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 Rochester Report on Women Bishops

Initial Report

Rochester Commission Report - introduction
2 November 2004

Women Bishops in the Church of England, the report of the Rochester
Commission, was released this morning. Unfortunately, this correspondent was not able to be present at the Press Launch having, along with others, been barred from attending. Apparently the Press Office are of the view that national secular and religious media are objective and unbiased whilst the rest of us are campaigning.

It is believed that the original intention had been to release the report
in mid-October but this was changed because of the launch of the Windsor Report. The new date, coinciding as it does with the media coverage of the US presidential elections may have been unfortunate, or possibly deliberate.

The report is substantial running to over 250 pages of argument. It is
supposed to be available for download but I have not been able to find it yet.
The report can be downloaded from

http://www.cofe.anglican.org/info/papers/womenbishops.pdf

A guide to the report is available from

http://www.england.anglican.org/papers/womenbishopsguide.pdf

The Commission has evidently not set out to provide a definite course of action for the Church of England but as fairly as possible to represent the different views that exist and to chart out the possible directions the Church might take.

The summary given of the introduction is:

  • Would it be right in principle for women to be bishops?
  • If the answer is 'yes', is this the right time for the Church of England
    to ordain women bishops?
  • If this is the right time, how should women bishops be introduced?
  • Should provisions be made for those conscientiously unable to accept women bishops and, if so, what form should these take?

From an initial scan of the report it seems to be fair and balanced in the way it represents the various views.
Section 8.1.7 represents the dilemma that the Commission felt they were facing:
The difficulty facing the Church of England is how to discern what this
should mean in practice, given that people of equal integrity and
godliness within the Church of England continue to hold contradictory
views on the matter.

If the Church decides to go ahead Annex 2 provides a summary of what action might be taken to accommodate those who cannot accept it. These are:

  • Do nothing for dissenters
    Make provision by a House of Bishops code of practice only
  • Provide for EXTENDED episcopal ministry similar to that existing at
    present under the Act of Synod.
  • Provide EXTENDED ministry but by petition to the Archbishop rather that the Bishop.
  • A third or free province with the consequent option for ALTERNATIVE
    oversight.

David Phillips
General Secretary,
Church Society

 

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