It seems that the 19 members of the committee spent long hard hours trying to see if there was some way of producing some kind of new model episcopacy that simultaneously was and wasn’t complete in the ministry of every bishop. What they seem to have discovered by painful endeavour is that it just isn’t possible to salami slice what bishops’ ministry is within an autocephalous Church. St Cyrprian’s principle (“Episcopatus unus est cuius a singulis in solidum pars tenetur”) has, since the time of Archbishop Benson (1882-18891), been the keystone of Anglican theology of Episcopacy. Thus, ecclesiological first principles prove themselves.
After much discussion, the members of the Committee were unable to identify a basis for specifying particular functions for vesting which commanded sufficient support both from those in favour of the ordination of women as bishops and those unable to support that development. As a result all of the proposals for vesting particular functions by statute were defeated.
The effect of the Committee’s decision is therefore that such arrangements as are made for those unable to receive the episcopal ministry of women will need to be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishop rather than vesting.
So what? The choice now before Synod is for provision outside the legislation itself, or a statutory code of practice. The full synod will doutbless discuss these options and decide what they want to do between these options. There is, of course, always a third option of dong nothing (letting the measure fail). This is the kind of discussion and decision making the General Synod is for, really. February’s debates could well make interesting reading...