Thinking Anglicans

Women Bishops round-up

Here are some recent items about women bishops and women’s ministry.

GRAS (Group for Rescinding the Act of Synod) has published a spring newsletter. The major item in this is The central principle of justice and liberation for all women, the address given at the GRAS Conference and AGM held on 2 March 2013 by the Revd Canon Jane Charman.

Today’s Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio 4 was about Women and the Christian faith.

Jane Garvey looks at the position of women in the Christian faith. Jane visits the Coventry parish of the Reverend Katrina Scott. Also taking part are the Rev’d Lorna Hood, Moderator Designate of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland and also on the Woman’s Hour Powerlist; the Rev’d Anne Stevens, Vicar of St Pancras Parish Church, London, and part of the current consultation on women bishops and a member of WATCH (Women And The Church) which is campaigning for women bishops; Sister Catherine Wybourne, a Roman Catholic nun who runs a contemplative community in Herefordshire and Tweets under the name DigitalNun.

The programme can be listened to for the next seven days on the BBC iPlayer.

Damian Thompson reports in The Telegraph that Russian Orthodox tell Archbishop of Canterbury: ordain women bishops and you can forget about unity.

Madeleine Davies writes for the Church Times about a new book, Women and Men in Scripture edited by Stephen Croft and Paula Gooder: Support for women bishops ‘is biblical’.

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Tobias Haller
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Thompson’s essay quickly elides Russian Orthodoxy with all of the East, a habit as careless as the romance to Eastwards he derides. But while there is much underlying doctrinal uniformity among the Orthodox, there is also much jurisdictional squabbling, not entirely unlike what the Anglican Communion has experienced, including, particularly from the Russians, a feeling that others “aren’t our sort of Orthodox.” Moreover, there was in 1996 a pair of consultations between the Old Catholic Churches of Utrecht (who do ordain women) with a representative group of (mostly Greek) Orthodox theologians. Sadly, the transcripts and papers weren’t made available in… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

And what would the Orthodox churches be prepared to give up in order to have unity with Anglicans I wonder? Romans and Orthodox both seem to think that unity means conformity to their own thinking.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

The address by the Revd Canon Jane Charman is absolutely stunning. She notes a profound truth that it is about “nothing less than than the identity before God of female human beings as equally valued and equally loved.” That this truth has consequences, including that it isn’t only about consecrating WB’s, it means supporting and affirming oppressed women throughout the world. Most of all, perhaps for us in the West, she challenges us to consider that our beliefs and actions have consequences. The people I unkindly refer to as the “discriminators” must see that even if their rational is not… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

I never understand this talk about institutional unity. We would have unity if all Christians recognised that we are all one in Christ and if we stopped playing superiority games with each other but were able to let each other be different. There is no reason to assume that God requires uniformity. Everything in creation points to him rather valuing diversity instead.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

I agree with Erika, that ‘Unity’ in The Church is subjectively viewed by whatever part of the Church is considering its implications: For Them! Now Rome has stepped back – a little – from its former insistence that Rome is actually the umbilicus of The Faith; here we have Moscow making the same mistake – from its own perspective. This should be a warning to Canterbury, that the imposition of the formerly-proclaimed ‘Anglican Covenant could just serve to set up another such proprietary claim – to be the ‘One True Church’. Our Unity is ‘En Christo’ there is none other!… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Since we were talking about the Orthodox…
Χριστός Ανέστη! Αληθώς Ανέστη!

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Woman’s Hour was very inspiring and encouraging.

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

St Benedict affirms that “we are all one in Christ and serve alike under the standard of the same Lord.”

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

Χριστός Ανέστη! Αληθώς Ανέστη!

You are on the money Cynthia / He is indeed !!

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

A generation ago the Church of England decided that there were no theological objection to the ordination of women. I don’t understand why this debate is still being re-run ad-nauseam . Some people may not accept that decision but that is besides the point, the theological issued was settled. The motion before the Synod was about the legislation to enable women to be consecrcated bishops and that is what the vote was supposed to be about. The motion was lost, presumably because some people thought that it either provided inadequate protection for those who disagreed, or others that it went… Read more »

David Chillman
Guest
David Chillman

One of the hidden tragedies of the long-running farce about women bishops in the C of E is that the excessive amount of attention that has been focused on this has been at the expense of other issues – not least the debate that is needed about gender and sexuality and the C of E. By becoming so fixated with women bishops (something that should have been a no-brainer, given that the theological discussions were pretty much settled before 1992), the C of E at large has failed to realise just how out of touch it has become amongst the… Read more »

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

Go to Russia and experience this wealthy Church which props up the Putin regime, and feel the hatred against Catholics, Jews and other Protestants.sadly how the persecuted have become the persecutor.

The opinion of Russian Orthodoxy with few active members in proportion to what is claimed is worthless.

peterpi - Peter Gross
Guest
peterpi - Peter Gross

Cynthia and Launrence,

Χριστός Ανέστη! Αληθώς Ανέστη

But not until May 5 in the Eastern churches.
Another example of what could be diversity within unity within the Body of Christ, but, all too often, is just another example of division, instead.

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

The debate in November was lost plain and simple because those against the ordination of women to the episcopate realised that they were in the last chance saloon. It was very easy to hide behind the argument that provision was inadequate. I welcome a return to the debate over the theological position. Where are the new Thiseltons and NT Wrights clarifying what Paul meant. It’s not difficult, but seems conveniently overlooked by the complementarians.

Jane Charman
Guest
Jane Charman

‘The conjuring trick now is to find a form of words that will allow both to support the legislation, not to debate the principle’ I do disagree with this although I see that it is well intentioned and many will think it expedient. It is indeed exactly what the new Working Group and the House of Bishops is trying to do, find a formula that sufficiently obscures the principle so that those on both sides of the argument can agree to it without doing violence to their consciences. But that’s a political project not a moral one. I passionately believe… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Go to Russia and experience this wealthy Church which props up the Putin regime, and feel the hatred against Catholics, Jews and other Protestants.”

…or against those whom I consider to actually be faithful Russian Orthodox (see re the women of Pussy Riot: “Holy Mother of God, Cast Putin OUT!!!” Amen!)

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

My colleague Jane Charman, both in her brilliant article and in her comment here, gets right to the heart of the spiritual matter – institutional discrimination. We have been obscuring discrimination against women by listening too easily to those who claim they are being discriminated against because they will be driven out of the church if we proceed to ordain women as bishops – or indeed in some cases if we continue to ordain women as priests. We should no longer be afraid to say that we MUST discriminate against those who believe in discrimination against women. It is not… Read more »

Stephen
Guest
Stephen

Thank you to Jane and Andrew, for me it has been quite a long journey since I have wanted to listen very hard to all sides of the debate.

Someone who is truly called to be a bishop will have a vocation for the flourishing of all clergy under their care regardless of tradition, being bishop (and a priest) is not a gender issue it is a matter of calling. Messy compromises just don’t do it.

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

I entirely agree with both Stephen and Jane above. The ‘conjuring trick’ essentially avoids the issue: that discrimination is wrong whether or not it is supported by ‘theology’. My point is that the theology was done a generation ago, what we should now be doing is unequivocably proclaiming that to the world, not temporising the message because some people haven’t got there yet.

Hilary Cotton
Guest
Hilary Cotton

Anthony – Paula Gooder and Steve Croft have just edited the book that you are calling for I think:

Women and Men in Scripture and the Church: A Guide to the Key Issues
published on 26th March this year.

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

My thanks to Jane, Andrew and Richard for their honesty. Too often in this debate the real issues are obscured. For it to be clearly and frankly set out that those who do not wish to have a female bishop have no “gospel to proclaim”, are not “striving for truth, justice and the integrity of creation” and “haven’t got there yet” is the type of clarity that I like. Naturally such people have no place in the church (how could they?). That is very helpful. It is a proper admission that the issue surrounding women bishops is not how to… Read more »

Jean Mayland
Guest
Jean Mayland

Years ago I worked with Patriarch Kirill on the WCC Standing Committee. As Principal of Leningrad Academy he did much to support women. He stayed with us in York and came to the ordination of women Deacons which thrilled him. He was however ambitious and after 1989 realised that in the new reactionary orthodoxy of the Russian Church the way to the top was to become very conservative. He has taken his church with him. Hilarion interfered in the English Orthodox Church where there was also support for women. Then he took it over. A number of Orthodox thinkers have… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

“A generation ago the Church of England decided that there were no theological objection to the ordination of women,”
How come the great Churches of East and West haven’t arrived at the same conclusion?

Tobias Haller
Guest

Fudges only work for so long. It is likely salutary to look at the Acts and Epistles to see how the early church had to wrestle with the circumcision debate, which for the “traditionalists” was, pardon the pun, cut and dried. They had Scripture and tradition on their side, and had little patience with notions of “spiritual” or “heart” circumcision, even though that was clearly the way forward. Papering over large gaps will not hold things together for long. Either circumcision is essential or unnecessary. The Jerusalem Council found for the latter, but apparently some did not feel it had… Read more »

John
Guest
John

As usual, I am profoundly out of sympathy with the sentiments of my fellow ‘liberals’. I am all in favour of ‘fudges’. As for Tobias’ comment, it seems profoundly confused, because the self-same ‘Acts’ records Paul’s continued allegiance to ‘traditional’ Judaism and indeed his actual circumcision of a fellow Jew. The issue in ‘Acts’ is whether GENTILE Christians need to be circumcised. There is no attempt to impose absolute uniformity.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“How come the great Churches of East and West haven’t arrived at the same conclusion?” The 1st world Anglican churches have arrived at that conclusion. CoE is significantly behind. We broke with the RC’s a long time ago for a reason. We’re not going to be in “unity” with them on contraception or child abuse any more than papal indulgences and infallibility, right? But we can come together on telling women we’re less in the eyes of God? As for the Orthodox, I was raised Greek Orthodox. The patriarchy is intolerably oppressive and it is cultural. If you guys want… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Johnny I think people are trying to figure out the impossible. There is no way to include institutional discrimination that isn’t humiliating and degrading to women. Not just the women bishops, but all women, because the message is that we aren’t created equally in the image of God and equally loved and equally deserving of dignity. We’ve learned that separate is unequal, and that inequality leads to appalling suffering. We’ve learned that there is strong reason in Scripture and early church history to accept women in all levels of ministry. Given the cultural context, the place of women is stunning.… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“We should no longer be afraid to say that we MUST discriminate against those who believe in discrimination against women. It is not acceptable to enshrine discrimination in the law of the church”

– Andrew Godsall –

This is the situation in a nutshell – a similar nutshell to that described by Dame Julian of Norwich as encapsulating all the truth about our Creation, and God’s relationship to his human children. There is no room for a two-tier ranking of Women in the Church – either as clergy or bishops. Either they are – or they aren’t. Simple!

Tobias Haller
Guest

John, you misunderstand me. The issue was whether one could be a Christian without circumcision, not something one could “fudge” if one held to the absolutist position. As Jewish Christians were already circumcised, naturally this only concerned gentiles; but it was absolute uniformity that was being demanded — their view was that all Christians must be circumcised. The church decided not to fudge, as no fudge could please those who insisted on an absolute requirement. Those who could not accept that decision eventually became a tiny minority, and presumably disappeared at some point. The problem at present is, I argue,… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“it will not really be about women bishops at all and all about whether the traditionalists should leave.”

Surely I can’t be the only one who believes johnny may is writing satire? [I’m not sure w/ what intent—Ignorant Yank here]

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

The so called ‘traditionalists’ don’t seem to get a really basic fact. Of course they are loyal Anglicans. Of course they are welcome at any church at any time. Of course they are welcome to band together for mutual support and fellowship. What they are not welcome to do is discriminate in law against a priest or bishop simply because of their gender. Why is that so difficult to understand?

Stephen Morgan
Guest
Stephen Morgan

‘Writing satire?’

JCF – no – you are not the only one, although I’m not sure I would call it ‘satire.’ I think the ‘intent’ is plain enough!

gerry reilly
Guest
gerry reilly

This is not about so-called liberals or so called traditionalists, nor even about equality legislation. It is hard-core theology: did God create second-class Christians based on their gender, and if so, where does he say so? Also, is it possible within one ecclesial body to have members in ministry whose ministry is not recognised by their colleagues in ministry, especially if they are entrusted with conferring and passing on that ministry? We do indeed need to be able to live with difference, and to respect each others’ conscience, but that is something the so-called traditionalists seem unable to do, based… Read more »

Gary Paul Gilbert
Guest
Gary Paul Gilbert

One could be easily be tempted to think that patriarchal religion needs to put some disfavored group through a spin cycle of abuse. Debating whether women or LGBTs should be included in ministry is one way to traumatize people.

Either religious institutions will finally come out for equality for women or people will simply stop supporting the institutions.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Frank Nichols
Guest
Frank Nichols

Oh dear brothers and sisters,. Here we go again! I have read this correspondence with great sadness. See how the brethren love one another. If we really cannot find a better tone to these discussions, and remember that we CAN disagree in love, and find a place within our Church for all the brethren, especially for those with whom we disagree, then perhaps we should shut up shop!

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

JCF and Stephen, I’m flattered (I think) but I’m afraid I’m not much of a humourist. I intended absolutely no satire whatsoever! Rather, I genuinely think that the time has come to test the strength of the different parts of the CofE. Nothing is being achieved by endless discussions about whether “equality” requires equality of outcome- the two/three sides cannot be reconciled. Nor is anything being achieved by continuing to debate whether being “discriminating” can be a wise virtue or is always a poisonous vice. Likewise, increasingly vitriolic expressions of the different opinions on both sides is not helpful to… Read more »

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Cynthia, God bless you for the force of your convictions and erudition in expressing them. I’m not sure I speak for “traditionalists” but it seems to be the role I’m taking on at the moment on here. To the extent therefore that I am going to disagree with you I trust that you will see it as a response to your invitation, not a personal slight. I would point out: A. that there is “suffering” on all sides- some women find it hugely offensive that their years of faithful un-ordained service of the Church is today not viewed as the… Read more »

Andrew Godsall
Guest
Andrew Godsall

“If we really cannot find a better tone to these discussions, and find a place within our Church for all the brethren, especially for those with whom we disagree, then perhaps we should shut up shop!”

Frank: you miss the point entirely. It’s not about finding a place for “all the brethren” – it’s about understanding that all the brothers and sisters are equal and need to be treated equally. The argument is not about people, but a principle that enables proper respect for half of the human race.

Stephen B
Guest
Stephen B

Jonny,

Think the problem with the 2/3 majority required in the House of Laity is that the small minority -much less than the misquoted report stated, I have the e mail from the author – cynically packed those standing for General Synod and who did not always state their views at the hustings so that the House of Laity is completely unrepresentative of the laity at large, so this is not a good test of anything, it is all an very unfortunate mess.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Johnny, I appreciate the thought process you present. In the US, there is a strong correlation between the “God hates fags” crowd and teen suicide. The suicide rate skyrocketed in districts where local “Christians” went to the school boards demanding a removal of LGBT from the anti-bullying policies. When teachers feared for their jobs if they intervened, bullying went up, as did suicides. It’s not anonymous, we know who the kids were and that they were bullied in school and via social networking. In the US, we also learned from MLK that you can’t legislate that a man love his… Read more »

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Stephen B, thanks for your comment, With regard to, “…cynically packed those standing for General Synod and who did not always state their views at the hustings” Is there any evidence of the former and any evidence that with regard to the latter this was more true of those opposing Women Bishops than those supporting? I rather think that there is not. There are plenty who have gone on and on about the votes in the dioceses, claiming that they were properly representative but that ignores the fact that the franchise for both Diocesan and General Synods are identical- it… Read more »

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

The issue for me is not whether “traditionalists” or “scripturalists” – I take both tradition and scripture seriously – stay with a “structural” “solution” (which for me is human and divisive) – but whether they stay as my acknowledged christian sisters and brothers. That is what is at stake here, and most advocated “structural” “solutions” create two (or more) churches, a procedure which solves nothing, and cannot properly be adopted by a church which pretends to constitutional unity. The “structural” “solutions” I have seen are neither clear nor coherent. I do not think that there are many “cynical” people involved… Read more »

Jane Charman
Guest
Jane Charman

Before this thread reaches the end of its lifespan may I respond to Johnny who questions whether there is any proof of a connection between our own religious views and beliefs and the treatment of women globally. I recommend reading the Agreed Conclusions of the 57th meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women which was held a few weeks ago in New York and at which the Church of England was represented. Go to http://www.un.org/womenwatch/daw/csw/57sess.htm. The Commission clearly identifies the connection between gender stereotyping and violence against women and girls and calls on States ‘to refrain from… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Here’s from a Senegalese author at that UN conference: Au Sénégal comme dans la plupart des pays du monde et notamment des pays africains, les rapports hommes femmes sont régis par un model patriarcal, qui consacre la soumission de la femme à l’homme, la confinant dans l’espace domestique et l’excluant pratiquement de tous les espaces de décision au niveau de la communauté. Mais il faut dire qu’en vérité, au Sénégal cette situation a été accentuée par les religions, celle chrétienne venue avec la colonisation française et celle musulmane, qui a pris souche dès le 11ème siècle. Clearly, the author cites… Read more »

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Dear Canon Charman, thank you for your response and your original “GRAS” piece. I too fear that the thread may close soon which is a shame. I had already read the “Agreed Conclusions” , which fortunately have been widely disseminated. I note the following: A. I agree that theology is potent. However, if we did our potent theology according to the views of the UN we’d end-up with some very ungodly results indeed. Theology must drive the secular debate, not respond to it as you seem to suggest. B. I was looking for empirical evidence which linked the absence of… Read more »

Anthony Archer
Guest
Anthony Archer

On any analysis the General Synod (which I sat on for 17 years) is unrepresentative, particularly in the laity. The 2015 election will be a single issue one and will start in part in 2014 with the elections from PCCs to the deanery synods, the electoral colleges in each diocese for elections to the House of Laity. Sitting members who are up for re-election who voted against the Measure will be specifically targeted and new members will be scrutinised in an intrusive a way as possible. This is what happened in 1980 when the conservatives tried to pack the General… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Johnny May wrote:
I am surprised that you referred to the existence of “stories of traditionalists being bullied by liberal bishops”. Please would you give us some examples of this.

johnny may
Guest
johnny may

Simon, I’m dashing to church- but to give one example relevant to the thread- did you not listen to the vilification of evangelical women on television, in public and all over the media by bishops after the November vote? How many of those women (and men with similar views)do you think will feel that their “chief pastor” is offering any pastoral support at all for them? Likewise, who would want to be a young, traditional potential ordinand in such a diocese? Why are traditionalist ordination candidates examined extensively on their view of women’s ordination when supposedly they are entitled not… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

No, Johnny, I didn’t observe any bishops doing that in November. Could you please name at least one such bishop, and preferably provide a link to a report of his behaviour, to which you object.

What concrete evidence do you have that ordinands, or prospective ordinands are being discriminated against on the basis of their views on WO?

Can you name the diocese in which the “Nazi” reference took place?

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

As Johnny hasn’t replied to me after four days, I’m inclined to think that he is not able to provide any evidence to support his claims. However, if anybody else reading this has such evidence, I would be glad to hear the details of it.