Saturday, 7 March 2009

women bishops: FiF, Fulcrum, and AffCath

The BBC has a report by Trevor Timpson titled Women ‘to change CofE for ever’ which reports on two groups in favour of women bishops, Fulcrum and Affirming Catholicism.

…What is reported less often, is that many Anglicans in both traditions support the appointment of female bishops.

Some of these believe the proposal is completely in line with their Evangelical or Anglo-Catholic beliefs, and that the ministry of women priests has already brought great blessings on the Church…

Meanwhile, Forward in Faith has published several articles in New Directions following on from the February debate in General Synod, see Bishop of London, Bishop of Chichester Jonathan Baker, and Geoffrey Kirk. and the resolution passed at the FiF Special Assembly on 14 February is here.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Saturday, 7 March 2009 at 4:04pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Different emphases in the FiF postings. Nevertheless, the preponderant voice is: let's make a deal. There seems to be little appetite for: 'let's swim the Tiber'. As a liberal Anglican, I very hope this deal will be made.

Posted by: john on Saturday, 7 March 2009 at 9:22pm GMT

From the article: then to have a bishop about whose orders you have doubts is a very uncomfortable position to be in.

Yes, but why do some people not understand that this holds equally for blokes as well as females, and that the time is high-overdue that that equal argument be matched by equal opportunities in the first place?

Posted by: Tim on Saturday, 7 March 2009 at 10:19pm GMT

To give into FIF and you will effectively divide the Church of England and extend discrimination to men, and place a knife at its heart. Capitulation to a structural solution is a short term solution which like the three schismatic Anglo-Catholic dioceses in TEC will come home to roost. It will solve nothing, and produce a short tem illusory peace.

The main fact is ......Most of FIF don't want to move and their bluff should be called.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 8 March 2009 at 7:14am GMT

Sorry to burst Robert Ian Williams balloon, but from where I am as a parish priest in the good old CofE, in a deanery where we all try to get along, I have two observations to make. Firstly, this obsession about becoming Roman Catholics: it isn't going to happen. In fact it is not even a widely held view. Vociferous yes, widely held, no. Secondly, what is more likely to happen is that the "traditional catholic" wing, if I can call it that will just slowly disappear over a generation or so.
My other observation is that the ordination of women as bishops, if accompanied by an amending canon like the one at the last General Synod will inevitably narrow the CofE as you will be forced to believe certain things, to be an Anglican in this country. The rarified world of the blogger, doesn't always reflect either reality or the desire of ordinary worshippers. instead of proclaiming why I am right, why not work for what will help US ALL to witness to the world around. How broad or narrow must the CofE be in the name of liberalism?

Posted by: Graeme Buttery on Sunday, 8 March 2009 at 2:24pm GMT

The irony is that Rome's understanding of Catholic polity puts the sex of the presbyter as a much lower priority than fealty to your diocesan.

By withdrawing from oversight of a diocesan bishop, FinF has elevated gender over presbyters being validated by their role with respect to their diocesan.

Posted by: Andrew Spurr on Sunday, 8 March 2009 at 6:20pm GMT


In some ways I find your remarks encouraging. In others? Although personally I am all in favour of WO, including bishops, and think the arguments, of whatever kind, decisive, continuance of FiF followers within the C of E has to concede 'parity of esteem'. From that perspective, it is no consolation to them - and will likely contribute to non-resolution of the dispute - if they think - or are told, on sites such as this - that they will die out within a generation or so. I am afraid I think this completely elementary.

Posted by: john on Sunday, 8 March 2009 at 7:23pm GMT

My point is that there are gouing to be no mass defections and Rowan and co should stop pandering to their blackmail.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Sunday, 8 March 2009 at 8:01pm GMT

Robert Ian Williams. We are all aware of your new enthusiasm for statements 'ex cathedra', but some of us do wonder where you find your certitude for some of the statements you make about the Anglican Church - when you no longer even belong, let alone have access to those who might be able to issue authoritative statements like the one you have just made. My question is" "Why bother"?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 8 March 2009 at 11:57pm GMT

I do think that the prickly attitude shown by some towards people not in the CofE because they dare to have a view about it does suggest a certainly insularity!

What Robert says is almost definitely right: if they were going to become RC's, there has been plenty of opportunity and there must be a reason why they have chosen not to do so. Therefore, attempts to accommodate them for fear of their swimming the Tiber may be misplaced.

Posted by: Merseymike on Monday, 9 March 2009 at 11:43am GMT

"some of us do wonder where you find your certitude for some of the statements you make about the Anglican Church"

No need to wonder, he's told us. The Bible told him to listen to the Pope! Of course he has a right to express his opinion, but it is a bit .....entertaining to have him point out the incinsistencies and hypocrisies in Anglicanism while ignoring the much greater presence of these in Rome.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 9 March 2009 at 3:38pm GMT

Nice meanwhile to hear some voices inside various groupings that still do support WO from evangelical or anglocath allegiances. Nobody has any widely accepted (therefore patently viable?) path forward to offer, as we are still talking about structurally allowing nay-saying believers to diss, avoid, and be separate from the contamination involved in WO while trying to find contextual ways of prizing real women who are priests or bishops.

Rather like making slavery godly, I think. Seem barely possible or plausible in idealistic-theoretical terms (just let slave owners be godly, and then slavery will be godly, too?) - but still vexed and difficult to live in real world terms and contexts. Power corrupts; absolute godly power corrupts absolutely. Isn't that pretty much why Protestants gave up on having a pope? Or a strict hierarchy that was god for all intents and purposes?

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 9 March 2009 at 5:48pm GMT

It does affect us..because these FIF blackmailers keep threatening to come over to Rome if they don't get their way. Some RC's believe them.. I wish to set the record straight!

I can say now ( without claiming infallibility ) that there will be no mass migration and their bluff needs to be called.

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Monday, 9 March 2009 at 7:03pm GMT

Speaking as a rancid anglo-catholic of darkest black hue, it would not be the ordination of women to the episcopate which would cause me to swim the Tiber but the final eclipsing of non-ConsEv theology in the Cof E. I suspect RIW may be right in not anticipating mass defections of doubtfully baptised laymen like me.

Posted by: mynsterpreost (=David Rowett) on Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 12:15pm GMT

"the final eclipsing of non-ConsEv theology in the Cof E."

Me too. When the day comes that we have to have "meetings" like they do in Sydney, where we are taught to practice a religion devoid of any motivation other than fear of punishment, that's the day I swim. But it'll be the Bosporus. The far bank of the Tiber looks pretty unenticing to me.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 2:52pm GMT

Ford, don't be too dismissive of the Sydney diocese. The Archbishop is not the only 'Minister of Religion' in that area. There are many faithful Anglo-Catholic and 'Middle of the Road' Anglicans in Sydney who help to keep some of the truly Anglican (Scripture, tradition and REASON) ethos alive in the Diocese. These are Churches which value the Eucharist as being foundational in their worship - rather than the prevalence of two-hour sermons on fundamentalist religion such as one might find in the Cathedral -where the pulpit takes precedence over the altar.

Also, beware of tainting the rest of Australian Anglicanism with the excesses of the Jensenist, Calvinist thrust centred on the Jensen family and Moore College. The Australian Primate, and many of the Australian Bishops and clergy are truly *Priests of the Order of Melchisedek*, who do believe in the authenticity of Christ's Presence in the Eucharist. They do not limit their understanding of God's relationship to humanity solely on verses from the Old Testament.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 10 March 2009 at 9:58pm GMT

"are many faithful Anglo-Catholic and 'Middle of the Road' Anglicans in Sydney"

"beware of tainting the rest of Australian Anglicanism with the excesses of the Jensenist, Calvinist"

I know both these things, but perhaps referring to "Sydney" as a shorthand for the fundamentalist Calvinism some consider True Religion and Virtue is misleading, to me as well as others. I always get a chuckle at the possibly apocryphal story of the beleaguered Anglo-catholic parish that isn't even allowed to have devotions at the Cross on Good Friday any more, which even I can't square, I'd have thought Jensen et al would have been delighted, but I guess they are only comfortable with veneration of the idea of the Cross, not the object itself. Anyway, said parish, supposedly, had a Corpus Christi procession in which they processed to the boundary of the parish and gave Benediction in the direction of the Cathedral! Then of course, there's Ballarat, the counterweight to Sydney Calvinism!

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 at 12:03pm GMT

yes and the Ballarat Anglo-catholic bishop is co-chairman of an anti women bishops grouping.. co-chairman is Archbishop Jensen!

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 at 7:28pm GMT

yes David Rowett, I too, rejoice, with you, in the invalidity of my orders! I am so glad that any spiritual value of ministry is not dependent on 'orders', pedigrees, lines of succession and all that meaningless stuff, that Jesus came to free us from ( I understand). Whereas Judaism bravely embraced the opportunity offered by the crisis of CE 70, some Christians it seems, still have not !

Yes, it leaves room for spirit, for grace, for something real in the present moment. The moment in which we are met ...

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Wednesday, 11 March 2009 at 8:11pm GMT

"yes and the Ballarat Anglo-catholic bishop is co-chairman of an anti women bishops grouping.. co-chairman is Archbishop Jensen!"

I didn't know that! As I said, I consider Ballarat to be the counterweight to Sydney, just as far in the other direction as Sydney is in the direction of wronk Clavinism. So, it doesn't really surprise me. Me being an Anglican, extremes of anything can get distasteful. I don't find the 'comfort" of absolutism all that comforting, actually, I prefer doubt. Anyone who is most certainly correct on religious issues is most certainly wrong as far as I am concerned. I suspect this is anathema to you, though.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 12 March 2009 at 12:34pm GMT

"I am so glad that any spiritual value of ministry is not dependent on 'orders', pedigrees, lines of succession and all that meaningless stuff, that Jesus came to free us from."
- Rev L Roberts -

Do I detect here a spirit of rebellion against the value of the three-fold Orders of the Sacred Ministry? If so, that would be the antithesis of any understanding of the 'One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church', from which Anglicanism has traditionally derived its Holy Orders.

With all the arguments going on in the Anglican Communion at this point in time, I think it is important not to lose sight of the value of the ordained ministry - as well as that of the Faithful Laity. In Saint Paul's list of charisms, the 'Apostle' seems to have some sort of priority - notwithstanding new insights in the concept of complementarity of 'Total Ministry'.

This is why the Sydney Diocesan movement towards Lay Presidency at the Eucharist is considered, rightly in my view, to be so 'un-Anglican' as to be at odds with any claim to belong to the Anglican tradition.

I'm sorry, Rev L. Roberts, if you happen to be a minister of a non-Anglican ecclesial body, but I would have thought that, if you were, you would have cherished the Sacrament of Holy Orders.

Mind you, when one considers what the Sacrament of Ordination has produced in some of the clergy of the Global South contingent, one cannot always guarantee the 'purity' of such transmissions. (However, here I speak of the person, and not necessarily of the office).

I do, on the other hand, agree that not all valid ministries are limited to the ordained of the Church. One only has to look at lay-people like Saint Francis of Assisi, or Mother Theresa of Calcutta (neither of whom were 'ordained', but both of whom were powerful ministers for Christ.) But, it behoves us all to remember that Jesus is described in Scripture as 'High Priest' - after the Order of Melchizadek! - I don't think he would have called the tradition of Holy Orders, as you have done here - 'meaningless rubbish'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 13 March 2009 at 11:24pm GMT

Thanks Fr Ron -- 'meaningless stuff' -- not rubbish!

I have no desire to offend your sensibility and see how you value holy orders. And I agree with a lot of what you say -- or you seem to be of a mind with me ! - when you say good ministry is done by the 'unordained' -Francis and so on. And that ordination is no guarantee of goodness or spirtuality or pastoral feeling.

For the 2 reasons above I guess I have become disiussioned about church and ordained ministry. I see with yourself, that the spirit bloweth where it listeth.

I meant that I rejoice in my invalidity in the eyes of the RC denomination - and whoever else. I am happy if the spirit somehow gets alook in (or at least not pushed out !) in my efforts at ministry. I find the Zen principle of 'a transmission outside the scriptures' encouraging; and in my mind extend that to a sense of transmission outside or at least not reliant on the ordained ministry.

To anser your question I an ordained anglican & a member of the society of friends, in which I excercise ministry at the moment*; and of l'eglise buddique unifie (a worldwide zen sangha in the tradition and spirit of 'engaged buddhism'.

* all Quaker ministry in UK is authorized on a time limited basis - apart from the basic priesthood of all....

Others described Jesus as high priest after his time, and linked him up with the Melchisedek of the Hebrew Bible. I don't think he employed notions of priesthood for his miniistry and message giving, did he. The basileia he spoke of was immenent and to be found he seeds, lost coins and things, and images from nature. No priests necessary! Just sunshine and seed or lostness and loving searches, etc....

I love the Melchisedek imagery and especially so poetic in the roman rite before Vat 2., but have had to let all that stuff slip way along with much else. Painful at the moment of parting and farwelling but later a relief !(I have found).

Judasim had painfully to part company with its priesthood and cultus, after the crisis of 70 CE. (And Karen Armstrong's Biography of the Bible deals with this helpfully). So odd that some expressions of Christianity embraced sacrifical language & cultus, and notions of priesthood so energetically ! I became disilluioned with (anglo)Catholicism a good many years ago, and ahve had to let all that too, slip away from me, for the good of my soul.

I now (prefer to) think of myself as a simple minister of religion and leave it at that

(without prejudice to your profound convictions which I (must) prespect).

I am a strong beleiver in freedom of religion.

So I'd sum up (if youre still awake!) by saying that
I believe more & more, in less & less.!

thanks for reading

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Saturday, 14 March 2009 at 9:47pm GMT

Rev L. Roberts. Thank you for your response. I do now understand (or think I do) your position and where you have come from in your pilgrimage of faith. I respect you and wish you well.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 15 March 2009 at 10:43am GMT

Thanks Fr Ron. appreciate that.

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Monday, 16 March 2009 at 3:47am GMT
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