grrr…. the wordpress plugin which should automatically display the tweets isn’t working properly. I’ll try and get it fixed asap

The Yes2Women Bishops site has launched, run by the anonymous Church Mouse (twitter).

John Richardson has some interesting things to say and I’d thought I’d add a few.

First, a little look at the “why” rationale presented and the first clause:

1. The measure is fair admitting women to the episcopate without limitations on their authority, whilst also providing statutory provision, confirmed by legal advice, for those who cannot accept women bishops for theological reasons.

Now I put it to you that this, and this alone, ought to be enough for you to realise the argument is bunk and I tried to explain as much to the Church Mouse on teh twitterz. He claims:

Which is simply not true, as I replied…

and further clarified…

Now, the response was interesting:

Well, yes. Since they are the dissenters that the legislation seeks to “protect”. The provision required has already been outlined – it actually already exists in the current women priests legislation but that is now going to be swept away.

So here’s the bottom line. You simply cannot claim that the legislation is “fair” and provides “statutory provision” for dissenters when those very same dissenters tell you it’s not adequate. They’re not being “hard-line” or deliberately unhelpful – they just want adequate protection and the current legislation provides next to zero assurance of it. Again, if you’re in any doubt then ask them and see what they say.

Oh, and of course Fulcrum are supporting the campaign. Because, as we’ve noted before, defending “fellow” evangelicals seems very low on their priority list.

One last thing. I take it that there is no certainty that this legislation will pass by the 2/3 majority required. I say that because this campaign Yes2Women bishops and the videos produced by Church House are both beginning to look a bit desperate. If they were certain of the result do you think they would be pushing away like this?

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11 comments on ““Yes 2 Women Bishops” – No to Fair Treatment of Conservatives

  1. David

    Thanks for linking to our website. You are quite right that this campaign is happy to support alternative provision for those opposed, and we believe that this is in the measure. However, I disagree that the existence of opponents is sufficient evidence that this provision is not fair. I can only refer back to the legal advice provided by Church House lawyers which says very clearly,

    “The effect of the amendment would not merely be to require that guidance be given on the issue of the selection of male bishops and male priests: like some of the other possible amendments, it would impose a requirement as to the end to which that guidance is directed – in this case, that the selection of male bishops and male priests be such as to respect the grounds on which PCCs issue Letters of Request under the Measure.

    3. The effect of the use of the word ‘respect’ in that context is to require the Code of Practice to give guidance to the effect that, in selecting a male bishop or male priest, the person(s) making the selection would need to seek to address, or accommodate, the grounds on which a PCC has issued its Letter of Request. They could not simply fail to give effect to those grounds at all, even if they considered that there were cogent grounds for doing so.”

    What this means is that alternative provision is guaranteed and legally binding within the measure itself. It is on this basis that I can say with a clear conscience that I believe this measure provides fair provision under which everyone can remain and flourish within the Church.

    • It is on this basis that I can say with a clear conscience that I believe this measure provides fair provision under which everyone can remain and flourish within the Church.

      And yet, most notably, those to whom it applies reject it.
      So your conscience may be “clear” but I would suggest it has to be remarkably seared to think it’s appropriate to insist this is acceptable.

      And it’s also worth considering what that word “respect’ actually means to those involved. For FiF, Reform and others when they see “respect” they don’t feel it at all. But don’t let that stop you attempting to push this thing through. After all, what’s the worst that could really happen to dissenters? It’s not as though they’re going to be completely marginalised or anything. Is it?

  2. David

    I wouldn’t speak for FiF too soon – they’ve yet to come out against the legislation.

    Perhaps I can repeat the question I asked you twice on Twitter, but you didn’t answer – if this provision is not enough, exactly what do you think would be a credible alternative?

    • As has been pointed out to you a few times already, previous versions of 5(1)(c) were being seriously considered. While they may not have loved it, I think there was a good chance some of the earlier drafts could have been accepted.

      But the consistent drift away from that does not build confidence.

      But it’s actually more than that. As others note, it’s not simply that the legislation has nice sounding words but that it comes in a context of genuine affirmation of the conservative position as being valid. As we push on towards the vote it’s clear that at least some of the influential proponents of women bishops have no genuine intention to honour that position.

      In that context, the legislation offers no credible protection.

      This has been done to death, mouse. These arguments are well publicised and it’s a little disingenuous to act as though you’re ignorant of them.

  3. David – I’m rather stunned at what you have just confessed. You have made it clear that you will oppose any measure, because it isn’t really about the measure. This is almost unbelievable.

    On the first point – that you would have been able to live with Clause 5.1c in its previous incarnation, I can only say that it was rather foolish of Reform to instruct its members to vote against this if it was considered a formula that was in fact acceptable. http://reform.org.uk/news/src/archive/06-2012 To oppose it at the time, then to argue that it was really what you wanted later can only leave some wondering what is going on.

    But then you give the game away with your second point. You say that in fact it doesn’t really matter what the legislation says. What you really want is “some of the influential proponents of women bishops” to sound more convincing when they say that they are happy to retain an honoured position for traditionalists.

    So, this gets us to my conclusion. The law does matter, and the current provision is sensible. The legal advice tells us that it is robust. I will repeat that I am happy to retain statutory provision for traditionalists – and it is in the measure.

    • You have made it clear that you will oppose any measure, because it isn’t really about the measure.

      Um no, quite the contrary. I’ve never said I would oppose any measure. I’ve simply pointed that the current measure is insufficient in terms of it’s protection for conservatives. Unless, of course, you can point specifically to where I’ve stated I would never accept any measure. Or, alternatively, do me the courtesy of retracting.

      On the first point – that you would have been able to live with Clause 5.1c in its previous incarnation, I can only say that it was rather foolish of Reform to instruct its members to vote against this if it was considered a formula that was in fact acceptable. http://reform.org.uk/news/src/archive/06-2012 To oppose it at the time, then to argue that it was really what you wanted later can only leave some wondering what is going on.

      Well, here’s what they actually said in the piece you link to. I fear you were not reading it carefully enough:

      Reform has put forward or supported a number of possible compromise scenarios which would enable Reform members to continue to see a secure future for our position within the Church of England. These have included Transferred Episcopal Arrangements, transferred jurisdictions, establishment of religious societies and creation of a third province. At General Synod 2010 Reform members backed the co-ordinate jurisdiction proposal put forward by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York – a proposal which was less than ideal for us but which we nevertheless supported.

      So they supported a suitable measure, one also put forward by the Primates. Again, it’s simply incorrect to suggest that suitable compromise positions haven’t been put forward nor supported, and that at a large degree of compromise to the point of being prepared to work with something “less than ideal for us”.

      But now people like me, and Reform, and FiF and others are faced with what is effectively a far more diluted “protection” which is perceived as no real protection at all.

      You say that in fact it doesn’t really matter what the legislation says. What you really want is “some of the influential proponents of women bishops” to sound more convincing when they say that they are happy to retain an honoured position for traditionalists.

      No, again “in fact” I have never said that. I have simply pointed out that there is a complicating factor in all of this which is a stunning intransigence upon some proponents of women bishops – they indicate quite clearly that they are simply unable to accept any proper provision. This, and the way the debate has moved forward, has contributed to a deepening lack of trust. It is, of course, indicative of a general marginalisation of conservative positions across the board.

      I will repeat that I am happy to retain statutory provision for traditionalists – and it is in the measure.

      And yet, once again, they’ve made it perfectly clear that it’s insufficient. So, there eventually comes a point where you have to decide between clear choices.

      1. call them liars – they’re deliberately not telling the truth when they say it’s insufficient. – you appear to be leaning this way in your comments and it displays, if I might say so, a stunning lack of generosity to take them at their word when they’ve already shown that they’re prepared to accept a number of compromises.

      2. take them at their word and seek to formulate a provision that meets their clearly stated needs. To their credit, the Archbishops worked hard at this and found a solution that, while by no means perfect, Reform were happy to accommodate themselves to.

      there is of course the third path, which is what is effectively happening.

      3. ignore them. After all, who really cares about them anyway? Let’s just push the legislation through no matter what the cost.

      You should understand that, as things stand, that is pretty much how it’s starting to come across. For all the nice-sounding words about our comprehensiveness and the broad nature of our church, at the end of the day there is a bulk who are quite happy to see the conservatives pushed off the cliff. And then they wonder why they might be so upset about the whole thing.

      Imagine that, we’re about to push out those who have done nothing except simply retain their convictions. Convictions which the church currently understands to have full integrity. And why? So that we can push through what is, in effect, a theological novelty. It ought to make us all stop and think.

  4. Oh dear, David. The more we talk the less we seem to understand each other – the opposite of my intention!

    The point I’ve tried to make from the very start is that if you’re saying that the current provision is inadequate, you must explain why and what would be better.

    Then we can have a discussion about it on its own merits, without resorting to questioning the motives of ‘the other side’. I’m afraid you’ve still not said why you don’t like the provisions as they stand, other than concerns that:

    “it’s clear that at least some of the influential proponents of women bishops have no genuine intention to honour that position.

    In that context, the legislation offers no credible protection.”

    That is why I said that you seem to be opposing any measure – because you said explicitly that it isn’t really about the measure.

    My case, once again, is that it provides statutory provision for alternative oversight by a suitable male bishop. Further, it is accessible without complex resolutions of PCCs, but simply by writing a letter.

    To be fair, you have tried to set out an alternative you’re happier with. After having a go with Clause 5.1c earlier version, you now seem to be suggesting that what you really want is co-ordinate jurisdiction? Sadly, that is not a credible option, since it has already been defeated in Synod by a simple majority. It has no hope of winning 2/3 majority support. Not to mention its total incoherence as a concept.

    Perhaps I can help you out here. Reform and the Catholic Group’s proposal is not to try to resurrect co-ordinate jurisdiction, but to scrap the legislation entirely and try again. Sadly, they offer no specifics of what an alternative could look like.

    So. I have no intention of questioning the motives of those who take a different view. I have said time and again, that I want fair provision. But unless you can explain what is wrong with the current provision and outline a credible alternative, I can only rely on my judgement. Which is that the statutory provision we have is fair and robust. And you needn’t take my word for its robustness – we have a legal opinion from Church House lawyers on that point.

    • you said explicitly that it isn’t really about the measure

      No, I said it isn’t just about the words of the measure – it’s also about the atmosphere of mistrust in which the measure is proposed

      it provides statutory provision for alternative oversight by a suitable male bishop

      no it doesn’t. It calls for a Code of Practice. Nobody has seen the Code of Practice therefore to claim that it’s sufficient is ludicrous since we don’t know exactly what is proposed!

      Not to mention its total incoherence as a concept.
      well that’s strange – since a form of it has been working since 1993. Has it been incoherent since then? All that conservatives are asking for is something equivalent.

      Reform and the Catholic Group’s proposal is not to try to resurrect co-ordinate jurisdiction, but to scrap the legislation entirely and try again.

      So, for absolute clarity, when they write:

      Reform members backed the co-ordinate jurisdiction proposal put forward by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York – a proposal which was less than ideal for us but which we nevertheless supported.

      you are saying that it’s simply not true? ie, that they’re lying?

      Were they telling the truth when they write that it was “a proposal … which we supported” (i.e. that they were willing to work with a legislated compromise that included having women consecrated as bishops)? Or was that a lie on their part?

      Perhaps you might clarify your position. I know that you go on to write “I have no intention of questioning the motives of those who take a different view” but you appear in every way implying the exact opposite.

      Again, it’s incredibly uncharitable.

      • David

        Sorry, but I refuse to start making implications about peoples’ motivations, and I certainly won’t call anyone a liar.

        The statutory nature of the provision is confirmed by the legal advice to synod. It is in the measure as to the effect that the code must have, and is therefore statutory in nature. The Code can only be written in such a way as to effect that provision and it is therefore guaranteed in the measure. This is an absolutely vital point. You needn’t rely on something you haven’t seen. It is in the face of the measure, and this is confirmed by legal advice to synod.

        You are right that the recently issued document says that Reform and the Catholic Group on Synod backed co-ordinate jurisdiction at the time it was debated, but when it comes to their proposals for the future it absolutely does not call for that to be resurrected. It calls for this to be voted down and for the whole thing to start again. It is crazy to think that a proposal that has been defeated by a simple majority will somehow achieve a 2/3rds majority without something pretty big happening in the mean time.

        For a point of clarity, it is actually very interesting that the statement is NOT from Forward in Faith. The statement is from Reform and the Catholic Group on Synod. I swapped emails with FiF yesterday and today, and they tell me that they will be releasing a statement late next week. This is rather intriguing, but we’ll have to wait and see what they say. Their last statement on the matter was actually pretty balanced, and did not call for synod to vote down the proposal.

        I have to repeat David, that I am absolutely genuine that I think the measure is fair, and that I believe it is one in which everyone can remain in the Church and flourish. I am completely genuine that this is my hope and prayer, and that I have no intention of seeking to marginalise or force out anyone from the Church. I believe the measure meets the concerns you have articulated – it is legally binding in the face of the measure and it provides for alternative oversight from a suitable bishop. I know that you are still not able to support, but I can’t see any other way forward that would command widespread support.

        I understand that there is mistrust, scepticism and fear on both sides of this debate. Which is why I feel so passionately that we should unite behind the measure.

        • Sorry, but I refuse to start making implications about peoples’ motivations, and I certainly won’t call anyone a liar.

          But you already have. On this thread you have repeatedly indicated that you think conservatives are not negotiating in good faith. Why won’t you now own your comments as what they are?

          I understand that there is mistrust, scepticism and fear on both sides of this debate. Which is why I feel so passionately that we should unite behind the measure.

          And here is a key issue. You want to force those who are losing trust to agree to a measure which they do not trust. That does not breed unity, it’s simply enforced compliance. In the Christian life unity is won by shared convictions – when there is no sharing of convictions (as there clearly is not here) then you will never have unity.

          But what you certainly will have is a sizeable minority who will be increasingly coerced and marginalised. These concerns have been laid out quite clearly and in detail and yet you repeatedly dismiss them.

          What pains me most about this is that you seem either genuinely naïve about this or you simply don’t care. I’m not sure, at the moment, which I find more distressing.

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