Cautious Progress

First published 8th February 2013

The House of Bishops met yesterday for a day dedicated to trying to unlock the impasse created by November's vote on women bishops.

Since that time work has been going on and I guess I came away heartened, though without being much clearer, as to how the substantive issue of how you keep the Church together whilst making women bishops who are on an equal footing with their male counterparts will be overcome.

That said, I really do believe that getting traditionalists and conservative evangelicals together with supporters of women bishops, to have facilitated discussion with a trained mediator, is a more positive way to progress than simply shouting at each other from our silos. People from both positions gave testimony to the value of this work, but there is still more to be done.

The wording and impact of any future legislation will be key to all this. Just to be clear, there will be no silver bullet solution at the July Synod. Any new legislation which comes before Synod I understand will require at least four synods to get to a final approval vote. At best this would mean, with a fair wind, a delay of some eighteen months.

As an interim arrangement it has been decided that future meetings of the House of Bishops will be attended by some senior women until such time as there are six women bishops in the House. I think that's where we are and mostly the mood, tone and volume of yesterday's meeting felt more positive.

We keep praying...

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