Having returned earlier today from the College of Bishops, leaving the House to decide what might happen to the amendment which caused so much trouble earlier in the year. I was hoping, and praying, that the outcome would be what has in fact occurred. To quote from the press release

“The final text proposed by the House of Bishops is:

“Substitute for the words in clause 5(1)(c):” the selection of male bishops and male priests in a manner which respects the grounds on which parochial church councils issue Letters of Request under section 3″

Simple words – words which fill me with a sense of hope – at two levels.

I really really hope this will enable the legislation to pass. If there was one thing all of the bishops had in common was a realisation of the disaster it would be for the church if we fail to pass legislation in November. We really have to move on – and I really hope we will. To those who fear that they will be excluded from the church when we have women bishops, I hope this will provide reassurance that they will not be. To those who fear that the legislation will pay too great a price, I hope it will also say – yes, we do want to make provision for those who are opposed, but we are doing so within a church which is unashamed of ordaining women bishops as absolute equals with men.

And the second level of hope is that we might just start to work together a little more. If we do ‘respect’ in the legal term, maybe we can build on the many individual respectful relationships between those of different opinions, and build a greater culture of respecting our differences in the whole church. God cannot be completely understood by any person or system: respecting those who differ from us within the faith is a recognition of the mystery of the God who is beyond knowing.