Thinking Anglicans

letter from 15 CofE bishops

Fifteen bishops of the Church of England have written a letter, addressed to those who signed the Open Letter of 2008 to the archbishops on the issue of women in the episcopate.

Another copy of the 2008 letter with the full list of signatories can be found as a PDF file here.

The full text of the new letter is below the fold.

‘God forbid that I should sin against the Lord in ceasing to pray for you, but I will tell you the good and proper way.’ (1 Samuel 12:23)

These are grave times in the Church of England especially for those of us unable in good conscience to accept that any particular church has the authority to admit women to the episcopate. While we certainly accept the good faith of those who wish to make this change believing it to be God’s will, we cannot rejoice with them, not least because of the disastrous cost to Catholic unity.

Our concerns are not only about sacramental assurance though that is of profound importance. If the legislation now proposed passes, it will not provide room for our tradition to grow and flourish. We will be dependent on a Code of Practice yet to be written, and sadly our experience of the last almost twenty years must make us wonder whether even such an inadequate provision will be honoured in the long term.

Neither the Report of the Revision Committee nor the legislation itself show a proper understanding of our reservations, however carefully these have been presented through the consultation process and in the College and House of bishops. It remains a deep disappointment to us that the Church at large did not engage with the excellent Rochester Report and paid scant attention to the Consecrated Women report sponsored by Forward in Faith.

We must now accept that a majority of members of the Church of England believe it right to proceed with the ordination of women as bishops, and that a significant percentage of those in authority will not encourage or embrace with enthusiasm the traditional integrity or vocations within it. Nor is it their intention or desire to create a structure which genuinely allows the possibility of a flourishing mission beyond this generation.

However, the closeness of the vote on the Archbishops’ amendment for co ordinate jurisdiction, concerns though there are about its adequacy, suggest at least a measure of disquiet in the majority about proceeding without a provision acceptable to traditionalists. The catholic group fought valiantly on the floor of synod and we are grateful for that, and while many in the Church and press are speaking as if the legislation is now passed, final synodical approval is still some way off.

Whatever happens in the Synod, there are some Anglo Catholics, including in our own number, who are already looking at, indeed are resolved to join the Ordinariate as the place where they can find a home in which to live and proclaim their Christian faith, in communion with the Holy Father, yet retaining something of the blessings they have known and experienced in the Anglican tradition. Of course the Ordinariate is a new thing, and not all of us are trailblazers or can imagine what it might be like. Some will undoubtedly want to wait and see how that initiative develops before making a decision.

Yet others will make their individual submission and find their future as Roman Catholics.

Were the present proposals not to be substantially amended or defeated, many more of us will need to seriously consider these options.

A number will remain, perhaps even reluctantly because of personal circumstances, family loyalties, even financial necessity, but with a deep sense of unease about the long term future, an unease that is surely well founded. There are faithful Catholic clergy and lay people, though deeply opposed to the likely synodical decision, who cannot currently imagine themselves being anywhere else but the Church of England. They wonder how they can stay, yet cannot imagine leaving their much loved church and parish. They do not want to be forced out of the Church they love, and will persevere where they are, whatever the theological or ecclesiological ambiguities, and seek God’s blessing on all they do.

Those who are not actively seeking a home elsewhere must work to defeat the currently proposed legislation. It is essential that traditionalists engage in the debate and discussion in their diocese and are active in the election process for the next quinquennium on the General Synod when the two thirds majority in each House will be required if the legislation is to pass. Whatever our individual futures, and however disheartened we might feel, the Church of England needs strong catholic hearts and voices.

The text quoted at the beginning of this letter was the one used by John Keble in his famous Assize sermon, often regarded as the starting point of the Oxford Movement. It seems remarkably apposite, and gives a clue to an appropriate attitude of heart for this process: prayerful and gracious, but clear.

We are all bishops united in our belief that the Church of England is mistaken in its actions. However, we must be honest and say we are not united as to how we should respond to these developments.

Nevertheless we are clear that each of the possibilities we have outlined has its own integrity and is to be honoured. We are resolved to respect the decisions made by laity, bishops, priests and deacons of our integrity, and call on you to do the same. It would be a sad and destructive thing indeed if we allowed our unhappiness and wondering to drift into unguarded or uncharitable criticism of those who in good conscience take a different path from our own. We must assume the best motives in one another, and where there are partings let them be with tears and the best wishes of Godspeed.

You will we hope know of the clergy meetings in both provinces to take place in September when there will be opportunities for discussion and an exchange of views about the future. Be assured of our prayers as you reflect about how best to respond to the challenges which face us, and we ask your prayers for us too as we seek to be faithful to the Lord, and to the Faith once delivered.

Rt Revd John Hind, Bishop of Chichester
Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell, Bishop of Europe
Rt Revd Nicholas Reade, Bishop of Blackburn
Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett, Bishop of Beverley
Rt Revd John Broadhurst, Bishop of Fulham
Rt Revd Peter Wheatley, Bishop of Edmonton
Rt Revd John Goddard, Bishop of Burnley
Rt Revd Andrew Burnham, Bishop of Ebbsfleet
Rt Revd Keith Newton, Bishop of Richborough
Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Bishop of Pontefract
Rt Revd John Ford, Bishop of Plymouth
Rt Revd Mark Sowerby, Bishop of Horsham
Rt Revd Martin Warner, Bishop of Whitby
Rt Revd Robert Ladds
Rt Revd Lindsay Urwin OGS

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Malcolm+
Guest

Irony.

There are three episcopal names that are “doubled” in the Anglican Communion. There are two Bishops of Newcastle (England and Australia), two Bishops of Rochester (England and the United States) and two Bishops of Edmonton (England and Canada).

The irony is that the Bishop of Edmonton (England) has signed this letter, while the Bishop of Edmonton and her predecessor (now Bishop of Christchurch) are both women.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Nevertheless we are clear that each of the possibilities we have outlined has its own integrity and is to be honoured.”

…integrity to be honoured, EXCEPT for that of those taking the “actions” that these bishops believe are “mistaken.” In their view, the CofE pro-WO majority has no tradition deserving of being allowed to “grow and flourish”, only subverted and destroyed.

And these 15 bishops, thank you very much, are demanding a separate—separate from Canterbury that is, but w/ the encouragement of Rome—reinforced snipers nest from which to do that subverting/destroying.

They will “tell [us] the good and proper way”?

No thanks.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

And do these bishops–some who seem so eager to cross the Tiber over this issue–think that Rome will ever make “accommodations” to them should they ever have a disagreement with the pope regarding some matter of doctrine? They won’t even get to vote on anything or try to persuade their fellow bishops to support their position as they do here.

They have had some two decades of “accommodation,” while those they would deny ordination and consecration have endured a lifetime of denial of their calling in many cases.

Göran Koch-Swahne
Guest

“… those of us unable in good conscience to accept that any particular church has the authority to admit women to the episcopate.”

Just WOW…

What became of the power of the Keys?

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“The faith once delivered.” Tell me, to whom was it delivered first?

Oriscus
Guest
Oriscus

Just curious: when did +Gibraltar come to be styled “Bishop of Europe?”

chenier1
Guest
chenier1

And the Rt Revd Lindsay Urwin OGS, who I see is actually an Honorary Assistant Bishop, commented in his farewell sermon about his appointment at the age of 37, without a degree, as bishop of Horsham: ‘I know that in the highest offices in Church and State my appointment was regarded as ‘risky’ which in a perverse way I regarded as a compliment and challenge.’ It is a great pity that he cannot bring himself to consider the possibility that the appointment of women bishops might in its own way be equally ‘risky’ but also a compliment and a challenge… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Oriscus
The formal title is Bp of Gibraltar in Europe, but this is customarily reduced to Bp IN Europe. I feel sure that the person compiling the signatures for the letter was simply unaware of this custom.

Tim Moore
Guest

Goodness me, what a grovel from such a ragbag of bishops. In spite of the platitudes “to respect the decisions made by laity, bishops, priests and deacons of our integrity”, what are they trying to get at in this letter? The letter neither works as a clarion call to defeat the ongoing legislative process, nor does it work as a justification for the signatories’ position, who want their understandably deeply held beliefs to be accommodated at everyone’s expense, yet are paying no attention to those who would cease to engage or associate themselves with the Church of England without women… Read more »

peterpi
Guest
peterpi

The arrogance of these people. My paraphrase of their letter,
“We acknowledge that your point of view is one you feel is proper for you, … but you’re WRONG! Trust us, God personally told us we’re right and you’re wrong!”
“We won’t make any accommodations for you, but you must accommodate us, in the manner we prescribe, or we’ll upset the tea cart, overturn the chess board, destroy the clock, and go home!”

Andrew
Guest
Andrew

Is this the general position of the CoE parishes in Europe? They are against women bishops?

The American Cathedral in Paris, where we have often worshiped, is clearly on the same side as the majority of the Episcopal Church at home.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

“A number will remain, perhaps even reluctantly because of personal circumstances, family loyalties, even financial necessity, but with a deep sense of unease about the long term future, an unease that is surely well founded.”

The spirit of the Vicar of Bray still lives.

Putting money and families before Our lord…shows both a lack of Faith and true love for Him.

Its the rich young man over again.

drdanfee
Guest
drdanfee

Obvious to all and among us, staying on in an Anglican province which believes God can call women bishops, and then devotes itself critically and prayerfully to discern those women whom God is calling forward, is likely a vexed and contrary occasion. But it is surely no more difficult than the precedent fundamental occasion, in which believers both affirm that God works wonders in women – as long as they are virgins who lived and died in far gone centuries; and simultaneously, that God cannot work wonders in women alive now because of their, ahem, awkward embodiment. Pulling out the… Read more »

Fr Mark
Guest

Am I alone in wondering whether, as four of these episcopal signatories are, erm, unmarried, (a high proportion of all the C of E’s current unmarried bishops) there would appear to be a correlation between being an, erm, unmarried C of E bishop and being opposed to the ordination of women?

Vigilant Mouse
Guest
Vigilant Mouse

It’s about time someone pointed out that there are many ordained women who serve in and value the catholic tradition, and many women in their and other catholic congregations, who are hoping and praying for women to be consecrated bishops as soon as possible, in the full apostolic succession which stems from those women who were first at the tomb, first to meet with the risen Christ and first to bring the news to His companions.

Edwin Barnes
Guest

It is sad that none of your commentators seems to recognise the betrayal we feel having been told we had “an honoured place” within the Church, to be told now “put up or get out – preferably the latter”. Lambeth Conferences have said there are two views on women’s ordination, both acceptably Anglican; and that the Anglican Communion by itself cannot resolve the matter. So are you and your readers, like the Episcopal Church in the USA, saying you are no longer Anglicans?

Neil
Guest
Neil

‘Ragbag’. What/who do you know? Not sure if your comment was a rhetorical dismissal or a targeted insult. I do not know them all…but Nicholas Reade, Keith Newton, Mark Sowerby and Martin Warner are not as you describe.

chenier1
Guest
chenier1

‘Is this the general position of the CoE parishes in Europe?’

No; the proper title of the Rt Revd Geoffrey Rowell is Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, and Simon has noted above that he thinks it was a slip of the pen, not a deliberate attempt to suggest that he has more authority than he actually does.

I must confess I am somewhat baffled as to what the Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe was doing in Turkey, as reported by George Conger, but perhaps someone can enlighten me.

http://geoconger.wordpress.com/2008/01/17/anger-as-bishop-ordains-turkish-man-to-priesthood-cen-11808-p-6/

Bill Dilworth
Guest

Aren’t any of the anti-WO crowd in the CofE swimming the Bosporus instead of the Tiber? It’s been very popular here in the States (the Antiochians in particular are crawling with former Episcopalians).

Cynthia Gilliatt
Guest
Cynthia Gilliatt

“So are you and your readers, like the Episcopal Church in the USA, saying you are no longer Anglicans?”

I don’t remember TEC “saying” any such thing. What do you mean?

Peter Edwards
Guest
Peter Edwards

1. THE letter – snakespeak which we have heard a million times before. And duplicitous snakespeak in that they absolutely do not ‘honour’ the integrity of those who differ from them. Clearly implied is the judgement that not even Rome has the authority to decide to ordain women (I wish) without an ecumenical council – which is a bit like promoting the use of gas-lighting in the streets. Since when did Anglicans have a valid opinion about the authority of the Church of Rome except to dismiss it? How can these people think they are the valid Catholic remnant in… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Am I alone in wondering whether, as four of these episcopal signatories are, erm, unmarried” As being “erm, unmarried” *suggests* Something Different in an Anglican context, than in a Roman one (whether not it’s actually different! ;-/), I’m betting Rome will wonder! [i.e., the “erm, unmarried” should not plan on a red hat, if they take up the Ordinariate offer] ***** “It is sad that none of your commentators seems to recognise the betrayal we feel having been told we had “an honoured place” within the Church” Bishop Barnes, I’ve no doubt that among deep-sea divers/deep-underground workers, the Decompression Chamber… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Theres an interesting clip from 100 years ago in this weeks Church Times, where Anglo Catholics are horrified at the name Anglican and refuse to accept it. Now they are fighting to own it. They love the perks, and only a few retired persons like Bishop Barnes will probably take up the Ordinariate. There will be even fewer laity , it will be a real farce.Its sad that the Catholic media who are fed with stories from the Anglo-Catholics are expecting thousands!They are unwitting dupes of the FIF propaganda machine. The so called Traditional Anglican Communion in Britain has less… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

To chenier1:
I don’t know Ian Sherwood personally, though I know there have been controversies. However I do know Yengin and he is a lovely person, a deep Christian and a convinced Anglican. His congregation is wholly Turkish I believe and their services are in Turkish.

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

Dear chenier1, there are chaplaincies in Istambul, Ankara and Izmir ( and possibly others) under +Europe’s care. Women priests are ordained in Europe by the suffragan bishop. I do not know off hand how many there are.I suspect the number of male priests opposed to the ordination of women priests in the dioces is relatively high.The Bishop, of course, has a long standing sympathy with the Orthodox which, perhaps, colours his point of view. I agree with Tim Moore that the purpose of the letter is rather unclear.It does, I suppose, show who the episcopal opponents are from the traditionalist… Read more »

Kate Stanford
Guest
Kate Stanford

It is interesting to read Bishop Edwin Barnes’s comment on being promised an “honoured place” in the Church. I wonder how he interprets the meaning of the word “honoured” when he makes such dishonourable,scurrilous and highly inaccurate comments about the elected women in the House of Clergy as he did in the Radio 4 programme on John Broadhurst last week. It highlighted how the ordained women are really regarded and treated with has little to do with theology or Sacramental Assurance!

john
Guest
john

Father Mark’s comment interests me (as similar observations of his have in the past). It boils down to: on what ground(s) do homosexual priests (bishops etc.) who see nothing wrong with their sexuality (i.e. priests who both think the orientation OK and the appropriate sexual acts) oppose WO? Presumably, if they do the former, they are committed to ‘liberal’ interpretation of the Bible. Why not then in the latter case also? I’m baffled, because most gay men I know like women (i.e. there’s no visceral distaste).

Please enlighten, Father Mark.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

RIW “Putting money and families before Our lord…shows both a lack of Faith and true love for Him.” Oh please, can you not just for once stop being so pompously condescending and judgemental? What would you have them do, these young men who are married with children? If they follow your conviction that the Roman prohibition of contraception is right under any circumstances, many of them will face growing families in the future. Would you really insist they must not hesitate to live on a stipend of a Roman Catholic priest designed for a single man? That it shows a… Read more »

Ed Tomlinson
Guest

regardless of the rightness or wrongness of your arguments your complete lack of love for those with whom you disagree when they have just suffered so, as reflected on these boards, is a very, very poor advertisement for your faith.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

Correction to Perry Butler: The Bishop in Europe ordains women as deacons and allows his suffragan to do so, but he doesn’t ordain women as priests and doesn’t allow his suffragan to either (though Suffragan Bishop David Hamid is in favour of women priests). I was priested by one of the honorary bishops in Europe (there are several) who was Director of the Anglican Centre at that time.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Edwin Barnes:

First of all, when did we Episcopalians ever say we are not Anglicans? Second, an “honoured place” does not translate to “dictate to the rest how things should be run”.

Pat O'Neill
Guest
Pat O'Neill

Ed Tomlinson:

“Suffered”? How? By being told the church they have vowed to obey has made a decision they disagree with? A decision they had every opportunity to participate in? By that definition, I “suffer” every time a candidate I support loses the election.

Gerry Reilly
Guest
Gerry Reilly

As someone who swam the Tiber the opposite way in 1974, and has been blessed in the ministry of the C.of E. since then, I strongly object to the arrogance of those who give themselves the title of true Catholics in the Church of England, and accuse the rest of us of abandonment of the true faith and ministry. They share the same ministry as we do, a ministry which, by the way, is unrecognised by the Church which they admire so much, and a ministry which, they will have to disown when and if they are re-ordained in the… Read more »

Adam Armstrong
Guest
Adam Armstrong

It is astounding to see the “threat” of going to Rome espoused by people whose orders Rome does not recognize and who would never have the positions in the Roman Church they occupy if they were to convert. They would be lay(men). The idea that solace and refuge are to be found in a Church that does not believe that they are Catholic and barely admits that they are Christians seem ludicrous. They may well find a closed fist within the velvet glove they now find so appealing. One wonders who is manipulating who – the Romans who offer refuge… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“Oh please, can you not just for once stop being so pompously condescending and judgemental?” Amen. In Robert’s defense, though, it’s really part and parcel of the affliction from which he suffers: fulminating convertitis. “Would you really insist they must not hesitate to live on a stipend of a Roman Catholic priest designed for a single man? “ But doesn’t this assume that CofE priests who swim the Tiber must continue to be priests? Surely there are few people who are unqualified to do anything except pastoral work. And since they’re considered laymen by the RCC now, it wouldn’t be… Read more »

JPM
Guest
JPM

Ed’s protestations against meanness would be more convincing if he did not publish such a venomous blog.

Fr Mark
Guest

John: I don’t know whether I can enlighten you any further, perhaps it is more likely to be the other way round… I suppose that gay people in the Church either choose to be open and out; or they remain in the closet or in denial. Those who choose the former path include Jeffrey John, and look what happened to him: he is ipso facto not able to become a bishop. So, I can see that if one were gay and either a bishop or would-be bishop, the latter path is a more likely choice. Now, being in the closet… Read more »

Pantycelyn
Guest
Pantycelyn

So are you and your readers, like the Episcopal Church in the USA, saying you are no longer Anglicans? Posted by: Edwin Barnes on Sunday, 1 August 2010 at 10:35pm BS Oh please – get real. This kind of manipulation no longer works on me. The truth of the matter, is that Edwin Barnes and his fellow signatories tend to be Anglican in name only -showing scant regard for the Protestant nature of the C of E. I find the spirit behind the letter to be vicious, as has been the behaviour of many anti-Ordination of Women groups. The viciousness… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

I still hold my comments valid. They should trust in the Lord and he is always true to his promises and will reward them a hundredfold. None of them face destitution , just a drop in their standard of living… and by the way, Erica, not many of them are young.. and many have working professional wives. However most of them have milked the Anglican system for years. And remember that none of those that convert are guaranteed a right to subsequent Catholic ordination.. I know some former Anglicans turned down. One had to go to the USA. However I… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Bill
correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point of the Ordinariate that whole parishes including their priest move to Rome?

But if someone whose vocation is to be a parish priest doesn’t get to be one in Rome, and if he’s not trained to do much else, he’s even more likely to be completely torn about his future.

john
Guest
john

Father Mark,

Thanks for your response. The ‘conclusion’ would seem to be: gay priests who accept their gayness but opt for ‘closet-ness’ compensate for the latter by being hyper-orthodox in other respects, including (public) rejection of WO, in which ‘rejection’ they don’t privately believe.

Anyway, I greatly admire your blog and everything you stand for.

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

Yes, R. I. Williams is correct, Thinking Anglicans is very tolerant. And reading his posts will probably take years off our time in purgatory.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“If Rome is right, then Rome is right, even if you don’t get to be an RC priest.” I thought that was RIW’s point? (I often watch EWTN’s convert show “The Journey Home”, and overwhelmingly, most of the converted male ministers do NOT become priests) Fish or cut bait: I recently read (sorry I do not have the citation) that Rome now regards sharing Consecrated Elements w/ a Protestant (and in their POV, that includes *us* y’all) in the SAME category as ***throwing it away***. To BOTH believe “Rome is Right” AND that “I can’t cross over for financial reasons… Read more »

Bill Dilworth
Guest

“correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t the whole point of the Ordinariate that whole parishes including their priest move to Rome?” But not every Anglican clergyman has to find paying work as an RC priest for the Ordinariate to work. Even if they all end up being ordained, what’s wrong with the concept of working priests? St. Paul made tents, as I recall. “But if someone whose vocation is to be a parish priest doesn’t get to be one in Rome, and if he’s not trained to do much else, he’s even more likely to be completely torn about… Read more »

Rachel Holmes
Guest
Rachel Holmes

Over half the population are women. Some people are gay. Get over it. If you are a gay male priest, and against WO, and continue to accept the tolerance that the CofE offers you then you need to take a long hard look at yourself. Seems you want tolerance for yourself but not for 50% of the population. Some time ago, I sat at a church meal in london with some 12 be-collared CofE (gay, as I slowly realised) priests and their partners. Next to me was the bishop of europe. 26 of us round a church hall table. And… Read more »

Neil
Guest
Neil

I agree with Perry Butler that it is surprising that some opponents of the ordination of women thought a third province might be granted. It wasn’t in 1992, when, as he rightly says, there were more orthodox bishops, and it is even less likely now. However, we are now in uncertain waters of possible chaos, because if nothing is ‘granted’ then at least ‘something’ will be ‘taken’. And it will not be neat.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“if nothing is ‘granted’ then at least ‘something’ will be ‘taken’.”

You mean *taking* up the offer of the Ordinariate, right Neil? Right???

Adam Armstrong
Guest
Adam Armstrong

I take exception to the word “orthodox” as the description of those who reject the ordination of women. It is also used by right wing-charismatic types (in Canada) to describe themselves as opposing same-sex anything. This word has become a condescending, self-inflating, pompous word that really means that “we’re so right and you’re hopelessly wrong”. It may even be short form for “We’re going to heaven and you’re going to the place where non-believers and heretics go”. It has nothing to do with who gets ordained or blessed and is an invented term, usually by people whose views on most… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

The Tomlinsons of the world! How amusing!

They refuse to accept the arguments of those they oppose, engage in covert, sniping nastiness, arrogantly proclaim who is and is not Christian – or Anglican – and condemn the “dysfunction” of those who hold different views or sexuality and say that it’s all love.

However, criticism of them, a refusal to accept their self-made martyrdom, an expectation they will trust in their fellow Christians, failure to “honour” them as they wish, well, that’s lovelessness.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

there was a very telling piece in the Church Times this week by Canon Killwick trying to justify the FIF view of what he calls sacramental assurance. Beside the fact his Reform allies would repudiate his view of apostolic succession and priesthood within Anglicanism, he stated that the Catholic Church consists of the Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and certain of the Anglican provinces. The last clause is the clincher.. obviously a church which ordains women bishops ( priests?) is no longer part in his view of the Church. See how dangerous it would have been for the Church of… Read more »