Pardon me, folks, for posting several times in one day – it’s usually against my principles 😉
But the media are bellyaching about how the (stupid) Church of England has voted against having women bishops.
No such thing. The C of E voted about 2 years ago in favour of women bishops. That is not the issue. It is just lazy media reporting, as usual. We will definitely have women bishops. That’s already agreed and decided.
The big problem is, how does the church ‘include’ those clergy and laity who in all good conscience cannot accept them?
When the Synod voted for women to become priests, in the 1990s, they agreed to have a system whereby those clergy and churches who did NOT agree with it, could have ‘special oversight’ by a bishop who also did not agree with women priests. (They were nicknamed flying bishops, or ‘alternative oversight’).
And before they are called all the names under the sun for being stupid and bone-headed, I do happen to know some of these people, who are very genuine, and deeply distressed by the whole thing, and have really done some very serious thinking and praying, and listened hard to those they disagree with.
In my last diocese, the senior women clergy used to meet regularly with the male priests who did not agree with women priests. They had lunch together, they talked deeply and argued passionately, and they prayed together.
I was proud of them. That’s how it should be. Sometimes we must agree to differ, without throwing brickbats at each other or dehumanising each other with angry, critical language.
Although sometime it’s easier said than done, I don’t think that lets us off the hook of trying.
Anyway, to get back to the current argument, I have not followed it in all its detail because frankly, it gets very tedious :zz: But it is about what happens to those clergy and churches who don’t agree in conscience with women bishops. Should they be able to have their own bishops? In which case, doesn’t that make women bishops ‘second class’? Or should they trust their bishop, if she’s female, to invite a bishop who can support their views for them?
The General Synod has to get two-thirds of the vote in all three houses – the house of bishops, of clergy and of laity. It passed easily in the houses of bishops and clergy. But in the house of laity the voting was laity 132 in favour, 74 against.
My personal take on this is, we must find a way to live together. I am not prepared to chop off the dissidents – just because the church has practised what we now think of as sexism, does not give us the right to exclude those who disagree with us in the same way. Let’s learn the lessons, for heavens’ sake.
Anyway, something else for Justin Welby to sort out … hope you’re feeling strong, Justin!
PS the Anglican church already has women bishops in other countries, such as the States and Australia.