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Consecrating female bishops in the Church of England

Steps taken during 2004

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Steps during the year 2004:

2004-JUL: At the General Synod:

  • The Working Party issued its second interim report.
  • Canon Penny Driver, the Diocesan Director of Ordinands and a member of General Synod, said:
    "Many of us believe that an all-male episcopate can no longer properly fulfill the role of Christian leadership - we need both male and female bishops just as we have male and female priests, deacons and laity."
  • Bishop Michael Nazir-Ali, Chairperson of the Working Group commented:
    "Our views are likely to be rooted in whether we see the common mission of men and women as more fundamental or the distinction in role which comes from difference in gender." 1

2004-NOV-02: The final report of the House of Bishops Working Party on Women in the Episcopate was finally published. It is titled "Women Bishops in the Church of England?" Its chairperson, the Rt. Revd. Dr Michael Nazir-Ali, Bishop of Rochester, said:

"We have tried to do this as comprehensively as possible and hope that our report will prove to be a useful resource for discussion and debate in the Church as a whole ... Our meetings have demonstrated a basic unity, not only in faith and a commitment to scholarship but often also in theological approach."

The Working Party considered three questions:

  • Is it right in principle to consecrate female bishops?
  • If yes, then is this the right time?
  • If it is the right time, how should the process be set up and how should those who cannot accept the ministry of female bishops be provided for?

The report outlined various paths that the Church of England can take in the future, but did not make any recommendations. The report concludes:

"We need to give the highest priority to deepening the quality of our love for the other members of the body of Christ, perhaps especially those with whom we most strongly disagree on issues such as the ordination of women to the episcopate." 2,3

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams, and Archbishop of York, Dr. David Hope, said:

 "We are happy to commend it for prayerful study within the dioceses of the Church of England and to invite other Churches in the Anglican Communion and our ecumenical partners to let us have their reflections on it."

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. Eunice K. Or, "Anglicans Debate over Women Bishop Ordination," SpiritHit News, 2004-JUL-27, at: http://news.spirithit.com/
  2. Text of the "Women Bishops in the Church of England?" is available at: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/ **
  3. A reader's guide to the above report is available at: http://www.cofe.anglican.org/ **

** This is a PDF file. You may require software to read it. Software can be obtained free from: 

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This topic continues in the next essay

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Copyright 2004 to 2008 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Latest update: 2008-JUL-10
Author: Bruce A. Robinson

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