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Women Clergy Letter to the House of Bishops
Petition Background (Preamble):
The Consecration of Women to the Episcopate
In the light of the Revision Committee’s recent announcement, we write to you to acknowledge that it is with a measure of despair that we have heard their decision to give up consideration of the “statutory code of practice” arrangements that Synod had endorsed. This despair is born both of frustration and incredulity. Frustration that the Church, which we love, seems unable to welcome and celebrate God’s calling of women to leadership, and incredulity that this committee would signal its abandonment of a principle expressed by the vote of General Synod, and in so doing, disregard what we believe to be the will of the Church of England: that women should be consecrated as bishops in the Church of God without discrimination.
We repeat our argument, made to you in a letter from women clergy last year that the catholic identity of the Church of England is at stake when a bishop is not simply a bishop, but limited by law in order to provide sacramental security or safeguard for those opposed to her consecration. This argument has been characterised as choosing principle over people, but we maintain that a robust code of practice is already a significant sign from women that strong pastoral concern for those opposed guides us and those who support women’s ordination.
Now that Pope Benedict and the Archbishop of Canterbury have announced a new Order for Anglicans within the Roman Church, we believe that the argument for legal arrangements within the Church of England is greatly diminished. There is now a place where many opposed to women’s ordination may retain their Anglican identity but will have the sacramental security they seek. Meanwhile, the Church of England, episcopally led and synodically governed, faces a moment of decision that will affect its ecclesiology, mission and most particularly the character of its House of Bishops for generations to come.
We believe that the key ecclesiological relationships of pastoral oversight, shared ministry and servant leadership must depend on trust, forgiveness, repentance and reconciliation. Bishops male and female will build on the existing valuable experience gained by women and men in modelling these relationships after 22 years of women’s ordained ministry and 15 years of priesthood. We reiterate that we long to see the consecration of women bishops in the Church of England and urge you not only to argue for Synod’s will to be honoured, but for the integrity of the office of Bishop to be preserved in a single clause measure with a strong and sensitive code of practice for those opposed.
In May last year, ordained women wrote to you saying that if episcopacy for women is to be qualified by legal arrangements to protect others from our oversight, then our response, respectfully, was thank you but no. Our view has not changed. We therefore ask you not to institutionalise a further fracture in our communion. We ask you to lead the Church to consecrating women bishops without qualification; a step supported by the majority of lay and ordained Anglicans in England and according to the vote in General Synod.
The Women Clergy Letter to the House of Bishops petition to Church of England House of Bishops was written by Chris Rees and is in the category Religion at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: women bishops, women clergy, church of england