Monday, 7 March 2011

Gender (cont)

It was strange to discover that my comments on Gender Issues has been partially cut and pasted on to Ruth's Blog and my words have caused a great stushie over there!

Again, I'm being set up as the "baddie", the "anti-women guy", and various other things too! I'm feeling uncomfortable about the way things are going in the SEC, but to suggest that I'm in any way non-supportive of women being appointed to the upper echelons of Church life and work is simply nonsense.

I was part of the selection committee in our Diocese when we were electing our current Bishop, and  there were three candidates  put before our electoral synod. One of these was a woman without much parish experience, but someone who I believed to have all the gifts and talents required to be an excellent bishop and leader in mission. So, let's get that one out of the way. I am pro women bishops and hope we have one soon. Ruth herself has all the credentials for being an excellent bishop, and this time next year may well be Bishop of Edinburgh. I would applaud that appointment.

It has to be said that, in my opinion, we have in our Diocese , the most gifted clergyperson I have had the delight to encounter. She has a senior position through merit.

Perhaps my concerns have been misunderstood. I'll try again.

The Gender Audit needed to be done and I have no problems with that. However, there now seems to be an almighty rush to put things right. If  what I was hearing at Diocesan Synod was wrong, then I apologise, but basically we were being told that in future, those responsible for making appointments to senior positions within the Church, had to always consider the imbalance we have at the moment. That sounds like positive discrimination towards women however you put it. It sounds like, "We must try to appoint a woman here, to be seen to be aware of the terrible imbalance we have."

I think positive discrimination demeans women who I think are perfectly capable of being appointed on their own merits, whether to Dean, Cathedral Chapters, or whatever you care to name.

Now that we seem to be in a dreadful hurry to redress the imbalance, many capable and gifted men will be overlooked, simply because we must be seen to be appointing women as often as we can.

I do not have any real senior position in the Church and a look at my ministry career will testify that I've never been a career priest in search of glory or titles. After Saturday, however,  I almost felt like apologising for being Convenor of  the Diocesan Church in Society Action Network, knowing, as I do, many women, ordained and lay, who could adequately fill that post. When a man has to consider apologising for being a man, then we are in a pretty pickle.

I suggested that we give time time, and eventually, especially in the SEC, things will work out.

Again, it would be nice to discuss this issue on my own blog where the full text appears, but I enjoy reading Ruth's Blog anyway, so to visit often is no chore on my part!

Comments from my post Synod may be read as they are part of this debate


MadPriest said...

I think that parishes that have been actively supportive of female priests have a tendency to want to appoint a woman as their priest partly because of the idealogical statement such an appointment makes. This means that male priests who have been actively supportive of female priests are finding it difficult to get a post in the very parishes they would feel most comfortable in.

I have absolutely no proof of this and my belief in its veracity is probably based on my paranoia as an unemployed, male priest. But, on the other hand, I can easily envisage myself adopting this type of positive discrimination if I was a parish rep.

MadPriest said...

If I am right then the sooner we have lots of female bishops, the better. As they will not have any guilt about how women have been treated in the Church, they should be more objective about the sex of applicants seeking posts in their dioceses.

Fr Kenny said...

Two or three out of seven in the SEC would adequately reflect the gender balance among those who would be eligible, at the moment to be part of our College of Bishops. That day will come, and we're not too far away from it.

I will embrace it and be proud of my Church which has a long history of being a trailblazer!

MadPriest said...

I doubt that there's a bookie in Scotland who would take a bet on Our Ruth becoming a bishop.

I've tried - they just laugh.

Ruth said...

OK, I'll try again to make a comment here, Kenny, but your blog host doesn't like Wordpress and wouldn't even accept me as a Google person either! 3 attempts and I gave up.

Again, I say that as I wasn't at your Synod I can't comment on whether they were encouraging positive discrimination. But where is the harm in considering the gender audit when appointing people to senior posts? If one person just stops to remember it then they might just look a little bit wider than who has been ordained longest. And I still don't see what's wrong with that.

Maybe I'm not explaining this very well! But I never said you were 'anit-women' or a 'baddie'. But you did say 'Because of years and years of discrimination, sometimes the posts require experience and acquired talents which mean that women are sometimes not appointed.' All I am saying is that the Gender Audit might make people think a little bit outside the box. OK, this woman may not have experience in the Church, but may have it from outside the Church. That is not positive discrimination, it is being open-minded and open to the Holy Spirit, dare I say it. I just don't see this as being a case of 'we must be seen to be appointing women as often as we can' but perhaps that was indeed what your Synod was saying. And if that's the case then I disagree wholeheartedly with that too.

MadPriest said...

Fr. Kenny is a baddie. But that's got nothing to do with women priests.

Fr Kenny said...

Ruth, I don't think our positions are too far apart. As I've said, as part of the selection committee in our Diocese last time around, I was 100% in favour of the woman we put forward for election. She had very little parish experience, but she had so much going for her because of her life and experience before ordination. I hope she has the courage to stand again somewhere else.

G&G Synod did not call for positive discrimination, but that's the way things sounded to me. Little things that were being said sounded very much like it, and there is now going to be extraordinary pressure to appoint women to senior posts, whether they are "best" or not. I find that unacceptable.

There are some powerful women in our Church who deserve to be "up there", but there are some very powerful guys too. I just hope that their talents and gifts are not overlooked in the future, but I fear they may well be!

Fr Kenny said...

I love you too, MP. x

MadPriest said...

Oh, no. God save us from the powerful, whatever their gender.

Fr Kenny said...

"Powerful" in the sense of being filled with the Holy Spirit, MP. We still have a goodly number of these creatures in our midst!

MadPriest said...

Okay. But do be careful. You give women a taste of such power and, mark my words, it'll be Taize and liturgical dance every Sunday morning from now on.

Christine McIntosh said...

I'm not going back to the gender thingy. I'm just going to remark that blogger comments don't seem to like Firefox any more, so life is easier with another browser, like Google Chrome.

There. What a geeky observation. Might almost be made by a fella ...

MadPriest said...

The short hair always made me suspicious anyway, Chris. Fancy a pint after the match?