Monday, 12 October 2009

Preparing for Women as Bishops


WATCH is publishing a series of papers on Preparing for Women as Bishops. All are PDF files.

First, there is Introduction to the papers: Preparing for Women as Bishops by Christina Rees. Her paper is titled Preparing for Women as Bishops –Legislating in Fear or in Faith?

The Church of England is in the process of drafting the legislation that will make it lawful for women to be bishops. After debating the issue of women’s ordination for over 40 years, WATCH is delighted that the General Synod has agreed that having women as bishops is ‘consonant with the faith of the Church’. We are concerned, however, that certain proposals have been put forward which would result in a two-tier episcopacy and a fracturing of the historical Anglican understanding of orders. Further, we are alarmed that the flawed theology of the Episcopal Act of Synod 1993 may be absorbed in the legislation permitting women to be bishops.

Several members of WATCH have written about their hopes and fears for the women bishops legislation and we offer this series of papers as a contribution to the on-going discussions about the way in which the Church will legislate for the Episcopal ministry of women…

The first paper is available here, and is by Dr Judith Maltby.

The prefatory material says:

Introduction to the Revd Dr Judith Maltby’s essay in Act of Synod –Act of Folly? edited by Monica Furlong, SCM Canterbury Press 1998.

One Lord, One Faith, One Baptism, but Two Integrities?

On 11th November 1992, after many years of debate and discussion at all levels in the Church, the General Synod voted to make it lawful for women to be ordained as priests. Almost exactly one year later, with only two debates a day apart, the General Synod passed the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod, creating provision for three separate ‘flying bishops’ to minister to those opposed to women’s ordained ministries.

Five years after the Act of Synod was passed, the late Monica Furlong edited a collection of essays entitled Act of Synod –Act of Folly? Canon Dr Judith Maltby, Fellow of Christ Church College, Oxford, has given WATCH her permission to use her contribution to Monica’s book. We are grateful to Judith for her essay, which traces the theological and ecclesiological flaws inherent in the Act and the damaging precedent it has set, not only for the Church of England but for the entire Anglican Communion. 16 years on, the Act is still in place, although only 2% of parishes in the Church of England have signed Resolution C, the resolution calling for the extended Episcopal oversight created by the Act.

As the Church prepares to open the Episcopate to women, WATCH continues to work for the rescinding of the Act of Synod and for the simplest and most straightforward legislation for women bishops.

The second paper is now also available: Walls of Suspicion, Hatred and Taint by Jean Mayland.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 12 October 2009 at 4:15pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

Bravo, bravo, bravo ... in one fell swoop of clear reflection, Dr. M shines the glaring light of day upon the whole spin doctored business that aims to divide and conquer as a core strategy of rightwing Anglican realignment.

It seems clear, even when justifications/reasons for needing some new global covenant are tossed around, especially from realignment corners: One must avoid being tainted. Sticky, gooey dirt can smear one, depending on a number of different sources whose contact contaminates real, pure, true, traditionalistic Anglicanisms.

One may be touched by a woman, or by somebody who has touched a woman. One might be touched by one of those queer folks, or somebody who has touched one of those queer folks. One may be touched by somebody who reads too much science, surely dirty? One may be touched by somebody who related to somebody who reads too much science? One may be touched by a family member, friend, coworker, or some other dirty person who has, himself or herself, been dirtied by interacting too neutrally or too positively with one of the growing number of tainted, non-conservative Anglicans?

I especially resonate to Dr. M talking about how the spin about key realignment working notions which provide one-way-street leverage - like 'collegiality' or 'impaired communion' or 'protection of traditionalistic conscience' - regularly serve to divide and conquer. Collapsing the global big tents is a deep matter of the current Realignment Day, just as the USA IRD folks conceptualized, intended, planned, preached, taught, and lobbied.

Of course it would need an awake, working real historian to focus our attentions; away from the faked, spin doctored virtual historicizing of the Realignment Campaign.

Posted by: drdanfee on Monday, 12 October 2009 at 10:20pm BST

Brava, brava, brava is better - ain't she a woman? Anyway, brava indeed and thanks also for drdanfee's excellent comment.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 7:59am BST

"16 years on, the Act is still in place, although only 2% of parishes in the Church of England have signed Resolution C, the resolution calling for the extended Episcopal oversight created by the Act."

And herein lies the anomaly of 'Two Integrities'
How on earth (or how in heaven, for that matter) can there be such a thing a 'two integrities' - on the issue of whether Christ can be represented at the altar by a woman? Either a woman is truly created in the fullness of the image and likeness of God (just like a man) or she isn't. There are simply no two different 'integrities' which can meet the truth of this situation.

If, then, a woman is created, like a man, in the 'image and likeness of God' what is there to prevent her being called by the Holy Spirit in today's emancipated world to exercise ministry in the Church - as deacon, priest or bishop. If the humanity of Christ was meant to represent the humanity of women as well as men - without prejudice - then could not God decide to ask a woman to represent Jesus Christ at the altar?

Today's societal norms are very different from those of the New Testament world, where Jesus still managed to break through some of the institutional barriers against women's activity in the community. However, what Jesus did not manage to do was overturn the prejudice against women being given full equality with men in the Institution. If Jesus were to return today, he would not have to fight institutional prejudice against the role of women - EXCEPT in the world of religious institutions, of which his Church, the Body of Christ, is one.

The ambivalence between the Church and the World has often been quoted as the main reason for the Church not adapting to society's acceptance of women as having an equivalent dignity and status to men. However, with the evidence of his equal treatment of women and men in the Gospel, Jesus would surely have gladly incorporated their newly recognised status in society into his call upon them to minister in his Church.

The Church is not frozen in time or restricted to any particular societal context. Therefore, the eveloving context requires a new theological perspective to accommodate to the world as it is -not as it was. This is why Good Pope John XXXIII was inspired by the Holy Spirit to call a Council of the Church to undertake a process of radical renewal - a process which the Roman Catholic Church has now reneged upon. Can the Anglican Communion Churches possibly learn from this, by undertaking the further process of renewal that the Holy Spirit may even now be calling into existence - consistent with society's increased understanding of the mystery of how gender and sexuality are part and parcel of our humanity?

We used to sing: "Like a mighty army moves the Church of God". Are we going to settle for the alternative: "Like a mighty tortoise....."?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 11:46am BST
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