Sunday, 25 May 2008

women bishops: the House takes a position

Jonathan Wynne-Jones reports in the Sunday Telegraph that:

…At a confidential meeting, bishops narrowly voted to proceed with the historic reforms and to resist pressure to create separate dioceses free of women clergy.

The decision will dismay hundreds of priests who could defect to the Roman Catholic Church, which refuses to ordain women. It was taken at a meeting of about 50 members of the House of Bishops, at a hotel in Market Bosworth, Leicestershire, last week, and has set the stage for a showdown with traditionalists when the General Synod, the Church’s parliament, is next convened, in July.

During the meeting, the bishops were deeply divided over ways of solving the issue, which has engulfed the Church in bitter debate for decades. Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued that making women bishops could exclude from the Church those opposed to the idea, unless proper provisions were made for them.

He acknowledged that creating new dioceses which were only for men could create further division within the Church, but said that the move would honour promises made to traditionalists when women were first made priests, in the early 1990s.

Following the debate, the bishops decided to endorse legislation – which will now be voted on at the Synod – that would end special arrangements for clergy who are not prepared to accept female priests, including “flying” bishops, senior clergy who operate across different dioceses, ministering to those opposed to women priests.

Instead, the bishops opted for a Synod motion that asks for respect for opponents of women bishops, but does not make provisions for them.

The motion makes clear that a significant minority disagrees with this approach.

The move means that it is now highly unlikely that new dioceses will be created for opponents of women bishops…

Read the whole article headlined Church of England faces exodus over women bishop reforms.

To remind you of what the options offered by the Manchester Report are, see this summary by Dave Walker or alternatively, read the earlier article here:

Report on Women as Bishops to which links to html copies of several more annexes have been added today.

The full text of the main body of the report is available here.

In light of the above report, the following annexes of the report may be of interest:

Annex D - Illustration of ‘Statutory Code of Practice’ option

Annex D, Measure 2 - Draft Bishops (Consecration of Women) Measure (No 2) or here is the PDF original.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 10:37am BST | TrackBack
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Comments

It's good to see the English bench in decisive mode - I wonder how long it will take before they go to water and start undermining this refreshing approach.

"The decision will dismay hundreds of priests who could defect to the Roman Catholic Church, which refuses to ordain women."

Why? Surely they've seen this coming from miles away. Perhaps now is the time to decide whether they’re truly committed to Anglicanism, and if so, to get on with it in a more positive light than they’ve managed since 1992. If not, they all know where the Tiber is. It’s time for them to stop threatening, and start swimming.

"creating new dioceses which were only for men could create further division within the Church, but...the move would honour promises made to traditionalists when women were first made priests, in the early 1990s."

Which promises were they? Excuse me for not remembering everything, but it seems that any promises that made in 1992 were always going to be impossible to fulfill.

"the bishops decided to endorse legislation…that would end special arrangements for clergy who are not prepared to accept female priests, including “flying” bishops, senior clergy who operate across different dioceses, ministering to those opposed to women priests."

And about time too. Someone recently told me that bishops-who-are-women would be an ecclesiological innovation. I disagree. Keeping women out of the episcopate is the innovation in terms of the church's own tradition of the threefold order of ministry - as are the provisions for the *catholic*-minded clergy who inhabit resolution A, B & C parishes. So far we have seen little other than the encouragement, via compromise, of a crypto-congregationalist polity among those who purport to hold a high doctrine of the Church. Anything that addresses this is a big step in the right direction.

Posted by: kieran crichton on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 11:46am BST

If this is true, it is extremely serious indeed. It means that promisses made in 1992 are being withdrawn, that the word of Synod cannot be trusted. This has consequences for every aspect in the life of the Church of England. Why should eccumenical partners trust anything she says? Why should female bishops trust that the decision will not be overturned at a later stage?

Have no doubt, we will see a major exodus. The reason the exodus post 1992 was so small was precisely because opponents trusted the promisses made and stayed because of the provision made.

My guess is that the Synod in July will collapse in a complete shambles as various bishops fight to make ammendments to their own motion. The ABp York has a clear legal mind: he is on record as saying provision was needed. What are the legal implications of all of this. If the CofE has ordained people on the basis that there is provision and it is now withdrawing that, is there a case for constructive dismissal??

And how unnecessary: the Manchester report had within it a proposal that would have worked!

And of course 700 or so anonymous signatures on a letter is nothing compared to the thousands of women who will now be driven from the Church!

Maybe the best thing is to go now - laity first- cut off the quota, withdraw from all diocesan committees etc straight away (if we are so undesirable that should be welcomed) - then seek reception elsewhere. The clergy can follow later, it will be harder fot them to give up home, stipend etc but they may well have legal rights which ought to be tested.

The result will be years of synodical wrangling - how long to get 2/3 of each house in favour of this kind of legislation when the 2006 votes shows there is not that level of support even for the concept of women bishops. At such time such legislation is passed, anarchy will break out. Parallel jurisdictions, overseas primates etc.

All because the bishops are not prepared to hold the CofE to its solemn promises.

Posted by: David Malloch on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 1:09pm BST

If this is true then once again Rowan Williams has backed a conserving option, and, just as interesting, that has just about been rejected. If the report is reliable as given.

Posted by: Pluralist on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 3:32pm BST

I have never understood the idea of alternative oversight bishops in the TEC and CofE. Especially when both Churches opened up the three orders of ordained ministry to women waaay back in 1976 and 1992, respectively. Even back in 1976 I thought these compromises were ridiculous. I'm happy some of the CofE bishops got it right.

Posted by: JayVos on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 3:57pm BST

Well, either women have these traditionally conceived cooties - or maybe women do not.

If women do indeed have cooties, we ought to repent and kick them to the lows which God has ordained to protect men - and other subservient women - from the cooties and the sacramental or other dangers of the cooties.

If women indeed do NOT have those cooties, we ought to repent of our prejudices no matter how long-standing our fears and disgusts and prejudices have been.

This is the stark dilemma for our discernment, our stark choice. I have yet to hear anybody who accepts the competency of a woman to be, say, queen of England make any compelling case for why a woman cannot be called to serve - by God as discerned by the calling communities of, say, Anglican big tent believers - as priest or bishop.

The purist alarms - not wanting to touch a woman, or horrors, even a man who has been involved with being ordained by a woman? - reveal the cootie substance of the matter.

The notion that we follow a Jesus of Nazareth who incarnates and reveals a God who would actually punish someone eternally for getting contaminated with woman cooties - is this just plain silly? Or way too much for a rational person to bear without being overwhelmed with anguish and very great sadness?

Pretty much similar or same theological elements and methods which discerned that God in the past put (ordained) queens on a throne contribute to equally traditional conclusions that God never in that same past put women on those other thrones upon which bishops sat.

It all must be investigated from some best practice angles. One unavoidable starting point for re-discerning simply must be our modern wide range knowledge or understanding of just how highly capable a woman in particular can often be.

Starting with a closed approach to tradition will only keep going in closed circles, since there is no way from inside prejudice to get out of a tilted and closed view.

The clue?

To maintain the woman cooties business these days, one either ignores the abundant evidence of female competencies aside from conception and childbearing, often via the fanciest traditional rhetoric possible. Or one sidesteps the competency issues completely by talking exclusively about purity (which as code innately offers clues to the woman cooties business).

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 4:50pm BST

I concur with DM above in that this WO business is serious business.

The equality/competency of women, including the modern possibilities that God in Jesus may be calling some modern women to do something besides report properly to a particular husband, brother, or other male relative in their daily lives, and besides conception and childrearing - is very, very, very, very serious.

Way too many women around the world are being told they must choose between being mothers or wives and having any life at all outside those relationships and functions. A serious, serious business.

Contrast the ministries of woman A who becomes a neurosurgeon of outstanding quality and effectiveness with woman B who stays at home and raises six children of outstanding citizenship. Is any forced choice between welcoming woman A and woman B actually fair to either woman? Fair to the rest of us? True and whole, comprehensively?

Is either woman's goodness excuriatingly dependent on her proper traditionalistic subservience to a particular man in her daily life?

One often cannot proceed very far into unfolding tradiitonalistic scenarios without getting to that familiar tribal point of finding exactly which man or men is appointed by God to dominate that particular woman?

Given that particular women are excellent, just exactly what is the danger from which traditionalistic believers simply must be protected at all costs? It looks like the point is to be protected, precisely, from a woman being seen to be so excellent, publicly, in church life.

If the contrary is indeed true, methinks I have perchance under-valued Canterbury's genitalia. Or, maybe closer to the point, the genitalia of some of those good traditional males-only believers.

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 5:08pm BST

the promises were always seen as a transitional arrangement, and there was always some doubt as to whether any new priests should be ordained who did not accept the ministry of women priests. the flying bishops and their crew immediately undermined this understanding and sought to create a church within a church. it would be good to see the ground taken from beneath their feet. the time of transition is over. if they want to go, good riddance.

Posted by: poppy tupper on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 5:17pm BST

If this is true and the exodus is imminent then I make a layman's plea that we orthodox stay together and exit together, to the same place and as a group. Priests may consider whether or not they choose to swim the proverbial Tiber but many of the laity will be so devastated by the impending changes that they will finish up without a church at all. So far the traditionalist clergy leadership has been about hanging on in the hope of being allowed to exist in some form within the Anglican framework, but what we need now is Plan B. Do they have a Plan B prepared? What is it? Whilst the clergy consider where their own future ministry lies, what are they to do about their congregations? They will not easily be forgiven if they desert us now. Perhaps it is time for the orthodox laity to take the initiative before we are scattered to the four winds by those who would destroy us.

Posted by: Colin Wrigley on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 7:15pm BST

If this report is accurate then it indicates - remarkably - that a (small?) majority in the House of Bishops of the Church of England has learnt nothing from the recent rejection by the Church of Wales of the attempt to force through legislation providing for women bishops without clear legal and pastoral safeguards for those who are not prepared to subvert apostolic succession. Why can't the proponents of women in the episcopate in the Church of England realise that the sooner they make genuine provision for the significant minority that is not of this mind the sooner they will have them?

Posted by: Britannicus on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 7:22pm BST

Hopefully the report is true and the Church of England has rejected gender apartheid....that would have decimated dioceses like Chichester.

As for an exodus...there won't be one...maybe a small trickle.

The opponents should have the integrity , like the non-jurors and Puritans to leave , but the FIF realise the alternative is living in reduced circumstances and worshipping in disused Methodist Chapels. with ten old ladies in the congregation.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 7:40pm BST

"As for an exodus...there won't be one...maybe a small trickle."

If you believe that, you are in for a shock! Time, of course, will tell; but by then it will be too late to do anything about it....

"the alternative is living in reduced circumstances and worshipping in disused Methodist Chapels. with ten old ladies in the congregation."

No, that is what will be left - empty, listed buildings, with tiny congregations which the diocese will have to maintain.

The proponents can't have it both ways: 1st they argue we have spent years building a church within a church, with its own bishops, clergy and laity , then they argue we are small and will end up with 10 old ladies.

On the otherhand - 10 old ladies wouldn't be the smallest congregation in this diocese.

Posted by: David Malloch on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 8:35pm BST

David Malloch: "If the CofE has ordained people on the basis that there is provision and it is now withdrawing that, is there a case for constructive dismissal?"

Constructive dismissal is what you could claim if your employer were (i) subject to employment law; and (ii) discriminated against you on such a basis as your gender/ sexual orientation, etc. How completely bizarre that a "traditionalist", i.e. someone who is against the C of E having to follow the high ethical demands that other employers have in the area of equal opportuntities in the workplace, should grab at the idea of "constructive dismissal" the moment the pendulum swings against the "traditionalist" premises. In fact, it's not only bizarre, it's an ethical position which seems rather disgusting to me.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 9:09pm BST

David offers a very grim prospect, but at least I agree that the chance of the needed majority to see this accepted by the English General Synod will be no time soon.
So there is no “imminent departure” for Colin, though the idea of there being something tidy and organised at the end of the process is definitely unlikely.

I too believe that as the temperatures cool the future in an undivided Church will look more attractive and the clergy and their parishioners will carry on just as they did before without these formal alternative structures. There will be some very sad processions as priests and congregations walk out into alternative premises in front of whirring cameras and there may be some new “Anglican” churches of the Catholic and Presbyterian sort and bishops from abroad will love to come and visit – but most will accept being tolerated even if they cannot manage to reciprocate.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 10:00pm BST

As a long term waverer, in that my misgivings about women's ordination are ecumenical not impossibilist or headship, this has tipped it for me. I shall join FiF tomorrow. The insularity, arrogance, protestantism and downright lack of charity on the part of the bishops who pushed this contrasts unfavourably with the gentle magnanimity of the PEV's (are they now going to be summarily sacked?) in relation to those who take the opposite view.

The proponents seem to want to talk 'justice' rather than theology, but there will be no justice in this, even for women priests. The Bench has traditionally been elitist in that most of them are from independent schools, and many of them have no great length of service as parish priest. In this new age of equality and justice, will a nice working-class lass ever make it onto the bench? Not on your nelly. It'll be the same middle class people who do market town curacy, followed by a bit of Oxbridge chaplaincy/minor canonry before teaching at a theological college.

If I were in ministry, I'd want no truck with the establishment, rather I'd follow Zechariah 11:4 "Thus said the Lord my God: “Become shepherd of the flock doomed to slaughter" In other words a job in an ABC parish. The "Bench" of "bishops" should have listened more closely to His Eminence Cardinal Kasper, are we Catholic or Protestant?

Posted by: Bob on Sunday, 25 May 2008 at 11:23pm BST

People keep predicting mass exodus. Yet, oddly, the mass exodus never quit happens.

Didn't happen in the US or Canada. Yes, there were a few departures - some to Rome or Constantinople, some to "continuing Anglican" sects. No one pretended to take the property with them.

Didn't happen in the UK either. A trickle of defections here and there.

Of course, Manning et al advised the Holy See that a condemnation of Anglican orders would open the floodgates of submissions to Rome. Turned out that prediction was pure bunkum as well.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 12:01am BST

Swimming the Tiber? Please. There are other possibilities. How about swimming the Río de la Plata? An opportunity for the self-annointed "Archbishop" of the Southern Cone to expand his empire. It should make the line-up for the next Falklands War particuarly interesing.

Posted by: dr.primrose on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 12:52am BST

"Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, argued that making women bishops could exclude from the Church those opposed to the idea, unless proper provisions were made for them."

Substitute "making Black Bishops" and see how it reads.

What a busy summer Dr. Williams has in front of him! Synod and GAFCON and Lambeth and all ... how long a sabbatical will he take to recover from all of this? I hope someone will buy a copy of +Gene's book and send it to him.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 4:33am BST

"...before we are scattered to the four winds by those who would destroy us."

Drama Queen much?

I have to ask the Sturm-und-Drang crowd: is, or isn't God in God's Heaven? Do you believe that Christ rose, and we shall rise with him, or don't you? ["orthodox": yeah, right. Feh!]

God bless ALL you have called to (all 3) holy orders: male and female, straight and gay! Alleluia! :-D

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 8:10am BST

Cynthia, I'm sure that there is a Co-Dependency chapter near Lambeth Palace where ++he could work out his "issues". First step is admitting you have a problem....

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 12:09pm BST

It was the "old ladies" under Mt Sinai who objected to the men pilferring their gold to make their Baal idol that enabled the second set of stone tablets.

Ezekiel 18. Men can live and die on the merits of their own sin and women in kind on their own.

If Eve (aka Cheva) is unforgiven, then the Cherubim of the Ark have no validity and all claims that Jesus is the manifestation of the Jewish Messiah are void. After all, if Eve is unforgiven, and the Cherubim irrelevant, where is the basis of Jesus' priests' claims that he is "the messiah"?

Don't like it? Then Jesus shouldn't have promised gentleness to the Daughter of Zion and then allowed his priests to deny or thwart that promise for centuries.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 12:09pm BST

"anonymous signatures"

An oxymoron, surely?

And, drdanfee, it isn't about cooties. Christ is the High Priest. All priesthood is a sharing in His priesthood. Christ is male, the New Adam. His Mother is the New Eve. Just as both genders had their individual roles in the Fall, so do they both in the redemption of the Fallen. The priest represents Christ in the Mass. How can a woman do this? It is not about cooties. It is not about any kind of sexism, it is about a traditional understanding of the Fall, redemption, and the role that priesthood plays in the life of the redeemed community. Now, I know how I would answer this argument. How do you? If you can only see it in terms of rights, sexism, and human politics, then you aren't arguing the issue, and it should come as no surpreise that conservatives think you don't believe anything and have no respect for them. Frankly, none of these things enter into the argument. I think the conservatives are wrong on this, but you have to argue in terms that are applicable.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 1:11pm BST

Visceral hostility to altar girls, women priests and women bishops probably is rooted not in any refined theology but in something very crude, never openly expressed, and very widespread. I mean simply misogyny. It never strikes a clerical establishment that misogyny could be a form of sin.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 2:29pm BST

Bob: by the way, the anti-women bishops on the bench are just as much from the "elite" as any others. One of the leading C of E diocesan bishops opposed to women's ordination has a background of public school, then Cambridge, then 25 yrs an Oxford don, then becoming a bishop, with no experience of ever working in a parish at all. So don't think you're getting anything more representative of "reality" if you join FiF, please.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 2:52pm BST

Sorry, Ford--but it IS about cooties. Unless you believe that Jesus' maleness is essential---and then you have admitted that woman are irredeemable. What was not assumed cannot be redeemed...

Jesus assumed our humanity---not just male genitals.

In Christ, there is neither male nor female, Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. If you (collective "
you") don't believe that, how can you call yourself Christians?

Nope---this is ALL about misogyny dressed up in bad theology. It has no place in the Church.

Posted by: Doxy on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 4:06pm BST

There is another side to this as well. No doubt that structural non-geographical dioceses would have set up the means for all sorts of malcontents to go to, but the straight choice option - unified equal ministry - also means another basis for the GAFCON led raids, where they have to set up structures themselves.

So we really ought to get used to the ending of geographical monopoly. The GAFCON type thing will only be tiny, but it will involve some departures and finding new buildings etc..

Posted by: Pluralist on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 4:30pm BST

Speaking as someone who's actually in favor of women in pointy hats, I rather miss a sense of magnanimity and generosity on the part of the "victors". Instead, kick them when they're down and exult at their expense.

*shakes head*

Posted by: Walsingham on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 6:02pm BST

"this is ALL about misogyny dressed up in bad theology."

I agree entirely, and I agree that to claim maleness is essential to priesthood is to claim the Incarnation is only redemptive for less than half the human race. My point is that you have to show that the theology of an exclusively male priesthood is bad theology. You don't do that by arguing against sexism, whether or not that is the driving force behind the bad theology. This is the first time I have seen "what is not assumed is not redeemed" used on this website, though I have encountered it elsewhere and I agree with it. That's the point. After all the talk on this website about this issue, why has it taken so long for this point to be raised? Because the Left is far more comfortable making political arguments than it is making theological ones. We need to stop this. If we do have confidence in what we believe, and if it is from God, then surely we can argue from that position rather than pooh-poohing the arguments of the Right as so much sexism. It may well be that, but you have to counter the theological argument, which can't be done with a sociopolitical counterargument. It is what the Left thas been doing and has contributed in no small part to the conservative belief that we believe nothing.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 6:03pm BST

All this talk of swimming the Tiber assumes that Rome is eager to take in a bunch of people who are used to disobeying their bishops and demanding special provisions for themselves. Is there any evidence of this?

Posted by: JPM on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 6:08pm BST

Tush, fie and...who cares.
Isn't it about time that the CofE and all who sail in her stopped paddling in waters that seem too deep even for them and simply grow up into the 21st century. If Rome is foolish enough to accept back the disaffected ( into a fold which they never really left), then, let their ranks swell. Women as neurosurgeons, florists or even bishops - a woman's gift makes room for her in just the same way as does a man's. The shifting cultural moralities are at this time in allowance, not prohibition. Why should the CofE set itself up as a rather querulous and indecisive Canute?

Posted by: KevinMac on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 6:53pm BST

JPM: I think I read that, of the 550 or so clergy that left the C of E for Rome over the ordination of women priests, more than 10% later returned. Someone on here could probably give the exact figures (?). It is odd, though, that people are talking of swimming the Tiber now, when they are the ones who weren't prepared to do it a few years ago - surely the principle of women in holy orders is the same whether they are deacons, priests or bishops.

Posted by: Fr Mark on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 7:14pm BST

"a woman's gift makes room for her in just the same way as does a man's."

No-one's arguing that point, see my posts above. I agree with female bishops, but "They can be surgeons so why can't they be bishops" is no argument.

And, if it was me, I wouldn't bother with the Tiber. If I was to spiritually swim any body of water, it'd be the Bosporus.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 7:47pm BST

"Christ is male, the New Adam."

No and Yes.

The above sentence has to be unpacked.

Christ IS "the New Adam" . . . but we have to understand the OLD Adam, first!

Adam is the one God created from the adama: earth. Adam is the earth creature; the human from the humus!

Adam was not *created* male, but only *derives* maleness *through the act of Eve's creation as woman*. There simply isn't any primaracy to (human) maleness: maleness and femaleness are *fully interdependent*.

Christ is the New Adam: the new Earth Creature . . . who of course isn't a "creature" at all, but the begotten Son of the Eternal Father (Co-eternal Offspring of YHWH, through the Spirit, but let's not quibble)

Adam, in his original created state, felt alone (despite a planet-full of animals). It (and we may properly speak of the Original Adam as "It") NEEDED to be split into two, male and female, to be complete.

Jesus Christ, as the deified "New Adam", inherently has a "completeness" (words are approximations when speaking of the Divine, of course!) through the life of the Trinity. In that sense---while we may assume his normal biological maleness (e.g., in his ritual circumcision)---Jesus does NOT have, I would argue, a co-dependent gender (as we see in "Adam&Eve").

It is Christ's New Adam (in Adam's original, pre-gendered sense) that a priest represents (ergo, a *male* priest embodies the New Adam no better than a *female* priest does).

Just my thoughts (but hardly original---have been around, exposited and articulated far better than I have done---or could do---for ages-of-ages! ;-p)

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 8:36pm BST

"Because the Left is far more comfortable making political arguments than it is making theological ones."

I get really tired of this argument, because I think it's a lie. Or at least shows a willful ignorance.

Those of us who believe the Holy Spirit is leading the church to ordain women have been making this argument for decades. Why keep spouting it when you know they aren't listening? (BTW, the Episcopal Church has also answered the theological objections to the full inclusion of GLBTs in "To Set Our Hope On Christ." Have any of you read it?)

The work has been done. The problem is that you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it read the theological tomes. The small group of clergy and bishops who are leading the charge to destroy TEC don't care about the truth. We've known that since they slipped up and the Chapman Memo made it into circulation.

All they care about is power and control. And this is why, Walsingham, I don't feel the need to keep begging them to stay in the church. They have explicitly plotted to destroy my church---and they are after the CoE now. I still recognize them as fellow children of God---but I feel no compunction to give them what they want. They are like the bully child in my daughter's playgroup---the one who gathered his toys and stomped to the other side of the playground when the other kids had finally had enough and refused to do what he wanted. It was better for him to find a different sandbox than to keep beating up on the kids in that one.

Of course, he wasn't happy, since he no longer had anyone to beat up on. But no one in Sandbox #1 was shedding any tears over that. And why should they?

Posted by: Doxy on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 10:21pm BST

@Doxy:

"All they care about is power and control. And this is why, Walsingham, I don't feel the need to keep begging them to stay in the church. They have explicitly plotted to destroy my church---and they are after the CoE now. I still recognize them as fellow children of God---but I feel no compunction to give them what they want."

"They" are saying exactly the same about "you". Same words, mirror image. I think that should give you pause, don't you?

Posted by: Walsingham on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 11:31pm BST

@Fr Mark:

"surely the principle of women in holy orders is the same whether they are deacons, priests or bishops"

Actually, there *is* a difference. If you take the view that women are not capable of being priests (for whatever reason) or that we should respect the views of ecumenical partners, the historic episcopate would mean that having a woman acting as bishop would break the line of apostolic succession, and with it the entire basis for Holy Orders and sacraments. IOW once you generally introduce women bishops, for all intents and purposes there is no turning back, because even if a priest is male, his being ordained by a female bishop would, according to that theory, still be invalid and he would be unable to act as priest or become a valid bishop himself.

Thus this is indeed a decision of far more import than a lot of people seem to realize -- and is why I think it would have been much better to take ++Rowan's attempt at a compromise.

Posted by: Walsingham on Monday, 26 May 2008 at 11:43pm BST

Doxy wrote: “Jesus assumed our humanity – not just male genitals.”

Doxy wrote: “Nope – this is ALL about misogyny dressed up in bad theology. It has no place in the Church.”

And I say (to Ford) his is all about old Gnosticisms dressed up in bad theology. It’s a sham! It has no place in the Church.

Honestly, I can't understand that you don't see this!

I still believe the trouble in no small measure lies in the English language concept of Gender, misunderstanding all other concepts of Genders.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 6:25am BST

Mark.. Don't you get it , its a bluff...its the exodus myth.

Accompanied with no financial provision, there will be probabblly less than 50 swimmers of the Tiber.

The spirit of the Vicar of Bray still prevails and I wish some one with poetic talents could compose another supplementary verse.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 6:59am BST

The parable from Matthew 18:23-35 could easily apply to how Christians have hypocritically refused to grant grace to the feminine. They claim that Jesus brings grace to all souls who believe in him, but then deny females freedom. Worse, apparently Cheva (aka Eve) is unforgivable, even after Jesus' sacrifice.

The male priests are relieved at their freedom and grateful that pity and mercy that enabled their debt to be cleared, but have then gone on demand that other souls give them their due. In this passage Jesus' position is that such servants be called in and told ‘You wicked servant, I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?’

They would do well to remember that in the master's anger he can turn over the fomerly freed servant to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed. Jesus says “This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart.”

Remember also Luke 12:58-59 "As you are going with your adversary to the magistrate, try hard to be reconciled to him on the way, or he may drag you off to the judge, and the judge turn you over to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison. I tell you, you will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

Those who sought to garnish forgiveness for themselves and then deny it to others have failed to recognise Jesus' contempt for opportunism, hypocrisy and sophistry.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 12:12pm BST

Walsingham - it is of course correct that having women in the episcopate would severely damage ecumencial relations with the Roman Catholics and Orthodox Churches. However, as those churches do not recognise the validity of Anglican orders or sacraments anyway it would not represent a de facto change in substance. It would create a substantial additional barrier to unity with those churches but, it seems to me at least, the ecumenical project has stalled for the foreseeable in any event.

Posted by: Cedd on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 12:26pm BST

"Honestly, I can't understand that you don't see this!"

I do see it. But you don't convince people of the truth of your position by dismissing theirs as nothing more than old fashioned bigotry.

"I get really tired of this argument, because I think it's a lie. Or at least shows a willful ignorance."

Really? We have been talking about this here for a number of days. Why has it taken till now for anyone to make anything other than a political argument? And, yes, it IS necessary to make the argument over and over. Why assume that because TEC published some official statement, everyone in the Anglican world has read and understands it? Is it not safer, and more Christian, to assume they haven't, and need it explained, repeatedly, from the pulpit? I was on the other side of the OOW debate in Canada. If you mentioned a theological point, you were sneered at as old fashioned. Is it any surprise then that, after being treated in this fashion for decades, conservatives have lost patience? Listen to what they are saying: TEC arrogantly does what it wants when it wants, and claims it is discerning God's call. They did it with OOW, and they're doing it with gay inclusion. I see their point. As a gay man, it gives me no comfort that people are willing to bless my relationship without giving me any theological justification for doing so, and just assume that I, in another country, have read some official document. I need to be catechized on this like everyone else. These issues are all of a piece, gay inclusion is OOW all over again. And I support OOW, so imagine what someone who has been sneered at for decades feels when, yet again, his valid points are dismissed as so much bigotry. Why not address Walsingham's issues? I'm more often than not on your side of the fence. I have joined in the sneering. I guess I'm just contrary today, but it doesn't matter how long it takes or how bad "they" behave, we can't just dismiss "them", attractive though that is.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 2:17pm BST

Walsingham,

Rome has already declared Anglican orders invalid - repeatedly, as I recall. (Of course, we disagree, but that is another matter - one of many matters on which we disagree with our Roman brethren.)

Additionally, the Anglican Communion already has many, many priests and deacons ordained by women who are bishops - bishops, by the way, in full communion (through their respective provinces) with Canterbury. In other words, the Rubicon has already been crossed in the Anglican Communion. Women serve among us as bishops (and as priests and deacons), and, as you know, many will be attending Lambeth. If one does not believe a woman can be a bishop, or that clergy ordained by a woman who is a bishop are not really clergy, then it seems one would already have very serious problems - on a practical level - being in the Anglican Communion.

You are right to express interest in our ecumenical relations, of course. But partaking in meaningful ecumenism does not mean simply doing what others do, or insisting that they do as we do.

Posted by: christopher+ on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 3:20pm BST

Sorry Ford E, I see it differently. You do not engage with bad theology by arguing inside its closed circles very often. All that will get you is a predictable circular ride around the closed and interlocking presuppositions common to a lot of bad theology we are hearing preached these days.

I mention cooties because the emotional loadings which continue to be expressed about ordained women are so far as I can tell, still all about contamination from being touched by the wrong person in the wrong way at the wrong time. And all about being spiritually endangered by the unclean touch or proximity - think leprosy in ancient near eastern contexts. All of that strikes a very odd, off-kilter developmental mark to me, every time I pick up that vibe.

The symbolic narrative summary you offer in your post is clearly symbolic religious language, and cannot be used to loop back into real embodiments with real genitals as determinative final considerations. The Bride of Christ includes people with vaginas who are not much worse off for that, just as a wise or foolish virgin of NT pericope/parable could in real embodiment turn out to have a penis.

The moment you go that route, trying to make everything about Jesus' divinity flatly nothing but historical, you get a small god locked into sheer history in a closed box, even if you kick that box right up to Mount Olympus as ancient near eastern deities often did to assert their claims over humanity. So then we must all be Jewish carpenters and the like to be saved, if we all must have penises because Jesus is/subsumes us before God and had an ancient near eastern penis. This is essentially what the serious troubles about circumcision were in the early church?

The rest? Well, then we do get back to the issues: grounds for changing weighed against the grounds for not changing.

Posted by: drdanfee on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 4:20pm BST

"I think that should give you pause, don't you?"

Walsingham---put yourself in the place of women who have experienced God's call to them.

God is CALLING. Do you dare refuse to answer because a bunch of people who are engaged in Gnostic heresy are telling you that you aren't fit to be a priest because you have a vagina? (And implying that you haven't been redeemed for the same reason?)

A call to the priesthood must be affirmed in community. The community of faith has observed the call of God in female human beings. Do they dare refuse to affirm that call because of the same kind of thinking that was used to support slavery in the past?

God is calling. Millions of people have seen that calling and honored it. Millions are edified, supported, and nourished in their life in Christ by female priests and bishops.

Did Jesus lie when he said we will know those who follow him by the fruit they bear?

Did Paul lie when he said that, in Christ Jesus, there is no male or female, no Jew or Greek, no slave or free?

If I were you (or anyone who opposes the OOW), I would "pause" over the realization that you appear to be blocking the call of the Triune God---and calling Jesus a liar in the bargain.

I've seen the call in others (don't have it myself, thank God!). I wouldn't dare tell a woman that she couldn't have been called by God to keep the peace with either the schismatics or Rome/the East.

So, the short answer is...."No. It doesn't give me pause at all."

Posted by: Doxy on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 5:40pm BST

"The symbolic narrative summary you offer in your post is clearly symbolic religious language, and cannot be used to loop back into real embodiments with real genitals as determinative final considerations."

I'm not sure what this means. You seem to be saying that we cannot use the language of symbol and mysticism in the discussing of religious issues, which is odd, to say the least. I honestly find your writing style to be very obscure at times, rather like my own is to others, I'm sure. Is this what you are actually saying? No-one is talking about leprosy, or contamination, or cooties. They are talking about the role the priest plays in the Mass, how that relates to redemption, that we should have a great deal of humility in changing a 2000 year old tradition. At times traditions may be wrong, but not simply because they are traditions. Now I can answer each of these issues within the "closed circles" you speak of. Indeed, to do otherwise is totally unsatisfactory to me. And, as far as I understand what it means, they CAN be used to "loop back into real embodiments with real genitals as determinative final considerations." If by this you mean we can't use symbolic religious language to talk about real people, I entirely disagree. What's the point of religion if it doesn't give us a different framework to consider our reality? I returned to faith because of a realization that the science that had guided me to think empirically of the world really wasn't all that great at describing the human condition. 11 years in Emergency will do that to you. Religious language, especially the religious language of the catholic faith, was infinitely better. That of the Evangelicals appears barren, lifeless, condemnatory, mechanistic, legalistic and soulless, but that's another story. What would you use in place of "symbolic religious language"?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 6:14pm BST

Doxy,
The argument that changed my mind on OOW was given to me by, of all people, Don Harvey. He described his experience with a woman who felt a vocation, and his statements to me was "Ford, as I worked through it with her, I was forced to admit that if she didn't have a vocation, I didn't either." He was the first, indeed, the only, Canadian Anglican clergiman to actually put it in terms of vocation, not job. But, you say, and I agree, God is calling. Prove it. That's what you are being asked to do by those who oppose OOW. Just saying "God is calling, and we Americans know He is calling, and if the rest of you don't believe us, well, too bad" is not only no argument at all, it is arrogant beyond belief. That is what they are accusing you of. Put yourself in THEIR place. Bear in mind that I came to acceptance of OOW based on the above encounter, and didn't have any kind of theological aregument till much later, and had to come up with it on my own. Now imagine someone who didn't have the converstaion I had, who still felt it was destroying the Apostolic Succession, and therefore the sacramental foundation of the Church, who had heard no more than I did, from pulpit or anywhere, to change his mind, who was scorned as an old fashioned bigot every time he tried to mention his concerns. How do you think such a person would feel? How confident would such a person be that the very people who are scorning his old fashioned sexist ways are accurate in their claim to have discerned a call from God that the entire Chruch had not discerned for 2000 years, and that, apparently, is specifically prohibited in Scripture? If they do the former, how can they be trusted to faithfully do the latter?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 6:24pm BST

"Just saying "God is calling, and we Americans know He is calling, and if the rest of you don't believe us, well, too bad" is not only no argument at all, it is arrogant beyond belief."

Ford---surely you know that the first woman to be ordained to the priesthood in the Anglican Communion was NOT an American? Look up Florence Li Tim-Oi...

I get tired of being told that Americans are arrogant. We are simply trying to follow the Holy Spirit, as we perceive it. We are not demanding that anyone outside our own province do the same---either with the ordination of women or the ordination of GLBTs.

So if you want to engage in dialogue with ME, I suggest that *you* drop the "Americans are arrogant" business. It doesn't sit any better with me than my impatience with people who won't do their homework sits with you.

The arguments have been made for decades. But, as you note, it was only a personal relationship with someone who had a different opinion that changed your mind. I have found that people tend to open their hearts and minds to individuals they know, love, and respect much better than they do to arguments.

And that's why I think it's pointless to keep trying to make the case to people who have made it plain that they don't want to listen. (I confess I find it even more wearying to have to keep making the case to someone who already agrees with me!)

Posted by: Doxy on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 6:58pm BST

"Just saying "God is calling, and we Americans know He is calling, and if the rest of you don't believe us, well, too bad" is not only no argument at all, it is arrogant beyond belief."

I disagree--the arrogance is on the other side, refusing to believe that what others hear as a calling is true. It's the same attitude that says, in regard to the life of gays in the church, that it cannot be the Spirit that is leading us this way, because the Spirit isn't leading THEM that way.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 7:42pm BST

@Doxy:

"We are simply trying to follow the Holy Spirit, as we perceive it."

And so are conservatives, which is why Ford and I would like to cut them a little slack.

I don't think Ford or I are remotely arguing for a ban on women's ordination or even on women bishops. Indeed I already said further up that I'm in favor of women in pointy hats. OTOH I also think that the compromise offered by ++Rowan -- a continuation of flying bishops in some form -- would have been a more conscientious way forward.

@Pat O'Neill:

"It's the same attitude that says, in regard to the life of gays in the church, that it cannot be the Spirit that is leading us this way, because the Spirit isn't leading THEM that way."

Same thing I said to Doxy above: "They" say the same sorts of things about "your" side. Which leads me to wonder what kind of Holy Spirit would do things to divide us, when Christ told us to be one. Surely there is a better way that triumphalism or demanding my way or the highway (and that goes for both extremes).

Posted by: Walsingham on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 9:25pm BST

@christopher+:

The lack of recognition of or our orders by Roman Catholics or the Orthodox is a red herring as far as the ecumenical side of the debate goes.

For one thing, the Orthodox technically don't recognize *any* orders outside of Orthodoxy, whether Roman Catholic or Anglican (extra ecclesiam nulla salus).

As for Rome, Apostolicae Curae only reflects the way things stood in the late 19th century and does not reflect the later influence of the Utrecht Old Catholics (the so-called Dutch Touch), starting in 1931, which may well have restored our orders even in Rome's sight. While no official ruling on that has been issued from Rome, there are a few cases where Rome has more or less admitted as much by not fully re-consecrating some Anglican clergy that convert, such as Graham Leonard.

Thus the Holy Orders issue is a much, much more complex one that merely stating "they don't recognize our orders anyway, so who cares".

The thing is, I'm not arguing for a ban on women's ordination or female bishops. I'm simply arguing for greater provision to be made for those who object to women as bishops, rather than merely offering nice-sounding words, and being a bit more charitable to those who disagree with us (charity being a virtue and all that). Merely continuing the flying bishop scheme, for example, hardly seems to be too high a price to pay to buy time for them -- time in which they may well come around to the idea on their own, rather than have it forced down their throats.

Posted by: Walsingham on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 9:39pm BST

“Nope---this is ALL about misogyny dressed up in bad theology. It has no place in the Church.”--Doxy

Right on, Doxy!

Posted by: Kurt on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 9:42pm BST

"Surely there is a better way that triumphalism or demanding my way or the highway (and that goes for both extremes)."

But I know of no one on the pro-gay or pro-women sides of these controversies who is demanding that. No one is saying "YOU must have a woman priest or bishop" or "YOU must have a gay priest or bishop". Rather, they are saying "let us have them."

This is particularly true as it relates to the "division" between the North American churches and the Global South. We're not pushing them to do anything they're not willing and/or ready to do. We're just saying "we're willing, we're ready."

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 27 May 2008 at 11:24pm BST

In this part of London, the vast majority of us come from other parts of the Anglican Communion. Some of us will be using the presence of bishops from our native lands at the Lambeth Conference to petition them to establish a juridiction for us in England. We do not want this and would far prefer structural provision within the english church, but we hope and trust that, if there is no internal provision, others will provide.

Posted by: rose gaudete on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 12:46am BST

Walsingham: Whether or not "flying" bishops are/were/are not approved, trust me... you'll get them anyway... and in fact, even more:)

All bets are off nowdays.

Posted by: cany on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 1:35am BST

Kudos to Walsingham and Ford Elms. I suspect that you may have anticipated some of the responses, but you posted regardless.
Perhaps that is where one can find redemptive suffering in any schism; not in either of the two sides with "the truth", but rather with those who long that all may be one.
Jesus said one must "take up his cross" NOT "crucify somebody else"!
So where one group has lesbian bishops and another has only celibate male ones, I suspect that some of the former will be glad to have nothing to do with the latter (and vice versa) but that much christ-like suffering can be found in both groups.

Posted by: Ley Druid on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 4:29am BST

Walsingham: I thought Graham Leonard did have to be ordained as a RC priest, despite his famously detailed dossier on how he thought his orders should have been regarded as valid. He didn't then become a RC bishop, though, anyway, did he?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 8:28am BST

It's backtracking a little bit, but the earlier discussion about the roles of both masculine and feminine in redemption deserves some contemplation.

John the Baptist saw himself as feminine, as Jesus' bride at Jesus' baptism/annointment in the river (John 3:29).

This feminine emphasis is found in the Hebrew texts e.g. Psalms 110:3-4 "Arrayed in holy majesty, from the WOMB of the dawn you will receive the dew of your youth. The LORD has sworn and will not change his mind: “You are a priest forever, in the order of Melchizedek.”" This passage is referred to by Paul in Hebrews 5:6.

Contemplate the Daughter of Zion imagery in Isaiah 49 e.g. "the LORD says— he who formed me in the womb to be his servant to bring Jacob back to him and gather Israel to himself".

Then contemplate the dew of heaven blessing to Jacob in Genesis 27:28 "May God give you of heaven’s dew and of earth’s richness—an abundance of grain and new wine."

See also Hosea 14:5 "I will be like the dew to Israel" or Micah 5:7 "The remnant of Jacob will be in the midst of many peoples like dew from the LORD, like showers on the grass, which do not wait for man or linger for mankind."

See also Isaiah 53:11 "After the suffering of his soul, he will see the light of life and be satisfied".

The bible affirms the desire of the masculine for the feminine, and that she manifest desire in return. The bible sees that redemption involves mutual desire and respect both between the masculine and the feminine, and between heaven and earth.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 10:45am BST

@Fr Mark:

Graham Leonard and other recent converts to Rome were consecrated sub conditione, meaning that Rome now considers it possible that Anglican orders are indeed valid. Previously it was standard practice to always fully reconsecrate, a reflection of Apostolicae Curae.

It might seem like hair-splitting, but for Rome to go from appraising our orders as "utterly null and void" to "hmmm, maybe" is quite a step for them.

Posted by: Walsingham on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 10:55am BST

@Pat O'Neill:

The compromise offered by ++Rowan would indeed have been "you have keep your all-male clergy and we get women bishops". That would have been a win-win solution, I think. What was actually adopted, as I understand it, was the end of flying bishops and also the end of individual parishes and dioceses to be able to stay with male bishops as a matter of principle.

What I'm criticizing is thus not the introduction of female bishops. Indeed I'm glad that the C of E has now taken that step. (Honestly, I've received Communion from female priests many times, so I'd hardly be against the idea.) Where I quibble is the *way it was done*, which more or less forces everyone in the C of E to accept them, whether they like it or not. It's a question of degree.

In fact I know a number of theological conservatives from other denominations (mostly Lutherans, Catholic traditionalists and even an SSPX supporter) who admired the flying bishop concept, and saw it as a way forward for them in their churches as well. Indeed it may even have been a way for Anglicans or Old Catholics to unite with Rome.

So this is indeed a victory for supporters of women bishops. Unfortunately, I would class it as a sort of victory that a certain Pyrrhus would have been known for. And that has me worried for the future of our Anglican church.

Posted by: Walsingham on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 11:05am BST

"Where I quibble is the *way it was done*, which more or less forces everyone in the C of E to accept them, whether they like it or not."

How does it force them? Does it say "you must call a woman priest to your parish? Or "you must elect a woman bishop?"

The only "force" I see is one that says, at most, "you may not deny that these women ARE bishops, by refusing to accept that those they ordain are priests, or that those who consecrated them cannot consecrate others."

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 11:18am BST

FWIW another example of an Anglican clergyman being ordained sub conditione by Rome thanks to involvement by Old Catholics: John Jay Hughes. Hughes in turn did a pretty devastating analysis of Apostolicae Curae -- *after* his conversion.

http://www.jstor.org/pss/1876565
http://www.blackwell-synergy.com/doi/abs/10.1111/j.1741-2005.1971.tb02103.x?journalCode=nbfr

Posted by: Walsingham on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 11:33am BST

Walsingham: interesting, thank you. I think Mgr Leonard is a Protonotary Apostolic, though, rather than a RC bishop, isn't he, which would mean his episcopal orders weren't recognised, wouldn't it?

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 12:11pm BST

@Pat O'Neill:

It forces individual conservative parishes to accept that if and when a woman becomes bishop of their diocese, they have no recourse to alternate oversight, as they currently have with flying bishops.

It cuts the other way, too: What if a liberal parish doesn't agree with their current conservative bishop for whatever reason? Let's say a conservative bishop refused to confirm a gay person or ordain a woman as priest. What then?

It's not a perfect solution, but it does at least provide a temporary vent for frustrations and dissent without having to leave the church entirely, or even consider it. If we really want to be an inclusive, big-tent church -- and I certainly hope we do -- then we have to find a way to accommodate as wide a range of views as possible, provided of course that certain red lines are not crossed (such as the Creeds). That includes conservatives by definition.

It also likely provides a way to give people time to adjust to the concept of women bishops and to see they aren't the end of the church -- while not forcing them to accept it for the time being. I really don't see a plausible reason why that shouldn't at least be on offer, particularly not when those of us supporting more acceptance of gays and female clergy do so in the name of tolerance and inclusion. Inclusion has to mean *everybody* to be meaningful.

Posted by: Walsingham on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 12:41pm BST

Doxy,
I know Americans weren't the first, but they receive the blame because of HOW it was done. "We are simply following what we believe is the call of the Spirit to us" is disingenuous. So is everyone else. It's the unquestioned assumption of rightness, evident in both Right and Left, that appears as arrogance. Sure the tactics of the Right are far more malicious and underhanded, but the belief in rightness, and the rhetoric of defending some great cause, is identical. Each side has wrapped itself in holiness in defence of its position. TEC might well have second guessed Herself in internal deliberations, but there is no outward indication of that. That's the point. It's evident in the consecration of +VGR as well. For the record, I have great respect for, and have frequently defended, his election and consecration, and I believe that his behaviour in the face of viscious, unrelenting, self-righteous attack is exemplary. I'd be glad to have him as my bishop, from what I see of him. But would it have been such a great crime, at a time when TEC was warned that it would have severe consequences, to say "We believe ourselves led by the Spirit in this, but we will forbear for now so as not to become a stumbling block for those of weaker faith"? That is what St. Paul calls us to do. It is no exaggeration that in some places this is one of the reasons people have for hating Christians. We're called to bear one another's burdens, so how does it look when people in TEC dismiss this very real threat to the lives of Christians who will suffer for a decision they have not made? Humility, forbearance, compassion for the weakness of others, putting other's needs before one's own, these are all Christian values, important ones. I don't practice them all that well, but I get tired having to continually make the case that we ALL should practice these virtues. We can see the way the Right fails in this regard. Can you not also see how the Left, particularly the actions of TEC, also fails? I think TEC is being treated abominably in this, I am just trying to point out one of the reasons why. It's interesting that you seem no more open to the idea than Evangelicals are to the idea that their behaviour is less than exemplary. You may well be more like them than you want to think.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 2:56pm BST

Walsingham:

But if those conservative parishes never experience a woman priest or bishop, how will they come to adjust to the facts of there being women priests or bishops? The "flying bishop" idea simply lets them shut themselves out from the wider church and pretend that none of it affects them at all...especially, IMO, when they start insisting that they won't accept a "flying bishop" who has ever had anything to do with consecrating or ordaining a woman.

THAT, as others have pointed out, is the "cooties" attitude...that having once "touched" an ordained woman, the bishop is eternally tainted. It reminds me of the dog breeders who will reject breeding their males with a female who once mated with a dog of another breed...a collie with a shepherd, for example...as though the female was forever incapable of producing pure-bred puppies after that.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 4:28pm BST

Ford, Bishop Robinson's consecration was unwise. Even if TEC ignored the rest of the world, it should have considered the mood in the US. The Massachusetts Supreme Court had just ruled in favor of same-sex marriage; the US Supreme Court then struck down Lawrence v. Texas. Things happened too fast for many Americans. I realize that I agree with you on political, not Christian grounds.

Regarding stumbling blocks, how much forbearance is enough? Various American Protestant groups have ordained women since the eighteen-fifties. TEC started ordaining women in the 1970s before the internet and live TV covered every centimeter of the planet. Yet I can imagine that the decision on Gene Robinson was a mixture of defiance of the world and the politically dominant order in the US. You must recognize what trauma the US has suffered as a society in the past eight years. We've had a president imposed on us by the Supreme Court, then 9/11, then two disastrous wars with torture and domestic spying openly touted by the present government. American society is in utter confusion about so many things.

Everyone has talked about TEC's arrogance; have you considered the anger, fear, and genuine anguish that so many "liberal" Episcopalians feel, both as Anglicans and as Americans? We have seen our country and our denomination slipping away from us. Conservatives go on endlessly about "the historic faith." Meanwhile our faith in America, our belief about what our country means has been destroyed before our eyes and the very people destroying it ally themselves with Bishop Akinola. In consecrating Bishop Robinson, TEC made its stand for the kind of world and church it wants to see. This does not excuse its actions; it only offers partial explanation of how TEC could do the right thing at the wrong time for a mixture of right and wrong reasons.

I regret that Gene Robinson did not have the wisdom to refuse consecration. I regret that Americans are in general so terribly parochial and ignorant to think we can do as we like and the rest of the world will just deal. Now we reap the wind. Unfortunately, the Middle East reaps the whirlwind of our folly. But for TEC, there is no turning back. Bishop Katherine is the closest thing to a diplomat TEC has. She's doing her best.

Posted by: Susan in Georgia on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 4:41pm BST

Walsingham--my problem with flying bishops is the hypocrisy of "traditionalists" calling for an end to nearly 2,000 years of geographically based bishops, while decrying any other change (i.e., the OOW) as against scripture and tradition. They can't have it both ways...and if they admit that things in the church occasionally need to change, then they have to admit that the OOW is not necessarily out-of-bounds.

Of course, they won't...because "tradition" and "scripture" are what they say they are, and nothing else.

Posted by: Doxy on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 5:04pm BST

"TEC might well have second guessed Herself in internal deliberations, but there is no outward indication of that."

Ford---This kind of statement makes me crazy. We deliberated these measures in our General Convention for FORTY YEARS!!!! Those were not "internal deliberations." They were done in public, in the full light of day. No secret votes in Synod. No closed-door sessions.

We do things in the light. Period.

It is not our fault that people chose not to pay attention until they thought they could make some hay out of 40 years of open conversation, arguing, and dialogue.

By "making hay," I mean either get a bishop's mitre or steal valuable church property...

This is why I have very little sympathy for the conservative position that they should be allowed to hold the church hostage over OOW and GLBTs. We have made plenty of accommodations for conservatives (including allowing dioceses to bar women priests)---but it is NEVER enough. Because they don't want accommodations. They want capitulation. They want unconditional surrender. They want the franchise.

"We're called to bear one another's burdens, so how does it look when people in TEC dismiss this very real threat to the lives of Christians who will suffer for a decision they have not made? Humility, forbearance, compassion for the weakness of others, putting other's needs before one's own, these are all Christian values, important ones."

We are trying to honor those values by recognizing the call of God for women and GLBTs in *our own church.* Why should those outside our church and our culture get to veto our recognition of the gifts these people bring to us? Especially when those people have been vilified so badly in the past? We are finally putting THEIR needs first.

"It's interesting that you seem no more open to the idea than Evangelicals are to the idea that their behaviour is less than exemplary. You may well be more like them than you want to think."

The difference, Ford, is that I don't want to kick them out of the church. I will kneel at any altar rail and take communion with them. I do not deny that they are Christians.

None of that can be said for the voices leading this mess. So tell me again how I'm like them?

Posted by: Doxy on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 5:07pm BST

Another recent example is the parapatetic American bishop aptly named Pope, who went to Rome, came back when he found out they wouldn't let him be a bishop, and has now re-poped.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 5:34pm BST

@Pat O'Neill:

Actually, there is some precedent for non-geographical bishops -- in the Celtic church (whose lineage we as Anglicans sometimes like to claim) they were quite normal. The diocesan structure we now have is actually more a creature of the Latin church that was imposed in Britain later, and was modeled on the Roman Empire, not on Christian doctrine per se. (Even the word "diocese" was originally a Roman secular administrative unit and is nowhere mentioned in the early Church.)

So long as the non-geographical bishops act in accordance with the will of the Church as a whole (that is, licensed by Synod to do it, and only acting on invitation of the local bishop and parish, not invading) then I don't see a doctrinal problem here. It only becomes a problem when it happens against the wishes of the local church.

Flying bishops also open up the only structural way I know of to have an "I'm OK, you're OK" kind of church. So long as each side accepts the other as being legitimate Anglicans, and there is institutional unity, I'm happy to live with it.

I don't know if it really would convince people to accept female clergy, either -- but at least it leaves the door open for it to happen of their free will, which I think is enough to argue for it. And like I pointed out with the example of a conservative bishop refusing to do things us liberals would like, it cuts both ways. I'm sure there are parishes in Fort Worth that wouldn't mind having a woman priest, for example...

Posted by: Walsingham on Wednesday, 28 May 2008 at 7:55pm BST

"The only "force" I see is one that says, at most, "you may not deny that these women ARE bishops"

And that is exactly the point! If one accepted that they were bishops and then wished to reject their ministry the proposed code of practice would meet one's needs. But those needs would be rooted in mysogyny and ought not to be met. It would indeed be equal to refusing a black bishop etc.

BUT if one believes, as most of the opponents (at least in England) do, that 2000 years of tradition and the current practice of most of christendom doubts that they are bishops - it is simply not possible to be confident in the validity of their sacramental ministry. One may reject this theology, one may wish to erradicate its adherents from the CofE, but one cannot claim that its needs are met by the code of practice.

Rightly or wrongly, they are rejected not because they are women but because there are doubts as to whether they are bishops.

Posted by: David Malloch on Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 12:50am BST

"Rightly or wrongly, they are rejected not because they are women but because there are doubts as to whether they are bishops."

But what lies at the heart of this doubt? A belief--based on a false reading of the Scriptures--that women are incapable of emulating Christ? Will someone please find me something, anything, where Jesus said only men could minister to the people of his church? Please don't point to the fact that he chose only men as apostles...that is, at best, a cultural artifact of the early first century or, quite possibly, a deliberate rewriting by late first century men to defend their control of the church.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 11:12am BST

"how much forbearance is enough"

How many times must I forgive my brother, seven times?

"what trauma the US has suffered as a society in the past eight years"

Don't go there. I generally agree with you on this topic, it seems, but America is the most powerful nation on the planet, culturally, militarily, economically, in any way that power is measured. Try chronic over 20% unemployment, massive out migration that sees families everywhere split apart, a poor economic situation, and the destruction of the industry that brought your ancestors to these shores in the first place and that has defined your identity and culture for 500 years. The cod moratorium destroyed the only reason most rural communities had ever existed in the first place, and those rural communities are the engine of our culture. Add to that the fact that this culture was already under serious threat as a result of the mass market consumer culture coming over the border from the US daily, and you get our situation. A dodgy election result seem like a pretty small challenge to your national identity to me. You had a hazy election? So? We all do. Sorry, while I am pretty much on your side, I can't go the "poor America" route.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 29 May 2008 at 1:17pm BST

Walsingham,

I do not believe the question of Rome's position on the validity of Anglican orders is irrelevant in all this when some - not you - argue that, for reasons of ecumenism, the Church of England must conform to an ostensibly universal, "catholic" practice as regards the ordination of women. Hasn't the new Bishop of Rome made some sort of statement about the continued validity of Apostolicae Curae? I thought he had. Now, of course, Rome has said that no one is really "church" at all anyway, except the RC Church and, in a limited way, the Orthodox, so it seems optimistic to think our Roman brethren have a comprehensively positive view of our orders. I am aware of the impact of Old Catholic orders on all this, but doesn't that really mean that *some* Anglican ordinations *might* be valid, in Rome's view, based on one's particular canonical "lineage" - not that all Anglican orders must thus be valid?

In any event, that is related to the odd argument that the C of E should not have women bishops out of deference to Rome, while we Anglicans remain collectively unconcerned about how Rome feels with regard to, say, clerical celibacy. That's selective ecumenical concern, and one has to wonder as to its origins. Your own point, however, is about maintaining a big tent. There, I just have to wonder - and the question has been posed in this forum already - what happens if and when a woman is called as Archbishop of Canterbury. Does one then need "alternative primatial oversight" for England? Where does it all end in the realm of parallel jurisdictions? Is this, in the end, about creating a global space - a big province - in which women may not serve as clergy, perhaps GLBT persons as well? Or should there be one alternative global province without women or gay people as clergy, and one in which women may be clergy but not gay people? Where does it all end when it's thought through?

Posted by: christopher+ on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 12:30am BST

@christopher+:

You're mixing apples and oranges -- and misrepresenting my argument to boot.

I have nowhere, I repeat *nowhere*, argued against women bishops. Nor have I argued for delay on their introduction. Quite the opposite, in fact.

I *have* argued for some institutional provision for those within Anglicanism who oppose women's ordination out of good faith. Essentially this means a continuation of the flying bishops scheme. If some want women bishops, fine. If some don't, that's fine, too.

As for a female primate, there's an old saying: "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it."

As to the issue of recognition of Anglican orders, what then-Cardinal Ratzinger said about Apostolicae Curae was that it continued to be true. If you read the actual text, it makes a statement about the state of events in the 1800s, not today. So it says nothing whatsoever about the state of events *today*. It furthermore recognizes that while the rites were changed back to a "valid" form (from their point of view), the line of succession had been broken. Which means, simply enough, that if a valid line of succession is re-introduced, the rites are sufficient to carry on the succession. Which is *precisely what has happened.*

So by confirming Apostolicae Curae, Rome does not in any way actually say they think our orders are still "broken". They say that they still believe they *were* broken at some point in the past.

Meanwhile at least in North America and Europe, every current bishop is almost certainly in an Old Catholic line of succession. Old Catholics have participated in enough ordinations since 1931 -- and their successors in turn -- to make the distribution of Old Catholic orders across the entire C of E, TEC, ACC and SEC a near-certainty. How it looks elsewhere in the world, however, I don't know.

Lastly, Rome has not said nobody but them is "the church". Reaed "Dominus Iesus" more carefully:

"The Churches which, while not existing in perfect communion with the Catholic Church, remain united to her by means of the closest bonds, that is, by apostolic succession and a valid Eucharist, are true particular Churches." (Dominus Iesus §17)

Posted by: Walsingham on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 10:46am BST

Walsingham,

No, I am not misunderstanding or misrepresenting your position; I understand and quite respect your position. You are not against the ordination of women as bishops (and *nowhere* did I say that you yourself were). Rather, you seek to make provision for as many people as possible to remain in good conscience in the Church of England and/or the Anglican Communion. Laudable.

My concern with regard to your position is where creating separate jurisdictions for those opposed to the ordination of women (or others) leads in the end. Your answer: "We'll cross that bridge when we come to it." My response: Fine, but assuming we will eventually come to that bridge and have to cross it, what will it mean for those who are, in the interim, living in separate jurisdictions? Wouldn't we be dealing - for perfectly well-meaning reasons of making provision for all, mind you - somewhat less honestly with the fact that women serve in all orders of ministry in the Anglican Communion? I simply don't see how those utterly opposed to WO would be happy with any interim solution for very long.

Perhaps I am wrong on this; perhaps this is similar to allowing the ordination of gay people only in some provinces and not insisting that everyone do so. But the underlying problem is the same: One must eventually ask oneself: Is it possible to remain in full communion with those with whom I disagree so completely on this issue (whichever it might be)? If not, do separate jurisdictions then really solve *anything* meaningfully and sustainably?

As to the issue of Anglicans orders, I would be delighted if one of our ecumenical challenges with Rome could be solved - at least partially - in the way you suggest. I was not referring directly to "Dominus Iesus," however, but to Pope Benedict's restating of some of its points in a document released last July. From the New York Times coverage:

"The document released Tuesday focused largely on the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church, which it defined as being traceable through its bishops to Christ’s original apostles. Thus, it said, the world’s Orthodox Christians make up a church because of shared history, if 'separated' from the 'proper' Catholic tradition, while Protestants split from Catholicism during the Reformation are considered only 'Christian communities.'"

The basic point in even mentioning this is that Anglicans need only worry so much about how any actions we take impact Rome's view of us. If I were being especially cynical, I would say Rome's primary concern in not having Anglicans more generally ordain women - especially as bishops - is that that it makes them "look bad" (at least in Europe and North America, though perhaps elsewhere, too, where many Roman Catholics favor WO.)

But, of course, they certainly have some well-intentioned concerns about being able ultimately to enter into full communion with us, which is more difficult - if not impossible - from Rome's current perspective the more we Anglicans affirm the ordination of women to all orders.

Posted by: christopher+ on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 2:46pm BST

Doxy, I have gone at this very aggressively this week, and have inflamed your anger, for that I apologize. This is obviously something you feel very passionate over, as do I about what I still perceive as the highest authorities of the Church simply not getting it. I acknowledge the arrogance of that, and try to work around it, not always successfully. We can each vent at each other, but it won't get us anywhere. I know TEC wasn't the first, but She did do it against the concerns of others in the Church, and her ordination of Gene Robinson is certainly seen by some as continuing this attitude, rightly or wrongly, of not caring what others feel. Ordained women do cause major issues for a lot of people for a lot of reasons, and these issues should be answered, not dismissed. And yes, we do have to keep saying it over and over, clearly, publically, frequently. For how long? How many times must I forgive my brother, seven times?

You can't expect lay people in other countries to have easy access to the debates of TEC, and it behooves TEC to, not explain itself, but preach its message. And not only TEC. I remember the debate in Canada. It was the reason I left the Church for nearly two decades. My attitude then was exactly the attituide of conservatives now to "liberalism". Indeed, if one brought up the very significant issues to do with sacramentality, one was sneered at as old fashioned and sexist. It was manifestly a political decision, which shows a great lack of understanding, first of all. I note that for most issues championed by liberals, the approach is that something represents a long standing bigotry and injustice in the Church that must be corrected. No-one ever seems to ask "Why is this the Tradition", but rather starts from the premise that the Tradition is wrong. And is it so wrong to say "I believe the Spirit is calling me to this, but I will not act out of regard for the concerns of the majority of the Church"? it seems to me to be a humble admission that my certainty might be misguided.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 5:41pm BST

"We are finally putting THEIR needs first."

Are we? Or are we putting first our need to see ourselves as defenders of the downtrodden, in the same way the conservatives are clearly putting first their need to feel like they are persecuted defenders of God's truth? I am a gay man. The Church wants to offer me marriage in perceived redress of past injustices. There are better ways of atoning for past sins than tearing apart the Church in which I find my spiritual home offering me something I genuinely doubt was meant for me. If I seek marriage, am I merely seeking validation, as though marriage had anything to do with validating relationships, and if redemption with all that it entails isn't enough valdiation, what could possibly be? Or by resisting, am I trying to make myself out to be some modern uberChristian? This is the thing. How many times is our championing of the rights of others, or of the principle of Scriptural authority, or of some perceived tradition, really about our own need to portray ourselves as championing some cause or another? We have a calling to defend the downtrodden, to defend the Gospel, no question. Yet the vehemence with which some, and I include myself in this, defend their positions certainly seems to indicate that the issue is more about the person doing the defending than the principle being defended.

As to your not wanting to kick anyone out of the Church, I agree, yet, female clergy do that by default for those who cannot accept them. A person functioning as a bishop while not actually being one destroys the sacramental life of the Church. This isn't an issue for me, since I would not question a woman's episcopte, but for those who do, once she has been consecrated, the very heart of the Church's sacramental life has been demolished, so they ARE kicked out, whether or not it is your desire to do so. I would be in the same boat in Sydney, since I believe a Eucharist "celebrated" by a lay person is not a sacrament. I don't understand the headship argument enough to counter it. It just seems bizarre to me.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 6:16pm BST

Ford
"And is it so wrong to say "I believe the Spirit is calling me to this, but I will not act out of regard for the concerns of the majority of the Church"? it seems to me to be a humble admission that my certainty might be misguided."

It's an interesting point! Would you, if you were 100% certain that God was calling you to do something, act against what you perceive to be His will, especially if your whole church supports your discernment? Simply because others in other countries, who have not yet undergone the same discernment process, are not hearing the same message?

Yes, it can be seen as a humble admission of possibly being misguided. But can it not also be seen as deliberate disobedience to God? And isn't it precisely this tricky balancing act we're discussing here?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 6:40pm BST

It comes down to something that most Christians aren't willing to do. Compromise. It is very hard for me to attend a charismatic service, but I've done it, if not for being graciousness to God and not necessarily to people who had invited me. Remember Ford, those who feel they were kicked out over WO issues were the ones who opened the door to let themselves out. It was their decision, plain and simple. They were unwilling let and let live over this and made an conscientious decision to leave. In reality they may well feel uncomfortable staying, but obviously their faith isn't (wasn't) strong enough to withstand the challenges of worshiping in a church where they are challenged. Sounds like Christ doing His work I'd say.

I think God would be more happy with us swallowing our pride and attempting to at least come together and try to sort things out. The liturgy will change anyhow, in about fifty years!

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 8:03pm BST

"Would you, if you were 100% certain that God was calling you to do something, act against what you perceive to be His will, especially if your whole church supports your discernment?"

Yes. How is one to be 100% certain of such things? Even if I had a vision, which is vanishingly rare in the testing of vocations, I might still be misguided. I may well think I discern the call of God. My parish might think likewise. But if my parish's support can be taken as evidence of vocation, surely the opposition of the worldwide Church outside our parish walls can at least be considered as evidence to the contrary. The Church isn't the parish, after all. The catholic vision of the faith is of a world wide community. Sure culture enters into it, but if people in other cultures don't get to comment on our actions, we don't get to comment on theirs, which means that we cannot oppose injustice outside our own cultures. Far from saying that another culture is not like ours, so has nothing to say to us, is it not better to consider that the very difference of that culture might have something valuable to say to us, for starters? It might not, all the same. The other option would be to say that I and 256 people are right, and millions of others around the world are wrong. Add in the fact that, as is an argument in OOW, all the billions of Christians who went before also never understood that such a person as me could be called to this. I would have to say that the witness of billions of people across 2 millennia should at least be considered to have as much weight as the current perception of 257 moderns. I realize this is idealistic, and given the current "sad divisions", to quote one of my favourite communion hymns, is impossible. Still, I think it is a good starting point to guide the attitudes that enter into our decisions. TEC's attitude is to proceed in confidence that She has discerned God's will for Her, though others might be led differently, according to the realities of their culture, etc. That's all fine, but it does give the appearance of arrogance to those who not only are in a different culture, but for whom certain actions actually do severe and irreparable damage to the world wide community of which we are supposed to be a part. Either our neighbours matter or they don't, and just saying that we are doing this in isolation in our own bailiwick and not demanding it of others is besides the point. No national Church exists in splendid isolation. The world is our bailiwick, and what happens on one side of the globe does affect those on the other side.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 8:33pm BST

' "The document released Tuesday focused largely on the Vatican definition of what constitutes a church, which it defined as being traceable through its bishops to Christ’s original apostles....'

On this definition, (it would mean) there are no Churches ! None of the denominations with bishops can trace back to ' Christ's original apostles'. Pious imagination and devotional warmth fill in this blank left by history. But it's no good Joseph Ratzinger using his new job to make (further) untenable claims, like this.

The presence or absence of ministers such as bishops do not make or unmake Church.


Posted by: L Roberts on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 8:36pm BST

@christopher+:

OK, apparently I was mistaken about how you interpreted my position. Mea culpa.

As far as Rome's restatement of its position regarding us, you'll notice we aren't mentioned in the text you quoted. They mentioned the Orthodox, and then Protestants. But we have long been regarded by Rome as being neither truly Protestant nor truly Catholic. So Rome calling Protestants church-like non-churchy things does not mean Rome is calling *us* church-like non-churchy things. We don't fully count as Protestants in their eyes. (Nor should we.)

Furthermore, what Cardinal Ratzinger said at the time was to confirm Apostolicae Curae and refer to Dominus Iesus. Which means we go back and read what those documents say, and if you keep what I said above in mind, confirming those two documents doesn't say a thing about our *current* state in the eyes of Rome. In fact on a careful reading and placing it into historical context, especially the involvement of Old Catholics and knowing that that involvement has indeed had an effect on recognition of orders, it may even say the exact reverse of what you assumed!

So if we are serious about wanting unity in the Church and in continuing dialog, then it seems to me at least *some* accommodation of their views is necessary. Otherwise ecumenism is a waste of time.

Meanwhile regarding a future female primate, I'm content to simply wait and see, and let the conservatives have their flying bishops (and maybe ask for and get more progressive flying bishops in return). If and when the day comes that it looks likely a female primate will become a reality, then we deal with it then. Who knows, maybe by then the whole female ordination issue will have resolved itself. But at least we will have given it more time to do so, and give conservatives a chance to *willingly* be on board. There is little cost and much to gain -- a bigger tent.

Can you be in communion with such people? I can't answer that for you. That is for you to decide. But OTOH I can say that to me, the true genius of Anglicanism has always been the way it accommodates so many opposing views. Many know the John Donne poem about the Eucharist ("And what that Word did make it, I do believe and take it"); I think it's quintessentially Anglican.

Posted by: Walsingham on Friday, 30 May 2008 at 11:37pm BST

Ford
Yes, we may all be wrong. The few as much as the millions.
But I do take issue with your call that we must take everyone's views and discernment into account.
When the Bible speaks of "church" it does not refer to every possible Christian around the whole globe.
There is a level of idealism that renders itself completely immobile. Unless you believe that the Spirit will move all Christians all over the world in the same direction on a particular issue, you have to accept that discernment means arriving at a conviction within a particular frame of reference.

To arrive at it within one's own culture, language and within one's own church (not local parish!), is indication enough that the Spirit at least wishes this particular group of Christians to follow a particular direction.

Yes, they may get it wrong. But it doesn't absolve them from the responsibility to walk forward.

This is what happened in Sydney with regard to lay presidency, it is what happened with regard to Gene Robinson in another part of the world.
All the rest of us can do is to pray that, if they're right, we will eventually follow, but if they're wrong, they will eventually change their minds again. We have no right to dig our heels in, make ourselves the arbiter of God's right and wrong, and say that unless we discern it too, they must not follow God's call to them.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 31 May 2008 at 8:15am BST

"To arrive at it within one's own culture, language and within one's own church (not local parish!), is indication enough that the Spirit at least wishes this particular group of Christians to follow a particular direction.

Yes, they may get it wrong. But it doesn't absolve them from the responsibility to walk forward."

I sometimes wonder if the Spirit doesn't practice its own version of what we Americans call "federalism". It leads this people in one direction, another people in a different direction...and if one direction leads to a stronger, more Christian faith, that is the one that eventually prevails.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Saturday, 31 May 2008 at 11:58am BST

"We have no right to dig our heels in, make ourselves the arbiter of God's right and wrong, and say that unless we discern it too, they must not follow God's call to them."

Absolutely, nor do they.

"There is a level of idealism that renders itself completely immobile. "

A trap into which I repeatedly fall. All the same, I do perceive a "me first" attitude in a lot of what get s called "liberal" or "progressive" Christianity, especially the use of the word "progressive". I hold that word in the same place as the word "orthodox", a word that is all about making the user of the word feel good about themselves. Neither am I all that afraid of making a mistake. I came back to faith in the full knowledge that the issues I had seen 18 years before and in response to which I had left the Church were at least as bad as they had been, if not worse. It just didn't seem to matter as much, likely because I was long over my teenage absolutism.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 31 May 2008 at 4:41pm BST

Walsingham,
I would be very happy indeed if you were correct about progress made in relations (as regards mutual recognition of ministry and orders) with our Roman Catholic brethren. I remain concerned, however, about the Vatican's recent urging - specifically in the context of ordaining women as bishops in England - that Anglicans finally "decide" whether we are (paraphrasing and simplifying) catholic or protestant - as though this were somehow the deciding issue. Perhaps it is, in their view.

Take, for example, this from today's New York Times:

"The Vatican on Friday reaffirmed a ban on ordaining women as priests...In an interview for Vatican Radio, Monsignor Amato reiterated that the church did 'not feel authorized to change the will of its founder, Jesus Christ.' The Vatican, he added, felt 'in good company' because the Orthodox and ancient Eastern churches have also preserved what he said was a 2,000-year-old tradition."

So, for Rome, the prohibition against ordaining women is apparently the very will of Jesus Christ himself, and Rome is quite happy that so many Eastern and Orthodox churches share their understanding. Against this background of ostensible correctness based on tradition, it is little wonder that Rome would prefer not to have even more women ordained in the Anglican Communion, specifically in England and (for some reason) specifically as bishops - not least if Rome cannot quite as simply label us Protestants. Our doing what the Vatican absolutely refuses to do makes them look (comparatively) “bad” in many places to many people, as I’ve said.

As to being in full communion with people with whom one disagrees, for example, on the ordination of women, my point was not that I cannot be - I most certainly can be. Rather, my point was that I am not sure it works both ways. Those who do not recognize the ordination of women do not, as I understand it, believe ordained women (and those they ordain, if they are bishops) are really clergy at all. This raises a host of practical problems. Are they (or, in England's case, will they be) keeping lists of clergy they consider legitimate, those whose sacramental acts are efficacious, those from whom they could receive communion, for example? At the very latest, this would become a problem when Anglicans from around the world gather for consultation and, of course, gather at the altar. If we cannot do that in full recognition of each other’s ministries, then we are not *really* in full communion, no matter how many flying bishops and alternative provinces we have.

In any event, I am with you on the idea of trying to maintain as big a tent as possible. I just want it to be a meaningful and lasting tent.

Posted by: christopher+ on Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 1:36am BST

It seems to me that some here appeal to Rome/Constantinople when it suits them (if only to be able to claim "See how ecumenical I am? Appealing to Rome/Constantinople?"), and ignore it otherwise (Ford, that includes your "Yes. How is one to be 100% certain of such things?" You *haven't* depended upon Rome's view of things, or you would be an RC!)

*****

"I regret that Gene Robinson did not have the wisdom to refuse consecration."

At what point, Susan, should Gene Robinson have *stiffed* the people of New Hampshire: those whom he knew, and loved---and vice-versa---so faithfully for 28 years? The day of the consecration (like jilting a bride)? After NH went to bat for him at GC '03? After winning their votes at the diocesan convention? Or should he have declined their nomination? Given up his priestly ordination, among them? When, exactly?

*****

"Some of us will be using the presence of bishops from our native lands at the Lambeth Conference to petition them to establish a juridiction for us in England. We do not want this and would far prefer structural provision within the english church, but we hope and trust that, if there is no internal provision, others will provide. -Posted by rose gaudete"

Threats, rose? Is that a Christian action?

For every Anglican in England who wants a "jurisdiction" that is---I presume from this context---anti-ordained women, anti-gay partnered priests, I bet I can give you a HUNDRED in England (both within, and currently OUTSIDE of the CofE), who would like jurisdiction, more like that offered by TEC.

...but we (Episcopalians) aren't going to (literally) go there. And neither should you!

Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 1 June 2008 at 11:50pm BST

@christopher+:

I'll freely admit, trying to understand the state of our relations with Rome is like reading tea leaves, and has a healthy dose of wishful thinking (and thus strongly works whatever way the tea-leaf-reader wants it to work). Even so, I think there is a strong case that we can't dismiss them out of hand, for any number of reasons, not least the call to unity expressed by Christ Himself.

The quote you mention where we're asked to make up our minds amuses me, actually. It's typical frustration and puzzlement on the part of Rome as to just what we are.

As to the meaning of "communion" in the context of alternate jurisdictions, if you want to take that narrow a view, then we Episcopalians haven't been in communion with most of the rest of the Anglican Communion since the 1970s -- since many provinces don't allow female clergy above the level deacon. I think there would only be a serious problem if a province refused to license a priest because he or she was ordained by a female bishop, but to my knowledge that is not at present the case.

Posted by: Walsingham on Monday, 2 June 2008 at 10:01am BST

Walsingham,

You raise an interesting issue. If those provinces that do not ordain women or that limit women's ordination to the diaconate still consider themselves as being in full communion with the Episcopal Church and, say, the Anglican Church of Canada, where women can be bishops, that's actually a sign of great hope, for example, with regard to other disagreements, e.g., the ordination of gay, partnered bishops.

Perhaps full communion - or the highest degree of communion possible - does not necessarily have to mean full exchangeability of clergy. I do believe, however, that it must mean we are able to gather together at the altar. Without that, full communion has little meaning.

Posted by: christopher+ on Tuesday, 3 June 2008 at 1:07am BST

Personally I am uncomfortable as a Protestant & and woman
about having women priests even . I believe that in the bible somewhere it says that women are not allowed Sorry I just feel it is wrong

Posted by: Jazlady on Saturday, 5 July 2008 at 4:18pm BST
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