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Monday, 6 February 2006

Three bites - the first nibble - (4) 6Feb2006

We are promised ‘three bites’ at the cherry of this Synod’s meeting. There is much else of importance other than debating Women Bishops at this group of sessions. (I fear many of the key agenda items may not get much of a mention outside the synod itself - rural affairs, hospital chaplaincy, human genome, anniversary of the abolition of slavery, carbon emissions, conversations with the Baptists, the upkeep of historic buildings, and a number of others come to mind… Don’t ever be fooled into thinking Synod members are just meeting for a ‘jolly’…)

At three points though, Women in the Episcopacy appears (differently) in the proceedings. We later look at the ‘Guildford’ report, over a very vicarage garden party cup of TEA :o) - and then also look at possible legislative ways forward. Today it was (after a skirmish about whether it should be a presentation or a debate) hearing the responses from the other denominations. Useful background information (GS Misc 807) had been provided, and there were contributions from the Roman Catholic, Methodist and United Reformed representatives; though sadly none from either other denominations, nor indeed from other parts of the worldwide Anglican Communion.

Some responses were predictable. The Roman Catholic representative was able to add little to the ‘what is written, is written’ response of the Catholic Bishops’ conference. The Methodists pertinently asked, as one of their current reports does - what sort of Bishops? Several mentioned, in local ecumenical meetings, having to hold the CofE together because of its own internal factions. That was painful to hear, as it is all too close to reality.

And one speaker reminded us that, interesting as it was to comment on the CofE position on the consecration of Women Bishops, actually it was the relationship of these churches with the Anglican Communion as a whole that was the issue - and din at quite a number of Provinces in the Anglican Communion already have Women Bishops? So that’s the li’l old CofE popped back in its place then!

Alastair GS101

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