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General Synod: Archbishop Justin on women bishops

Anna Gowthorpe/PA

Monday 8th July 2013

Read the Archbishop's remarks during today's Synod debate in which members voted to restart the legislative process to allow women to become bishops

The following transcript has been edited for clarity in several places

As has been widely agreed this is not about whether but about how, so that women are ordained on exactly the same basis as men and all parts of the Church of England may be enabled to flourish.

But history and contemporary experience shows that  detailed arrangements  not only embed division, they are also unworkable and lead to frequent and  prolonged litigation. My last twelve months’ experience with Parliamentary Banking Standards has shown this very adequately. If they do not lead to litigation they invite attempts, through clever reading, to ensure a desired outcome. And if they do not lead to gaming the system they invite a box-ticking approach that seeks to conform to the letter not to the spirit.

I therefore strongly support an approach that is between Options 1 and 2, including the Dover amendment, with the extra work needed as suggested by the Archbishop of York. I also strongly support Bishop Peter Broadbent’s scheme, although, as our last speaker so correctly said, we must recognise that while it is certainly the right thing to do it will require hard work and generosity to have any effect. As was just said there are neither magic processes any more than there are magic solutions that get us off the hook of needing a commitment to mutual flourishing.

The approach before us is a radical way forward. It provides the possibility of building trust, it gives us space for imagination, and it affirms an inclusive approach that is consistent with our previous resolutions – as I have said, the commitment to ordaining women as bishops on exactly the same basis as men, and the flourishing together of all parts of the church. The approach we have in this amended resolution sets a clear principle combined with a follow-through to the consensus building approach that we are developing.

I hope the Synod will take the opportunity of setting a clear general direction while leaving space for discussion and debate in various ways. I entirely agree that it is essential that the simple and clear five principles command wide support and ownership here and across the whole church, and have strong boundaries. They must be discussed, debated and agreed, be very robust, and closely followed and monitored. Essentially they are to be an electrified ring-fence. Thus the resolution, amended as we have agreed, combined with Bishop Peter Broadbent’s scheme, seems to me the best way forward.

Read more about the vote on women bishops legislation at General Synod today


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