Tuesday, 13 October 2009

women bishops: more views

Reuters has published an article by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes Proposed legislation on women bishops falls short.

Daily Episcopalian has published I am not a nobody by Lauren R. Stanley.

Maggi Dawn has written Women Bishops Are Tainted? And Tainting The Church?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 6:43pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England

So, if any man anywhere in a woman bishop's jurisdiction opposes her because she's a woman, OR if any women’s-ordination-approving male bishop is similarly opposed, that bishop's authority is automatically reduced – and some right-thinking male bishop is taken off the shelf and comes “flying” in?
Who is more radical now? Those who approve of women bishops, or those who would make wholesale changes to the role of bishop of a kind not approved for 1,900 years, just to appease those who can't stand the notion that women are equal to men.
I like Maggi Dawn’s idea of women temporarily leaving the CofE en masse if this absurd idea gains traction. Let's see how the men perform their functions without them.
George Orwell's Animal Farm comes to mind: All voices are equal in Synod, but the Revision Committee's voices are more equal.
And I want to make sure I have the argument correct: Jesus was a man and chose males to be apostles, so men are welcome as bishops. The Virgin Mary gave birth to Jesus and Mary Magdalene was the first witness of his resurrection, so women should be happy as clams if their sons become bishops, be happy to witness their sons becoming bishops, accept that as their station in life, and remember where their place is.

Posted by: peterpi on Tuesday, 13 October 2009 at 8:37pm BST

"Apart from the issue of process, there are very serious concerns about the substance of the proposed way forward. To set up legislation in which powers are transferred to bishops selected purely on the basis of their views on the ordination of women is invidious and unsustainable. - Miranda Threlfall-holmes -

I think Miranda is correct here. she points out the undeniable fact that, if the current proposition from the Synod Revision Committee were to become the policy of the Church, they would need to submit it to Parliament. This would prove to be rather embarrassing for a government which has rules about discrimination on the basis of gender. It would become plain to members of parliament that the measure to ordain women as bishops - which allows women bishops to be side-lined in particular circumstances (where certain Church members object to her episcopal ministry) would be in direct contradiction to the expressed will and intention of the British Government.

How would the Church stand up to public scrutiny in the obvious public debate that would follow? What would this discriminatory practice say about the inclusivity of Christ in the Gospel?

"In Christ, there is neither male nor female" - Saint Paul. True or False? Or can we endlessly discuss what Saint Paul really meant, here?

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

Why the assumption that opponents are male? A very large number are women. Indeed, it maybe that the number of women who leave the CofE if this provision is made will be smaller than the number of women who will leave if there is no provision.

Posted by: David Malloch on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 10:14am BST

Indeed, David, it may well be that the number will be smaller - because we are loyal anglicans who, despite feeling sick at heart at what the church is doing to itself and saying about us, will probably stay, as we have done for centuries. Does that loyalty mean that our voices should be disregarded, whereas those who make dramatic tantrum-like threats to leave should be taken more seriously? As Maggi Dawn points out very well in her article, such threatening behaviour is part of a bullying culture. And as Maggi Dawn also points out, those who claim to be being 'forced' to leave are in fact saying they will make a choice a leave; I could as well claim that this legislation 'forces' me to leave. It doesn't; it confronts me with a choice to make.

Posted by: Miranda Threlfall-Holmes on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 12:03pm BST

I would like to nominate Sunday 31 January 2010 as 'Stay Away Sunday' in remembrance of "Anna, a prophetess, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem." (It's interesting that it was Anna who preached the Good News and not Simeon.)

Posted by: Terence Dear on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 2:29pm BST

Terrence, could we tack on a few other remembrances as well? Like Mother Mary of Egypt, a "notorious prostitute". As far as I can see from her hagiography, she only ever attended Church on the feast of the Elevation of the Holy Cross once in Jerusalem, after paying her passage on the boat from Alexandria by providing sexual favours for the crew. After the Virgin (or rather an icon of the Virgin) kept her out till she repented, she finally did manage to get into the basilica to see the Elevation, then immediately took her basket of lentils and headed across the Jordan where she stayed in obscurity till being found by Fr. Zosima the year before she died. At that point, she had progressed so far along the road , and all without Church or sacrament, mind, that she could levitate while praying, and when she died a lion grieved for her. So there. How's that for the benefits of staying away, or of not receiving the sacrament, for that matter! Then there's St. Kevin. Or indeed, any number who join with us at Mass every Sunday now, but never darkened a Church door when they were on Earth.

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

Perhaps the best way forward would be to create a seperate province for the opponents. It would mean there were 2 ways of being anglican in England - either in the present system but with women bishops, no flying bishops and all clergy fully interchangeable. There would be a seperate, probably small, province where the opponents could take care of themselves.

I don't buy into all the concern re parliament - rock too many boats and we get to disestablishment and legal friends tell me that if CofE was disestablished its assets belong to the crown not the synod!!

Posted by: Rose Gaudete on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 4:29pm BST

What would we do when in a church very supportive of women's ministry at all levels, though?

Posted by: Rosemary Hannah on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 6:28pm BST

"Perhaps the best way forward would be to create a seperate (sic) province for the opponents. It would mean there were 2 ways of being Anglican in England - Rose Gaudete -

Indeed, Rose, that might be one way of appeasing the protesters against the Ordination of Women. But such puritanical protestation against the Church of England ought, perhaps, to call forth a little more stringent way of preserving catholic order: Perhaps the 'New Province' - in order to keep up with its R.C. colleagues - should insist on Celibacy, as a rule for both clergy & bishops. This would then give the ring of authenticity to their claims of identification with the 'Church Catholic'. Or would that be going just a little too far in defence of their claims to Catholic Order? Let's not get too 'traditional', eh?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 14 October 2009 at 10:17pm BST

There are separate province(s) for the opponents - one to suit all tastes, in fact - there's the Orthodox province, the Roman Catholic province, the Baptist province, etc. etc. etc.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 4:58am BST

there are plenty of provinces for supporters, the URC, the methodists, etc etc

Works both ways.

Posted by: Ed Tomlinson on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 4:45pm BST

'And as Maggi Dawn also points out, those who claim to be being 'forced' to leave are in fact saying they will make a choice a leave; I could as well claim that this legislation 'forces' me to leave. It doesn't; it confronts me with a choice to make.'

I am interested what your pastoral advice would be to someone who does not leave the CofE and yet cannot believe the ordination of women to be the will of God? Where a woman bishop is forced upon them would you have them keep quiet and pretend there is no problem? A lot of people would be in the position of thinking 'I do not believe you to be a bishop...and yet I must accept that according to the law you are'. How might this work out practically?

I can envisage circumstances in which I might receive communion from a woman priest, just as I might from a Methodist minister - to avoid causing pain and embarrassment. And yet I would still think (privately) in both cases I was not properly receiving the sacrament as the Liturgy would be being celebrated by people who remain part of the Laity.

Any advice?

Posted by: Neil on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 7:52pm BST

Ed and Neil:

I think it all depends on what's most important to you in your faith and your worship. If a combination of the historic episcopate and a male priesthood is what makes or breaks it for you, then the RC or the Eastern Orthodox would seem to make sense. If it's male leadership and protestant reformation, head for the Baptists (at least some of them--here in the US, only the Southern Baptists still adhere to a male-only clergy).

OTOH, if you want the historic episcopate and a protestant reformation tradition, it would seem the Anglican path is the only one available. Time to make up your mind--which is more important to your sense of the "true faith": those two or a male-only clergy?

If your answer is the latter, then I am left to wonder how deep your commitment to the other two really is.

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 10:00pm BST

Pat - my question wasn't about where to go apart from the CofE but how both the Catholic and Reformed elements of the CofE might live together in the future now this new division has emerged. Should people just 'pretend' that women priest/bishops are ok when it goes against their consciences? Or avoid them? Or just not receive communion from them...or 'holy orders'?

It is an important question since the problem will not go away - even if thousands of people do leave the CofE as a result. Because many will be staying on the 'Anglican path' as you put it - trying to be faithful to the faith they have received.

Posted by: Neil on Thursday, 15 October 2009 at 10:34pm BST


The same question is asked by lgbt people, and has been asked by everyone finding themselves on one side or the other of any major debate in the past.

Ultimately, we have to answer the questions I have been asking on this forum these last few days:
Is there an accepted process of discernment in the CoE? If so, what is required of dissenters when discernment has been reached?

If, as Anglo Catholics keep telling me, the church discerns not the individual, then I may have to accept that "my" church has moved to a place where I can no longer accompany it.

And as I've said to Ed before: I joined the CoE of my own volition, nobody forced me to. I knew that it had certain structures to work out what God was asking of it, and by joining it, I implicitly consented to those structures.
If that church should now decide that lgbt people are truly not welcome on an equal footing, I will have no choice but to accept that the church I have chosen to join is no longer representing what I believe to be God's will.
And I will have to leave it.
But that doesn't give me the right to throw a tantrum, to evoke some kind of mythical Catholic Church in defence of my position, nor does it empower me to claim that my view should be as important as that arrived at by the discernment process of the church.

All that will happen is that I place my own discernment before that of my church, and then I am left with a choice of how to respond.
If I felt I had to leave (which in the case of the lgbt issue I would do), it would be My response, My responsibility, My choice.
No-one would be forcing me.

Force comes from GAFCON who would actually want to get rid of me.
Force would not come from a church which is simply out of tune with my own thinking.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 16 October 2009 at 12:16am BST


Part of being faithful to the faith you received--at least in my eyes--is trusting in the discernment processes of that faith. If that process results in women's ordination or women in the episcopate, do you lose your trust in it? Or do you accept it, believing that the discernment process truly hears the voice of the Spirit?

And, if you cannot accept that the discernment process hears the Spirit speaking on this issue, why should you accept it on any other issues, such as the choice of a male bishop, or a vote on spending issues? Are you picking and choosing which issues the Spirit is being heard on? And, if so, why do you believe the Spirit is being misheard only on the ones you already disagreed on?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Friday, 16 October 2009 at 3:16am BST

Exactly, Ed. And we stayed, all through *actual* abuse and disdain and worked, patiently and carefully, and it was realized we had something to say worth hearing.

Now, you can stay, and work patiently within the larger community of your church, or you can leave, but we are all tired of the attempts to sabotage, derail and create this "special" section. This is a church, not a club or a restaurant or a theatre - you're either stuck in with all of us, or your not part at all. Complain, work towards change, or shut up, but stop trying to elevate your status to some sort of privileged minority. You're not. If you are that absolutely certain that you're right and we're corrupting Christianity, then you've got to work through all of it, submitting to the ecclesial structure of your church until you can change it, you don't create a ghetto. You can also "save your soul" and leave. That's it. That's all there is to it. *We* stayed. We were loyal, and in TEC, we bent over backwards to accomodate the allegedly-orthodox.

You have no case, because you've got no ill-treatment. Sorry.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Friday, 16 October 2009 at 5:29am BST

Ed Tomlinson says: 'there are plenty of provinces for supporters, the URC, the methodists, etc etc Works both ways.'

Well, yes, except to ask the body of the faithful to leave because a few dissenters don't want to go along with the mind of the Church is pretty rough justice, and I don't know what he thinks the Church of England would look like, morally, spiritually or numerically if it should be composed entirely of the misogynist, homophobic rump which would remain.

Posted by: toby forward on Friday, 16 October 2009 at 7:25am BST

"I can envisage circumstances in which I might receive communion from a woman priest, just as I might from a Methodist minister - to avoid causing pain and embarrassment. And yet I would still think (privately) in both cases I was not properly receiving the sacrament as the Liturgy would be being celebrated by people who remain part of the Laity. Any advice?

Posted by: Neil on Thursday

One wonders. Neil, what precisely is your spiritual attitude towards the Eucharist when, for instance, you really believe the Eucharistic minister (celebrant) is not authorised by the Church which you are a part of to perform this important sacerdotal act? I would have thought that you might hesitate before receiving what you would consider to be a bogus representation of Christ in that (for you 'pretend') Eucharist.

I weould have thought that for you to believe as strongly as you do that the Eucharistic minister has to be a male - in order for the Sacrament to be what you might term 'valid', you would elect not to receive at the service where a woman was the Celebrant at the Eucharist. To actually be seen to receive the Sacrament would be, or ought to be, a sign that you believe in its authenticity
Otherwise, if you really think the Sacrament to be invalid; to go ahead and receive it would be tantamount to an act of sacrilege on your part.

So, let's both agree here: Your theological objection to receiving the Sacrament from a canonically-ordained woman priest denies you the privilege of communicating at the Celebration led by a woman priest.

This does not mean you are unable to receive the Sacrament of Holy communion. It just means that you are unwilling to receive the Sacrament of Holy Communion celebrated by a duly-ordained priest of the Church, who happens to be female.
Then: Your only option is to attend a Celebration where the Celebrant is male. END OF STORY.

BUT, maybe not quite. You could always become a Roman Catholic or Orthodox Church member - with a much more stringent discipline than the C.of E.
But even then, you may be surprised when a Nun actually dispenses the Sacrament from the Aumbry -because they don't have enough male priests!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 16 October 2009 at 10:08am BST

"a Nun actually dispenses the Sacrament from the Aumbry -because they don't have enough male priests!"

Now, Fr. Ron, that's not good. It isn't the distribution that is the problem. Or is it? The Eucharist is seen as a fourfold act: taking, breaking, consecrating(giving thanks), and distributing. Is the gender of the celebrant only significant for the third part of the fourfold act, or only insignificant for the fourth part? If a woman can distribute the Sacrament, but not celebrate it, then either gender is insignificant for the last part only, or it is significant for the thrid part only. And, if that's the case, why? How is a woman unable to represent Christ in only one of the four acts? Or able to represent Him in only one of the four acts? I guess I'd need a conservative to explain that.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 4:51pm BST

Bravo, to Maggi Dawn for pointing out that dialoguing with bullies gets tricky. The more you acknowledge their godly superiority and power, the worse we can fairly well predict, daily life will get with them squarely in charge.

Add to this Anglican bullies list: Rowan Williams. He is the sharpest bully in the stack, letting the rough ones do his dirty work for him, and then mildly saying that he does not condone bullying at the same time as he depends on it to get his new covenant moving right along. A model of a certain bully Anglican sort, then.


Well, for one thing, where is everybody actually going to go for real - having taken off and away and out in their respective Anglican purity and purged saintliness huffs?

Banning women or queer folks - the current hot button targets - from church life or church leadership will hardly get the allegedly tainted people right off the planet. Indeed, you may find that you are now depending on the care and gifts of that queer fellow or that gasp woman? - who just happens to be your neurosurgeon or neighborhood banker, to assist you in your dire time of need, despite the palpable theology which comforts you by saying that neither the queer fellow nor the women will endanger you by their taint in your church life.

????? Doesn't make much sense. ?????

Posted by: drdanfee on Sunday, 18 October 2009 at 8:06pm BST

Ford, I get the drift of your argument here. I was not implying that to adminster the Sacrament was equivalent to presiding at its Consecration. I was merely trying to point out that, if there is no priest to preside at an actual Celebration of the Eucharist, this may result in a woman - a Nun is this case - mediating the Presence of Christ in the Eucharist to someone who worries about women in the Sanctuary.

Actually, many R.C. Nuns nowadays, as they are expected (in an act of obedience to the parish priest) to administer the Sacrament in the absence of said priest, wonder why on earth they are not allowed (as a dedicated Religious) to preside at the Celebration. But that's another story - Or is it?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 19 October 2009 at 12:51am BST

Fr. Ron, I was thinking about the four fold nature of the Eucharist, and wondering if, possibly, administering the Sacrament IS equivalent to presiding at its consecration. What does it mean "to preside"? Does it mean the actual saying of the Dominical Words over the elements? Or does it consist in carrying out the entire four fold act? If it's the latter, then distribution IS the same as presiding. I 'm not making this against OOW. My point is that if it is acceptable for a woman to carry out one of the four acts, why can't she carry out the other three? Have the anti-OOW people dealt with that? Because they ought to. I think it's a pretty powerful argument against their position, actually. Another one. And if they haven't, why haven't they? The Eucharist isn't magic, after all. It is a mystery, but there numerous levels at which it can be understood without negating the mystery. This is one of them.

Posted by: Ford Elms on Friday, 23 October 2009 at 3:31pm BST
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