Thinking Anglicans

Women Bishops Consultation – response by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes

Miranda Threlfall-Holmes has written this excellent response to the Consultation document on women bishops legislation.

Schrodinger’s Cat Theology? Response to Women Bishops Consultation

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Benedict
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Benedict

Old, predictable mantras from Ms Threlfall Holmes. Thankfully no longer a member of General Synod her uncompromising stance will have less influence. All power to the elbows, now, of those who are genuinely seeking proper and positive compromise.

Jonathan Jennings
Guest
Jonathan Jennings

Well I liked it …

Concerned Anglican
Guest
Concerned Anglican

Miranda Threlfall Homes response is a well thought through and useful piece of work. It should be taken very seriously as it probably represents the authentic mind of the Church of England.

Jeremy
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Jeremy

Benedict, by all means let us compromise with discrimination.

Pam Smith
Guest

How can a detailed response to a document which has been recently put out for consultation be made up of ‘old, predictable mantras’, Benedict?

But helpful to see a demonstration of the sort of ‘respect’ and ‘honour’ that opponents of women’s ordination feel should be given to those who don’t agree with them.

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

Au contraire, Benedict. I think you will find you had your last ‘hurrah’ in November. Supporters of women’s ministry have been seeking ‘proper and positive’ compromise with your ilk for the last twenty years or so, to no avail. The cannons are drawn up outside the courthouse.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

One thing the aftermath of the Synod vote did prove was that all those claims about honour and respect from the liberal constituency were nothing more than eyewash.”Trust us ….” I think not!

Tobias Haller
Guest

There can be no “compromise” with the impossibilist positions or diametrically opposed theses, only toleration. The question remains, given the catholic notion expounded by Ignatius, just what is happening when there are bishops not accepted as such by members of their own church. It would appear that there are two churches coexisting with a minimal administrative connection, a kind of marriage of convenience. That is a solution (call it a “compromise” if you will) to the current problem, but it is not one that many seem to find attractive.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

What a difficult question. How to include everyone when one small group insists on excluding some? The only hint that discrimination is hurtful is a reference to demoralized female clergy. It is indeed a humiliating situation for them. Also bad is the astonishingly hurtful example for girls. And of course, the fact that discrimination is likely a major factor in secularization. Thus many don’t hear the Good News because of culturally based prejudices packaged as the theology of bad news. I still think the best solution is radical equality, one female and one male bishop per diocese. I still suspect… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

The Schrodinger’s Cat article is excellent. She lays it out in strong logic and strong theology. Women are equally created in the image of God and that has implications. “we need to be very clear indeed that it is the people who hold these views who are ‘accepted and valued’, not the views themselves.” Yes! Value the people but not the views. The discriminators are saying that women are not created equally in the image of God. That is an absolutely devastating message to girls, women, and men as well. And yes, it seems to me that in the discussions… Read more »

Hannah
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Hannah

Benedict,

Whatever your views about the issue, it does not reflect well on you to be dismissive of other participants in the debate: as I’m sure you’re aware ‘Ms Threlfall-Holmes’ has a doctorate, and is entitled to be referred to accordingly.

John
Guest
John

I have several responses here: (1) I really do not think that ‘Thinking Anglicans’ (which prides itself on its ‘thought’) should ‘steer’ debate by flagging-up particular expressions of opinion as ‘excellent’; (2) reference to ‘those opposed to women bishops’ is on the one hand correct, BUT on the other hand profoundly misleading, because most of those who hold that view want to ‘deal’, and the question is the terms, not the principle; (3)M. T.-H. frequently writes ungrammatical English; (4) ‘attractiveness’ (TH) is not the criterion – the criterion, in my view, is decency and the grace not to squash people… Read more »

Geo Noakes
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Geo Noakes

What Miranda suggests cannot possibly work unless it embodies what the HoB said in December 2011 namely: ‘Bishops will continue not to discriminate in selecting candidates for ordination on the grounds of their theological convictions regarding the admission of women to Holy Orders; · In choosing bishops to provide episcopal ministry under diocesan schemes for parishes requesting this provision, diocesan bishops will seek to identify those whose ministry will be consistent with the theological convictions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate underlying the Letter of Request; · The archbishops and bishops commit themselves to seeking to… Read more »

Tobias Haller
Guest

John, I was not referring to any innate attractiveness (or “beauty”) in the proposals, just the lack of support that various proposals seem to garner. For instance, one option for people who “in conscience” cannot accept the ordination of women is to leave the church that ordains them, for one that doesn’t. We are long past the age in which only one church was legal in England; one is free to join another church, and there are a number on offer that meet this criterion. I do not see this as an indecent proposal, or one that is “squashing” anyone… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” It would appear that there are two churches coexisting with a minimal administrative connection, a kind of marriage of convenience. That is a solution (call it a “compromise” if you will) to the current problem, but it is not one that many seem to find attractive.” – Fr. Tobias Haller – This is an excellent summation of the situation facing the Church of England – should Women Bishops be ordained – with alternative oversight provided by the Church to cater for those who will not receive their episcopal ministry. Whatever arguments come up for this ecclesial fudge – even… Read more »

Labarum
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Labarum

John wrote:

“I really do not think that ‘Thinking Anglicans’ (which prides itself on its ‘thought’) should ‘steer’ debate by flagging-up particular expressions of opinion as ‘excellent'”

I agree. The owners and moderators of this forum should remain neutral when they are offering material for the consideration of members; but I accept they remain free to express personal opinions in the comments section that follows.

Nick Nawrockyi
Guest
Nick Nawrockyi

Erm, no John and Labarum. This is from the About TA page:

“Thinking Anglicans will actively report news, events and documents that affect church people, and will comment on them from a liberal Christian perspective.”

So actually, it makes sense that they would offer their own opinion on Miranda’s article, leaving others to agree or disagree if they wish.

Pam Smith
Guest

I thought the excellence of Miranda Threlfall-Holmes’ blog resided in its thoroughness rather than the views expressed.

In any case, as with any privately run site, we post as guests and if we don’t like the way it’s operated we have the choice of withdrawing our participation.

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

John, if you are going to lecture us on ‘decency and grace’ then it might have been better to leave out your third response to Dr Threlfall-Holmes’ article?

Daniel Lamont
Guest
Daniel Lamont

I suppose any stick is good enough. In response to John, writing as a grammarian and retired university teacher of English, I cannot see how MT-W’s English is ungrammatical and it is surely shooting the messenger to object to the word ‘excellent’. MT-W has provided us with an excellent and thoughtful analysis and I would take Benedict and John a lot more seriously if they actually engaged with the arguments in an equally thoughtful and a coherent way. Equally, as Pam Smith points out, we are guests on this blog and are not compelled either to read it or comment.… Read more »

Peter Sherlock
Guest
Peter Sherlock

I agree that Threlfall-Holmes’ assessment is excellent, because she gets to the heart of the matter: 1. Most of the current dilemmas actually come down to the hasty and ill-conceived nature of the 1993 Act of Synod which is now coming home to roost. 2. The example of the 1993 Act of Synod indicates that haste or knee-jerk reactions to the drama of the November 2012 vote are to be avoided in favour of clear and careful reflection. 3. Those who are opposed to the admission of women to the historic episcopate need to help those of us who are… Read more »

primroseleague
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primroseleague

Pam, I’d agree with both points there. However, it is one of the flaws of the species that there isn’t really a decent genuine Anglican debate chamber on the internet – not sure Ship of Fools cuts it, although it’s probably the closest. I often find that the best debate is below the line, and the best places, from very different stables, are here, Tunbridge Wells Ordinariate, and probably As the Sun In Its Orb. Problem is, the host or more often supportive claque majority can always close down the debate with “this is a Liberal/Vagantes/Ordinariate/whatever blog, go somewhere else… Read more »

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

Cont The danger is that they become hermetically sealed islands where the majority are in accord, with only a few dissidents on the margins. Consequently, in my experience there’s a lot of goodwill on the ground between pro and anti OW types in the parishes, but if they both only read their own propaganda of choice, whether it’s the Watch website or Liberal digests like TA; or New Directions or the Ugley Vicar on the other side, then you can see why people end up talking past each other and thinking that everyone rational shares their pov… There is a… Read more »

Erika Baker
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Erika Baker

“Problem is, the host or more often supportive claque majority can always close down the debate with “this is a Liberal/Vagantes/Ordinariate/whatever blog, go somewhere else if you don’t like it” I have not noticed the hosts of this blog trying to close down any debate. Nor has any majority of commenters here tried to do so. Instead, there has been criticism of the hosts for expressing their own opinions when they have never said that they were impartial. Instead of criticising the hosts for possible expressing their opinion (the word “excellent” could indeed have referred to the depth of MTH’s… Read more »

Helen
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Helen

For some reason MTH has really rattled your cage, John, so I knew you would make some sort of negative comment, though you really are scraping the barrel with the comment about her English. Perhaps one has to be a Latin teacher to understand your strictures. Could you please make some more constructive contribution to the debate? What, for example, would your solution to the problem of accommodating those who cannot accept women as bishops actually look like?

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

Daniel wrote:

“To use Labarum’s phraseology: I would like the opponents of WO to have the ‘decency and the grace not to squash people who in good conscience accept WO or women bishops and just want a little space’ It is not respectful to dismiss views as carefully expressed at MT-W’s so cavalierly.”

1. The words attributed to me are not mine.

2. My observation touched forum protocol, not the opinion of moderators or members.

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

Continued: 3. My own opinion: a. It is proper, for theological reasons, to promote the ordination of women to all orders of ministry in the Church Universal. b. It is tactless and maybe even improper, for reasons of Church polity, for one tiny branch of the Church Universal to proceed to ordain women to the historic presbyterate and episcopate without international consent. As far as I can see that consent is still not forthcoming: the novelty has not be received. c. Notwithstanding a. and b. promises were made to honour the reservations of a significant minority, and the provisions made… Read more »

primroseleague
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primroseleague

sorry Erika, I thought my comment was generally pretty supportive of TA – it certainly wasn’t intended to be criticism of the readers or readership; in fact, I was agreeing with Pam! I was making the more broad point that there doesn’t seem to be the space for non-partisan engagement with the issues anywhere on the internet – an anti WO individual commenting on TA is taking their life into their own hands just as much as an avowed liberal would be somewhere else. There is a consensus on this board about many things, as indeed there is on other… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Primroseleague, Apologies!! I noticed as soon as I had posted my comment that I used your paragraph but then moved to a criticism of other posters here and that I should have made that clearer. I would say, though, that TA is the only forum I know where no-one is censored unless they become too rude or go on and on and on making the same point over and over again. Compared to other blogs, the moderators very rarely make any comments in the actual post, although the selection of posts alone clearly shows that this is a liberal blog.… Read more »

Daniel Lamont
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Daniel Lamont

My apologies, Labarum, for mis-attributing John’s words to you. More haste, less speed. On the matter of forum protocol, we will agree courteously to differ.

johnny may
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johnny may

I’m happy to “take my life in my hands” and I don’t mind a little robustness. I don’t think that I have (or at least would give myself) a theological “label” but I started commenting here in a genuine attempt to understand more of something I understood little- that is “Liberal” and “Inclusive” Christianity but I find it increasingly hard. I think it is important to try to further understanding because that is challenging, mind-broadening and as it tends to allay unfounded suspicion it helps with tolerance of difference if necessary. But I’m afraid that serious challenges laid to the… Read more »

Cynthia
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Cynthia

Labarum, justice for women needs to wait for the international church? Justice is a “novelty?” Canada, the US, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa have WB’s. Some of us have had WO for decades. You would have women and girls in England endure humiliation until Africa comes around? Is that correct? I don’t want to put words in your mouth. I have seen others support this view. The problem of the “international church” is that many of the cultures are horrifically oppressive of women. Poverty, rape, powerlessness, patriarchy. We have to wait for them to catch up? Is that the… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Johnny I hear what you’re saying and I agree to some extent. But you know, many of us have been commenting here for years. And we have been having the same basic conversations for years. As soon as we have finished a round of “these are the basic arguments and this is why we believe you ought to re-think your views” with one person, another one pops up who is new to TA and who would like the whole cycle to start again. There’s a limit to what can be done. And having the same basic conversations over and over… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“b. It is tactless and maybe even improper, for reasons of Church polity, for one tiny branch of the Church Universal to proceed to ordain women to the historic presbyterate and episcopate without international consent. As far as I can see that consent is still not forthcoming: the novelty has not be received.” – Labarum – This sounds very much like a comment from a dyed in the wool Roman Catholic – perhaps not really attempoting to comment as a ‘Thinking Anglican’. Since when has the Anglican Communion had to appeal to either Rome or Eastern Orthodoxy to make decisions… Read more »

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

Some interesting responses to my post. They illustrate Jonny’s observations. “Catholicity does not depend on umbilical connection with the Bishop of Rome. At least, that’s what I believed when I was ordained.” So did I, and still do. The Roman Church is no different to the Anglican Communion – it is but a broken fragment of the Church Catholic. I do, however become increasingly concerned that on some very significant points of doctrine the Anglican Communion is moving more and more from the historic consensus of core beliefs. The responses I have seen to far to my post do not… Read more »

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

In these days, and for obvious reasons my mind keeps returning to what Joseph Ratzinger (AKA Benedict) has to say about the dictatorship of relativism

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pope_Benedict_XVI#.22Dictatorship_of_Relativism.22

It is the fate of un-anchored liberalism to degenerate into totalitarianism.

And I say that, not because I am a Roman Catholic, or an Anglo-Papalist, but because I was raised a “Prayer Book Catholic”, and remains true to that tradition as a child of the Oxford movement, and of Newman.

It is most telling that Benedict has been at very great pains to honour Newman – he saw it all coming.

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

Erika, “But I would ask you to read just this particular comment thread again and show me where the traditionalists have engaged constructively. Surely – it’s possible? Or are there no coherent arguments in their favour? Why do they not make them?” Obviously I can’t answer for everyone. I think Johnny has a point in that people might be put off by the sort of reception their points get – there is an assumption that it must be because of sexism, mysogeny, discrimination etc. People just give up – I read far more than I comment certainly, but then I… Read more »

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

Cont There are people that would engage, I’m one of them, but as I said yesterday for one reason or another this just doesn’t seem to be the place, because it must always be “let’s go the den of the self-defined liberals and talk to them.” There needs to be some neutral ground. It’s not just one way though. On the “Conservative” (AC or ConEVO) websites you can count the commenting/challenging Liberals on the fingers of one hand, so they become self-reinforced in their views too…. The other point is that lots of compromises have been put on the table… Read more »

primroseleague
Guest
primroseleague

It occurs to me that the best and most productive discussions in all walks of life (with the possible exception of Nixon going to China) rarely occur on the home turf of one or the other parties to them…

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Primroseleague, I did reply to Johnny but my comment didn’t get through. And a few threads back I replied to Johnny about his WO proposal for a third province and it didn’t get through although I posted it three times. There’s clearly a glitch in the system. One of the main difficulties is that these are very old conversations and that people here have been having them for years. There is no “FAQ” section or now “Newbie” corner, and so we finish a round of conversation and then someone else comes in who hasn’t read it and who wants to… Read more »

Alastair Newman
Guest

In terms of an appropriate forum for discussion on this issue, surely shipoffools would work? Specifically the “Women Bishops – what now?” thread on the “Dead Horses” board.

Almost a month ago I threw out a challenge to fellow shipmates to come up with constructive ideas for how best to proceed: only nine responses, the last of which was on 9 February, and two of which came from me.

There is great potential for discussion, and constructive discussion at that, but I just don’t see it happening. Get involved!

Tobias Haller
Guest

Labarum, I can only say I don’t see any evidence to support your point “b.” in terms of church history. The notion that development takes place globally rather than locally does not appear to be self-evidently true, or true on the basis of other evidence. It may express a desideratum or a modus vivendi, but it does not reflect how Anglicanism, for example, in fact emerged: as local innovation, some of which was not “received” for several centuries (e.g., the common cup and vernacular liturgy.) The incarnation itself, and the birth of the church, did not wait for global assent,… Read more »

John
Guest
John

Helen, I don’t think it’s any old stick. But I’ll just say this: I have many objections to this piece, but what they all boil down to is this: ‘I want’ (better than ‘desire’) ‘pity/compassion’ (better than ‘mercy’) ‘not sacrifice’. That, for me, trumps everything, and, since the great WO and women bishops debate has been won (and, in my view, rightly so), it does so here too. The piece we are talking about here (and others by the same writer) seems to me a compassion-free zone – and I really dislike it. P.s.: I am perfectly aware that I… Read more »

Helen
Guest
Helen

Perhaps some contributors do not realise how provocative their language can be. To consistently describe women’s ordination as mere “novelty” is not calculated to promote calm and open discussion. It is a word which demeans the whole process by which women came to be ordained in so many reformed churches, as well as the ministry of the women priests themselves. The word “liberal” perhaps raises the wrong kind of expectations. As a “liberal” Anglican I do have principles, including the conviction that no one should experience discrimination on the grounds of gender or sexual orientation. Views which challenge these principles… Read more »

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Dear All, what a breath of fresh air to read some of the above- may we all, (me included I hope), be encouraged to engage graciously and robustly with each other or as primroseleague says there is great danger of the forum being lost to anyone would cannot immediately prove themselves by rhetoric to be a card-carrying liberal. I had thought of just giving-up my enquiries myself so am heartened. Two things I am interested in re. this thread. First could someone list the “compromises” that supporters of the consecration of female bishops have made? What I read repeatedly are… Read more »

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

Tobias wrote: “My concern here has been purely practical, as to how — and to what extent — separate episcopates in parallel can be said to represent a “church” and if there might not be a better solution to the dilemma.” Parallel jurisdiction? I can’t see a better solution: I can’t see another solution. But you are right, if we branch into two (or more) episcopal “bloodlines” we become two (or more) churches. And yet Orthodoxy seems to be able to live with overlapping geographical jurisdictions looking to different Patriarchates; and the Roman Church manages to live with the extra-diocesan… Read more »

Labarum
Guest
Labarum

Helen said: “Perhaps some contributors do not realise how provocative their language can be. To consistently describe women’s ordination as mere “novelty” is not calculated to promote calm and open discussion. It is a word which demeans the whole process by which women came to be ordained in so many reformed churches, as well as the ministry of the women priests themselves.” I agree language can be inflamatory, language can be mis-heard and language can be wilfully mis-reported. I said precisely “novelty” – that which is new. I did not say “mere “novelty””. The spin is in the “mere”, and… Read more »

RosalindR
Guest
RosalindR

The difficulty I have with John’s recent comment is that the WO and women bishops issue has not been “won” in any practical sense. There are no bishops who are women in the Church of England ; there can be no bishops who are women in the forseeable future however much the current House of Bishops might find it easier if there were; and what is now being give n voice to in the various consultations that are taking place is the way ordained women are still being discriminated against in by overt acts, or else lack of recognition of… Read more »

Helen
Guest
Helen

John
I didn’t mention sticks; you are perhaps referring to a different writer.
You appear to me to be sitting in judgement on MTH in a way that is unfair, almost as though you are conducting a private feud against her on this blog-hence the accusation (bizarre) of ungrammatical writing. I find this unpleasant.I think you would be better off defining what “compassion” would mean in terms of a real settlement of the WB issue: that would make a constructive contribution to the debate.

Tobias Haller
Guest

Thank you, Labarum. That is very helpful. I agree it is a messy solution, but then, we are in a bit of a mess, in my opinion, and any tidying up will require that we deal with that mess.

The ideal has always been the enemy of the real. To me the church is at its best when a “settlement” can include people who disagree profoundly and yet recognize in each other some sign of grace. Ultimately I believe that how we treat one another is more important than the extent to which we agree.