Friday, 2 May 2008

women as bishops: Church Times explains

Two articles by Pat Ashworth in today’s Church Times set out to explain what the Manchester report really says. See

Women bishops: choose path you want, says group

Manchester report: the conclusions summarised

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 2 May 2008 at 9:15am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
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“We believe that consensus will only be achieved if arrangements are made which are acceptable to those for whom they are intended, and which will . . . ‘remain in perpetuity’ for as long as they are needed.”

If consensus were a mark of catholicism, this sort of rambling only serves to demonstrate why both the Catholic group and FiF members should have swum the Tiber or escaped to nonconformism long ago. The fact is that this whole question was pre-empted 16 years ago - the existence of such exotic and interesting birds as the bishops of Beverly, Ebsfleet, Richborough and Fulham is proof enough (who would have thought - lowly Fulham a Suffragan See, of sorts - wowee - just wait till you see the chasuble on that one), and if it's not enough, then nothing will ever be enough. If the 'opponents' of women as bishops (euphemism for WHAT exactly...?) really want to get into 'alternative' ecclesial structures, then good luck to them. But none of those structures would be catholic by the standards of those who build them. If you can't cope with a woman in a mitre, then get under Benedict while the welcome mat is still there - most of the Catholic 'opponents' are likely to find the surroundings more congenial, at the very least. But they might find themselves as free as Newman was - for what it's worth.

If you genuinely do not accept women in the threefold order of the Church, then that's fine. It probably doesn't mean you're ultimately going to be comfortable in Anglicanism, especially if it involves subverting your own theological position, or your concept of the Church. So I exhort you, my brethren, get in that river and swim, babies, SWIM!!!

Posted by: kieran crichton on Friday, 2 May 2008 at 6:12pm BST

"But none of those structures would be catholic by the standards of those who build them."

Well said, kieran.

God bless those made female, whom You in Your wisdom called to holy orders! :-)

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 2 May 2008 at 7:35pm BST

Both Reform and FIF say that they do not believe in departing from Scripture and tradition...yet they both accept the ordination of women deacons....not allowed until 1985.

So why not a fourth province for those opposed to women deacons and holding to the older C of E tradition?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Friday, 2 May 2008 at 11:26pm BST

"Both Reform and FIF say that they do not believe in departing from Scripture and tradition"

They can say what they like. Evangelicalism is a departure from tradition BY DEFINITION. One cannot claim to be an Evangelical and adhere to traditional Christianity. FIF, well, as I understand it, they're largely Anglo-Catholic. Reform would certainly claim that means they have departed from Scripture, I figure. That's part of what makes all this so funny. There's this ignoring of the obvious that continues no matter how loud people laugh at the self-delusion.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 5 May 2008 at 7:46pm BST

@Robert Ian Williams:

To be fair to the people at FiF and Reform, there is a pretty solid case for a precedent for deaconesses in the early Church. Even the Orthodox are considering re-introducing them as an order. Thus it's not a question of "introducing them in 1985", but of *re*introducing them after well over a millennium.

However, clear precedents in tradition for female priests or bishops are on much more shaky ground and quite controversial. I know there are some cases such as Junia and the "Bishopess" Theodora that are quoted, but they are hotly contested and above all noticeably rare. Thus for anyone who places high value on tradition as the basis for working in a sacerdotal function in the Church, the case for female clergy is unfortunately very weak, or at least much weaker than I'd like. (Invariably those of us of a more Anglo-Catholic stripe have to resort to other lines of argument to justify priestly Holy Orders for women.)

Posted by: Walsingham on Wednesday, 7 May 2008 at 10:12pm BST

"Invariably those of us of a more Anglo-Catholic stripe have to resort to other lines of argument to justify priestly Holy Orders for women."

Like the idea that since the priest's priesthood is merely a sharing in the priesthood of Christ and the priest thus represents Christ in the Mass. Surely what is being represented is His humanity, not His maleness. To suggest that maleness is an integral part of the Incarnation at least suggests, though I can come up with counter arguments, that the Incarnation is only salvific for slightly less than half the population. An all-male priesthood thus suggests that women are not redeemed.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 8 May 2008 at 2:53pm BST

@Ford Elms:

I think the pertinent phrase is "the congregation is thataway". ;-)

Certainly I'm all for women's ordination. (Sometimes I joke that I like women's ordination so much, I'd like to abolish the male variety. *laugh*) But there is one line of reasoning that some opponents have brought forth where I haven't found a good 100% airtight answer yet: namely, that the Church lives from the means of grace, and that the only way to be sure of the means of grace is to have people in the priesthood who we can be absolutely certain are capable of being priests. Thus the reasoning goes, one must be able to feel absolutely certain that the person wearing the fancy clothing really is a priest.

The 90% airtight answer is the one you just said. I'm still trying to think of the last 10%. The 90% is good enough for me, but not enough to where I can really demand that other people accept it, too.

Posted by: Walsingham on Sunday, 11 May 2008 at 3:38pm BST

Women as Bishops, you only have to watch the Vicar of Dibley, to realise that women bishop just would not be right, and neither would God

Posted by: kenneth moreton on Wednesday, 4 June 2008 at 7:24pm BST
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