Thinking Anglicans

SSWSH statement on Communion and Catholicity

The Council of Bishops of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda (SSWSH) has published a document entitled ‘Communion and Catholicity in the Church of England: A Statement of Principles’.

It appears in the September issue of New Directions and is also available on the Society website here.

According to the SSWSH website:

The statement explains

  • the nature of communion;
  • The Society’s aspiration to be an expression of full, visible communion;
  • the communion that the parishes and people of The Society continue to share with other members of the Church of England.

It reflects on the vocation of catholic Christians in the Church of England.

The Chairman of the Council of Bishops, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson (Bishop of Wakefield), has commented:

“This teaching document is our contribution to shaping understanding and custom that will engender greater trust in our position. We believe, humbly and with hope and trust for the future, that the tradition of Anglican identity exemplified by The Society has a distinctive contribution to make to our common life in the Church of England and to its mission.”

This statement will be accompanied by a second statement focusing on the practical application of these principles, which will be published in the October issue of New Directions.

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Mary Evans
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Mary Evans

From the document: 2.2 The Society is an ecclesial community established by the traditional catholic bishops of the Church of England to address the new situation created by the ordination of women to the episcopate as well as to the priesthood. • It promotes and maintains catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England. (according to its own narrow and blinkered definitions) • It offers a ministry in the historic, apostolic succession, and continuing sacramental assurance in the Church of England, by commending Priests of The Society whose ministry can be received with confidence. (theology of taint still going… Read more »

robert ian williams
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robert ian williams

So there you have it folks..a third province in another name!

Julia Redfern
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Julia Redfern

2.5 “As catholic Christians living in full communion with catholic bishops and with each other, those who belong to The Society participate in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church”. What Church are the rest of us participating in?

Richard Ashby
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Richard Ashby

Isn’t ‘ecclesial community’ how the previous Pope described non Roman churches when he didn’t want to dignify them as churches?

William Tighe
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William Tighe

“What Church are the rest of us participating in?”

They – for I am not one of them – should logically and coherently respond “no church at all,” if their statement were anything more than an elaborate self-justification for remaining in the Church of England. It is hard to see how it can be reconciled with their inane slogan “Better Together!”

Mark Bennet
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Mark Bennet

Canon A1 Of the Church of England

The Church of England, established according to the laws of this realm under the Queen’s Majesty, belongs to the true and apostolic Church of Christ; and, as our duty to the said Church of England requires, we do constitute and ordain that no member thereof shall be at liberty to maintain or hold the contrary.

John
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John

Think it’s OK myself. Ideally, I’d have liked something about ‘mutual flourishing’, but it’s largely an in-house document, designed to reassure the like-minded.

Clive Sweeting
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Clive Sweeting

‘Humble’ and ‘gracious’ are scarcely epithets for those believing to stand for Catholic truth. Mary Evans might wish to delve into the early councils of the Christian Church, say Ephesus and Chalcedon. Cyril or Leo would scarcely fit into the polite, dare I say genteel (perhaps not) realities of contemporary Anglicanism.

AIC
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AIC

To me, it is how to lose the plot of what really matters. Mark 7.8 comes to mind.

Turbulent Priest
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Turbulent Priest

I can’t help noting that the document is intended to “engender” trust. Deliberate or accidental choice of word?

Kate
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Kate

Speaking as a woman, I think it is a fine document for the most part, although I cry at some of its judgementalism. There should be a place in the church for those who support women bishops and equally a place for those who don’t. For that dichotomy to be a positive pluralism rather than a fractious divide will take deliberations and documents such as this to set out how the two groups can live and work together in harmony.

peterpi - Peter Gross
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peterpi - Peter Gross

“as our duty to the said Church of England requires, we do constitute and ordain that no member thereof shall be at liberty to maintain or hold the contrary.” — Canon A1, as cited by Mark Bennet

Mr. Bennet, in a robustly democratic, freely-speaking society such as Merry Old England, the Church of England can constitute and ordain anything it pleases, but that doesn’t mean that all of its members are going to go along.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“This means that the Church of England no longer celebrates in every place one Eucharist in which all can share, […] there is a tear in the fabric of our common life and in our communion.”

This is, surely, the language of intentional schism. Saints Hilda and Julian of Norwich must be turning in their graves!

Disgraceful
Guest
Disgraceful

“….we are unable, for theological reasons, to recognize some of those whom the Church of England has ordained as bishops and priests as standing within the historic succession of apostolic ministry as it is held within the ancient churches of East and West. “ The problem with the Othodox/Roman/Anglican triumvirate is that it is believed in only by Anglicans, and of interest to only a certain group of Anglicans. If they took any interest, which I doubt they do, the ancient churches of east and west would see a group of laymen claiming to be in Holy Orders, but not,… Read more »

Father David
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Father David

What kind of being (animal, vegetable or mineral) is an “ecclesial community” if not a Church? Surely the very word ecclesial means relating to or constituting a Church or denomination, therefore the Latin Church itself is also an “ecclesial community, is it not?

Benedict
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Benedict

Father Ron Smith is very extreme in his reference to schism. What he continues to fail to understand is that SSWSH and its members are in and of the Church of England. As has now on two separate occasions been identified by the Independent Reviewer, their views are completely in line with that which is viewed as permissible by the recent legislation. Living in New Zealand and therefore outside the culture and context of the Church of England he has perhaps misunderstood the nuanced nature of the five Guiding Principles. Furthermore,the Communion statement is a product of theological reflection and… Read more »

Andrew Gray
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Andrew Gray

To me, the document reads like no more than the righteous manifesto of a faction – the People’s Front of Judea trying to distinguish itself from the Judean People’s Front.

Charles Read
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Charles Read

Yes indeed Andrew.

What has the General Synod ever done for us?
… Women bishops!
What has the General Synod ever done for us apart from women bishops?

or:

He’s not the Archbishop*, he’s just a naughty boy

* or Prolocutor, or substitute office as appropriate

Tobias Haller
Guest

As has always been the case with this particular controversy, it butts up against the classical definition of what it means to be in communion: which entails recognition of ministers. The Roman Church is clear on this in its canonical self-understanding as subsisting in those who recognize and relate to the bishops in communion with the Heir of Peter. Many an ecumenical process is based on precisely this principle, that a church is in communion with another ecclesial body when there is mutual recognition of ministers. Rome and the East are not in communion with the Church of England, so… Read more »

Paul
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Paul

The problem as highlighted in the comments is their position is very difficult to maintain. Their main defence seems to be the very one that ARCIC floundered on, for Romans only communion with Rome makes you part of the visible church Christ instituted. Hence the ordinariate (anyone remember that?!) is the only way to maintain the catholic apostolic line argument if your appeal is to Rome or the East. Whether you have women or not seems to be irrelevant if sacramental assurance and the catholic line argument are what truly makes a church.

Kate
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Kate

So many of these arguments within the church seem to be about derived issues. Maybe it is time for a church council to decide some fundamental issues: What do the terms “man” and “woman” mean because as professional athletics has discovered birth certificates are only an approximation With those terms defined, is the fundamental spiritual nature of men different to the spiritual nature of women Can apostolic succession be tainted or invalidated or does the Presence of God redeem any deficiencies? On the last point I can see that traditionalists would struggle with a bishop elevated only by women bishops… Read more »

John
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John

One of the reasons why FiF people or SSWSH people move me (old sentimentalist that I am) is that they clearly love the C of E. Sometimes this love is overt (Father Trevor Jones: ‘O sweet my mother, cast me not away’; Bishop Martyn Jarrett: ‘I love the Church of England and it would break my heart to leave her’; last rector of St Luke’s, Derby: ‘I was born in the Church of England, and I shall die in the Church of England’ (as indeed he did); sometimes it is rather ‘the love that dares not speak its name’ and… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” Furthermore,the Communion statement is a product of theological reflection and learning, seeking to show we can still live in communion in the same church, albeit impaired communion.” – Benedict – My question, Dear Brother, is; how can you possibly think of yourselves as both ‘catholic and Apostolic – in the terms that you arrogate to yourselves in SSWSH and F.i.F., which denies the catholicity and apostolicity of the Church of England, on account of its acceptance of women clergy – while yet claiming membership of that same sodality whose catholicity you deny. You simply can’t have it both ways.… Read more »

Fr Alan
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Fr Alan

Like others on this thread I wonder just what reality the authors of this document inhabit? Like many of my fellow priests and co religionists we would be delighted to see our Church and the Orthodox recognise or regularise Anglican Orders, but in the meantime we cannot pretend this has happened. Just because the bishops of this group shop for their ecclesiastical attire in the same street as the Pope or venerate Our Lady as much as he and use our rather awful new rite doesn’t make them acceptable to the strange beings that run our Church. Indeed what happened… Read more »

Julia Redfern
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Julia Redfern

One way of approaching these Principles is to start with footnote 14 which refers to clause 3 in Unitatis Redintegratio. UR:22 tells us that, ‘Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord’s Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in… Read more »

Barry
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Barry

John, thank you for your comment. Whether one agrees with the members of FIF and SSWSH or not, they wish to remain committed to the Church of England where they have been promised a recognized place. They have not fled to Rome and then made snide remarks about the Church which nurtured them. For this they deserve respect. Since we have to live in a Church of England which includes those who peddle homophobia and biblical fundamentalism and disregard the liturgical nature of Anglican worship, it behoves us to be generous to others who adhere to the historic values of… Read more »

Benedict
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Benedict

You have answered your own question Father Ron. Our Catholicity and apostolicity derives from our remaining within that continuum and succession that you have stepped outside of, by your acceptance of innovation and developments not commensurate with Catholic teaching.

Julia Redfern
Guest
Julia Redfern

Benedict, not to sound funny, but is marriage for priests commensurate with Catholic teaching? Looking at its make-up, it seems to me that the Society’s Council of Bishops picks and chooses somewhat when it comes to ‘innovation and developments’! Of course, there is no reason why any of them shouldn’t be married, given that they are Anglicans not Roman or Orthodox Catholics. I make the point not to be mean but to point out, gently I hope, the inconsistencies in The Society’s approach.

John
Guest
John

Thank you, Barry. Sometimes one gets despondent about the continuing bickering. Your reply has cheered me up.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Father Ron, the evidence seems to suggest that yes, marriage for priests is commensurate with Catholic teaching, otherwise the Roman Catholic Church wouldn’t have within its ranks any at all, even if they are former Anglicans. I don’t see any evidence, however, of women priests or bishops in its ranks.

Tobias Haller
Guest

The marriage discipline aside (as I understand it to be a discipline, not a doctrine) the more important reality is the formal Roman definition of Anglican Orders as utterly null and void. These “ecclesial bodies” are most definitely not in communion with Rome to any degree, and by their own admission are in “impaired” communion with their own mother Church. This does not constitute either catholicity or apostolicity. As a wise bishop once pointed out to an earnest Episcopalian troubled by innovations in his church (Fr Paul Wattson, founder of the RC Society of the Atonement), “You cannot appeal to… Read more »

Leon Clarke
Guest
Leon Clarke

Can someone point me to the passage in these principles which explains why a bishop consecrated by an archbishop who has also consecrated a woman is not a ‘proper bishop’. I’ve been struggling for some time to find an official FiF/society document that explains this.

(I know what the usual argument is; I just haven’t noticed it in any official FiF documents. And it would be quite interesting were it to be genuinely missing)

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I wonder about a church and a morality that essentially says that due to persecution of Christians, we need to be in solidarity with the ancient churches of East and West, i.e. RC and Orthodox (forget about the numerous Protestant churches that struggle less with female pastors). Being in solidarity/communion means persecuting and excluding women in CoE… And much of this is based on the “theology of taint,” which I call the “cootie doctrine” (it doesn’t translate well, cooties are like invisible germs boys get from girls before they realize they like girls). The sacraments are valid when performed by… Read more »

Julia Redfern
Guest
Julia Redfern

A stern injunction from FiF Director Dr Colin Podmore (Vocations Day at Gordon Square, November 2013) made me smile. ‘… … I am depressed by the way in which some in the Church of England seem to believe that they are entitled to ignore the canons that have been agreed by the synods of the Church and instead do what is right in their own eyes. (Incidentally, bishops are bound by the canons that have been agreed together in Synod, just as everyone else is. We do not believe in arbitrary government by bishops who think that they are a… Read more »

Dafydd
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Dafydd

“Can someone point me to the passage in these principles which explains why a bishop consecrated by an archbishop who has also consecrated a woman is not a ‘proper bishop’. I’ve been struggling for some time to find an official FiF/society document that explains this.” There is a reason you have not found such an explanation, namely that this is not the FiF/Society position. The position is that they *are* proper bishops, but communion with them is impaired. “The sacraments are valid when performed by criminal male bishops and priests. They are not valid when performed by male bishops who’ve… Read more »

Dafydd
Guest
Dafydd

“some of its judgementalism”

That’s one of those “irregular verbs”, isn’t it?

– I speak the truth in love
– You could express yourself more tactfully
– He is judgemental

John
Guest
John

I wish someone would respond properly to Leon Clarke’s query. I think I understand the FiF/SSWSH position and, so understood, it doesn’t seem to me to involve any theology of taint, and I therefore regard it as legitimate within the C of E (though I don’t accept it myself and on balance regard it as wrong). But it’s difficult to articulate cleanly.

John Roch
Guest
John Roch

I think I have mentioned before:

Bishop Richard Hare once observed that if someone wants ‘a word in love’ you immediately protect sensitive parts.

That’s not exactly how he phrased it. 🙂

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“The same misunderstanding. The FiF/Society position is that the sacraments *are* valid when performed by M.B.W.C.F. but because of the impairment of communion that results it may not be appropriate to partake of those sacraments, valid though they be.” Thank you for the clarification, Dafydd. Alas, there are several major issues with this, as clean and neat as it may be. This Society is choosing who to be in communion with and who not to be in communion with. They are choosing RC’s and Eastern Orthodox and not Quakers, Presbyterians, etc., i.e. Protestant churches who are way ahead of CoE… Read more »

Ian
Guest
Ian

This Society is choosing who to be in communion with and who not to be in communion with. They are choosing RC’s and Eastern Orthodox and not Quakers, Presbyterians, etc., i.e. Protestant churches who are way ahead of CoE on women ministers.

Cynthia, can I gently suggest that the reason for that is they regard themselves as catholics and not protestants!

Father Ron Smith
Guest

Benedict, the Roman Catholic Church may not have any women clergy or bishops in its ranks – but neither do they have any Anglican clergy in their ranks. Not even F.iF. or SSWSH clergy are members of the R.C. Church. No matter how much you want them to accept Anglican clergy as either catholic or ordained, they do not offially recognise any Anglicans as ordained clergy- apart from those holed up in the Ordinariate – (even if they pretend to be Anglican clergy while acting as quasi- Catholic clergy).

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Ron, all Ordinariate clergy are re-ordained by the RC Church when they transfer.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“Cynthia, can I gently suggest that the reason for that is they regard themselves as catholics and not protestants!”

Thank you, Ian. And yet, the Anglican Church claims to be both catholic and protestant. And oddly enough, this society’s concern for being “in communion” with Rome is not reciprocated by the RC’s. It is rather bizarre. As is all that theology of taint. Tortured thinking.

John
Guest
John

I do not think David W.’s ‘clarification’ is correct. While it is true that individual FiF people have sometimes said something like that, the desire for ‘sacramental assurance’ necessarily implies the contrary. I ask again for a properly measured exposition of the FiF position. I don’t ask that to ‘flush them out’, but to try to get the debate on a higher level, because at present it is pretty poor. And of course I continue to believe that debate is itself pointless, and what is required is benevolent co-existence. Works both ways: I wish FiF people were pleasanter to those… Read more »

Leon Clarke
Guest
Leon Clarke

My use of the phrase ‘proper bishop’ was sloppy language; sorry.

I want to understand the mechanism by which the possibility of impaired communion arises when an archbishop who is known to be very strongly in favour of women bishops who has actively worked to change canon law to allow women bishops consecrates a woman bishop.

Julia Redfern
Guest
Julia Redfern

When I have asked FiF folk, in civilised conversations eg at the pub, about their reasoning they have tended to direct me to Jonathan Baker’s book “Consecrated Women?” and reviews in back issues of the journal New Directions beginning in October 2004, and the journal generally. (The archive is on Trushare). The best way to receive a properly measured exposition / understand the mechanism would be to ask the Bishop of Wakefield and the Bishop of Fulham to provide one. Ideally in 400 words that could be posted here! Benevolent co-existence is excellent but I don’t think it does any… Read more »

John
Guest
John

I continue to believe in ‘benevolent coexistence’. If you push FiF people up against a wall and confront them with their ‘contradictions’, they will of course say: ‘it’s all the fault of you liberals for abandoning tradition and communion’. Far better to blur things – and also to admit – what everyone knows to be true but finds hard to say – ‘communion’ isn’t everything. I (John) can be 100% ‘in communion’ with (say) St Nick’s or St John’s Durham, but actually I greatly prefer St John’s, Newcastle (opposite Central Station). Similarly, ‘liberals’ (most of them) should admit that they… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

Uber-liberal John, let me assure you that you are correct in your assumption and you would indeed be most welcome. Indeed earlier this year over fifty members of the congregation studied the course “Everybody Welcome” which took place over a period of five successive Sundays.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Father Smith, you have missed the point. You raised the issue of the RCs not allowing married clergy to suggest that traditionalists were not maintaining this discipline in the C of E, and yet opposed women bishops. You were implying a pick and choose attitude. I refuted that by saying that, actually, RCs do allow married clergy, so we must assume it is acceptable in that Church, albeit in limited circumstances. Women Bishops are not.

John
Guest
John

Thank you, Father David. Now if you could kindly give me the address (you presumably know my e-mail – if not ask Simon). I promise to keep it secret.