General Synod Showdown Begins

General Synod begins Final Approval debate on draft legislation on women bishops

They’ll probably put off the decision until July 2013! We getting used to the boredom. With Anglo-Catholics, your time is up, Damian Thompson is waiting to herd the remaining Anglo-Catholics into the Ordinariate, but he forgets there are alternatives…

It sounds to me like one of the medieval Conclaves in Rome when they had to stop food getting in and they started to pull the roof off to make the Cardinals elect a Pope! That is something they could try at Church House – cut off the cucumber sandwiches, tea, beer and gin. Let them make their decision and assume its consequences.

All gas and gaiters indeed… Follow the process live, and don’t forget the popcorn.

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8 Responses to General Synod Showdown Begins

  1. William Tighe says:

    The result was:

    In favour of female bishops

    Bishops: 44
    Clergy: 148
    Laity: 132


    Bishops: 3
    Clergy: 45
    Laity: 74


    Bishops: 2
    Clergy: 0
    Laity: 0

    The legislation needed a two-third majority in all three houses of the General Synod to pass. It did not achieve this two-thirds majority in the House of Laity, and so the legislation was defeated.

    • Thank you also for this information which was available on the automatically updating Guardian site. I have been out all evening and have just got back home. This result means the possibility for Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals to stay in the Church of England with honour and integrity. Whether or not women priests are there to stay, who can say? This decision will do something to revive the dialogue with Rome and those Eastern Churches in sympathy with Anglicanism.

      Is this a definitive defeat or just a temporary reprieve pending another 20 years of lobbying and discussion. One thing is for sure: times are changing and the 1960’s are over.

      It all puts the Ordinariate clergy into a strange sort of situation, but I would rather not speculate. Another thought comes into mind, that the Church of England seems to lose credibility unless it does away with women priests too. But we’ll be dead before they come to any agreement about rolling back 1994. The two-thirds majority is only a technical formality, and the majority of clergy and laity wants women bishops.

      I would almost be prepared to bet that it will be back on the agenda in another 10 years or so. Perhaps Julius Evola was right as suggested in my previous post!

  2. Dale says:

    Dr Tighe, thank you so much for posting this information. One thing that it does seem to show is that the laity seem far more traditional than the clergy (but one must also admit not overwhelmingly so). But I think that it also shows that in the end, the supporters of bishopesses will win the final foray; but in hindsight, if one admits to the possibility of priesting women, then it makes very little sense NOT to also approve of their consecration as bishops.

  3. Stephen K says:

    By my calculation, the total votes of the house of Laity was 206, and so the Lay 2/3 majority only failed by 6 (it needed 138 against 68). There’s not much in it. So, in one sense, the fate of the female episcopacy lies in the minds of just seven people! Well, that’s how constitutional arrangements work of course. It could have failed by just one (137 against 69), and an inch is as far as a mile.

    But it gets one thinking, doesn’t it? About how we define something as a truth or a good: somethng most people agree? Or something only one more than is needed agrees! Of course, most voting in the affirmative would no doubt really think that although it failed female episcopacy is still, objectively, a truth and a good. Unless we are right to think that there are different kinds of truth and good and hence different foundations for deciding whether one kind is and another kind isn’t.

    I suppose, quite apart from considerations of whether decisions like this reflect or are guided by the Holy Spirit of God, it may be asked is, is female episcopacy a prudentially good thing NOW? Or not? I must say Dale’s question is very much to the point: if women can be priests, why on earth can’t they be bishops?

  4. ed pacht says:

    I posted this on another board:

    I think “rejected” is rather too strong a word.

    “The vote in the House of Laity, at 64%, was just short of the required majority – six more “yes” votes were needed.”

    “Over 2/3 of bishops and clergy and almost 2/3 of laity voted for female bishops AND some indeterminate number of feminists voted against because it wasn’t strong enough. It was a failure to pass because the super-majority was not attained, but, far from a rejection, it was an overwhelming expression of “this is what we want, but we’ll have to wait.” If six feminists had been a little less rigid, it would have passed.

    CofE leaves itself in an awkward and unjustifiable position. If female bishops are not acceptable, then, logically, neither are female priests and the establishment confesses itself to be wrong in ordaining them. If, on the other hands, female priests are acceptable, then it becomes morally mandatory to consecrate female bishops, and the establishment is openly discriminatory. It’s impossible to justify doing one and not the other. Or so it seems to me.”

    I’m afraid that, even though the action has not yet been approved, I can’t help but see this as an overwhelming expression that female bishops are just what the CofE truly desires.

  5. William Tighe says:

    As I suggested on another blog posting:

    we may well see “1559 come round again” if the legislation is defeated, as it now has been.

    I frequently invoke the example of the Church of Sweden and its long debilitating strife over WO as a kind of “Eram quod es, sum quod eris” (to quote a commonplace on medieval tomb inscriptions) mirror for the Church of England, but, in legal theory at least, the Erastian circumstances of the Church of England are far more thoroughgoing than those which prevailed in Sweden when the Church of Sweden was an established church (it was disestablished in 2000, but in way that left the liberal establishment totally in control of its governing structure). In Sweden, when the Church Assembly unexpectedly rejected WO in 1957 (with a majority of its bishops voting against it), the proponents were initially stymied, as Swedish law then required BOTH the Church Assembly AND the Swedish Parliament to approve any “ecclesiastical legislation” before it could become law. Not to worry, though: the Swedish Parliament rushed through legislation authorizing WO (which would apply to bishops as well as to priests), and then called new elections for a Church Assembly session to meet in 1958. In those elections, Swedish political parties put forward their own candidates for election as lay delegates to the Church Assembly, and the election campaign was attended by threats to disestablish the church and confiscate its assets. The strategy worked: in 1958 WO was approved (a number of bishops switched sides from the previous year’s vote), and the first women were (purportedly) ordained in 1960.

    The legislation was attended by a “conscience clause” intended to benefit opponents of WO, but in 1983 that clause was revoked, and in 1994 (and since 2000 in the disestablished church) the ordination as deacons or priests of anyone opposed to WO has been forbidden, and the selection as bishops of any clergy opposed to WO likewise.

    This could be the Church of England’s future as well, and, if I recall correctly, in England Parliament retains full authority to legislate “unilaterally” on church matters, should it choose to do so.

    Those interested may wish to consult this legal case:

    This 1997 case is a subsidiary to an earlier 1994 case, but I cannot find a report of the former case online. What is clear from it, however, is that it is still “settled law” in England that “the doctrine of the Church of England is whatever Parliament declares it to be.” So Erastianism rules okay.

    The real parallel to England is Denmark, where the Danish Parliament legislated for WO in 1947 despite the opposition at the time to WO of eight of the ten bishops of the Danish State Church. (The Danish government went on to appoint as bishops only those favoring WO, and by 1956 only one opponent remained in the Danish Lutheran episcopate — and after that one remaining bishop retired in 1968 there were none ever afterwards. In Sweden the mater was more complicated, as the government could only choose bishops from among the three highest “vote getters” in their respective dioceses, and on two occasions all three of such men were opponents of WO — so it was not until after the retirement of the last such opponent in 1991 that the ordination of all opponents of WO in the Church of Sweden was able to be proscribed.)

  6. Dale says:

    “The legislation was attended by a “conscience clause” intended to benefit opponents of WO, but in 1983 that clause was revoked, and in 1994 (and since 2000 in the disestablished church) the ordination as deacons or priests of anyone opposed to WO has been forbidden, and the selection as bishops of any clergy opposed to WO likewise.”

    I do believe that Dr Tighe is right on the mark here. I still cannot fathom why there are so-called Anglo-Catholics within the established church who really believe that there will be any protection granted whatsoever in the long term. The real issue will not be a question of the government, but in the seminaries, where, soon, anyone foolish enough to voice their opposition to “equal rights” will find themselves quickly on the outside; and even if they were to finish their theological degrees, the possibility of ordination will be slim indeed.

  7. William Tighe says:

    A change of six votes in the House of Laity from “no” to “yes” would have caused the measure to pass, and there is much frothing-at-the-mouth at the “Thinking Anglicans” blog over this narrow margin of defeat. Those “frothers” conveniently forget, however, that in November 1992 the Ordination of Women (Priesthood) bill obtained the requisite two-thirds majority in the House of Laity by a margin of only two votes. Cf.:

    I have tried to contribute to the discussion on this thread there:

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