Wednesday, 9 July 2008

women bishops: the Bishop of Ebbsfleet

Updated Friday

There was a third article, Ex-Anglicans will bring new life to our Church by Damian Thompson

The Catholic Herald has published two articles.

A news report by Anna Arco is titled Bishop to lead flock to Rome after synod vote:

A senior traditionalist Anglican bishop has urged the Pope and the hierarchy of England and Wales to help Anglo-Catholics convert to Rome following the General Synod’s vote to ordain women bishops.

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet, the Rt Rev Andrew Burnham, called for “magnanimous gestures from our Catholic friends, especially from the Holy Father, who well understand our longing for unity and from the hierarchy in England and Wales” as he prepares to lead his flock to Rome in the aftermath of the Church of England’s General Synod.

“Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us,” he wrote in an article explaining his position in The Catholic Herald…

Bishop Andrew Burnham has written ‘Anglo-Catholics must now decide’:

So we are to have a code of practice. Traditional Anglo-Catholics must now decide whether to stay in the Church of England in what, for a while, will be a protected colony - where the sacramental ministry of women bishops and priests is neither acknowledged nor received - or to leave.

Leaving isn’t quite so easy as it sounds. You don’t become a Catholic, for instance, because of what is wrong with another denomination or faith. You become a Catholic because you accept that the Catholic Church is what she says she is and the Catholic faith is what it says it is. In short, some Anglo-Catholics will stay and others will go. It is quite easy to think of unworthy reasons for staying - and there are no doubt one or two unworthy reasons for leaving.

There are also honourable reasons for staying. Like the Anglican clergy who wouldn’t swear allegiance to William and Mary at the end of the 17th century and the Catholic clergy who wouldn’t swear allegiance to the French Revolutionary government a century later, the “non-jurors” of the present day will soldier on and die out but they will be faithful to what they have believed and history will honour them for their faithfulness…

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Comments

“Most of all we ask for ways that allow us to bring our folk with us”

Translation: "Please don't reduce *ME* to being just another RC layman like (Great Unannointed) THEM!"

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:14am BST

One is at a loss for words, except perhaps for, "arrivederci."

Posted by: EpiscopalPriest on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:24am BST

I suppose the issue is whether this Pope has the imaginative determination to provide some sort of cultural worship space for these Anglicans who would nevertheless have to be reordained to be clerical and swear allegiance to the Pope. If either is unacceptable they could always set up their own continuing Church. Presumably it could see the approval of the new Primates' Council.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 3:04am BST

If Ebbsfleet and some of his clergy and parishioners do go over to Rome, or any foreign archdiocese or other religion, even in numbers, they know that they cannot take their churches and cathedrals with them. Here in the US, unfortunately, such leavers have trouble grasping this basic idea.

Posted by: Andrew on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 3:11am BST

I just think that the lack of money to pay married clergy will slow things down.

Furthermore many of the Anglo-Catholic laity will not be able to convrt , because of their marital status (divorced and re-married) and most believe in contraception, as this has not been an issue with Anglo-Catholics since the 1930s.

I can't see the Church of England handing over parish churches....even on a loan basis.

However if they are genuine and this is not "scare the bishops" tactics, I welcome them.

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 6:11am BST

There is also a French saying (referring to the réactionaries of the 19th century):

Collectioneur de Causes perdues.

And other one (referring to the effect of 5 Républics):

Plus ça change, plus ça deviens le même.

The 2 are connected, of course...

Posted by: Göran Koch-Swahne on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 6:22am BST

I can't leave unchallenged his claim that 'some of the finest anglican clergy' left in the 1990s. That isn't my perception. I saw many wait for their 50th birthdays, so that they could collect their full pay-off. And I saw the back of many who were not much of an ornament to the priesthood. The same will be true this time. I also find it ridiculous that he should compare these people, who have a single-issue cause, that of opposing women, with the non-jurors. Outrageous.

Posted by: poppy tupper on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 8:11am BST

From the point of view of an Anglo-Catholic whose conscience would not permit him to convert to Roman Catholicism, I find myself having been rejected by the Church of England and now potentially abandoned by my own church leaders. My inclination is to give up on the church completely and just to say my prayers every day.

Posted by: Colin Hunt on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 8:37am BST

Tough choices for some Anglo-Catholics then - choosing between being contaminated by rubbing shoulders with uppity women who according to them are not real and cannot ever be real, sacramentally speaking, and rubbing shoulders in another risk of contamination with a uniquely infallible Bishop of Rome who according to himself and his forebears is nothing but real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real, real.

Difficult.

Posted by: drdanfee on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 9:27am BST

What puzzles me is why they won't join one of the continuing Churches that meets their needs or even form their own. That way there is no submission to Roman things not believed, and yet they can carry on as before - still as bishops, still clerical, still (presumably) with some congregations meeting in rented premises or houses. They can have as much purity as they want then.

Posted by: Pluralist on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 10:24am BST

Colin Hunt

as a woman living with a female partner in an anti-gay diocese, I know exactly how you feel.

For me, though, it has ultimately been a positive experience as it has focused me much more on God than on the church and helped enormously to strenghten my faith.

I pray it may do that for you too.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 11:40am BST

Colin Hunt,

"My inclination is to give up on the church completely and just to say my prayers every day."

I did that for 18 years, and over this very issue. I came back because I realized I needed God, by that time realized that OOW was right but that had not been enough to bring me back to a Church that I felt had made the right decision for the wrong reason. Erika puts it best, and she's been through some nasty homophobia that has forced her to focus on God more than the Church. I would have joined the Orthodox if there had been a parish here, still might. Like you I wouldn't be able to go to Rome.

Pluralist,
"What puzzles me is why they won't join one of the continuing Churches that meets their needs or even form their own."

But no schismatics do that. Look at the number of "Continuing Anglican" churches that exist, and how many of them came into being because of OOW in TEC? If so many of them left TEC for the same reason, you have to ask why they can't be in unity with one another.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:49pm BST

I'm a former RC, so I have a particular slant on things I guess, but I don't see how one can decide to 'convert' to Rome (Rome's word, not mine) on the basis of opposition to women bishops. If one believes such things as papal infallibility, universal jurisdiction, the invalidity of Anglican orders and the like, then I'm not sure why one would have remained an Anglican until now. If one didn't believe such things, it's hard to see how a synodical vote makes all these things believable all of a sudden. It's one thing to be born into a Church that officially professes such teachings, but it's quite another to give assent as an informed adult. No doubt the Holy Spirit can turn hearts one way or the other; but, though the Spirit blows where she wills, it's odd that she decides to synchronise things according to synodical votes....

Given that there are many RCs in favour of women's ordination, who don't 'get' infallibility, who believe the church is rooted in the local, etc., who remain in their church despite such massive dogmatic differences, why can't those opposed stay in the C of E?

Re all this worrying about the validity of sacraments, I recognise the worry about validity: I was schooled in it and it still runs very deep. But I now find it harder to imagine that the Trinity is so wedded to canon law that the Son can't make himself present to hearts yearning to commune with him because the eucharistic presider is female. Or perhaps he only makes himself a wee bit present, or perhaps only spiritually but not really present (though Chalcedon prevents any such division of natures), or perhaps he bypasses unconsecrated elements and shunts himself directly in an unmediated fashion if a woman's been involved. Sorry for the irreverent language, but the concern over validity can be irreverently condescending to God.


Posted by: Joe on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 12:54pm BST

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet is my 'flying bishop’; I've met him many times and served at the Altar with him. He has never asked me whether or not I want or need him to lead me to Rome. As Churchwarden in my parish I have never made any secret of my total commitment to the ordination of women. I may now not get re-elected but feelings amongst congregations are not as clear as the Rt Rev Andrew Burnahm seems to suppose. Should I now seek, by way of proactive action, reversal of the motions for alternative oversight and challenge the use of the Roman Missal? Any sympathetic advice will be genuinely engaged with.

Posted by: William McDowell on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 2:01pm BST

Colin Hunt - I understand what you are saying. Already the trad bishops are undecided about whether to stay or leave. I suspect many of the finest priests who were signatories of the recent letter will indeed go. But wrong as General Synod has been in this matter it hardly makes the Roman Catholic Church or the Orthodox right - THEY will not even debate the ordination of women. This I find equally offensive.
Although you and I believe we have been rejected, and jeered at and gloated over by the majority, there always remains the possibility that we are wrong and need to change - or equally the CofE will be guided by God's Spirit to reverse their political decisions at some stage in the future. All remains in His hands, and not even the CofE will require you to go against your conscience in the meantime. Unless Giles Fraser and his ilk have different plans. But in those circumstances then you follow conscience, and would need to be obedient to a higher authority. Not all priests who are faithful to scripture and tradition will abandon ship. Many are young and numbers are still growing.

Posted by: Neil on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 2:41pm BST

This doesn't quite sound like the lemming migration Damian Thompson was predicting a couple of days ago.

Posted by: Lapinbizarre on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 2:53pm BST

Can someone explain why we won't see female bishops before 2014? I have seen this mentioned and don't understand why it will take so long.

In any case, this gives opponents to female bishops 6 years to either reach retirement or find a new place for themselves, so why the rush?

Posted by: Caoilin on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 3:09pm BST

"Although you and I believe we have been rejected"

But no-one has rejected you!
People are still happy for you to be in the church, most people respect that you find it impossible to accept women bishops.

But the majority of the church appears to have discerned that the Holy Spirit is guiding us into a new truth about women's ministry. Following that perceived call is no rejection of those who don't perceive the same call.

I accept that many believe you to be hostile to women and that many appalling comments have come your way.
As I said in an earlier post, as a woman in a same sex partnership I understand that only too well!

But no-one tells you that you are faithless, that you are not Christians, that you must repent of your beliefs or God will punish you forever, and no-one is trying to push you out of the church.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 4:45pm BST

Like Joe, I grew up RC. Reading his comment reminded me of an occasion, several years ago, when I celebrated the Eucharist for the congregation of a Lutheran pastor friend (although it wasn't actually "legal" at the time). Afterwards, another friend asked if I would have my pastor friend do the same for me. "Of course not," I said. "After all, when I celebrated at his church, the people received a valid sacrament. That wouldn't be so if he celebrated at mine." My friend replied, "So that's how you think God operates in the world. Millions of Lutherans devoutly believe that they are receiving the Body and Blood of Christ each week, but they're not, because their pastors have the wrong pedigree."

It was a kind of conversion experience for me. Since then, "validity" issues have held no interest for me. Much as human beings are devoted to complicated systems, God operates through sheer grace.

Posted by: Old Father William on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 6:10pm BST

Not all Anglo-Catholics are worried about their future in the church of England. This morning,preparing for the eucharist, two loyal, committed, prayerful members of this church which has always defined itself as Anglo-Catholic said,"I don't know what all the fuss is about. We're all Christians aren't we?"
but then, they have experienced the priestly ministry of women for 14 years now.

Posted by: rr on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 6:25pm BST

Old Father William, good points. Here's how I see it. Each Christian tradition has a somewhat different understanding of these things. The "catholics" all agree on Real Presence in some sense, but differ widely on what that means. Even 'sacrament' means different things to different people. I would receive in a Methodist Church, though I would not think I was doing what I would be doing in an Anglican one. I don't think Methodists would find that offensive, since they don't think they're doing what we do either. I am not denying the spiritual benefit of the act, nor the faith of those taking part, just recognizing that we have different understandings of what we are doing. In an Anglican Church, well, I'm not about to go giving the priest a doctrinal test, but I do know I wouldn't recieve from a lay Anglican in Sydney. I know some Romans who have received in Anglican churches, and I am glad that they feel they can do that. I am not offended by those Romans who feel they cannot, since I understand their reasons. I guess it's not so much about validity as it is about what we are intending to do that matters more for me in this instance.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 6:55pm BST

Can I get one thing straight please? I individually do not have any problem with a woman as a priest, or the concept of a woman as a bishop. My issue in this matter concerns the apparant decision by Synod that the Anglo-Catholics have no place in the 21st-century Church of England. I too know the Bishop of Ebbsfleet very well, and he is aware that I have chosen to put the interests of my parish before my own opinions in order to maintain the liturgical tradition which I as a professional organist contribute to. If that tradition is lost to us, then my musical ministry comes to an end, as I have no time for the vacuous rubbish which is served up as "Evangelical Worship" in this area.

Posted by: Colin Hunt on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 7:13pm BST

I doubt that Roman Catholic churches in the UK are exactly over crowded. They should be able to offer space in the pews to any Anglo-Catholics who want to make the switch. Taking property with them shouldn't be a problem.

Posted by: Richard Lyon on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 7:48pm BST

"Given that there are many RCs in favour of women's ordination, who don't 'get' infallibility, who believe the church is rooted in the local, etc., who remain in their church despite such massive dogmatic differences, why can't those opposed stay in the C of E?"

Exactly. I have good friends who are devout RCs and in favor of women's ordination, opposed to the church's teaching on sexuality, birth control, etc, and who stay in although their hearts get broken over and over. They work for change, and have my prayers, because I admire their decision to stay and fight, no matter how hopeless it appears.

I also like the writer's point about the other baggage that comes with Rome - invalid Anglican orders, papal infallability etc - if you already beleived this, why did you stay in the C of E until the vote on women Bishops?

Or is it that gender trumps all?

Then isn't gender an idol?

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 9:32pm BST

Pluralist asks why the expelled Anglo-Catholics don't join one of the 'Continuing' churches. The TAC is in discussions with Rome and has been for some time. The A-Cs might be better going directly to Rome. One gets the impression that the TAC are merely posturing, making various demands of Rome before they will graciously consent to join her. The 'Continuing C of E' is David Samuel's evangelical church, so no hope there. Same is true of the Free Church of England, and various others.
The issues of contraception and Benedict's anti-gay pronouncements, incl. the Catechism's description of homosexuality as 'depraved', etc., would be a problem for many A-Cs. There are many gays among the A-Cs, and many non-gay A-Cs who strongly oppose anti-homosexualism.

Posted by: Paul Rowlandson on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 9:40pm BST

I have trouble understanding comments, such as those from Colin Hunt, that anglo-catholic will be "lost" with the ordination/consecration of women as bishops. If it continues with women as priests, what difference will it make. As a Canadian, we have had women bishops for a number of years. Anglo-catholic parishes continue in their liturgical tradition as before. Anglo-catholics do not feel expelled. Perhaps some anglo-catholics are opposed to women as priests or bishops, but the world hasn't come to an end. Some have welcomed women clergy in their parishes and felt enriched by their ministry. The same is true of evangelical parishes. I also cannot understand why the idea of women as bishops is now a breaking point for those who stayed despite the ordination of women as priests. It is illogical that only the order of bishops should be reserved for males, considering that women priests have received episcopal ordination. If it is an issue of authority being given to women, or of women breaking through a barrier, this is a cultural, not a theological issue. Scripture is not helpful, unless we silence women in our churches and we have moved beyong that. We are not ossified by Tradition. Ango-catholics have been progressive liturgically and theologically within Anglicanism, so it is time to continue that tradition. Going to Rome resolves nothing, but rather opens up issues about authority and freedom of conscience that are foreign to Anglicanism.

Posted by: Richard on Thursday, 10 July 2008 at 10:27pm BST

Colin Hunt: "Can I get one thing straight please? I individually do not have any problem with a woman as a priest, or the concept of a woman as a bishop. My issue in this matter concerns the apparant decision by Synod that the Anglo-Catholics have no place in the 21st-century Church of England."

But that is in fact not at all what the General Synod has decided, and it is a very serious distortion of what the General Synod has done. Nowhere was there a motion, or an amendment, to expel Anglo-Catholics. Rather the General Synod has said: that it believes the majority are in favour of women bishops; that it wants to find a way to accommodate those in the minority (of whatever stripe); and that this accommodation should not take the form of parallel jurisdictions of the sort proposed in the so-called Super Bishop scheme.

Frankly, I am amazed that anyone who has an interest in Catholic ecclesiology would want to set as a condition of remaining the destruction of Catholic ecclesiology, for that is what the Super Bishop scheme represented.

But the reason the debate was so lengthy was clearly because the Synod was agonizing over how best to reach out to the minority, including Anglo-Catholics, without completely scuppering the fundamental ecclesiology of the Church. It emphatically did not wish to say that there was no place for Anglo-Catholics in the Church of England; rather it sought long and hard the best way to ensure a continuing place for them. It is unfair, in my view, to characterise the Synod's decision as expelling Anglo-Catholics, who remain a valued part of the Church of England.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 12:19am BST

It appears that we will soon see the appearance of a new liturgy, the Ebbsfleet Use....

The dismissal will consist of:

Put on your ruby slippers;
close your eyes;
click your heels three times, then say
"There's no place like Rome!"

In the Litany we will find:

V: "The tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities"
R: "Grant us, good Lord!"

(with apologies to the Book of Common Prayer)

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 1:09am BST

"I now find it harder to imagine that the Trinity is so wedded to canon law that the Son can't make himself present to hearts yearning to commune with him because the eucharistic presider is female. Or perhaps he only makes himself a wee bit present, or perhaps only spiritually but not really present (though Chalcedon prevents any such division of natures), or perhaps he bypasses unconsecrated elements and shunts himself directly in an unmediated fashion if a woman's been involved. Sorry for the irreverent language, but the concern over validity can be irreverently condescending to God. - Posted by Joe"

Tremendously well said, Joe: thank you (you too, Old Father William!)

***

Ford, I (faithful Episcopalian lifer) went to Union Theological Seminary (non-denominational, liberal) in New York City. As such, I experienced all sorts of crazy-*ss "Holy Communion" services in the chapel there. ;-)

I believe God's "Economy of Grace" covered 'em ALL!

Posted by: JCF on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 2:48am BST

The Church of England had for many years before women priests been a church where half the clergy didn't really believe the other half were 'proper' Christians/priests anyhow. The Evangelicals thought that non-Evangelicals didn't really believe in God, the liberals thought all the rest were unChristian in their behaviour and the ACs thought other priests had the wrong understanding of the sacraments. The liberals, the atheists, the bigots, the Puritans, and the gays among the priesthood all lived together in tension, but also tolerance. What changed with OoW was that some ACs and evangelicals refused that prior compromise. They would have nothing to do with women priests, even though they were prepared to co-operate with people who didn't recognise their own clerical orders as valid (Catholics) or whose clerical orders they didn't recognise as valid (non-conformists etc). If FiF and the like had been prepared to say that they would work with women priests in non-sacramental matters, then goodwill could have been created. Instead, they seem to have wanted simply to pretend that women priests don't exist and create no-go areas. Is it any surprise that after 15 years of that there wasn't a lot of enthusiasm for more?

Posted by: magistra on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 10:48am BST

This is lovely ! Thank you.

'It appears that we will soon see the appearance of a new liturgy, the Ebbsfleet Use....

The dismissal will consist of:

Put on your ruby slippers;
close your eyes;
click your heels three times, then say
"There's no place like Rome!"

In the Litany we will find:

V: "The tyranny of the Bishop of Rome and all his detestable enormities"
R: "Grant us, good Lord!"

(with apologies to the Book of Common Prayer)

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 1:09am BST

I must copy this. Where do I get my slippers of the right shade ?

On the other hand, too many have been too inclined, too speedily, to dismiss the words of a bishop, whose See is named for a sand-bank ! I hasten to denounce such thinking as deeply (sic) unChristian.

Yes the sand-bank appelation, need not mean our AB is adrift in the slightest... No my misgivings are entwined with the words "Wolf !" , "cry" and 'own goal'.

mrs trellis
north wales

Posted by: mrs trelis of north wales on Friday, 11 July 2008 at 9:25pm BST

I understand - from my Anglican priest brother-in-law - that when he attended a Roman Catholic Seminary in Ireland on sabbatical study, he found a reference where Saint Patrick 'put women in charge of the little wooden churches'

Could it have been that Patrick (an Englishman) approved of, and utilised, women clergy?

Also, on the matter of the wide-scale acceptance of contracetive use by many Roman Catholic couples - despite the ban imposed by papal decree - automatically invalidate their membership of the Roman Catholic Church? Or is perpetual penance and absolution available to such couples?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 5:29am BST

"Could it have been that Patrick (an Englishman) approved of, and utilised, women clergy?"

There is also the story that st. Bridget was made a priest so as to provide the sacraments to her community. If so, it means that not ordaining women was not about the validity of their sacraments. But then again, we are talking about Celtic Christianity, replaced by the Latin style at the Synod of Whitby, and for Consevos, it is all just "the traditions of men" anyway.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 13 July 2008 at 10:29am BST

"is perpetual penance and absolution available to such couples? "
No, just secrecy.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 14 July 2008 at 1:12am BST
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