Monday, 26 November 2012

Of Synods and stupidity.

I'm slightly at a loss to explain what happened in the English General Synod this week.  As a PR exercise it was a disaster and there is much understandable screaming for disestablishment/ removal of exemptions from equality legislation.  The former might be as good an idea for the Church's spiritual health (it was the making of the SEC in 1689) - but the Established Church is so wired into our unwritten political Constitution that has dismantling of it's current status would probably be a lousy idea if done in haste.  The latter begs the tricky question of having to do it for all religious organisations in the UK and that includes not only the RC church but also the vast majority of Muslims and the Orthodox Jewish - it's a minefield I strongly suspect HMG has no intention of wandering into.

The calls for Parliament to sort it out are I think misguided.  Anglicans in England are not established and funded like the Lutherans in Scandinavia and the legislature has no authority to change Church polity without the support of Synodical structures.  And if change isn't the mind of the Church, then imposing it on the Church is a recipe for disaster.  Women Bishops thus created would be seen as possessing legal authority but utterly lacking spiritual validity.  As were the "Tulchan Bishops" of Reformation Scotland.  No, sadly the slow and messy procedures of Synod are the way to go.

what it might mean is that the Episcopate of Women in the C of E is now utterly inevitable and that provision for the dissenter might well be radically reduced by will of Parliament who I reckon will be less inclined to pass generous provision than previously.  This may be neither the disaster liberals lament nor the passing victory some think it.  This may be a moment where the Church does a transformation no one suspected was possible into a much more inclusive body.  Perhaps we will have cause to thank God for the stupidity of Synod 2012.

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