Women bishops will still have unequal status in Church of England

Commenting on the outcome of the proceedings of the General Synod from this weekend, the BHA has said that although a move to allow the ordaining of women bishops within the Church of England is a step in the right direction, they will still not have equal status to their male counterparts.

An amendment proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York would have seen the creation of a separate male-only class of bishop to look after parishes which do not wish to have female bishops, and was only narrowly defeated by 5 votes.

However, a Measure was passed that seeks to increase permitted discriminatory actions against women bishops and priests. For example, the Measure, whilst not establishing a separate male-only class of bishop, would allow male bishops to refuse  to ordain female priests, and allows parish councils to restrict certain activities to male bishops, such as episcopal ministry and pastoral care. In order for these policies to become Church law, the Government will have to amend the Equality Act 2010, and the Government Equality Office has already indicated that they will do so.

Naomi Phillips, BHA Head of Public Affairs, stated, ‘In view of the Church of England’s position and influence as the established church and of its control of a third of our state schools, its own internal policies are significant to the rest of society, and its continuing discrimination not least on grounds of gender and sexual orientation should be matters of wider political and social interest and concern.

Naomi continued, ‘We should be concerned by the misogynistic amendment attempted by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York and by the new Measure which would afford second class status to women bishops. That the amendment was defeated shows the Church leadership to be out of touch with its own flock as well as with the majority population. Moreover, the continuing anti-progressive tendencies of those at the top of the Church hierarchy and influential others highlights again why we should seek actively to abolish the remaining and significant ties between Church and State.’

Notes

For further comment or information, contact Naomi Phillips on 020 7079 3585.

Church of England Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure

Revision Committee Notes as presented to the General Synod

The British Humanist Association (BHA) is the national charity representing and supporting the non-religious and campaigning for an end to religious privilege and discrimination based on religion or belief.