Hypocrisy at its Worst

Did you see this piece in the Daily Mail two days ago?

Members of the Church of England’s ‘parliament’ are attempting to oust one of its most senior figures following the defeat of legislation to allow women bishops.

In a dramatic move, members of the General Synod’s House of Laity have secretly called an emergency meeting so they can hold a vote of no confidence in their Chair, Dr Philip Giddings, who spoke forcefully against the reform.

They believe that, if Dr Giddings is forced out, the move could help Church leaders get around the rules and bring back the legislation before a new Synod is elected in three years’ time.

The debacle, which was condemned by David Cameron and MPs, has sparked bitter recriminations within the Church and left incoming Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, facing a crisis.

Much of the anger has focused on the lay members because the legislation fell by only six votes in their section of the Synod, which is made up of three Houses: bishops, clergy and laity.

A significant number are said to be furious that House of Laity Chair Dr Giddings spoke out against the legislation rather than remaining neutral.

OK, let’s be absolutely clear. The issue is that Philip Giddings as Chair of the House of Laity didn’t remain neutral. It’s not that he spoke against, it’s that he didn’t stay neutral.

Got that? Good. This is the Church Times’ summary of the speech that followed Dr Giddings’.

XXX said that she had found it “more difficult than I can say” to decide how to vote. The amended Clause 5(1)(c) was only subtly different from the clause that prompted the Synod to adjourn the debate in July. It placed within the Measure itself “the belief that not any man will do”. Although she was “instinctively in favour of being as inclusive as possible”, this was “not to the point where that provision would undermine the very nature of the Church itself”.

It was “crucially important for the very nature of our Church” that the Code “does not allow you to choose your own bishop on the basis of his theological beliefs”, or lead to the creation of two separate Churches, or “cast doubt on the status of our orders” and on the authority of the Church of England to confer those orders.

She quoted the Revd Kenneth Leech, who had said that, to achieve reconciliation, those with profound difference would have to move to the point “where they believe they may have betrayed their very souls and gone too far”. She was at that point today, and would vote in favour of the Measure, “because I believe that the principle that the episcopate should be fully open to women as to men that lies behind this legislation is right and just and true and of the gospel”.

Who was that I hear you ask? Why, that was the Venerable Christine Hardman, Chair of the House of Clergy of General Synod.

Don’t hear many people calling for her resignation because she didn’t remain neutral do you? Hypocrisy? Oh yes…

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