Tuesday, 1 July 2008

Women bishops and GAFCON

Some press articles are now referring to both women bishops and the fall-out from GAFCON so we list them together.

Theo Hobson in a Comment is free article for The Guardian The Evangelicals are moving in for the kill subtitled “Foca doesn’t want to form a breakaway church; it wants to take over the Anglican Communion, and depose Rowan Williams”.

George Pitcher in the Telegraph Archbishop of Canterbury braves the crossfire

Riazat Butt and Peter Walker in The Guardian Archbishop of Canterbury hits out at breakaway Anglicans

WATCH issued a press release “Women Bishops: the Church should move ahead in faith, not fear” yesterday; it is reproduced below the fold.

Tom Butler, the bishop of Southwark, writes in The Guardian Anglicanism’s militant tendency must be resisted with the subtitle “The Gafcon rebels are unrepresentative ultras – and I, for one, am glad Rowan Williams has lost patience with them”.

WATCH Press Statement


30th June 2008 – for immediate release

WATCH would like to express support for the motion on women bishops from the House of Bishops. Overwhelmingly, bishops, clergy and lay members in the Church of England would like women to be bishops. Substantial numbers of these want to proceed with legislation that is free from discrimination against women and that does not include ‘safeguards’ against the ministry of ordained women.

When women are able to be bishops, it will show that the Church accepts the ordained ministry of women on the same basis as it accepts the ordained ministry of men. This move will help to bring to an end years of legal discrimination against women in the Church, and will implicitly repudiate beliefs and behaviours which have diminished and demeaned women’s lives for many centuries.

We believe that the legislation to enable women to be consecrated as bishop should provide for the simplest possible statutory approach. Arrangements for those unable in conscience to receive the ministry of women bishops should take the form of a Code of Practice, which would provide pastoral and sacramental care to those concerned and establish mutual support and co-operation between bishops throughout the Church of England. The Measure should not enshrine in legislation any form of discrimination against women or against men who ordain women.

We are committed to ensuring care for those who in conscience cannot accept women bishops, and we commend the experience of 20 years of women bishops in the Anglican Communion, who make arrangements within their dioceses or areas for the care for their clergy, without any of these arrangements being contained in law. 15 Provinces in the worldwide Anglican Communion have legislation which allows both men and women to become bishops. All of these make provision for those opposed to women’s ordained ministry, but none has enshrined this provision in law.

We believe that the Church should now move ahead in faith, and cease to use the language and tactics of fear. This is not about winners and losers, ‘them’ and ‘us’, but rather about where God is leading, and has been leading, our Church. Over the past 14 years women have enriched the priestly ministries of the Church. Their presence has spoken in new ways of the Good News of Jesus Christ and we believe that having women as bishops will further expand and deepen our understanding of the nature of both humanity and the Divine.

Posted by Peter Owen on Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 5:36pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Watch claims 'All of these make provision for those opposed to women’s ordained ministry'

I'm not sure if this a lie, a damned lie or a statistic, but it is sure as hell NOT true.

Posted by: Stephen Marsden on Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 6:00pm BST

Well, as if we were in any doubt, +Jensen has confirmed that the GAFCON Primates Council is not self-appointed; they were appointed by God. Oh, well, that's OK then.

"GAFCON is a very Anglican answer — a new set of instruments of unity! They were not ‘self-appointed’, they were God-appointed, from looking at the Word of God and seeing what they needed to do.

They are Primates — very senior leaders of our denomination,"


Posted by: MJ on Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 6:39pm BST

Butler's insights into group politics are very appropriate, especially hard-lined militants.

May a few consciences be pricked as they experience first hand that which they ignored, denied, tolerated or condoned for the weaker members of the communion. It looks like they are going to experience first hand the very things they denied or ignored when the watchtowers gave prior warning.

Posted by: Cheryl Va. on Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 10:06pm BST

Turn the clock back a year and the focus was on isolating the North American churches. When the Covenant was first drafted it was promoted as a means to unity, when, in fact, it was all about enforcing the conservative view over the liberal one: General Synod was very clearly divided along these lines. So when 30th September came and went without the expulsion desired, and the Covenant got watered down with each successive draft, the Instuments of Communion no longer had any purpose.

GAFCON trashed Windsor/Covenant, which frees them to form a FOCA-approved North American province, without having to compromise with 'gay-friendly apostates'. They may score some wins there in the battle over property.

But in England it is an entirely different matter. GAFCON/FOCA have been savaged by the press: they are portrayed as extremists. So it is FOCA which is now isolated. The broadly liberal/moderate/traditionalist Church now acts as a solid bulwark against these militant forces. It is also a strong argument for retaining the Established Church with its link to the electorate via Parliament. It may be too much to expect the Queen in Parliament to intervene to impose equality legislation on the Church, but liberals should exploit the democratic process where possible.

Posted by: Hugh of Lincoln on Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 11:02pm BST

I am a conservative. I left the American Episcopal Church 20 years ago because the EC's pseudo-liberal leadership didn't want me and other like minded conservatives. If they did want us, if they were truly inclusive and diversity seeking, they should not have driven us out. Time is running out.

Posted by: Mark on Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 12:31am BST

Will Dr Williams finally realise that it is necessary to stand one's ground before bullies like the FoCA's and, accepting his own authority as Archbishop of Canterbury, speak the truth as he has grasped it? All this confusion has its roots in Dr Williams lack of courage which first showed itself over the consecration of Dr Jeffrey John as Bishop of Reading.

Posted by: Commentator on Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 9:44am BST

"If they did want us, if they were truly inclusive and diversity seeking, they should not have driven us out"

Could you tell us, precisely, what they did with the express purpose of driving you out? My church involvement doesn't go back 20 years.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 11:21am BST

"I am a conservative. I left the American Episcopal Church 20 years ago because the EC's pseudo-liberal leadership didn't want me and other like minded conservatives. If they did want us, if they were truly inclusive and diversity seeking, they should not have driven us out. Time is running out."

But you left of your own accord. No one told you, "Go, we don't want you." No one refused to share communion with you. No one refused to sit in the same pew with you.

How, exactly, did they "drive you out"? Simply by not accepting YOUR view of things? By that reckoning the US government "drove me out" eight years ago...but I'm still here.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 11:33am BST

Tom Butler writes that the Gafcon attenders are unrepresentative - as indeed they are - but what group is not? Among the available anglican groupings as far as I know the evangelicals are the largest even in the UK let alone internationally. Moreover, being representative is not the whole story. Any given group of people include the more and the less mature/wise; the better and the worse informed; the more and the less self-willed; and so on.

Posted by: Christopher Shell on Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 12:17pm BST

Commentator is correct. Following on from the Bishop of Southwark's article, the only way the Labour Party managed to eject Militant was by effectively denouncing their extremist policies and pursuing a modernising agenda started by Neil Kinnock and followed up by Tony Blair. The Miltant Tendency then had no home in the Labour party. The same applies to the C of E. Unless the FOCAs are confronted and their exclusivist view of the church rejected the future of the C of E looks bleak. They will wear down resistance and work to gain more and more influence. The days for polite talking are over. Unfortunately, I think +Rowan's attitude will be - we can accommodate them in some way - which is exactly to play into their hands. The last thing they want to do is leave the communion because they are intent on taking it one way or another. The FOCAs may very well succeed where Miltant failed because of the very lack of will amongst the moderates and liberals of the Church of England. Is it not time for the nuclear option: ordain an openly gay bishop in England?

Posted by: AlaninLondon on Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 12:50pm BST

AlaninLondon : The Church of England is behaving in the face of GAFON/FOCA/Anglican Mainstream in the same way as the Weimar Republic did when dealing with the Nazi Party. Conciliation just allowed time for the power base to grow and destruction to come. Time did not create wisdom, discussion, debate, and compassionate compromise. Dr Williams has to see that the clear intent of this new movement is the destruction of his office and he must act now or his/our destruction is assured. (I hope he's reading this, too)

Posted by: Commentator on Thursday, 3 July 2008 at 12:16pm BST
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