WATCH is delighted that the Church in Wales has taken the final necessary step to allow women to be elected as bishops. Today the bishops have published the terms under which women will minister as bishops, and in particular the provisions for those who dissent from this development. These are contained within a Code of Practice
There is a large overlap between the Code of Practice and the Church of England’s equivalent document, the House of Bishops’ Declaration. The 5 principles are practically identical. But the bishops in Wales have decided to make provision for groups of individuals rather than parishes who dissent, which is a less formal way of working.
There is a discrepancy though. The Code of Practice describes provisions for those who dissent, and contain nothing exceptional for those who assent. But Archbishop Barry Morgan, introducing and explaining the Code, seemed to go further than what is stated. He described there being reciprocity of provision, and that,
‘Some might even prefer to be ordained by a woman bishop and that request will go to the relevant Diocesan who will make provision for that to happen so that there is total reciprocity.’
Which is correct – the Code of Practice, or the Archbishop’s statement? If the Code is intended to allow for such ‘total reciprocity’, then we suggest that it needs to be spelled out, for the avoidance of doubt.
The Church of England has no such reciprocal provision. It remains the traditional norm that your Diocesan bishop is your bishop, whether you like him or not. The only exception is if, in future, he is female, in which case your parish can ask for other arrangements.