Bp of Ebbsfleet not taking bookings
– CoE women in holding pattern

As reported yesterday, the group tasked with writing legislation for admitting women into the episcopate in the Church of England will not meet the target of bringing legislation before the General Synod meeting in February. Those opposed to women in the episcopate do not want those women bishops to have the power to delegate alternative oversight. Proponents of women in the episcopate say that would create a second class of bishops.

Unmixed metaphors are, um, flying in this story from the BBC:

Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet, said he had “not taken bookings” after the General Synod vote [that had been scheduled for] next month. But after the Synod vote was put off to July, Bishop Burnham said he was now “not taking bookings” after then. He and other opponents of women bishops are concerned that the Synod will not grant their leaders enough autonomy.

On the timing of the Synod debate, he said: “We were comfortable that 22nd February was later than the planned debate and are now uncomfortable that the Synod debate is not happening until July.

And how is this for doublespeak?:

“I think, however, the response to the Apostolic Constitution… should be considered on its own terms, and not in reaction to a Synodical debate. “My own position is that, having previously not ‘taken bookings’ after 22nd February – lest I give the impression that we should make do with whatever the Synod chooses to prescribe – so I am not, for now, taking bookings after the July Synod.”

Burnham and the Bishop of Richborough, Keith Newton, who is also appointed to look after parishes opposing women in the priesthood, issued this statement on the same day (October 20th) as the Pope’s offer to disaffected Anglicans. They said in part,

The Bishops of Ebbsfleet and Richborough visited Rome in Eastertide 2008 and, graciously, were given a hearing in the Vatican. We were becoming increasingly concerned that the various agendas of the Anglican Communion were driving Anglicans and Roman Catholics further apart. It was our task, we thought, to take the opportunity of quietly discussing these matters in Rome. We were neither the first nor the last Anglicans to do this in recent years. Following the decision of General Synod of the Church of England in July 2008 to proceed with the ordination of women to the episcopate, we appealed to the Holy Father for help and have patiently awaited a reply.

In 2008 writing to Catholics in The [UK] Catholic Herald Burnham left no doubt that if the Catholic Church smoothed the way, then he was ready to book a paddle across the Tiber:

What we must humbly ask for now is for magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understands our longing for unity, and from the hierarchy of England and Wales. Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us.

Meanwhile we retreat into the wilderness and watch and pray.

Perhaps this doesn’t say what it seems to say because I lack a certain theological depth that the bishop possesses.

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