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Daily View: Women bishops

Clare Spencer | 09:54 UK time, Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Commentators discuss the Church of England's decision to allow women bishops.

The Times editorial says [subscription required] the divide in the Church puts Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, in a difficult position:


"Either he pursues compromise for the health of the wider communion and Christian unity, at the expense of the logic and principles that he surely recognises. Or he postpones the search for unity by causing offence to traditionalists who seek above all an eventual union with Rome. This is a circle that cannot be squared. Dr Williams's attempt to straddle the divide between radically opposed positions will fail and has damaged his authority. The same is true of Dr Sentamu.
"It is more in keeping with the Church's principles, and with Dr Williams's own instincts, to right an historic wrong than to cater to the demands of a semi-detached minority."

Bishop of Fulham, Father John Broadhurst, says on the BBC Today programme that he can't accept women bishops and says there will be serious consequences to ignoring the wishes of people like him:

"I think there is a split. The problem we've got that the Church of England promised Parliament that it would make permanent provision for us [those against women bishops] and it is now reneged on that promise and has now saying to us: 'Go away if you won't accept what we want'... It's not a very Christian way for a group to behave. We have serious theological opposition to women bishops...
"I think that it is inevitable that people are forced out. We have been dispossessed of our own church. Simple as that.... People have to decide whether they knuckle under, whether they go or whether they defy it."

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The chairman of the organisation Reform which aims to change the Church of England in accordance with scriptures Reverend Rod Thomas said on BBC 5Live Drive that his belief that women shouldn't be bishops isn't to do with equality but is instead about theology:

"It goes back to what we think the Bible teaching about how the Church should organise itself and the way the Church organises itself tells everyone else around something very important about God's relationship with his people. So the role of men in the Church is supposed to tell people something very important about God, about his leadership but also about that fact that he leads by self-sacrifice. It tells everyone around something very important. If you muddle up those roles you no longer can demonstrate what the bible wants us to demonstrate."

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The media officer of campaign group WATCH (Women and the Church) Sally Barnes argues in the Guardian that the women have always been a problem for the Church, which is inconsistent with teachings:

"In this whole debate no one ever seems to bring into the picture Jesus, on whom Christianity is founded, who crossed the cultural boundaries of his time with regard to women. He loved, talked with, taught and healed them when others would have sent them away. He showed by his actions that he did not need any 'protection' from women any more than we do in our time. It was a woman, after all, he charged with telling his followers that he had risen - mind you she was not believed at first either.
"The tragic thing is that this whole debate has been a real stumbling block to the mission of the church, especially for our sisters, daughters and granddaughters, who draw inferences about themselves as the faulty half of creation and say, 'No thanks'."

In her blog Reverend Lesley describes herself as a conservative evangelical and says she used to be against women bishops because she was ignorant. She challenges the reasons people give for being against women bishops:

"Jesus was a man, he appointed twelve disciples who were men, and they laid hands on other men who became Bishops and so it went on... Jesus's twelve disciples were men, yes, but they were also Jewish and circumcised, should we insist on this?"

David Virtue says in Virtue Online that women bishops will sink the Church of England as he says they have done in the American Episcopal Church:

"In terms of Average Sunday Attendance and general population growth in those dioceses [run by women], the losses have ranged from 21% (Maine) to 49% in Nevada (former diocese of Jefferts Schori)...
"The answer as to what women bishops in The Episcopal Church have achieved is nothing. If they were CEO's of small corporations, they would all have been fired for failure, at the very least, to maintain growth and expand it, that is, show a return (on the plate) for future growth. All these dioceses are contracting with an average parishioner age in the low to mid 60s with the average size congregation now below 70."

Links in full

Times | Church Unmilitant
Sally Barnes | Guardian | High time for women bishops
John Broadhurst | BBC Today Programme
Reverend Lesley | Why do people not want Women Bishops?
David Virtue | Virtue Online | Women Bishops Will Sink the Church of England As They Have Done In the Episcopal Church

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