“Permeable Province” Proposed, Again

Forward in Faith UK has made its submission to the Women Bishops Legislative Drafting Group of the Church of England General Synod. For some reason, FiF abbreviates the name of the group to the Legislative Drafting Group. The charge to the group is “(i) preparing the draft measure and amending canon necessary to remove the legal obstacles to the consecration of women to the office of bishop; (ii) preparing a draft of possible additional legal provision consistent with Canon A4 to establish arrangements that would seek to maintain the highest possible degree of communion with those conscientiously unable to receive the ministry of women bishops; (iii) submitting the results of its work to the House of Bishops for consideration and submission to Synod;

Some selections from FiF’s submission:

Forward in Faith was founded in November, 1992, in the wake of the decision that month by the General Synod to proceed to the ordination of women to the priesthood. Our opposition to the ordination of women as priests or bishops remains as ?rmly and utterly rooted in theology today as it was in 1992, as we have set out in detail on numerous occasions….

Our proposals for a new province were designed to permit all in the Church of England to ?ourish, and represent the only solution thus far suggested which would enable women bishops to exercise their ministry without hindrance in their own dioceses, thus ful?lling the aspiration lying behind Canon Jane Sinclair’s amendment to the motion passed by General Synod on 10 July, 2006.

In particular, we would ask the Group to note the following key features of the solution which we proposed [in 2004]:

• a province which would be an integral part of the Church of England

• a province which would provide a stable and secure solution to the problem

• a province the bishops of which would have ordinary jurisdiction

• a province the boundaries of which would be entirely permeable

• a province in which only male priests and bishops would minister sacramentally

• a province in which orders would derive from the historic episcopate as traditionally understood

• a province which would thus provide the necessary sacramental assurance

• a province which would enable renewal in mission and evangelism

• a province which would bring peace to the Church of England

A link to the full text of the FiF’s submission can be found here.

In their submission (pdf) the group Women and the Church notes, “We would draw to the Group’s attention that never before in the history of our Church has a diversity of views on any subject been responded to by the creation of an alternative episcopal structure.”

The Guilford Group report of January 2006 listed disadvantages of a free province including:

• It could represent a major schism within the Church of England, with less possibility of the two sides growing together, potentially allowing for the possibility of the new Province declaring itself out of communion with the Provinces of Canterbury and York;

• It would to all intents and purposes amount to a competing provincial jurisdiction which has so far run counter to Lambeth Conference Resolutions;

• It would be fundamentally unhealthy to establish a province solely on the grounds of opposition to women bishops;

• There would be a risk of it becoming another ‘continuing Anglican Church’.

The Guilford Group report is here (rft):

The General Synod next meets July 6-10.

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