20 November 2012
The General Synod celebrated Holy Communion in
the assembly chamber, after which, Dr John Sentamu, Archbishop of
York, took the chair for the debates on legislation that would
enable women to become bishops in the Church of England.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Rt Rev Nigel
McCulloch, opened the debate saying: "I do hope that today's debate
will do what debates at the final approval stage should do, namely
to look at the legislation in its entirety with a view to answering
one key question: "will God's mission and ministry entrusted to the
Church of England be advanced better if this legislation is
approved or if it is rejected?"
Bishop Nigel then looked back on what had
happened since the debate was adjourned in July. The House of
Bishops, he explained, "has retained on the face of the Measure an
explicit acknowledgement that the selection of male bishops and
priests is something on which guidance will have to be given in the
Code of Practice. In addition, as the legal advice to the House
makes clear, the guidance will have to be directed to a particular
end, namely that the selection is in a manner which respects the
grounds on which the Letter of Request was issued."
Speaking against the Measure, Canon Simon Killwick (Manchester
Diocese) said: "Our main function as a Synod is to be a legislative
body; this debate is a legislative debate; our job is
to scrutinise the draft legislation before us, and to decide
whether or not it is fit for its purpose. This is not a
debate about whether we are in favour of women bishops in
principle; it is about whether this is the right legislation for
introducing women bishops. It would be perfectly possible to
be in favour of women bishops in principle, but to believe that
this was the wrong legislation for introducing women bishops.
"I do not believe that this draft legislation will be good for
the Church of England… Attempts by the House of Bishops to improve
the provision for traditionalists in the Code of Practice will meet
with resistance: the furore over the Bishops' original and
modest clause 5(1)C in the summer gives a clear idea of what we
could face. Once established, the Code would be open to
change, so there could be an ongoing political struggle over the
contents of the Code for years to come. This legislation
would not bring closure because it does not provide a clear and
lasting way forward."
The debate continued with speakers alternately supporting and
opposing the legislation. A vote is expected later this afternoon,
after which, if the legislation is approved, a second vote will be
required on Draft Amending Canon No 30 to bring the change into
Canon Law, which would be required before a woman could be
consecrated as a bishop.
Note to editors
The debate can be
listened to live .