THINKING ANGLICANS

women clergy: the Catholic Herald interview

UPDATED Lambeth Palace has issued a press release Archbishop – newspaper reports ‘wilful misinterpretation’. Both ACNS and the CofE website have also published it.

… “I made it clear in the interview with the Catholic Herald and will continue to do so that I see no theological justification for any revisiting of this question and indicated in the interview three times that I had no wish to reopen it, whatever technical possibilities might theoretically exist.”

“The presentation of this to mean anything else is wilful misinterpretation. My convictions mean that I feel nothing less than full support for the decision the Church of England made in 1992 and appreciation of the priesthood exercised ”

spelling errors corrected
——

The Catholic Herald will publish an interview tomorrow.
UPDATE it is now on that website. Read it in full here.

Meanwhile, the Telegraph has huge coverage:
Jonathan Petre Church could think again over women, says Williams and this page is linked to an audio interview with Telegraph comment writer Damian Thompson who is also the editor in chief of the Catholic Herald (you may need to use Internet Explorer to hear this).
Also, ‘Much bitterness has gone’ and The bishops debate.
And there is a leader column: Praise her, praise her!

The Times: Ruth Gledhill Archbishop admits doubts over ordination of women and more on her blog at Rowan Williams on women priests.

BBC Archbishop cool on female priests
(headline later changed to Williams mulls women’s ordination)

And after the Lambeth Palace press release:
Associated Press Archbishop of Canterbury affirms support for women priests; says interview misinterpreted

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Cheryl Clough
Guest

Williams’ contemplation that over time there could be a reversal on women’s ordination is realistic. The same as it was possible over time to forget the spirit in which the Protestant Reformation occurred, the spirit of both Luther’s, or Jesus’ spirit of acknowledging the holy in the unclean. Especially when there is no biblical underpinning to why the marginalised or women should be treated with respect. Especially when the passages that promise the eunuch and foreigner a name (Isaiah 56:3-7) or elevation of woman from servant to wife (Hosea 2:16) are discounted and ignored by established churches and their sponsored… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

A brilliant piece of spin from Damian Thompson, just see how all the reporters take a ride on this piece of creative analysis!
And the crunch comes when Jonathan Petre actually asks Christina Rees (who should be “upset” etc) and what does she say
“His comments may upset some people, but they shouldn’t.”
And this is the front page lead in the Telegraph ………

Ruth Gledhill
Guest

Hi, interesting story this one. Rowan Williams has never yet given me an interview. I have been understandably ridiculed when I’ve dared to complain about this in the past on my blog. I mean, as if the Archbishop of Canterbury should deign to speak to the Religion Correspondent of The Times. How could I be so presumptious to dream of such a thing? In spite of the complaints of Lambeth Palace, there does appear to be a direct contradiction between what he actually said and what he meant. I hope Lambeth Palace will forgive me if I dare to indulge… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Andrew Brown has drawn attention to some similarities and differences in these reports at
http://www.thewormbook.com/helmintholog/archives/2006/11/16/brief_sillies.html#001918

Pluralist
Guest

It seemed obvious to me that this is a story about nothing.

I have another. The Archbishop was approached about whether hell would freeze over. He replied that he could conceivably think it would, but only over a very long period, and he would have to be convinced of an argument. However, he was absolutely sure that the narrative that it would stay a very hot place would continue for all eternity.

The press reports that Archbishop Williams thinks that hell could freeze over, the headlines somewhat undermined by the reports.

(Meanwhile they missed the words “argument” and “narrative”).

laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

Ruth reading your posting here, today, I understand why Williams hasn’t let you interview him.

Reading your other writings, I find them unreliable & misleading,also.

Gerry Lynch
Guest

Rain forced me to take the bus rather than cycling into work this morning, and as a consequence I instantly lit on the Telegraph’s front-page headline in the corner shop and bought it to read on the way into work. I haven’t seen the Catholic Herald article, but there was nothing in the substance of either of any of the copy the Telegraph ran to justify their hysterical “Williams: we may rethink women priests” front page headline. Nothing what so ever. Although I suppose “Williams: it’s just about conceivable we may at some unspecified future point change our minds on… Read more »

Dave Williams
Guest
Dave Williams

Don’t worry. The Archbishop of Canterbury hasn’t offered me an interview yet either!

Cheryl Clough
Guest

Ruth. Reporting used to be honored as having a prophetic role. Bringing truth to light where the corrupt and complacent would prefer it unsaid. Asking the hard questions. Challenging souls’ complacency. Being told that your reporting needs to be based on making potential sponsors comfortable tells you how blind and complacent some souls have become. They are so used to the media being tied into advertising sponsorship money that they have become boot lickers to power brokers. As the hard questions. Confront people. Challenge souls’ complacency. But do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Don’t worry… Read more »

Ruth Gledhill
Guest

Points taken Gerry and Laurence, I do understand this and do not have high hopes at all for the future. But if that applies to me why didn’t it apply to the Herald? Damian has been far more critical of him than I ever have. Also, I really do not run him down at every opportunity.

Dave Williams
Guest
Dave Williams

Accusing someone of having a homophobic agenda -seems like the threatening and abusive controls aren’t working at the moment Simon

Gerry Lynch
Guest

Ruth,

why did The Herald get the interview? Maybe “that would be an ecumenical matter”? Would Damian Thompson have got the interview if he was still working for the Telegraph rather than the Catholic Herald? Maybe the Lambeth Palace Press Office felt it was worth working with a reporter they might mistrust for the sake of getting into a decent spread in a high circulation RC newspaper?

If that’s what they thought, they really have got their fingers burnt.

Stephen Wikner
Guest
Stephen Wikner

‘. . . got their fingers burnt’? I don’t think so. I suspect Lambeth Palace is feeling rather pleased. And is it too fanciful to suspect an element of collusion between the Telegraph headline writers (and others) and the Catholic Herald? There can have been few more compelling reasons for a ‘secular’ Telegraph reader to search out a copy of the Catholic Herald – to see if the Archbishop really did say what the headline says he said. Oh yes, when +Rowan and +Benedict meet I really do hope they find time to talk about or better still play some… Read more »

laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

I found the tone of the interview very condescending. The interviewer subtly patronised Rowan Williams throughout. His replies were as thoughtful, engaged, modest and genuine as his interlocutor was game-playing, and snide, it appears to me. Also it has all the hallmarks of the old style RC denomination I thought they’d been growing out of to some extent, at least. But the Herald clearly has not, and soothes its a blinkered readership with such tones–presumably. Ratzinger, of course, is now going as full-steam ahead as he can get way with, in undermining Vatican II ( having done it for years… Read more »

laurence roberts
Guest
laurence roberts

Perhaps the Herald and Jo Rtzinger could think on this ?! :— 15 Women Who Took Up Roman Catholic Priestly Roles Face Excommunication Fifteen Roman Catholic women in the United States, including some Californians, face excommunication after taking up priestly duties following their ordination in recent ceremonies designed to challenge the all-male priesthood. On Thursday, Jane Via of San Diego, who was ordained in June and planned to say her second Mass on Sunday, met for two hours with the local bishop, who laid out the ramifications of her actions. Three women in other states have received letters from diocese… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

I think Rowan Williams really does need to do something about his lack of media skills.

Just about every interview he does is full of this sort of opaque statement.

Its easy to blame the journalists, but lets be honest – the AofC is a political job, and Rowan has no political skills at all.

Anna
Guest

What a tempest over nothing. The Archbishop’s actual remarks were thoughtful and by and large, gracefully expressed.

I understand (to an extent) the fuss over the misleading headline but don’t understand the tempests and fusses in the comments above!

Pluralist
Guest

Just let’s look at this, from the same interview: I might want to refine the language a bit. Of course, the Eucharist is a symbol, but I think what Flannery O’Connor was saying is that if it is just a symbol in the sense that it is something detached from what it is about, and it is just working in your mind — well, no, that’s not it. The Eucharist is not a visual aid and it’s not a jog to memory. It’s an event, an encounter. And if it is not an event in which some utterly earth-shaking change… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

The remarks were unfortunate, like similar remarks about gay-related issues — a too frank glimpse into the coolly pragmatic mindset of bishops anxious about church unity. Nonetheless, it is delightful to find a churchman who speaks as freely, as humanly and with as much culture as RW — and if “media skills” means muzzling oneself in order to preempt the wilful pettiness of debased journalism and ecclesiastical cranks, then we should be grateful that at least some public figures foreswear the said skills. Performatively, RW’s various interviews are altering the nature of church authority — in stark contrast to the… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

The “real presence” and “transsubstantiation” are not at all as simple to state or to conceptualize as Pluralist seems to imply. The RCC upholds transsubstantiation as a fitting description but not as any kind of definition of the eucharistic transformation, and the elaborate metaphysical refinements of Thomas are extremely problematic, using Aristotle’s categories in a way that Aristotle would consider impossible — as Fitzpatrick points out in the book that R Williams recommended (in rather misleading terms, as if it were a defence of Thomas rather than an attack). The categories of encounter and meal event cannot be banished from… Read more »

Martin Reynolds
Guest

The BBC story has moved on again. Well, Anna – talking to leaders of the women’s’ movement yesterday they said they had been overwhelmed by calls from hurt people. I think this is a good example of what Gerry describes as a “sexed up” story, in fact now we have all read the interview something approaching a total fabrication. It seems, as you can see from Ruth’s congratulations above that as long as a journalist gets a story on the front page, matters of accuracy are irrelevant. Pointing this out, finding the sources behind the “spin”, looking at why this… Read more »

Merseymike
Guest
Merseymike

Which , Martin, explains just why RW absolutely must up his act with regard to the media. For a long time he refused to talk to the press and was rightly criticised. But I think we can now see why. I’m sorry, but I simply think he is not up to the job. he is too vacillating, there’s no passion there at all. The Guardian leader writer got it spot on: Dr Williams’ defenders insist that the Anglican communion’s virulent internal debates should be seen as proof of its vitality. Instead, it looks as if Dr Williams’ disastrous inability to… Read more »

Ruth Gledhill
Guest

Gerry, Damian does still work for the Telegraph! He writes leaders, think pieces etc. Stephen, I can assure you Lambeth Palace is not feeling pleased. “Hurt” and “burnt” are the accurate descriptions. Martin, my ‘congratulations’ were meant partly in an ironic sense. But it is certainly the case that the pressures we are under at present, in the present battle between us and the revamped Telegraph, are almost intolerable. Here is what I’ve just posted on the Coin thread on this issue, in response to some really criticisms of me by another Coin member. I really am not trying to… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

[Editor’s note: Because Ruth’s comment was over the word limit, I have split it into two, what follows are not my words] Here is the criticism [to which the preceding comment was the response]: ‘ Because in context, the ABC’s remarks clearly (and I know that this phrase is something of an oxymoronic combination of words and I am certainly not defending his peculiar ability to provide soundbites which say the precise opposite of what he means) didn’t mean what you said in your article, and if you had access to his words in context, I don’t see how you… Read more »

Gerry Lynch
Guest

“I am not trying to justify the necessary faults of my profession at all” And, to be fair to you and your colleagues, Ruth, we ‘consumers’ of the media get the media we deserve. Both the Telegraph and, even more dramatically, the Independent have taken a filleting knife to their traditional journalistic values and both have reaped the reward commercially. The Independent, in particular, looks more and more like a left-leaning Daily Express with every passing day. Not to mention the way trash free newspapers like the Metro, London Lite, etc., have eaten into the sales of the qualities, especially… Read more »

davewilliams
Guest
davewilliams

It’s kind of interesting isn’t it. On other threads we’ve been discussing things like certainty and how the Church knows truth. There’s also been some discussion about what it means to listen to others. Presumably there will be a good number of people here that think that schism is a bad thing. They will notice that this interview is in the context of a coming meeting with the Pope. If the CofE wants to travel down the road with the RC Church much further in terms of unity then it will have to have some form of dialogue. That theorectically… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

I understand what Spirit of Vatican II is saying here, but there are channels by which an “event” takes place, unless of course it is thrown open to mystery. Channels include something physically happening to the bread and wine, which is in the same category as a miracle, and we know this is counter to science. Another means is mental, by direct impression. It might be us, or it might be another into us. The effect could be the same, but it is mental. A more refined and collective means is socio-lingistic, and here the happening to us is the… Read more »

Alastair Cutting
Guest
Alastair Cutting

I do hope that Lambeth Palace will give Ruth the opportunity of a sensible interview soon.

Cheryl Clough
Guest

The comments about the content of what Rowan is supposed to have said, and responses to unfair spin have been taken up on a more recent thread (thank you Simon). Back to Ruth’s issues: The phrase “No emotions please, we’re Anglican” comes to mind. There is a tendency to eschew anything that might be strongly emotional. That is a good trait in terms of pouring calming oil on turbulent waters. But it can be a bad trait when it becomes ostrich behaviour blind to risks. The affluent classes were held in contempt in the lead up to World War II… Read more »

Pluralist
Guest

Once again I garble my words – a collective enterprise I should have written, though it just might be corrective too. As for the press and inteviewing, clearly in the Catholic Herald Rowan Williams received more than burnt fingers, and is an object lesson, plus he and the staff will have clearly noticed the press saliva at work about a missed story, even when that story was a nonsense and turnaround from what was stated. Fortunately the Church Times was a better interview, and this will have been noted too. So Ruth Gledhill may be waiting rather longer for her… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

“Channels include something physically happening to the bread and wine, which is in the same category as a miracle, and we know this is counter to science.” “Physically” is somewhat unfortunate here. Physical realities are what science grasps, and it is evident that physically there is no observable difference between a consecrated and an unconsecrated host. The Church refers to a change in the substance of the host — and substance is not only a very obscure term (as Newman pointed out) but it points not to physical matter but to the being, ousia, of something. A change in being… Read more »

Ruth Gledhill
Guest

Thank you Pluralist, frankly I am not hopeful any interview ever from Lambeth Palace, but at least no-one can accuse me of being in the CofE’s pocket. I probably should drop this thread but just want to continue my probably hopeless attempt to convince you and other sceptics that we journalists, while sinners perhaps more than most on occasio, are not always deserving of demonisation. There was no saliva in my mouth at all on Wednesday night at 11pm as my son lay asleep in bed and I longed to go to sleep but was under inordinate pressure to follow… Read more »

laurence
Guest
laurence

I have found the concept of transignification a helpful and fruitful concept vis-a-vis eucharist.

(Even though I myself no-longer participate in the outer sacrament )

Pluralist
Guest

I don’t know what a guaranteed presence is. To raise my game somewhat, I cannot see anything guaranteed when it depends on hope. What if a pro-science view of transubstantiation is promoted then, as above, which I think is a revision: let’s suppose there is no focus on a magical change, as it will get none from me, that there is prayerful attention, and that individualism is countered (not sure what is wrong with individualism – but I’ve already stated the symbol system is collective), then what is the difference between a view as put by me and one suggesting… Read more »

Spirit of Vatican II
Guest

The presence of Christ in the Eucharist cannot depend on hope — that would certainly be to deny the reality of his presence. As to our assurance of the real presence, this is not based on hope either, but on our faith in the words of Christ as remembered and repeated by the Church. There were theologians in mid-20th century who tried to connect transubstantiation with the new atomic physics. Such an enterprise was bound to lead nowhere, since it was based on a category error. R Williams stresses that Christ is acting in the Eucharist — a good shift… Read more »

Ford Elms
Guest
Ford Elms

SOV2, Abslutely! There’s nothing worse than going to a place where God is the senile old uncle who sits in the back of the church and drinks His tea while the rest of us get on with the business of telling each other how good we are. It has always been, for me, a flaw in the Anglican Church that so many of our clergy seem to have no trouble with The Gathering of the Community, but have big problems with what the community is gathered there to do. They can cope with some kind of airy fairy “Real Presence”… Read more »