Monday, 22 October 2012

On Respect: more about women bishops

Rowan Williams has come out very strongly in favour of passing the measure which will allow women to be consecrated as bishops in the Church of England. No great surprise there. He had a piece in the Church Times on Friday, which is reproduced on his official website. Given the way that is is written (with"we" throughout referring to Anglicans in general) and published, it seems safe to say that this him writing in his capacity as Archbishop of Canterbury and Primate of all England, rather than as the indiviual theologian Rowan Williams.

The key part is where he states that the word "respect" in the new Clause 5(1)c does have legal force:
The truth is that the word does have legal content.  If you’re required to show ‘respect’, you need to be able to demonstrate that what you do takes account in practice of someone’s conviction.  You will need to show that it has made a difference to how you act; it doesn’t just recommend an attitude or state of mind (‘with all due respect…’).
This is one of the concerns that those who are opposed to the consecration of women have; that "respect" means nothing very much, and that the stated aims of WATCH and GRAS are to see provision for "traditionalists" fade away to nothing. The "traditionalists" take this as proof of the kind of respect they'll get.

But when the Archbishop goes on the record to state just what legal force the word "respect" has, we need to take note, and I think we should take him at his word. It does actually change the actions which are required. It is not enough to say "I respect your views," and then to ignore them. Which is what I've been saying all along. ++Rowan has confirmed that this clause means something.

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