the amendments, there was a major rebellion at the grass roots against the changes, spearheaded by Women and the Church.
The result appears to be that supporters of women bishops, instead of being mollified by this ‘compromise’ are now determined to block the passage of the measure completely at the Synod meeting in York this weekend.
As with the Church of England’s continued failure to embrace people who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, we can only look on in wonder and dismay as the Church of England wrestles with issues that no longer bother most other civilized human beings.
It appears that no further progress towards the appointment of women bishops can now be made until Synod embraces the measure with transparency and sincerity.
Which just goes to show what happens when you have one group of people voting on the ‘rights’ of those outside the group.