Women in the Episcopate: Further Comment

Posted on the 11th Nov 2013

The new draft legislation on Women in the Episcopate and the associated proposals in the Steering Committee’s report represent a very significant improvement on the former draft legislation which failed in November 2012. Key differences include the following.


  • Instead of exposing lay representatives to the risk of legal challenge when they veto candidates, the proposals would require the bishop to take responsibility for ensuring that appointments that conflict with PCC resolutions are not made.
  • The previous legislation would have left it to individuals to determine whether they had ‘cogent reasons’ for contravening the Code of Practice, and those decisions could only have been challenged by way of judicial review in the High Court (litigation which would have been costly for those concerned and damaging for the Church’s reputation). The new proposals would impose clear responsibilities; crucially, they make provision for the resolution of disputes through recourse to an Independent Reviewer with paid administrative support.
  • The previous legislation left the terms of the Code of Practice, and of the separate diocesan schemes that would have had to be drafted in each diocese, to be finalized after the Measure had received Royal Assent. Under the new proposals, the relevant documents will have been finalized before the legislation receives Final Approval.
  • Under the previous legislation, the Code of Practice could have been amended by simple majorities in each House of the Synod. Amendment of the new proposals will require two-thirds majorities in each House.


We also welcome the inclusion in the draft House of Bishops’ Declaration of the five ‘guiding principles’ in paragraph 5. These recognize our position as one of theological conviction which continues to be within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition and make a commitment to provision, both pastoral and sacramental, without limit of time.


Though these proposals are still far from what we have long said would be ideal, we believe that they may have the potential to provide workable arrangements for the future, which will ensure that our people, clergy and parishes have continued access to a ministry that will enable us to flourish within the structures of the Church of England and make our full contribution to its life and mission. They hold out the possibility of bringing to a conclusion a process that for too long has been a distraction from the Church’s mission. Much will depend on the continuance of the atmosphere of trust that has at last begun to be fostered by the process that produced these proposals.


We therefore encourage the General Synod to send the legislation for revision in full Synod, so that the process may continue as expeditiously as possible. We encourage our members to study the whole package carefully over the coming months: Click here to view the whole package.


We set out below some matters that still need to be addressed.


As a matter of conscience, those who, with Forward in Faith, are opposed on theological grounds to ordaining women to the episcopate will not be able to vote at the final approval stage in favour of legislation whose purpose is to permit this. What attitude is taken to the possibility of principled abstention will depend on whether the proposals survive intact. Any weakening of the proposals would require them to be opposed vigorously.


On behalf of the Executive


  JONATHAN FULHAM                                      

The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham                       


11 November 2013



Matters to be addressed


1.   We agree with the Steering Committee’s comment in para. 28 of its report (GS 1924) that all the elements of an overall, balanced package need to be agreed before the Measure and Canon are brought to final approval. Para. 42 of the report envisages an agreed way of proceeding with regard to issues in relation to consecration services for Traditional Catholic bishops (including the further and sharper issues that will arise in due course when there is a woman archbishop). It is in everyone’s interest that this agreed way of proceeding should have been identified before the legislation receives final approval.


2.   A situation in which hundreds of parishes are obliged to pass new resolutions immediately after the new legislation comes into force would place a heavy burden not only on PCCs but also on the bishops who would need to respond to the resolutions. The package will therefore need to include provisions that ensure a seamless transition. These too will need to be known in advance of final approval.


3.  Para. 40 of the draft House of Bishops Declaration says that the House will not proceed with proposals for changing it unless they command two-thirds majorities in all three Houses of the General Synod. However, this statement would merely be an undertaking on the part of the present members of the House. The new Canon C 29 would require two-thirds majorities for amendment of the House’s Regulations for the dispute resolution procedure. In order to provide a similar level of assurance, the Canon should similarly require two-thirds majorities in each House for proposals to amend the Declaration. This would then bind future members of the House of Bishops.


Vocations Day in London: Saturday 30 November 2013

Posted on the 6th Nov 2013

The Catholic Movement continues to foster vocations to priestly ministry in the Church of England, through the God Calling initiative.


Men who are currently exploring priestly vocation are invited to attend a Vocations Day to be held at Christ the King, Gordon Square, on Saturday 30 November 2013, from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm. Wives are invited to accompany their husbands.


The programme will include keynote addresses on Anglican Identity and Anglican Spirituality by Dr Colin Podmore and the Bishop Jonathan Baker, and a Bible Study led by Bishop Norman Banks.


Those wishing to attend should contact Fr Darren Smith for further information and bookings: fr.smith@additionalcurates.co.uk - tel: 0121 382 5533.


Women in the Episcopate: Initial Response to the Proposals

Posted on the 25th Oct 2013

Forward in Faith thanks the members of the Steering Committee for their work.


The proposed combination of a House of Bishops' Declaration with a Mandatory Disputes Resolution Procedure represents a new and different approach which deserves careful consideration.


In line with the resolution passed at our National Assembly, we shall be examining the proposals closely over the coming weeks to see how far they would ensure that our parishes and their clergy and people have continued access to a ministry that will make it possible for us to flourish within the life and structures of the Church of England. We shall also be attentive to the responses of others within the Church.


After discussion, prayer and reflection, we envisage commenting further during November, in the run-up to the General Synod debates.


Women in the Episcopate: National Assembly Resolution

Posted on the 23rd Oct 2013

Meeting in London on 19 October, the Forward in Faith National Assembly received a presentation on developments regarding resolution on Women in the Episcopate since October 2012. It passed the following resolution:


That this Assembly


(a)       reaffirm our aspiration to flourish within the structures of the Church of England and make our full contribution to its life and mission;


(b)       request the General Synod and the House of Bishops to ensure that we have continued access to a ministry which will make this possible; and


(c)       thank those members of Forward in Faith who have participated in the facilitated conversations and in the Steering Committee for the Women in the Episcopate legislation with a view to achieving this.’


Moving the motion, Prebendary Sam Philpott said ‘This church of ours… needs a great dose of charity’. He called on the catholic constituency to ‘love this church’ and to ‘show this church how it can become a loving church again within its own communion in order that it might actually proclaim to the world the love of God’.


Forward in Faith, he said, had ‘a passion to belong to part of the Church that is strong and bold and flourishing and passionate about converting England’ and wanted to play its part. ‘All that we ask’, he added, ‘is that at the end of this process our church gives us the space in which we can live a catholic life, looked after by catholic bishops, catholic priests and catholic deacons’.


Fr Charles Razzall praised the motion as ‘positive, firm and irenic’, which was ‘where we certainly want to be in the future’. He pointed out that in the motion ‘ensure’ means ‘guarantee’ and ‘continue’ means ‘without limit of time’.


Replying, Fr Philpott said: ‘I long for a Church of England that may well have different views on this particular subject, but will so provide for its children that it can actually speak to a broken world about reconciliation with an authenticity that is simply not around in our world at this moment.’


The motion was passed nem. con.


‘Grow the Church and win souls for Christ’, says Forward in Faith Chairman

Posted on the 22nd Oct 2013

Addressing the Forward in Faith National Assembly, the organization’s Chairman, the Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham, commented on the report on fresh legislative proposals for women in the episcopate considered by the General Synod in July.


He noted that the working party had unanimously agreed that catholics and evangelicals who are unable, on the grounds of theological conviction, to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests remain with the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition and that the Church of England would be committed to their flourishing within its life and structures.


Forward in Faith would be ‘watching like hawks to see that the promises, the commitments, contained in those words are honoured’. But ‘If the Church of England really does mean what it says, that we are to be given the space, the tools, the means whereby we can flourish, then we had better grasp every opportunity to occupy that space, to grow the Church, to win souls for Christ, to serve the people of this nation, and to build the Kingdom of God’.


Bishop Jonathan set out an agenda for this work, based on the growing relationship between Forward in Faith and the Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and St Hilda and its bishops. ‘Above all’, he said, ‘We look for a renewal of our hearts and minds in the service of the Lord; a deepening of our prayer; a greater love for Jesus Christ, in the Blessed Sacrament, in the life of the Church, in the face of the poor.’







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