Monday, 3 October 2005

update on women bishops

We haven’t reported on this topic since July.

Jonathan Petre in the Telegraph had a story today about one possible compromise, Williams may give up consecration role over women.

This suggests that traditionalists might accept something less than a “third province solution” if the archbishop did not himself consecrate women bishops (something like the custom in London whereby the diocesan bishop hasn’t for some years now ordained any women (or men) priests personally).

The story doesn’t explain how this would work in the Northern Province: presumably the Archbishop of York would have to take some similar action there. And it would seem unlikely that this solution would work if either archbishop was herself female.

The September issue of New Directions had an article by the Bishop of Guildford, who is chairing the working group producing specific recommendations for the synod to consider: Going forward:

What provision should be made for those who cannot recognize women bishops? The Rt Rev. Christopher Hill, the Bishop of Guildford, bears the responsibility for discerning the possible answer, and here gives a personal view of the issues involved.

The reactions of the flying bishops to the synod vote in July can be found on the Forward in Faith website: Beverley, Ebbsfleet, Richborough, and also Fulham.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 3 October 2005 at 9:49pm BST
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

My heart is broken.
Lois Keen
Priest, Delaware and Pennsylvania, U.S.A.

Posted by: The Rev'd Lois Keen on Tuesday, 4 October 2005 at 1:25am BST

Simon quotes:
> > What provision should be made for those who cannot recognize women bishops?

Should've gone to Specsavers!

Posted by: Tim on Tuesday, 4 October 2005 at 9:39am BST

Currently the Bishop of London ordains no priests-male or female. he ordains all the deacons for the diocese, area bishops ordain priests but not deacons. Perry Butler London

Posted by: Perry Butler on Tuesday, 4 October 2005 at 2:14pm BST

Perry is of course quite right, but the reason for the policy is similar. So although my comparison is not entirely valid, I will let it stand.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 4 October 2005 at 3:13pm BST

I'm loving Tim for that.

You know, you can't catch being female. If you touch them, you don't get filled with 'ladyness' and become all too dirty for God to love you.

It is appalling that the church is even thinking of such concessions to those who oppose what the church has decided through the right and proper processes.

I don't think it is a good idea for the ABC to be validating this message that women are modern day lepers by making sure they don't put their hands on him at consecration.

a) it's tosh and
b) it brings the church into disrepute.

The wonderful Church of Sweden priest, Göran K-S, put it this way:

'Hm... so consecrating a woman backfires? De-consecrating the consecrating bishop?'

Misogynistic madness.

Posted by: Augustus Meriwether on Tuesday, 4 October 2005 at 4:35pm BST

I love Tim's comment - thank you so much, Tim! x

Posted by: trish lindsay on Tuesday, 4 October 2005 at 11:06pm BST

The ways of the world have no business in the Church of God. While women can take up positions in the Church and the Church has already gone off track in allowing women priests, women Bishops are something else altogether and should never be allowed. That doesn't mean that women are 'lepers' or anything like that, I have a lot of respect for women, but women have no business in the clergy of a traditional Church of God, like the Anglican Church.

Tim, for those who cannot recognize women bishops, they can always join any one of the majority of African provinces who, thank God, have made their position on this matter absolutely clear. For should this proposal ever see the light of day, the worldwide Anglican church will indeed split.

Posted by: Kat on Wednesday, 5 October 2005 at 10:10am BST

Some letters in the Telegraph about the original article:
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2005/10/05/dt0501.xml#head1

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 5 October 2005 at 2:00pm BST

Just to say that the Telegraph article is only part of the story - as usual, the Press get fixated on Archbishops. The provision is part of a package that has been discussed by the House of Bishops and will now be further refined by the Working Party chaired by the Bishop of Guildford in the light of their comments, with a view to bringing proposals to Synod in February. It's work in progress, and an attempt to hold the CofE together when women are consecrated as bishops. But you can't easily judge the package on the basis of one part of it. It would be the aim of the House to try to bring something to Synod that represents a concerted view, even though individual members of the House may dissent from what is proposed.

But it ain't fully formed yet!

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Wednesday, 5 October 2005 at 7:16pm BST

Augustus Merivether wrote:

"It is appalling that the church is even thinking of such concessions to those who oppose what the church has decided through the right and proper processes."

I cite the late Dom Anselm Hughes, OSB, monk of Nashdom Abbey from memory, but he had little patience with those who "speak of the Church with all high respect as having quasi-divine or even divine authority, but who, when the context is examined, are not talking of the one Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, the bride of Christ, but at most the Anglican Communion and at least the two provinces of Canterbury and York, the Church of England as by law established".

Posted by: Alan Harrison on Wednesday, 5 October 2005 at 11:15pm BST

But, Alan, being realistic, it is just the Church of England who will make this decision. Churches who don't even accept the validity of Anglican priestly orders really don't have a say, and I don't think their views should be taken into account.

This view of seeing us as somehow the junior partner of Catholicism or Orthodoxy is a surefire recipe for never being able to change anything unless those churches do so.

If the views of those churches are so important to you, then why not join? If I held the sort of catholic ecclesiology of FiF etc, then I'd go to Rome. It should be absolutely crystal clear that the hope of reunification is very unlikely to happen, unless the Italian Mission decides to change itself for the better!

Posted by: Merseymike on Thursday, 6 October 2005 at 10:07am BST

Yes Alan, I was speaking of 'the two provinces of Canterbury and York, the Church of England as by law established.'

And no, I'm not "speaking of the Church with all high respect as having quasi-divine or even divine authority."

It has rules and regulations and procedures to protect itself, its creed and everyone in it. It takes an age for the machinery to grind round to a resolution on anything in it's sort of quasi-democratic way. So, I simply believe that those who can't abide by 'what the church has decided through the right and proper processes' should either: seek to change the procedures that made possible the outcome they dissent from, or go and move to a church that either doesn't have those procedures or where at least those or similar procedures are unlikely to facilitate a similar outcome.

I was not at all referring to any concept of divine authority being at play in this or any other Church organisation. That's a whole different thing.

It is good that the CofE is striving to hold the factions together and accomodate as much diversity of opinion as possible, but it must not do that if it means insulting women by changing procedure so the Archbishop of Canterbury is not soiled by the act of consecrating them as Bishops.

Posted by: Augustus Meriwether on Thursday, 6 October 2005 at 11:33am BST

The idea of the current AB's committing to not consecrating *any* Bishops, so that people who continue to hold conservative beliefs on women priests etc is a NON SOLUTION! The current AB's wont be there forever, and what if the next one's want to ??

It just puts our most conservative brethren "on the slippery slope". The only real solution would be a seperate province; it could exist within the CofE with seperate legislative powers on such issues (rather like Scotland has some independent powers from the rest of the UK).

Posted by: Dave on Thursday, 6 October 2005 at 6:25pm BST

No, a separate province won't work - and if the conservatives get one, then there's no reason why the liberals shouldn't get one too with regard to the gay issue!

I don't actually think the third province idea has a chance of going through - thats why this suggestion has been made, but FiF won't countenance it.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 10:12am BST

Perhaps I could offer a different view about women bishops and women priests which I have come to out of pure cynicism: It is a FACT that the CofE is struggling with the problems of paying clergy. This is manifested in all sorts of ways, such as EU legislation which indicates that priests should be employees and, therefore, be subject to employment laws. There are also problems over the question of housing for retiring priests, pensions, etc. And, as we all should know, the people who invest on behalf of the CofE have always done a downright useless job.

Now, it's also a fact that the number of non-stipeniary ministers has grown year on year and, surprise, surprise, within the women that have been ordained the majority are NSM. (I don't have very recent figures to see what the latest breakdown is.)

So, this leads me to the conclusion that the argument for women priests and bishops has ceased to be a religious one at all and is now purely a matter of economics. That is - the only priesthood we will be able to afford eventually will be unpaid and the corollary is that the majority will be women. It simply wouldn't be acceptable for the majority of the priesthood not to have bishops drawn from their ranks.

Posted by: PhiltheBear on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 4:52pm BST

Dear Merseymike, Is putting the most conservative Anglicans "on the slippery slope", at the whim of future AB appointments, really a respectful and loving way to treat them ? No Way! And the arguement about everyone wanting their own province is just spurious and alarmist. I'm not prepared to see perfectly respectable Christians drummed out of the church or marginalised and vilified in some corner of the organisation. Just because they continue to believe what the Church always has!!

An independent third province isn't needed if proper provision is made - just minimal changes to the existing structure so that flying bishops etc are under a conservative Metropolitan. And we can keep the conservatives within the CofE!

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 7:06pm BST

No, thats just creating a church within a church, and I don't think its viable.

In any case, the CofE would be a better place without them.

Posted by: Merseymike on Friday, 7 October 2005 at 11:03pm BST

Quite, so both a Third Province and this new un-touch magic are non starters.
So, what then? Analysis?

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Saturday, 8 October 2005 at 5:38am BST

Merseymike wrote: "the CofE would be a better place without them."

Dear Merseymike, thanks for spelling out your "inclusive" attitude; which is, I think, quite representative of many liberal-extremists in Exclusive Church... Everyone who disagrees with you is just something-phobic /-ist and should be reviled and rejected.

First FiF, Reform and Church Soc, later most of CEEC and Fulcrum, and then finally purify Affirming Catholics (and maybe even MCU?) of anyone who isn't tolerant enough.

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 8 October 2005 at 11:28am BST

Dave,

A church, the Anglican 'Church' (Communion), the CofE, is an ideological organisation.

Affiliation with it is defined, basically, by agreement with a given system of belief.

'Re-asserters' seek to exclude people from the church because of their sexual orientation (given that it is unreasonable, unbiblical and untraditional to demand celibacy of others), and women from the highest positions in the church.

Those 're-appraisers' who call for an 'inclusive church', are not speaking of ideological inclusivity, or 'belief' inclusivity, they are calling for the inclusion of all manner of people, regardless of their sex, gender, sexual orientation, race, disability or fondness for Harry Potter books.

What should define them as Anglicans, and as Christians, is their faith - not an absence of any particularities of variant humanity.

Do you see? Can I make it any clearer?

Ideology/faith versus innate human givens

This is your confusion with the inclusion issue.

Can we put it to bed now?

Posted by: Augustus Meriwether on Saturday, 8 October 2005 at 3:15pm BST

Dear Augustus

I would also include *all Christians* regardlesss of all the categories you mentioned. Extremists in Exclusive Church only want to include Christians who agree with them.

Currently at issue is whether people ACTING ON their homosexual attractions is sinful.. not whether the temptation itself excludes you... after all we are all sinners!

Posted by: Dave on Saturday, 8 October 2005 at 8:39pm BST

Did you not see the bit where I said re: "it is unreasonable, unbiblical and untraditional to demand celibacy of others"

My sexuality is not a 'temptation'. It is simply a biological/psychological fact - Like the globe Earth orbiting the sun is a physical/astronomical fact.

Celibacy is a calling - a gift.

I am not gifted with a call to celibacy.

No such demand is made on heterosexual Christians. Nobody gets a Christian coming up to them saying, 'Hey, I don't think marriage is right for you - I think you should be celibate.' Even if they did, they would be ignored or laughed at.

'Re-asserters' would exclude me from their congregation for not striving to live out a gift to which God has neither called nor equipped me.

They would also exclude women from the highest levels of authority in the church.

So, in order to identify the focus (along with the other catagories I mentioned) of the campaign, people have used the term 'inclusivity' - and applied it in the 'Inclusive Church' movement.

You seek, I think, to turn this simple concept on it's head in order to try to oppose it.

It doesn't work. Many people who support an 'Inclusive Church', are very sad that it has come to this. We don't want to exclude those who have a different take on Anglicanism - I value the diversity because no person or strand of belief can have the 'whole truth' of God. If the 'reasserters' do decide to walk, then I feel we all have lost.

You can change the way you interpret your faith - I can't change my sexuality and a woman cannot change her sex.

You have the freedom to decide whether God has called you to a life of celibacy - you say that I don't have that same freedom in the eyes of God and so would exclude me from a congregation because I am not celibate even though the CofE is not excluding me. You demand that women be excluded from the highest positions of authority in the church despite the CofE having ruled against that exclusion.

It is because 'reasserters' have excluded and seek to continue to exclude that we call for inclusion. That you then call us 'exclusive church' smacks of desperation. It really doesn't do your cause any good.

The church is going in a direction 're-asserters' do not want it to go - an 'inclusive' direction. You are not being excluded, you are staying put while the church moves. You are excluding yourself.

Sad, but true.

Posted by: Augustus Meriwether on Sunday, 9 October 2005 at 7:06am BST

Dear Dave,

Being "phobic" or whatever is not the same as sharing a particular point of view.

On the contrary, it is quite possible (given that man is an un-consquential animal) to be pro a thing that one is phobic about...

There are racist blacks and antisemitic Jews (fine old Viennese tradition ;=) as there are anti-gay gays.

And there are white middle age middle class males, who are very much against racism, agism, classism and so on ;=)

Pleas try!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Sunday, 9 October 2005 at 7:41am BST

Dear Augustus, this thread was about whether or not space will be made in the Church of England that enables *inclusion* of conservatives who continue to believe the NT and traditional teachings on women in leadership. It may not fit with *your* version of christianity, but I thought that liberals were always argueing for a "Broad Church" - or does that mean "broad only in a liberal direction" ?

"Exclusive Church"'s statement of inclusivity is an oxymoron as everyone agrees with the words they use! What they should say, but don't, is that "we disagree with certain scriptural and traditional Christian teachings on male-female roles and on sexual morality (maybe on the definition of christian, and the relative merits of other faiths too?)". The net effect of giving in to their demands would be the Exclusion of many Christians from the church.

Objectively EC aren't more inclusive, just Differently Inclusive - *including* and *excluding* slightly different groups of people, on slightly different philosophical grounds!

Regarding homosexual behaviour; I think that the "not called to celibacy" arguement is standing Christian morality on it's head. For instance, any single christian could use that arguement to justify having a temporary sexual relationship if they hadn't managed to find someone to marry.. (highly naughty by biblical and traditional standards!!)

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 9 October 2005 at 5:26pm BST

Dear Göran, I agree with you - please reread what I actually wrote. I was objecting to the "sexist" and "homophobic" accusations that some extremist liberals try to use to deride conservative christians; and hence persuade others that they, and their beliefs, are worthless / despicable. I believe you call it an "Ad Hominem" arguement.

Posted by: Dave on Sunday, 9 October 2005 at 5:35pm BST

No, Dave, just Reform, FiF and Church Society would be fine.

Posted by: Merseymike on Sunday, 9 October 2005 at 10:29pm BST

Dave wrote: "What they should say, but don't, is that "we disagree with certain scriptural and traditional Christian teachings on male-female roles and on sexual morality."

Dear Dave, as I have told you many times on Inclusive forum, these "teachings on male-female roles and on sexual morality" are not in the Bible - they come from the Hellenism of ancien Alexandria.

Further, to many, they don't meet Christian or Gospel moral standards.

They have been put in various translations of Pauline and Catholic Letters in the 2nd millennium (12th century, 16th century, 20th century), some of them only in the last 30 years.

Dave wrote: "Objectively EC aren't more inclusive, just Differently Inclusive - *including* and *excluding* slightly different groups of people..."

Exclusivity and inclusivity are mutually excluding. But being inclusive is not excluding, being exclusive however, excludes oneself.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 10 October 2005 at 10:06am BST

Dear Dave,

It would follow from what I wrote, that it is quite possible to be "sexist" and "phobic" and yet be a "conservative", or "liberal" or whatever Christian.

There is no Immunity!

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Monday, 10 October 2005 at 10:39am BST

And my point, Dave, was that inclusion of anyone should not be at the cost of excluding from leadership roles in the church or communion with the church soley on the grounds of sex or sexual orientation etc. Nobody would demand inclusion to the bishopric of someone with a tendency to want to chop peoples heads off willy-nilly, or had a pathological hatred of all things Christian (which is what re-appraisers are often accused of). There are obvious limits to inclusion.

OR - in relation to the proposals - if inclusion is at the cost of treating women in such a shoddy way as to make sure the ABC remains UNSULLIED by the act of consecrating them.

That would be a grave insult to women and the bishops in question.

I would not seek to exclude anyone who wished to devalue women in this way, but I would certainly not support ANY concessions to make them feel more comfortable about it. I'm sorry that if that makes you feel excluded, I'm not excluding you - just not supporting you in that particular belief.

and (I'm sorry Simon)

Are you being deliberately non-understanding, Dave?

You don't give me the choice to marry same sex either. 'celibacy for life or marry the opposite sex' is not a choice for homosexual people. The argument cannot be applied to another subject - there are moral issues about fidelity, commitment, casual sex, consent, and promiscuity that relate equally to hetero and homosexual people.

There is an blatant inconsistancy with how people of your 'tradition' treat the gift of celibacy in relation to hets and homs. I'd be a lot more respectful of the re-asserter arguments if they were just honest about this and acknowledged it.

Hets are just not faced with a similar enforced celibacy. Whether people of either orientation have 'temporary sexual relationships' in the absence of a suitable 'life-partner' is another matter entirely. For homs it is celibacy for LIFE, WHATEVER - 'tough, get used to it loser'.

You have the choice: we don't. You exclude us either from the church or from fulfilment as human beings. Either way, you exclude us from the choices you privilage yourselves with.

This is incomparable to an ideological self-exclusion. Patently.

Asking my church to accept me and stop treating me like a demonic criminal that brings shame on the church, and that church finally beginning to say, 'hmm, weeeellll, okay, let's see'. Is not excluding you. If a person so loathes women of authority and gay people in relationships that he can't bear to be in the same church as them, then he is free to leave - but it is not the women and gay people that exclude him. It is his attitude.

Posted by: Augustus Meriwether on Monday, 10 October 2005 at 1:28pm BST

Hey, this item was about women bishops. I've allowed comments which take it way off that topic. Sorry. Let's stick to the one subject here please.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 11 October 2005 at 11:55am BST
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