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Tuesday, 29 April 2008

Equality the Christian way: the stained-glass ceiling

They'll duck and dive and obfuscate and bring out reports and say it takes time and it'll be divisive and they'll procrastinate and wriggle and get pompous and talk utter drivel – anything but adhere to the decent tenets of modern employment practice and give women equal rights.

Yes, the question of women bishops in the Church of England has come up again, and a long-awaited report is now out, and a church within a church seems to be the alternative to treating women as equal to men.

A late story in yesterday's Times (online) says:

A series of new dioceses that would transcend geographical boundaries and be havens for men and women opposed to female ordination is the radical proposal set out in the long-awaited report on how to proceed with the Church's desire to consecrate women bishops.

Church's desire? If the Church truly desires it, why isn't the Church forcing it? And why on earth isn't employment law brought to bear on this outfit? Well, we know that, don't we? Government dare not interfere with the men in frocks.

The Times story continues:

Critics claim the solution to how to consecrate women bishops without disenfranchising a substantial minority of opponents would leave the established Church resembling a "Gruyere cheese", with dioceses being left with large "holes" in them as parishes fled wholesale from the prospect of women bishops.

Well some would say, "Bring it on. Let the whole sorry edifice crumble."

There's more:

The long-awaited "Manchester report", published today [Monday], demands from the majority in support of women's ordination that they accept that the "theological convictions of those unable to receive the ordained ministry of women are within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition".

Those who hold them should therefore be able to receive pastoral and sacramental care "in a way that is consistent with their convictions", it says.

Oh, diddums! Did their diddly-widdly little theological convictions get hurt, then, and bugger the principle of equality between the sexes? Poor ickle priesties can't cope and need "pastoral and sacramental care" to get over their icky-wicky ickle tantrums over granting equality to people of equal dignity (well, more dignity in this case).

This was the second attempt to come up with a way of legislating for women bishops after an earlier attempt was rejected by male-chauvinist bigots.

While most of us unbelievers don't give a toss about what happens in an organisation full of believers in the supernatural, it comes down to fairness in employment, and there is no reason why this profession should be exempt from treating the sexes equally. Arguments that Jesus had male apostles have been put down repeatedly: that was a phenomenon of the times. Other so-called arguments are just so much hot air.

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