To Southwark Diocesan Synod today:

What I would have said, in a debate about the ordination of women as bishops – had I had the chance!  As expected, the Southwark synod approved a motion calling for women to be ordained as bishops, without legal safeguards for those who would find it difficult or impossible working under a women bishop.  The definitive vote will be next year in the General Synod of the Church of England.  I expect the House of Clergy to agree the motion, but hope and pray that the House of Laity will not approve it, without legal safeguards, by the necessary 2/3rds majority…..

I respect and honour the self-sacrificing nature of the female of our species, and of Christian women in particular. Two great-aunts were missionaries in Africa in the early 1900’s. My mother was a China missionary in the 30’s and 40’s. Hilary and I have five daughters (two adopted), and so far have six grand-daughters.

We also have a son and adopted another. In 41 years of ordained ministry and as a student before that, I have been active in working with young people, particularly boys. Please hear me: While the process of feminisation in the church of England has been necessary up to now, we need to slow down if we are not to do irreparable damage to our ability to communicate a Gospel of Life in all its Fullness, to men and boys. I believe that if women are to be made Bishop under the present proposals it will result in our losing more credibility – among men.

Secondly: In the early 1980’s, as a young General Synod member from Durham, I voted for the motion: “there is no theological objection to the ordination of women.” I believe that, and as a team rector have enjoyed appointing and working with women colleagues. There is no male and female in heaven, and a Christian’s duty is to work to bring heaven to earth. However, the present legislation is not fair to those who do not agree with me, and although claiming to address the victimisation of women, victimises them.

Thirdly: When it comes to Bishops, I believe there is one very strong practical reason why the time is not yet for women to be among them – that is, to maintain as far as possible the unity of the world church, at this crucial moment of world history. (Previous to coming to Southwark 22 years ago), my Middle East experience of working with Orthodox and Catholic church leaders taught me, that we would be utterly reckless if we distance ourselves further from them with this legislation, at a time when we should be seeking greater unity, to maximise the potential of our mission under Christ.

I do not have the time now to defend my plea with longer arguments. For those with time on their hands, have a look at my blog:

Including six little grandsons: for the sake of men and boys, who have not yet accepted Christ as Lord and Saviour:
For us to keep integrity with the priests who cannot accept women as Bishops:
For the sake of unity with beleaguered Christians around the world who will find it harder to work with a Church of England more feminised than at present:

Please vote for a little space – to allow the Holy Spirit of God in Christ to reveal a better way, than this present legislation.

There would not have been time to say the following, but which I add here!

See back to comment at my brother’s ordination –

In relation to men alienated from the church, go to Christopher Ducker’s article –

A little more on victimisation, for which there was not time in what I said above: However the world views the crucified Jesus, he did not regard himself as a victim.
But Western society is crippled with victimhood. Western women today have a proper repulsion of how badly so many of their sisters of past generations were treated, and have a highly-tuned sense of opposing injustice to their sex. But the ‘right’ to be a bishop? Feeling a victim has nothing to do with that. Children who are bullied, unless taught otherwise easily become bullies themselves as they grow. Victims so easily victimise, and this present legislation is doing just that to those who – for whatever reason – cannot accept women bishops.

I hope more to come on my wider church unity argument.