Frequently Asked Questions
In this new series, Colin Podmore explains the women bishops legislation and the new provisions for those who cannot receive their ministry.
What are the parts of the ‘package’?
a House of Bishops’ Declaration (which the House will make in May 2014)
a Measure (a law which, if approved by the General Synod in July, will be presented for parliamentary approval and royal assent in autumn 2014)
an Amending Canon (which, if approved by the General Synod in July, will be promulged in the General Synod once the Measure has royal assent – probably in November 2014)
an Act of Synod to rescind the 1993 Act of Synod (which will come into force when the Amending Canon is promulged)
Regulations concerning a Resolution of Disputes Procedure (which the House of Bishops will make under the new Canon C 29).
What will the Measure do? The Measure will
permit the General Synod to promulge a Canon allowing women to be ordained bishop
keep in force permission for a Canon allowing women to be ordained priest
repeal the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 and related provisions in other Measures
ensure that the provisions for those unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops cannot be challenged under the Equalities Act 2010.
Members of Forward in Faith are voting against the Measure because its main purpose is to permit the ordination of women as bishops – which, for reasons of theological conviction, we cannot endorse.
What will the Canon do?
The Canon will
amend Canon C 2 to enable a woman to be ordained bishop
re-order existing provisions about deaconesses, women deacons and women priests
add a new Canon C 29 requiring the House of Bishops to make Regulations with a procedure for resolving disputes about arrangements under the Declaration (any amendment of the Regulations will require two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod).
Members of Forward in Faith are voting against the Canon because its main purpose is to permit the ordination of women as bishops which, for reasons of theological conviction, we cannot endorse.
Which is better: an Act of Synod or a House of Bishops’ Declaration?
An Act of Synod is a non-legislative instrument or resolution of the General Synod which is formally published as `the embodiment of the will or opinion of the Church of England as expressed by the whole body of the Synod
Though it is morally binding, it is not legally enforceable. It contains no mechanism for resolving disputes or addressing grievances. By contrast, the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests has associated with it a Resolution of Disputes Procedure established by Regulations under a Canon, under which grievances can be brought.
Rescinding an Act of Synod only requires simple majorities in the General Synod, whereas the House of Bishops will only be able to amend or revoke the Declaration if the amendment or revocation is supported by two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod.
What will happen to the Provincial Episcopal Visitors when the Act of Synod is rescinded?
Nothing. The Sees of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough are not mentioned by name in the Act of Synod, but they are named in the Declaration, which notes that they remain in existence. Though the role of Provincial Episcopal Visitor is not mentioned in the Declaration, the House of Bishops has stated:
‘The title and role of the provincial episcopal visitor” are currently set out in the 1993 Act of Synod. There is no reason why these – or the financial arrangements for the three sees – should change when the 1993 Act of Synod is rescinded, given the House’s wish for there to be continuity. As noted in paragraph 30 of the Declaration, the three sees and their occupants remain an integral part of the new dispensation:
(GS 1932, para. 23)
The Bishops of Beverley, Ebbsfleet and Richborough will carry on with their existing roles and ministries.
What will we need to do this summer, after the legislation receives Final Approval?
Nothing. It will be summer, so take a holiday – you deserve it! Nothing will change until the Canon is promulged, which cannot take place until November 2014 at the earliest. There will then be a two-year transitional period during which the existing resolutions will be treated as remaining in force. Forward in Faith will issue guidance to parishes later this year.
Future Frequently Asked Questions will look at the House of Bishops’ Declaration and the Resolution of Disputes Procedure