Women Bishops in Australia?
Option One

(The full text of this option is available in the print version of this report)

A radical restructure providing complete alternative episcopal jurisdiction, with legislative force

In brief, under this Option parish churches and their priests would be allowed by negotiation to join a bishop and synod other than that of the geographical diocese they are presently located in.

The ordination of women, and especially to the episcopate is at one level only a presenting problem, that is, under it lie differences between many Anglicans on foundational issues. Within Anglicanism we see at least two traditions, evangelical and catholic, which now hold quite fundamentally different understandings about the nature of how Jesus Christ relates himself to his Church in the world, the possibility of further revelation to that Church extra to the biblical revelation, and in the context of the present debate, the nature and role of episcopacy. As a consequence of this, for any solution to be broadly acceptable not only to these two traditions, but also to what are sometimes quite major differences within each, it is important that as far as possible any solution offered to the problems caused by ordaining women bishops minimises the harm felt by the various parties to their own particular foundations.

As an answer to the problems that many see arising from women being admitted to the episcopacy, "complete alternative episcopal jurisdiction" offers a fundamental adjustment to the way we relate together as Australian Anglicans. Parish churches and their priests would be allowed by negotiation to join a bishop and synod other than that of the geographical diocese they are presently located in. Accepting that the Anglican Church ought remain inclusive, and that Anglican groupings ought be allowed space to pursue and propagate their own vision of Anglican Christianity, what can be done?

The answer lies in the observation that we are not just individuals, but we have a shared faith. Anglican clergy are not ordained to act in ministry as autonomous individuals, but within a community whose salient features are local church, synod and bishop. A clergyperson and their ministry, humanly speaking, is defined by this set of relations. Likewise, laypeople participate in the life of the Church in terms of a collegiality expressed by local church, synod and bishop. It is within this matrix that the Bible is read, the sacraments celebrated, the Christian faith proclaimed and lived, and where discernment and freedom are exercised. Further, it is only in this context of local congregation, synod and bishop that conscience can be safeguarded. So long as there is a grouping of parishes which can express their Christian convictions in a synod, and with a bishop sharing those convictions, conscientious action is safeguarded.

The option of "complete alternative episcopal jurisdiction" seeks to meet this need and offer it to those who want women bishops and those who do not.



Have your say on the options for women bishops in Australia

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