Wednesday, 21 November 2012

Women Bishops are a good thing and they will happen soon

On Tuesday 324 members of the synod voted for women bishops - but its voting rules meant the 122 votes who voted against were enough to block it. However, the Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, has insisted there would be women bishops during his lifetime. Bishop Justin Welby agreed, as do I.
The issue was raised at PMQs today: the PM is a supporter of women bishops, and said: "I'm very sad about the way the vote went yesterday." He then added: "What I would say, though, is the Church has its own processes and own elections, hard for some of us to understand, and we have to respect individual institutions and the decisions they make."
I also accept that point and agree with the PM that we have to respect individual organisations voting rules.

To be fair the minority within the Church who opposed the measure and gathered enough votes to block it in the House of Laity see this situation differently. That is always the case with difficult decisions. Some synod members on both sides of the debate have called for urgent talks between the two sides to see if the measure can be improved and brought back to the synod. I am sure a way forward can be found.

The wisest words were probably spoken by Dr John Sentamu, who said: "The principle [of women bishops] has already been accepted by the general synod. It has already been accepted by all the dioceses. Bishop Justin Welby added: "The Church has voted overwhelmingly in favour of the principle. It is a question of finding a way that there is a real consensus that this is the right way forward. That is going to take some time, some care, and some prudence."

As voters in Northumberland have put it to me: if it is acceptable to have female clergy, [which we all now regard as obvious], why do we have a problem with female Bishops?