08 October 2009
The Revision Committee established by the General Synod to
consider the draft legislation on enabling women to become bishops
in the Church of England today completed the first phase of its
work. The Committee has further meetings planned between now and
December and is aiming to complete its task by Christmas so that
its report can be debated in full Synod in February and the draft
legislation begin its Revision Stage in full Synod.
The Committee received nearly 300 submissions, including more
than 100 from members of General Synod. Many of these offered
alternatives to the proposal in the draft legislation to make
provision by way of statutory code of practice for those unable on
grounds of theological conviction to receive the episcopal and/or
priestly ministry of women.
In the seven meetings that it has held so far, the Committee has
considered each of these alternatives: additional dioceses; the
vesting by statute of certain functions in bishops with a special
responsibility for those with conscientious difficulties; the
creation of a recognised society for those with conscientious
difficulties; and the adoption of the simplest possible legislation
without a statutory code of practice.
Of these, the Committee has, after receiving oral evidence and
having lengthy discussions, voted to amend the draft Measure to
provide for certain functions to be vested in bishops by statute
rather than by delegation from the diocesan bishop under a
statutory code of practice. The Committee will now be working
through the consequential details flowing from this decision.
The work of the Revision Committee, whose task is to scrutinise
the draft legislation line by line and consider submissions for
amendment, is one stage in a process that still has a number of
years to run. It will be open to the full Synod to revisit matters
considered by the Revision Committee and to amend the draft
legislation as it sees fit.
Thereafter it will have to be considered by all diocesan synods
and a majority of them will need to vote for the legislation before
it can come to the Synod for final approval. At that stage a
two-thirds majority would be required in each of the three houses
of Synod (bishops, clergy and laity) before the legislation could
go to Parliament and eventually for Royal Assent. On any basis it
is unlikely that the first female bishop will be consecrated before
The membership of the
Revision Committee was announced in March 2009.