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Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Women welcome, but . . .

It's not surprising that the Church of England Synod decided to confirm the church's intention to consecrate women bishops. After all, it had been agreed upon; this was a rubber stamp.

The Synod also decided to reject so-called "super bishops" and all-male dioceses, because, said some, these would have had the effect of making women bishops "second-class". So far, so good.

But what is disturbing is that the Synod allowed the possibility of a back door through which mysoginist and bigoted prejudice might get in to spoil the party.

Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, is to be commended for saying, according to the Ekklesia think tank's website, "I am deeply unhappy with any scheme or any solution to this which ends up, as it were, structurally humiliating women who might be nominated to the episcopate."

He was referring to the fact that the Synod decided that serious efforts should be made not to alienate dissenters. Those serious efforts could come in the form of a "code of practice" to accommodate the bigots, although the code's contents haven't so far been revealed.

So, it seems, instead of saying to the bigots, "Look, you snivelling gobshites, women will become bishops whether you like it or not, and if you don't you can piss off," they say, "Well, er, we might, you know, just be able to do something to make it, sort of, well, not too bad, like."

Which makes them almost as bad as the bigots. Where are their balls, for goodness' sake? And why aren't their practices subject to employment laws, which protect the equality of women. Well, there are no doubt all sorts of complicated and historical reasons for that, but isn't it time politicians simply put an end to them, whatever they are, and said the church, like any other organisation or company, must abide by equality-in-employment legislation?

While men are in charge, there will always be silly rules with which to put women in their perceived place. As for the nonsensical idea that Jesus (if he existed) chose men and not women to be his chief followers, his apostles, and therefore only men can do the bishops' stuff, well, we answered this one last week.

Speaking on BBC television’s Newsnight last night, Archdeacon Christine Hardman, from Lewisham in the Diocese of Southwark, said the decision to ratify the church's intention to allow the consecreation of women was based on the Gospel imperative to recognise the spiritual gifts and authority of women in the church and in society. But she added that any code of practice could not and should not be used to impose, via the "back door", those discriminatory provisions Synod had just rejected.

I bet it will, though. We ain't seen nothing yet.

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