Akin to a WATCH pressure group meeting, members were informed that despite Archbishop Justin "managing the situation quite brilliantly" WATCH remains concerned about the continuing role of flying bishops and while the first two guiding principles in the 'Draft House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests' (here - see Annex A) were acceptable, "WATCH has concerns about the other three statements". As the Speaker's Chaplain put it, "As we go forward, the Church must stop leaving women to feel second best" suggesting that once women bishops are approved their campaign will continue until they have a Church acceptable to WATCH.
The debate offered a marvelous opportunity for mutual back-slapping interwoven with comments solicited from women priests on motherhood, housekeeping and social work:
"It goes without saying that women are not the same as men. They often have more responsibility for families, looking after the home at the same time as carrying out a job. Many female vicars are also mothers or grandmothers, and I have seen the benefits that those other duties have had on their ministry. One female vicar in my constituency said: “In Kingshurst, people call at the vicarage if they need help. I listen to a woman who works in a factory and needs help with improving her reading. I have been doing this for about three years.” Some of the women in my constituency lack female role models within their own family—perhaps they are estranged from the grandparental generation. A female priest can provide real practical help, advice and support to young women making their first steps in motherhood without a family network around them."
The theme of this post is echoed by Cranmer (here) and VirtueOnline (here) but what really hits home for me is a comment by George Conger (here) in Anglican Unscripted [advance to position 40] when he refers to clerics such as Bishop Gene Robinson as someone who believes that the Holy Spirit has informed him of God's new way of acting in this world, not tied to scripture and tradition, but only to what he believes God is telling him to do. That sounds familiar!