The gossip around the Church of England at the moment is that there is a very strong likelihood that, because of the present make-up of General Synod, the proposed legislation that would allow women to become bishops in our two provinces will not be passed this time. If so, it should mean that we will not see females in our college of bishops in my lifetime and maybe for centuries to come, if ever. The reason for this is simple. The legislation will not be discussed in General Synod again until after Rowan Williams has manipulated the adoption of the Anglican Covenant by the Church of England. There are more than enough less enlightened provinces within the Anglican Communion, who are opposed to women being allowed positions of headship, that any future moves to allow female bishops in England will be vetoed by foreign churches. The English House of Bishops has already made sure that General Synod cannot discuss the fact that English secular law already insists that gay people have to be treated with complete equality within the Church, by disingenuously setting up a commission to discuss the matter that will not report back until after the adoption of the Covenant. This, of course, means that gay people will never be treated as anything other than second class, and eternally damned, members of the Church of England.
I don't personally believe that the legislation regarding women and the episcopacy will be thrown out by this General Synod. But this, wonderful as it would be if true, throws up another huge question. Why can we not simply go ahead and get rid of all discrimination against gay people because it would not get the backing of the whole Anglican Communion, when we can go ahead and vote for an end of discrimination against women when there are provinces which oppose it? Rowan Williams, who is very much in favour of female bishops, cannot claim that one is a theological matter and the other simply a matter of church order. The opponents of both use theological arguments to back up their hatred of both proposed changes.
If the Covenant is adopted and gay people excluded from full membership of the Church for ever and ever, amen, and then the English church reintroduces legislation to allow women bishops and the provinces that are against it do nothing to stop it, then that would be hypocrisy of the highest order and conclusive proof that none of this has anything to do with either church order or theology and is nothing other than blatant, selective prejudice and bigotry.
If we adopt the Anglican Covenant the Church of England will never be able to escape being in a position of unending hypocrisy.
The Anglican Covenant is a covenant of stagnation. If adopted it will be the end of history for our church and, I fear, an end of the Church itself as the handcuffs of reactionism that it seems intent to fasten on to its own wrists will make sure that we just become less and less relevant to the world, an anachronism and an embarrassing, bigoted, barbaric anachronism at that.