Monday, 29 December 2008

Women Bishops in the Church of England

The Women in the Episcopate draft Measure has been published.

In the official press release the chair of the legislative drafting group, the Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch, Bishop of Manchester, is quoted as saying:

The General Synod mandated us to draft a Measure including special arrangements, within existing structures, for those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops and to do that in a national code of practice. We believe we have achieved that by providing for male complementary bishops, as we suggested in our earlier report, and now hand our work to the Synod to discuss the drafts in detail.

The draft measure and associated papers are available for download.

GS 1707 - Women in the Episcopate - Further Report from the Legislative Drafting Group
GS 1708 - Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure
GS 1709 - Amending Canon Number 30
GS 1710 - Illustrative Code of Practice
GS 1708-10X - Explanatory Memorandum

Posted by Peter Owen on Monday, 29 December 2008 at 5:09pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

So, exactly the opposite of what General Synod mandated them to do. No wonder the Church of England is despised.

Posted by: toby forward on Monday, 29 December 2008 at 6:32pm GMT

"those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops"

Geez, they make it sound like a congenital disability, and not just a misogynistic 'tude. >:-/

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 29 December 2008 at 7:01pm GMT

The code of practice would institute a new level of bureaucracy in multi-parish benefices: the 'benefice meeting' with 2 reps from each parish, to consider the role of priestly and episcopal ministries of women.
Individual parishes in a multi-parish benefice would be able to rescind resolutions A and B passed by other parishes in the benefice.

These proposals would radically alter the relationships between parishes in multi-parish benefices.

Is that good or bad though?

Posted by: dodgey_vicar on Monday, 29 December 2008 at 8:24pm GMT

Two initial thoughts:

1. There is no mention in any of the documentation (that I could see, in any case) of any ability to reject the ministry of men ordained as deacons or priests by female bishops.
2. The group clearly took seriously (as pointed out by dodgey_vicar above) the very real issue that is present in multi-parish benefices today of one PCC passing the current resolution B and cutting down the choice of new incumbent for the whole benefice by limiting it to men.

For what it's worth, I think they have steered a potentially successful course through the minefield. Both extremes will complain, though.

Posted by: Wilf on Monday, 29 December 2008 at 10:52pm GMT

"Geez, they make it sound like a congenital disability, and not just a misogynistic 'tude. >:-/"

No, they make it sound like a legitimate theological position. Which it is. It's not mine, and it's not yours, but denigrating it as mere misogyny does not do us, or our position, or the Church any good.

Posted by: BillyD on Monday, 29 December 2008 at 11:19pm GMT

"they make it sound like a legitimate theological position. Which it is."

I simply disagree, BillyD. It may be a "legitimate position" on SOME grounds, but in Christianity (Y'know, the faith based upon One in whom "there is no male or female"?), theological it ain't. (Whether to say so "does any good", I leave to others to decide)

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 30 December 2008 at 5:40am GMT

JCF:

"those unable to receive the ministry of women bishops" sounds to me like the whole Church of England, for none of its members are able to avail themselves of the ministry of women bishops without travelling abroad, the Church at home having neglected to provide any.

Wilf:

OK, so there needs to be some protection for parishes from male clergy who have been, in effect, "invalidly" ordained by a woman bishop. Do I misunderstand that this is currently in place? i.e., that a priest from abroad who was ordained by a female bishop cannot seek a position in the C of E? or am I mistaken on this point? At any rate, if I am correct, then it would seem that this restriction will be removed as soon as women bishops are a reality in the C of E.

And besides, how about protecting parishes from clergy who were ordained by anti-women bishops? Sauce for the goose, after all.

Obviously, either option will simply institutionalise schism by creating lists of clergy whose orders are not fully recognized in the Church of England in spite of having been lawfully ordained. It is bad enough that women bishops are evidently to join women priests in having restrictions put on the full function of their ministry. I believe the Church in Wales had it right when they said that the only basis for going forward with women bishops should be full and equal ministry. No asterisks beside their names, nor beside the names of those who have been ordained by them.

Posted by: Nom de Plume on Tuesday, 30 December 2008 at 2:02pm GMT

"theological it ain't"

Yes it is, JCF. I don't agree with it any more than you do, but there are solid theological arguments against OOW, I have given them numerous times here. They need to be answered with good theology, not with accusations of misogyny. So, why CAN a woman act in persona Christi? Why is it acceptable after 2000 years to oppose not only a traditional practice, but one which has informed our understanding of priesthood? Respect for the nature of sacrament and reverence for tradition are not misogynistic, for all they might be wrong. No doubt some of the PEOPLE making the arguments are doing so from a position of misogyny. But the theological status of the argument is not negated by the motivations behind that argument. And yes, I think the same way about arguments made against gay people. PEOPLE are misogynist or homophobic, but that doesn't mean their arguments are.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 30 December 2008 at 3:12pm GMT

Ford
"They need to be answered with good theology, not with accusations of misogyny"

Those arguments have been answered with good theology time and time again.

In the case of race we have come to a point where denying black people equal status in the church would be considered as racist (as well as illegal), not as a theological stance.

I think JCF is right to suggest that in the case of women's ordination, too, we are moving towards the point where continued objection can be considered to be pure misogyny.

Further down the line, the supposed theological objections against homosexuality will also be seen for what they are.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 30 December 2008 at 6:52pm GMT

So now, not only are women bishops suspect in the CofE, but also priests and deacons -- including male priests and deacons -- ordained by them? Is there now to be a chain of non-apostolic non-succession in the CofE?
In orthodox Christian tradition, the Holy Spirit came upon a virgin and overshadowed her, and caused her to conceive. If the Holy Spirit can do that, I seriously doubt that same Spirit would run screaming at the thought of filling a human being during the rite of consecration or ordination because the person being presented happened to have two X chromosomes instead of an X and a Y.
Ford Elms and BillyD, I've heard some of the arguments, and I'm sorry,
“Jesus came into the world as a man”. Jesus had two choices, to come as a man or as a woman. In 1st Century CE Judea, what are the chances a woman prophet and rabbi would have even been listened to? She would have stood a good chance of being stoned. "Jesus of Nazareth appointed only male apostles, therefore only men can be priests and bishops" sounds awfully smug to me, and I have the same concerns as above. "Men and women have different roles, and both are equally valid" is the classic orthodox and fundamentalist view of many religions, and is a nice way of confining women to the home and away from leadership.
What was Adam’s response when confronted by God in the Garden of Eden? "Blame Eve, she made me eat it!"
Who stuck around during the Crucifixion, while the male apostles scattered? Women.
Who were the first witnesses to the Resurrection and weren't believed by those same male apostles? Women.
Who, at first didn’t believe the women, but had to see the tomb for themselves, because, well … you know how, um, hysterical (look up the etymology) women can be? Men.
There are theological arguments to be made, but to me they sound like variations on “Men are better. We’re special. So there.”

Posted by: peterpi on Tuesday, 30 December 2008 at 8:41pm GMT

"PEOPLE are misogynist or homophobic, but that doesn't mean their arguments are." - Ford Elms -

Dear, dear Ford,

Don't mistake me, I do love your postings, but on this latest I do have a bit of a problem. Your equivocations can be a little puzzling to some of us who want to take a clear stand against misogyny and homophobia - wherever we find it - on the web or in the real world; so that your sometimes eirenic postings - though, I am sure, meant to keep the conversation flowing - seem to deny the seriousness of the subject matter.

I don't want to be argumentative for the sake of it, but I do recognize that counter arguments to the need for justice for gays and women can sometimes give an awful lot of leeway to those who might take advantage of them. When you say, for instance, that "PEOPLE are misogynistic or homophobic, but that doesn't mean their arguments are", I wonder what you mean to imply by that. It seems to me that misogynists and homophobes do need to be challenged in their zest for the exclusion of women and gays from the ministry of the Church. This has, for me, and many of us on this site, become a profund issues of justice in the Church, and therefore needing an adequate and truthful defence.

Love you, Ford, but I needed to say this.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 30 December 2008 at 9:46pm GMT

Ford, the anti-WOers can dress up coincidence as cause all they like, and it doesn't make it "theological."

To the best of my knowledge, there has NEVER been a liturgy where a priest has whipped out his penis and wagged it over the bread and wine. The question "why CAN a woman act in persona Christi?" is a shamelessly BEGGING one, and I refuse to grant it honor that it doesn't deserve.

Women can act in Persona Christi because they ARE Imago Dei (and absent misogynistic control, they DO so act). Period, end of discussion. For those who have problems w/ that, Go in Peace (or just GO!)

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 1:11am GMT

Sounds like pathological fear of girl cooties - get OVER it!

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 4:02am GMT

"To the best of my knowledge, there has NEVER been a liturgy where a priest has whipped out his penis and wagged it over the bread and wine. "

Nor, I think, would I go were one to be offered...

The male only Persona Christi argument doesn't seem to hold water, given the amount of gender role-playing goes on in the Church. We're told that Jesus is the lover of our soul and that the Church is the Bride of Jesus, for example, but no one ever argues that this imagery can't be used by men. I remember an elderly priest telling me that making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament was like going on a date with Christ, whereas receiving Holy Communion was like, um, conjugal relations. Again, there was no hint that this imagery would be a problem for males, even heterosexual males. So why the insistence that only a male can act in Persona Christi?

"Women can act in Persona Christi because they ARE Imago Dei..."

Well said.

(I still don't think that all arguments against WO boil down to misogyny. There are people I know and respect who do not accept it, and I take their word for it when they tell me that it is because of theological arguments against it. Of course, that doesn't mean that I think that they are *good* theological arguments.)

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 9:50am GMT

"Those arguments have been answered with good theology time and time again."

And the need to do so continues. Don't get me wrong here, I am solidly in favour of OOW, and I agree with every argument that has been made on this thread. To suggest that only a man can act 'in persona Christi' is to suggest that Christ's maleness was a significant part of the Incarnation, which implies that slightly more than half the population is not redeemed. So, I agree, peterpi et al. My point was that when someone comes up with a theological objection, the best way to approach it is with a theological counterargument, regardless of how many times that has been done in the past. Perhaps the person making the argument has not heard, even now, the counterargument. I NEVER in all the debate about OOW in the Canadian Church heard even one theologically based argument, not one, for it. I, an untrained layman, had to come up with one on my own. So, if that's the case, how, many others are in the same boat? How many others have what they feel are solid theological arguments against OOW and would be at least led to think about the issue more deeply if, when they make those arguments, they were met with solid theology in opposition, instead of denunciations of mysogeny? How much less divisive would this be in that instance? I think the anti-OOW crowd are wrong, but I no more think they're all mysogenists than I think that all the anti-SSB crowd are homophobes. That's all.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 3:16pm GMT

"I NEVER in all the debate about OOW in the Canadian Church heard even one theologically based argument, not one, for it. I, an untrained layman, had to come up with one on my own. So, if that's the case, how, many others are in the same boat? "

This sounds familiar. I think that the way that WO was handled in the American Church back in the '70s - being framed not in theological terms, for the most part, but in political terms - was similarly a mistake.

Posted by: BillyD on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 3:43pm GMT

If I could make a suggestion here, I would propose that the ordinary basis for a male priesthood is neither misogyny or theological arguments, but Tradition.

In classical Protestantism tradition carries little weight. But it is normative for Orthodox and Catholic Christians, as well as for Anglo-Catholics. (Hence I will try to follow the convention of distinguishing "tradition" as custom or habit from "Tradition" as that part of the deposit of faith outside of the revealed, canonical scriptures.)

Theology is the reasoned explanation and exposition of the faith. We demand such reasons, because we are human beings. But explanations of the form of the sacraments can certainly seem arbitrary.

Why, for instance, must the matter of the Eucharist be bread and wine, as opposed to rice-cakes and tea? Most would agree that bread and wine is the Tradition of the Church, and arguments can be made showing a certain connection with the elements of the Passover meal in Christ's instituion of the Eucharist. But good arguments can be made, too, for the widening of the use of Eucharistic elements--for those with gluten intolerance, for instance, or openness to the "staples" of other cultures.

My point, I suppose, is that one should not confuse the theological arguments for a male priesthood with what appears to me the reason for it, simply that the priesthood was initially so constituted, and that such constitution has been taken, up until the last century, as part of the Tradition.

I would say further that it is part of the teaching authority of the Church to discern whether certain customary practices like the male priesthood constitute changable "tradition" or unchangable "Tradition" (if, that is, one accepts that the Church has such authority). Theological reflection is therefore necessary for such discernment and decisions. But it typically comes in after the fact, and should not be confused with the reason for the practice.

Posted by: rick allen on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 4:30pm GMT

Quite apart from Ford's more esoteric point, there is a more practical reason not to root our arguments in the assumption that everyone who is skeptical about the ordination of women is sexist (or that everyone who is skeptical about the blessing of same sex unions is homphobic).

There are WO-skeptics (and SSB-skeptics) who are open to be persuaded. Beginning by insulting them tends to be counterproductive.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 5:49pm GMT

'Is there now to be a chain of non-apostolic non-succession in the CofE ?'

I really hope so. The chain tactile magical notion has been disastrous for the development of anglicanism and its work in the world.

We need less of this kind of superstition and the actions and attitudes it seems to lead to; and a lot more down to earth real ministry, real projects on the ground that help people and spread the message of love, peace and equlity, which Jesus seems to have been aiming for (as far as we can tell from the available sources).


Tell you what, we could aim for it and see where it takes us -certainly not to segregated parishes and special dioceses.

btw Those who really intended to leave over women's minsitry have had over a decade to do so. Those who have remained seeme to be making a
threat-- one that I find unconvincing.

"Yes but you don't go!"
"We go, we go."

I hope nobody leaves -- we need all the oddballs and eccentrics we can get -- (and I should know) !

;- )

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 6:27pm GMT

"Why, for instance, must the matter of the Eucharist be bread and wine, as opposed to rice-cakes and tea? " - Rick Allen -

When I was living in the Fiji Islands in the late 1960s, the Roman Catholics in that country, which contained many Indians in the population, began the use of 'Missa Puja', which utilised native Indian food and drink elements for the community celebration of the Mass. So, was that a defective overturning of tradition? Or was it just a way of incorporating local elements which made sense in the local situation?

One might consider, on this basis, that allowing women to preside at the Mass might just be an accommodation to the reality of the fact that women, though not traditionally associated with presidency at the Mass; because of their sharing of the Inago Dei, should not be excluded from that particular privilege.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 31 December 2008 at 10:41pm GMT

'Is there now to be a chain of non-apostolic non-succession in the CofE ?'

I really hope so. The chain tactile magical notion has been disastrous for the development of anglicanism and its work in the world.

We need less of this kind of superstition and the actions and attitudes it seems to lead to; and a lot more down to earth real ministry, real projects on the ground that help people and spread the message of love, peace and equlity, which Jesus seems to have been aiming for (as far as we can tell from the available sources).


Tell you what, we could aim for it and see where it takes us -certainly not to segregated parishes and special dioceses.

btw Those who really intended to leave over women's minsitry have had over a decade to do so. Those who have remained seeme to be making a
threat-- one that I find unconvincing.

"Yes but you don't go!"
"We go, we go."

I hope nobody leaves -- we need all the oddballs and eccentrics we can get -- (and I should know) !

;- )

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Thursday, 1 January 2009 at 1:20am GMT

"I would say further that it is part of the teaching authority of the Church to discern whether certain customary practices like the male priesthood constitute changeable "tradition" or unchangeable "Tradition" (if, that is, one accepts that the Church has such authority). Theological reflection is therefore necessary for such discernment and decisions. But it typically comes in after the fact, and should not be confused with the reason for the practice."

But is this not the exact process that has been followed? Certain parts of the Church have discerned that, at least in their cultural contexts, the all-male priesthood is a part of the "small-t" tradition that can be changed, and the theological reflection is being done after the fact. Unless, as you say, you don't accept that the Church has this authority. I have to admit, that last point does give me some pause as well.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 2 January 2009 at 1:12pm GMT

"But is this not the exact process that has been followed?"

Ford, yes, and if I were Episcopalian/Anglican I would have no problem with what was going on, so long as I was satisfied that those making the decision had the competence to do so.

As it happens, I'm not, so they carry no weight for me. And my understanding is that many serious Anglo-Catholics subscribe to a "three branch" theory of the Church, such that the Anglican branch, alone, lacks the competence to make changes such as this. Evangelicals will see the scriptures alone as authoritative, and, though Tradition means nothing to them, will see these changes as violative of what they read as New Testament norms.

In other words, the Anglican communion contains at least some members who do not believe that the governing bodies of the various churches have the authority, on their own, to make this change.

As I have sometimes said, I am not an "opponent of women's ordination." I simply receive and accept the Church's teaching on the matter. If the Catholic and Orthodox bishops one day eat crow and say, "OK, women can be ordained to holy orders," that will be fine with me. But until that day comes, if it comes, I will be fine with the priesthood as it stands. Because being a Christian is not about who gets to be a priest.

My original point, of course, was that these theological reasons come in after the fact. The actual reason for the ancient and medieval and modern all-male priesthood we just don't know. We can speculate that it was because of sexism, or to follow the model of some existing priesthood, or because Jesus wanted it that way, or because of some conscious decision unrecorded of the early Church. Our theologizing is largely second-guessing that early unknown.

But I am concerned about these arguments that say, "an all male-priesthood denies the Imago Dei in women." I don't buy them, but I am concerned that those who do may look back in history and say, "How can I be part of something that denied the Imago Dei in women for 2000 years?" If an all-male priesthood were so radically bad, it would suggest to me that I wouldn't want to have anything to do with the Church in the first place.

Anyway, I always come back to my favorite old saw on this issue. Jesus himself wasn't eligible to be a Levirite priest in his lifetime. Wrong tribe. It didn't seem to trouble him.

Posted by: rick allen on Friday, 2 January 2009 at 10:26pm GMT

"but I am concerned that those who do may look back in history and say, "How can I be part of something that denied the Imago Dei in women for 2000 years?"

Because the Spirit moves us on and on and on....
as Jesus himself said he would.

"I simply receive and accept the Church's teaching on the matter."

This is where we really do part company. I cannot imagine myself on Judgement Day saying "they made me believe it".....

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 2 January 2009 at 10:47pm GMT

"Jesus himself wasn't eligible to be a Levirite priest in his lifetime. Wrong tribe. It didn't seem to trouble him." - Rick Allen -

Rick, I had always suspected that you might be a Roman Catholic - not like Robert I.W., perhaps, but certainly not Anglican. And here, you touch upon a very valid point in the controversy about the position of the priesthood and who is, and who is not, called thereto.

Jesus was not called into the Levitical priesthood because of his cultural inadmissability. He was not of the priestly caste and therefore, as a Jew, not qualified to be a priest of Judaism. The fact that he was later seen as Prophet, Priest and King to the Jewish nation and was described as such in the New Testament does not alter the fact that he never claimed to be a priest of the Jewish religion. References to Jesus as 'a Priest of the Order of Melchisadek' resonates with his calling as the
prophetic, kingly and priestly Messianic figure (origin unknown) of the newer dispensation.

Old Testamental priesthood is not the same as that of the New Testament. Nevertheless, Presbyters and Elders of the Christian Church were chosen from the males in the Community because of the patriarchal tradition that had long been the custom of Jewish society. The original disciples were male because of the fact that, in Jesus' day, no-one would have accepted the authority of female leadership. However, the world of today is very different.

The way in which Jesus treated women was very different from that of most of his contemporaries (cf: his treatment of the woman caught in the act of adultery; and Jesus' commissioning of Mary Magdalene to bear witness of his resurrection to Peter and the male disciples), a fact which gave rise to some controversy among his male followers. It was against their tradition!

Incarnational theology tells us that Jesus became fully human in order to be a part of the whole human race - not just the male of the species. this alone ought to convince us that both women and men share equally in the Image and Likeness of the God whom Jesus represented in human form.

The patriarchal tradition has a lot to answer for - especially when it blinds us to the full humanity of both women and men.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 2:47am GMT

If the Anglican branch by itself lacks the ability to make change without the Roman Catholic and Orthodox branches concurring, then we may as well tell the Archbishop of Canterbury, the General Synod of the CofE, the Primates of the various Provinces, and the Provinces' equivalent general synods to pack their bags and go home. Benedict XVI might like that idea, but no one else would. We can argue about King Henry VIII or earlier potentates or church leaders, but it is indisputable that the Anglican Church is an autonomous branch. Many Orthodox autonomous churches allow married priests. Roman Catholic Churches do not. Some Anglican provinces do and some do not. East and West differ on when Easter is. I think at least one branch says ordinary lay people can receive only the host. Other branches say the laity can receive both the host and the wine. Yet somehow, we more or less get along.
If Anglican provinces have to wait for agreement on substantive issues until they all agree with each other and they have full agreement with Rome and with all Orthodox Churches, we'll be here until Jesus returns. If that's what rick allen argues, I respectfully disagree.
That's a call for doing nothing.

Posted by: peterpi on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 4:15am GMT

No no ! --we may still get on with gospel projects and all kinds of ministries --most require no ordination. But ordained people find many doors open and many opportunites for service in our communities.

Individaul work, group wwork, family work, work around housing, around employment, training, pastoral care, counselling, working with community groups, including other churches, synagogues, mosques, temples.

i wouldnt worry too much about all the nicer pints, theories and guff -- I really wouldnt.......


Get out there now ! People are waiting for YOU

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 8:34pm GMT

"How can I be part of something that denied the Imago Dei in women for 2000 years?"

The same way I can be part of something that once burned people to death, that sanctioned the wholesale slaughter of innocent people, the destruction of entire cultures, that comromised its principles time and again in order to have earthly power, that is profoundly hypocritical, not merely in its failure to live up to its principles, but at times its out and out rejection of them: because I believe that at the root of it all is Truth, Real, Honest to God Truth, and that Truth is not changed by the fallibility of the people called to the soul damaging task of guarding it. If you don't think ecclesiastical power damages one's soul, look at those in power, and speak to the more honest of them. Rejecting the Church because She rejected the Imago Dei in women for so long is only a newcomer to the list of reasons for people rejecting the Faith. I am frequently asked why I am part of the problem, that problem being Christianity. If you have yet to have the experience, you need to get out more.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 4 January 2009 at 7:28pm GMT

"Get out there now ! People are waiting for YOU"
- Rev L Roberts -

With all due respect, Rev L Roberts, the conversation here on this thread is is all about the admissability of the Anglican openness to the ordination of women to the priesthood and the episcopate. It is not about the ministry of the laity - which everyone ought to agree, is another matter entirely.

Your view of the need for evangelism in a needy world is, I believe, taken for granted by most of us on this site, and few would argue with your insistence that evangelism and outreach is not the exclusive province of the ordained. However, what is being discussed here is the important issue of whether women should, or should not, be oprdained into the Sacred ministry of the Church -a different issue entirely.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 5:24am GMT
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