2014 is a long time away...

2014 is the "earliest" date being touted in reports for the possibility of the appointment and ordination of a woman as bishop in England. That would give a recommendation for a code of practice to be put in place for the protection of those who do not believe women can be bishops or who believe they ought not be bishops. So it would appear that the English dance is a slow one. Perhaps too slow.

Wiser heads than mine obviously know the inner workings of the legislative process in Synod, but I don't read in the legislation passed yesterday (July 7) any reference to the necessity to wait on appointment and ordination until the code of practice is in place.

My question is this: What would now prevent the appointments committee (whatever its name) from putting forward the names of women nominees for bishop and one of those being appointed by the Crown to the position? The code of practice might not yet be in place, but the Synod has not in this motion required that it be in place prior to appointment.

I have no idea if the government in England would want to do such a thing, but it might be argued that to delay implementation of the recommendation of Synod - that women be admitted to the episcopate - is a denial of equal access for qualified candidates on the basis of gender.

If someone could enlighten me on the subject.


  1. My only question is Why is the issue always coined in terms of "protection" needed for those who have an issue of conscience (if it even IS an issue of conscience, and not something else). What do they need to be "protected" from? Holy cow, the mindset and self-proclaimation of vicitimization by this privileged crowd is wearing mighty thin, especially in light of the true victimization of the vulnerable that occurs all too frequently in this crazy ol' world of ours.

  2. The motion which General Synod approved does not yet have the force of law, in the sense that it is still legally impossible to have women bishops. What Synod has asked the drafting committee is to introduce the legislative changes needed for this to happen.

    The Synod still has to pass a Measure, which has the force of law within England and consequently must be confirmed by Parliament, which may include a statutory code of practice to ensure that opponents are protected, although the "may" is of course something which advocates are demanding should be ended. This is what the Synod did in 1992 when it voted to ordain women priests, but at that time the code of practice was non-statutory, being an Act of Synod (which oddly enough is not a law in the sense that a Measure or Canon is).

    The other legislative change, which may occur simultaneously, will be to amend the Canons, which themselves do not have to go through parliament.

    Measures take a while to enact. As I understand it, it can take at least a year (and two sessions of Synod) to get one through, and then there is the parliamentary process. A change in government in the UK (which is likely), and a Synodical election in 2010, may have an effect on the process as a whole.

  3. John 2007

    Imagine, an American Episcopalian--Marc Harris--asking the C of E not to wait but to press ahead, despite its assurances to proceed otherwise. Maybe you don't understand their polity, among other things.

  4. Actually, I think "protection" is an opperative word. After all, they are interested in maintaining a set of (white) male priveleges.


  5. At this post at Thinking Anglicans there is this explanation in the comments to just that question:

    It will take until about 2012 for the legislation to go through. We have to draft the measure, revise it in committee and full synod, draft the code of practice and then send it to the dioceses (18 months consultation period). Once we get their response, it then goes to final approval stage, and then to Parliament (Ecclesiastical Committee).

    Once we have the legislation, there will need to be a vacancy in a see (preferably two, so that we don't end up with one isolated woman having to pioneer). So 2013/4 looks likely.
    Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Tuesday, 8 July 2008 at 4:56pm BST

  6. Marc, since those opposed to WO think women, not being validly ordained, cannot confect the Eucharist, the issue boils down to sacramental validity. And, since the Anglo-Catholic thinks grace is mediated through the sacraments, this impacts that mediation and, thus, the assurance of grace; hence, it's not hard to see where there is an issue of "protection." But I assume you know that and are just trying to score a rhetorical point; you went to seminary.

  7. Nah, Phil, I'm not playing rhetorical games. I said exactly what I think. And I still think it a wild stretch to put it in terms of "protection" because the implication is what I said - the mindset and self-proclamation of being victims. These folks are privileged in every way, vulnerable/victims in no way: they don't have to worry about where their next meal is coming from; they don't have to worry about being imprisoned for their political beliefs; they don't receive death threats like Bishop Robinson is continuing to receive...on and on. To play the victim card is far more of a rhetorical device designed to further their political (not theological) ends than anything I might have said in a simple blog comment.

    Second, you're staying with your strengths this time and actually presenting an argument :>), but I would question the assumptions of that argument. Yes, I understand the issues of validity, efficaciousness, and regularity in/of the sacraments, as well as the proper form, matter, etc. However, the bottom line (because we don't have time for a seminaryesque treatise in a comment box), it seems to reveal a disheartening lack of faith in the One from whom there is any grace to mediate in the first place to place the total responsibility for mediation of the grace of the sacrament in the hands of the one administrating it (Article XXVI of the 39 Articles is clear about Anglican theology in this regard.)

    Even if it IS a matter of conscience or of theology, and thus of how one practices one's faith, it's still not a matter of "protection". To have lost perspective (thinking in terms of victimization) and to use such extreme rhetoric ultimately works contrary to their purposes.

  8. Marc, first of all, I note that “protection” is your word, and so is something of a strawman. For example, Forward in Faith UK says, instead, “the General Synod today resolved to make no meaningful provision for those in conscience unable to receive the ministry of women bishops” (in its first statement) and, “there is little prospect of gaining a synodical majority which would provide a structural solution that would meet the needs of those who, out of obedience to scripture and tradition, are unable in conscience to receive the ordination of women to the episcopate” (in its second). (emphases mine)

    Even so, I don’t see why it’s necessary to read the word in its most extreme sense. I might wish to be “protected” from the mosquitos when I mow the lawn, or, closer to the topic at hand, I might wish my children to be “protected” from a parish priest that made it a practice to teach Jesus was only a very enlightened man, and not God. In either case, sure, these aren’t on a par with somebody starving or being imprisoned, but I see nothing wrong with the usage of the word. Clearly, if the assurance of grace in the sacraments is thrown into question by an action, it’s a very real thing from which to desire protection, but perhaps to a Protestant, that isn’t going to make any sense.

    In any case, following up on that point and continuing with your argument, I’m afraid your logic is going to compel you to abandon the Anglican view of the priesthood, as well as accept lay presidency, and probably assume yourself to be in communion with varied and diverse groups such as the Methodists, the LDS, the Southern Baptists, and so forth. After all, if it would be a disheartening lack of faith to assume the priest’s actions make a difference in the mediation of grace, let’s demonstrate some real faith and do away with the priesthood altogether. (By the way, when did the modern Episcopalian start quoting the Articles? I thought that was passé.)

    I see you don’t agree with Anglo-Catholic theology, but since you understand it in their terms, why belittle their concern? As the Telegraph, no conservative organ, put it, “The Synod vote is an unequivocal, almost brutal, rejection of traditional Anglo-Catholicism.” I thought we could expect better from the inclusive church. With that kind of respect, it almost makes the CANA, et al. folks seem prescient in leaving ECUSA, doesn’t it?

  9. Actually, Phil, I was referencing a word that Mark used in his post, since that is the point of comment boxes of particular blogs, but also making reference to the fact that it is a fairly common word in the parlance of those of a more rightward lean.

    OK, I accept your context of roque parish priests - that's worth being protected from. I suppose I'd want to be "protected" from mosquitos, too, (especially after living in Florida for several years - Diocese of Central Florida, to be exact) but when was the last time the word was used in that context? It is apt, but unusual. It's necessary to read the word in the extreme case because that's the context in which the word is used, in this case.

    I knew you'd respond this way, which is why I referred, specifically, to "TOTAL responsibility" for the mediation of grace in the hands of the minister. I'm more Anglo-catholic that you presume, however. Lay presidency has never made sense to me, given the nature of "call" to ordained ministry, and I sure don't consider myself in communion (in OUR context of that word) with those you mention, though certainly consider them to be just as faithful as the rest of us, on the whole. But if we put too much emphasis on the worthiness/behavior of the priest, we WOULD have to do away with the priesthood altogether because not a one of us is worthy, save by the grace of the sacrament we are administering. I guess that's where I see the difference - administering as opposed to mediating. Even if a priest administers the sacrament after having imbided too much communion wine (I am NOT speaking autobiographically!) or even if the priest has engaged in some kind of behavior that should have him/her removed from ordained ministry (again, NOT speaking autobiographically!), the grace of the sacrament is still "mediated" because it is the Holy Spirit mediating it, not the priest, who is only administering it.

    And there is nothing contrary to Anglican theology in that. In fact, especially if you look at the Rite I service and note how it is an amalgum of theologies of the 1549 and 1552 Prayer Books, it is utterly Anglican! It is not only the real presence of God in the sacrament, but by the holy intention of the hearts of those who come to partake, the grace is made efficacious.

    I mention the 39 Articles because they are important in understanding who we are from a historical perspective, though I would, in no way, support GAFCON's contention that they should be normative for the entire Communion again.

    I'm not belittling anyone's concerns, Phil, just calling into question the unnecessarily extreme nature in which they are couched. Given our theology of the fullness of the Sacrament in both or either kind (e.g. if a person has some reason that precludes them from taking the bread, but allows them to receive the wine), and that female lay people who are often licensed to administer the chalice, do you really suppose that a person who receives the Blessed Sacrament from a woman, ordained or not, imperils their immortal soul? If CANA et al. really believe this, then I wish them Godspeed in their departure, but for heaven's sake, I should think that they would choose something other than girl-cooties as a reason. No one - not me, not the truly liberal, not the Presiding Bishop - denies Jesus as incarnate, crucified, and risen Lord. Let me say that again: No one - not me, not the truly liberal, not the Presiding Bishop - denies Jesus as incarnate, crucified, and risen Lord. Shy of that, the claim of a need for "protection" seems to me to betray a lack of faith and loss of perspective, and an unnecessary extremism that only serves to inflame and bolster political, rather than theological, ends by which no one, least of all God's kingdom, is served.

  10. As the Telegraph, no conservative organ, put it

    *LOL* Thanks, Phil, for the best laugh I've had all day!

    Since you've compared faithful ordained women to, respectively, "parish priest that made it a practice to teach Jesus was only a very enlightened man, and not God" and mosquitoes :-0

    ...might not I then take your assertion here, Phil,

    opposed to WO think women, not being validly ordained, cannot confect the Eucharist

    ...and speak in the same terms of "Jerusalem Syndrome": those who think they're King David, or Michael-the-Archangel, or God himself?

    When does "thinking" cross into delusion? Who decides? And who exercises POWER-OVER to enforce such a decision?

    [I would say that (the democratic-majority of) TEC, in this case, hasn't, God bless 'em!]

  11. Nice to hear from you again, JCF. For the record, I did not compare women (faithful, ordained, or any other kind) to mosquitoes. I think the point of the example is clear in context.

    Peace of the Lord, brother.


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, but with comment moderation but with some cautions and one rule:
Cautions: Calling people fools, idiots, etc, will be reason to bounce your comment. Keeping in mind that in the struggles it is difficult enough to try to respect opponents, we should at least try.