A “liberal” Anglican explains why he voted against women bishops

An interesting take From Tom Sutcliffe, writing at an Anglican website: 

The truth is that, in July with Clause 5.1.c as then proposed, the Measure stood a chance of being accepted by those most adversely affected by it and I might have voted for it then. But after that clause was watered down and talked merely of respect – a word which is no reassurance at all to anybody who has been attending to developments in The Episcopal Church on the other side of the Atlantic – it was likely to lead to grief and further departures. And I absolutely do not want to see the Church of England ending up as a result of our in my view correct determination to include women in the ordained ministry at all levels with an even smaller footprint. I do not want the Church to vote to shrink more, and there is no doubt that the ordination of women has not had the entirely positive effect that was anticipated. It has not led to an increase in the membership or the effectiveness of our church, however good most women priests have been. The decline in numbers and in status and in the respect in which we are held by ordinary citizens who are not active members has become precipitate…

…Those of us who want women to be bishops as I do simply have to accept that what we are doing with our change in the law is to enable a possibility not to insist on a new theological certainty. While there are many (though a minority) who do not accept women as bishops, women bishops simply cannot be quite the same as men bishops. A woman bishop in Hereford diocese would be uncontroversial in that territory. But a women bishop in London or Chichester would be out of the question. That is the difference between women bishops and men who are bishops – and nothing we can do in a Measure to permit women to be bishops can change that…

… [An] element of passionately committed supporters of the ordination of women made no secret of their determination to insist that the Church of England in their view should drive out anybody who did not accept women’s ordination. We would have been allowing a process stretching into the future of continuing ferment and argument about how to accommodate or manage those who could not accept women clergy. That would have been dishonest and debilitating for the Church and very bad for mission. Conservative evangelical and some Anglo-catholic parishes are thriving. The Church of England was created to be an inclusive National Church and we must honour that tradition established by Queen Elizabeth I in the long reign of her successor Queen Elizabeth II.

There’s much more.  Read it all. 

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