Page last updated at 11:36 GMT, Friday, 16 July 2010 12:36 UK
The Anglican church can't now renege on women bishops

Bishop John Inge
The Rt Rev Dr John Inge is the 113th Bishop of Worcester

This weekend I shall be spending many hours with my colleagues on the General Synod of the Church of England debating whether or not the Church should allow women to be bishops.

Personally I am very much in favour of this development, but not because I believe it is a human right for a woman to be a bishop.

I do not believe that any more than I believe that it is a human right for a man to be able to have a baby.

I think women should be bishops because, in Christ, as St Paul puts it in his letter to the Galatians, there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female.

It was once said to me that St Paul dealt with the first - neither Jew nor Greek - in his own lifetime, ensuring that all people could become Christians.

It took until the nineteenth century for the second, neither slave nor free, to be tackled, and only now are we beginning to heed the gospel imperative for the dignity of women in Christ to be honoured.

Having women as bishops demonstrates the freedom that Christ brings to all, and makes it clear that God shows no partiality, for we are all one in Christ.

There is something else to be honoured, though, and that is the conscience of those who cannot accept the ministry of women as bishops, because they do not believe that the Church of England, on its own, has the authority to make this change.

When the decision was made to ordain women as priests, solemn promises were made to them that they would continue to have an honoured place in the Church of England.

To renege on that now would seem like a betrayal.

The Church of England has always been a broad church, and most of us want it to remain so.

Very few of us would want to make anyone feel that they have to leave the Church of England over this issue.

Squaring this circle will be tricky, to say the least.

We shall need all the wisdom and charity that God gives through his Holy Spirit to do it.

July 2010

Bishop's Blogs from the dioceses
09 Mar 10 |  Religion & Ethics

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