That indefatigable and learned Bishop of Rome, Leo the Great, died on this day in 461 having steered the Church for two decades through a wearying number of exigencies. He is of course famous for having persuaded Attila the Hun (probably by a donation from the Bishop’s discretionary fund) to return home rather than plunder Italy.
Bishop Leo reminds us that the Church is never free of controversy as together we try to discern the mind of Christ and to move ahead while remaining faithful to Scripture and tradition. We would all rather avoid controversy, but as with every generation before us, we must engage with the issues, prayerfully, and with integrity and humility.
I wrote to you in July about the General Synod decisions regarding the consecration of women to the episcopate and said that I would be letting you know how we would be following through the process in London*. I have appended below the procedure that the London College of Bishops has outlined to guide us through the next twelve months. The Bishop’s Council affirmed this course of action yesterday.
We wished to set out this timetable as early as possible so that Area Deans and Lay Chairs can arrange a meeting of their Deanery Synods to discuss the issues and to vote in the first half of 2011. By early December we will produce material which will be available publicly to help us in our thinking and praying.
Please continue to pray that the outcome of all our discussions will be the greater glory of God and the strengthening of our mission and ministry in the name of Jesus Christ.
With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel.
The Rt Revd and Rt Hon Richard Chartres KCVO DD FSA
Each diocesan synod is required to vote by houses on the following motion without amendment:
‘That this Synod approve the proposals embodied in the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure and in draft Amending Canon No.30.’
Responses are required to reach the Clerk of the General Synod before 5pm on Monday 14th November 2011.
If a majority of Diocesan Synods approve, then final Approval by General Synod could be as early as July 2012 after which legislation will be considered by the Ecclesiastical Committee and each House of Parliament.
Deaneries: material is being prepared by the London Bishops and Senior Staff. Deanery Synods should discuss the issues and vote by Houses during the first half of 2011. This follows the pattern set in 1991 when Deanery Synods voted on the Draft Ordination of Women Measure. It must be stressed that this vote is purely to help focus and inform our discussion and has no legal or morally binding status whatsoever.
It should be borne in mind that the newly-elected Deanery Synod members will take up their office for the next three years on 1st June 2011.
Parishes: the same material may be used in parishes if the PCC so wish.
Individuals: a mediated discussion board will be set up on the web for comments.
Diocesan Synod: there will be a major discussion on Thursday 14th July by which time we would hope to have feedback from all the Deanery Synods.
An Extraordinary Diocesan Synod will be convened on Thursday 13th October when there will be further discussion and the formal vote taken by Houses on the Motion.