Male clergy launch petition against discrimination in Church of England

Male clergy launch petition against discrimination in Church of England

By staff writers
29 May 2008

Male clergy, deans, retired bishops and lay members of the Church of England are being urged to sign an online petition calling for legislation to end discrimination against women in the Church and allow the appointment of women bishops.

The call follows the success of a similar petition signed by women clergy earlier this month.

The petition is addressed to the House of Bishops in the Church of England.

It is hoped that thousands will sign before the Church's July General Synod.

The invitation for signatures has been issued by the Deans of Bristol, Durham, Manchester, Southwark and St Edmundsbury.

In a statement they said: "We welcome the letter sent in early May by our women clergy colleagues to the House of Bishops of the Church of England.

"The letter, signed by over 500 clergy women within two days, has accumulated even more support since it was published and is now approaching a thousand signatures.

"We emphasise our agreement that the price of having arrangements spelt out in law for those opposed to women bishops is too high and we would add that the language of ‘safeguards’ is offensive. Any such legislation would enshrine discrimination against women within the ordained ministries of the Church, which we would find unacceptable.

"Twenty years' experience in the provinces of the Anglican Communion where there are women bishops has shown tried and tested ways to meet graciously and generously the concerns of those who remain opposed to women’s ordination. In none of the 15 provinces that have voted to have women as bishops has discriminatory legislation been included.

"We are confident that acceptable non-statutory arrangements can be devised. We point out that many ordained men supported the ordination of women to the priesthood from the outset; significantly, many others have changed their minds over the
past fourteen years.

"We urge the House of Bishops to give a clear and positive lead in the General Synod that the simplest statutory approach is all that is required to enable the ordination of women to the episcopate, something for which the Synod has already shown its support. We believe this will have widespread approval within our congregations and in both Houses of Parliament. We also believe that having women as well as men serving as bishops will be beneficial to all our work and that it will result in greater unity and integrity within our Church and greater credibility in our mission and ministry.

"We consider that any further delay or any compromise in legislation would be deleterious to our mission and evangelism. We are also aware that some men themselves may well refuse ordination to the episcopate if the Church chooses to be discriminatory in its acceptance of women as bishops."

The website for the petition for male clergy is http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/19569.html

There is a separate website for lay people to sign and show their support for the letter from the women clergy to the House of Bishops.

The website for the petition for lay people is http://www.gopetition.co.uk/online/19571.html

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