Another step forward for the Apostolic Constitution

The Archbishop of Canterbury addresses the General Synod (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)

“This Synod defeat of archbishops should be celebrated by many, will massively increase chance for Ordinariate to succeed,” tweeted Ruth Gledhill of the Times on Sunday. She was referring to a last-minute amendment to the legislation introducing women bishops in the Church of England, tabled by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York – as one Anglican blogger complained on the all-comers platform The General Synod Blog, “without speaking to any other group, just days before Synod”. The amendment would have allowed traditionalist parishes to have an alternative male bishop if they didn’t want a woman.

So it was voted down: another half-cock idea bites the dust. It was always ridiculous to decide that women could be ordained to the Anglican “priesthood” but that they couldn’t be bishops yet. If someone is a priest, it should automatically be possible to make them a bishop. I won’t go into the laughable ecclesiological incoherences of the two archbishops’ latest scheme: we all know that the C of E doesn’t do rational theology (see my blog on the Jeffrey John affair).

The point is that Ruth Gledhill on this occasion got it dead right; this vote clarifies beyond peradventure for Anglo-Catholics what the issues are. As the Anglo-Catholic blog commented on the Synod vote, “it has long been evident that the Church of England does not really want us, love us or care for us despite its feeble pretence to the contrary … Why would you seek to secure a begrudging and precarious existence in the margins … when you can have the fullness of life in communion with a billion like-minded brothers and sisters? Who asks for a scorpion when a father is offering bread?”

So the die is now cast. It will be two or three years before the first women bishops come off the assembly line (when they do, “flying bishops” will be abolished). It will all take time, but there is no shortage of that. And the first Ordinariates, I predict, will be successfully up and running long before then.