Anglicans take the plunge for women bishops

I didn’t think they had in them. The Church of England synod has actually voted in favour of appointing women bishops. But the very Anglican compromise devised by the senior hierarchy to prevent a split, the appointment of male super bishops for the thousands who can’t stomach women in episcopal authority failed. A pity, I think.The earlier idea of flying bishops for opponents of women priests was allowing the old peculiars to wither quietly on the vine. Never mind: there’s always another chance for another vote in the good old Cof E and super bishops might pass next year after the legislation is drafted. The Church of England will survive.

Why can’t I get the idea out of my head of Clark Kent’s alter ego and Batman and Robin soaring skywards in mitres?

P.S. The Vatican, in fairly hard-line language for them have just said: “We learned with regret the news of the vote of the Church of England that opens the way to the introduction of legislation that would lead to the ordination of women bishops.”

The decision will be “a new obstacle to reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England,” a statement added.

Now there’s a surprise! More on possible implications below the fold.
The dissidents who secretly went to Rome to ask the Pope’s former Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith what if any new relationship could be patched up with them must truly be desperate. Talk about the lion’s den. Any chance of recognising the Anglican orders of a church in turmoil, your eminences? Sure gentlemen, come right in. I don’t see it somehow. Meanwhile Alan Harper, C of I Abp of Armagh warns that the junior branch of Anglicanism in these islands may have to admit that homosexuality may be natural after all. Nice to see our branch of a dividing Church catching up with reality. If not before time.

More on P.S. Vatican statement If C of E traditionalists decide to go over to Rome, what about the future for all those millions of Catholics who support clerical marriage and women priests and bishops? See report of latest clamp down in the New York Times.

If this hard line persists, why not join another church, the Anglicans, who pray every day for ” one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church?” Like the new Dean of Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, a former Catholic priest now married, who joined the Church of Ireland which has allowed women priests and bishops since the 1990s (but hasn’t turned up a woman bishop yet).

  • Rapunsel

    God o god, why is this issue getting so much media coverage? Does anyone care what the Church of England does?

    It’s like a bun fight in some far left organisation, people full of their own self importance and righteousness ridiculously removed from the real world.

    The Church of England is in my view a minority sect with the media puffing up the egos of silly people dressed in frocks talking shite. There must be some real news somewhere.

    Am I the only person that thinks so?

  • Brian Walker

    Rapunsel, fair question, if you don’t see the point immediately, though you sound as if you’ve closed your mind. I hope not. Here goes anyway…

    First, the C of E is an important forum for sexual politics, which interests many people beyond the shores of England and influences what happens in Ireland. The Catholic church – indeed all of world wide Xianity will be paying close attention. And Anglicanism as a whole is a world wide body wracked by this fundamental controversy about the nature of human identity and relationships that also has taken on a first world vs third world character.

    Secondly, how many other institutions act out their battles of conscience so publicly?

    Thirdly, many Irish people, even those who reject them, have Christianity and churches in their blood and background, because of their still considerable impact on society. They are interested in the passionate debate.

    Fourthly, the C of E retains a privileged role in British institutions which NI shares ( .i.e. Parliament) and strong contemporary and historic links with churches in Ireland as a whole. In a sense, and often with the consent of other Churches, it speaks for the role of Christianity to a society which retains a certain respect for it, even if few, around 1 million plus, remain active adherents.

    And finally, any left-right struggle, whatever the polarities, attracts wider interest beyond the faithful. All worth a few inches of Slugger’s space, I think

  • “Does anyone care what the Church of England does?”

    If I can broaden this out to the Churches, Rapunsel, they probably make a very valuable contribution to community cohesion. In some cases, they may be the only organisations left to offer care and support when the agencies of the state have folded their tents and slunk away.

  • willowfield

    Yes, people do care.

    I think this is a positive move, albeit a bit fudged.

  • Delta Omega

    Yet again they get it hugely wrong. Just another step towards a liberal secular society and away from fundamental Christian doctrines. All of course has been foretold in scripture – “In the last days there will be a great falling away”

  • Leo

    Once the CoE had allowed in women priests, women bishops were inevitable. It looks like the only real options for the Anglican traditionalists are to split, or else go to Rome.

    Also, even if homosexuality is shown to be natural, how would that change the church’s teaching on it? Isn’t it pretty widely believed that men may naturally favour having multiple sexual partners? Yet I don’t see any of the Christian churches rushing to allow bigamy.

  • Rapunsel


    Good points and I agree it does merit comment and posting on Slugger. I am not intending to be a troll . Just feel the mainstream media is giving undue prominence to the story. Related to this yesterday BBC Radio Ulster ran a story about the comments of the Bishop of Armagh on whether homosexuality was natural then they had a vox pop with people from a different evangelical church on his views ? I think all of this is partly down to early media summer silly season.

  • willowfield

    Once the CoE had allowed in women priests, women bishops were inevitable. It looks like the only real options for the Anglican traditionalists are to split, or else go to Rome.

    The third option, of course, is to accept the decision of the Church.

  • Leo

    [i]The third option, of course, is to accept the decision of the Church.[/i]

    But they’re Protestants….

  • Greenflag

    ‘Thirdly, many Irish people, even those who reject them, have Christianity and churches in their blood and background, because of their still considerable impact on society. They are interested in the passionate debate. ‘

    I would’nt say many -some perhaps. Most Irish people are aware that the RC Church has problems – they only managed to get ‘three’ priests this year one of which was a Vietnamese immigrant and the others late (change of career) seen the ‘light ‘ merchants .

    Anyway for NI it’s a distraction from the upcoming week during which the religiously minded will celebrate their ‘protestantism ‘ and ‘freedom ‘ by beating loudly on drums , marching around in circles waving flags , burning tricolours on bonfires, and taunting any passing papists .

    Christianity shure where would we be without it ?

    I recommend a read of Mark Twain’s excellent ‘Letters from the Earth’ as a perfect antidote to those who ‘believe’ that a bunch of bishops in mitres can have anything to offer the world apart from the usual navel sorry upgrade to butt end gazing 🙁

  • Ulsters my homeland

    Things are about to get interesting, me guesses!

    “A bishop then must be blameless, the husband of one wife”

    roll on the gay female Bishops, lol

  • An interesting debate indeed. There must have been a lot of fudge in the earlier debate since the very creation of women priests would eventually build momentum for women bishops and surely the next step is the head of the church as a woman.
    My crude layman’s definition of Protestant faith versus the RC faith is that Protestanism strives to source its teachings from the word of god alone ; whereas the RC chuch mixes up the word of god with a bit of the word of man.

    How does each faith account for its justification of no women priests. Is there a biblical reference or is it chuch law derived from an early council etc. If there were no basis for in the bible then is it “legally” unsound for a Protestant church.
    Any folks out there no what the doctrinal basis for this exclusion is?

  • Leo

    [i]Any folks out there no what the doctrinal basis for this exclusion is?[/i]

    The main reason put forward is that Jesus had male-only apostles, and since the bishops are the descendants (spiritually) of the apostles, then you can only have male bishops (and hence priests).

    Since Catholics also use Church Tradition (not just the word of man, but unwritten customs passed down from the apostles), they also base their reasoning on the fact that there were no female bishops in the early church.

  • Delta Omega


    It is a bit more fundamental than Leo suggests. The Bible specifically states that it shouldn’t happen. 1 Tim 2:12 “But I suffer not a woman to teach, or to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”. I don’t think it can be any more clearly spelt out than that.

  • Delta Omega

    The doctrinal argument is put significantly better than I ever could by Don Noblin:

    “But I Suffer Not a Woman to Teach…Over a Man” (I Tim. 2:11- 15)
    (Part 2)
    “Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence (1 Tim 2:11-12).

    In recent years we have heard a great deal about the roles of men and women. A great many magazine articles and books have been written calling upon women to break the shackles that have held them, as they put it, and declare themselves free. Some are seeking to justify women preaching, serving as elders, leading in singing etc. There is the ever present need for men to go to the Bible, and learn the proper role God has assigned to each of us.

    Does God authorize women preachers? God clearly has given a different level of service to the man which he has not designated for women. “But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God” (I Cor 11:3). Therefore the order given is God, Christ, man, woman. Submission is not a sign of inferiority. If it were, our Lord Jesus would be inferior to God the Father. But we read in Phil. 2:6 where Jesus “thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” But he was submissive to the Father for we read: “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me” (John 6:38). By the same reasoning, woman is not inferior because God has assigned her a different role in the church to the role of man.

    The scripture for this study says that the woman is not to “teach, nor usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.” The word “teach,” here is translated from the verb didasko, and it means “to deliver didactic discourses” (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon). One cannot preach without delivering a “didactic discourse.” The teaching or preaching here prohibited is such that involves improper exercising of authority “over the man.” Paul instructs preachers to “speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority” (Titus 2:15). But Paul instructs the women not to “usurp authority over the man.” Let it be understood that women are not forbidden the position of teaching. She is commanded to teach children and other women (Titus 1:3-5; I Tim. 5:14). She is forbidden to teach or preach over the man.

    “Let your women keep silent in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law” (I Cor. 14:34). These evidently were the wives of the prophets who were interrupting their husbands and they were instructed to remain “silent.” Notice the explicit command: the women are “commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.” What law? It was not the law of Moses, for there was no such commandment found there. But notice Gen. 3:16 where God said to the woman, “Thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee.” The law requiring man’s leadership and the women to be in submission has not been repealed even in the New Testament. The women of I Cor. 14 were not permitted to speak because God’s law places woman under the leadership of men.

    Women cannot preach, lead singing, lead in prayer, serve at the Lord’s table or any other thing that would place her in the leadership role instead of the role of subjection that God has assigned to her.

    “If any man speak let him speak as the oracles of God” (I Pet. 4:11).

    Don H. Noblin

  • muchas gracias. some pretty good answers.

  • joeCanuck

    Any folks out there no what the doctrinal basis for this exclusion is?

    There were many more than four gospels. Some specifically spoke to the important role women played and should continue to play in the church. In the 4th? century, a male bishop was appointed to examine how “true” the differing gospels were. He suppressed those which talked to the role of women. That’s it.

  • The gnostic gospels and so on. interesting branch of church history. The church is one of the definitive relics of the Roman era its humbling to think of the time span we are talking about here and the continuity with the Greco-Roman world that this represents. That being said I am all for women bishops and also for the RC church, along with the right of rc priests to marry but thats another story.

  • Delta Omega


    I have to agree toi some extent – AD325: the first council of Nicaea where Constantine tried to get the various Christian factions to agree and determine the books to be included in the canon of scripture. There were many distinct factions including those who followed the Apostle Paul’s teachings and those who followed James (Jesus’s brother). Ultimately the Paulites were dominant.

    However, given all that, and having read most of what are included the gnostic texts and the apocrapher, my own personal belief is in the canon of scripture as we currently know it.

  • Greenflag

    delta omega .

    ‘But I suffer not a woman to teach, or to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence”.I Tim. 2:11- 15)
    ‘I don’t think it can be any more clearly spelt out than that.’

    Gobshite can be clearly spelt but it’s still gobshite . Think about the above biblical excerpt for more than a second and then think about all the women you have ever known ?. Now think of silence . Is there not a disconnect here . Saying that women should be silent is like telling a fish not to swim or a bird not to fly. Contrary to nature .

    Assuming a creator made woman in the first instance and implanted within her her ‘nature’ should the the creator/not so intelligent designer not recognise his ‘defective creation/manufacturing process’ and recall the product i.e women ?

    I know exactly where he can start . If he’s quick about it and gets in contact with me I can direct him to my mother in law’s house.:) Why not ‘ a mass female rapture’ followed by mass vocal tract extraction in the designer’s workshop and then re rapture the lot back to earth ? Problem solved .

    Better still why not ‘ a mass female rapture’ followed by mass vocal tract extraction in the designer’s workshop -and then re rapture the lot back to earth ? Problem solved . Even the COE will no longer have a problem . Dumb priests and bishops there are no doubt many – but in the strictly literal sense they would be very few in number if any ?

  • Delta Omega

    Green flag

    The greek word interpreted in the KJV as silence is ησυχια. This can also be interpreted as “stillness”. the literal translation of the verse is actually: “For a woman I permit not to teach or have authority over a man, but to be in stillness.” -1 Timothy 2:12

    The Bible Church has the following expository on this which sets out the meaning very clearly.

    The authority and teaching about which Paul spoke applies to spiritual matters only. These spiritual matters include church and home. A woman is not to have authority over men in church leadership positions, nor is she to have authority over her husband. It is implied in the context that this means only in these areas, church and family. A woman may not teach a man nor have authority over him in spiritual matters, which includes the church and the family, and she is to be still or quiet in these areas. That does not mean she may not speak, but stillness means that she should not be in authority over a man. As long as she is not in authority over her husband or over men in the church, she may speak. Certainly she should have authority over her children, her servants, and her household. But her authority does not extend over her husband.

    In the church, she should not teach with authority over men. In other words, she may not teach a man in a way that gives her authority over him. She may teach a Sunday School class or a Bible study as long as she does not usurp the authority of men in the class. An example of this would be a woman teaching a Sunday School lesson out of a quarterly. This is acceptable. But if she claims authority over a man in her teaching, like a pastor has authority over men in his teachings, she is violating this principle. Sunday School teachers or Bible study teachers generally have no authority in the church (unless the teacher is also a pastor, elder, or bishop). Only the elders, bishops and pastors have authority. Hence she may not be an elder, bishop, or pastor.

    Now she may be a deaconess in the strictest sense of the word-she may serve (deacon, Gr. diakonos, means servant). If the deacons are not in authority in a church (and they should not be in authority) then a woman can be a deaconess. But there are churches where the deacons sit as a board of directors, and in these churches women may not be deacons. I am of the firm opinion that in such churches these men should not be called deacons but elders. In my church, though, the deacons fill both positions. Sometimes they are elders and sometimes servants depending on the circumstances in which they are involved. In this case, women many not be deacons.

    This does not mean that a woman may not have authority over a man in business or government, or any other matters outside the areas of authority in the church or having authority over her husband. A woman CEO may have authority over men who work for her. Even if she is a Christian and he is a Christian, if she is his employer, she may have authority over him in his employment. But if a female boss tries to take spiritual authority over a male employee, she has violated the principle in this verse. There is no prohibition against a woman premier, prime minister, president or any other head of state. In those positions they may have authority over men, but only political or management authority. A female leader who is a Christian and is married to a Christian may not have authority in spiritual matters over her husband, even though she may be the most powerful person in the world (as is the President of the USA). A woman judge also has authority over men in her purview. But even her authority does not extend over her husband or over leaders in her church. Of course if one of those leaders comes in her courtroom, there she has authority over him in judicial matters, but not in spiritual matters.

  • Harry Flashman

    Brian I think you’ve left the lid off the italics jar and it’s running all over the threads below, can you put it back on again please?

  • Rory

    The Irish-American poet and undertaker, Thomas Kinsella, wrote in his beautiful little book of essays The Undertaking that “the dead do not care”. Neither in a sense do the majority of those, in England at least, who would, if asked, admit to being Anglicans – the “hatch, match and disapatch brigade” as they have been called, which is not to disparage them. They do indeed represent Anglicanism’s greatest triumph. The ability to hold a great swathe of the population to such a measure of quiet loyalty is not to be sneezed at.

    But Rapunsel did touch on something important and it is the recognition that really very few seem to care or even notice this great turmoil within the Church and it is certainly not on the menu of topics up for debate in the saloon bar of the Dog and Duck this evening nor, strangely enough, has Radio 4 been banging on about it overmuch. For the great mass of CoE customers it really doesn’t matter who conducts the ceremony when they choose to attend, just so long as they keep it short and don’t charge too much.

    Homosexual priests and women bishops may seem strange to some but those who would brood too deeply on matters of such little import to most seem uncomfortably odd to Uncle Tom Cobley and all.

  • joeCanuck

    Homosexual priests and women bishops may seem strange to some

    I think that a strong case can be made that a clique of male homosexuals seized control of the western Catholic church in the 11th Century. That may have something to do with the reason that that unreformed section of that particular church doesn’t countenance women clergy.

  • joeCanuck

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with male or female homosexuality per se, of course. It’s nobody’s business but their own.