Thinking Anglicans

Affirming Catholicism and WATCH agree plans

Update Wednesday
Forward in Faith has issued a press release in response to this.

Groups agree fundamental plans for women bishops in the Church of England
Joint press release by Affirming Catholicism and WATCH

A campaigning group and a network of Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England have agreed the fundamental principles by which women should be appointed as bishops. For the first time, the leadership and members of the Executive Committees of Affirming Catholicism and WATCH (Women and the Church), which between them represent nearly half the members of the Church of England’s General Synod, have jointly drawn up a list of key, non-negotiable principles for moving forward on women bishops.

Affirming Catholicism and WATCH had previously submitted separate proposals to the House of Bishops working party which consulted on proposals set out in the Guildford Report published earlier this year. The joint key principles draw heavily on their separate submissions and challenge the scope of the Guildford proposals which would, if implemented, provide a ‘women bishops free zone’ for those opposed to the ordination of women.

Christina Rees, Chair of National WATCH said: “The Church is currently discussing proposals which so limit the ministry of women bishops in order to take account of those who won’t accept them, that there is a danger of creating a second class of bishops who are women. Our principles – which we regard as non-negotiable – call for the Church to affirm unequivocally its confidence in the ordination of women by not discriminating against them.”

The formal consultation process on women bishops began in 2000 with the setting up a House of Bishops’ Working Party on Women in the Episcopate, but the journey began over 30 years ago when General Synod agreed that there was ‘no fundamental objection to the ordination of women to the priesthood.’ There are now over 2,500 clergy women in the Church of England. For the past two years there have been equal numbers of women and men being trained for the ordained ministry in the Church of England.

The Rev’d Richard Jenkins, Director of Affirming Catholicism said: “The Church of England has always made room for different opinions. But the theology and law of the Church must give priority to the fact that we are a Church which has now joyfully accepted and overwhelmingly received the ordination of women. Our principles suggest ways in which those who are opposed can be given security and space, but still remain recognisably within one Church.”

The groups now aim to discuss their principles with evangelicals and other groups in the Church in order to reach the widest possible agreement about how to move forward. The House of Bishops will meet again at the beginning of June to discuss the results of their consultation. The bishops will then produce a revised plan to be debated by the General Synod in July.

NOTES FOR EDITORS:

Principles drawn up by a joint Affirming Catholicism/WATCH working party according to which the Church of England can and should proceed to the ordination of women as bishops:

A. HOW THE CHURCH SHOULD PROCEED IN CONSECRATING WOMEN BISHOPS.

1. The Church of England is competent to make the decision to ordain women as bishops. This principle is enshrined in the Canons of the Church of England. [See especially Canon A6.] Further, the Lambeth Conference has recognised that Provinces of the Anglican Communion are competent to move on the question of the ordination of women to all stages of the three-fold ministry when the time seems right to each Province. [Lambeth Conference 1978; Resolution 21.]

2. Legislation must express the Church’s joyful acceptance of the decision to ordain women as bishops, whilst making suitable pastoral provision for those who continue to have difficulties with the ordained ministry of women.

3. There may therefore be no discrimination in the enabling Measure. The historic and catholic identity of episcopal ministry and office must be retained, and all women and men who are appointed as bishop must have the same authority and responsibilities.

4. Pastoral provision for those who have private reservations about the ordained ministry of women can – and should – be made, but such provision should not create structures which undermine the catholic order of the church or suggest ambivalence about the Church’s decision to admit women to the threefold ministry. [Cf. Guildford Report, § 130.]

5. If pastoral provision is to have the force of law, it must be enshrined in secondary legislation or in an enforceable, statutory code of practice. Provision should be made for alleged breaches of such secondary legislation / statutory code of practice to be referred to an independent body (to be defined in law) for mediation (in which the agreement of both parties would be binding) or arbitration (in which a decision would be imposed on both parties).

[Putting the detail of the arrangements for the exercise of Episcopal authority in the Code or into secondary legislation keeps these discriminatory provisions out of primary legislation. The Measure can then be short and simple. This approach also gives Synod the necessary power to deal with this matter without reference to Parliament. It would also put these provisions on a firmer legal footing than the existing Act of Synod given that the 1993 Measures on the ordination of women to the priesthood do not mention the Act.]

6. The process of reception should be recognised as the means by which the Church enters into the fullness of its joyful acceptance of women’s ministry; it is not a continuing process of judging the rightness of the decision. The pastoral provision must be drafted on this basis.

7. There can be no amendment to Canon A4. That is, “those who are made, ordained or consecrated bishops, priests or deacons” according to the ordinal and by a bishop of the Church of England are “to be accounted, both by themselves and others, to be truly bishops, priests or deacons.” Consequently, there can be no re-ordination of a priest or deacon ordained by a bishop of the Church of England who subsequently moves to another Diocese; similarly there can be no re-confirmation.

B. HOW THE CHURCH SHOULD MAKE PASTORAL PROVISION FOR THOSE WITH PRIVATE RESERVATIONS ABOUT THE ORDINATION OF WOMEN

1. The pastoral provision may not create a parallel jurisdiction of those who are not prepared to accept the ordained ministry of women, but must seek the highest possible degree of communion together with the highest possible degree of permeability.

2. The pastoral provision must not give rise to a ‘theology of taint’ whereby opponents of women clergy are able to declare themselves out of communion even with those male clergy who have shared a sacramental ministry with ordained women.

3. Arrangements requiring ordained women to exercise pastoral sensitivity towards those who are opposed must be balanced by reciprocal arrangements requiring pastoral sensitivity from those who are opposed.

4. With respect to Dioceses and Diocesan structures, the pastoral provisions must maintain the integrity of the Diocese as the fundamental unit of the Church.

5. The bishop is and must be recognised to be Ordinary in his / her Diocese.

6. Any bishop who exercises a ministry specifically with respect to those opposed to ordained women’s ministry must therefore share in the ministry of the Ordinary.

7. Any such bishop must accordingly work within and according to the policies and practices of the Diocese where he exercises that ministry.

8. In Dioceses where the Ordinary is opposed to the ordination of women and does not ordain women as priest and/or deacon, the interests of women priests and those who are supportive of the ministry of ordained women must have episcopal representation within the Diocese.

9. All bishops and all parishes of a Diocese must continue to be part of the same synodical structures (through which the ministry of oversight or episcope is also exercised).

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Göran Koch-SwahneDaveAndyJay Morrisdrdanfee Recent comment authors
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drdanfee
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drdanfee

Gee sometimes I realize I have forgotten how conservative and backward looking the churches are in other places around the world, even in post-industrialized cultures. Yes, I would dare to call any man who would grant himself and other men privileges and powers that he could not grant to his mother or his wife or his sister or his daughter (because of sex/gender), backwards. Is the status and competency of women still under an equal cloud of taint and suspicion in the rest of U.K. society? Are women doctors, attorneys, university professors, scientists, MP’s, and non-profit or business leaders still… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Some convergence and sympathy between proponents and opponents seems to emerging. HALLELUIA !

John SImmons
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“I would dare to call any man who would grant himself and other men privileges and powers that he could not grant to his mother or his wife or his sister or his daughter (because of sex/gender), backwards.” – drdanfee, above.

Yes, of course.

But what has “privilege” and “power” to do with being asked to serve as a Bishop in the Church of God?

Edward
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Edward

It is plans like that which leave students like me who are of more traditional disposition in utter dispair. Some of my friends have already told me they will find it difficult to remain in the C of E now.

Columba Gilliss
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Columba Gilliss

Ideally being a bishop would not have to do with power but as long as major decisions are made by bishops acting apart from other Christians — to say nothing of primates getting together separately to do so — for that long it will be about power — not so much for the individuals involved but for those they represent.

Marshall Scott
Guest

I do not want to make light of Edward’s despair. I believe it is heartfelt. I wonder, though, about the openness of the students among whom Edward sees himself. If we are called to be students, not simply of the history of the Church, but also of the current direction of the Holy Spirit (and all of us Christians, whether in seminary or out for more than 25 years, as I am, are called to that study), how can we prejudge movements without studying them? And to study them must include the theology, including the ecclesiology and theological anthropology, of… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Hmm, I do agree with the ideal of bishop as a high ideal of mainly a vocation to service among us, and guess what, also in the world. However, as long as bishops live more like rich folks than not, one may legitimately wonder how service has tended to become privilege. As regards power, then, we might conclude that power was the power to serve. That, too, is a laudable high ideal, no? I just cannot shake a lingering suspicion, that if being bishop were like sweeping streets, washing dishes, and cooking for church bake sales, the women would have… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

Edward wrote: “Some of my friends have already told me they will find it difficult to remain in the C of E now.” Dear Edward, I hope that the criteria for any change is that adequate provision for legitimate dissenters must be adequate in *their* perception. Therefore I for one will not support any arrangement that is inadequate, even though I disagree with you on women bishops. I think that many Bishops and Synod Rep.s are of the same opinion. You must ensure that they know what you perceive to be adequate – taking into account that others perceive the… Read more »

Edward
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Edward

Thanks for those comments. I’m grateful. I left the point of oversight out as to attempt to comment on the WATCH and Aff Caff news rather than have the usual debate about the episcopate here which has been done many times. I would say that people like myself try to be very open to the workings of the Holy Spirit and help it to guide our own lives. Of couse I would say that it hasn’t lead us in the female bishop or priest direction but this isnt really the forum for that. I don’t just look to tradition or… Read more »

Ordinand
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Ordinand

It surprises me, or says something about this site, that Forward in Faith’s response to “AffCath’s” and WATCH’s press release has not been published on Thinking Anglicans.

Dave
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Dave

Dear Edward, here is a joint statement from evangelicals on both sides of the women priests debate that I hope you will find somewhat encouraging (you can find the whole thing here: http://www.ceec.info/library/positional/Scripture,%20Faith%20and%20Order.htm ): “…Whatever interpretation is given to passages such as 1 Cor 11:2-16, 14:34-40, and 1 Tim 2:11-15, it seems clear that St. Paul does not think that those who take a different position from his own are thereby sinful and need to repent in order to avoid jeopardizing their salvation. They are in error and he wants them to think and act differently, but he does not… Read more »

k1eranc
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k1eranc

Ah… Now that IS interesting, Dave. Have the evangelicals reached the same position on a certain other (2nd order) issue causing international fistfights at present?

John D
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John D

Good Lord. While I hesitate to comment on Edward’s distress caused by the current working statement, I am appalled that the Mother Church has such an issue with women in holy orders. I hope Edward comes to some sort of compromise with the post-Elizabethan world that enables him to move forward (in faith?).Reading this stuff doesn’t encourage those of us in the apostate provinces of North America one little bit. Maybe we’d be better “walking apart”–at least we’ll be walking.

J. C. Fisher
Guest

And what, dear Edward, of the “young” or “students” who are female—and discern in themselves a call to the priesthood? Is their despair the price of assuaging yours?

And Dave, re “in *their* perception”: certainly, what’s good for “legitimate dissenters”, is good for women discerning a call…

[Still gobsmacks me that the CofE is treating this issue as a “What if?” C’mon, this wheel’s been invented already: women priests and women bishops are JUST FINE, thank you! Thanks be to God! :-D]

Edward
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Edward

Thankyou for the link to the CEEC document. By saying I had done some background reading I meant that I have read ‘Women in the Church’, ‘Consecrated Women’ and ‘The Rochester Report’ in their entirety as objectively as I could. I’m always wary of ‘secondary issues’ as I feel one has to believe in an entire corpus, rather than determine what is important and what is not – what right have we to do that ?. The big two churches, the RC and the Orthodox (I accept it is an open question interestingly in some parts of the Orthodox Church)do… Read more »

drdanfee
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drdanfee

Yes, despite all the deep reservations being expressed, our general church experiences with women in leadership have been quite positive, just as has happened in other domains of work and society outside the churches. We have indeed already put these alarming traditionalistic claims to some visible, longer-term testing in church life, and so far they just don’t pan out as loudly predicted. Medicine didn’t collapse just because women became doctors. Law and public policy didn’t collapse just because women were admitted to the Bar, or elected as MP’s. Believers are not going to hell in a handbasket, just because some… Read more »

Jay Morris
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Jay Morris

I think woman should have a right to be bishops. Its a changing a changing world. We women do about everything else like the men these days. Heck women could play football to if we wanted to. Plus I don’t think God minds. He wants us to change and grow. (I mean society as long as its for the good not bad) And isn’t that what the world and escepially church is. Us human trying to build this world of us into what God wants. Just think what whould the person we are leaseing this world want. Yes I say… Read more »

Andy
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Andy

http://www.ceec.info/library/positional/Scripture,%20Faith%20and%20Order.htm “…Whatever interpretation is given to passages such as 1 Cor 11:2-16, 14:34-40, and 1 Tim 2:11-15, it seems clear that St. Paul does not think that those who take a different position from his own are thereby sinful and need to repent in order to avoid jeopardizing their salvation. They are in error and he wants them to think and act differently, but he does not say that they have put themselves outside the kingdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 14v34-37 (ASV 1901): “[34] Let the women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to… Read more »

Dave
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Dave

“Therefore, my brothers, be eager to prophesy, and do not forbid speaking in tongues. But everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way.” I Cor 14:39-40 Dear Andy, Paul states his objective in giving his instructions at the end of the passage. In order that “everything should be done in a fitting and orderly way” he commanded the Corinthian church, on the Lord’s behalf, to behave in certain ways. The question is whether this applies to us in the same ways in our circumstances. So you have to ask “why”? Why was it a ‘disgrace’ if women spoke… Read more »

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

Dear Andy, you conveniently “forgot” verse 38: ei dé tis angoeî, agnoeîtai/agnoeítw; If anyone does not believe so, let him not believe so/he doesn’t believe so. The first variety is found in the mid 4th century late Alexandrian Sondertradition Codex sinaïticus, the “it’s up to him”-variety in the more reliable 3rd to early 4th century P46 and Codex vaticanus. Also, manuscripts D, F, G, it & c. give present verses 34-35 a f t e r present verse 40, thereby indicating 1) that 34-35 are somewhat less than authentic, 2) that verses 22-40 apply to Prophesizing, not to gender. Not… Read more »