Saturday: straws in the wind

A visit to the tearoom today sees small huddles of people all the time, discussing ‘the King’s Great Matter’ as I have started to call it. (That’s a reference to Henry VIII and his desire to dump his wife, from which much has flowed). Bishops, leading lights in the Catholic Group and WATCH, outspoken clergy and leading laity – a swirling hubbub of plotting and planning.

Bar conversation late into the night was largely about what might happen on Monday. By the second pint of ‘Old Mill’ we moved on to what anyone could actually do to change the Measure to ensure it would get the required 2/3 majority in each house. The House of Laity passed it on Friday – but with an ominously high ‘no’ vote: the clergy convocations were, on the surface, more solid. But as I noted yesterday, under the surface, there is a very strong move to get the whole thing referred back to the Bishops.

This morning I was present at the Standing Committee of the House of Clergy. It’s a routine gathering of fifteen or so of us, but a good place to take the temperature. People there largely assumed that the thing will be adjourned back to the Bishops. Some wise folk (i.e. the ones I agree with…) tried to set out what was needed if adjournment is to mean anything – so, reasons why there is dissatisfaction; suggestions about what the Bishops might do, and – a counsel of hope rather than one of certainty – the need for women clergy who can live with the Measure as proposed to stand up and say why. And if it fails, (or gets delayed to February 2013) we’ll be in a Rowan-less situation for the aftermath. Pity the next Archbishop if this doesn’t go through.

Listening-in: Bishops and Women

Back in the tearoom, two or three Bishops I know told me that they are resigned to the matter being referred back to them. But none of them feel the House could actually change it in a way that would guarantee it would get passed in November. In other words, they’re expecting the whole thing to crash in November.

Lunchtime – and a very full and tense fringe meeting organised by WATCH. I could only get there halfway through, but I heard (from the front ‘platform party’) some very clear calls to get the adjournment on the grounds that Clause 5 puts discrimination into the law. Inasmuch as you ever get ‘whipping’ (in the Parliamentary sense) at Synod, the party line is  to get this adjourned. We were told the Steering Committee for the Measure will propose it. There were some voices from the Pragmatic Party indicating that in order to get some women Bishops in the House in the foreseeable future, people should vote for the Measure, even if doing so reluctantly. But I read the WATCH meeting as saying – send it back to the Bishops!


Some evidently are happy for the whole matter to collapse in the autumn, so that it can all be restarted in 2015 – and they clearly hope for a single-clause Measure next time. Nice idea, but that depends on a new Synod being much less friendly towards objectors than this one is. It’ll make the 2015 synod elections fun.

This entry was posted in 2012: July - York, General Synod and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Saturday: straws in the wind

  1. Fay W-R says:

    Thanks, Stephen – a very good summary and makes plain the very painful decisions that await us on Monday.

  2. William R Smith says:

    Majority abstentions?

    • Hmm. Abstentions don’t count: it’s 2/3 of those present and voting that effects a result.
      So abstentons by those opposed might help the Measure to pass, in that such abstentions will decrease the proportion of ‘No’ votes.
      I don’t see many signs that conservative evangelicals are likely to abstain if we do vote on the Measure itself. But some traditional Catholics might because they feel it’s important for the wider church (at a cost to themselves) that the Measure goes through.
      But this is academic if we vote to adjourn.

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