CofE Synod passed the motion on Women in the Episcopate

The final form of the motion is as follows:

As a result of the two successful amendments the final form of the substantive motion became.

"That this Synod:
(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;
(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;
(c) affirm that these should be contained in a statutory national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard; and
(d) instruct the legislative drafting group, in consultation with the House of Bishops, to complete its work accordingly, including preparing the first draft of a code of practice, so that the Business Committee can include first consideration of the draft legislation in the agenda for the February 2009 group of sessions."

The vote taken at about 5:20 PM EST was as follows:

Bishops: 28 for 12 against 1 abs

Clergy: 124 for 44 against 4 abs

Laity: 111 for 68 against 2 abs

There will be women bishops, there will be a strong reaction. There will not be peace in the valley. But the CofE did something substantive. They declared that it is the wish of the church leadership that "women be admitted to the episcopate." Thanks be to God.

Now we wait for appointment, and for the code of practice. Assuming that appointment waits on the code being in place it will be a while before there are actual women bishops in the CofE.

See Thinking Anglicans and Ruth Gledhill for further stories.


  1. Does anybody remember back when "accomodations" were promised to traditionalists in TEC? Those promises went stale fast and anyone who didn't agree with WO were drawn up as insects, schismatics, and heretics in the Church of the New Thing.

    Count-down to when the Church of England will experience the same:

    100, 99, 98...

  2. Allen,

    You might argue examples of specific cases, but a blanket generalization is not accurate.

    I grew up in a Midwestern diocese in the 1980's that didn't ordain women, and its stand was widely tolerated. In the mid-1990's, two decades after the canonical changes allowing the ordination of women, I was at school in another diocese that still opposed WO. At that time, they were still accommodated by the wider church. The most heated discussions over WO I recall were internal to the diocese, not inflicted from the outside.

    Not once did I hear them referred to as "heretics, schismatics, or insects" in any official church documents or GC resolutions.

    Provide evidence, please.

  3. Accommodations for dissenters should be a transitional mechanism, not a mechanism that institutionalizes division. In TEC, we decided to ordain women, but bishops agreed informally not to impose too heavy a burden on those who disagreed. The result is that, almost everywhere, opposition to the ordination of women has disappeared. The CoE, on the other hand, created "flying bishops," which tended to institutionalize opposition to women's ordination. Opposition to women's ordination is, as a result, still strong in the Mother Church.

    As a practical, organization matter, the ordination of women (or their consecration as bishops) cannot be encapsulated in a way that "protects" certain groups from encountering the phenomenon. It is simply not practical to make long-term accommodations for dissenters to the practice. I have no sympathy for the anti-women's-ordination bishops who were consecrated at a time when women's ordination was an established fact in TEC. I think the CoE has learned from our and its own experience, based on last night's vote.

  4. r:

    Hate to give the official policy, but here goes. BTW: Failure to obey these canons becomes grounds for disciplinary action if anybody wants to pursue it. (Sorry for the length):

    - Check it out on TEC's snazzy new Website.

    General Convention History of Ordination of Women:

    It started with a conscience clause wherein no one would be forced to accept the ordination of women, but that such ordination would be permissible for those who desired it. Assurances were made that such “both/and” tension is an acceptable Anglican compromise. But then along came the repudiation of those promises in 1997 and 2002:

    Resolution Number: 1997-A053
    Title: Implement Mandatory Rights of Women Clergy under Canon Law
    Legislative Action Taken: Concurred As Amended
    Final Text:
    Resolved, That
    c. it is the mind of this Convention that, NOTwithstanding the legislative history
    surrounding the passage of those Title III canons relating to the ordination
    of women, and NOTwithstanding subsequent actions of the House of Bishops
    not in General Convention assembled, the provisions of the canons of the
    General Convention, insofar as they may relate to the ordination of women
    and the licensing and deployment of women clergy, are MANDATORY; and
    d. during the next triennium EACH Diocese where women do not have full access
    to ordination and where ordained women are not permitted to carry out their
    full ministries SHALL develop and implement a process to implement fully Canons
    III.8.1, III.16.1(d), III.16.2, and III.17.3…….

    …and then:

    Executive Council Minutes, October 11-14, 2002, Jackson Hole, WY, pp. 16-18

    RESOLVED, Inasmuch as the 72nd general Convention in Resolution A052 clarified that the canons regarding the ordination of women are MANDATORY, ….(among the enactions are that the Executive Council would)

    1). Assist the whole Church to promote, explore, and develop ways to facilitate the ORDINATION of women in EVERY diocese and their full and equal deployment throughout the Church.

    So much for the conscience clause. So much for diversity. So much for promises. Those who remember the old promises are now the fodder for deposition.

    “Words mean what I say they mean.” - Humpty Dumpty

  5. We are back to reality check time.

    Want to supply some? No, I did not think so.

    It may be true that over time as the church experienced the ministry of women and generally found that experience no worse than what they had received from men, the acceptance grew.

    But, right now, today, a person could be opposed to women clergy, ordained in any number of liberal diocese by a liberal bishop and have a career. Right now, today, in Chicago, that happens. And we have parishes where that view is dominant. It is not merely 'tolerated' it is completely accepted as a part of the matrix of our community.

    I don't know (but then neither do you) about every diocise. I do know that a 'no girls allowed' view will be challenged in the seminaries. But so what? If god is on your side, you can deal with challenge.


  6. Allen,

    You have listed resolutions, not canons. I think the distinction is important, as resolutions do not carry as much weight in disciplinary matters as do canons. Further, has anyone to you knowledge been deposed for violating the resolutions you name?

    I agree with Jim and Lionel. The Church, through canonical changes, made a decision in the mid 1970's regarding allowing WO. The accommodations were meant to be temporary and to provide a transitional period of reception. Over a generation passed before the 1997 GC Resolution you name, and it essentially calls for compliance with canons, which means dioceses must make provision for women in discernment processes. In a number of cases, those opposed to the ordination of women have complied with the canons by making provision for those seeking holy orders to enter discernment processes in neighboring dioceses. Those of us supporting women in ordained ministry may not like it, but there it is.

    By my reckoning, only two dioceses of the Church still do not ordain women. That stand is not, to the best of my knowledge, part of any disciplinary considerations at the present time.

    I think Jim has summed things up well. Remember Gamaliel, anyone?

  7. Is it not also true that dissenting dioceses (e.g., Quincy, etc.) have not actually be admonished, punished, or otherwise pursued and told to adhere to Canon -- that they have pretty much been left alone to do as their bishops desire? I've heard of no "persecution" of those opposed to WO, but OCICBW.

    Padre Wayne, Affirming Catholic at heart

  8. "It started with a conscience clause wherein no one would be forced to accept the ordination of women"

    Go read Pam Darling's New Wine (Cowley, 1994), 142-43 for the history about the Port St Lucie conscience clause. This clause gets trotted out as proof that TEC allowed for ever and ever opposition to WO. The clause was for sitting bishops at the time and was never passed by the Senior House, the House of Deputies, and therefore was never made canon law, unlike the resolution cited above here.

  9. I was wondering about the word 'wish' in clause (a) of the final form of the motion. I've always understood 'wish' to convey a desire for something that is disconnected from the power to make it happen. For example, "I wish I was 25 again," or "I wish I could fly." It's always seemed a word with magical connotations and alien from a legislative context. Wouldn't (a) have read better if it had said: "[That this synod] affirm its intention to admit women to the episcopate." Did anyone else have a reaction to the word "wish?" -Stuart

  10. Stuart, wish obviously has a much more firm, down to earth, significance in the Realm, than in your former colony.

    Another example of folk separated by their common language.

  11. So...
    what I'm reading here pretty much confirms suspicions. The TEC (Talking Endless Constructs) started with "room" in the big tent for diversity on WOs. Now I'm reading how that was only temporary for a few of the period of the late 20th century.

    "Big Tent. Diversity. Via Media".
    Yep. Sure. While not "canonical", we know that those who interpret canons are getting free passes these days to make words mean what they want. Inhibition without deposition anybody?

    Next issue: SSBs in the next Prayer Book.
    "Big Tent. Diversity. Via Media".
    Don't you believe it.

  12. The scandal, Allen, is that nearly ***35 years*** after the Philadelphia 11, there are still TEC dioceses WITHOUT the gift of priests-who-are-women!

    The idea that justice should be endlessly delayed for those who receive GOD'S call to sacerdotal ministry (while having XX chromosomes) is nothing less than God's Justice DENIED.

    Maybe you don't mind facing God on Judgment Day, with that hanging on your conscience, Allen. *MY* Church shouldn't!


OK... Comments, gripes, etc welcomed, 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.