Friday, 9 October 2009

women bishops: press reports on the press release

The press release is reported in the previous item.

This morning’s newspapers report this story in various ways.

Telegraph Martin Beckford Women bishops may not be equal to men under controversial new Church of England proposals

The Times Ruth Gledhill Plan for women bishops put on ice to avoid defections from Church of England

Guardian Riazat Butt Church removes power from women bishops

Daily Mail Steve Doughty Parish power could block women bishops as church promises law to appease traditionalists

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 8:07am BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

It would be wonderful if the Church of England could be humble enough to take a leaf out of the book of it's fellow Anglican Provinces - who have trusted the Holy Spirit to call and equip women for the total ministry of the Church. This has been quietly going on now for at least a decade in most overseas provinces, and the Church buildings have not fallen down. Why not take a calculated risk and trust God's providence, and preserve the Church from further schism?

When I was confirmed into the C.of E., I was taught that bishops were the focus of unity. What has changed in the theology of the Church that could possibly dictate otherwise - in the modern age, where women have been accepted as equal partners with men in most other spheres of human endeavour. To create a division in the Church on the grounds of sex or gender does seem to compromise Paul's later understanding of our common (male/female) life in Christ.

The whole idea of 'flying Bishops' sounds like something from science fiction. Do we need to bring further extra-terrestrial paradigms into the serious business of getting alongside both men and women in the world of today, where there are many problems to be solved that require the different skills of both male and female clergy.

Christ was not just a representative male, he was representatively and fully human. He chose not to generate children, but rather to nurture all who came into contact with his inclusive grace and empowerment, giving men and women the equal right to become 'children of God'. AND, Mary Magdalene (a woman) was chosen by Christ to bring the Good News of his resurrection to the male apostles - who, of course, did not believe her. What's new?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 9:18am BST

It will be hard to get this through Synod and also hard to get it through Parliament. But that would mean no women bishops at all, at least until another propopsal comes along.

I suspect that the Revision Committee is happy to stop the process in its tracks because they are afraid of splits.

The members of the Committee are:

Rt Revd Nigel McCulloch (Bishop of Manchester) (Chair)
Very Revd Vivienne Faull (Dean of Leicester, Deans)
Dr Paula Gooder (Birmingham)
Ven Alistair Magowan (Archdeacon of Dorset, Salisbury)
Revd Canon Anne Stevens (Southwark)
Mrs Margaret Swinson (Liverpool)
Mr Geoffrey Tattersall QC (Manchester)
Rt Revd Trevor Willmott (Bishop of Basingstoke, Southern Suffragans)
The Ven Clive Mansell (Archdeacon of Tonbridge, Rochester)
Mrs April Alexander (Southwark)
Mrs Lorna Ashworth (Chichester)
Revd Jonathan Baker (Oxford)
Rt Revd Peter Broadbent (Bishop of Willesden, Southern Suffragans)
Ven Christine Hardman (Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich, Southwark)
Revd Canon Dr Alan Hargrave (Ely)
Rt Revd Martyn Jarrett (Bishop of Beverley, Northern Suffragans)
Revd Canon Simon Killwick (Manchester)
Revd Angus MacLeay (Rochester)
Mrs Caroline Spencer (Canterbury).

The Archbishop of Canterbury is not a member but this recommendation fits with
(1) his lukewarm attitude towards the ordination of women, which he suggested in an interview had been a bit of a disappointment to him
(2) his belief in consensus as being more important than justice (and his tendency to seek consensus by appeasing evangelicals and conservatives rather than the marginalised and excluded)
(3) his desire for rapprochement with Rome.

Posted by: badman on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 10:16am BST

How typical of the Church of England. We lecture the country about the widespread lack of trust in society and the fashion to legislate about everything - and then what do we do? The same thing. We do need to do something about that rather large plank of wood in our own collective eye.

Let's hope Synod sees sense.

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 10:40am BST

When the Church sends out a press release which says that it joyfully receives the ordained ministry of women and welcomes their gifts into the episcopate, we may see some headlines worthy of the Gospel.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 10:50am BST

Ruth Gledhill writes: "Going ahead with minimal concessions was likely to have led to a wave of conversions to Roman Catholicism."

I'm always fascinated by this assumption because I see those who would leave the church of England rather than obey its lawfully arrived at decision as putting their own discernment first - not something Rome encourages as a whole!

But how likely is it that General Synod will approve something next time round it have already rejected last year?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 11:30am BST

I am waiting to see how the backers claim that this will help fill pews.

Posted by: MaryO on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 1:25pm BST

This is good news, and goes some way to making amends for the disgraceful unkind and ungenerous behaviour of the majority in General Synod last year - and the ABC will be pleased as this is what he wanted in the first place. The CofE has always been full of compromises and coalitions. In its wisdom it has permitted women to be ordained, but not required that those who believe this development to be of God to go against their conscience. Extreme evangelicals appear to want to take the church over and unchurch those with whom they disagree over gay clergy - and similarly the extreme liberals wish to unchurch people over women clergy. A curse on them both! And a blessing on a sensible way forward.

Posted by: Neil on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 2:35pm BST

It seems to me that the notion of "flying bishops" is a more profound innovation than that of either female bishops of gay bishops, mucking as it does with the whole "one bishop, one diocese" thing. So where was the emergency primates meeting when the Church of England snuck this one past everybody in the first place?

Posted by: Jim Naughton on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 5:20pm BST

Somehow, I thought that "separate but [un]equal" was a quaint American concept, repeatedly struck down by a more enlightened society. Now I see it has migrated to the Mother Country.
Like Father Ron Smith, why do I have the idea that "in Christ, there is no male or female"? Oh, I see! In Christ that's the case, but in His Church that's not the case. Hmmmmm.

Posted by: peterpi on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 5:32pm BST

Uh, how does one "unchurch" people?

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 5:39pm BST

Mary O. I am still smiling at your comment as we were all told the innovation of ordaining women was meant to do just what you say...fill the pews with people who were allegedly outraged at the fact that the Church had had a male only priesthood for 2000 years!

Posted by: Neil on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 8:34pm BST

Choirboyfromhell. By making it impossible for those who have in the past co-existed to remain in the same Church. By means of new 'dogma' and reinventing God's church so it has no place for those who have hitherto been welcome. 'Unless you change and sign up to our new ideas you are out'. I find it extraordinary that proponents of women bishops want to insist that opponents go against their God given conscience and also the practise of quite a number of other Christians (RCs, Orthodox). Also that they get rather more worked up about this 'new' orthodoxy they have invented than they do (for example) about those who question the old orthodoxy of the Creeds!

It is a huge mistake of those who claim to be 'inclusive' to have no room for those with whom they disagree within the same Church...just as it is for evos to try to expel gay people.

Posted by: Neil on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 8:50pm BST

So what was the point of having the most recent debate on this at General Synod, when the revision committee comes up with the opposite of what the Synod motion asked for? This has to be rejected! It's a recipe for chaos, that (once again) casts doubt on the validity of women's ordained ministry in the C of E.

Posted by: Helen on Friday, 9 October 2009 at 10:32pm BST

If being inclusive means I must tolerate another person's intolerance and bigotries, I guess I ain't so inclusive after all. As peterpi put it, "separate but equal" was an outright terrible farce that we lived with in the U.S. for too long (I barely remember separate drinking fountains in Jackonville, Florida train station for whites and "coloreds"), and like it or not, your church is divided and co-existence is a fallacy.

If your faith means that you must adhere to an outdated (and there is no other word for it, with what we know today, vs. what was known then) theology, then I should feel sorry for you, but honestly, I don't. Remember, it your shoes that will be doing the walking, and therefore it is a fact that you will have indeed "unchurched" yourself when the eventuality of the decision is made in England.

It is my hope that your faith in God is stronger than your obsession with the sex of the person at the altar Neil, and I pray that you can eventually get over it.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 3:50am BST

I cannot emphasize enough how much this sounds---to a faithful Yank Episcopalian---like King Canut trying to hold back the tide.

What CofE "traditionalists" (so-called: I think misogyny of this type is a fairly recent innovation, but no matter) fear MAY happen, on this side of the Atlantic (among other places), HAS happened.

Priests-made-female DO confect Jesus in the mass.

Bishops-made-female DO confer holy orders in Christ's Church.

...and God is glorified thereby. Alleluia! :-D

The tide has come in already---why stand up-to-your kiesters in the ocean positing What If?

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 7:15am BST

Father Ron Smith writes that “most overseas provinces” have ordained women for the “total ministry of the church”, which I take to mean women bishops as well as priests and deacons. I don’t believe this to be the case.

I believe that the provinces of Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, North India, Philippines, Scotland, Southern Africa, Sudan, Burundi, England, Hong Kong, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Korea, Rwanda, South India, Uganda, Wales, West Indies, West Africa, Southern Cone, Congo, Pakistan, Central Africa, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Melanesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia and Tanzania have no women bishops as yet.

There are just five provinces with women bishops at the moment. Nor are they the largest numerically by a long chalk. So it would be inaccurate to say that this has been going on quietly for a decade in most Anglican provinces. Although I believe he is right in saying that no church buildings have fallen down as a result.

Posted by: John Simmons on Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 8:56am BST

Neil: you don't have to "sign up to new ideas." You should be encouraged to adhere to the very old idea that injustice wounds God's creation.

The current FiF standpoint is ludicrous. I was ordained in a batch of 12, half male and half female. Is it really ethical that clergy should be allowed (indeed paid) to work in an organisation where they only recognise half of those ordained by their bishop as their colleagues in the priesthood? No other organisation could operate in such a way. If you don't want to work with half your colleagues, you can't be too miffed if they consider you the awkward one, rather than vice versa!

Posted by: Fr Mark on Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 9:21am BST

Cfomhell. If this matter were purely a question of justice then it would have been settled a long long time ago. Intolerance and bigotry should always be hunted down. If, however, this has to do with the will of God for and in his Church, as revealed in scripture and tradition then there are different views. And you seem to display in both the tone and content of your posting real intolerance and bigotry against those who do not agree with you. Traditionalists are not hindereing the ordination of women bishops at all. If this is what you believe in then of course you MUST proceed. But without intolerance and bigotry towards faithful people who cannot in consience agree.

Posted by: Neil on Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 10:47am BST

"But without intolerance and bigotry towards faithful people who cannot in cons[c]ience agree."

In this country the local vestry usually has the option on who to pick as their rector, and the standing committees of the dioceses the same.

I sing at a parish (not my residency, which is the local cathedral) that probably very likely chose a rector due to their being a male, when a personal friend was snubbed probably due to her sex. Did I make an issue? I quietly disagreed then took it like a man and kept it to myself.
That's why we've got synods and diocesan conventions.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 9:00pm BST

"I believe that the provinces of Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America, Ireland, Japan, Mexico, North India, Philippines, Scotland, Southern Africa, Sudan, Burundi, England, Hong Kong, Indian Ocean, Kenya, Korea, Rwanda, South India, Uganda, Wales, West Indies, West Africa, Southern Cone, Congo, Pakistan, Central Africa, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Melanesia, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia and Tanzania have no women bishops as yet."

You should distinguish between those provinces who are able to elect/appoint a bishop who is a woman, and those who are not able. Scotland and Ireland (at least) have passed the legislation. They have accepted that gender is not a bar to the episcopate. It is not a question of if - it is when.

Kennedy

Posted by: Kennedy on Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 10:01pm BST

choirboyfromhell on Saturday, 10 October 2009 at 3:50am BST, thank you!
I'm sorry, but it's amazing how often the will of God turns out to be the will of men -- and I do mean men.
If we read Scripture as literal and frozen in stone, it becomes dead. Whatever happened to Reason?
When the Second Person of the Trinity became incarnate, the choices were as a man or as a woman. Dare I say that the Second Person came as a male because a male's voice would have been listened to in that society? A man turning water into wine considered a miracle worker, while a woman turning water into wine considered a witch? And we know what Leviticus, not to mention the much later Malleus Maleficarum, says about witches. I'd like to think that a woman's witness, calling, and mission as an agent of God is valid today -- or is it?

Posted by: peterpi on Sunday, 11 October 2009 at 6:21am BST

Kennedy,
Well, yes, I guess any kind of legislation works if it is not implemented? Why are those provinces which have passed legislation delaying with consecrating a woman? Might it be because they fear their churches will disolve into chaos because of lack of provision for opponents.

The reason many of us argue for provision within the legislation is because we trust our province to have the guts to consecrate women once it is able to do so,

Posted by: David Maloch on Sunday, 11 October 2009 at 2:28pm BST

Kennedy, thanks for your corrective. My point was not profound or theological. Simply numerical!

Fr Ron Smith said "most overseas provinces" had, whereas in fact nothing like half have.

He said they had been getting on with it quietly. Whereas it has been so quiet it has not actually been happening.

Nor is Scotland overseas of course. Ireland? Perhaps.

Posted by: John Simmons on Sunday, 11 October 2009 at 3:23pm BST

'..then took it like a man..'

Isn't this exactly what we have had too much of aldready ? Isn't this part of the reason we need women ministers? And in other roles ...

Posted by: Rev L Roberts on Sunday, 11 October 2009 at 5:29pm BST

"Kennedy,
Well, yes, I guess any kind of legislation works if it is not implemented? Why are those provinces which have passed legislation delaying with consecrating a woman? Might it be because they fear their churches will disolve into chaos because of lack of provision for opponents."

That's not the impression I get from talking to people involved in the elections that have taken place since the legislation was passed in Scotland.

I do find it strange that there have been no female candidates in the last few elections - perhaps none were nominated?

The current system allows nominations to be made by anyone, the Preparatory Committee draws up a short-leet (approved by the College of Bishops) and the Electoral Synod of the Diocese votes.

Given the lack of stuchie there was when the Canon was amended in Synod, I'm not sure why we haven't elected a woman so far.

Watch this space - nominations close for a new Bishop for the Diocese of Glasgow and Galloway on 14 October. List of candidates should be published on 12 December.

Kennedy


Posted by: Kennedy on Sunday, 11 October 2009 at 7:39pm BST

Point taken, Rev L Roberts. Thank you.

Posted by: choirboyfromhell on Sunday, 11 October 2009 at 8:03pm BST

"It is a huge mistake of those who claim to be 'inclusive' to have no room for those with whom they disagree within the same Church...just as it is for evos to try to expel gay people."
- Neil, on Friday -

Let's look at this thing logically. There's no evidence that the pro-women's lobby wants to 'get rid of' the opposition. On the contrary, it is the 'exclusivity' of the anti-women lobby that forces them to set themselves apart, by requiring 'special legislation' to allow them to remain within the inclusive ethos of the Church. One wonders at your accusation of non-inclusivity of the pro-women lobby.

The same, of course, goes for those of us who want to be 'inclusive' on the issue of LGBT ordinations and same-sex blessings. It is those who wish to 'exclude' such people from the family of the Church that excites and motivates our desire to include them.

We 'Inclusive Church' advocates are not excluding anyone else from being part of the Church. The current stand-off is being initiated by those who want to exclude certain persons from ministry and membership. The threatened separation comes from one side of this debate only, and it is not from the Inclusive Church sodality.

This separation has already happened in the USA. Is it also going to happen in the UK? If it does, one could cite the recent posting of a message on a car window: "Feeling the absence of God? Guess who moved!" Theology is still being worked out in the crucible of the Church. To attempt to deny any further movement of the Holy Spirit might just be a denial of God's power to change us.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 12 October 2009 at 12:31am BST

"On the contrary, it is the 'exclusivity' of the anti-women lobby that forces them to set themselves apart, by requiring 'special legislation' to allow them to remain within the inclusive ethos of the Church."

That's a bit passive/aggressive, isn't it? If people believe that the Sacramental basis of their faith and spirituality is being destroyed by changes with which they cannot agree, it's a bit much to suggest that they are the ones forcing themselves out of the Church. Your argument comes down to "They could stay if they changed their beliefs to agree with us. Since they won't do that, they are excluding themselves." I hope you aren't selling that, 'cuz I ain't buying it.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Monday, 12 October 2009 at 4:14pm BST

Ford
You can dismiss everything as passive agressive, there's rarely a rational defense against the charge, whether it's true or not.

So tell me, in general philosophical way, how are we to deal with any movement away from the status quo?
If all you say is that no-one must ever move until everyone agrees, you are by definition voting for the status quo from here to eternity.
That's not a valid philophical position because it is not even.

Is there any way that would satisfy you in which change could ever be attempted?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 12 October 2009 at 5:24pm BST

Dear Ford,

I can't help thinking that your oft-assumed role of Devil's Advocate on this site confuses most of us into wondering whether, indeed, you do have a particular point of view on anything. Of course, when you are being yourself, you do reveal a rather more eirenic and kindly character - which certainly could not be called 'passive/aggressive'

Luv yer lots!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 3:18am BST

Ford Elms, I have to second Father Smith. The only people asking anyone to leave are those opposed to women's ordination and the ordination of out gay men.
Apparently, even a male bishop isn't good enough if that male bishop agrees with women's ordination. What about respect for that bishop's office? That bishop's own sense of integrity?
"Because it has always been this way" is a lousy argument without sufficient reason as to why it always has to continue to be this way.
As far as arguments that appeal to the traditionalists' sense of things, I believe both women's ordination and gay ordination proponents have made those arguments, and they have always been found insufficient.
So, if a diocese has a bishop who opposes women's ordination, and parishes who think differently wish to have their business done by a pro women's ordination flying bishop, is that OK also? Or can bishops only fly in one direction? Do diocesan borders and bishops' prerogatives and responsibilities have any meaning anymore?
I wonder how one teaches a bishop to fly? When they do fly, do they need permission from the appropriate aviation authorities?

Posted by: peterpi on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 5:41am BST

"Is there any way that would satisfy you in which change could ever be attempted?"

We are called to deal with our differences in a better fashion than the way we humans naturally do. I think that is about as countercultural as we can get. A way that does not call those who disagree "homophobic", or "mysogenist", or "faithless", or "apostate", that does not involve the stirring up of people's fears to garner their support, that recognizes that Christians are called to be united, not a bunch of little national groups doing whatever they see fit in their own little sphere, that does not involve schemery, where opposing sides do not puff themselves up with words like "orthodox" or "faithful" or "Bible believing" or "progressive" or "prophetic". Basically, that shows a Christian regard for our neighbour. Its absence was blatant in the OOW debate, and it's just as blatant in the gay debate. It's always been like this, and not being like it is a not so new thing to which God has been calling us for the past 2000 years.

Are we not supposed to avoid putting stumbling blocks for others? Well, isn't that precisely what BOTH SIDES are doing in the current debate? If you don't want to bless gay unions, you are a homophobe. If you do, you are a faithless heathen. Conservatives publically lie about and misrepresent gay people. Liberals dismiss conservatives as homophobes. Both sides take an ever so pious "Oh, we're just following God's will. Sorry if that sounds like 'Get stuffed!' but we mean it in all Christian love. Honest injun!" Yeah, that's a really great witness to the world! It's a stumbling block for every non-Christian who looks at us and sees our collossal failure to live out our basic principles towards each other, let alone those outside the Church.

And, if the Church moves so as to make it impossible for a person to live the sacramental life as they believe it to be, well, they're being forced out. You seem to acknowledge this, on some level. It's probably inevitable. So let's acknowledge that instead of this "Oh, we're far too good Christians to force anyone out of the Church. If you don't agree with us, you can choose to walk apart, but we're not forcing you out." Now, where have I heard that before?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 3:49pm BST

""Because it has always been this way" is a lousy argument without sufficient reason as to why it always has to continue to be this way."

It's an equally lousy argument for changing something that's been around for 2000 years. Yet, it is often used in that way.

"I believe both women's ordination and gay ordination proponents have made those arguments, and they have always been found insufficient."

Made them to whom? I support OOW. I believe that refusal to ordain women says some very dodgy things about the Incarnation, actually. Yet when the Canadian Church was debating OOW, I never heard the word Incarnation. Arguments were all, in some sense, predicated on the idea of women's equality and how the Church should get with the times. Anyone who came up with a theological argument against OOW was, literally, scorned into silence in the same terms, using the same tones, as I read here in this and similar threads. It doesn't help that conservatives are so primed for the attack that they are sure is just around the corner that they begin from a hostile defensive position, I grant you. But when you approach a priest with, for instance, the interplay between the gender of the priest and his/her role of acting "in persona Christi" and that person seems not even to understand the question, well it's a bit disconcerting when he then scorns you for being "old fashioned". I always felt, and that happened more than once, that I had a right to scorn THEM for being so ignorant of Christian tradition that they, trained in theology, could not understand a simple question asked by an untrained 18 year old layman. Now, THAT attitude was arrogant of me, I grant you.

So, to whom were those arguments made? Talking to each other does not constitute catechesis. It took Don Harvey, and several years away from the Church for this untrained layman to come up with what was the first theological argument I had ever heard in favour of OOW! It's too late now. The anti-OOW crowd did their catechesis years ago, their flocks all know the arguments off by heart. How many lay supporters of OOW can give a pro argument that is not based on women's rights? By now, there might be a few, but not many, I bet. How could they be expected to? It looks like Liberals think that their ideas are so self evident, so "progressive", that there is no need to teach the plebs. Well, we need to be taught! For the love of God, one of the roles of a priest is to be a shepherd. How is it shepherding to not preach on something Sunday after Sunday, then laugh at someone for being "old fashioned" because they don't understand what you want to do? The "gay thing" is exactly the same. What do you think I mean when I say that while I believe the lion's share of the bad behaviour in our current debate lies with the conservatives, there is enough bad behaviour to go around? I don't exactly think liberals behave in all that Christian a fashion, either.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 4:25pm BST

Ford
"Is there any way that would satisfy you in which change could ever be attempted?"

In answer to my question you have slung mud at both sides discrediting them with your usual flourish. I'm not sure how that's helping.

Having established what you don't like, can we now please get back to the question and can you please tell me whether you believe that there is any credible discernment process that can result in change?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 8:41pm BST

"can you please tell me whether you believe that there is any credible discernment process that can result in change"

Part one:
I thought I had. A process in which we behave like Christians. But I also acknowledge that very few decisions in the past 2000 years would fit that criterion.

I have said on many occasions that I do feel that someone who thinks it is a reasonable thing to throw gay people and those who are supportive of them into jail for 5 years is far from the Gospel. But so is someone who, when confronted with a theological argument against his position calls that argument old fashioned and silly and refuses to address it. Nor would I trust someone who doesn't even understand the issue but speaks as though his word is Truth. Anyone, for instance, who refers to someone's "right" to be a priest, well, I don't listen much after that. I would trust someone who is showing the Gospel in his life. I think Gene Robinson, for instance, is that kind of person.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 8:41pm BST

Part two:

Apply this to the current debate. I KNOW the conservatives are not speaking the truth about gay people, because they are not speaking the truth about me or any gay person I know. But it cuts both ways. Life for gay people in the West is not perfect, but it's a bit much to equate the state we're in with that of people who have a very real fear that they will be hanged from a crane in the public square after prayers on Friday while their own family cheers. I don't trust people who equate these situations, either.

So, whatever the outcome of the current debate, I will not feel confident. I don't trust either side. But, I don't demand an answer in my lifetime, either. I doubt we'll ever get it. And, given the current love affair with changing anything traditional, it won't be an issue. Let there be a change in societal attitude, which there will surely be in the next hundred years, and it will be easy for the Church to change back to banning us, burning us, ostracizing us, or whatever. We'll have given the next generation the perfect justification for changing back to killing us instead of loving us, because, after all, when we felt it was so important, we were only too happy to change something we had held for 2000 years. Why should the passage of a hundred years set the changes we make in stone? Why would we think there will not come a time when society thinks it's "progressive" to get rid of gay people, and openness to homosexuality is old fashioned and the Church ought to "get with the times"? I know I defend liberals against that "sellout" argument from conservatives, because it isn't fair, but you can't deny that among the theology, there is also a bit of this attitude, just as among the conservatives there is the attitude that whatever is new is wrong. It's easy to claim that society has moved and the Church is stuck in a more primitive time. Why would future generations not make the same arguments about us?

Posted by: Ford Elms on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 8:44pm BST

Ford
"I thought I had. A process in which we behave like Christians. But I also acknowledge that very few decisions in the past 2000 years would fit that criterion"

But that's avoding the question.

There is a real topic the church has to ponder. Is it acceptable to ordain women as priests and consecrate them as bishops.
Or another one: are partnered lgbt people as blessed in their relationships by God as heterosexuals and should it be legitimate to ordain them to all ministries in the church.

To say "let's all behave like Christians" does not tell me anything about whether you believe that the church is allowed to consider the question, how it is to respond when people feel passtionate and throw tantrums (as they will, because even Christians are human), how it is to respond to conflicting theologies that will emerge, how it is to assess those different theologies and how it is to come to a conclusion.
And bear in mind that remaining with the status quo is ALSO a conclusion. A decision cannot be avoided.

So I ask again - what is the process by which the church can deal with those questions and at what point would you say a binding decision had been made that has to be respected by all members of the church.

This is not just about women priests, it is about any arising issue. So please don't answer by giving me a list of things the various sides have done wrong as though that settled the question. It merely blames everyone without furthering a solution.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 8:33am BST

"Traditionalists are not hindering the ordination of women bishops at all. If this is what you believe in then of course you MUST proceed. But without intolerance and bigotry towards faithful people who cannot in consience agree." - Neill, on Saturday -

So, in fact Neill, you are saying that your fellow 'Traditonalists are not hindering the ordination of women bishops at all'? Then what was all that sobbing and sighing at the General Synod Meeting where the proposition was being discussed. Do you not think that Traditionalists have fought tooth and nail to prevent women from being first priests, and now bishops? I find that hard to believe. What do you think is the reason for the delay in actually ordaining women to the episcopate? There does eem to be at least a little organised opposition by some-one. Are you saying it's the pro-W.O. lobby?

'Intolerance and bigotry' does indeed seem to be preventing the ordination of women to the episcopate, but it certainly is not instigated by the pro-W.O. people.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 10:08am BST

"allowed to consider the question"

Of course.

"respond when people feel passtionate"

By admonishing those who do. By encouraging them to work at subduing their passions. Dispassion, after all,has always been considered a Good Thing. By disciplining people who do not control themselves. In the current debate, that would mean disciplining both TEC AND Nigeria and anyone else who behaves the way they do.

"conflicting theologies that will emerge"

Difficult. It is tempting to suggest that there can only be ONE theology. If Christianity is about SOMETHING, then there cannot be different definitions of that SOMETHING, can there? Different images "in a glass, darkly", that's different, I guess. The Broad Tent is a good thing, but if people would prefer to stay down by the brook, it's silly to pretend that they're in the tent, and why get everybody else out in the open just because some people like the brook? They don't HAVE to be in the tent if they don't want to. So, at some point, some conflicting theologies just might not be compatible. What's wrong with that?

"how it is to assess those different theologies and how it is to come to a conclusion"

By study, by prayerful consideration of the issue through the screen of the Tradition. If we are going to give the laity a say, then educate the laity. Liturgical reform, OOW, and now gay inclusion, all went on way above the heads of the ordinary people. What do we expect them to base their vote on? Any wonder why we're tearing ourselves apart?

"And bear in mind that remaining with the status quo is ALSO a conclusion."

I really don't think many liberals would ever consent to remaining with the status quo on their favourite issue.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 5:42pm BST

Ford

"It is tempting to suggest that there can only be ONE theology"

That is obviously not true. There have always been different understandings of certain things, which is why we only have to assent to the creeds, not to any second order issues.
It might be said that there is only one truth, but as that truth is known to God alone, we here on earth have to do with our best efforts, and they may well conflict at times.

I also find it slightly patronising to reply to my question of how to come to conclusions with "By study, by prayerful consideration of the issue through the screen of the Tradition", because it sort of implies that this is not happening at the moment.
I know that for you the glass is always half empty, that you tend to focus on the failings of both sides.
But it has to be acknowledged that many many people on both sides of these arguments do precisely what you are asking of them. They just happen to come to different conclusions. And for every name you could throw into this discussion who does not appear to be doing that, I could name at least one or two who do.

"OOW, and now gay inclusion, all went on way above the heads of the ordinary people. "

Well, survey after survey seems to show that most bums in the pews have no problems with women priests, and that homosexuality is not an issue provided people don't have sex in church.
Most people actually don't understand why on earth the church tears itself up over this and wish it would deal with more important issues.

It may well be that many liberals would never consent to remain with the status quo.
It is equally true to say that many traditionalists would never consent to a change.
Isn't that precisely why we're having this conversation?
And isn’t the question about structures and means of discernment we can all agree on aimed precisely at trying to find a theologically sound way of overcoming that impasse?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 10:40pm BST
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