THINKING ANGLICANS

More on the See of Sheffield

Some further statements by various organisations or individuals:

Some comment articles (See also yesterday’s Opinion roundup)

And, from the Sheffield diocesan website:

Sheffield Diocese Introductory meeting with Women Clergy, Chaplains, Curates and Ordinands

Note this meeting occurred on 7 February but this document was apparently posted only on 7 March. It is well worth reading in full.

Two items from BBC Radio this morning:

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Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

Savi Hensman’s piece is an absolute must-read.

Interested Observer
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Interested Observer

The piece from the Sheffield Diocese is, however, much less satisfactory. The American cartoonist Jules Feiffer was unimpressed by Johnson. After his election victory in 1964, Feiffer drew Johnson, his feet protruding from the clouds, telling the people that he sees small men growing large and closed minds opening wide. He sees a rich harvest of book-learning and the arts. He sees Black and White in final harmony, Rich and poor, old and young. A mandate for happiness, the determined faces of millions crying as one “Onward to the Great Society”. In the final frames, the people ask “And how… Read more »

Gordon
Guest
Gordon

The parallel that keeps springing to my mind is the failure of Trade Unions to support women bringing equal pay claims – the voices of women bishops saying that North should have been allowed to be Bishop to honour an agreement protects their position, but does nothing for the women of the Sheffield Diocese who would have been made non-persons by his appointment. Thank goodness those voices have now been heard.

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Adrian Beney’s comment (appended below Elaine Storkey’s piece) is worth looking at.

Jeremy Fagan
Guest
Jeremy Fagan

I think Jeremy Pemberton’s final phrase sums the whole affair up to me – the church ‘not having done any work to have elucidated the meaning of what those principles did and did not comprise in the intervening two and bit years has done us all no favours.’
Bad laws often need clarifying in the courts – that’s what this feels a little like. Not being clear in the first place leads to trouble down the road.

Susannah Clark
Guest

The February 7th Meeting, reported by the Diocese of Sheffield, demonstrates the commitment Philip had to diversity, to nurturing all people in their ministries, and to a Church of diverse consciences, trying to live out theology in lives and service. I share his longing for a Church that values breadth, and unity found in diversity and differences. He acknowledges the uncomfortableness and the messiness – but that is more a reflection of the reality in our Church, and the diverse views held within it. I still maintain that with grace and goodness on both sides, kindness and love, the diocese… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Guest
Rod Gillis

The Savi Hensman piece is very insightful.

One needs to keep in mind that female priests are often discriminated against on the basis of who they essentially are. By contrast, the appropriateness of bishop North’s appointment is being contested on the basis of his own stated theological opinion regarding who female clergy essentially are.

Pam
Guest
Pam

As someone who sits in a pew most weeks, and after reading Elaine Storkey’s words, I am reminded about what my faith is about. It is about overcoming my world of anxiety, it is about relying less on formal religion, it is about attempting to perceive the “silent sigh”, it is about having been hurt by the church, it is about letting go of old answers, it is about being free to ask “what if” and it is about being open to covenant. Who can help me do all that? God. We all sit in church with different questions and… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

The Bishop of Maidstone expresses the thought that there was a deal that traditionalists could continue not to recognise the sacramental reality of the ordination of women yet still be appointed as our superiors. Seriously? In the 21st century?

Such a misogynistic view is deeply damaging to the church.

Jane Charman
Guest
Jane Charman

Much of the comment, on this site and elsewhere on social media, has revolved around the idea that at a given point in time we all signed up to something specific that some of us have now gone back on, breaking our part of the bargain. The reality is not so simple. When is it ever! But there are reasons to be cheerful. +Philip originally voted against the 5 Guiding Principles, as did almost all the Traditional Catholics in Synod. Or more accurately, they voted against the legislation that enshrines the Principles, which was the only mechanism available to any… Read more »

June Butler
Guest
June Butler

I can’t help but think of the reality of the “uncomfortableness and the messiness” of women who would have had to minister daily under the authority of a bishop who did not believe in their orders and thought their Eucharists were not real. I don’t understand how the bishop would have nurtured the ministries of women priests in the diocese.

BlackDog
Guest
BlackDog

I fail to see why those of an Anglo-Catholic persuasion are so very upset about the Sheffield affair. Surely any Anglo Catholic will just recognize three distinctions in orders – deacons, priests and bishops and just regard the difference between a suffragan and diocesan bishop as one of job title only?

A suffragan bishop can episcopally do anything a diocesan could do and surely the important thing from their point of view must be that Bishop North is a bishop and there are likely to be more of him.

Judith Maltby
Guest
Judith Maltby

Simon is right: it is worth reading the official report of the meeting between +Philip and and women clergy of the of the Diocese of Sheffield. Note the Real Absence in it: it is almost entirely about what *he* said. Surely the women clergy must have said *something* – indeed it is reported that they were apparently allowed to ask questions but there is no record of what was said. What were those questions; what were the responses? Were the views of the women clergy not considered important enough to form part of the official record of the event?

Chris A
Guest
Chris A

Is that piece from the meeting in Sheffield for real? It seems very strange that a supposedly diocesan publication is unaware of the correct title for a bishop.

Chead
Guest
Chead

@Judith Maltby – Yes, the Sheffield meeting sounds dreadful. All about Philip North and nothing about those whom he was intended to serve. And there’s nothing like being the person to open the meeting in prayer to show how much more holy you are than anyone else and make it more difficult for them to question you (the church is *very* good at this sort of thing).

Peter K+
Guest
Peter K+

Jeremy speaks with passion, but I’m left wondering if he’s even read GS Misc 1076, the ‘settlement document’ that the different parties agreed, and which Synod voted on. It doesn’t just state the 5 Guiding Principles and then leave everyone to guess what they mean- it’s a 9 page document that goes into some detail about how things work in practice. In particular paragraph 12 clearly provides for the possibility of a Diocesan Bishop who doesn’t ordain women, but the Vacancy in See committee always have a ‘veto’ on this – they can insist on a candidate who ordains women.… Read more »

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

In relation to the Doncaster meeting, one of those present has commented elsewhere that the Questions and the Answers to them were documented, but that this part of the meeting record remains confidential.

I can’t see the logic of publishing only half of a meeting record.

I’m also slightly puzzled as to why it was published on Tuesday of last week, two days before the announcement on Thursday evening.

Simon Dawson
Guest
Simon Dawson

Judith Maltby,

You wrote “it is worth reading the official report of the meeting between +Philip and and women clergy of the of the Diocese of Sheffield. Note the Real Absence in it: it is almost entirely about what *he* said. Surely the women clergy must have said *something*.

It struck me a few days earlier that almost exactly the same words could have been written about this document:

http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3610/archbishop-of-york-statement-on-bishop-philip-north

Kate
Guest
Kate

“I fail to see why those of an Anglo-Catholic persuasion are so very upset about the Sheffield affair. Surely any Anglo Catholic will just recognize three distinctions in orders – deacons, priests and bishops and just regard the difference between a suffragan and diocesan bishop as one of job title only?” A question. What happens when we need to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury? Traditionalists within – and especially outside – the Church of England won’t accept a woman, nor a man ordained or consecrated by a woman. As a Church are we willing expressly to narrow the field… Read more »

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

A question which I have had for a long time and which undoubtedly shows my theological ignorance: Someone who believes that only men really and truly ordained by certain bishops are in fact priests finds himself/herself in a village where the only church is a free-or-reformed-or-Lutheran church and Holy Communion is being celebrated. If that person receives HC, how can it possibly hurt her/him? What harm can it possibly do? And so of course if the celebrant is a C-of-E woman, what does the exclusionist think will happen to him/her? And further, in the case consecration of bishops. If many… Read more »

Donald Reeves
Guest
Donald Reeves

A story from Kosovo. The Kosovo government is establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,which the Soul of Europe is helping to establish. This is difficult because the status of Kosovo is not agreed. Serbia says Kosovo is part of Serbia. Kosovo Albanians say ‘we are an independent nation -now recognised by 114 countries’. There is thus a fundamental disagreement. And dialogues about the future of Kosovo always come back to this. So one way to proceed is to say’ok we recognise this basic difference – put that to one side because there is alot we can do together – problems… Read more »

Fr Andrew
Guest
Fr Andrew

“in a village where the only church is a free-or-reformed-or-Lutheran church and Holy Communion is being celebrated. If that person receives HC, how can it possibly hurt her/him? ” @Sara MacVane From a traditionalist perspective (not my personal one I hasten to add) the issue is not one of ‘hurt’ or harm that might come from participating in such a communion because whatever was happening in that village chapel, it wouldn’t from a traditional catholic perspective actually be a communion /sacrament. The issue for a traditionalist is not that of someone in orders they don’t recognise causing harm; more that… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

I echo the comments on the excellence of Savi Hensman’s piece. She nails it on all fronts with admirable directness and clarity. She writes compassionately that +Philip was “placed into a difficult and painful situation.” I would say impossible, as Ms. Hensman identified the problem – if a woman is a diocesan, traditionalist parishes can still have male clergy and bishops tend to them, however, if a traditionalist is a diocesan, there’s no recourse for women clergy and girls to flourish. Kudos to Ms. Hensman for bringing up the studies on the psychological damage of exclusion. Worth considering as Jesus… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

Thanks, Jane Charman. The impact of some of SSWSH’s decisions after the principles were agreed is indeed relevant and a review might be a constructive way forward.

Priscilla
Guest
Priscilla

I am a priest who has worked under a bishop who believed my orders were not valid. Believe me, it was not easy. I took on a challenging parish where it was recognised I would face opposition (not specifically to do with my gender, but with the church’s circumstances). At my licensing, the bishop refused to use the word ‘priest’ at all. My heart sank – I had been promised full support, but this was hardly a good message to be giving the parish. At several subsequent points the bishop either failed to support me or actively undermined me. Eventually… Read more »

Jules
Guest
Jules

Priscilla –

Provision the other way round doesn’t make any sense, since no one in their right mind doesn’t accept the validity of Philip North’s orders. That’s the point. It’s about recognition of orders, not whether someone is liked.

Kate
Guest
Kate

“Perhaps Bp North would have behaved very differently had he been the bishop in this situation. But it’s clear (as I have said to Abp Sentamu) that there must be similar provisions for women working with a bishop who doesn’t accept their orders, as there are for men who don’t accept a female priest or bishop.”

And the Archbishop of York could have defused the Sheffield situation at any time by suggesting that any woman unhappy with the Bishop North could look to him (the Archbishop of York) instead. He chose not to.

Anthony Birch
Guest
Anthony Birch

Jules –
With regard to Priscilla’s comment. It is about recognition of orders, but it has to be MUTUAL recognition of orders.

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Savi Hensman, quoted by Cynthia, suggests that ‘traditionalist’ [misleading shorthand but it will do] clergy are often ‘Oxbridge educated.’ I doubt if that is any more true of ‘traditionalists’ than of a large number of C of E male clergy, perhaps especially some of the more vocal ‘liberals’. I have to admit I’m only going on a hunch, and I know few of the former persuasion, and none of them well. But such conservative anglo-catholic parishes tend to proliferate in working-class communities, and while there are and always have been Oxbridge (and privately educated) clergy who are drawn to such… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

“And there’s nothing like being the person to open the meeting in prayer to show how much more holy you are than anyone else and make it more difficult for them to question you (the church is *very* good at this sort of thing).”

Sad but true.

Along the same lines, there have even seen board meetings that began with Communion.

Clive
Guest
Clive

As an ex pat, now Canadian, and Tiber-crosser, I’ll refrain from commenting on Sheffield per se, but I will say I never met an Oxbridge educated “traditionalist” priest in my time in Anglo-Catholic circles in the CofE… indeed one of my favourite memories is of the wonderfully Cockney (and aptly named) Fr. Peter Tabernacle. We were at the National at Walsingham and the arrangements for receiving Communion were somewhat confused. On returning to our seats, he gruffly asked the extremely prim n proper lady next to him, “Did yer get ’em both all right?”

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

Clive, some of the SSWSH bishops, and I dare say quite a few of the parish clergy, are Oxbridge-educated. David Emmott, I do recognise the value of the work done by some ‘traditionalist’ priests, as well as those who are not, in poorer areas. The contrast I was drawing was not in church leaders’ attitudes to male clergy for and against women’s ordination – both sets largely educated in ‘elite’ universities and often from better-off backgrounds – but rather between deep concern about relatively few clergy and apparent indifference to the feelings and future involvement of tens of thousands of… Read more »

Chead
Guest
Chead

It seems to me that the anti-OoW have stolen a march here by claiming a failure to support ‘mutual flourishing’ as only applying to them. How are supporters of OoW to flourish, with a non-ordaining diocesan? Perhaps someone can correct me if I am wrong, but what should an ordinary person in a parish with a female (or ‘tainted’ male) priest understand the position to be if the Diocesan holds ‘SSWSH’ views? A Priest acts under the authority of the Bishop, with whom the Priest shares the cure of souls. It is by the authority of the Ordinary that a… Read more »

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

I might add that it is worrying if many spiritually sensitive and idealistic young women feel more empowered to display such qualities as courage, self-sacrifice and compassion by Buffy the Vampire Slayer than in church. Perhaps something has gone seriously wrong with our ability to communicate the good news of Christ?

Jules
Guest
Jules

Anthony Birch – I fail to understand the point you’re making. Philip North’s orders are not in any doubt. That is fact. It is nonsensical to go down the road of “you don’t believe in women’s orders therefore I won’t believe in men’s orders.” It is also fact that the ordination of women is a practice which has, at the very least, a question mark over it in the eyes of the majority of Christian churches. It has always been a strange phenomenon to me that the priesthood of Jesus Christ, which we share with our Catholic and Orthodox brothers… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

David Emmott, all men in the Church of England are privileged, by comparison to women and girls. If many in the SSWSH are Oxbridge, then they are even more privileged than most. No one is debating the validity of the orders of men, as they are of women. That is privilege. And this “debate” sends a message to all women, and girls, that there are still a number of privileged people – mostly men – who see girls and women as less equal in the eyes of God. That’s the point. Who has the power and privilege? And why did… Read more »

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Jules, “It has always been a strange phenomenon to me that the priesthood of Jesus Christ, which we share with our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters, has been single-handedly changed in character by the smallest, thinnest strand of the apostolic church, namely the Church of England. Such hubris!” In the Anglican Communion the following churches have women priests: South India (1947) Hong Kong and Macao (1971) USA (1974) Canada (1975) New Zealand (1977) Kenya (1983) Uganda (1983) Ireland (1990) South Africa (1992) Scotland (1994) Australia (1992) England (1994) Barbados (1996) Wales (1997) Philippines (1997) Bolivia (2015) Uruguay (2015) The… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Erika: Ireland has had a woman bishop since Pat Storey became Bishop of Meath and Kildare in 2013. Wales has had a woman bishop since Joanna Penberthy became Bishop of St Davids in January this year.

(And the Church in Wales has a “Governing Body” rather than a “General Synod”.)

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Thank you Simon!

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Savi Hensman: I entirely agree with you about the sidelining of women. I am 100% in support of women in all orders of ministry as in all roles in secular life. I just felt rather that ‘Oxbridge’ was a rather irrelevant comment in this context, since if the church is dominated by powerful privately educated men this is at least as true of pro-OoW men as of the antis. And Cynthia, while ‘privilege’ raises its ugly head in all these contexts, I’m mindful of many self-sacrificing humble priests (of both persuasions) who never think of their ministry in those terms… Read more »

Anthony Birch
Guest
Anthony Birch

Jules –
The point I should have thought evident: In the relationship between Bishop and Priest Mutual Flourishing requires mutual recognition of each others orders, not only recognition of the bishop’s orders by the priest.

Sara MacVane
Guest
Sara MacVane

I trust that Duncan Forrester eminent theologian of New College, University of Ediburgh wouldn’t mind me telling a story which his wife Margaret told me some years ago (and I may have already told here some while ago?). Duncan died last November. When he was teaching at an English University, one of his theology students came up to Duncan after a Holy Communion service at which he had celebrated. The student commented that it had been a nice service, though not to his thinking a sacramental one. Duncan replied that he had been episcopally ordained in the Church of South… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

“And Cynthia, while ‘privilege’ raises its ugly head in all these contexts, I’m mindful of many self-sacrificing humble priests (of both persuasions) who never think of their ministry in those terms at all.” I wouldn’t disagree with that at all. If talking about a narrow topic (in the scheme of things), gives the impression that I’ve ignored real ministry, I do apologize. It is the arguments and demands that reek of privilege. There is no getting around the fact that modern sensibilities of equality (whether based on secular ideals or a view of the radical inclusion of the teachings and… Read more »

Kate
Guest
Kate

“There is no getting around the fact that modern sensibilities of equality (whether based on secular ideals or a view of the radical inclusion of the teachings and life of Christ) challenges the status quo, generally of white, male, educated and/or wealthy, dominance. Some of the privileged respond graciously and others hang on, rationalize, and make demands to continue their privilege… “ I agree but women are the same as men in terms of wanting to keep privilege. It is all relative They might be lower on the ladder than men but are miles ahead of a typical family in… Read more »

Garry Lovatt
Guest
Garry Lovatt

A further correction to the list of Anglican Churches that ordain women as bishops. In 1994 Victoria Matthews was ordained to be a Bishop Suffragan for the Diocese of Toronto. She was later translated to become Bishop of Edmonton in Canada, and later still was elected to be the Bishop of Christ Church New Zealand, where I believe she continues to serve. At this time there are several women diocesans in Canada and Toronto has two women suffragans and two men. In Toronto we also have a gay bishop who with his partner has two children.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

Way to go, Erika! Listing many of the Anglican provinces that have been ordaining women. Jules, the hubris is thinking that the Church of England stands alone, none of these other Anglican provinces count, and certainly no Protestant denomination matters, despite the fact that Anglicans have one foot in protestantism and one foot in catholicism.

David Emmott
Guest
David Emmott

Cynthia: Anglican-centrism is as bad as anglo-centrism! And of course the experience and wisdom of Protestant communities counts for a great deal. But the majority of them do not see priesthood in the same way as (most) Anglicans, Catholics and Orthodox. I believe (and this might be Anglican hubris) that we are called to be a prophetic voice for Catholic Christendom in this and other matters, But that needs to be balanced by the humble awareness that we might be wrong.

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

David, the people excluding women and LGBTQI Christians don’t seem very prophetic. The theology of taint? Really? Pedophiles, murderers, scoundrels of all sorts don’t invalidate the sacraments, but being female does? You are right about Anglicans seeing priests differently than many protestants. But we are NOT aligned with the Orthodox (my background) or Rome in a number of ways. We left Rome to pursue our own conscience. But I am also loath to discredit the work of Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers, etc. To the Evangelicals, the problem is male headship, and in that case, the protestant denominations are relevant. To the… Read more »