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Monday, 9 July 2012

The General Synod postpones the final decision on women bishops

Today, Monday 9 July, was to have been the day when the General Synod would take the final vote on the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure. Members of this diocese will recall that our own Diocesan Synod and Bishop's Council gave approval to the Measure in the form it was referred to dioceses 18 months ago. (42 of the 44 dioceses gave their approval). The House of Bishops has the power to amend the draft Measure, and indeed, did make 2 amendments. One of them, to clause 5, proved to be controversial. 

The clause 5 amendment was intended to ensure that when a parochial church council requests under the Measure that the Diocesan Bishop provide a male bishop to minister to them, that the exercise of ministry by a bishop so delegated be consistent with the theological convictions of those opposed to the consecration or ordination of women which prompted the Letter of Request in the first place. Thus the clause 5 amendment sought to address the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient.
Clearly the mind of the Synod was to ask the House of Bishops to think again, and the following motion was carried (for 288, against 144, abstentions 15):

'That the debate be now adjourned to enable the new clause 5(1)(c) inserted by the House of Bishops into the draft Measure entitled "Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure" to be reconsidered by the House of Bishops.'

So the draft Measure will now go back to the House of Bishops. The House will meet on 11 and 12 September and will pay special attention to the amendment it made which evidently caused the Synod to press the pause button on the final decision. The final approval debate by the General Synod will now be held at a group of sessions  scheduled for 19 - 21 November. 
The official press release about all this can be found here.

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