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
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
The report is substantial running to over 250 pages of argument. It
supposed to be available for download but I have not been able to find
The report can be downloaded from
A guide to the report is
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
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
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
The difficulty facing the Church of England is how to discern what
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