Unlike women in religious communities who put God and mankind before self, Women and the Church (WATCH) exists only to serve themselves. The fury exhibited after losing the vote in a Synod specially convened at considerable expense for the purpose of reaching a conclusion under agreed procedures is extraordinary. Their performance is matched only by the high priestess of schism who is busy tearing apart The Episcopal Church in the United States of America.
In a recent TV programme Christina Rees referred to "those who are opposed to this [measure], who have completely refused to accept all the arrangements that we have worked painstakingly over years to provide" with no hint of responsibility for the fact that WATCH have scuppered every attempt to reach agreement unless it is on their terms.
The bishops have given every reason to believe that they are conniving with WATCH. A statement on 28 November after the Archbishops' Council read as follows:
"As part of their reflections, many council members commented on the deep degree of sadness and shock that they had felt as a result of the vote and also of the need to affirm all women serving the church - both lay and ordained - in their ministries. In its discussions the Council decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013. There was agreement that the Church of England had to resolve this matter through its own processes as a matter of urgency".
One wonders what the council members had in mind when they commented "of the need to affirm all women serving the church - both lay and ordained". Does that include the women, almost half of those in the House of Laity who voted against the measure? They have already been condemned for being out of step not only with with the diocesan synods but with wider society as if secularism guides our faith. If everyone was supposed to vote in accordance with the wishes of WATCH, the House of Bishops and the House of Clergy, what was the point of debating the measure all day or, indeed, even of holding a special Synod? This is an abysmal example the Church of England has set for society. If we all rejected established procedures when we don't like the result there would be total anarchy.
In the TV programme mentioned above orthodox Christians were referred to as being toxic. The bishops who serve them by exercising our credal belief in the Apostolic Church were described as 'Flying Bigots' by the Rev George Pitcher who is a former public affairs advisor to the Archbishop of Canterbury no less. The Archbishop was correct when, speaking after the vote, he said: “We have, to put it very bluntly, a lot of explaining to do,” but he added, “Whatever the motivation for voting yesterday, whatever the theological principle on which people acted and spoke, the fact remains that a great deal of this discussion is not intelligible to our wider society. Worse than that, it seems as if we are wilfully blind to some of the trends and priorities of that wider society. We have some explaining to do, we have as a result of yesterday undoubtedly lost a measure of credibility in our society."
It is clear that Archbishop Rowan was admonishing worshippers in the Church of England who acted out of conscience because Synod had reneged on a pledge. Some of those in favour of women bishops but who voted against the measure have explained their reason: “Our vote against stemmed from the Measure’s failure to honour the inclusiveness which we believe fundamental to the future of Anglicanism. The Church of England needs all the voices it currently has, and to hear them all. Unity has never been unanimity.”
The Church of England has lost a very large measure of credibility. She has broken a solemn promise of care for all and has become vindictive, conniving and manipulative. Is a Church of England with women bishops to be a Church without honour?
Many in our constituency had faith that Rowan would not abandon us. That is now wearing very thin. If he too keeps the faith, this could still be his finest hour.