Letter: Church members need more charity

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The Independent Online
Sir: Those who castigate the bishops and General Synod for their proposals aimed at trying to hold the Church of England together after last year's vote, fail to understand what was voted through last year. They also conveniently forget reality and display a hard- heartedness that does not become them.

We did not only vote for the ordination of women to the priesthood last year; we also voted for safeguards that would help the one in three of our members who could not, with integrity, accept that it was right so to ordain. Everything that the House of Bishops has proposed has been consistent with the spirit of that legislation.

Last year's legislation made it possible for bishops to make their dioceses no-go areas to women priests. Because of the new proposals, none of the diocesan bishops opposed to women priests is going to take that step. That strikes me as something worth more than the chants of 'shame' from the Church House gallery.

Those who feel they have a better way than the Act of Synod have not revealed it. It seems that what they favour is forcing a third of the church to conform to the wishes of the rest or simply to qet out. Not much Christian charity in that, it seems to me.

The truth is that none of us has scored many Brownie points in the past months. We have allowed more than a year to be taken up on a matter that does not rate a mention in the New Testament. A bit more talking about Jesus and a bit less obsessiveness with 'the church' would make for a refreshing change.



(Bishop of Maidstone)

The Diocese of Canterbury

Ashford, Kent