Friday, November 20, 2009

Committee revises its view on women bishops — again

From The Church Times-

THE draft women-bishops legislation may not be ready for the February Synod, after the revision committee failed to agree last week on which powers should be given by law to bishops who would oversee traditionalist parishes.

At their previous meeting, in October, members of the committee revived the idea of vesting such bishops with legal rights, which the General Synod had rejected in July 2008. The move drew approval from traditionalists, but accusations of betrayal from WATCH (Women and the Church) (News, 16 October).

But at last week’s meeting, when it came to deciding which functions should be vested, members voted each one down in turn, leaving nothing. Sharp exchanges reportedly took place across the table as the work of the two previous meetings was, in effect, undone. Staff are left with the task of rewriting the legislation. “The timetable is now extremely tight” for February, the committee has acknowledged.

In a statement, it said: “The effect of the committee’s decision is there fore that such arrangements as are made for those unable to receive the episcopal ministry of women will need to be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop rather than vesting.

“There remain important issues for the committee to determine at its forthcoming meetings over the shape of the proposed legislation in the light of this decision, in particular whether to retain a statutory code of practice or adopt the simplest possible legislation.”

The committee goes on to state that it will “report to the full General Synod at the conclusion of its work”. Thereafter, the Synod will debate its proposals and has the option of approving, amending, or sending the legislation back to the revision committee for further consideration.
Voting figures will not be released until the committee makes its final report to the Synod. In anticipation of the question why it issues statements at all when the decisions keep changing, a C of E clarification said: “Synod members coming to speak to amendments they have submitted have the right to know when there has been a major change affecting their proposals. Since such decisions will quickly become widely known, the committee concluded it was best to put the facts on public record.”

Committee members are not free to comment on discussions. Prebendary David Houlding, of the Synod’s Catholic Group, who was an observer at the October meeting, said on Tuesday that the issuing of a press statement just before the Archbishop of Canterbury went to Rome for a meeting with the Pope was extraordinary.

More here-

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