Skip to comments.MP gives Parliament a say over women bishops in Church [CofE]
Posted on 03/09/2006 8:35:11 AM PST by sionnsar
PARLIAMENT is set to put pressure on the Church of England to accelerate removing the legal barriers that prevent women from becoming bishops. A Bill is coming before the House of Commons next week that proposes an amendment to the 1993 Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure that would change legislation to allow women to be promoted to the episcopate.
As MPs prepare to vote on the Bill, the Diocese of Hereford has rejected the General Synod decision to opt for the compromise proposals of Transferred Episcopal Arrangements (TEA), as it warned that this would enshrine discrimination against women clergy.
Instead, the Church should agree to promote women to the top offices in the hierarchy under a single clause measure a move that many traditionalists say could force them to leave the Church. However, the MP for Rhondda, Chris Bryant, who is presenting the Bill, says that the Church must take the move to preserve its moral integrity, regardless of the views of opponents.
Writing in The Church of England Newspaper, he predicts that the Bill may not become law, but that the vote will allow Parliament the opportunity to express its frustration with the continuing refusal to honour womens ministry at every level. He continues: We can show our anger at the way the ultra-conservative minority seem to hold sway over the excessively timid bench of bishops. And we can urge the Church to stop shilly-shallying and get on with promoting equality, not just in word but in deed. A Church of England spokesman criticised the Parliamentary interference on the issue: Whether women should be ordained bishops must in the first instance be a matter for the Church to determine in accordance with its own assessment of the relevant theological issues.
The proposed bill would be contrary to the longstanding constitutional convention that Parliament does not initiate legislation on such matters. Mr Bryant, a former priest and chair of the Christian Socialist Movement, claims to have the support of more than 30 MPs and expects the Bill to receive a significant vote in its favour, sending a strong signal to the Church.
One of the Bills supporters, Robert Key, MP for Salisbury, proposed a motion at last months Synod, calling for the option of a Single Clause Measure to be considered as the Church tries to find a suitable way to allow women to become bishops. This plan was rejected in Synod, despite a majority in the House of Clergy favouring the idea, but the Diocese of Herefords decision could be the start of a movement to force this Julys Synod to rethink how it proceeds.
A diocesan spokesman commented that Hereford had taken a pre-emptive strike to urge the General Synod not to implement TEA. Making special arrangements to accommodate those opposed to women bishops would continue discrimination against women priests and lead to the creation of a Third Province by stealth, members said. Christina Rees, Chair for Women and the Church, said that she hoped that Herefords decision would provide a lead to other dioceses to reject TEA and look again at proceeding with a Single Clause Measure.
The Church of England Newspaper
The MP introducing this is an openly gay former Church of England vicar.
I'd say this is a good argument for why you need the separation of church and state.
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