Today the General Synod voted through proposals for how women bishops could be introduced into the Church of England. Here’s my attempt to explain what it means.
The package of proposals was put together by a select group of people from every side of the debate. They proposed agreement on 5 key documents:
- The measure – ie. statement that women can be consecrated bishops in the Church of England
- Amending Canon – “The amending canon provides for the admission of women to the episcopate. It does so by amending Canon C 2 to say that “A man or a woman may be consecrated to the office of bishop”, thereby avoiding the need to insert a new Canon C 2A making special provision for the consecration of women alone.”
- Resolution of disputes procedure (to allow PCCs – church councils – to bring grievances) – to include an ombudsman to be set up
- House of Bishops declaration on the ministry of bishops and priests
- Report of the Steering Committee
And it is moving on with this that the synod voted on with 378 votes for, eight against and 25 abstentions. These proposals will be worked through in more detail now that they have been agreed on in principle with a possible vote by Synod to make them a reality at the end of 2014.
This means that the majority of people (even if they are in opposition to women’s ordination) feel that the proposals could be ‘workable’ and ‘lived with’. This is a major step forward since the impasse last November.
I’m still amazed that it is so difficult to understand the press releases that come out of the Church of England about these issues – it’s taken me some time to put this article together and I’m still not 100% sure I’ve got the details right!
Here are some comments from elsewhere on the web:
Sam Jones The Guardian Church of England approves female bishops plan
John Bingham The Telegraph Church of England votes overwhelmingly for women bishops
Liz Dodds The Tablet Revitalised CofE Synod clears major hurdle in passing women bishops legislation
BBC News Church of England synod vote ‘paves way’ for female bishops
Madeleine Davies and Gavin Drake Church Times Synod endorses new women-bishops package
Claire Maxim‘s blog All Change
As an aside I thought it was delightful that also today an article was released about the restoration of the Priscilla Catacombs frescos that depict early women leaders in the church! It’s also wonderful that this vote has come the day after St Hild’s day – a great example of a woman leader of the church in England if ever we knew one!