For once Ms Rees is wrong. The bishops' proposals are exactly in line with the legislation. What has been lost from view in the middle of so much of the continuing debate is that the legislation contained two thrusts. The first was to provide for the ordination of women to the priesthood and the second was to provide for the consciences of those who would not feel able to agree with such a move. Most of the text of the measure deals with the second point.
When first drafted, the conscience parts of the measure were only going to remain in place for about 20 years. In November 1989 this time limit was deliberately dropped from the measure because it was either implying that people's consciences could be worn down or, alternatively, that those holding such views were being given 'notice to quit'.
What this means is that, since the measure was passed, the Church of England recognises two positions of integrity with regard to women's ordination. It is, therefore, the task of the bishops of a united church to service both those positions of integrity - if necessary for ever.
The alternative is schism and probably the end of a credible national church with its mission to serve the people of this country.
Bishop of Maidstone
The Diocese of Canterbury
17 JanuaryReuse content