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No Discrimination in the Episcopate – Laity
Petition Background (Preamble):
Instead of doing what General Synod asked of them, namely drafting simple legislation for women to be allowed to be bishops, with arrangements for those who remain opposed to women’s ordinations to be contained in a statutory Code of Practice, the Revision Committee decided to “provide for certain functions to be vested in Bishops by statute rather than by delegation from the diocesan bishop under a statutory code of practice”.
This would result in a two-tier Episcopate, with every female bishop, and potentially all male bishops who ordain or consecrate women, having their authority diverted on request to another male bishop acceptable to those opposed to women bishops. A senior clergywoman and General Synod member has written of her dismay at the proposals, making the point that for those who want to stay in the Church of England, in spite of their difficulty with women’s ordination, it is precisely this Church they love, not the damaged and divided one that would result from the proposed arrangements. She says, “We can and will make it possible for them to stay…not through rules but through Christian care.”
The Revision Committee’s decision has produced widespread shock among Church members, not to mention disbelief and derision from wider society. People are confused about the role of the Established Church, which exists to serve all in the land and which is supposed to give Christian leadership on matters of ethics and justice. For the Church to be equivocating on the ability or desirability of women to hold positions of leadership is to send out a damaging message about all women, and one which is at odds with the Church’s understanding of humanity.
A clergy woman writes: “How am I supposed to try to explain this sort of mess to my parishioners? It’s acutely embarrassing. I want to grow the Church, not bring it into disrepute.”
A lay member writes: “I am really shocked at the inhumanity of this latest backward step.”
Another writes: “I am appalled at this dreadful idea which is unspeakable in its implications of the second-class nature of women in general.
Other messages include comments like “unacceptable” “idiocy” “highly insulting” “tragic” with one clergywoman describing the revision process as a “charade.”
We ask the Revision Committee to think again and bring the legislation it was asked to bring to the next Synod.
Christina Rees said the outcry was unprecedented. “I have never before witnessed such outrage and anger. Most people in our Church do not want to distinguish in law between male and female bishops. People are interested in bishops, whether male or female, who have a heart for the priests and people in their dioceses. They do not want to see the historic Episcopate of the Church of England destroyed in order to appease less than 2% of clergy who do not believe women should be ordained. In the light of the overwhelming will of the Church, tested repeatedly, the Revision Committee needs to think again and prepare the legislation that General Synod has asked for – without any further delay.”
The No Discrimination in the Episcopate – Laity petition to Revision Committee for Legislation to enable Women to be Appointed to the Episcopate was written by Chris Rees and is in the category Religion at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: women bishops, revision committee, church of england, laity