Friday, 2 January 2009

more on women bishops

The Church Times has a news report: Legislation drafted for women bishops.

Comment is free has published an opinion article by Judith Maltby Women bishops: get over them.

In the press release, Women in the Episcopate draft Measure published, which was linked previously, there is a further link to the December 08 House of Bishops Summary of Decisions document (.doc format) which contains the following:

4. Women in the Episcopate

The House of Bishops considered the draft report, Measure, Amending Canon, Code of Practice and Explanatory Memorandum prepared by the Legislative Drafting Group. It made a number of detailed suggestions for the Bishops of Manchester and Basingstoke to report to the group for consideration at its final meeting. The House welcomed the careful and thorough work that the group had carried out in accordance with the mandate given by Synod.

In discussion several members of the House expressed support for further work to be done to explore approaches for those who could not receive the ministry of women priests and bishops which would either permit a diocesan bishop to confer jurisdiction by operation of law rather than by delegation or would provide a measure of cohesion and assurance through the development of a new, recognised religious society.

The House concluded that it would not be timely for it to commission further work of this kind at this point. It noted, however, that individual bishops would be able to lend their support to attempts to amend the draft material in these and other ways once Synod had resolved to commit it to the revision process. It was important that members of the House played their part in ensuring that the proposals were carefully scrutinised during the synodical process and alternatives duly tested.

The House acknowledged that it would continue to have a special responsibility for seeking to help the Church of England, through the legislative process, come to a conclusion that built trust and enabled as many people as possible, as loyal Anglicans, to remain members of the Church of England, notwithstanding their differing theological convictions on this issue.

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Comments

Judith Maltby's article give me the opportunity to ask a question which has long bothered me - or maybe it is two questions. Why is it that (some) men who oppose the ordination of women, also refuse to be under (male) bishops who do not oppose the ordination of women and why did the C-of-E provide special 'untainted' bishops for them. And yes, why (along with Judith) does this one difference of opinion merit more consideration than all the others Anglicans have always made do with - some surely theologically more important, as enumerated by Judith? I have a diocesan bishop who does not agree with the ordination of women, but neither I nor anyone else has ever suggested that women ought at least to have bishops who will agree to ordain them! Didn't the Act of Parliament make our tent a lot smaller? Shouldn't the willingness just to get on with it be what is asked of us all?

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Friday, 2 January 2009 at 12:49pm GMT

"Not only would these bishops be men, they would have to be men untainted by sacramental association with women clergy – please understand: just being a bloke isn't good enough, the bloke must be pure." -- Judith Maltby
Bravo, Judith Maltby! Your comments were spot on! I suspect that for some, it would even be better if the pure bloke came into existence without any participation by any woman whatsover at any stage of that priest's or bishop's development. In the Colonies, it's even worse -- some parishes and dioceses not only want male priests and bishops untainted by any contact with the notion of women priests and bishops, but also male priests and bishops untainted by any contact -- ever, of any kind -- with the notion that GLBT people are God's children also.

Posted by: peterpi on Friday, 2 January 2009 at 8:41pm GMT

And what about male bishops who happen to have been 'born of women'? Does that exclude them from the new category of bishops to bo specially set aside for the ordination of those who do not want to be 'contaminated' by any spiritual contact with the female of the species who are priests?

I wonder how Our Blessed Lady would have fared with the purists who protest at the ordination of women. Did not Mary bring forth the Saviour from
her womb? Was this not a pardigm of priesthood?

Thank you Judith (namesake of another female who apepars among the heroes of the O.T.) for your insightful and challenging take on the present situation in the C.of E. Perhaps there ought to be a little more emphasis on the representation of Christ's humanity as being something more than just his maleness in our theological colleges.

May this really become a New Year of Grace, bringing with it a better understanding of the true complementarity of women and men in the Sacred Ministry of the Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 2 January 2009 at 10:48pm GMT

Wow loads of thanks to Judith M for cutting right through all the scrupulous males first males only noise to the real sticking point - woman must be hindered, barred, banned. Period. Because other men and women so fear a woman priest will endanger their salvation offered by an all wise, all knowing, all loving deity? If female anatomy and physiology can so profoundly damage or endanger God and salvation, we have pledged a worried small god indeed? As anxious about proper maleness as the males only males first believers so often sound to be?

Just because ancient near eastern and later cultures deeply believed that being male was so near to being God is no reason we must blindly adopt their error and confusion about sex/gender/embodiment.

Most of our forebears until very recently believed genuinely that: men carried the homunculus that alone sprang to human life when properly planted in the womb of good earth (and poor womb functioning served to weaken the otherwise perfect male homunculus, making a female instead of a male born). Really no reason at all that we must follow Jesus so blindly as automatons of males first males only ancient belief systems.

The real dilemma for males only males first believer is what in the world they are going to do with real women in real modern life - often very gifted, very capable, and surely as necessary to our global survival as anybody else whose callings, talents, gifts we might possibly value? How convenient that ignoring trans folks in church life and thought so neatly accompanies uninformed and unintelligent notions of sex/gender/embodiment?

I also do so appreciate JMs wise and informed appreciation of all the other truly hot button issues or views upon which real Anglican believers may sincerely and deeply differ.

The current campaigns are not tests of godliness, but rather, tests of just how far the spin doctored and weaponized conservative Anglican agendas now elbowing us all around the planet - yes, JM, Sydney does come to mind - can divide and conquer us, and dissuade us from following Jesus as broad minded Anglican believers, locally, and globally. If there is a brand of conservative Anglicanism that is not determined to be small and petty minded about an overly domesticated small God, it has surely nearly lost its public voice in all the current Anglican global hoo-ha of vigorous campaigning.

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 2 January 2009 at 11:19pm GMT

Perhaps one question JM helps pose to males first males only believers from the rest of us might be:

What, if anything, can the rest of us across global Anglican church life and witness do? That might promise to be helpful?

Anything that will assist males first males only believers to bear a continuing and significant worry about women and salvation? (And modernity?)

Anything, aside from or beyond agreeing to very problematic untaintedness and separateness from the rest of us who do not share and bear your serious worries to some varying degrees?

Is there indeed anything else the rest of us can do?

A corollary set of questions has long ago arisen:
If the rest of us in Anglicanisms agree to untained separateness, can you honestly promise to cease and desist your using such arrangements to try to save the rest of us from ourselves as Anglican believers?

Can males first males only believers really promise and carry through on ending their campaigns against us? Ending an endless trash talking and targeting of women priests or bishops and those Anglican believers who feel less or no fear of them?

Can such believers lay down their weaponized witness as well as their scapegoat campaigning against the rest of us?

Posted by: drdanfee on Friday, 2 January 2009 at 11:53pm GMT

From an Amedddican: Could this be any more tedious?! Some kind of death to the patriarchy by a thousand cuts perhaps ... ? The last boney grasp of Mediaevalism pried from the crosier? Oh do get on with it ladies and gentlemen. We've had women bishops for years now over here and it works perfectly well.

Posted by: RZ on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 6:10am GMT

Judith Maltby should check at least some of her facts more carefully: Women preach at Anglican churches in Sydney each Sunday, and are licensed to do so by the archbishop.

Posted by: John Sandeman on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 7:42am GMT

Many of the comments made show a complete lack of understanding of the ecclesiological and theological reasoning that is behind opposition to women in the presbyterate or episcopate. Will someone answer the question as to why over 10000 women in the Church of England signed a letter to the Bishops asking for provision to be made for them and likeminded laity who do not support the proposed changes? Or are their views simply to be dismissed as irrelevant?

Posted by: Bromenblue on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 9:22am GMT

"Women preach at Anglican churches in Sydney each Sunday, and are licensed to do so by the archbishop" - John Sandeman, Sydney Diocese -

Yes John. But I understand the new female Bishop in the Perth Archdiocese would not be allowed to preside at the Eucharist in a Sydney Church - and she's a Bishop. (And I'll bet the women's sermons in Sydney are very carefully monitored by males).

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 9:41am GMT

"Women preach at Anglican churches in Sydney each Sunday, and are licensed to do so by the archbishop." They do in some ever decreasing enlightened churches within the diocese. There are others where they are not even allowed to read the lessons. However, even in St James, King Street where we are fortunate to often have visiting women priests from other dioceses, these women are not allowed to be recognised as priests especially as regards presiding at the Eucharist. I find this shameful and am grateful these women are willing to put up with such rudeness but then I regularly tell people I am an Anglican who unfortunately resides in the Diocese of Sydney and needs to travel 80km (2 hours) each way to be able to worship in a true, inclusive Anglican parish.

Posted by: Brian R on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 9:47am GMT

The idea of the maleness of Christ necessarily being replicated in the maleness of the priesthood seem to be well entrenched in at least some of the laity too. Only yesterday in my local paper a reader, commenting on the current comntroversy about the Bishop of Chichester's refusal to allow his suffragans to ordain women quotes 'the Father sent the Son to be the saviour of the world'. That (she says) we believe, is the mode in which God has chosen to save us. Women. however able, don't symbolise fatherhood. Going down that path all too easily leads to paganism.

Well you could drive a coach an horses through that argument, using that quote, along with the other one she uses, that the CofE is 'out of touch' with the practice of the rest of the Church. However it does indicate an entrenched view which is quite hard to shift.

Thank you Judith for a lucid and to the point comment. Lets all get real. Arguments about whether or not Jesus can or should be 'represented' at the altar, or what the RC church thinks or says are no longer relevant. Women Priests and therefore bishops are here to stay.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 10:20am GMT

"complete lack of understanding of the ecclesiological and theological reasoning that is behind opposition to women in the presbyterate or episcopate."

As opposed to the enlightened understanding on the part of those opposing OOW as to the very solidly Incarnation based reasons for it? Let's see, conservative understandings of those supporting OOW, as I have read them here and elsewhere:
1. They have no respect for Tradition,
2. They have no faith,
3. They are seeking to destroy the Gospel,
4. They are merely seeking the approval of the World,
5. They are oppressing and silencing anyone whose beliefs are different.
6. They are engaged in a misguided attempt to attract people, but are actually driving people away.

Have I got them all? I can't remember exactly, but I do know that I have never heard a conservative, not once, explain how Christ's maleness is crucial to the Incarnation, nor have I heard any reason why we must fear the disapproval of Rome and Constantinople in this area when we don't seem to care a hoot about anything else we do that they might disapprove of. Indeed, I have never heard a conservative engage with the theology that supports OOW, so, please, show how YOU understand those who support OOW better than they understand you.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 6:14pm GMT

"What, I wonder, could possibly be 'incomplete' about a woman in episcopal orders (answers on a post card, please)? "

Does this need an answer?

We had many such discussions when TEC began ordaining women.

I can remember one gentleman writing, I think to the diocesan newspaper [it's been a long time, TBTG!], asking if female prietesses would preside at the Eucharist while menstruating. Like - the wine will turn sour? You'd think TEC was a fertility cult.

Face it - some little boys never get over their fear of girl cooties.

Posted by: Cynthia Gilliatt on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 6:26pm GMT

I confess to being stumped by Reverend Maltby's piece here, as Assent to the Articles has not been required of ordinands (or anyone else), in the C of E, for a considerable time now. Having researched them, she must surely know this ?

She was never in any danger -- simply prey to some misunderstanding of the matter !

They address issues which hardly make sense in our time and context.


There are many issues to be addressed today - some pressing.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 7:57pm GMT

Ford Elms, I can't recall anywhere making even one of those six points you allude to in your tirade against my contribution, either explicitly or implicitly. You are simply putting your own gloss on the convictions of others to defame them, which is exactly what you are accusing us traditionalists of doing. Personally, I am prepared to admit that, yes, I may well be wrong in how I interpret the Christian faith and tradition (God alone knows whether I am), but whatever my own understandings, and I am sure this is true of many others, they are borne not from a desire to undermine what others can and do believe, but from serious, positive and prayerful reflection, learning and thought. You clearly have deeply held convictions too. Please don't use them as a rod to beat others with.

Posted by: Bromenblue on Saturday, 3 January 2009 at 11:16pm GMT

Years ago at our south London (UK) church the visiting preacher, a much love figure in the diocese and deaconess of many years, somehow ended up saying the eucharistic prayer and breaking the bread --it just happened -- and seemed right. No-one batted an eye-lid.

It meant a lot to her. And women were only priested many years later in fact. It meant a lot to me too.

The ordinary British people - especially working class people, can be very down to earth -- and focussed on what matters (for survival & flourishing).

The Hisory of Love ( N. Krauss) asks
What does it mean to flourish ?

I add

What do we need to flourish ?


Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Sunday, 4 January 2009 at 2:35am GMT

The present Archbishop of Sydney ordains women deacons, but there is a hard core and growing conservative force within the diocese focused on his brother who do not even believe women should be ordained at all.

As for the Church of England wanting to keep as many on board ,.. does that include the gays and their supporters.

Quiz..name one C of E bishop recently apppointed who is pro-gay?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 4 January 2009 at 7:52am GMT

"Quiz..name one C of E bishop recently apppointed who is pro-gay?" - Robert I. Williams -

What, Robert, has this question got to do with the subject being discussed by Judith Maltby? And anway, how would one know this - except if the prospective appointee blew the gaffe? I suspect that there are many in the R. C. ministerial fold who might be pro-gay, but wouldn't be prepared to admit to that - espcially after ordination.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 4 January 2009 at 8:52am GMT

My point is that, since the Jeffrey John debacle , no " Colin Slee " or "Richard Harries" radical types can hope to be chosen as Bishops in the Cof E.

No one seems to be bothered.....Anglican Mainstream have triumphed!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 4 January 2009 at 5:56pm GMT

"I can't recall anywhere making even one of those six points you allude to in your tirade against my contribution, either explicitly or implicitly."

No you didn't, nor did I accuse you of doing so. I merely listed, snottily, I admit, the only things I have ever heard from conservatives as to why they think some people want to ordain women. This was occasioned by your dismissal of the "complete lack of understanding" of conservatives by those who support OOW. Granted, when we in Canada debated this, the only reasons given were political as well, but since then, I have heard pro-OOW arguments dealing with issues like the representational aspects of priesthood, the fact that this represents a change in our traditional understanding of priesthood, and ignores the sensibilities of the other "branches" of the Church Catholic. I have never heard conservative arguments that address, for instance, the issue of maleness versus humanity in the Incarnation, a point I have made here and on other threads. If you are going to dismiss those who support OOW as having a "complete lack of understanding" of those who oppose it, I think it behoves you to show you have a better understanding of the pro-OOW side than what I have heard conservatives provide. Frankly, I see far more understanding of the other side on the part of the pro-OOW crowd, since the "antis" only ever seem to dismiss the "pros" and never engage their theology. So, I ask again, show that your understanding of the pro-OOW position is better than what you consider to be their "complete lack of understanding" of you. Bear in mind you are speaking to someone who left the Anglican Church of Canada over what I saw as the complete lack of understanding of the faith on the part of those leading the Church during our OOW debate, the rather disconcerting realization that I, who opposed OOW, could come up with a better theological argument for it than any of the trained theologians pushing it at the time (that's not a statement of my theological superiority, but of their inferiority, BTW), and despite the fact that my mind on the issue was changed in the early 80s by a person no less "orthodox" than Don Harvey.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 4 January 2009 at 7:11pm GMT

Bromenblue

I confess to a lack of understanding of your position, which you have not explained in your comments above. I would like to understand it, and particularly the ecclesiology of it.

I am a male priest ordained by a male bishop in the Church of God. In the Church of England too. Am I a priest in the Church you see yourself as a part of?

Does it matter, in answering that question, that I am in favour of ordaining women as priests and consecrating them as bishops?

If the answer to that question is 'yes', I would like to have a better idea than I currently have of why.

For the avoidance of doubt, in my ecclesiology, you are part of the same Church as I am.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Sunday, 4 January 2009 at 11:02pm GMT

Father Ron,

In the past 12 months at least one gay bishop has been appointed. Whether he's pro-gay I'm not sure. He certainly isn't out. Probably wouldn't have been appointed if he was.

How would you determine if a bishop is pro-gay? I can think of recently appointed bishops I would count as being on the positive side towards LGBT people but none of them have made public statements to such effect.

Posted by: Colin Coward on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 10:20am GMT

Ford Elms and Father Bennet, for what it's worth, my position is this. I have hitherto always understood the Church of England to be just part of a much larger whole, united with the Roman Catholics and Orthodox in terms of church order, our history and tradition, most of which is pre-Reformation and not simply the invention of the Church of England. The Reformed element in our Church has, at least until now, been able to hold together the differing strands of Churchmanship, which evolved from the Reformation, in creative tension. The innovation of women Bishops, as I see it, brings with it a major change to church order, which we simply have no authority to undertake as one part - and a small part at that -of the Church Catholic. That is the reason why the Roman Catholics and Orthodox have consistently argued against us ploughing our own furrow on this issue in the Church of England. Apart from this, if the Bishop is to be the focus of unity in a Diocese, how can that ever be, where there are dissenters, and quite a significant number, unable to accept the introduction or sacramental ministry of women bishops?

I actually acept that Christ is representative of humanity in terms of the Incarnation and Crucifixion. I am therefore not an impossibilist, but nevertheless, for the reasons given above, remain very doubtful as to the validity of the orders of those women ordained as priests and who will eventually be consecrated as bishops. So long as this doubt remains, I cannot, in all conscience, receive their sacramental ministry. And that would eventually also apply to any male ordained by a woman bishop.

Despite my opposition, it is my sincere hope and prayer that we in the Church of England can find a way forward that allows for both views. A code of practice, as currently proposed, will not keep us on board. Hybrid Bishops will not work, because again, the unamended draft legislation is suggesting that their authority would be derived from the Diocesan. There is thus no transfer of jurisdiction, which could help square the circle.

Father Bennet, if you expected or wanted me to answer "yes" to your question as to whether your views on the subject matter, I'm afraid I have to disappoint you and say "no". You say you are a male priest ordained by a male Bishop in the Church of God. I trust we are talking here about the Church of England, so at this time, whilst church order has been maintained in the same way as it always has been, with regard to women in the episcopate, there can be absolutely no problem or doubt in accepting the validity or regularity of your orders.

Posted by: Bromenblue on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 1:16pm GMT

It is good to see Canon Cameron going to St Asaph -- where there's Wales there's hope !

All is not lost.

Liberal-minded proestants in England may also take heart.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 7:04pm GMT

As a simple C of E minister, I sometimes find some of the statements and ecclesiology here a bit high-falutin ! I don't think we need worry too much about OPrders and heaven-knows what---if anyone here was that bothered about 'Validity' and all that the'd be RC already (surely).

For myself, I have seen 'Validity' in practice & I don't think it adds anything to ministry or spiritual religion practically. I think something else makes orders and prayers and lives valid -- something other than an imagined lineage of ordinations --however poetic or Romantic (no pun intended!).

If some one is considerate when I am bereaved and does my love one proud that is validity in my book. Or if a service helps me or speaks to my condition that is validity.

I get a quiet satisfaction, these days, having 'invlid' orders, and knowing its *up to me* to do a good job and and do folks proud.


*Not unassisted of course !*

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 7:16pm GMT

“[I]f the Bishop is to be the focus of unity in a Diocese, how can that ever be, where there are dissenters, and quite a significant number, unable to accept the introduction or sacramental ministry of women bishops?” – Bromenblue
Bromenblue, your statement can easily be turned around. What about “dissenters” in a diocese who object and are unable to accept the notion of a forever-male priesthood or episcopate? How is the Bishop a focus of Unity in that situation? Such dissenters are nonetheless told to set aside their dissent and accept the Bishop – or else.
My concern is that traditionalists opposed to women priests or bishops or opposed to “out” GLBT priests or bishops, especially – horrors! – such priests or bishops in a stable monogamous relationship want concessions made for them. BUT! such traditionalists would mock any effort made to provide “alternative pastoral care” to those in traditionalist Dioceses who wish to be under the care of a bishop or priest friendly to the notion of ordination or consecration of women and GLBT people.
Yours is a one way street.
What are the chances, for example, that women-and-GLBT-friendly parishes in Uganda, Nigeria, the Southern Cone, etc. would be able to obtain “alternative pastoral care” in the same manner as those Provinces provide such care to traditionalist parishes in TEC (and the CofE)? Nil.
Of course, if every disgruntled parish anywhere was offered “alternative pastoral care” to their suiting, there would be chaos. The original Windsor Report made a small attempt to condemn and stop “diocese poaching”. But, somehow, that attempt seems to be overlooked by traditionalists.

Posted by: peterpi on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 8:41pm GMT

Rev Roberts, a humanist or atheist can be considerate and do your loved one proud at a funeral. Does that make them Christian priests? How do you see your own ordination? What is distinctive about your role as a Christian minister, if all it's about is speaking to people's condition? What is the Christian message or Good News you have to offer those to whom you're ministering? What is the "something else" that makes prayers and orders and lives valid? And, lastly, why should I become a Roman Catholic, when I am a cradle Anglican and believe what the Church has always believed and taught? Lots of questions. I look forward to your answers.

And Peterpi, where, in my blog, did I mention GLBT priests and bishops or refer to the Church of the Southern Cone? The issue I was asked to clarify by others was my position on women in the episcopate in the Church of England, which is what I have tried to do. You seem to have a knack of turning around statements and widening their remit!

Mine is not a one way street. I am very happy for those who feel differently to be allowed to have what they want and feel is needed. Why can't you and those with your views allow the same for us? If we really are wrong, as you seem to believe, what is there to fear?

Posted by: Bromenblue on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 9:42pm GMT

Bromenblue

I was not hoping for the answer 'yes' - I had originally put in something about 'no' as well, but this seemed to me to sound rather ungracious. No is a good answer and gives us a chance I think.

So far as perceptions count for anything, some of the things which are said, or which are heard to be said, by people who do not believe that women can be ordained, have sounded very like the answer 'yes' - and I haven't thought it has been universally meant that way, so I'm glad you've been able to answer.

But the fact that we are together so far faces us with some tougher questions.

If as a priest it matters not what my views are on the ordination and consecration of women are, why does it matter if I am a bishop? - I take it from your comments so far that it does. Does a male bishop who believes as I do still have valid priests orders? Is he a bishop in the Church from your perspective?

Another challenging question is what there is, if anything, to cause problems with the validity of any sacramental acts by a male bishop (eg presiding at communion, ordaining a man) - isn't the traditional understanding that the sacraments are not rendered invalid by imperfections in the minister (Article 26 refers)?

Do feel free to ask me questions too. I don't think we get anywhere by slinging slogans at each other, or ducking the hard questions.

Mark

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 10:11pm GMT

"You say you are a male priest ordained by a male Bishop in the Church of God."

But you don't know the chromosomal (and/or genital morphology) status of either, Bromenblue. Is that the logical next step for you? Cheek swabs and "Drop Trow" tests, to ensure validity?

[The mind boggles---then again, I'm a simple Episcopalian, receiving my sacraments from priests/bishops-who-are-female for DECADES now, so probably my opinion doesn't matter.]

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 10:42pm GMT

"What about “dissenters” in a diocese who object and are unable to accept the notion of a forever-male priesthood or episcopate?"

One of the problems of the draft code of practice is that it continues to envisage the appointment of Diocesan bishops opposed to WO. If the so-called "New Dioceses" option had been adopted this would not have been the case. The creation of complementary jurisdictions rather than simply complementary bishops would have made adequate provision for opponents and whilst that would have removed some parishes from the jurisdiction of the existing dioceses, it would have meant that Diocesan bishops held full jurisdiction over all their parishes and that WO was accepted throughout them and that all the bishops of the present dioceses would be in favour of WO. IF there is to be provision that is acceptable to opponents, it might be preferable to have made it in that way.

The present preference seems to be to preserve the geographical territory of existing dioceses and to compromise the jurisdiction of the diocesan. The alternative would have been to be a little imaginative re territoriality but to have uncompromised jurisdiction. The latter would be difficult for some and would require real committment and trust. The present option satisfies nobody.

Posted by: David Malloch on Monday, 5 January 2009 at 11:57pm GMT

"...we simply have no authority to undertake as one part - and a small part at that -of the Church Catholic."

Trying to be less verbose than my first post. What DO we have the authority to do? Did we have the authority to do what we did at the Reformation? If so, why? And we can speak about being part of "the Church catholic" all we like, but the fact is that the other two "branches" do not accept the concept and do not consider us Catholic. They base that on a lot more than whether or not we ordain women. Why do they have authority that we do not, if we are as catholic as they are? Rome, after all, doesn't consider our sensibilities. Isn't it time for us to stand on our own two feet? The breaches in the church catholic are sad and sinful, but we simply cannot remain in some limbo where we accept that we had the Authority to break from Rome in the first place, but now have to consider Rome's approval before we do anything that we need to do in order to further our witness to the Gospel. It isn't about disrespect, it's about accepting the sad reality of our situation.
I've asked this question on another thread: would you receive from a priest who denied the Real Presence or baptismal regeneration? Would you receive from Bp. Jensen of Sydney? I believe intent is an important part of the celebration of a sacrament, and he would certainly not have the intent to celebrate the Eucharist in a way that we would understand it. He, or perhaps it was his brother, has said so. Rome says our ordinations are defective in intent and form. I would suggest that Bp. Jensen does not have the intent to create a priest when he ordains someone. So, are his ordinations valid? If the ordination of women introduces into the Church a group of unordained "priests" whose sacraments are not valid, can we not say the same has happened in Sydney? And does not the innovation of the flying bishop fly in the case of catholic ecclesiology and order?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 6 January 2009 at 12:11am GMT

My question is could Gregory Cameron have been appointed in England and passed the Sugdenite-Giddings propaganda machine?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Tuesday, 6 January 2009 at 6:12am GMT

"if the Bishop is to be the focus of unity in a Diocese, how can that ever be, where there are dissenters, and quite a significant number, unable to accept the introduction or sacramental ministry of women bishops?" - Bromenblue -

I'm afraid I must agree with 'peterpi' here, when he questions the propriety of your question above. If you take the changes made in Rome after Vatican II, you may recall that the those who believed the Church was wrong in abandoning the Latin Mass as a necessary part of the validity of the rite either stayed in the Church or left it. In the RC Church, the local Bishop had to go along with what the Vatican had decreed. How, do you think, those who disagreed with their Bishop on this matter would have fared (especially clergy) who decided they 'could not go along' on conscience grounds with the discipline imposed by the local Bishop?

The Anglican Church, in most of its constituent bodies around the world, has declared that the ministry of women in Holy Orders is theologically acceptable. This means surely, in the interests of organic unity in the local Church, that all clergy need to accept the ministry and mind of the local Ordinary, who is the Bishop? Whether that Bishop is male or female - in the Anglican Church in most countries - is no longer an excuse for neglect of their pastoral duties by the clergy licensed by that Bishop to work in their Diocese. The alternative, surely, is to look for employment in a Church which satisfies one's own preferences for ministerial qualifications.

To work outside the parameters of the Diocesan structures, where all clergy are subject to the authority of the local Ordinary, one would need to be in a Religious Order, which can be allowed dispensation from a Diocesan structure. Perhaps this is what the F.i.F. movement needs to consider as an alternative to the present system.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 6 January 2009 at 10:37am GMT

"To work outside the parameters of the Diocesan structures, where all clergy are subject to the authority of the local Ordinary, one would need to be in a Religious Order, which can be allowed dispensation from a Diocesan structure. Perhaps this is what the F.i.F. movement needs to consider as an alternative to the present system."

Perhaps this is what SYNOD needs to consider as an alternative to the present system?

Any serious proposal to provide for us ought to be explored. At present, it is synod which has insisted on provision by code of practice within the existing structures and the result is the mess which is now being proposed.

Posted by: David Malloch on Tuesday, 6 January 2009 at 11:55am GMT

"I think something else makes orders and prayers and lives valid -- something other than an imagined lineage of ordinations --however poetic or Romantic (no pun intended!)."

On the surface, your point is sound. Just as God can make descendants for Abraham out of stones, He can make priests of anybody. As to validity, though, it doesn't come from some sort of magic touch, it comes from the candidate for ordination discerning, within the community, that he/she is called by God to priesthood. The Church then affirms that vocation at ordination. I know that's idealistic, but still. You seem to be saying that anyone who decides to can go out and play priest. That isn't the case. I'm detecting a decidedly Protestant "priesthood of all believers" type misunderstanding of what priesthood actually is, correct me if I'm wrong. I just don't accept that it is acceptable for anyone at all to stand up some day and claim a vocation to priesthood. That's a little too individualistic Protestant for me, I'm afraid. To be Christian is to live in community, and the community, which includes the individual, discerns and affirms things like vocation, it doesn't come from the declaration of the individual believing themselves called. Indeed, there are times when it is the community that discerns the call, to the surprise of the individual called.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 6 January 2009 at 12:04pm GMT

'Rev Roberts, a humanist or atheist can be considerate and do your loved one proud at a funeral.'

Bromenblue mon 5 Jan

Why, yes, isn't the point of the parable of The Good Samaritan ?

If that's Jesus' good news it's also mine !

btw
thanks for your post yesterday. I'll have ago at the others as the spirit moves me !

(PS I don't think you 'should' join the RC denomination. I was trying to say that I rather thought taht poeple who really beleive they can't live with women in ministry, would have have left sometime since Lee Tim Oi's ordination in 1944, or following the ordiantions in america decades ago, or after WO in UK already wewll over a decade ago.

I just don't think you or I can hope to live in hermetically sealed units. Wouldn't be very good for any of us would it ?'

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Tuesday, 6 January 2009 at 7:40pm GMT

"Mine is not a one way street. I am very happy for those who feel differently to be allowed to have what they want and feel is needed. Why can't you and those with your views allow the same for us? If we really are wrong, as you seem to believe, what is there to fear?" -- Bromenblue at 9:42pm GMT
Bromonblue, your criticism of my interjecting GLBT issues is valid. And I appreciate your seeing this reciprocally for supporters of women's ordination as a priest or consecration as a bishop (WO). My broader point was, the way I see it, many opponents of WO want provision made for them, but would look askance at provision made for pro-WO clergy or parishes in a non-WO diocese/province. And, by extension, I was applying this to the current squabbles over another issue.
If provision is to be made for alternative episcopal pastorship for every parish or priest who differs from the norm in that diocese or province, then things get very messy indeed. And, there are provinces where I suspect strong requests for alternative episcopal oversight would be met with far harsher reactions than has occurred from The Episcopal Church, the Anglican Church of Canada, or the Church of England.

Posted by: peterpi on Tuesday, 6 January 2009 at 8:42pm GMT

Rev Roberts, I wonder if perhaps you are a universalist, or maybe embrace aspects of religions other than Christianity? The Gospel surely has to have some kind of cutting edge. Otherwise, what's the point of being a Christian and having to strive to live by Christ's teaching and his claim that He alone is the Way, the Truth and the Life? What makes being a Christian distinctive? To use one of your own earlier given situations, if you make a pastoral visit to a bereaved family and they ask very sincerely that you say no prayers at the funeral and don't talk about Jesus, just concentrate on the deceased, do you simply reply that's ok, in order to be considerate to their situation, or do you actually insist that if that's what the family wants, then maybe they've chosen the wrong person? I'm interested to hear your response to this.
Father Smith, just a small point to note in my contributions. I am speaking as a member of the Church of England, which historically has been regarded as the bedrock and foundation of worldwide Anglicanism. Seen in this way, the fact that other parts of the Anglican Communion have already consecrated women as bishops may be viewed as "the tail wagging the dog". Were this not the case, women bishops would already be welcomed to act as episcopal leaders in the Church of England. This is not yet so, hence my original point. When it is so, there will be those dissenters who cannot and will not accept the innovation, leading to yet more division and uncooperative clergy and laity. Are we really going to get to a stage where opponents are either forced to cooperate against their conscience, or risk being edged out of the church against their will? Those who do stay in the fold will certainly not fall in line easily. The solution can only be a structural one, if the Church is serious about its desire to keep everyone on board. That may be a very unpalatable prospect for some, but we do risk losing something precious in dismissing the traditionalist perspective. It will also enable all of us to get on with what we should really be about, which is evangelisation and conversion.

Posted by: Bromenblue on Tuesday, 6 January 2009 at 10:38pm GMT

"Lee Tim Oi's"

Did she not give up her orders in response to the reaction of the wider Church? Very like St. Chad of Lichfield, a hero of mine.

Bromenblue, I know you weren't speaking to me, but your questions raise some interesting issues. First, what is wrong with a Christian priest performing a non-religious funeral for people who are not Christian? That isn't a betrayal of the Gospel, I'd suggest it actually furthers the Gospel. I kind of feel the same way about marriage. If people never darken a Church door except when they come home for Christmas and Mom makes them go, why do they want a Christian wedding? I don't think they should be condemned for this, just reminded that people aren't required to be Christians any more, and it's not a good thing for them to make vows they don't necessarily believe are lifelong, before a God they don't believe in, in front of a group of people whose faith they don't have any respect for according, to the rites of a religion they do not practice. That's not condemnation of them, that's freeing them up. I mean, they wouldn't ask a Mullah or a Brahman to marry them, not being Muslim or Hindu, but if they don't see any need for other Christian rituals and practices in their lives, why is this one necessary? But I don't see any reason why a Christian priest ought not perform a secular ceremony in that instance. And as to "the tail wagging the dog", I think you'll find that us "demned colonials" aren't a tail any more, we grew up sometime around the period when Empire became Commonwealth, and we are all dogs together now. I'd tell you to climb down off that pedestal, but we knocked you off it a long time ago, you just don't seem to realize it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 2:45pm GMT

As I understand it, Florence Li-Tim-Oi never saw herself as having "giving up" her orders, but rather as having agreed to not to exercise them. Hairsplitting, perhaps, but important. One can no more "give up" one's orders than one can give up one's belly button.

Posted by: Malcolm+ on Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 10:49pm GMT

Ford Elms, you have missed the point entirely, I'm afraid, in the hope of stirring up trouble in the blog. If you read carefully my question to Reverend Roberts, you will actually find no condemnation of anyone in there, simply a hypothetical scenario to discern what the Reverend Robert's response would be in such circumstances. And who mentioned colonialism? You obviously have some kind of hang up about this. If you read that part of my offering carefully enough, it is actually about church history and the roots of worldwide Anglicanism. It is nothing at all to do with what you suggest.
Furthermore, I get the impression from your regular contributions that you seem to enjoy causing controversy and being provocative. That being the case, it will not be possible on this blog, in future, to have a courteous and reasoned dialogue with you. The question wasn't even directed at you in the first place. Please don't direct anymore contributions my way, as they will receive no response. Thank you.

Posted by: Bromenblue on Wednesday, 7 January 2009 at 11:34pm GMT

"Seen in this way, the fact that other parts of the Anglican Communion have already consecrated women as bishops may be viewed as "the tail wagging the dog". Were this not the case, women bishops would already be welcomed to act as episcopal leaders in the Church of England."
- Bromenblue -

Dear Bromenblue, having myself been baptised and confirmed in the C.of E., also have been a Novice of SSF and now married and priested in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa/New Zealand, I think I can, to a degree, sympathise with your comment here - at least about 'the tail wagging the dog'. However, the same point may be made about the opposers of Women as Priests and Bishops in the C.o. E. - especially when one considers the vote on the issue at General Synod. (The possible provision for objectors is another matter).

The very fact that it is the newer Churches of the Anglican Communion who have - to my mind at any rate - acted prophetically, in accepting the inclusion of suitably trained Women and Gays into the ordained ministry of our provincial Churches, should not invalidate their discernment on this vital matter. This is not to be derogatory about the lack of initiative on the part of the C.of E. It is just that, with other Churches of the Anglican Communion, there is a perceived need not to be out of kilter with the local initiatives, legally, to provide equality of treatment towards Women and Gays. This is not a matter of bowing to cultural expectations, but rather a matter of the implementation of theologically-based justice and integrity.

By the way, it seems to me that the C.of E. has already decided that the Ordination of Women is not against the theological propriety of the Church of England. This, after ten years of women priests, it has led quite naturally, to the consideration of Women as Bishops. (We are talking here about Anglicanism not Roman Catholicism, which has different ecclesial parameters and the polity of an inerrant magisterium).

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 12:41am GMT

"And as to "the tail wagging the dog", I think you'll find that us "demned colonials" aren't a tail any more, we grew up sometime around the period when Empire became Commonwealth, and we are all dogs together now. I'd tell you to climb down off that pedestal, but we knocked you off it a long time ago, you just don't seem to realize it."

And for those of us just slightly to the south of you, Ford, it happened somewhat before that, around the time we "opened a can of whup-ass on Cornwallis at Yorktown," in the words of Leo McGarry to Sir John Marbury in The West Wing.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 12:42am GMT

'..then maybe they've chosen the wrong person?'

I AM that other person !(the 'right person', in your terms).

I have often had to step in, at a funeral, in the spirit of Jesus' good samaritan, where either a Christian officiant or a Humanist officiant has said,

"You can't have/say/do that !"

(You know, "You must mention God" and "You can't mention god" !

btw when you speak of universality, you perhaps have the Last Gospel in mind ? (John 1)

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 7:03am GMT

Reverend Roberts. Thanks for coming back to me. I asked the question because I have actually been in the scenario I describe, not just once, but on a number of occasions. I have been asked by families to do exactly as I wrote to you earlier, and I have simply said to them gently if that is what they want or need, a Christian priest is perhaps not the right person to conduct the funeral. Nevertheless, after entering into dialogue with them, and after we have been able to talk it through, none of the families concerned have ever acceded to the request that they find a humanist/atheist or whoever. They have still been happy for me to conduct it, even with a clearly Christian emphasis. I have therefore not had to reduce or diminish what it is I represent as both a Christian and a priest. It is thus not a question of suggesting they "can't have/say/do that", but it presents an opportunity for outreach, whilst leaving Christian integrity intact. Therefore, yes, I too, can be "that other person" but unashamedly Christian in terms of belief, message and prayers offered.

Posted by: Bromenblue on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 11:45am GMT

Reverend Roberts, just an additional point about your reference to John's Gospel. If you go to the prologue, you will read there the words: "He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him. Yet to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name, he gave the right to become children of God . . . " Where is the universality in "to all who received Him, to those who believed in His name"? As I suggested at an earlier point, the cutting edge is there. He gives the right to become children of God to those who receive Him and believe in Him. If it's simply all-comers, then we can just live as we want to live, do as we wish to do, believe what we want to believe, without regard for its implications in terms of our eternal destiny.

Posted by: bromenblue on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 12:56pm GMT

Reverend B Blue You're wewlcome.

It sounds like we have different emphases in our work.

I am glad your approach works so well for you. I am happy with mine ttoo, and learning all the time.

I shall certainly continue to reflect on your comments.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 10:31pm GMT

PS
Rev B --

I hope Jesus' message of love and peace informs all my services, but not in your face.British folk tend to appreciate a (protestant-ish)minister who will support and be with them at such times, I have found.

As far as I can tell (& it's none of my business) most of the people I meet are trying to be good Christians and feel it is almost synonymous with coming from the east End. Most of the older people came thru the blitz, and the youner ones are their grandchildren and children.

I am struck and inpsired by how courageous and inventive people tend to be; and under the grief of bereavement and loss.

I don't find any difference of substance between pople of different denominations in this either.

Rather than 'taking Jesus to them', I find his spirit in them.

I tend to agree with you, about prayer, and find that most people are happy to say the Our Father, psalm 23 and to receive the Aaronic Blessing.I also use extempore prayer, silence, guided meditations / biddings. I have quite a collection of prayers, poems & readings of many tradtions.

And my musical education continues apace !


Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Thursday, 8 January 2009 at 10:50pm GMT

"you seem to enjoy causing controversy and being provocative."

It is certainly provocative to point to the flaws in someone else's argument. Since you spoke bitterly about supporters of OOW having no understanding of those who oppose it, I asked you to show that you understand their position. You have not done so. You claimed that we do not have the authority to act on our own in this matter. I asked what you feel we DO have the right to do. You have given no answer. I asked why a Christian priest could not perform a secular funeral. You have given no answer. I am sorry I spoke angrily. But I am angry. I am angry that conservatives seem so obsessed with making themselves out to be persecuted that they show profound disrespect for everyone else. So I return the favour. Not very Christian. I am angry that those who are not conservative are routinely dismissed as faithless, oppressive heathens, plotting the destruction of the Church, selling out to the world, and oppressing the Faithful Conservative Remnant. I am angry that conservatives do not address the kinds of issues I mentioned above, indeed, claim that they are being mistreated when these issues are brought up, like you are doing here. Of course I'm provocative, I'm trying to provoke an answer. I have often spoken in support of those who oppose OOW, I used to be in that camp myself. I understand fully the sacramental issues involved, which is why I asked why you seem to have no issue with a male lay person in Sydney "celebrating" the Eucharist while demanding protection from laywomen (which if your position is correct, an "ordained" woman is) doing the same. For the record, I think it's just not well thought out, and not mysogenist as opponents of OOW are often called. I think your refusal to engage with me further has little to do with my rudeness, and all to do with the fact that my questions point out inconsistencies in your position that you can't explain, and your realization that, despite your hurt at feeling those more liberal don't understand you, you actually have little understanding of them. Why else would you claim mistreatment instead of simply showing that you actually DO understand?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 9 January 2009 at 5:01pm GMT
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