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CofE Hierarchy terrified of political backlash over women bishops

CofE Hierarchy terrified of political backlash over women bishops

By Julian Mann
Special to virtueonline
May 27, 2013

The latest legislative proposal for a single clause women bishops' measure reflects the clear choice of the Church of England hierarchy to follow the world and not the Word by imposing a uniform, secular model of leadership on parishes.

The liberal establishment is desperate to get this legislation through the General Synod as soon as possible because it is terrified of the backlash from the metropolitan elite in Westminister if the Church of England repeats its failure to embrace political correctness. The failure of the General Synod to pass the women bishops' measure in November led to outrage in the British Parliament.

Members of Parliament cheer-led by the Prime Minister - who has admitted that his faith fluctuates like the signal from his local radio station in the Chiltern hills - fell over themselves to denounce the Church of England for failing to 'get up with the programme'. One newspaper columnist acidly observed that people who could not care less about the Church of England suddenly started developing 'bilious opinions' about women bishops.

There was even talk of banning ecclesiastical bottoms from the ermine benches of the House of Lords because they were so out of touch with societal opinion.

More sinisterly, homosexualist parliamentarians were quick to realise that acceptance of women bishops was an essential precursor to the capitulation of the Church of England to their agenda.

Campaign group for the traditional integrity, Proper Provision, has just issued a statement explaining in stark terms what the single clause option announced last week would mean for conservative evangelicals.

This breath of realism in advance of the July Synod meeting shows the real spiritual and moral battle ground on which conservative evangelicals are to pray and to take action and to make sacrifices so that the local churches we love can remain faithful to the revealed, apostolic Word of the Lord Jesus Christ and not be neutered by the world.

Here is the Proper Provision statement in full:

"The House of Bishops have decided that "the moment has come for demonstrating how the Church of England can manifest its commitment to remaining a broad church without having to rely on legislation to do so".

They are therefore recommending to General Synod that we move forward with "Option 1" (of the four offered by the Working Party).

In short this is the "Single Clause" option - with a non-legally binding declaration from the House of Bishops/ an Act of Synod (not available in July) which would set out recommendations for arrangements for those whose theological conviction does not enable them to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests.

We must however remember that NONE of the options provided jurisdictional provision (despite the Working Party recognising that this is what we had said was required).

All four options REQUIRE Conservative Evangelical Ministers to:

* Swear the oath of Canonical Obedience to their Diocesan (male or female)
* Accept that they hold a "dissenting" view because "the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter"
* Play a "full part" in the lives of the Dioceses and Deaneries in order to ensure that the "majority" flourish.

This option also has the potential to put our PCCs, incumbents and patrons at risk of being challenged under the Equality Act if there is a disagreement over the appointment of a male incumbent/nomination of a female curate in the future. The document makes clear that this will be at their own cost.

It would clearly be a disaster if a measure of this nature were passed but we must pray that people recognise the clarity of the decision the Church is making - we may be saying "yes" to women bishops but we are also saying "no' to those who hold the dissenting view.

Despite all the talk about mutual flourishing and loyal anglicans this option will have the effect of reducing the breadth of churchmanship in the Church of England and unchurching large numbers of clergy and laity.

* Conservative Evangelical ministers will either have to lie (when taking their canonical oath to a woman) or leave.
* Conservative Evangelical laity will have to risk court action if they appoint the man of their choice.
* All Conservative Evangelicals will have to live as oxymorons - loyal dissenters.

Please pray for all those who will be making decisions about how to move forward on this issue."

God willing, our constituency will be given grace to resist the tyranny of the majority, which historically and in terms of how most churches around the world are ordering their ministry is not a majority at all. It is a sectarian majority that we are up against.

Julian Mann is vicar Parish Church of the Ascension, Oughtibridge, South Yorkshire, UK

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