[The Northern Echo] 10 Jul 2008--I LOVE women. We frequently have women to preach at my church here in the City of London.
But I simply don't think it is right for the Church of England - which is but one small part of the worldwide Catholic and Apostolic Church - to go it alone and consecrate women bishops.
The change is so momentous that surely the mind of the whole Church should agree on it before any decision is made.
Let me make this very plain. The question is not of whether a woman can actually say the Holy Communion Service, solemnise weddings and ordain priests. Anyone can say Mass. You could teach a parrot to do it. The issue is whether the Church of England - one branch of the worldwide church - should unilaterally make this profound innovation. It is not a question of theological objections to women as priests or bishops. It is a question of Church order - bluntly of whether the C of E is within its rights to make these changes. I do not believe it is.
I repeat: it is not a matter of women's competence.
Those who favour the ordination of women and the consecration of women bishops generally cite the example of the other professions.
They say: "We have women doctors, women judges, women astronauts - why not women priests and bishops?" The question simply misses the point by substituting secular standards of judgement for legitimate Church order.
I am an old-fashioned liberal.
By this I mean that I do not expect everyone to do as I say, but I do believe strongly that allowances must be made for people who beg to differ on any big issue of policy.
Such allowances were made for those who, 16 years ago, could not conscientiously accept women as priests. The same sort of provision should be made now for the significant minority who cannot accept women bishops.