The Church of England
From Times Online
July 5, 2008
Church of England faces ruin over women bishops
[b]The Church of England is in danger of "shattering" into thousands of stained-glass pieces if women are ordained as bishops, its governing body was warned this morning.
Members of the General Synod urged church leaders to postpone a decision on women bishops until more detailed proposals could be drawn up on how to care for opponents.[/b]
More than 1,300 clergy are threatening to leave the Church if women are consecrated to the episcopate without legislation enacted to protect them.
[b]The Anglo-Catholic[/b] wing wants a special, extra-geographical diocese or province created as a woman-bishop and woman-priest free zone, to preserve the Church's apostolic tradition of a male-only priesthood.
On Monday the synod, meeting in York, will vote on a proposal to consecrate women bishops with a voluntary code of practice to protect the place of traditionalists in the Church.
The issue threatens to divide the Church even more deeply than the vote to ordain women priests in 1992. About 450 clergy left then, of which many joined the Roman Catholic church and a few subsequently returned to the Anglican fold. But many more remained in the Church because of the legal safeguards where parishes were allowed to opt for the care of "flying bishops". Under the new proposals, flying bishops would be abolished or "grounded" for good.
Traditionalists are angry that reassurances given when women were ordained priests could be about to be withdrawn.
The Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch, who chaired the group that drew up the proposals for women bishops, warned of the "dangers" of further delay. He said: "The moment for making choices has come."
He said the Church should be clear about the consequences of going ahead, which he admitted "would represent a very significant new direction and the withdrawal of assurances offered 15 years ago."
He also admitted the Church's tendency to muddle through. "We remain perplexed over how to distinguish between good muddle and bad muddle. When does principled pragmatism and a generosity of spirit topple over into theological incoherence and the loss of any clear guiding principles?"
The Ven Norman Russell, Archdeacon of Berkshire, said there had to be justice for women and also justice for clergy of traditional views. He called on the Bishop of Manchester to do more work on drawing up new proposals that would meet the needs of both sides and avoid schism.
Prudence Dailey, a lay member from Oxford, said the "ladder" that women were attempting to climb was about to smash down through the Church's stained glass ceiling.
[b]She warned: "We are not talking about a clean schism. We are talking about a shattering of the Church, right now." [/b]
Calling on the Church to hold back, she warned that the issue would prove "far more divisive" than anyone could possibly imagine.