The Church of England took another small step towards consecrating women as bishops today. It’s been 30 years since the Synod agreed that there was no theological bar to women’s ordination. Now we have got onto the process of making it happen. We cannot accuse the C of E of acting in haste. As the Catholics and Orthodox have already told us, if they were going to ordain women they would have STARTED with bishops. Still, at this rate, we might have women bishops by 2015. And that’s going quickly, for Synod and Parliamentary legislation!
I thought the debate today was careful, considered and considerate. But then, I didn’t have much problem with the July debate, and the bishops lost the plot over that (see previous post). There were a few wonderful quotes from the debate:
- we should welcome women to the episcopate for the sake of the kingdom
- I can’t compel people to be in communion with me – if they choose not to be, then God bless them, and God bless me too
- a code of conduct (as opposed to protective legislation) will not allow ministry to flourish – one is left asking, who’s ministry?
- and, those opposed in conscience cannot stay in the C of E
The latter is really the crux of the matter. If those who oppose women in ministry cannot ever accept the authority of a woman bishop, what does that do for the authority of the episcopacy. Most of those ordained clergy on Synod who are opposed, were ordained after the Synod agreed on its theology in the 70s. Even more so, those ordained since 1992 knew the theological statements of the church they were being ordained into.
Another generation of women are going to be too old to become the superb bishops we know they can be. The sword of time hangs over their heads, just as the sword of Damocles hangs over those who are opposed. No wonder someone else commented today that there was little joy in this debate. We have had it too many times, and with the taint of too much guilt and pain, for there to be real joy. But there will be, one day…