(The Tablet) Ruth Gledhill on the Women Bishops Vote in General Synod

The new legislation is simpler and based on Christian understandings of trust. Crucially, it includes a commitment for diocesan bishops to abide by five guiding principles, to take proper care of and provide oversight for dissenters, with recourse to an independent reviewer, or ombudsman, to resolve disputes. This was a concept introduced to steering-group discussions by Dr Philip Giddings, the leading conservative Evangelical, who specialised in politics and the work of the Parliamentary Ombudsman. His speech to synod, where he committed himself to vote in favour, coming as it did early in the debate, was influential in securing the result.

Even the Catholic group seemed happy, relatively speaking, with the result. Canon Simon Killwick, the chairman, remained deeply concerned for the wider unity of the whole Church but “pleased that the spirit of reconciliation continued to be displayed during the debate”. Archbishop Bernard Longley, chairman of dialogue and unity for the Catholic bishops, reiterated the goal of full ecclesial communion and acknowledged that the decision “sadly places a further obstacle on the path to this unity between us”. He affirmed the progress made in recent decades.

Whatever the theological and ecclesiological disagreements that remain, for the established Church to have once again rejected women bishops could well have spelled disaster for Christian mission in Britain. The signals from Rome and Canterbury give every ­appearance of grace in action ”“ surely a prophecy of interesting times to come.

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3 comments on “(The Tablet) Ruth Gledhill on the Women Bishops Vote in General Synod

  1. tired says:

    “The new legislation is simpler and based on Christian understandings of trust.”

    That is definitely not the witness of CoE, at least on this side of the pond. I chalk it up to a worldly and feminist element so mistrustful of a jurisdictional provision – it overcomes any appeal to Christian charity. Couple that with the effect of a steady departures, resignation, etc., and the writing is on the wall.


  2. David Keller says:

    Kendall, correct me if I am wrong, but in the late 70s The HoB issued the Port St. Lucie Declaration in whcih they said it was fully acceptable in TEC/ECUSA to be against women’s ordination, that there would NEVER be any requirement to go along, and it was well within the norms of Christian theology/thought to be against it. Then in 2000 GC created a special commission with a $180K budget for the triennuim to essentailly hold an Inquisition against the bishops who remained opposed. That Inquisutuon went along way toward causing the split in TEC. The point is, I suspect CofE’s promise to dissenters has about as much value; and I also expect it won’t take 30 years for CofE to start their purge regardless of the “guidelines”.

  3. MichaelA says:

    Ruth Gledhill is correct, that relations with the Roman Catholics will make no difference whatsoever to what is happening. The outcome of this will depend on how Anglicans react, both in England and elsewhere.