Setting the record straight

From the Chairman of the Catholic Group in Synod The Revd Canon Simon Killwick


Fr Geoffrey Kirk chides me (NE~ Directions, January 2012) for allegedly betraying everything the Catholic movement in the Church of England has stood for, by admitting that the CofE may well have women bishops.

In July 1997, an article entitled ‘Seen to be Done’ appeared in New Directions, with the subheading ‘Geoffrey Kirk thinks it is time to see and evaluate the legislation which will make women bishops’. Fr Geoffrey was at the time a member of the General Synod; he explained in the article his reasons for tabling a Private Member’s Motion at the General Synod, which read:

‘This Synod, recognising that women bishops are a necessary and inevitable consequence of the ordination of women to the priesthood, and affirming the respect for individual conscience in the matter of women’s ordination expressed in the Bishops’ statement The Bonds of Peace and in the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993, requests the Standing Committee to bring forward, without delay, proposals for legislation which would permit the consecration of women as bishops and make all appropriate provisions for those opposed.’ 

Initially, the motion attracted quite a lot of signatures in support, until it was realised that Geoffrey’s real objective was to see draft legislation for women bishops with a Third Province provided for those opposed; gradually, those who had signed withdrew their support. At the time, the membership of Forward in Faith was united around the goal of a Third Province. What we didn’t realise then was that some saw a Third Province as a way of leaving the Church of England (a lifeboat to Rome), while others saw it as a way of staying in the CofE. It was only in November 2009, when the Ordinariate was announced, that the fault line between the two groups was exposed – we have all found that painful to deal with.

Some brave souls have followed the courage of their convictions and entered the Ordinariate. Many others, more inclined to seek a future in the Church of England, are wanting ‘to see and evaluate the legislation which will make women bishops’, before deciding on their future. We are not ‘horse-trading’ for our very existence (pace Geoffrey); we are looking for appropriate provision to enable us to stay in the Church of England.

This month’s General Synod will debate a motion calling on the House of Bishops to amend the draft legislation for women bishops so as to make better provision for those opposed, in the manner of the amendment proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in July 2010. As our National Chairman has written in his booklet ‘Women Bishops – The Right Way Forward’, the Archbishops’ amendment ‘would indeed have gone a long way to uphold that ‘legitimate and recognised place’ upheld in Bonds of Peace, and to provide the appropriate episcopal ministry asked for by the Lambeth Conference of 1998 and affirmed by the General Synod in 2006’.

My statement, from which Fr Kirk quotes, was intended to help towards the passing of the motion in General Synod – hardly a betrayal of the Catholic movement in the Church of England.

The Revd Canon Simon Killwick Christ Church Rectory, Monton Street, Manchester M14 4GP

A correction

From Sister Heidi Cooper SCL

I very much enjoyed Crispin Harrison’s review of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s excellent book for Lent by Ruth Burrows. There is however one factual error in Fr Harrison’s review: Edith Stein was Sister Teresa Benedicta of the Cross and not Teresa de Spiritu Sancto. I hope that reading this book will encourage others to delve into the writings of Edith Stein.

Sister Heidi Cooper

(Address supplied)

(Editor’s note: Fr Harrison himself also spotted
the mistake, but the magazine had already gone
to press. Our apologies to all concerned.)