Showing posts with label general synod. Show all posts
Showing posts with label general synod. Show all posts

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

The Day After . . . Two important statements

Many in the Church of England are celebrating today, following final approval of the legislation to permit women to be ordained as bishops.

While recognizing this, we deeply regret the further obstacle that this decision places in the path to the full, visible unity of the whole Church.

We do, however, welcome the provision that has been made in the House of Bishops’ Declaration. It recognizes that our theological convictions about ministry and ordination remain within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition. It assures us that bishops will continue to be consecrated within the Church of England who can provide episcopal ministry that accords with those theological convictions. It makes provision for parishes to gain access to that episcopal ministry by passing resolutions.

This gives us confidence in our future as catholics who are called to live out our Christian vocation in the Church of England. For this we give thanks to God.

On behalf of the Council of Bishops

Rt Revd Tony Robinson 
Bishop of Pontefract 

14/07/2014 4:50 pm

The Catholic Church remains fully committed to its dialogue with the Church of England and the Anglican Communion. For the Catholic Church, the goal of ecumenical dialogue continues to be full visible ecclesial communion.

Such full ecclesial communion embraces full communion in the episcopal office. The decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate therefore sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us. Nevertheless we are committed to continuing our ecumenical dialogue, seeking deeper mutual understanding and practical cooperation wherever possible.

We note and appreciate the arrangement of pastoral provision, incorporated into the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the amending Canon passed by the General Synod, for those members of the Church of England who continue to hold to the historic understanding of the episcopate shared by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

At this difficult moment we affirm again the significant ecumenical progress which has been made in the decades since the Second Vatican Council and the development of firm and lasting friendships between our communities. We rejoice in these bonds of affection and will do all we can to strengthen them and seek together to witness to the Gospel in our society.

Chairman of the Department for Dialogue and Unity 
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of England and Wales

Sunday, July 13, 2014

With the General Synod in mind, and the problem of the Church's "credibility" . . .

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Forward in Faith responds to the latest English General Synod debate on women bishops

This statement was posted on the Forward in Faith website today. My only comment is that the voting figures seem not to to have been substantially different to last November's, and that therefore at the end of the process when a two thirds majority in each house is required, the legislation will fail again, unless, of course, it contains proper provision for those women and men who need it in order to be confident of a sacramental future within their own church.


Forward in Faith thanks the many members of the Catholic Group in General Synod, together with other supporters, for their excellent contributions to yesterday's debate.

Naturally, we are very disappointed that none of the amendments which would have ensured secure provision for those unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops and priests was passed. However, we are encouraged by the significant minorities, especially in the House of Laity, which did vote for such provision. We are confident that these votes, and the commitment which they represent on the part of many to a genuinely inclusive Church of England, in which all may flourish, will not be overlooked as the process moves forward. The alternative, which we would deeply regret, would be to pursue unsatisfactory legislation, lacking the necessary breadth of support, with the strong risk of ultimate defeat.

More detailed comments are set out below.

We welcome the commitment to continuing the facilitated conversations.

We welcome the widespread affirmation of the five points endorsed by the House of Bishops (GS 1886, para. 12), and trust that the draft legislation will embody and reflect all of them together.

We welcome the fact that 49% of the Synod voted for provisions to reduce the risk of legal challenge in the context of parochial appointments, and the resulting commitment to further work on this.

We strongly welcome the proposal, endorsed by many speakers (including the Archbishop of Canterbury) that the Steering Committee should be representative of a broad spectrum of opinion, and should draft legislation to which all can subscribe.

We also welcome the strong support of a very large minority of Synod members for legislation setting out rights and obligations that would create a clear and stable context for our future life together. We note the preference expressed by 40% of the House of Laity and over 30% of the Synod as a whole for provision to be made by Measure or by regulations under Canon.

In later votes even larger minorities, especially in the House of Laity, rejected key elements of the approach preferred by the House of Bishops and by the most uncompromising supporters of women bishops. In the end, 25% of the Synod declined to endorse even the drafting of legislation on that basis. The logical conclusion is that to do so would result in a repeat of last November's failure.

We feel bound to reiterate that, while we are not trying to prevent women from becoming bishops in the Church of England, we cannot support any legislation which removes the existing rights of the laity to a ministry that they can receive in good conscience and which fails to offer the minority what the working group termed 'a greater sense of security' than the previous draft Measure.

We are unconvinced as to how a 'mandatory grievance procedure' binding on bishops can deliver this in respect of parochial appointments by lay patrons and incumbents. We question whether replacing Resolutions A and B with this is the right way of going about the rebuilding of trust.

We remain committed to playing our full part in identifying a consensus that will command the necessary breadth of support to enable those who wish to receive the ministry of female bishops to do so in the near future. We hope and pray that further facilitated conversations and a more broadly-based Steering Committee will achieve this.

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham 

Dr Lindsay Newcombe

9 July 2013

Friday, November 30, 2012

Women Bishops and Anglican Identity

The turmoil in the Church of England and the wider Anglican Communion over the ordination of women as priests and bishops reflects a widening gulf between different views of Anglican identity. Who are we? A sovereign “denomination” able to determine faith and order by majority voting in local and national synods? Or part of the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church yearning for visible unity with the whole, and accepting the constraint in matters of faith and order that such a self-understanding places on us? 

It seems logical, given the certainty of our traditional formularies on this point, that when a church of the Anglican Communion decides to “go it alone” as far as ordination is concerned, the very least it is morally obliged to do is make proper jurisdictional provision for those loyal Anglicans who - in all conscience and along with the wider Catholic Church - cannot at this time affirm with certainty the resulting orders and sacraments. That’s really what the debate going on in England at the present time is all about. 

Two years ago - in Advent 2010 - the Rt Rev’d Jack Iker, Bishop of Fort Worth, reflected on the issue of who we are as Anglicans. Here is what he said:

I invite us all to look beyond the surface level of our Anglican identity, with its temptation to denominationalism, and go back to our heritage as catholic Christians. In those . . . constitutional provisions that I quoted in the previous article, the Protestant Episcopal Church in the USA, the Anglican Province of the Southern Cone, and the Diocese of Fort Worth, all declare that we are a fellowship within, or a branch, of the one holy catholic and apostolic Church, maintaining and propagating the faith and order of the historic Church throughout the ages.

This means that we are not members of a sectarian, Protestant denomination, but of the Catholic Church. Remember, the Church of England, which came to be known as Anglican, existed before the Reformation and traces its roots back to the Patristic age of the early Christian Church. This same Church, which predated the arrival of Augustine and his missionaries from Rome in the sixth century, is continuous with the Church of England that emerged from the sixteenth century Reformation. Reformed, yes, but not a new denomination; the Church of England still maintained the sacraments, creeds and holy orders of the undivided church of the early centuries, before the Great Schism of West and East in 1054.

Knowing this, Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher famously said, “We have no doctrine of our own. We only possess the Catholic doctrine of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic Creeds, and these creeds we hold without addition or diminution. We stand firm on that rock.” And to that we might add that Anglicanism has no Scriptures of its own, no sacraments of its own, no holy orders of its own – just those of the Catholic Church that we have received. Fisher was right, as Anglicans we have no faith of our own.

Like the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church, orthodox Anglicans uphold the historic faith and order of the undivided Church. We are nothing more nor less than Catholic Christians, seeking to be faithful to the teaching of the early Church Fathers and the great Ecumenical Councils of the first centuries of Christian witness. With St. Vincent of Lerins, we affirm that the Catholic faith is that which has been believed “everywhere, always, and by all.” Wherever you find departures from this given faith and received order, you will find sectarianism, heresy and error.

With this in mind, we understand that the divided and fractured nature of Anglicanism today has been caused by heretical innovations and departures from the Church’s historic faith and practice. 

. . . deviations from the historic teaching of the Church have led to a serious state of brokenness and impaired Communion throughout Anglicanism.

In the Diocese of Fort Worth we stand against that. Our commitment as an orthodox Anglican diocese is to the faith and order of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. We seek to do nothing other than maintain and propagate the faith once delivered to the saints, which is rooted in Holy Scriptures and one with the Apostolic Teaching of the ancient Church.

Go HERE for the entirety of Bishop Iker's article.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Women Bishops - Tom Sutcliffe's reasons for voting NO

Tom Sutcliffe is a respected layman of the Church of England. He is the Chairman of Laity in the Southwark Diocesan Synod. Though he is a supporter of women bishops, he urges a "NO" vote at today's meeting of General Synod. His letter makes compelling reading. Let's pray in these hours that remain for voices like his, together with those of Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals who take seriously the Church of England's description of herself in her historic formularies to be heard and to prevail. 

I voted for women priests in 1992 and I am in principle keen that we should have women bishops in the Church of England. But I shall be voting against the Measure being proposed for final approval this November. I shall have two main reasons for voting no. 

It simply is not true that appropriate provisions have been made for the minority of less than a third of Church members who cannot accept the ordination or consecration of women as being consistent with their understanding of scripture and tradition. It may well be that traditionalist Anglo-Catholics would find it not impossible to live with the Measure as proposed were it to get through (which I sincerely hope it will not). But conservative evangelicals will be severely affected and in an impossible position.

People seem to have forgotten the promises that were made to the minority that their integrity would not be challenged as fully-fledged and authentic members of the CofE during the current and ongoing “period of reception” of the whole issue of ordaining and consecrating women. I don’t think it is good that a Church should choose flagrantly to over-ride assurances it once gave. 


The truth is that, in July with 5.1.c as then proposed, the Measure stood a chance of being accepted by those most adversely affected by it and I might have voted for it then. But now that that clause has been watered down and talks merely of respect – a word which is no reassurance at all to anybody who has been attending to developments in The Episcopal Church on the other side of the Atlantic – it will be likely to lead to further departures. And I absolutely do not want to see the Church of England ending up as a result of our in my view correct determination to include women in the ordained ministry at all levels with an even smaller footprint. I do not want the Church to vote to shrink more, and there is no doubt that the ordination of women has had the reverse effect from what was promised. It has not led to an increase in the membership or effectiveness of our church, however good most women priests have been. The decline in numbers and in status and in the respect in which we are held by ordinary citizens who are not active members has become precipitate. 

This Measure was drawn up on the wrong basis and is I believe fundamentally misguided in its approach. All along it has been far too influenced by Synod members who believed that the Act of Synod needed to be displaced if at all possible. That is why the Measure before us is so clerical – especially in its removal of the right of parish laity on their own account (and without the approval of the their parish priest) to decide whether in their church they want to have a woman celebrating the eucharist. The determination that women bishops should be exactly the same as men bishops ignores the reality that right across the Anglican Communion, there are many who do not accept women as bishops or in many cases as priests – many on both the conservative Evangelical and conservative Catholic wings. Those of us who want women to be bishops as I do simply have to accept that what we are doing with our change in the law is to enable a possibility not to insist on a new theological certainty. While there are many (though a minority) who do not accept women as bishops, women bishops are simply not going to be the same as men bishops. A women bishop in Hereford diocese would be uncontroversial in that territory. But a women bishop in London or Chichester would be out of the question. That is the difference between women bishops and men who are bishops – and nothing we can do in a Measure to permit women to be bishops can change that. 

So the determination that lies behind the proposed Measure to over-ride all that has been learnt about living with difference during the last two decades – thanks to the Act of Synod and the arrangements for alternative oversight which it put in place – is wilfully misguided in my view. The assurances given to those in the minority of a traditionalist view are worthless because the Code of Practice, even when it has been set up, will be open to constant revision and will be adjusted when the campaigners from GRAS and Affirming Catholicism have managed to squeeze out of the Church all those people with whom they disagree on this matter and whom they do not think belong within the reformed liberal Anglicanism that they seek. We cannot safely allow a process stretching into the future of continuing ferment and argument about how to accommodate or manage those who cannot accept women clergy. It will be debilitating for the Church and very bad for mission. The Church needs to speak not with one tongue, but with many tongues as it always has. Legalism and intolerance are bad Christianity, but they are what the currently proposed Measure is very likely to increase. We are being told over and over again that provision is being made for those who reject women clergy and bishops. I have to say that this is simply untrue. It is a lie. They have sought arrangements on which they could rely. But instead what they have said they need has been consistently rejected – or, when the Archbishops made some effort to achieve a compromise that would work for them, neither Archbishop managed the process of promoting what they were proposing at all well. That is how we have arrived at this situation fraught as it is with dishonesty and illusion. 

There is a much simpler way of proceeding and it is what we should adopt if this Measure is defeated. We should follow what looks like being the Welsh Anglican way, which I believe will suit us much better too. A simple Measure will be proposed to allow women to be eligible for the episcopate in future, but it will be stated that that Measure cannot come into operation until a second Measure making proper and full arrangements for those who cannot accept women bishops has been passed and has come into operation. By such means we can honour the promises and commitments given to the minority. We can ensure that in principle there is absolutely no difference between men and women in the episcopate. But at the same time we can provide watertight legal processes whereby those who cannot accept women bishops are catered for properly by the institutional Church as a whole – and without the incredibly unwieldy separate diocesan systems proposed in this Measure. The idea that we should simply write off the valuable lesson and practical effectiveness of the last 20 years living and growing more mature with Archbishop Hapgood’s cleverly constructed Act of Synod is ridiculous. Nor can we over-ride the promises that were made when we embarked on the in my view vital reform of including women in the ordained ministry at all levels. No doubt my voting against the Measure if it fails will make me, as a former Affirming Catholic and convinced liberal, even more unpopular than I suspect I currently am. As a supporter of the ordaining and consecrating of women I have given this matter very serious thought. I will vote against the Measure as proposed because it is a bad Measure, and absolutely not because I oppose permitting indeed encouraging women to become bishops now that they have served with such distinction at all other levels of the Church. I regret having to make this decision. But I believe it is right. 

Saturday, September 8, 2012

New Vice-Chairman for Forward in Faith (UK)

Forward in Faith News

Two days ago this announcement was posted on the Forward in Faith website: 

After eighteen years in office, Sister Anne Williams CA has decided to retire as Vice-Chairman of Forward in Faith. 

Paying tribute to her, the Chairman of FiF, Bishop Jonathan Baker, said ‘Sister Anne has been a doughty fighter for the Catholic cause in our Church over very many years and it is good to know that she will continue that work as a much-valued member of the Catholic Group in General Synod. But that she should now wish to lighten her load is entirely understandable and so, on behalf of all the members of Forward in Faith, I thank her most warmly for all she has done for us over the years and look forward to taking our leave of her publicly at the National Assembly next month.’ 

In accordance with the terms of the Forward in Faith Constitution, the Council this week elected Dr Lindsay Newcombe as its new Vice-Chairman, for the unexpired period of Sister Anne’s term of office. 

Lindsay read Mechanical Engineering at University College, London and worked in the design department of an orthopaedic implant manufacturer before studying for a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering and becoming Research Fellow at UCL. She has worked for the British Standards Institution since 2009 as a Technical Specialist where she assesses the safety and efficacy of medical devices to allow them to be placed on the market. Since her election to represent the Diocese of London at General Synod in 2010, Lindsay has been elected onto the Mission and Public Affairs Council of the Church of England and also serves on the governing body of St Stephen’s House, Oxford. She is married to Fr Andrew Newcombe SSC, Vicar of Holy Trinity Hoxton, and they have a toddler daughter called Mary. 

Bishop Jonathan commented: ‘I am delighted that Lindsay has agreed to become my Vice-Chairman at this seminal moment in the life of Forward in Faith, as we prepare for the November sessions of the General Synod. All members of FiF can draw great encouragement from the fact that such an able and faithful young woman has offered to serve in this capacity.’ 

Dr Newcombe added: ‘I would like to thank the Council of Forward in Faith for their trust in me and I am looking forward prayerfully to fulfilling my new role in Forward in Faith.’

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Bishop Jonathan Baker on women bishops & General Synod

It seemed right to leave a pause for reflection after the meeting of the General Synod in February, which devoted much time to further consideration of the draft legislation on women bishops. 

We are hugely grateful to the Venerable Cherry Vann, Archdeacon of Rochdale, for introducing the Diocesan Synod Motion on behalf of the Diocese of Manchester, and for the gracious and generous way in which she did so. This motion invited the House of Bishops to consider amending the legislation, in order to introduce provisions for those unable to accept the ordination of women to the episcopate along the lines of those contained in the amendment proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, which was very narrowly defeated in July 2010.

While the Manchester motion was not passed in the form proposed, the debate was a helpful one. Many members of Synod, including those from the Catholic Group, but by no means only them, spoke eloquently and forcefully in favour of arrangements whereby those unable to accept women in the episcopate, on theological grounds, would be able to continue in the Church of England with integrity and a real opportunity to flourish. It was enormously encouraging to hear the speeches of younger lay people, women and men, and younger priests, putting our case. 

It was encouraging, too, that a third of the House of Clergy and well over 40% of the House of Laity voted against any amendment to the Manchester motion, indicating significant dissatisfaction with the legislation in its present form. In the House of Bishops, 16 bishops voted against amending the Manchester motion, among them the Archbishop of York, the Bishops of London and Durham, and a number of other senior diocesan bishops. A further 5 members of the House of Bishops, including the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishop of Winchester, abstained. 

The motion which was passed in its final form still gives the House of Bishops room to take a fresh look at the legislation; and, of course, it remains true that the House of Bishops has the discretion to amend the legislation in any way its sees fit, irrespective of the voting on this particular motion in the General Synod.

We shall be praying hard now for fresh wisdom at the meeting of the House of Bishops in May, and for a willingness to listen to those many voices in Synod which urged that, for the sake of the Church of England as a whole, and her unity and mission, a way forward may be found to enable supporters of women in the episcopate and those who cannot assent to the development to move forward together. We are not there yet. Forward in Faith continues to stand ready to help in any way, that such a solution may indeed be found. 

X Jonathan Ebbsfleet 


First Sunday in Lent, 2012

Friday, June 3, 2011

Both sides have their say on Women Bishops in the C of E (in the Church Times)

The Church Times of 27th May contained a number of articles on the women bishops debate in the Church of England. They are temporarily available to non-subscribers. Links to all the articles are below.

Male headship: two opposing (evangelical) views - by Clare Hendry and Lis Goddard

There is no need to tread on any toes - by John Saxbee who favours the legislation exactly as proposed

Only an issue when it comes to Anglicans - by Paul Handley (article on a Lutheran woman bishop ministering in Britain)