Tuesday, 8 July 2008

women bishops: reactions

Forward in Faith has two items: General Synod Vote - Initial Reaction

Forward in Faith and the Catholic Group in General Synod note with regret that, despite the clear advice of the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Archbishop of York, the Bishop of Durham, the Bishop of Winchester, the Bishop of Exeter and other Bishops, the Prolocutor of the Province of Canterbury and the Chairman of the House of Laity and the obvious lack of consensus, the General Synod today resolved to make no meaningful provision for those in conscience unable to receive the ministry of women bishops.

There must now be a period of prayerful reflection. However, members of both the General Synod and of the Church of England will understand that actions always have consequences.

and General Synod vote - further reaction

The consistent behaviour of the General Synod compels Forward in Faith and the Catholic Group in General Synod to recognise that, without intervention by the House of Bishops, there is little prospect of gaining a synodical majority which would provide a structural solution that would meet the needs of those who, out of obedience to scripture and tradition, are unable in conscience to receive the ordination of women to the episcopate. We will in the coming days continue to explore all possible avenues which might secure our corporate ecclesial future and look to our bishops to facilitate this.

Vatican Radio has Vatican Regret at Anglican Vote to Ordain Female Bishops.

WATCH has this:

Synod votes in favour of women as bishops, with a Code of Practice
We are delighted that General Synod after many hours of debate, voted to proceed to the consecration of women as bishops with arrangements for those who will not accept their ministry simply in a Code of Practice. This was the stance proposed by the House of Bishops and supported by WATCH, and in the final voting there were clear majorities in each House in favour of taking this step. The voting figures were:
Bishops: 28 for, 12 against, 1 abs
Clergy: 124 for, 44 against, 4 abs
Laity: 111 for, 68 against, 2 abs
The Legislative Drafting Group will now prepare the relevant legislation, along with a Code of Practice, to be brought to the next meeting of General Synod in February next year.

Reform has a statement Reform predicts Synod vote will “further rouse the ‘sleeping giant’ of evangelical Anglicanism”

Reform members who took part in the Synod debates are very disappointed that no legal provision has been made for those who cannot in conscience receive oversight from a female bishop. We note that the opinions of four out of the five most senior bishops on both the content and timing of this measure were swept aside in the course of the debate.

We will scrutinise the proposed code of practice in February’s debate carefully, but remain very sceptical as to its usefulness.

By giving no legal provision Synod has effectively said: “We don’t want people like you in our Church of England.” This message will no doubt further rouse the ‘sleeping giant’ of orthodox and evangelical Anglicanism in the UK and around the globe.

Interfax reports Russian Church alarmed by Anglicans’ decision to ordain women.
Update A further Interfax report has Anglican Church decision to consecrate women-bishops challenges Orthodox-Anglican dialogue - Bishop Hilarion.

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Categorised as: Church of England

While I wholeheartedly agree with the General Synod decision, I am sorry that the Forward in Faith members of the C of E are distressed and hurting at this time. And I appreciate the sense of betrayal many may feel after what they believe was promised in 1993.

I do think part of the pain may stem from the systemic separation of 'no-go' areas and 'women allowed' areas in the church. For many of us in the majority, we live in parishes and dioceses where 25% of the clergy and 50% of the ordinands are female. I wonder if even the senior bishops have really appreciated the magnitude of this change over the past decade and a half? It really is unusual for most of us to go to church events and see only men up the front (in fact in my parish, where we have 3 female and 3 male clergy, we quite enjoy the accidental men-only sundays!). Yet consecrations, or episcopal events, seem all the more strange as a result. So I think the perceptions we each have of the church and its leadership have changed dramatically in the last decade, and we have failed to share them and understand how this change has scoped out new and very different visions of the future for us.

Posted by: MrsBarlow on Tuesday, 8 July 2008 at 11:07pm BST

"By giving no legal provision Synod has effectively said: “We don’t want people like you in our Church of England.” "

Once again, I don't understand how any reasoning person could read things this way. What it IS saying is "we will not treat others as we would not be treated ourselves."

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Tuesday, 8 July 2008 at 11:25pm BST

The outcome at Synod today was the best anyone on any side could have hoped for. Those who are talking to Rome should now be broaching the question of conversion rather than inviting ecclesial interference from another province (that's what the English Reformation was ultimately about, after all). Those who are inclined to FOCA should now commit to that and stop talking schism and set up in greenfields sites. Stop treating the CofE and the Anglican Communion as a convenient boat to fish from -- if you're convinced of the rightness of your cause, then God will vindicate you.

Posted by: kieran crichton on Tuesday, 8 July 2008 at 11:58pm BST

The Synod has been ungenerous and risks unchurching people as a result of their actions. They should be ashamed. What is profoundly depressing is that many priests who are opposed to women priests have been friendly and accomodating in as generous a spirit as they could. And grown fond of women priests whose ministry nevertheless remained a theological impossibilty in their eyes. This, many of us thought, had been reciprocated, respected and understood. And then, thanks to the house of clergy now being loaded with representation from women and liberals...this is how they are treated. Utterly shameful. Shame. Shame. Shame. And the cheek of it all...the call to 'trust us' from these new girls on the block. Heaven forgive them.

Posted by: Neil on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 12:17am BST

I welcome the new legislation which opens the way for women to become bishops.
The women priests I've been priveleged to meet are convincing in their true vocation. They are getting on with the job, totally fit for purpose,
a gift to the church and a generation which has lost its spiritual direction.
This does not berate my Anglo-Catholic friends. They have taught me much about the unchanging,everlasting love of God,the dignity of worship,the discipline of prayer, the communion of saints who have inspired us down the ages creating a powerful link with past and present.
I do hope they can come to terms with the legislative change, finding the common ground to move forward in faith together as a mighty army,discovering new,refreshing ways to proclaim the gospel of Christ as He exhorted us to do.
I have come to the conclusion that today's people need the full spectrum of labourers - men and women,traditional and evangelical, ordained and lay-people to reap the harvest.Let's waste no more time.

Posted by: Helen Rawdon on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 12:38am BST

The choice was between handing the extreme catholic and evangelical alternative structures on a plate, or letting them make the effort to set them up. The Synod chose the latter, and that must be right: a Church ought not to organise its own schism.

Posted by: Pluralist on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 1:01am BST

Since Anglican orders are "absolutely null and utterly void" why does the Vatican "regret" the Synod's decision? Why would they even care if the Church of England decided to consecrate cats as bishops? Can somebody explain this?

Posted by: John Bassett on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 1:12am BST

Hmmm, sorry to say that it looks very like the traditionalistic believers who once upon an olden time found women alarming, thought people of a different skin color or physiognomy to have been created inferior by deity, suspected anybody who appeared to be a stranger of any sort to any degree, knew the earth was flat and placed at the cosmological center around which a sun revolved, and of course, were deeply alarmed by queer folks - now continue to be properly alarmed by the thought of women - and highly educated/trained/committed women at that.


Horrors. What is the world and the church coming to, that such women should now be poised on the church doorsteps as if they and their call and their gifts and their hard, hard, hard work should at all be welcome in a community of real faith.

Are we only safe from this alarm if we decisively turn back all the clocks? And who are FIF and Reform, if they are so profoundly threatened by the very notion of educated, intelligent, trained, and committed women in just that special pure godly place where only males first were said to be able to be?

But rest easy, the danger is way less than it is pumped up to be, just ask your female doctor, attorney, Member of Parliament, or ??? the next time you see her.

Posted by: drdanfee on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 1:32am BST

So the Russians are alarmed by "Anglicans'" decision to ordain women [to the episcopate]? Have they not been paying attention? The Anglican churches in the US, Canada, and New Zealand have been consecrating women to the episcopate for years. The Australian church consecrated their first two women bishops a few weeks ago. What are we -- chopped liver?

Posted by: Bill Moorhead on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 3:52am BST

“… very disappointed that no legal provision has been made for those who cannot in conscience receive oversight from a female bishop.”

Please explain what this is other than a refusal to “receive oversight” from anybody!

“… rouse the ‘sleeping giant’ of evangelical Anglicanism”.

More threats from school yard bullies into numbers games.

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 5:33am BST

I think the Churches who object need to Get With The Program, because eventually (and eventually is coming soon) they will have the same ideas infiltrating their religions.

Posted by: David G on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 5:36am BST

Just another "obstacle"...a lot different and more moderate than what Cardianl Kaspar said when he addressed the Cof E bishops...no mention of downgrading the dialogue.

The fact is , and Rome cannot face the reality of this...the ordination of women deacons was the key issue. Once you admit women to Holy Orders in any degree the ministries cannot be reconciled.

Incidently FIF , the flying bishops all have women deacons!

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 6:22am BST

Amen Pat!

Posted by: David Green on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 8:41am BST

Why do the Russians rage and the Romans imagine a vain thing? Because this decision of the C of E is a big propaganda boost for the cause of women's ordination, rattling the bastions of patriarchy.

Posted by: Spirit of Vatican II on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 11:29am BST

"I don't understand how any reasoning person could read things this way."

Pat, while I don't agree with "Traditionalists" on this, I understand precisely how they feel, I once felt the same. Here is a group who sincerely believe that based on Scripture and Tradition, a woman can't be a priest or a bishop. Thus, any sacraments she celebrates are no sacraments at all, except baptism. Most importantly, any ordinations she performs are not ordinations. Thus, there will be, in their eyes, an ever growing number of people, both men and women, who are not priests and whose sacraments are mere public memorials. Eventually, this will mean there are no priests or bishops in the Anglican Church. Any decision made to move forward on this automatically means that, for them, the most they can hope for is some temporary arrangement whereby they have sacraments now, but with no hope the Church will have sacraments at all in a the next few decades.

While I agree with the CofE's decision, including not to give "special rights" to traditionalists, I do understand the pain of being told, essentially, that what one believes with all one's heart just doesn't matter, and if you don't "get with the program" we don't really care if you end up deprived of sacraments as a reasult. They have been told for years that they are old fashioned fuddy-duddies who aren't with the times, the world knows this is the right thing to do and the Chruch better listen to the world. Women have been able to vote for nearly a century, shouldn't they have the right to be ordained as well? That's the utterly ignorant argument as it was put to me years ago. What's more, while there is solid theology supporting this, supporters of OOW still seem far more comfortable arguing from a political human rights position on this than from a theological one, at least publically. There wouldn't be nearly as much opposition to this, I feel, if clergy actually did a better job of preaching it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 12:27pm BST

How can Neil write like this? No one is being unchurched at all. But the Church of England has simply put its money where its mouth it - we decided quite a long time ago that there were no theological objections to the ordination of women and are simply completing the long drawn-out process of making that a reality.

If people don't want to be part of a Church that has decided to treat men and women on an equal basis in its ministry then there are two possibilities: one is to stay (and no one is telling anyone that they should leave) and live with the code of conduct that will be devised to make their life as comfortable as is possible commensurate with the decision, or alternatively they can decide if they are being called out of the Church of England and go.

No one is making anyone else feel or do things - we feel and do what we as responsible Christians fell and do - and our decisions are our own. I am sorry to see so many distressed by what makes me rejoice, and I hope that useful fruitful and honest ecumenical discussions can continue with orthodox and roman churches - but this decision makes clear our position as a national reformed catholic church, and sometimes some of those dialogues have been posited on the basis of the Church of England as some people would have liked to think we should be and not on the reality, which has included ordained women for quite some time now.

Posted by: Jeremy Pemberton on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 12:31pm BST


I understand that--but as I said, I don't see how a "reasoning" person can believe that. It's an emotional argument for the most part. And it denies the words of scripture that so many of them would otherwise declare sancrosanct: In Christ there is no male or female.... It denies the fact that the first witnesses to the resurrection were all women--at a time when the apostles, the "first priests and bishops", were hiding in a locked room, scared to death that Jesus's fate would soon be theirs.

And it denies the belief that the Spirit still moves among us, still inspires us to new things.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 1:35pm BST

What Ford Elms states, I can second.

At my very first paid gig in a suburban parish in central Ohio, I experienced for the first time a female celebrant in the mid-1980's. It was a strange experience hearing a treble voice during the (said) sursum corda and to receive communion as well. I was honestly not comfortable, and it took it a while to understand that it was the aesthetics of a changed environment. Indeed my men and boy choir upbringing was being invaded, and the hairs on my back were surely being raised.

But the other side of my upbringing challenged this, and it quite frankly, was my sense of fairness, which ultimately overcame my fear of change (still a big factor in my life).

Tradition without a real sense of reason is lunacy, and change such as this will help us to be more healthy, as painful as it is.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 2:15pm BST

If there was a lack of "meaningful consensus" it concerned providing an anomalous division in the church for those who cannot accept women in orders. The consensus is that women can be ordained, and that there is no theological objection that stands close examination. (One reason the Roman Church imposed a gag order on the subject altogether... her slip was showing in previous efforts to "argue" the matter -- as even she acknowledged concerning the "rationales" given at Trent.)

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 3:17pm BST

ddf, do you really care about womens' rights, or are you just trying to conflate behavior and immutable characteristics? As Sartre noted, you're condemned to be free, as much as you may dislike the notion - it's never too late to repent.

Posted by: JND on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 6:59pm BST

"I do understand the pain of being told, essentially, that what one believes with all one's heart just doesn't matter, and if you don't "get with the program" we don't really care if you end up deprived of sacraments as a reasult."

Well of course, Ford: you understand, and so do I. EVERY queer Christian has been told the same at some point.

...but then the claims of queer Christians aren't MERELY based upon what we "believe in our hearts", is it?

We expect---nay, invite!---other Christians to not only do the work of examining Scripture, Tradition, and Reason (where Christians of goodwill may arrive at different conclusions, admittedly), but also to EXAMINE THE FRUITS of our relationships, our ministries.

And it is here, I believe quite inarguably, that the similarity of "what one believes with all one's heart" EVAPORATES between the Two Presenting Issues.

Queer Christians can *point to such fruits* (as can, I may add women-called-to-be-priests&bishops).

What fruits can the anti-WO crowd point to? Obstinacy? Prejudice? Belittling of kindred Imago Dei? (see re "new girls on the block") Back-biting and conspiracy?

No, what's in the heart is not enough (nor appeal to S,T&R). We shall know them by their fruits: was it ever thus!

Lord have mercy...

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 7:34pm BST

It all seems like a no-brainer to me.

If you truly, deeply believe in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed, then how in God's name can you stand every Sunday and say that you believe in "One, Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church" and applaud the ordination of women and all the pain this causes?

A vote for women's ordination/consecration is a betrayal of the Creed.

This will divide the Anglican world from Rome & the Orthodox FOREVER, rend the Body of Christ, destroying the very idea of "One church".

To tamper with 2000 years of accumulated Wisdom based on little more than trendy thinking and misguided philanthropy shows that you do not see the Church as "Holy". Not a Divine body -but simply a man- (sorry, person-)made institution, ripe for tinkering with.

Ditto re "Catholic". Such divisons destroy the ideal of universality forever.

An "Apostolic church" is one formed by, in and through the image of the Apostles. Not homosexuals, vegetables or minerals but by men. It would have been easier if Our Lord chose six men, six women, but HE DID NOT.

And the very idea of a "Church" without the above is questionable. What's left may (or may not) be governed by good intentions but is heterodox at best, at worst merely a pantomine. The General Synod may have just thrown out the baby with the bathwater, ripped out the plumbing and demolished the bathroom.

In reply to drdanfee: The issue of women's equality in the sphere of employment is totally irrelevent. This use of secular thinking is to miss the point entirely. The argument is not about whether (or not) women can "do the job" - in a pastoral sense, I'm sure they are more able at nurturing/tea & sympathy/ et cet. than some (most???) grumpy male priests - but about the very validity of female priests. Those of us who know & trust Holy Scripture & Tradition know in our heart of hearts that a female cannot act in persona Christi and that there exist unanswerable doubts about the very validity of Sacraments - whether they even are Sacraments - when performed by so called "ordained women". 2000 years of teaching by some of the greatest minds who ever lived is impossible to overurn by a few woolly liberal do-gooders and male-haters.

In reply to the ironically named "Spirit of Vat II": Your tripe about "the bastions of patriarchy" is sad, and so clicheed. The Russians, nor Roman Catholics, are not raging. But they are opposed. Why? Not because they are an old boy's club but because they know their theology inside and out.

David G's ridiculous suggestion that the TRUE APOSTOLIC CHURCHES (Orthodox & RC) will soon be hiring female clergy gave me the only laugh on what has otherwise been a tragic and painful last few days.

PLEASE try to refrain from gloating. PLEASE remember the Catholics within the C of E. Their PAIN is REAL. Pray for them all. After all, they are your CHRISTIAN BROTHERS & SISTERS.

Posted by: Frankie on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 8:35pm BST

JCF, I know that not from being gay, but from having a very conservative position on OOW at a time when Canadian Anglican leaders seemed to think of the issue only in political terms and actively sneered at anyone who was not "with the program". Frankly, I have never felt the scorn as a gay Christian as I felt as someone who opposed OOW all those years ago. I've never been told it in relation to being gay.

And, Frankie, if you haven't learned yet that OOW is NOT based on nothing more than trendy thinking, you are just as disrespectful of the faith of those who support it as you feel they are of your opposition. We aren't woooly thinking liberals, nor are we man haters. I came to my beliefs on OOW after a long and arduous process, in which for the most part I believed the leaders of the AAC were exactly as you think them to be. Still do to a great extent, and that includes but is not limited to most Evangelicals and traditionalist ACs. Most of my posts today have been about defending the anti-OOW crowd, asking for more respect for their positions. Why must you return that with equivalent disrespect? Hurt? Rejection? I understand, but perhaps if you spent a little more time engaging with the theology instead of reviling as faithless those who do not agree with you, the whole debate'd be more productive. And if it is necessary to be a man to act in persona christi, what does that mean about the nature of the Incarnation? Is it Christ's humanity or his manhood that counts? If the latter, why? Surely it is His status as a human being that makes the Incarnation effective, unless you want to claim that it doesn't work for women. I don't hear you lamenting about the things Rome has done to divide the Church, and we're Anglicans, the Bishop of Rome deserves our respect, not our obedience. Many were burned to death over that point. I'm a catholic in the Anglican Church, we don't lose that status by supporting OOW. I remind you that the arguments for women priests are NOT about female equality in the social sphere, though many who argue for it seem unable to argue otherwise. I'm not gloating, I actually have a great deal of empathy, I was once where you are, and abandoned the Church as a result. But that doesn't mean you get to ignore good solid theology or deny the faith of those who disagree with you. Your dismissal of "wooly trendy liberals" is exactly the same as the accusations of "old fashioned traditionalists" that were hurled at those like me in the 70s and 80s

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 9 July 2008 at 11:43pm BST

"PLEASE remember the Catholics within the C of E. Their PAIN is REAL."

I'm sure it is, Frankie. But so is their Joy.

You see, there tremendous numbers of "Catholics within the C of E"---and Catholics within the rest of the AC (e.g. TEC, where I am)---who rejoice at this decision of the General Synod. Faithful Anglicans, all around the world, who "truly, deeply believe in the Niceno-Constantinopolitan Creed", and rejoice at this decision to uplift Imago-Dei-made-female, to be Christ's holy bishops.

I understand that you aren't one of the joyful, Frankie.

But please don't WRITE ME OUT of Anglo-Catholicism, just because you (or the Pope, or the Ecumenical Patriarch) define it differently than I do.

As far as "who's more Catholic/more Orthodox than thou": well, we'll find out in Heaven (or God willing/God reconciling, SOONER), won't we? Shalom!

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:56am BST


It seems to me that “a Holy, Catholic & Apostolic Church" is not, and cannot be, the actual (accidental ;=) churches in their Splendour – or whatever :-(

Only The Church of Christ.

Even less “a betrayal of the Creed”, to “rend the Body of Christ,” “destroying the very idea of "One church", “2000 years of accumulated Wisdom” (Academic Neo Platonism, Gnosticism, wisdom?), “trendy thinking”, “misguided philanthropy”, “heterodox at best”, “merely a pantomime”, “demolished the bathroom”, “totally irrelevant”, “the very validity” & c., & c., & c.

Oh, but for the Hyperbolä, the Accusations!

We have heard them so often these last years in certain American Politics into New Empires. So have others. They are tiring, we are tiring.

It seems the Coup d’Église rightly will lose ; = )

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 7:48am BST

The majority "yes men" among the Lambeth Fathers (and the new "Mothers" as well) currently gathered together in Conference should be encouraged to approve other "reforms" to the historical Anglican credo. As one example, Article 19 of the 39 Articles (1549, 1562, 1571 versions) is an ideal place with which to commence: the text of that Article should be formally modified/modernised to include the Church of England (and its spiritual offspring abroad) alongside the Churches of Jerusalem, Alexandria, Antioch and Rome as having "erred, not only in their living and manner of Ceremonies, but also in matters of FAITH". Pax tecum Ecclesia Anglicana.

Posted by: Dave C. on Saturday, 19 July 2008 at 10:23pm BST
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