Tuesday, 5 July 2005

InclusiveChurch: The Time is Right

PRESS RELEASE: The Time is Right

The Church of England’s General Synod debates whether to proceed to legislation for women bishops on July 11th. InclusiveChurch calls for a single clause measure welcoming the consecration of women as bishops, with a recommended code of practice for Dioceses to respect the needs of those who are unable to accept the ministry of women as bishops.

The issue has already been debated for many years. Nearly 10,000 people have signed up to the InclusiveChurch Statement (at www.inclusivechurch.net). Of these, the vast majority are members of the Church of England. InclusiveChurch’s supporters are explicit and clear. Full inclusion, regardless of gender, is a gospel imperative. We wish to see women and men treated equally by the Church of England; equally valued and equally deployed according to calling, gifts and experience.

The Chair of InclusiveChurch, the Revd. Dr Giles Fraser, said

“We do not need more time to discuss the issue. We cannot justify the profligate waste of the talents, experience, gifts and ministry of half the human race. We worship an inclusive God and the Church of England needs to be willing to wake up to the implications of our faith.”

We note that fewer than 10% of the House of Bishops have asked for a further delay in the consecration of women as Bishops and we look forward to a Church which is led equally by women and men.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 5 July 2005 at 6:32pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: InclusiveChurch

Starting the move towards Women Bishops in the CofE would certainly help "LiberalChurch"; by muddying the waters in the Communion wide debate about ECUSA and ACCan's misdemeanours..

Personally I think we should sort out one major issue at a time. I'm with Bishop Rowell on this one.

Posted by: Dave on Tuesday, 5 July 2005 at 11:53pm BST

We are well past 'starting' this process. I think , given that there is no sound reason to prevent women becoming bishops, now they have been accepted as priests (and we all know there is zilch chance of that decision being reversed), we should get on with it.

Its not as if the other arguments are going away, and if there is a split, then a lot of the problems perceived will not be so in any case.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 9:42am BST

Who says the process has started?
I agree with Dave.
And I'd also have thought that, in order to be consistent, Inclusivechurch would be advocating listening at this point.

When the ordination of women was approved, I recall there being a strong argument made that the episcopate was quite a different matter - to be looked at separately. Now though there is "no sound reason" apparently?

It seems rather unwise to proceed without listening to the voice of God - in Scripture.

Posted by: Neil on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 10:37am BST

At the time of the women priests controversy, a lot of non-questions were being debated because of two factors:
(a) failure to give charismatic leadership models(ie meritocratic team leadership models) their New Testament prominence, as opposed to hierarchical models;
(b) failure to be clear about the NT stance that there are only 2 kinds of NT priesthood (cf. Hebrews): that of Christ, and that of all believers.

There would be no point beginning any debate until these points were clear. Much headway has been made re the elders / pastors / bishops question in the NT, which can be fruitfully brought to bear once the ground has been cleared.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 11:31am BST

Again, I agree Christopher but
"Much headway has been made re the elders / pastors / bishops question in the NT"
What headway are you referring to?

And "once the ground has been cleared", what do you mean here?....

Posted by: Neil on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 11:51am BST

The controversy has been over whether elders / pastors / bishops are the same or distinct. Id recommend Alistair Campbell's book 'The Elders' (T & T Clark); also a recent little symposium 'Who Rules the Church?', published, I think, by Paternoster.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 3:25pm BST

Surely with the Bishop of Durham now firmly declared against the idea of women bishops the idea will go no further.

It was after all Bishop Wright who penned the section on Adiaphora in the Windsor Report that was so enthusiastically embraced by General Synod recently and now all must see that this matter is no longer within the competence of that Synod to decide.

The Communion itself – on its own - is incompetent to decide this is a “bearable” departure from Scripture, and tradition when the matter causes so much pain to our own brethren, yet alone those separated from us.

It must now wait until there is agreement amongst the Anglican Communion and have the blessing of our ecumenical partners before such a novelty should proceed. I look forward to reading the opinions of Cardinal Kaspar and Pope Benedict, now so highly prized, on the matter.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 3:42pm BST

Dear Martin,

At the risk of sounding like a Protestant bigot on my very first post to this site ... are you sure you want to make so much of the appeal to 'ecumenical partners' (seemingly limited to Rome and the Orthodox)?

The official teaching of Rome at the moment, reinforced in 1998 by the then Cardinal Ratzinger, is that Anglican orders are invalid. The recent document Dominus Iesus taught (with pretty hefty whilst not infallible authority) that Anglicans and others aren't churches in the full sense of the word. If Roman opinion were definitive for what Anglicans should do, then we would cease to exist as a separate body and merge back into the Roman communion...

(On a separate note, I do find it amusing that Rome gets so concerned about who gets ordained to orders that they consider 'utterly null and void' anyway ... )

On a question like women priests/bishops we do well to listen to what Rome has to say, as indeed on any issue. But the final decision has to be on the merits of the argument, and not on what Rome thinks.

And remember we do have some other ecumenical partners, quite keen to see English Anglican women bishops ... but there again, we decide on merits, not on who the decision will please.

Best wishes
Peter Waddell

Posted by: peter waddell on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 5:39pm BST

I think Martin may just have been a mite ironical....

There has to be some sort of movement, given the acceptance of women as priests. There is no reason why they should be priests but not bishops.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 6:45pm BST

"There is no reason why [women] should be priests but not bishops."

This may just be the reason for not ordaining women in the first place. All the "theological" arguments for the ordination of women have been full of anthropological zeitgeist.

Posted by: pga on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 7:43pm BST

Martin's post certainly seemed tongue-in-cheek to me, especially given the website linked under his name. But perhaps I'm making assumptions?

Posted by: Anna on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 7:45pm BST

But women have been ordained in the first place, and it is absolutely clear that opponents of womens ordination are in a smallminority. We have already had this argument, and a temporary position was reached, but its clear enough to everyone that isn't adequate on a permamnent basis. Hence the call for a third province.

I cannot envisage a situation where, with women priests now firmly established, that this would not go through eventually. The only people calling for a delay are conservatives who largely don't support women priests.

Anyway, when the CofE splits, I'm sure the English Church of Saint Akinola of Lagos will be firmly against

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 8:03pm BST

While I've generally been sympathetic to the idea that if it's ok to ordain women to the presbyterate, then the episcopate should follow, I see that a problem arises over the role of bishops in catholic thought as denoting sacramental unity and communion. Most catholic Anglicans don't think the Ecclesia Anglicana has the authority to change its orders unilaterally without reference to Rome and the Orthodox.

Posted by: Gordon on Wednesday, 6 July 2005 at 8:17pm BST

"Most catholic Anglicans don't think the Ecclesia Anglicana has the authority to change its orders unilaterally without reference to Rome and the Orthodox."

And you know that how, Gordon?

[I'm of the opinion that *every* Anglican is a "catholic Anglican." But some--- me! me! me! ---are happier to claim that title than others are.]

I trust, in Good Time, that God will bring RC and EO orders in line (and in communion) w/ Anglican ones. Until then, our orders exist (among others things: chiefly to give God glory!) to be a prophetic witness, to those other Christian traditions that do not yet fully comprehend that women, being made equally in the Image of God, are called by God to be priests (and deacons, and bishops) also.

Appealing for the Pope's blessing looks to me to be seeking *worldly* approval (you can't have observed the events of this past spring, and be oblivious to the Vatican's ostentatious *pull*).

We're not called to seek such approval; we're called to be *faithful*


I can't help but getting the suspicion that the position of the Church re her LGBT members is something like a canary in a coalmine. If it's OK to declare *them* to be second-class---presumed to be sinful, unless repentant (of acting in accord w/ their "disordered" orientation)---then who else can we (revert to) discriminate against? (e.g. in the U.S. w/ the AMIA, they've already "grandmothered" their few ordained women: there will be no more after they're gone)

Posted by: J. C. Fisher on Thursday, 7 July 2005 at 6:33am BST

pga wrote: "All the "theological" arguments for the ordination of women have been full of anthropological zeitgeist."

As have been many arguments made by Christians against slavery and racism, just to name a few. So what's your point ? Where those badly argued as well ? Are we never to have any moral or societal advancements past those which existed for 1st cent. Jews in the Middle East ?

Posted by: Simeon on Thursday, 7 July 2005 at 5:18pm BST

I must improve my irony, it needs to be more obvious. I just wonder, what greater wisdom did George Carey have - he did not make the Blessed Tom Wright a bishop.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 7 July 2005 at 8:27pm BST
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