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Monday, 8 February 2010

Opening of Synod, and where are the Women Bishops?

Usually the first day of Synod includes a plan of what is to come.

There are the expected welcomes and introductions, and usualy something from the Business Committee (who set the order and the agenda for Synod meetings).

So no Women Bishops debate this February. The Bishop of Manchester's Legislative drafting group had just too many people to hear from, and too many individual submissions to be able to come to this synod with legislation his time around.

The Bishop of Manchester was timetabled to give an update - most of which Ruth Gledhill was able to post about even before the words came out of his mouth. The Business Committee decided to prevent any discussion or even questions following the presentation, which I thought was a shame, but would probably have been some of the 'same old, same old' speeches, with no immediate way of concluding - so perhaps they were right.

However, this has triggered two things in my mind. After the Pope Benedict XVI signalled the Apostolic Constitution last October, Bishop Andrew Burnham suggested that the Feast of the Chair of St Peter (22 February) as a suitable day for clergy and parishes to "make an initial decisions" as to whether they wanted 'go' or not. That of course, on an earlier understanding of the debate timetable, would have come immediaely after discussions at this February Synod. The synical in me wondered if it would have allowed dramatic taking their ball away if the debate had not gone in the way they wanted. So now, with no extra debate, what wil the 'decisions' on 22 Feb be? I am guessing much less portentous.

Curious also that Reform should have used the start day of Synod to get publicity for their 'Warning to Synod' (dated 8 Feb) over women bishops. And after being on the go since late 2007, the number of clergy signatories on this is reported as, well, 50. (Recent church stats reveal over 12,000 licensed clergy, and a further 4,500 active retired clergy.)

Alastair GS 101

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