Thursday, December 06, 2012

+Ebbsfleet on General Synod

Jonathan Baker, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, has a talent for telling it like it is yet with grace.  Having spent some time with him at Pusey House, he has long impressed me with his gentleness, wit, and perception.

So it comes as no surprise that his comments on General Synod and its aftermath are among the best I’ve come across.  I commend his whole missive to you.  But the following stands out to me as cutting through the fog to explain what really happened:

First, it has been suggested that the draft Measure represented the fruits of work done over many years by representatives of all traditions in the Church of England, and that it was a compromise and the best possible way forward. This is simply not the case, as anyone – myself included – involved in the various processes of preparing the legislation for Final Approval (the legislative drafting group, the revision committee stage, and so on) would have to admit. At every step of the way, provision for the traditionalist minority was withdrawn altogether or significantly watered down. Looking back, we can see a number of decisive forks in the road: when delegation (rather than a transfer of jurisdiction) was adopted as the basis for the legislation; when the Archbishops' amendment for co-ordinate jurisdiction was defeated – by just 5 votes in the House of Clergy – in 2010; when the amendment to Clause 5.1. (c) of the Measure, proposed by the House of Bishops, was withdrawn in the face of pressure from members of WATCH in July of this year. In the light of all this, it seems to me that there is only one analysis of the vote on 20th November which rings true: that the draft Measure was driven 'over the cliff' by those unwilling to agree proper provision for those of us who have conscientious difficulties concerning the ordination of women.

Exactly.  +Ebbsfleet says it much more graciously than I have, but, indeed, WATCH and their ilk have only themselves to blame for the failure of women bishops legislation.  If they only had the grace to give traditionalists the space they needed, women bishops would already be on the way.

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