Women Bishops: Over 13,000 petition signatures call for action whilst Synod dithers November 26, 2012Posted by Phil Groom in Christianity, Church, Watching and Waiting.
Tags: Archbishops' Council, Church of England, General Synod, Women Bishops
HOW LONG, O LORD?
As of this morning, across the four petitions noted over the weekend by Thinking Anglicans — Women Bishops: online petitions — there are now more than 13,000 signatures calling for action in response to General Synod’s failure to ratify its draft legislation for women bishops:
- Petition to the Cabinet Office: No women Bishops, no automatic seats in the House of Lords – over 7,500 signatures
- Petition to ‘The Group of Six”: Women Bishops – Another Vote Now – over 5,000 signatures
- Petition to The General Synod of the Church of England: Unconditionally ordain Women as Bishops in the Church of England – over 1,000 signatures
- Petition to the Archbishops’ Council, the House of Bishops and ABC Designate the Rt Revd Justin Welby: No Confidence in General Synod: Calling for an Urgent Review – over 150 signatures
And the official response of the Church of England? Silence and Synod deferred. Yes, a number of bishops have blogged their dismay, but as yet, only silence from those who are in a position to move things along.
To quote Sir Tony Baldry, Second Church Estates Commissioner, from his session answering questions in parliament, this issue “cannot be parked, and work needs to be done urgently to try to ensure that it is resolved as quickly as possible.”
On Saturday the Very Revd Michael Sadgrove, Dean of Durham, described the decision to delay Synod as “extraordinary”, resembling “a bad case of loss of nerve”:
In Tuesday’s backwash, there was an ominous symptom of attitude in the church that needs examining. We were told that General Synod will not now meet in February but only in July 2013. This is extraordinary. When the nation is in crisis, Parliament is summoned within days to consider it and guide those who have to make rapid decisions in life-threatening situations. When the Church of England is in its gravest crisis for decades, the Synod postpones its next meeting and decides that it will be sufficient to meet in 8 months’ time.
This looks like a bad case of loss of nerve. It’s as if we are in denial that the situation is as serious and urgent as it is. This is how it’s being perceived in the nation. Most significant at a time of trial, it looks like a failure of governance. There is a big reputational risk here. Just when you want your governing body to be there and exercise its proper authority, it vanishes like the Cheshire Cat into the thicket not to be seen again till the sun comes out next summer. I urge the Synod to meet in the next few weeks to show both church and nation that it has noticed what is happening and is doing something about it.
And today, news has emerged of a strong warning to the Archbishops from William Fittall, General Synod’s Secretary General, in which he is reported to state:
Unless the Church of England can show very quickly that it’s capable of sorting itself out, we shall be into a major constitutional crisis in Church-State relations, the outcome of which cannot be predicted with confidence.
Enough dithering, my Lord Bishops: Synod must be recalled sooner not later. Please do not keep us hanging in limbo; the period for quiet reflection is over: it’s now time for action. Failure to respond will only result in further pressure as those campaigning for Bishops to removed from the House of Lords grow in number and measures to enforce equality legislation become increasingly likely. Please don’t wait to be pushed: take a lead.