on business from the General Synod at Church House
The entire morning at General
Synod today was take up with a further debate on women
Archbishop of Canterbury introduced the motion on behalf of the House
of Bishops. He reminded Synod that the theological exploration on women
bishops has not yet been completed. He then spoke of the need to make
structural provision for opponents, which is what the Guildford
Report proposes. The motion will mean that between February and July further
work will be done on theological, ecumenical and canonical implications
of the proposals. This reflects the fact that the proposals in the
report are fairly new and need to be thought through.
There were six amendments in all, three of which were significant
changes to the main motion. All six were resisted by the Archbishop
and rejected by the Synod although the actual voting was very different
on some of them.
The first significant amendment was put by Robert Key MP, a member
of the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament. He asserted that the
Committee considered that the main decision had been taken in 1992.
His motion would have seen the main proposal in the Guildford Report
abandoned. Instead of Transferred Episcopal Arrangements (TEA) as proposed
by Guildford, would be a simple measure with a code of practice. It
is widely recognised that this will really not provide any safety for
opponents. The amendment was rejected by a substantial majority.
The third major amendment from Jeremy Crocker called for further work
to be done on TEA and a simple measure in tandem so that the Synod
can compare the two in July and make a decision between them. This
had far more support. After debate the Synod voted by houses with a
very unusual split of voting:
The House of Clergy voted for this amendment by 102 votes to 79
but the House of Bishops and the House of Laity both voted against
(by 33 votes to 9 and 113 votes to 73 respectively).
Therefore the amendment was also lost.
The second major amendment was fairly confusing but appeared to be
trying to make TEA stretch further.
When all six amendment has been rejected and after a total of three
and a half hours, the Synod voted in favour of the main motion with
just one vote against (although apparently 60 fewer people voting than
in the earlier recorded vote).
Therefore further work will now be done on the proposals set out in
the Guildford Report with a view to the Synod making a decision on
what shape legislation should take at the July Synod. The decision
in July will open the way for the legislative process to begin, although
final approval on this is probably 3 or 4 years away.
The other two items of business for the day was a report on Church
buildings entitled ‘The Church’s Built Heritage’ and
Questions which had been shunted to the end of the Synod. There were
a few questions asked about Civil Partnerships but given the significance
of these it was surprising that more was not said at the Synod.
The Group of Sessions prorogued at 5.30pm.