|Governing Body members vote in favour of ordaining women as bishops Photo: Church in Wales|
The Bill proposed by the bishops of the Church in Wales to enable women to be consecrated as bishops was successfully amended by the Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven Peggy Jackson, and the Reverend Canon Jenny Wigley. Their amendment substituted a voluntary code of practice for the statutory provisions contained in the bishops' bill. Details can be found here along with the Select Committee's recommendations.
The resulting vote did reflect "the overwhelming view of Governing Body" which, judging by the "huge cheers" that followed, must have been made up largely of like-minded supporters. By contrast the result of the vote against women bishops in the Church of England last November was received in dignified silence. There were no celebratory outbursts but complaints followed alleging that the Synod vote did not represent the will of the Church. It did but not part of it - the Church of England. Nevertheless a campaign was launched to set aside the rules and fast track legislation which included a process of facilitated discussion and reconciliation. This process should provide a model for the Church in Wales to restore the trust that has been lost.
After the Governing Body vote the Archbishop of Wales, Dr Barry Morgan, said, “While we, as bishops, welcome the decision that women can now be ordained as bishops in Wales, we recognise that there are some people who do not. We want to make sure that adequate provision is made for them so that they will still feel valued and accepted in the Church and will continue to worship and minister alongside us. We have been entrusted to draw up a Code of Practice within a year and we are keen to consult as widely as possible with church members in order to reflect their views as best we can.”
The Church in Wales suffers from a lingering problem. Those with conscientious objections to the decision to ordain women no longer "feel accepted and valued within the Church". The lack of trust caused by the decision of the Bench of Bishops not to replace the Provincial Assistant Bishop has to be addressed if "adequate provision" is to have any meaning.
On the face of it the Church in Wales made its position clear in a press release here: As part of the legislation passed, the Bishops are required to draw up a Code of Practice to ensure all members of the Church, including those with conscientious objections to the decision, continued to feel accepted and valued within the Church. [My emphasis - Ed.]
Our amendment seeks explicitly to restore the relationship of Trust between the body of the Church in Wales and the Bench of Bishops, and to reassert the desire for this trust to lie at the heart of the bishops’ ministry and their role as a focus for unity.
Our amendment would bring Church in Wales legislation more closely into line with other churches in the Anglican Communion who have passed legislation to enable the consecration of women bishops - in particular the Scottish Episcopal Church and the Church of Ireland. In none other of the churches of the Anglican Communion so far has provision been made for conscientious dissent in legislation, but only in Codes of Practice. We do not believe that Wales should be the one to set a new precedent on this matter.
If the challenge is beyond the Bench permission must be granted and arrangements made for bishops to cross borders in the new spirit of church unity. That at least will ensure that all members of the Church, including those with conscientious objections, feel accepted and valued again.