The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are to make a dramatic intervention in the long-running row over women bishops this week by demanding that opponents of female clergy are not driven out of the Church.Source
Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu are so concerned thousands of traditionalist churchgoers will quit when women become bishops that they are to risk the wrath of liberals by calling for major reforms in Church legislation.
Sources said their statement will spell out a legal formula that will give traditionalist clergy and parishes the right to reject the authority of a woman bishop.
The intervention comes before a critical, 15-hour debate at the General Synod in York next month, which insiders are predicting could become a ‘bloodbath’.
Traditionalists, who do not accept that women can be priests or bishops, have been calling for the creation of a ‘his and hers’ Church, in which they cannot be forced to serve under a woman bishop.
Liberals say, however, this would unacceptably diminish the status of women bishops because there would be parts of the Church over which they would have no sway.
So far the Synod has only agreed to give traditionalists minimal protection in the form of a code of conduct.
The Archbishops want the Church legislation radically amended so that opponents are fully protected in law. They are, however, running the risk that the liberal-dominated Synod, which is made up of nearly 500 bishops, clergy and lay people, will reject the proposals, leaving their authority in tatters.
An insider said: ‘This is a huge moment for the Church. It will determine the shape of things to come. The Archbishops are putting their integrity on the line, but are passionate about keeping the Church together.’
However, a leading supporter of female clergy said: ‘There is a good chance the Synod will reject the Archbishops.’
Hat Tip: Dr. Tighe