The WATCH committee met on Saturday to consider the House of Bishops’ amendments to the draft legislation for women bishops and agreed the following statement:

“WATCH recognises that some amendments were rejected by the House of Bishops. However, the WATCH committee is unanimous in its serious concern about the amended Clause 5 and is therefore consulting further about how to proceed as we approach General Synod in July.”

A consultation paper has been sent to WATCH members reporting the arguments that WATCH has heard both for and against the Clause 5 amendment. This is a work in progress and does not represent WATCH’s considered view but shows that, at the time of writing, the arguments against the amendment heavily outweigh those in favour.

The principal arguments WATCH has heard in favour of the amendment are pragmatic. Those against come under a variety of headings: the problems with process; the unforeseen legal effects; the institution of a permanent state of ‘reception’ for women; the consequences of qualifying ‘maleness’ and including taint on the face of the Measure. For full details see attached paper ‘For and against’.

Many people continue to express enormous anger that these changes have been made at this late stage.

The WATCH committee will meet later in the week to consider the merits of these and other arguments. We will then consider how best to respond to the House of Bishops’ intervention.

The Rev’d Rachel Weir, Chair of WATCH said:
“We have not found anyone who thinks the Clause 5 amendment is helpful in substance. The Church Times poll currently shows 68% people consider it will not improve the chances of the legislation passing in July. This is a very serious situation and we need to consult more widely before deciding our response.”