The General Synod of the Church of England meets in York from the 9th to the 13th of July when one of the main items on the Agenda will be the legislation to enable the consecration of women as Bishops. Into the melting pot of that legislation will be the amendment recently proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York which seeks to provide a degree more provision for those of us who cannot accept that women can be either bishops or priests than previously provided within the legislation. However the whole thing revolves around a “Code of Practice” and as has been said on many occasions a Code of Practice will not do.
It is proposed that a male bishop will be authorised to function in those parishes which write a Letter of Request to their female Diocesan Bishop who will then be able to authorise another bishop to function in her place. Such a Bishop would have the authority of the legislation. The main question I can see is how a Catholic could accept consecration to act for such parishes when it will involve being part of a College of Bishops which will be partly comprised of women bishops with whom he will be expected to be in communion. Would/could a woman be involved in his consecration? Finally, it doesn’t remove from the Diocesan Bishop any part of their jurisdiction. How on earth can that work?
I think the efforts by Canterbury and York are a last ditch attempt to make some provision for Anglos-Catholics which the Revision Committee acting on behalf of General Synod have failed to do. I think it has dawned on them just what could be at stake if the legislation is passed with just a Code of Practice which will be as useless as a chocolate teapot. I believe the Amendments have been made in good faith but my conclusions are that they are not the answer. And I also think General Synod will either reject them out of hand or alter them in such a way that what small provision they make will be watered down so much as to be useless any way. In any case, the Archbishops state in their notes to their amendment that “The diocesan retains the freedom to amend the diocesan scheme from time to time after consultation with the diocesan synod.” How long would it be before some Bishop or another scraps the scheme or changes it in such a way that it becomes totally unworkable.
So where do we go from here? For me there is only one answer which is the Ordinariate.