Friday, May 02, 2008

Women Bishops

Having completed some key stuff for the University, I have been reading the latest Church of England stuff on moving forward with ordaining women as bishops. Compared to society at large, where equality issues are high on the agenda, it must look odd that the Church is in such a stew about things like this. There are always times when faith challenges attitudes which are the going rate in society at large, but I just know the Church isn't going to emerge from this debate looking good.

It will be no surprise to anyone who knows me that I fully support the Church of England passing the relevant legislation to make women bishops in the C of E possible. The reasons that this report has so many pages are the legal issues, as well as the complications dealing with those who can't accept the ministry of women bishops (and priests for that matter)

For instance, already parishes can opt for some or all of the following:
  • a woman can't preside at communion
  • a woman can't be vicar
  • they will only deal with a bishop who hasn't ordained women.
If women bishops are approved, you can add to that the complication of whether a man has been ordained by a woman / participated in a service where women were involved in ordination, etc etc. The problem with the debate centring on these issues is that the language slips all too easily into describing the containment of a female 'contamination', rather than the debating of fundamental ideas of church and theology.

The first C of E woman bishop probably couldn't be ordained until 2014 even if everything went to schedule. I hope that's enough time for us all to learn how to live together in amicable disagreement, rather than acrimony.

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