Members of the Wakefield Diocesan Synod are not, it seems, to be regarded as loyal Anglicans (so-called) after all. Despite the tearful pleas of Wakefielders to be allowed to remain the General Synod is determined to cast them out, where there will be wailing and gnashing of t’ teeth. Any who don’t like it are welcome to become Roman Catholics (Diocese of Leeds).
It is not too late, though, for the Church of England to recover its reputation for
not making a
decision inclusivity. Four options remain:
Option one, the simplest possible legislation, allows for the greatest room for trust. Wakefield people are invited to hope that bands of crazed PCC secretaries from the Dales do not come south to plunder their churches again, nor Bradfordian holy warriors slip in secret over their borders to carry off the best members of their stewardship schemes. Given the wild look in the eyes of the Bishop of Bradford, we would be surprised if this gave much comfort.
Under option two the email addresses of the present Diocese of Wakefield would be transferred, without time limit, to the equivalent officers in the new diocesan office. Like option one, this would still mean a substantial need for trust. However, it would mean that strange requests for unknown information, unhelpful and contradictory advice, and other blessings from the diocese would come from a familiar source.
Option three introduces safeguards to ensure that the identity of the Diocese of Wakefield is preserved for those who (for reasons of conscience) don’t like their neighbours. Any bishop of the new diocese, when within the boundaries of the present Wakefield Diocese, would be obliged by canon to observe at least once an hour “don’t you know I am the Bishop of Wakefield?”
Meanwhile Wakefield would be entitled to continue to elect its present number of “shadow members” to the General Synod. These shadow members would be entitled to vote, but would have to sit in a special area for people with unpopular opinions, and would be subject to periods of
re-education small-group work.
Option four would make structural arrangements for the continued existence of the institution of the Diocese of Wakefield. The Bishop of Wakefield would continue to have pastoral oversight of such congregations as to remain in the Wakefield Jurisdiction. This would not, of course, actually have jurisdiction, which would be in the hands of the relevant area bishop of the new diocese, except in those parishes presently in other local government areas, where jurisdiction would be shared by the Bishop of the Wakefield Jurisdiction, the Area Bishop of Wakefield, the area bishop of the relevant adjoining area and the diocesan bishop of the new diocese, subject to any direction by the Archbishop of York. Who will agree to pay the expenses of these people we cannot imagine.
Option four is the preferred option of the campaigning organisation Forward in Some Parts of South-West Yorkshire. However, it has roused the opposition of What About The Carlisle Hinterland?, a group representing far-flung parts of the north who, if not sufficiently affirmed, threaten to join a smaller and remoter diocese still.
The steering committee looking at these proposals (we recommend the Bishop of Willesden for the chair, of course) should think over these options carefully, given Dr Sentamu's approval of our more radical plan. First they came for Wakefield...
Or they could take a short cut and, calling in the army from Catterick to assist in the work of the kingdom, hand the whole thing over straightaway to Coptic jurisdiction. This is what it is to be on the right side of history. Pope Tawadros, over to you.