Monday, July 12, 2010

A.S. Haley: Yesterday, in York

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Although an Anglican Curmudgeon, I do not consider myself a Church of England "Curmudgeon", for the obvious reason that I do not belong to the Church of England. The following critique of what happened at the Church of England's General Synod yesterday should not be taken as representing any of the current factions in the debate over female bishops in the Church of England. What I feel constrained to point out are the longer-term consequences for the Church of England's position in the Anglican Communion should yesterday's vote on the amendment proposed by the Church's Archbishops prove decisive.

Although General Synod still has many more proposed changes to consider, the divisions over the Archbishops' measure contain all that is necessary to divide the Church of England even further than it has been divided to date. The irony of the vote yesterday is that, while a majority in the Church of England are committed to the ordination of women to the episcopate, a majority were also in favor of the compromise proposed by the Archbishops, which was designed to keep the Church from tearing itself apart. Nevertheless, the Archbishops' measure failed to pass all three orders in General Synod. In the House of Bishops, it passed handily, by a vote of 25-15. In the vote by the laity, it also succeeded by a vote of 106 to 86, with 4 abstentions. But in the vote by the clergy order, the measure garnered 85 votes in the affirmative, to 90 in the negative, with 5 abstentions. Thus the anomalous result: taken overall, there were 216 members of Synod who favored the measure, while only 191 opposed. Nevertheless, because each order did not vote in favor, the measure on the whole failed to pass Synod, and so the change to the legislation which it proposed was rejected. the rest

What is more, the absolute refusal to compromise to the smallest degree signifies the rigidity with which women bishops will demand full recognition from everyone in the Church. We have already seen this phenomenon in ECUSA: the ordination of women was introduced with the understanding that it would be optional for dioceses. Then, once a sufficient power base had been accumulated at General Convention, what had been optional suddenly became mandatory, within the space of only twelve years. And one by one, those bishops who maintained their opposition to women's ordination were deposed and driven out of the Church.


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