The Act of Synod and the House of Bishops’ Declaration

Posted on the 12th Feb 2014

As part of the package of proposals regarding the ordination of women to the episcopate in the Church of England, the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 is to be replaced by a House of Bishops’ Declaration and a Resolution of Disputes Procedure (to be established by Regulations made under a new Canon).


Yesterday the General Synod welcomed the draft Declaration and Regulations and included the text of the new Canon in the legislation that will now be referred to the diocesan synods for approval. It also voted in favour, at the preliminary stage, of the draft Act of Synod that will eventually rescind the existing Act of Synod. We note that this will only come into force when the new Canon is promulged, thus ensuring continuity.


We welcome the fact that the new House of Bishops’ Declaration refers to the Sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough by name. It notes that they will remain in existence as one of the means by which episcopal ministry is provided to parishes that pass resolutions under the Declaration.


We welcome the following statement by the House of Bishops in paragraph 23 of its most recent report (GS 1932):


‘The title and role of the “provincial episcopal visitor” are currently set out in the 1993 Act of Synod. There is no reason why these – or the financial arrangements for the three sees – should change when the 1993 Act of Synod is rescinded, given the House’s wish for there to be continuity. As noted in paragraph 30 of the Declaration, the three sees and their occupants remain an integral part of the new dispensation.’


We welcome the fact that, once the new Declaration has been finalized, the House of Bishops will only be able to amend it if the amendment has been approved by two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod. This gives us assurance as we approach the new era that the legislation will initiate.


The Act of Synod has served the Church of England well. We are confident that the Declaration will enable us to flourish within its life and structures for generations to come.


  JONATHAN FULHAM                    LINDSAY NEWCOMBE              

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker            Dr Lindsay Newcombe

Chairman                                           Lay Vice-Chairman


12 February 2014


GS 1932 is available from this page:


Women in the Episcopate: Draft House of Bishops’ Declaration and Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations

Posted on the 17th Jan 2014

Forward in Faith welcomes the publication of the House of Bishops’ report

(GS 1932 – available from


In commenting on the proposals in November we set out three matters that still needed to be resolved. We are grateful that two of them have been addressed: the draft Declaration now contains transitional provisions, and the House of Bishops’ Standing Orders will provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod support the amendment. We also welcome the other minor improvements which the House has made to the draft Declaration and Regulations.


However, we note that the draft Declaration does not address the third of the matters that we raised in November. Para. 42 of the Steering Committee’s report (GS 1924) pointed to the need for ‘an agreed way of proceeding’ with regard to ‘issues that will arise in relation to consecration services for Traditional Catholic bishops’, including the ‘further and sharper issues that will arise in due course as and when there is a woman archbishop’. The Steering Committee was clear in envisaging ‘an overall, balanced package’ and that the dioceses should ‘vote on the legislation in the knowledge of how all the elements of the package fit together’ (para. 28).


It is essential that an acceptable way of proceeding in relation to the consecration of Traditional Catholic bishops is agreed before the legislation is referred to the dioceses. Resolution of this outstanding matter is crucial for the acceptability of the package as a whole.


We also note the publication of a first draft of the Guidance Note for Bishops and Parishes (GS Misc 1064). Forward in Faith will study this closely.


  JONATHAN FULHAM                                    

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham                 



The Pilling Report: Statement by the Council of Bishops of the Society

Posted on the 12th Dec 2013

The Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Society has issued the following statement:

The Report of the House of Bishops' Working Group on Human Sexuality (the Pilling Report) is an important piece of work which deserves careful consideration. We encourage our clergy and people to read it and reflect upon it prayerfully.

We note that the Report proposes no change in the doctrine of the Church of England and that its practical recommendations remain, at this stage, recommendations to the House of Bishops.

Those of us who are members of the Church of England's College of Bishops will be discussing it with other members of the College in January, and we shall also be discussing it at our own meeting in February. We plan to comment more fully after those discussions.


On behalf of the Council



The Rt Revd Tony Robinson



For this and other news from the Society, see:


New website for The Society

Posted on the 28th Nov 2013

The Society, under the patronage of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, has a new website. Please visit


Statement from the Catholic Group in General Synod following the Debate on Women Bishops

Posted on the 20th Nov 2013

The Catholic Group welcomes the new atmosphere of trust and reconciliation, together with the clear recognition that our theological convictions will continue to be within the spectrum of Anglican teaching, and the commitment to provide appropriate bishops and priests for our parishes.


We urge all involved to take steps to build up further the atmosphere of trust, which is why many of us have voted for the new legislative  process to continue.


Issued by Martin Dales on behalf of the Catholic Group.

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