Bishops disppointed after decision postponed

Bishop of Peterborough Rt Rev Donald Allister gives the blessing at the annual Good Friday service of Peterborough's united churches in Cathedral Square
Bishop of Peterborough Rt Rev Donald Allister gives the blessing at the annual Good Friday service of Peterborough's united churches in Cathedral Square

The Bishops of Peterborough and Brixworth are disappointed over the pain and hurt to women clergy after a decision over women bishops was postponed.

Rt Rev Donald Allister, Bishop of Peterborough, and Rt Rev John Holbrook, Suffragan Bishop of Brixworth issued a joint statement after the General Synod’s decision to adjourn debate on the Women Bishop’s Measure this morning.

The bishops said: “We are disappointed that after the long and careful discussions of previous years, the faithful ministry of the many talented women clergy, and the majority votes in favour of women bishops in all but two of the 44 dioceses, Synod has still been unable to reach a final decision on the matter.

“We are especially mindful of the hurt and pain this delay may cause to the women clergy with whom we happily work in the parishes and in senior diocesan roles, and to others who believe that women bishops are important to the church. We ask that they be patient while this matter is resolved.

“We understand the concerns of those who in conscience cannot accept the sacramental and episcopal ministry of women for theological reasons, but believe that the proposed measure does provide sufficient safeguard of their interests.”

The amendment, which allowed for parishes to request alternative bishops, was put forward to clarify the church’s concern for those who cannot on theological grounds accept women as bishops, but in fact caused a number of supporters of women bishops to suggest that they could no longer support the measure.

Critics of the clause say it would have enshrined in law the very prejudices against which supporters of female bishops have battled so long. It would, they say, create a two-tier system in which not only female bishops, but men who ordained women or who had themselves been ordained by women, would be considered second-rate.

The postponement was passed by 288 votes to 144.

The House of Bishops will discuss the controversial ammendment when it meets again in September.

In a separate debate on Sunday evening, Rev Stephen Trott, rector of Pitsford with Boughton and one of Peterborough Diocese’s six elected members of General Synod, proposed a motion about the place of faith in public life, which was carried by 262 votes in favour, 25 against, with 52 abstentions.

The motion said: “That this Synod express its conviction that it is the calling of Christians to order and govern our lives in accordance with the teaching of Holy Scripture, and to manifest our faith in public life as well as in private, giving expression to our beliefs in the written and spoken word, and in practical acts of service to the local community and to the nation.”