The General Synod of the Church of England meeting this week failed to approve a proposal by the Archbishop of Canterbury to allow parishes subject to the jurisdiction of a woman bishop to shop for a male bishop instead.
The Church of England began ordaining women to the priesthood in 1994, and in 2005 the General Synod voted to allow women priests to be promoted to bishops. Opponents of women bishops wanted guarantees that they could be supervised by male bishops.
The issue being debated is the fracture in the Church of England over the elevation of women to be bishops. The Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York had proposed a woman bishop would have full authority in her diocese but “in practice refrain from exercising” certain functions in a parish which objected to her. A “complementary bishop” would have independent powers, and the powers of the two bishops would be “co-ordinate”.
These two most senior figures in the Church of England pleaded with synod members to support a last-ditch compromise deal aimed at avoiding a split over the introduction of women bishops. The women were having none of this second class status, as you can imagine saying that women bishops should serve on the same basis as men do now, without any restriction on their authority.
The House of Clergy seeing endless hassles and heartache over this political correctness run amok put an end to it saying in essence a bishop is a bishop—period!
The general synod also voted against an amendment that proposed three new dioceses to cater for objectors to women bishops. The rejected amendment also would have required male bishops appointed to minister in these dioceses to declare that they would not participate in the consecration of a woman bishop or priest.
Laughable as all this sounds, the measure was approved by the House of Bishops and by the House of the Laity, but failed in the House of Clergy. Since it required a majority vote in all three parts of the Synod it failed. Still the process of getting to women bishops is likely to continue to be tormented since the current process means it will be 2014 before the first woman can be appointed bishop.