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Women Bishops

Volume 521: debated on Tuesday 18 January 2011

7. What assessment the Church of England has made of the likely requirement for provincial episcopal visitors following the entry into force of any legislation enabling the consecration of women bishops. (33923)

Provincial episcopal visitors operate under the terms of the Act of Synod, which will be rescinded if the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops is approved and brought into force. It will on any basis be at least two more years before that stage is reached and there remain important questions about how suitable episcopal oversight will be provided under the new legislation and associated code of practice for those with theological difficulties over the ordination of women.

Given the general climate of cutting costs and removing superfluous posts, if the welcome reform of women bishops is going to happen soon, which I hope it will, should not the new flying bishops be grounded now?

The provincial episcopal visitors are there under the Act of Synod. Under the Act of Synod, the archbishop is expected to take steps to secure the appointment of up to two additional suffragans in his diocese to act as provincial episcopal visitors. As I have explained, even if the Synod gives final approval to the draft legislation, the Act of Synod will remain in place for some time to come. We must keep faith with all sorts of different groups in the Church of England until there is a final decision on women bishops within the Church.