The second debate at Synod, on Wednesday afternoon, was on Civil Partnerships.
Again, this debate - as originally set out - had a fairly strong perceived agenda. Asking that there be clarity around the area of the Bishops' guidelines on Civil Partnerships especially, as the proposer's background notes pointed out:
... a survey which claims to indicate that the Guidelines have been universally ignored. No discipline appears to have been exercised.Once again, the House of Bishops brought an amendment; once again it was perceived to emasculate the original motion. Interestingly, generally, those more offended by the Bishops' intervention in the first motion were less concerned about it in this motion - or vice versa.
Though some were just annoyed (as previously mentioned) at the Bishops' interventions at all. Mutterings were heard around Synod about:
The Church of England: Episcopally led and Synodically governed?For what it's worth, I was actually grateful for the House of Bishop's amendments on both occasions, as I am not at all sure I felt at ease about voting for either original motion, with their background papers, and dare I say baggage; but felt much happier about supporting something more moderate on each occasion.
Primatially led and Episcopally governed, more like...
Synod, however was not going to led the bishops just get away with it though, and for the second time in the day, a raft of amendments from the floor were presented, and debated.
Strangely, the bishops' own amendment was later further emasculated, I think, in what some considered a strange alliance between conservatives and liberals in the synod - for very different reasons! - voting out several paragraphs the bishops wanted in.
This debate was a little déjà vue, with many of the same speakers from this morning's debate being called again, and giving very similar speeches. Indeed one speaker was called very early, twice, and introduced as a maiden speech on each occasion... Methinks the cream wedding dress was definitely in order second time around.
By the end of the debate, I think synod was tired, and just wanted it over. No more. Let's just get on and vote on something. The final vote, slimmed down, was of course passed by a significant majority; but it did feel like the second debate suffered from being around the same basic subject on the same day.
It could have been (didn't I just say this?) much, much worse. Again. But wasn't.
And ironically, in a number of fringe meetings, I think some real progress on listening, and more, dialogue, was really going on.
Can we please talk about something else now?