John Richardson considers various responses to the General Synod

As readers of this magazine may be aware, there is now a petition online sponsored by Watch, urging the House of Bishops to think again on their amendment introducing Clause 5 (1) c into the proposed women bishops Measure. (See the link below if you’d like to vote the other way.) Watch has roundly condemned the House of Bishops for this, saying in an early statement (in bold letters) that it has thereby ‘de-stabilised the legislative process’. Others have accused the House of Bishops of flying in the face of dioceses which approved the Measure as submitted to them earlier this year.

However, as readers will also be aware, there were actually two amendments. Yet though there are two amendments, Watch is only petitioning for the removal of one. Why is this? The answer is simple – because Watch rather likes the first amendment. Clause 8, they say, ‘seems to be a helpful clarification to many. If the bishops had simply introduced this amendment then the Measure might still be on track for Final Approval in July.’

There was of course a forced adjournment and during the debate

no objections were raised to Clause 8. There is no mention here of the fact that this amendment was also not in the legislation as approved by the dioceses. In other words, amendments by the House of Bishops are acceptable. It is only ‘unacceptable’ amendments which are, well, unacceptable.

The chair of Watch, Revd Rachel Weir, has written on their website, ‘we hope that there will be a thorough consultation process over the summer so that whatever is presented to General Synod in November keeps faith with the dioceses that voted overwhelmingly for the unamended Measure’. Yet only Clause 5 (1) c is being targeted.

I hope this will be clearly understood over the next few months. It is not amendments by the House of Bishops which Watch objects to in principle – only those which do not support its own position. That is understandable, but it may not be obvious to those following the debate.

In response to the petition started by Watch and in the hope that the House of Bishops will listen to calls from those who wish to see the Church of England remain true to upholding its

promises to our constituency, there is another petition to the House of Bishops of the Church of England. It reads:

Keep Clause 5 (1) c in the Consecration and Ordination of Women Measure.

The Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure is intended to introduce women bishops into the Church of England, whilst at the same time providing for Traditionalists for whom this would be unacceptable. This is a proper aim of the legislation, since according to Resolution III.2.c of the 1998 Lambeth Conference, ‘those who dissent from, as well as those who assent to, the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate are both loyal Anglicans.’

The amendment should therefore be kept, both in the interests of Traditionalists and of clarity about what the Measure intends.

The petition may be signed at: