Letters to CEN From The Revd Ian Hobbs and Mr Alan Bartley
I would put myself on the side of favouring women as Bishops because of the content and trajectory of scripture but I am deeply disturbed by the challenge to Phillip Giddings as Chair of the House of Laity (16 December).
There is a arrogant side to some of General Synod which is determined to put down any voice of questioning or difference within it. They are ignoring those (including me) who want to say ‘yes’ but would share his concern about the way in which dissenters are treated and promises have been broken.
I find this move both disgraceful and distressing. Only the House of Bishops was almost unanimous (and who elected them?). The vote was lost. Get over it and get on with finding a more full-of-God’s grace solution.
The Rev Ian Hobbs
“It is the duty of the clergy and people to do their utmost not only to avoid occasions of strife but also seek in penitence and brotherly charity to heal such divisions.” (Canon A8 “Of Schisms”). Given this, would it not be more becoming the House of Laity when it meets in January, if it were to pass a motion of no confidence in the House of Bishops rather than in their chairman Dr Philip Giddings (Front page,16 December)? Dr Giddings recognised the primacy of conscience and loyalty to Scripture and the historic teaching of the Church for those opposed to this innovation of consecrating women bishops, and that inadequate provision would harden and formalise our divisions.
Thus he was acting canonically, the same can hardly be said for any who promoted this inequitable and ill-drafted Measure. For let us never forget that the House of Bishops had and used their constitutional right to determine the final form that the ill-drafted legislation came before General Synod. In promoting the legislation, had their Measure passed, they would have failed to protect a loyal minority. They also failed as business managers to judge the mood of General Synod, and are responsible for this failure. What is more, they knew it was a knife-edge decision, but decided to go ahead and gamble with no plans as to how to manage the media frenzy should it, as it did, fail.
Finally, having managed General Synod into disaster, rather than doing their utmost to explain why it was reasonable and honourable to hesitate to get the legislation right, many bishops did the exact opposite and promoted or seconded the media attacks on our Church. If this is not worthy of a vote of no confidence, what is? Is it not incipient clericalism that makes these General Synod sycophants pass over this major failing of the House of Bishops while criticising Dr Giddings acting canonically? But then they also were promoters of this divisive Measure!
But who are these highly motivated and opinionated members of General Synod driving change? Can such people really represent the mainly apathetic and disinterested laity of the Church of England? Dean Stanley thought not, he called such teachers and leaders who might be expected to arise, clergy under another name. What about Ecumenism? We know this innovation will prevent the wider reunion with Rome and Orthodoxy, but what about reunion with Methodists and others? If General Synod reneges on legal assurances given to our minorities only 20 years ago, what weight will minorities in Methodism give to any assurance they are promised? Indeed, what assurance will Methodism have, as a minority in a united Church, that we will honour any assurances and safeguards to respect their ethos and heritage in a reunited Church? What of winning our country to Christ? If we promote a re-engineered Church that moves with the world, we are unlikely to be the Church Christ founded to challenge and move the world.
Also some interesting comments on the ultra-liberal Thinking Anglicans website