Friday, 1 June 2012

WATCH and House of Bishops Amendments

The Committee of WATCH (Women and the Church) spent yesterday discussing how to respond to the House of Bishops' amendments to the proposed legislation about women bishops. I am not a member but do support its campaign to
"see women take their place alongside men as bishops and at every level in the Church of England."
WATCH had urged the House of Bishops not to make any amendments to the draft legislation. 


Now that the House of Bishops have made amendments the response from WATCH will be among many important contributions to the ongoing debate about not 'if' but 'how' women can be bishops in the C. of E. (The 'if' question was settled a long time ago). A detailed statement is being prepared, which I await with bated breath. Meanwhile, a short initial status update has appeared on their Facebook Page as follows:
"Firstly, thank you to everyone who sent us their responses, both many members and other interested groups. WATCH spent today discussing and considering them fully and a paper including a more detailed statement will follow in due course. But for those of you waiting to hear our conclusions, here goes. The vast majority of the responses expressed dissatisfaction with one of the changes made by the House of Bishops. As a result, our conclusion is that we have grave concerns about the amendment to clause 5, and would find it difficult to support. However, it will fall to General Synod members not WATCH, to make up their own minds and decide how to vote on the legislation that comes before them. WATCH remains prepared to work constructively with others to come to a solution that does not create a Church divided in Law."
This seems to me like a softer approach than I had feared, while expressing the grave concerns about the amendment to clause 5. I share these concerns, but still feel that it would be right for General Synod to vote for the legislation even as amended.


Little by little, inch by inch. (See Women Bishops and the lessons of history).




5 comments:

  1. I too am relieved by the statement on Facebook. Its measured tones will help the process whereby every member of Synod makes up their own minds as to whether or not they are prepared to accept compromise. This is a highly individual decision, and I think WATCH are right at this point to go easy on the pressurising.
    Now we must just pray...

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    1. Just after I published this WATCH issued an official press release which is worded rather stronger and expresses deep disappointment about the bishops' amendments. Prayer for all concerned is so important.."...your kingdom come, your will be done..."

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  2. It is a really difficult one. I am not a member of WATCH, though I am of Inclusive Church. I don't know what I would do if I had to make a decision on this one. The need for generosity and the need to move on with this have to be balanced against what the long term consequences may be for the Church. I do still feel uneasy about inequality of a woman bishops authority being enshrined in law. The danger that with the amendments the church will evolve into a divided structure where female (and some male) bishops are seen as tainted, others as "pure blood" is one that has to be considered.

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    1. Suem - sorry not to reply sooner - just catching up. I think the long-term consequences of passing the amended draft are worrying, but the alternative could me more damaging. Waiting until all agree could take a few more generations. Meanwhile, how many will leave the church because of the church's discrimination against women and how damaging would not moving on now be to communicating the gospel message?

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    2. Sorry not to have replied sooner. It certainly will be a very difficult decision for General Synod. The long-term consequences of passing the draft as amended are worrying. But is the alternative to wait until all agree? How many generations will that take? Meanwhile how many will leave the C.of E. because of discrimination against women and how damaging will further delay be to the effective communication of the gospel?

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