Coffee House

The Church of England rejects women bishops

20 November 2012

7:40 PM

20 November 2012

7:40 PM

Gulp. The General Synod of the Church of England has, against almost all expectations, rejected the ordination of women bishops. This seems to represent an early defeat for the incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who earlier had called on his fellow Anglicans to ‘finish the job’ and accept reform.

Secularists and liberals will be baffled – just how fuddy-duddy are those members of the Synod who voted it down? Somehow there still are enough conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Caths in the Synod who are uncomfortable with the measure as it was presented. The chief controversy, it seems, was over provisions for parishes who did not want a woman bishop in charge.

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The rejection is also, counter-intuitively, a defeat for some conservative Roman Catholics, who feel that the only way forward for Christian unity is for the Anglican Church to tear off on its liberal path, leaving a Catholic tradition behind to prosper.

In the 1990s, after the Church of England accepted the ordination of women priests, William Oddie published a bold little book called The Roman Option. In its pages, he predicted the Anglican Communion would inevitably experience more ‘convulsions’ as it grappled with modernity. This in turn would lead to a fundamental ‘realignment’ of Christianity. Two great traditions would emerge, he said, the Catholic and the Reformed – one orthodox, the other liberal.

‘As the wounds of the past healed. These blocks would gradually grow together until, possibly in only a century or two, error and apostasy would fall away like dead skin cells, making way for the union of all Christian peoples.’

Heavy stuff. In recent years, though, Oddie’s thesis had started to look somewhat prophetic. Pope Benedict XVI recently tried to establish a new channel – a special ‘apostolic constitution’ – through which disgruntled Anglicans could approach Rome.

And as Damian Thompson blogged earlier, what with the appointment of Welby and the slow but steady movement of conservative Anglo-Catholics across the Tiber, Anglo-Catholicism looked to be on its last legs. It’s not quite dead yet, though, as tonight’s vote shows. There are more convulsions to come.


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Show comments
  • Derek Rawlins

    The Church of England, like every other organised religion in the world, is nothing more that a hotchpotch of silly rules that no sane human being would bother with.
    Who cares whether women can be bishops or not? Why would any woman want to be a bishop? Talk about a storm in a teacup….

  • David Ossitt

    “The General Synod of the Church of England has, against
    almost all expectations, rejected the ordination of women bishops.”

    Thanks be to God, common sense has prevailed, the ‘hairy one’
    rants that the Church is not in tune with public opinion.

    Why should it be?

  • Daniel Maris

    The Church of England became irrelevant in about 1985. It is now the preserve of narrow-minded anoraked evangelicals, bearded (or sometimes it would seem smooth-cheeked fruitcakes) and hysterical harridans surpressing volcanic sexual urges.

  • Russell

    never trust a man in a frock, especially one wearing a silly hat.

  • Boudicca_Icenii

    I suspect the Christians in the Church of England won’t be too keen on their next Archbishop preparing to change his mind over gay ‘marriage’ then.
    The Bible is pretty unequivocal on that matter, as well.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1607350817 Chris Brammer

    I really don’t understand this preocupation churches have with willies. It is not an organ used in ministering to congregations (or at least it shouldn’t be). It is surely time for acceptance of all people regardless of sex or sexuality who wish to be part of the ministry.
    Like · · 9 hours ago ·

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Stephen-Collins/100000033820132 Stephen Collins

    Betcha all the “no” voters are closet Atheists.

  • Lollard

    They’ll be wanting the Bible in English next

    • David Lindsay

      This vote suggests that at least some of them might actually have read it.

      The Catholic Church on the eve of the Reformation certainly did not prohibit vernacular translations of the Bible. Nothing could be further from the truth.

      The absolute ban on vernacular Bibles was peculiar to England, and was a response to the political threat posed by Lollardy, not anything to do with theology as such.

      And all those making theological decisions could in any case read the Bible, with which their daily liturgical life was shot through.

  • An Accountant

    There is no New Testament warrant for a priesthood other than the ‘priesthood of all believers’. The priesthood established by the early catholic church was a temporal reversion to the priesthood of the Old Testament. Why is a long story which lasted until the Reformation. The Anglican church is a heretical sect and its clergy are not even priests in that catholic sense. The genuinely protestant reformation got rid of priests and re-established the priesthood of all believers of early Christianity. The Anglican church was a half way house, a loosely woven rug with two lunatic fringes. Unfortunately the evangelical wing of the Anglican church is supposedly bible based, but not sufficiently so to get rid of the clergy altogether and so they take it out on women ‘priests’. Just as many of the anglo-catholic clergy have crossed the Tiber at the Pope’s invitation so the evangelicals should move into a house church or whatever and leave Anglicanism in peace to engender the episcopate (not the real one of course, so no one can possibly get upset).

  • TomTom

    Good. Having Priestesses is one thing but High Priestesses goes completely in the direction of Neo-Paganism which is what this Erastian Church is – an appendage of a defunct State

  • http://www.facebook.com/albert.cooper.507 Albert Cooper

    At least Rowan Williams has shown his true colours,and the fight is on in the Roman Catholic Church against Modernism adapting the church for “Modern Times” to the detriment of truth

  • John Guest

    I’m a simple soul and a papist to boot, but I cannot understand how the Holy Ghost – who after all is there to guide the faithful in these matters, has to be qualified by a vote?

    If you are a Catholic then go to Rome – the Pope has made it as easy as he can with the Personal Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. If you are not then you can have “bishops” of any sex or variations of sex you want, it really doesn’t matter as they are not in the apostolic succession anyway!

    • http://www.facebook.com/albert.cooper.507 Albert Cooper

      Totally agree John,I know some high church priests who argue they have the apostolic succession though

      • John Guest

        Arr but if they are CofE clergy then they have signed up to “The 39 Articles” article 37 implicitly breaks the Apostolic Succession does it not?

        • Andy

          No it doesn’t. It affirms the authority of the Queen’s Majesty.

    • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

      Until the prophecy of Malachy comes to pass.

  • Sarah

    Women can’t lead or teach men. Because such men have literally nothing to learn from women. It’s all one way you see.

    The day this poisonous male cult dies, will be a great great day for women. And it will die.

    • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

      So says Lilith.

      • Kron Hjon

        Spot on.

    • Noa

      As one who argues passionately for equality, maybe supremacy, what is your position of women in Islam? Do you, would you, argue for female Muftis and imams?

    • Colonel Mustard

      I served for many years in an organisation where women could and did lead and teach men, some of them very much better than men and some less so. I could not honestly determine any judgement on their individual qualities because of gender and would not want to.

    • TomTom

      You have nothing to teach us Sarah……..women get all the time they need at Primary School to dominate young boys and pay for it in Secondary School…….you should cease to try and be so controlling

  • Sarah

    It’s enough to make you think maybe the male omnipotent, omniscient God of the entire universe, his parliament of magical male angels, his male eternal son, his male know-it-all prophets, his male scribes, his first human male with his tempting, female helpmeet, his male representatives on earth, his female virgin vessel and the sexually ambiguous lord of the underworld are made up by you know – men.

    • Colonel Mustard

      This was not my comment but that of an impostor.

      • Sarah

        I wrote it. There must be some bug in the system.

        Probably some crappy bloke developed it and couldn’t bring himself to ask for instructions.

    • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

      You funny.

    • Kron Hjon

      Are you on medication?

  • mikewaller

    The C of E has a group of supporters who have no voice at Synod: unbelievers who give support in the interests of maintaining fine old buildings and worthwhile traditions. In a very small way I am one such. This has brought me into contact with church people and their ministers. Regarding the latter, one thing I have noticed is the distinctly variable quality of the males and the almost universal high quality of the females. Now, the silly-billies have managed to yet again kick the latter in the teeth. I cannot say that I will be withdrawing my version of the widow’s mite, but I will be markedly increasing the level of contempt in which I hold the (almost certainly, at some level or other, self-serving) poltroons who have bought this about.

    • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

      Resistance to tyranny is obedience to God.

      • mikewaller

        Pray, how many years did you spend in the gulag in consequence of your beliefs?

        • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

          I am simply pointing out that your materialism misses the spiritual question.

          • mikewaller

            I was brought up a Christian ad still consider “Do unto others… ” to be the ultimate criterion of moral behaviour However, from secondary sources I have recently been made aware that one of the instructions given by Moses to “the chosen people” was that on defeating another group they should kill all males without exception and, of the females, they should only spare the virgins whom “they should keep for themselves”. It seems to me from this that one has either to be selective in what one takes from the Bible or, given the above, sign on to wholesale murder.

            Once that conclusion has been reached, it seems to me absurd that very able candidates for the post of Bishop should be turned down simply on account of what someone recently memorably described “as a few dangly bits” , It may be unfair, but my guess would be that if on the female side, the votes of “Thorn-bird” fantasists were taken out of the equation and on the male side, those of folk who “have difficulty with women”, the measure would have sailed through.

            • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

              Do unto others…

              So you expect people to sneer at your faith, selectively quote gory details to paint you as something you are not, and titter with you on matters of sexuality?

              In other words you want people to treat you like a twelve year old.

              Ok… go to your room…

              Happy?

  • David Lindsay

    In declining to permit women bishops, the General Synod of the Church of England has made its most positive decision in decades, possibly ever.

    Christianity is the basis of this state and the foundation of all three of its political traditions. But independent research has found very large proportions of the women among the Church of England’s clergy to be doubters of or disbelievers in key points of doctrine. Two thirds deny “that Jesus Christ was born of a Virgin”. One quarter denies the existence “of God the Father Who created the world”. Assuming a woman on the episcopal “team” in each diocese, of those with privileged access to the media and other organs of national life as the voice of the Christianity professed by 72 per cent of Britons, at least one eighth would have been agnostics or atheists.

    A positive decision to retain declared “Fathers in God” sets the tone for the introduction of a legal presumption of equal parenting. For the restoration of the tax allowance for fathers for so long as Child Benefit was being paid to mothers. For the restoration of the requirement that providers of fertility treatment take account of the child’s need for a father. For repeal of the ludicrous provision for two women to be listed as a child’s parents on a birth certificate, although even that is excelled by the provision for two men to be so listed. And for paternity leave to be made available at any time until the child was 18 or left school.

    That last, in particular, would reassert paternal authority, and thus require paternal responsibility, at key points in childhood and adolescence. That authority and responsibility require an economic basis such as only the State can ever guarantee, and such as only the State can very often deliver: high-wage, high-skilled, high-status employment. All aspects of public policy must take account of this urgent social and cultural need. Not least, the energy sources to be preferred by the State are those providing that secure economic basis of paternal authority in the family and in the wider community. Nuclear power. Coal, not dole.

    And it includes foreign policy, in no small part because those sent to war tend to come from working-class backgrounds, where starting to have children often still happens earlier than has lately become the norm. Think of those very young men whom we see going off or coming home, hugging and kissing their tiny children. Yet our society urgently needs to re-emphasise the importance of fatherhood. That authority cannot be affirmed while fathers are torn away from their children and harvested in wars. You can believe in fatherhood, or you can support wars under certainly most and possibly all circumstances, the latter especially in practice today even if not necessarily in the past or in principle. You cannot do both.

    To argue for this by word and by sheer presence is a role for living icons of God the Father, addressed as “Fathers in God”.

    • Colonel Mustard

      Well said, and bold truths for this day and age.

      • David Lindsay

        You are very kind.

    • Austin Barry

      “In declining to permit women bishops, the General Synod of the Church of England has made its most positive decision in decades, possibly ever.”

      What an absurd statement.

      The Synod is aligning itself with the precepts of the Vatican’s global paedophile conspiracy and the foul misogyny of Islam. Shameful.

      • David Lindsay

        Twenty years ago this month, the General Synod voted to admit women to the presbyterate.

        As much as anything else, by compromising the clear New Testament principle of male headship, the Church of England made it that much more difficult to argue for economic policies that enabled fathers to feed, house and clothe their families, and for foreign policies that protected those families from having those fathers torn away from them and harvested on the battlefield.

        It seems to realise that now. Hence, at least in part, its deafening silence a fortnight or so ago, on and about that anniversary. And hence this vote.

        • TomTom

          New Testament perhaps, but the whole notion of a full-time priesthood paid by the congregation derives from Exodus 28 and Aaron and his children as the priestly caste. The idea that priests should be full-time and paid derives from this Old Testament Book and it is funny how these prelates think they can continue to be freed from working full-time to be Ministers yet act as if they were Civil Servants

      • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

        Did you read the entirety, or just the first sentence and then spew your irreligious nonsense?

  • MrsD

    Very interesting Freddy. But are you suggesting that the synod DELIBERATELY voted against women bishops so as to stop Anglo-catholics hopping over to Rome? That would be both sinister and depressing. Enough to make me jump ship in fact…

    • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

      Sinister is an odd word to use. Given it’s historical usage.

  • Troika21

    Damned if it does, damned if it doesn’t.

  • Noa

    Is a passionate belief in the ordination of women bishops equaled by belief in God?

    • telemachus

      Exactly Noa
      Do those on both sides of the argument understand that such belief makes these questions irrelevant in the grand scheme of things
      Does not such belief lead us to concentrate all our energies on the lot of the poor and the disadvantaged?

      • Fergus Pickering

        No it doesn’t. What do you suppose Jesus meant when he said ‘The poor you have always with you.’? Religion is not social work, old son.

        • telemachus

          Not sure but 4 verses on they covenanted to sell him for thirty pieces of silver.
          This teaches us more about the duplicity of man evidenced at the Synod
          O that Rowan Williams today gets us back on message. I cannot see the Oilman doing it.

          • Baron

            telemachus, you have failed to notice that Luke talks about the one’who has two shirts who should share’. Luke didn’t say the State should requisition shirts from those who have two, give the expropriated garments to the shirtless….

            The way you do it is as crucial as the doing itself. You follow?

        • Noa

          Fergus. The Marxist troll always attaches his drivellings to the first post in order to attract maximum attention. Best not to feed him.

      • Keith

        When you have a secular religion as all-embracing as Socialism, and a Leader as charismatic as Ed Balls, who needs Christianity?

        • telemachus

          Let everyone who possesses two shirts share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise.” (Luke: 3; 11)

          It is not possible to love God without loving one’s fellow man, and putting this love into practice. Unemployment, poverty and its accompanying ills have replaced debauchery as the principal evil. No true Christian can remain indifferent while hundreds of thousands of his countrymen are ill-fed, badly housed, even illiterate, and without rapid medical care. Pained by the sight of so much suffering, many high minded Christians have turned to socialism as the solution.

          • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

            So send in ATOS, set an arbitrary target (based on the deeply flawed Freud report), and stand back an watch the chaos.

          • Baron

            You, sir, have no idea of what genuine suffering entails, many of those who are ‘ill-fed, badly housed, even illiterate, and without rapid medical care’ are in such state because they were conditioned by your lot to rely on the State to look after them.

            If you believe socialism to be the system to right things, you must be deluded far more than your postings imply. Trust Baron, he knows, he lived in socialism, if the verb live is the right one to describe the future you favour.

          • Baron

            and this:

            Luke: Let everyone who possesses two shirts share with him who has none, and let him who has food do likewise.” (Luke: 3; 11).

            So when would you rather live, in times of Luke, or today?

            One cannot multiply wealth by sharing it, and it’s wealth that delivers for all.

    • D B

      Consecration.

  • http://www.acommonreader.org/ A Common Reader

    It is significant that the opposition to women bishops comes from those wings of the church who most hold to a thoroughly *religious* outlook. Conservative Evangelicals really believe the Bible and its teaching that men and women are equal in status but have different roles in life, whereas Anglo-Catholics really believe that the Anglican Church cannot go against the ancient tradition of “The Church” from the earliest days.

    Religion continues to be the biggest opposition to secularism-liberalism. I make no comment about whether that is right however!

    The fastest growing churches are of course those on the Evangelical wing of the church and especially those outside the Anglican fold who can’t be bothered with all this Synodical politicking and go off and form new churches which generally are bursting at the seams with young people leaving the older denominations to languish with tiny congregations of oldies (and young parents who are trying to get their children into denominational schools of course!)

    • LondonVicar

      well said.
      It is because the liberals have not listened to cries for better provision that this result has happened.
      They only have themselves to blame.
      But they will, of course, blame everyone else.
      And say this is why the church is declining.
      For every reason other than their own defunct liberal theology.

      • http://www.acommonreader.org/ A Common Reader

        Quite right. I can never quite see why the absence of women bishops contributes to the decline of the church. Surely its something to do with its incredibly boring services and the reluctance of people to sit in rows on Sundays morning listening to platitudes from the pulpit?

        • telemachus

          Why oh why do devout undoubtedly sincere Christians spend so many tortuous hours on irrelevancies like women bishops and gay marriage? The Gospel of love tells us that we should be directing our energies to the poor and vulnerable – in spirit as well as material.
          We should study the liberation theology of South America and direct our energies away from the material and irrelevancies as the synod discussion today to the well being of our fellow man.

          • Colonel Mustard

            Does the Gospel of Love also tell you to suggest “trumped up charges” to destroy UKIP? Or is that just the Gospel of Labour?

            • telemachus

              Godless brigands have no place in the kingdom
              We must protect and succour the needy
              As we should not waste time on synodical irrelevancies we should also not succour the haughty

              • Colonel Mustard

                “Godless brigands have no place in the kingdom”

                Would Christ have espoused such a view?

          • Austin Barry

            (Tele, old chum, please don’t use ‘Why, oh, why’. It’s the ultimate cliche of letters to the editor, and has been for the last fifty years or so.)

            As to liberation theology, didn’t Soviet-backed Marxist theocratic thugs espouse this right-on nonsense back in the 1980s before Pope John Paul II kicked it into touch?

          • TomTom

            The Bible teaches us that Christ was a 1st Century Orthodox Jew who upheld Torah and that Western Christianity has stripped the Jewish midrash from the Bible to render it incomprehensible and easily diverted into Neo-Paganism. The Judaism of the Boble makes it coherent

            • telemachus

              The Bible teaches love and the equality of man
              The Saviour had no time for the machinations of bureaurocracy and policy minutiae represented by the Synod
              For ten years a substantial effort of otherwise good men has been diverted to the narrow doctrinal points voted on yesterday
              Meanwhile in our inner cities children beg and elderly die in fuel poverty
              In Nigeria Churches are burned and children of Christian families are shot
              Do we not all need to readjust our priorities

              • TomTom

                NO. There is no “Equality” in The Bible – Philistines are not equal to children of Judah or Benjamin and those inside Jericho were not equal to those outside. You should read the New Testament and see how much of the sayings of Jesus came directly from Leviticus and perhaps you will note that it was Paul who accepted Greeks not Jesus whose disciples were Jews. The core message was FAITH without which NOTHING……so you might reflect on when “Synod” was created….1970

                • telemachus

                  Absolutely faith, without which nothing
                  And from faith, Grace
                  And through Grace, the love and succour of fellow man

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Except when that fellow man is a member of UKIP, or a Tory, or anyone telemachus’ politics do not approve of whereupon they can be made the victim of “trumped up charges”. Christianity has always jousted with such hypocrisy both within and without.

                  Nothing disturbs me more than the thought of this low troll espousing its values.

                • telemachus

                  The succour is to the poor the disadvantaged and those with poverty of spirit.
                  Those espousing UKIP undoubtedly have poverty of spirit from which they must be saved

                • Colonel Mustard

                  Which doesn’t address the hypocrisy of your position. How does destroying them with “trumped up charges” succour their poverty of spirit? You do realise that encouraging the making of false allegations is a criminal offence covered under the common law of perverting the course of public justice? The actual wording of the offence is ‘Where a person deliberately makes a false allegation about an offence in order to have a person arrested.’ which you seem to have been encouraging against members of UKIP.

          • Kron Hjon

            Why stop at liberation theology? Why not study Marxism immediatly? The Bible is quite clear about homosexuality by the way. In short: Don’t!

            • TomTom

              Decay is a human condition and Decadence is its result……the history of the world is littered with diversions from the Word of God as even Jesus found in his day…….and then the Romans took everything off in another direction

          • TomTom

            You are a secularist just like the heterodox in the Church itself. Jesus did not speak of this material world but of the world to come…..the ramblings of the Secularists are not “Christian” but Humanist and not defined by Worship of Deity but are anthropomorphism and basically paganism

            • telemachus

              I believe not labels
              See above the faith,Grace, succour sequence

        • LondonVicar

          Our church is growing.

          And we have pews no longer – comfy chairs.

          It all depends on quality of teaching and leadership

          • telemachus

            The furniture is less important than the message
            If we turn from comfortable self to service we will spread the word by example
            I agree-teaching, leadership, motivation but also feedback by relevance of the message to make a difference personally and to Society

            • TomTom

              Religion is to ESCAPE Society and focus on a Better World To Come…..besides which Christians are forbidden from participating in this society so should isolate themselves from it and build their own separate communities

              • telemachus

                Now just where does it say all that?

                • TomTom

                  Luke 9:5

        • Glenn Haldane

          No it’s to do with the decline of faith. If you have no faith, all the rest is irrelevant

        • TomTom

          Platitudes certainly from people who seem devoid of real passion or enthusiasm and are usually worse educated than the congregation – no wonder men 50+ have emptied the pews

        • Fergus Pickering

          Lord, if you find Church services incredibly boring I hope you never have to be present at a. a political meeting b. a football match. I will never willingly be in attendance at venues for these activities EVER again. On the other hand a church service is quite relaxing.

          • telemachus

            It is not meant to be relaxing
            It should fire you up to serve

      • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

        Surely you are not suggesting that the liberals have been so focused on entryism that they ignored the congregation?

        That’s not like liberals at all.

        • LondonVicar

          What like Giles Fraser who spends so much time in the media that his church does not even have his name painted up outside yet, or indeed a decent website?

    • Sarah

      Equal status, but some statuses are more equal than others.

      The male status just happens to be the one that confers all the, you know, status.

      • Boudicca_Icenii

        It’s not dissimilar to “all the animals are equal, but the pigs are more equal.”

        • http://elfnhappiness.blogspot.com/ eeore

          “The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and
          from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was
          which.”

      • TomTom

        Confers nothing Sarah….highly competitive in the man’s world trying to assert yourself and stay ahead – stop looking for an easy ride

  • Chris

    The Church of England is completely irrelevant to the lives of all but a few thousand people in this country (the same goes for the other religions).

    • http://www.acommonreader.org/ A Common Reader

      Like Islam?

      • LondonVicar

        quite.
        We have to hear enough about Islam.
        Especially on Radio 4’s Sunday programme !

        • TomTom

          There is not a day goes by that Islam is not in the media….but days pass without Christian suffering under Islam ever being mentioned

          • LondonVicar

            I think coverage is slowly increasing.

            The BBC are beginning to cover Nigeria etc.

            But they are so careful about Islam that it has to be v bad for them to do that.

    • LondonVicar

      irrelevant only except when they want to get buried.
      And they want some service with some meaning, rather than ‘I did it my way’ and some naff sounding humanist official to lead it.

      • http://www.acommonreader.org/ A Common Reader

        , point taken. I am a Quaker by the way so am well qualified to talk about decline!

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