Well, yesterday's General Synod debate on women bishops ended with the Measure failing in the House of Laity. It all came down to six votes. The Bishops and Clergy voted strongly for it and so did 62% of the House of Laity. Three quarters of the Synod voted in the same direction as the diocesan synods. Those who – for whatever reason – voted against will now have to account for this back in their diocese. The mind of the Church of England has not been reflected by the General Synod. Shock and outrage are being expressed widely.
During the debate we heard a lot about the need to talk – as if no talking had been done during the last twelve years. 'Not being agreed with' got translated into 'not been listened to'. There was fantasy about some simple magic bullet just awaiting us around the next corner. The reality is a shambles in which a small minority swung a key decision away from the majority view of the Synod and the wider church.
What this means, I guess, is that generous compromise will be harder to achieve when this comes back – as it surely will. And, as the Archbishop of Canterbury said in his statement to the Synod this morning, this whole business has raised questions about synodical processes as well as posing enormous challenges to the church in trying to explain what we have just done and why we did it.
Similar questions would apply even if the vote had gone the other way.
But, let's get real. This is not the end of the world and we need to confidently (!) get on with what the church does in its 16,000 parishes while not being debilitated by the vote yesterday. The story continues…