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Revision Committee on Women in the Episcopate

The Revision Committee met for its third scheduled meeting yesterday (13 November) since 8 October (see earlier statement). It concluded a substantial exploration of ways in which the draft legislation could be amended to enable certain functions to be vested by statute in bishops who would provide oversight for those unable to receive the episcopal and/or priestly ministry of women.

After much discussion, the members of the Committee were unable to identify a basis for specifying particular functions for vesting which commanded sufficient support both from those in favour of the ordination of women as bishops and those unable to support that development. As a result all of the proposals for vesting particular functions by statute were defeated.

The effect of the Committee's decision is therefore that such arrangements as are made for those unable to receive the episcopal ministry of women will need to be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop rather than vesting.

There remain important issues for the Committee to determine at its forthcoming meetings over the shape of the proposed legislation in the light of this decision, in particular whether to retain a statutory code of practice or adopt the simplest possible legislation.

The work of a Revision Committee in scrutinising draft legislation, and in considering submissions to amend it, is only part of a longer legislative process. The Revision Committee on this draft legislation will report to the full General Synod at the conclusion of its work and the Synod will debate its proposals and have its own opportunity to support, amend or invite further reconsideration of the legislation by the Revision Committee. Further stages in the legislative process would require consideration of any legislation by the Diocesan Synods of the Church of England, final approval by the General Synod, Parliamentary approval and the Royal Assent.