Guidelines for new legislation to ordain women as bishops aim to make everyone feel valued in the Church, regardless of their views on the issue, the Archbishop of Wales said today (September 17).
Drawn up by the Church’s seven bishops at the request of its Governing Body, the “Code of Practice” accompanies the women bishops’ legislation which came into effect on September 12, exactly a year after the Church’s historic vote.
Publishing the Code at the Church’s Governing Body meeting today, the Archbishop, Dr Barry Morgan, said it was designed to be as inclusive as possible as the bishops saw God’s call in people on both sides of the debate.. He urged the Church to unite in proclaiming the Gospel.
He said, “The Code of Practice we have produced has not been produced for the benefit of one side or the other in the debate but for the whole church. That is what you asked us to do. The Bill explicitly says that the Code should be drawn up in such a way that every member of the Church in Wales might feel secure. In other words, this Code is not just for those who in conscience dissent but is a code for every member of the Church in Wales.”
He added, “Bishops have a particular responsibility for matters of faith and order and we want to be as inclusive as possible which is why we are able to affirm wholeheartedly the ordination of women to the episcopate and can also accept that provision should be made for those who cannot accept their sacramental ministry. By making such a provision, our hope is that no-one will feel the need to leave the Church in Wales…
“In the Church in Wales, we, as your bishops, quite frankly see Christ at work in our members, married or single, gay or straight, we perceive the call of God in women to all three orders, and we are respectful of the faith of those who cannot in conscience receive such ministry. In these issues, as in others, we invite the Church to unite in the greater task of proclaiming the Gospel.”
The bishops wrote the Code after consulting widely across the Province. Its guiding principles were:
- Any woman Diocesan Bishop becomes such on exactly the same terms, and with the same jurisdiction, as any other Diocesan Bishop in the Province;
- Provision for those who object to the ministry of women bishops has to be pastoral, not structural;
- Those who in conscience cannot receive the sacramental ministry of women should not be excluded from being considered for ordination;
- No specific alternative bishop should be provided for those who are unable in conscience to accept the ministry of a woman bishop, but there should be a means to request and receive alternative sacramental provision.