THE CHURCH IN WALES’ DECISION ON WOMEN BISHOPS: STATEMENT BY FORWARD IN FAITHSome of the bishop's defenders are pointing to angry statements from his opponents. I've no doubt that supporters of women's consecration to the episcopate may have, on occasion, shown a lack of charity. But this is a statement from a bishop, purporting to ask for charity from the majority, while expressly denying that "a female bishop could be what a diocesan bishop should be, a Father in God and a focus of unity to all within his diocese."
Forward in Faith regrets the decision of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales to authorize the ordination of women as bishops without first agreeing arrangements for those who, for theological reasons, will not be able to receive episcopal ministry from them.
We cannot see how a female bishop could be what a diocesan bishop should be – a Father in God and a focus of unity for all within his diocese. This vote therefore makes the question of the provision of episcopal ministry for those who continue to uphold catholic faith and order in the Church in Wales even more pressing.
Experience in Wales and elsewhere does not give us confidence that the promised ‘code of practice’ could offer the level of assurance that would encourage growth and flourishing – so sorely needed in Wales – or the degree of certainty that would remove the possibility of damaging and distracting disputes.
Our brothers and sisters in Credo Cymru will seek to enter into dialogue with the Welsh bishops. We can only hope that their representations will be met with the generosity of spirit that ought to be the hallmark of Christian episcopacy. Meanwhile, we continue to pray for and with our Welsh sisters and brothers, encouraging them to follow St David in being joyful and keeping the faith.
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
13 September 2013
A bishop's official statement on behalf of a faction of the Church is not equivalent to an over-heated blog comment. I must say, were I in the C of E and the Bishop of Fulham my diocesan, I do not see how I could accept him as a focus of unity. And I'm not even of the gender he believes relegated to an inferior--oh, sorry, "complementary", place. That view on the merits, but especially in conjunction with his blithe willingness to delegitimize all who disagree while demanding a non-reciprocated honoring of his own view from them, make him unable to be what he describes as the sine qua non of a bishop, unless his diocese is utterly homogeneous in its views. Autocracy suppresses division; it does not create unity.