Australia ponders women bishops

Published December 1, 2000

Next summer the General Synod of the Church of Australia will debate a new canon, which could remove all legal obstacles to the consecration of women as bishops.

At a recent synod, the Diocese of Sydney confronted the issue and attempted to deal with its potential divisiveness.

In a special presentation to the synod, Dr. Ann Young, deputy chair of the General Synod working group on women bishops, explained the process that produced the proposed canon. “The working group agreed that the church should debate firstly the central issue: do we want (women) bishops or not?

“If we do pass the canon, then General Synod may choose to annex a formal statement stating that people whose consciences are seared must not be discriminated against.

“Or it may decide to legislate to require bishops to provide alternative forms of oversight,” she said.

She said that the working group turned down a proposal for a geographically separate diocese.

Synod resisted dealing with the substance of the issue but finally did pass a motion that notes the proposal for possible consecration of women as bishops and points out the “potential for further division.”

It asked for a report on “the theological and pastoral implications of such a development and the possible ways of meeting the needs of those who may be disaffiliated from such a move.”


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