From the Worldwide Faith News archives

South Africa Provincial Synod Says 'Yes' to Women Bishops

Date 06 May 1996 06:10:34

Canon James M. Rosenthal, Director of Communications
Anglican Communion News Service
157 Waterloo Road, London SE1 8UT, England
Tel. 44 0171 620-1110
Fax 44 0171 620-1071

#729 ACC

South Africa Provincial Synod Says 'Yes' to Women Bishops

(CPSA-Church of the Province of Southern Africa) The Province of
Southern Africa has formally resolved that women can become bishops.

The synod resolved on 26 September that "the possibility of a woman
being elected bishop is a logical consequence of the CPSA's decision
to provide for the ordination of women to the priesthood".

When the issue came up for debate, Archbishop Desmond Tutu said the
Province's Synod of Bishops had decided some time ago -- with two
bishops abstaining -- that providing for women bishops involved
"just a tidying up" of legislation.

Dean Colin Jones of Cape Town, proposing the resolution on women
bishops, said the last synod's decision to allow women priests was

He added: "We know the riches women have brought to the Church. The
Province has had an incredible capacity to hold together, and the
sense of unity and faith has stayed with us."

He agreed "up to a point" that recognising that women could become
bishops was a logical follow-up to the earlier decision. But he also
recognised that the unity the Church sought to promote "is a very
fragile one".

Dean Jones said for him the main issue was not women bishops but the
kind of bishops the Church was going to produce.

"I am desperately afraid that in a few years time we'll have women
who will look like our current bishops who are, without wanting to
cause offence, tired old men, heavily overworked.

"I hope that if we do ordain women to the episcopate that we will be
open to the special leadership they can give. We are asking for a
different kind of authority, a different kind of leadership."

Dean Jones' resolution also asked the Synod of Bishops to produce
guidelines "for the reception of women bishops with a view to
maintaining the unity of the CPSA". After the decision to elect
women as priests in 1992, guidelines were drawn up to regulate
situations in which conflicts might arise as a result of
disagreements over the ordination of women.

Dean Jones said differences over women bishops would have to be
handled sensitively. He urged the Province to look at the work of
the Eames Commission, which is examining how provinces in the
Anglican Communion can live with differences over women bishops.

Ms Sithole, a regional director in the government Department of
Health, said for many years all the directors had been "tall, hefty,
Afrikaans men". Since women had been appointed, there had been "a
definite shift in the way things were done.

"If we had women bishops we would have mother heads in our family."

Bishop Derek Damant of George, who opposes the ordination of women
as priests, urged synod members who shared his views to abstain on
the resolution.

He did not want to imply that women priests did not have a
fulfilling ministry, and the logic of allowing them to be elected as
bishops was undeniable.

But he did not accept the premise on which the resolution was based:
"We do not believe that this [ordaining women] reflects the pattern
of New Testament ministry. It's putting new wine into old

The synod voted overwhelmingly in favour of the resolution, with
only a handful of dissenting votes.

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