I believe that Tuesday, November 20, 2012 was a disappointing day for many in Church of England.
The measure to enable women be consecrated bishops failed to gain over a 2/3rd majority in the House of Laity. Those who know me may at first be surprised that I too am saddened. I am among those who have long opposed the ordination or women as either priests or bishops. There does not seem to me to be sufficient evidence in scripture to justify a break with a tradition of 2,000 years which would effectively end hopes of reunion with the main Churches of East and West, the Roman Catholic Church and the Eastern Orthodox Church. However I acknowledge that the majority of individuals and parishes in the Church of England have found the ministry of women blessed by God and feel that it is right for this to be extended to the order of bishops. What really saddens me is that this has been reported on television and in papers as an injustice for women. This was not the reason why the measure failed. In 1992 the measure to allow women be ordained priest was passed (by a majority only fractionally over 2/3rds) because the wording was clear, provision was made for those who disagreed and compensation was made for those clergy who in conscience could no longer remain in post. A significant minority like myself accepted the archbishop’s 1992 assurance that there was an honoured place for us of the Catholic tradition in the Church of England. Sadly the measure introduced before General Synod in 2012 did not have the same clarity. It seemed that much was open to interpretation at a later date. An attempt by the two archbishops to draft an acceptable provision for those who in conscience could not accept the ministry of a woman in charge of a diocese failed to attract sufficient support in the time when the measure was being prepared. I am glad that the measure which was presented failed to achieve the necessary majority because unclear unfair law is not good law in the long term. However I remain saddened for very many who have been hurt and disappointed and pray that a way forward may soon be found. I am saddened that the mission of the Church is again diminished. I do hope however that those of us who did not agree with this particular measure are not maligned as unjust, myopic or chauvanistic. Everyone seeks justice!
(Fr.) Leslie Greenwood