Who has pottered by this way, then?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Consultation paper on female Bishops

The Church of England has today published a consultation document on "Women in the Episopate - the Final Legislative Step". which you can read in pdf form.

It can be read in pdf form here.

What happens now?
This paper also goes into the procedure for how this process works and lays out the timetable. At this stage the next deadline appears to be August 24th by which any comments on this paper need to be emailed to william.fittall@churchofengland.org by Synod members and members of the House of Bishops. If you are not one of these, now is the time to be getting in touch with those who are, once you have read, pondered, prayed and worked out how to help them reach a decision, of course.

After this deadline, August 30th sees a Standing Committee meeting, the result of which will be a "more focussed paper" in preparation for the HoB meeting on September 10th-12th. This will be discussed on the afternoon of September 12th.

Interesting excerpts which struck me:
They seem to be allowing the House of Bishops a reasonable amount of room for manoeuvre, giving the option of leaving the amendment (Clause 5(1)(c) "as is", amending it or replacing it with a new clause, plus discussing the Code of Practice alongside the Measure itself. This seems wise and could provide a way forward in terms of making it explicit how things will work in practice. There is an "illustrative draft" of the Code of Practice at the very end of the paper.

That being said, it is only this Clause which the HoB will tinker with at this stage - the terms of the General Synod resolution make any other amendments beyond this one clause impossible within the part of the legislative process we've reached.

November will see a vote on whatever the Bishops come up with as a result of their September meeting. There will be no scope for further amendments, so the HoB have to come up with a response which will be passed or rejected. In other words, the whole legislation seems to hang on them getting this bit right. The document points out that this is, in fact, the proper role of the HoB under Article 7 of the Synod's Constitution - another reminder that it is this kind of ecclesiastical power and role which we are discussing whether women can fully participate in.

The paper is well worth a long and prayerful read. It says it offers 5 options (which somehow end up being 7 options by the time you read on to the actual options themselves!) which they believe they will discuss but leaves the door open for others to suggest other possibilities. The mechanism for suggestions is detailed above but needs to be done via a Bishop or General Synod member.

Sheep suggests you read the paper, discuss and send prayerfully considered thoughts and suggestions to member of Synod and the House of Bishops.


  1. Thanks, Nick, for directing our attention to this - very helpful. I'm piling up reports I need to need including this and the Church in Wales report on ministry!

  2. And my thanks go to Claire Maxim for sending me here. Thank-you - just when I was looking forwards to a nice comatose August...:)

  3. I have had other writing to do tonight otherwise I would have posted a followup to this. Once again, this is a document which could use a little paraphrasing into easier English, but I suspect it will fall to others to do it this time.