The world simply doesn’t understand how our form of democracy works. 42 out of 44Dioceses voted in favour. How then could the Synod ignore this? I think that’s a fair
question.Of course, within our system the rules of our voting system require a two thirds majority.Members of General Synod are elected as representatives. They are free to vote, after listening to debate, in whatever way they want. That is true. However in Synod-speak, thiswas Article 8 business. It required referral to the Dioceses. It required a two thirds majorityin all three Houses. In theory the same rules apply
delegates are free to vote in whatever way they want after hearing the debate. However, I have wondered (nothing more) as to inthe case of Article 8 business, though there is no legal pressure for Synod reps to follow theDiocese in exercising their vote, if there is not a moral pressure for them to vote to supportthe Diocesan view?Of course, some will tell me that the Diocesan Synod only had the Measure unamendedbefore them. They will equally point out that in the Dioceses, only a simple majority isrequired to pass the Measure. That said, our Diocese recorded precisely no votes againstthe Measure and barely a handful of abstentions. I may have this wrong, but that seemspretty decisive to me!
I don’t judge myself to proclaim with any confidence what the Will of God might be, but
certainly it feels as though the will of the Church was inhibited by this vote.I see no value in witch hunts at this stage.
‘Let’s find out who did this and let them have it.’
No, in terms of our system they did what that system permitted them to do.
Of course, though I say this, I don’t think we should always be concerned about what the
world thinks. St Paul discovered tha
t the message of the Cross was ‘foolishness to theGreeks and a stumbling block to the Jews’, but it didn’t stop him preaching it. For instance,
the world may be equally out of kilter with our view on life and death issues. However, if wesimply allow the world to set our agenda, we may live to regret it. We are not accountable tothe world, but on the eve of Advent let us recall that in the end we are accountable to God.
However, I am concerned that there are some who stood in front of the media’s came
and proudly proclaimed, in the light of the vote that ‘the Bible won the day’. Those of you
who know me, I hope, know that I would only support the ordained ministry of women aspriests and bishops if I was convinced that it had theological and Biblical integrity.
I don’t believe as some traditionalist Catholics believe that the Church of England is not
competent to make such decisions on our own. Some of us met a bunch of Roman Catholicclergy earlier in the week. Certainly some of them were dismayed by the failure of theChurch of England to proceed to women bishops. Their Bishop actually said to me with a
twinkle in his eye, ‘we might get there before you…’
I don’t believe, as some believe, that the headship argument as interpreted by some
conservative evangelicals is the only way or even the legitimate way of reading of Scripture. As was pointed out at General Synod partly flippantly, partly not, that the Supreme Governor of the Church of England is a woman!In short, I do not myself see that the competency of the Church of England to make suchdecisions is in question and neither do I believe that the Bible need be an obstacle to womenbishops. We are a legitimate expression of the Catholic Church, but we are reformed!
Let’s be honest. Our
mission has not been made easier by this outcome. That much is clear to me.