7. The simplicity of the legislation now agreed by the General Synod is reflected in the fact that it makes no changes to the structures of the Church of England, leaves unaltered the position of each diocesan bishop as Ordinary and preserves the historic requirement for canonical obedience to the diocesan bishop ‘in all things lawful and honest’ and for the taking of oaths acknowledging this duty.*
8. The practical arrangements to be made for parishes which, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the priestly or episcopal ministry of women need to be made with the same principle of simplicity in mind.
* Canon C 1.3 provides that “According to the ancient law and usage of this Church and Realm of England, the priests and deacons who have received authority to minister in any diocese owe canonical obedience in all things lawful and honest to the bishop of the same … ”. By way of acknowledgement of that duty, under Canon C 14 clergy are required on various occasions to make or reaffirm the Oath of Canonical Obedience to their diocesan bishop. But we are advised that, in the light of the decision of the Privy Council in Long v Bishop of Capetown (1863), the duty of obedience does not require the cleric to comply with any and every direction given by the bishop; rather, it requires the cleric to obey such directions as the diocesan bishop is authorised by law to give.
For discussion of the issue of canonical obedience to the Ordinary, see the commentary on the first Guiding Principle.
Paragraph 7 raises the specific issue of the Oath of Canonical Obedience.
The footnote points out that the Oath does not create a duty of obedience to the Ordinary, but merely acknowledges an existing duty.
It also explains that canonical obedience does not require a priest or deacon to obey a direction that the law does not authorize a bishop to give. For example, a bishop cannot require a priest to receive communion from him or her, or to attend a celebration of the Eucharist at which the bishop presides.