Church in Wales Sacred Synod, Lampeter, 11 Sept 2013 Photo: Church in Wales
This morning there were reports of great rejoicing in the Church in Wales (CinW) and in the women's lobby, examples here and here, after the decision to admit women to the episcopate in Wales. For others, the rejected minority, there will be a feeling of utter desolation akin to excommunication. The fact that the CinW has too many bishops and will have to cut the number of dioceses, probably from six to three, to have any chance of surviving will have been lost in the euphoria.
In the event the Bench revealed all by voting unanimously in favour of the Jackson - Wigley amended Bill which replaced the statuary guarantee with a meaningless Code of Practice. As the Ven. Peggy Jackson rightly said, "the Church in Wales has changed for ever".
The Bench would have had more credibility if they had withdrawn their Bill after the Jackson - Wigley amendment was carried. They didn't, suggesting that they had no intention of offering anything meaningful thereby confirming what Dr Morgan is reported to have said that 'there would be alternative pastoral provision over his dead body'.
Effectively the Governing Body did an about turn giving the Bench what they asked for five years ago. So what changed? From the very many comments I have heard and read, before and after the vote, it is clear that many had no theological concept of what they were voting on. Politics ruled. Statutory provision was not a lot to ask for fellow Christians who feel threatened in their own church but this was denied them with vigourous applause!
The Bench of Bishops had their chance but failed woefully leaving significant numbers under their care in limbo. It will be difficult for them to dig themselves out of the pit they have created but there is a chance to redeem themselves by allowing acceptable provision combined with the Church of England. If we are to learn anything from this sad episode it must be that working together to find a solution acceptable to all is the only just way forward.
This morning I entered church in gloom. I left in sunshine reflecting on our prayers. We had prayed for the people of Syria and those suffering elsewhere, especially for persecuted Christians. What would they give to be in our position? We owe it to them to do better.
Oh! Wolves in shepherd's clothing? The answer is here.