Since last Tuesday’s vote in the General Synod, I have been dropping heavy hints that this is the best way of getting the matter straightened-out for the Church of England. Most of what follows is self-explanatory, but the basic approach would be to get sufficient numbers of Diocesan Synods to pass this or similar votes of No Confidence in the current General Synod, in order to get a dissolution and an early election. As it is presently constituted, the only form of legislation the current Synod would pass would be so compromising of future women bishops’ authority that it would not command the support of those who are in favour. What follows is my rough draft of a Motion which might be put before Diocesan Synods. It would need checking through with a specialist in Church Law (a Diocesan Registrar or similar), before being put up for a vote…
In the light of the recent failure of the General Synod to pass the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) measure at its sittings of November 2012, despite overwhelming support for this legislation by this and other diocesan synods of the Church of England, this Diocesan Synod:
- Has no confidence in the General Synod to govern the Church by Measure, as it is currently constituted;
- Calls on the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to ask Her Majesty to dissolve this General Synod at the earliest opportunity, in order that new elections may be held without unreasonable delay.
The present makeup of the General Synod makes it unable to pass any form of legislation enabling the consecration of women which would not, at the same time, so compromise their future authority as bishops to a degree that it would not command the necessary support in either the General Synod itself, or in the wider Church of England.
The only option for any way out of the impasse is, therefore, either to wait for new elections due to be held in 2015, or to
petition for an early dissolution of the Synod on the grounds of no confidence. Although the existing General Synod legislation does not make it clear whether such a situation and process was ever envisaged, the precedent of the process operating in Parliament, and hence within the British constitution, make such a course of action constitutional, as Her Majesty is Sovereign over both bodies.
There is also a possibility that such a motion, if passed by Parliament, might also be constitutional – however, it would be better for the Church if dioceses to urge for the action in the first place, rather than Parliament itself.
Were this General Synod be so dissolved, early elections would follow and the existing legislation – which is likely to be the most generous compromise on offer to traditionalist churches and people within the Church of England – could then be put before a new Synod without much delay.
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