Opt-out for parishioners opposed to women bishops

Church of England proposes compromise to avoid acrimonious split

The Church of England last night tried to avoid a split by watering down its plans for the consecration of women bishops, granting an opt-out to parishioners who refuse to accept the spiritual authority of female clergy.

Under the church's proposals, parishes could bypass women bishops and women priests by taking their leadership from specially consecrated male "complementary" bishops.

Parents could elect to have their children confirmed and baptised by male clergy while congregations could seek to have sacraments and other divine service removed from the responsibility of a female bishop.

The ungainly get-out clause, drawn up in response to the Synod's historic vote in July in favour of consecrating women bishops, is set to provoke dee-per divisions within the church.

The outcome of the July vote raised the real possibility of schism within the church, between those in favour of women bishops and an alliance of traditionalists, Anglo-Catholics and evangelicals who oppose the idea.

A drafting committee member resigned and hundreds of traditionalist clergy threatened to leave the Anglican Communion if the church went ahead with the consecration of women bishops without providing legal safeguards to protect their beliefs.

The revised plans – published yesterday by a committee chaired by the Bishop of Manchester, the Right Rev Nigel McCulloch – accommodate traditionalists at the cost of provoking the church's more liberal wing. The Synod will consider the plans in February.

The report stated: "We know that there are those who believe that anything short of structural provision for those unable in conscience to accept the ordained ministry of women as priests and bishops will be insufficient.

"We are also well aware that, from another point of view, the introduction of any arrangements, structural or otherwise, which mean that women may not be able to minister as bishops or priests within certain parishes, will be seen as unacceptable because it perpetuates a difference of treatment on grounds of gender.

"There is, therefore, a need for an approach which attempts to square this difficult circle. It is not, in fact, unique to have a situation in law where there is not complete equality of opportunity for both sexes. The exercise of women's priestly and episcopal ministry in certain places can properly be restricted by law, but this should only be to an extent that is 'proportionate' in order to respect the theological convictions of others."

The Bishop of Manchester's report also places a requirement on theological opponents to female bishops to accept that their ordination in the Church of England is legally binding.

The authority exercised by a "complementary bishop" would be conferred by the diocesan bishop who may be a woman. This could lead to further objections on the grounds that the ultimate source of the priest's authority derives from a woman. Critics said the proposal was a fudge.

Dr McCulloch said the committee finished its discussions just before Christmas and the report had been published quickly to allow for debate. "The General Synod mandated us to draft a measure including special arrangements, within existing structures, for those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops and to do that in a national code of practice. We believe we have achieved that. "

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Developer - HTML, CSS, Javascript

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Graduate UI Application Developer - ...

Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager - Events, Digital, Offline

£45000 - £50000 per annum: Ashdown Group: B2B Marketing Manager (Events, Digit...

Day In a Page

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine
Letterman's final Late Show: Laughter, but no tears, as David takes his bow after 33 years

Laughter, but no tears, as Letterman takes his bow after 33 years

Veteran talkshow host steps down to plaudits from four presidents
Ivor Novello Awards 2015: Hozier wins with anti-Catholic song 'Take Me To Church' as John Whittingdale leads praise for Black Sabbath

Hozier's 'blasphemous' song takes Novello award

Singer joins Ed Sheeran and Clean Bandit in celebration of the best in British and Irish music
Tequila gold rush: The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product

Join the tequila gold rush

The spirit has gone from a cheap shot to a multi-billion pound product
12 best statement wallpapers

12 best statement wallpapers

Make an impact and transform a room with a conversation-starting pattern
Paul Scholes column: Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?

Paul Scholes column

Does David De Gea really want to leave Manchester United to fight it out for the No 1 spot at Real Madrid?
Season's finale brings the end of an era for top coaches and players across the continent

The end of an era across the continent

It's time to say farewell to Klopp, Clement, Casillas and Xavi this weekend as they move on to pastures new, reports Pete Jenson
Bin Laden documents released: Papers reveal his obsession with attacking the US and how his failure to keep up with modern jihad led to Isis

'Focus on killing American people'

Released Bin Laden documents reveal obsession with attacking United States
Life hacks: The innovations of volunteers and medical workers are helping Medécins Sans Frontières save people around the world

Medécins Sans Frontières's life hacks

The innovations of volunteers and medical workers around the world are helping the charity save people
Ireland's same-sex marriage vote: As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?

Same-sex marriage

As date looms, the Irish ask - how would God vote?
The underworld is going freelance: Why The Godfather's Mafia model is no longer viable

The Mafia is going freelance

Why the underworld model depicted in The Godfather is no longer viable