Wednesday, 23 November 2005

RC response to Rochester report

Updated Saturday

The Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales has published its response to the Church of England’s report about women bishops.

The response can be found here as a Word file:
Women Bishops in the Church of England?

The Church of the Holy Apostles in Ft Worth has a copy of it as a web page.

The Daily Telegraph has a report by Jonathan Petre on this today:
Catholics warn C of E over women bishops

Church Times Glyn Paflin RCs and Free Churches criticise Rochester report

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 2:10pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

I thought that the Roman Catholic church did not recognise the validity of any Anglican orders, including the orders of any of its male priests and male bishops. So whether Anglican bishops are male or female would not seem to be decisive of anything so far as the Roman Catholic church is concerned.

However, I cannot see any reference to this in its official response.

Posted by: badman on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 2:39pm GMT

Not yet having read the entire report or response to it, only the DT article, I am somewhat surprised by a few things. One is that the CoE does not have any women bishops and that moving on this is causing such a ruckus internally. Two, is the idea that ecumenism is impaired by women bishops, which seems to suggest that ecumenism is fine as long as the RC position is always paramount. Third, is the idea that moving forward on CoE women bishops, might be halted by what another non-Anglican church thinks about it.

Posted by: RMF on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 3:13pm GMT

Who cares what the Roman Church thinks? They didn't like our translation of the Liturgy into English, either. Then, 400 years later...

Now they don't like women priests and bishops. So, 400 years from now...

Posted by: Kurt on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 6:19pm GMT

The Roman Catholic Church is also about to publish a document, which completely bans gays from entry into the clergy. This is sure going to fuel even more the debate here in England.

Posted by: Alessandro Speciale on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 6:21pm GMT

I haven't read the entire Roman document, but I have read enough to have some concerns. I do agree that this needs to reflect a consistent Christian anthropology. I would simply begin with whether both men and women are fit subjects for baptism, which is the first vocational sacrament (as opposed to ordination). If both are fit subjects for baptism, how are they not fit subjects for all else? If they are distinctive and complementary, and not equally (even identically) appropriate for baptism, do we need a second baptismal rite for one sex or the other?

Toward that Christian anthropology, I find myself concerned about the importance of "natural symbolism." I cannot agree that my physique must of necessity affect the acceptance and validity (much less the efficacy) of the sacraments. I have neither the slim physique of a carpenter used to walking everywhere, nor the olive complexion normative in the Holy Land. It could be said this is argument ad absurdem; but in fact such standards have been used to exclude people of color from orders. What can it mean that both men and women are "in the image and likeness of God" if physical sexual characteristics are so important to sacramental theology?

Posted by: Marshall on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 7:02pm GMT

Document in English can be found here
http://whispersintheloggia.blogspot.com/2005/11/instruction.html

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 7:07pm GMT

From a different ecumenical perspective, my understanding was that the Methodist agreement to merge with the C of E was dependant on women not being excluded from any area of ministry (a point of view that admittedly, I did not hear mentioned in the synodical discussions).

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 7:24pm GMT

Whats it got to do with the Italian Mission anyway?

Nose out, boys.

Posted by: Merseymike on Wednesday, 23 November 2005 at 11:40pm GMT

From the Instruction:

"...those who are actively homosexual, have deep-seated homosexual tendencies, or support the so-called gay culture. Such people, in fact, find themselves in a situation that seriously obstructs them from properly relating to men and women."

WHAT??????

"IN FACT"????

Where on EARTH did they get this fact??

I am utterly stunned that this delusional, nazi garbage be coming from serious 21st century Christians.

They have the hypocrisy to say in the previous paragraph, 'every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided'.

Also, flying in the face of the CONSENSUS (there's that magic word again, Rowan) of biological, medical, psychological and sociological sciences' understanding of homosexuality, the Instruction identifies homosexuality as a sexual disorder.

Medieval barbarism.

Posted by: Augustus Meriwether on Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 3:29am GMT

In fairness to Roman Catholic bishops, their response has been written at the explicit invitation of the Rochester report. The Catholic Bishops do no more than express the logical consequences of the Roman viewpoint in the face of the ludicrously messy compromises the Church of England seems to have to make in order to have women bishops at all. (If we ever do have women bishops in Australia, it may be a t the cost of similar messiness.)

That said, there's not much value in institutional unity with Rome. Let it do its thing, while we do God's thing. With many, I am angry Rome's oppression of gays, women, those who would matty, and just about everyone else.

The great weakness in the Roman position on women's ordination is of course its anthropology--the Vatican view that women cannot represent the male Christ before the Eucharistic table (they have different bits, you see). Being something of a feminist, I could rant about this at length. Pope JPII directed that this could no longer be discussed. But of course it is, by Roman Catholic feminists world wide.

Posted by: BrianMcK on Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 7:44am GMT

"In fairness to Roman Catholic bishops, their response has been written at the explicit invitation of the Rochester report. "

Very true! The CoE requested comments from ecumenical partners. I suppose this allays some concerns about "intrusion." (Of course there is no quid pro quo on such requests?)

Another issue that comes to mind, esp. in light of the recent statements on Mary, are the degree to which desires for Christian unity or maintenance of high traditions, has begun to rub off on Anglican theology. After all the CoE is Protestant, which now that I think of it, is a term that some priests do not like as much as "Reformed," (as in Reformed Catholic) as this allows them to maintain the catholic part.

There is quite a bit in the response on the disruptive effect of having some Christian bishops, not recognized by others.

But given the degree to which the response focuses on tradition and gender, I suppose the opposition all boils down to tradition and the maleness of Christ, and the role of the Bishop and Priest, in representing Christ at the Eucharist.

I always though Christ did fine representing himself, and that our priest or Bishop represented the congregation before him. :)

But I suppose the RC influence in the AC may be turning that idea on it head!

There is mention about the role of God in this—no recognition that God has called women to serve. It all reads as if it is the other way around.

Posted by: RMF on Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 12:43pm GMT

Verging off-topic, I'm afraid, but I was amazed to hear the Cardinal Archbishop of Westminster deny (in a multifaith panel discussion in London on Monday) that the Roman Catholic Church is a patriarchal institution.

How can it require that all its priests, bishops, archbishops, Cardinals and Popes be men - and be run by these men - and not be a patriarchal institution?

I am beginning to think that the Churches are hobbled by their leadership. Yet that does not mean that they cannot be great forces for the worship of God and for good. They amount, after all, to so much more than their leaders. Perhaps it is in the subversive nature of the Gospels that it should be so - "He hath put down the mighty from their seat : and hath exalted the humble and meek."

Posted by: badman on Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 5:47pm GMT

RMF writes: "There is mention about the role of God in this—no recognition that God has called women to serve. It all reads as if it is the other way around."

Amen! I've had exactly that concern that church hierarchy is there to serve at God's calling, not some mere job to be filled, for most of this past year on and off. Very well said.

Posted by: Tim on Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 5:53pm GMT

"The great weakness in the Roman position on women's ordination is of course its anthropology--the Vatican view that women cannot represent the male Christ before the Eucharistic table (they have different bits, you see)."

Would some Roman Catholic, or toe-wetting-in-the-Tiber Anglo-Catholic, be so kind as to explain to this here allegedly-incapable-of-signifying/representing-Christ Christian exactly why, teasing things out logically, the following is not an incontrovertible corollary of the "only penis-possessors may be priests" doctrine?:

1. Jesus Christ took flesh as male.

2. To be "another Christ" or an "image of Christ," a priest must therefore also be male.

3. The Church is the Bride of Christ, and man-woman marriage mirrors the covenantal relationship between Christ and Church.

4. Since only a male can "stand in" for Christ, the Groom, it follows that only females belong in the Church. (Otherwise, male Church members are in effect made "brides" to the male Christ, and both Benedict 16 and Peter Akinola would disapprove, tut-tut.)

5. Therefore, not only must the presbyterate be restricted to males, but also, the laity must be restricted to females (i.e., not just "females must be restricted to the laity").

PS - Assuming you can explain why a woman can't stand in for the Groom but it's OK to have a man as part of the Bride, perhaps you could also explain why, by the same reasoning used to defend the all-male priesthood (Christ was a male, the 12 Apostles were all males, etc.), the presbyterate should not further be restricted to only *Jewish* males? Kindly cite chapter and verse. (But if you cite the "no Jew and no Greek" part, recall the rest of this passage, please.)

Thanks ever so much!

Posted by: Nadine Kwong on Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 10:05pm GMT

Brian, amen to your analysis on the defective anthropology. The notion that a woman lacks sufficient "likeness" to Christ flies in the face of the Chalcedonian Definition of the Incarnation: everything human about Jesus came from Mary. Moreover, isn't a woman, as a person, objectively more like Christ than bread and wine are like his body and blood?

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Thursday, 24 November 2005 at 11:57pm GMT

I thought that the priest was supposed to BE like Jesus, not PEE like Jesus!

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Friday, 25 November 2005 at 1:58am GMT

I think I should point out that the Church of Sweden, which is often called Lutheran-Evangelic, does not do this "representative" theology at all.

(Except, of course, the odd individual).

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Friday, 25 November 2005 at 6:47am GMT

The RC and other churches were asked to comment because the liberal hierarchy of the CofE perceives itself as valuing unity with other churches, and as wishing to work towards union. BUT there was no way the hierarchy were ever going to do anything other than reject opposing views. So, you might ask, why did they bother other people for their views?

My explanation is "liberal dissonance" - liberals like to pretend to themselves that they are "moderates", but in fact they are just as uncompromising on their values as any other group that believes in something....

Posted by: Dave on Friday, 25 November 2005 at 10:31pm GMT

Dave said, "My explanation is "liberal dissonance" - liberals like to pretend to themselves that they are "moderates", but in fact they are just as uncompromising on their values as any other group that believes in something...."

Well I suppose that is a *possible* explanation.

Let's remember also that ecumenism reflects a desire for unity and fellowship that is central to Christianity. And despite my earlier post that there may not necessarily be any quid pro quo re: ecumenism from the RCC, Christianity does not demand or even require any quid pro quo.

We extend the hand of fellowship and love and kindness towards our neighbor because that is what the Lord asks of us.

After all, what did we do to deserve His grace?

Posted by: RMF on Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 4:33pm GMT

Let me cite an important passage from _Inter Insignores_ the Declaration on the subject of the ordination of women from 1976:

From section 5: "The Christian priesthood is therefore of a sacramental nature: the priest is a sign, the supernatural effectiveness of which comes from the ordination received, but a sign that must be perceptible, and which the faithful must be able to recognize with ease. The whole sacramental ecomony is in fact based upon natural signs, on symbols, imprinted upon the human psychology: 'Sacramental signs,' says Saint Thomas, 'represent what they signify by natural resemblance.' (In Sent IV, dist. 25, q. 2, qa. 1-4) The same natural resemblance is required for persons as for things: when Christ's role in the Eucharist is to be expressed sacramentally, there would not be this 'natural resemblance' which must exist between Christ and his minister if the role of Christ were not taken by a man: in such a case it would be difficult to see in the minister the image of Christ. For Christ himself was and remains a man."

So the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church is that a woman cannot properly represent Christ, as an effective and necessary symbol.

By this they do not mean to deny of the full humanity of women; rather it is an assertion of a subjective need for a perception on the part of the recipient of the sacraments necessitating an objective symbol to invoke or evoke the proper and efficacious response.

This view is mistaken not on the basis of any alleged lack of humanity, but because it is an instance of the error of receptionism, making the efficacy of the sacrament depend on the psychological perception of the recipient.

However, the eucharist does not, in fact, depend upon a perception of natural resemblance, but rather upon Christ's ordinance. After all, as I noted, a woman is more like a man than bread and wine are like flesh and blood. Yet Jesus chose the latter as symbols rather than the more "fleshly" paschal lamb and its actual blood that were readily available at the Last Supper, and which already bore a significant weight of symbolism "in the tradition" and a greater "natural resemblance" to flesh and blood, since that is what they are.

Posted by: Tobias S Haller BSG on Saturday, 26 November 2005 at 5:18pm GMT
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