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Wednesday, 11 February 2009

Women Bishops: Blogging It Live

Useful links: You might want to look at any or either of the Order Paper, the Report from the Drafting Group, the Draft Measure, the Draft Amending Canon, the Illustrative Code of Practice or the Explanatory Memorandum.

The fact that we don't have a whole series of amendments means that there is unlikely to be very much concrete to report in real time. I plan (if I can find a place in the Chamber with a power supply and wifi signal) to update this blog entry with whatever I find subjectively interesting as the debate goes on - as well as a report on any major upsets! So, refreshing this page regularly should give you an idea of the progress of the debate.

I also plan to use Twitter to send very brief notes of anything interesting that is said, although that too depends upon circumstances. I don't want to have to do it from my mobile as I am the world's slowest texter...

So, it begins with +Manchester speaking for up to 15 minutes to introduce the motion. There will follow two 7 minute speeches from the different perspectives. Then we move to the normal time limits.

The Chairman has said that more than 80 people put in to speak, so it's going to mean disappointment for several...

Highlights of +Manchester's speech.
1. Note that this is a new stage in the process. The fact that amendments were defeated in July is not an obstacle to proposing them again. "It's open season once again and everything is renewable."

The aim is to have a Revision in full Synod next Feb. - it will take that long for the Revision Committee to get through the submissions they will receive.

The two long introductory speeches from Christina Rees (Chair of WATCH) and +Beverley - one of the PEVs

Christina described the draft measure as a 'jigsaw put together with a hammer - pieces don't quite fit properly'. She is particularly concerned about the specially nominated suffragan sees and how their holders might relate to the House of Bishops as a whole.
She is also worried about what conclusion to draw from the aspects of the provisions that in her view perpetuate an idea of women as in some way a 'flawed creation'.

+Beverley thinks that the legislation does not do the job. It doesn't enable people to stay if conscientiously opposed. Jurisdiction remains the problem - his theology demands that he remains in full communion with the diocesan bishop - that he is able to regard him as father in God. On a Code of Practice - he was convinced that it will be chipped away once Act of Synod is rescinded. He urged those sympathetic to him to support him in rejecting the legislation at this point.

The Archbishop of Canterbury thinks we want to vote for something manifestly good news for all of us. Are the proposals now good news for anyone? Is the Revision process going to give us the space to work out continued problems? If it isn't good news for everyone in the end, there is something missing. He is guardedly optimistic, but reminded people that he abstained in July because he was not convinced that the motion then was good news for all of us.

Very good speech from +Norwich. He doesn't like it - he thinks the legislation will create a damaged episcopate and he can't see what could be done in revision to make it better. It all seems to be about avoiding ministry. He will vote against the measure because he doesn't sense the leap of joy and feeling of anticipation that good news should bring. God will show us a better way in time.

Some other brief notes. +Bath and Wells very wisely suggests that we really ought to be thinking more about wider issues of gender - in particular whether we still need to be thinking simply in terms of issues of power. Edward Keen, one of the Synod Youth Reps wants us to reject the legislation now as it doesn't make enough provision. Rod Thomas - an evangelical opponent - suggests that we should vote against for three reasons. The first so that proponents too can experience defeat, secondly to send a message to the Revision Committee, and thirdly to show those who think the way he does that the rest of us still care...

A random thought. It is looking quite balanced at the moment - voices in favour and against as always - but I would very much like to know how many of those 80+ requests to speak were in favour of the motion and how many against. It's not just the usual suspects standing up, and even though we are hearing some of the same stuff as ever, there is a different feeling this time around. Can't put my finger on it exactly, but I am not entirely convinced just now that this is going to go through.

+Dover. Three points: 1. Code of Practice represents the majority deciding what they think should satisfy the concerns of a minority. 2. The Code of Practice is not liked by anybody. 3. Current legislation demands that at the start of a bishop's ministry he or she has to delegate some of their powers. He would like to see a 'Fresh Expression of Bishop..."

Archbishop of York endorses comments about Revision Committee being able to do anything. But he also doesn't like the Code of Practice. I think what he's asking us to do is pass it this time, and then try to get the Statutory provisions back afterwards - not that he said it directly.

The summary so far is something like this. Nobody likes what is currently on the table. Some people don't like it so they want to kick it out now. Some people don't like it but they think they might be able to live with it. Some people think that we can use the Revision Committee to do it all over again so that we come up with something else. This is all a bit mad.

+Manchester now summing up.

Moment of truth. For:281 Against:114 Abstained:13

So that's the Draft Measure through - we now have formally to dispatch the Amending Canon in the same way. It's interesting that there was such a majority - we are at 2/3 of the whole Synod, which I hadn't expected. It's also interesting that we did not have a vote by Houses.

Short debate now on the Amending Canon - ssdm really (same stuff, different motion) except for one glimmer of relief fron John Freeman, suggesting that perhaps if episcopal oversight was exercised by the whole House of Bishops corporately then it might solve our problems...

So now the vote on the Amending Canon. For:309 Against:79 Abstentions:14

(GS 373)

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