Women-bishops legislation and the revision committee’s report

Bishop Lindsay UrwinFrom the Rt Revd Lindsay Urwin OGS     Church Times

Sir, — It is now time for fair-minded Anglicans who see no reason why women should not be priests and bishops, but who understand that it is possible to be a Christian and a faithful Anglican and take a different view, to make clear that they don’t want their so-called “traditionalist” brothers and sisters to have merely hospice room in the Church of England, but rather the chance to flourish and grow.

And hospice room is all that the draft legislation offers. Within a short time, there will be no traditionalist bishops with jurisdiction, and therefore the authority to encourage and discern ordination candidates, or the authority to send labourers into the harvest and direct the mission of the Church. Soon we will have a college of bishops the vast majority of whom merely tolerate traditionalist priests and parishes rather than love them into growth.

Everybody secretly knows that the scenario on offer from the legislative group is designed to be a stopgap to deal with a group of people until they die out. No one will admit this publicly, not primarily, I believe, out of loving regard for the people con­cerned, but to hide from themselves the reality of what they are doing.

A few years ago, I challenged the College of Bishops with this reality. Heads went down sheepishly, and none more so than bishops with Catholic hearts who accept the ordination of women.

Those who come to a different conclusion about the admission of women to the episcopate have been promised that they would always have an equal and honoured place in the life of the Church. Since 1993, I have continually urged traditional Catholics and Evangelicals to play their part in the life of the Church of England and to trust those promises.

I cannot express the searing disappointment in my own heart and in those who feel betrayed by the community they love. I feel irritated at myself that I still keep saying it, and still keep hoping that something fair and just will emerge. If traditionalists express anger, their first emotion is hurt.

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