To the House of Bishops [of the Church of England]: Withdraw Clause 5(1)c

Today WATCH (Women And The Church) sent the interim results of their Petition, to the House of Bishops in advance of their emergency meeting this morning.

The Petition calls upon the House of Bishops to withdraw their last minute amendment to clause 5(1)c  which many feel will entrench discrimination against women in the Established Church and place a permanent question mark over the validity of women’s orders, if passed into law.

Over 5,000 have signed in the first week and the numbers are still rising rapidly.

The signatories represent a very broad constituency including lay and ordained women and men, committed church goers, and those who are on the fringes and put off deeper commitment by (amongst other things) the Church of England’s perceived ambivalence towards women.

The comments that many people have made when signing the petition offer lucid and powerful arguments for the withdrawal of the amendment to Clause 5(1)c, but there is also much anger and sadness that the House of Bishops have seen fit to override the opinions of the overwhelming majority who voted in diocesan synods to approve the unamended legislation.

Most worryingly, there are many people who are truly beginning to lose faith in the Church of England, and there is clearly a danger that by falling over backwards to accommodate the loud demands of those who will not accept the ministry of women bishops the church will lose many thousands of quietly despairing loyal but weary Anglicans.

Comments can be viewed can be viewed online here.https://

The following quotes give a flavour of the responses;

“As a lay woman in the C of E, I have observed developments in this field for nearly 50 years. It is now time to say that ‘enough is enough’. I value the Anglican approach to holding views in tension, but there comes a time when it is simply a matter of refusing to address prejudices”

“This amendment gives permanent support to a theology of ‘taint’ and a theology of male headship. As the co-founder of a women’s refuge and worker there before ordination I am sadly aware this has ramifications far beyond the priesthood and reflects badly on the C of E. General Synod has a responsibility to look beyond itself. ‘What God has made clean, you must not call profane.’ Acts.10.15, this morning’s NT reading.”

“There comes a point at which the Church of England must find the courage to make a decision and stick to it – there is no way to square this particular circle. I am fed up with being expected to accept being a kind of “Shroedinger’s Priest” – simultaneously a priest and not a priest, depending on who is looking at me – and it baffles and offends most of those outside the church that this should be the case.”

“This measure implies that women can only make second class bishops and maintains the perception that male bishops are ‘tainted’ by association once they’ve ordained women. I’ve been a member of the CofE for over ten years since becoming a Christian, moved churches at the beginning of the year and recently became an Adherent member of the Salvation Army. It’s so refreshing and affirming to be in a church where gender just isn’t an issue and women are treated as equals.”

“Having worked as a Training Officer in Chaplaincy, relating to Chaplains of several denominations and World Faiths, I have always found myself to be respected as fair, sensitive and generous in my dealings. I am profoundly shocked that fellow Anglicans seem unable to trust potential women Bishops to be just and generous. It is time to pass this measure in the form in which it has already been affirmed by a large majority.”

“Too many questions have been raised by this late addition to draft legislation that has already been through a long process, including overwhelming approval in the dioceses. There is insufficient time for General Synod members to consider and weigh all the implications of enactment of the legislation as amended before taking a final vote.”

“I am an Anglican worshipper, married to an Anglican priest. I don’t want the polite internal schism we agreed to when women were ordained to the priesthood to be perpetuated for further generations. The arrangements for woman-free enclaves of the church should only ever have been transitional: the amendment threatens to make the division, and the injustice, a lasting feature.”

Following the preliminary debates yesterday, the measure will be considered again on Monday. WATCH urges General Synod to adjourn the debate on Monday to allow the House of Bishops to reconsider and withdraw the amendment.

David Prescott – Petition Co-ordinator  (07779 588619)

Notes for Editors

WATCH (Women and the Church) is a voluntary organisation of women and men who are campaigning to see women take their place alongside men without discrimination and at every level in the Church of England. This requires the removal of current legal obstacles to the consecration of women as bishops.  WATCH believes that the full equality of women and men in the Church is part of God’s will for all people, and reflects the inclusive heart of the Christian scripture and tradition