Tuesday, 22 June 2010

Co-ordinate Jurisdiction: WATCH responds to the archbishops

WATCH (Women and the Church) Press Statement 22nd June 2010

All bishops are equal but some are more equal than others.

WATCH has studied the outline proposals of the Archbishops’ intervention in the progress of legislation for women bishops. Despite the assurances that all will be well we are not convinced that the issues raised regarding jurisdiction will be resolved equitably when the practical steps of implementation are worked out. Will an “unacceptable” Diocesan bishop be required to share jurisdiction and how? Or will it be at her or his discretion? If the former, we are in effect back to automatic transfer.

The timing of the Archbishops’ intervention is similarly to be questioned. The Revision Committee considered all proposals put to them in great and thoughtful detail. These new proposals could have been made in similar detail to the Revision Committee. This would have enabled their practical consequences to be thoroughly considered before they came to be debated by General Synod. It is important that the Church does not re-create the unforeseen consequences of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod in agreeing to proposals that have not been thoroughly explored and explained. We ask; In what way are ‘nominated bishops’ not actually flying bishops with extended jurisdiction? Are we not creating a two-tier episcopacy of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ bishops with all that implies about how the Church continues to view women? Have the Archbishops sought the views of the senior women who must be counted amongst “the full diversity of voices in the Church of England”? Has their support been obtained for these proposals?

WATCH has received many messages that suggest that the Revision Committee has accurately judged the amount of compromise that people are prepared to make. While we would prefer the legislation to be simpler and more straightforward we are willing to support the Revision Committee proposals for the sake of the Church. Let us move forward on that basis.

Notes for Editors

WATCH (Women and the Church) is a voluntary organisation of women and men who are campaigning to see women take their place alongside men without discrimination and at every level in the Church of England. This requires the removal of current legal obstacles to the consecration of women as bishops. WATCH believes that the full equality of women and men in the Church is part of God’s will for all people, and reflects the inclusive heart of the Christian scripture and tradition.

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Comments

I prefer episcopal authority to that of a pressure campaign group. They didn't consult 'senior women?' So what? We're not congregationalists.

Posted by: Tristan on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 2:58pm BST

So good to see that Donatism is still alive and kicking.

Posted by: Deacon Charlie Perrin on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 3:37pm BST

The more I think about this, the more I come to the conclusion that we've all gone a bit mad. Common sense dictates that if parishes can object to their bishop being female or ordaining women, then they can also object to that bishop being male or refusing to ordain women. However, further application of common sense reveals that to be a completely nutty idea which makes a mockery of the office of diocesan bishop.
So let's join the dots, shall we? Either the C. of E. has women bishops or it doesn't. A simple yes or no. That's what should go before Synod, and if it can't get the necessary majorities, then we accept the result of the method of governance we have chosen. Then we might be able to get on with some more sensible things, like that stuff that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25...

Posted by: Justin Brett on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 4:11pm BST

I saw that this was even raised in the House of Commons today:

The Second Church Estates Commissioner (Tony Baldry): ... The legislation to enable women to become bishops reaches the General Synod’s equivalent of Report early next month in York. Depending on what is decided there, the legislation will then go to the 44 diocesan synods, and I understand that the earliest date that the General Synod can take a final decision, and when the matter can eventually come before the House, is 2012.

...

There are clear majorities in the General Synod in favour of women becoming bishops, but, as the proposals by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York yesterday demonstrated, there are still efforts to try to find ways to reconcile those who have deep-held opposition to the measure. Under legislation, it is important that the Church decides the way forward, and we should give it the space to do so. However, it is also very important that the Church hears the voices of this House about how we see those matters, because ultimately the issue will have to come back to this House.

Posted by: Paul Davison on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 4:41pm BST

ike that stuff that Jesus talks about in Matthew 25...

Posted by: Justin Brett on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 4:11pm BST

A tad radical ? Christian even ...

I like the WATCH statement (oh lordy dreadful (high-) kicking donatist that I (must) be...

Yes, if we get yo pick and choose, I want a woman bishop, and I certainly don't want a mysoginistic or homophobic one. When oh when do I get to choose?

As for :
'episcopal authority to that of a pressure campaign group.' (Posted by: Tristan on Tue)

What is 'episcopal authority'? Not sure we know that. We have seen how badly bishops behaved at Lambeth, the 'primates group' etc. I do not want to see more of that kind of 'authority' / behaviour. Better be congregationalists perhaps ?

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 4:41pm BST

I understand that the Primates of England and All England are confecting a Great Cake which, at the end of General Synod, is to be served with lukewarm tea and ceremoniously and simultaneously eaten and kept.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 6:17pm BST

Tobias, isn't that like having your cake and eating? lol. I don't see how not have the same genitalia should serve as an impediment to do the same work if both are qualified and capable.

On the same subject, a local youth group went on a mission trip to DC. They visited a mosque were the boys got to have the full tour and the girls were quickly dispensed with being women. "So sorry, you have to have the following equipment in order to get the full tour." Makes me be a member!!!

Posted by: bobinswpa on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 9:49pm BST

"Are we not creating a two-tier episcopacy of ‘acceptable’ and ‘unacceptable’ bishops with all that implies about how the Church continues to view women? Have the Archbishops sought the views of the senior women who must be counted amongst “the full diversity of voices in the Church of England”? Has their support been obtained for these proposals?"

WATCH signals the likely outcome of any deference given by General Synod to the amendments proposed by the 2 C.of E. Archbishops. This is nothing less than an attempt to compromise the credibility of the Church in any future movement of the Church towards the full inclusion of women in ministry.

One wonders what would happen if the priestly ministry of women were suddenly withdrawn from the Church of England? They would find it very difficult to cope with the consequences. So why not accept the fact that God may be calling women into actual leadership in the Church - as soon as possible. This could not be any more dangerous than leaving the task of leadership up to male bishops - whose guidance has not brought us into any sort of Gospel inclusivity in ministry.

Bishop Katharine Jefferts-Schori, the Presiding Bishop of TEC, has already given the world-wide Communion enough evidence to convince Thinking Anglicans of the need to harness the wisdom and dignity of the Women of the Church. I am very much looking forward to meeting her, here in New Zealand, when she preaches at Evensong in Saint Michael and All Angels Church in Christchurch on Sunday next. Her visit here is 'low-key', but she will have many who will greet her warmly. We are already blessed with a woman Bishop here - so we know what we're dealing with. We recommend them!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 22 June 2010 at 11:52pm BST

WATCH has noted the point which demonstrates, beyond reasonable doubt, that the Archbishops' intervention is an invitation to women to turn the other cheek to better facilitate the sliding of the knife through their ribs, sorry, the slicing of the episcopal cake; the ABs have had plenty of time in which to put these proposals to the Revision Committee for reasoned consideration, and have chosen not to do so.

The logical inference is that they knew perfectly well that the obvious absurdities of their proposals would have been demolished by the people who have given the matter reasoned consideration, leaving them not much in the way of fig-leaves to hide their embarrassment.

The appeal to mutual trust by people who have just demonstrated their own untrustworthiness in this manner simply makes bad worse; do they really think we are so dumb that we will fall for this?

Posted by: chenier1 on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 12:06am BST

And as an addenda, allow me to refer you to Rowan Williams himself speaking about women bishops at the end of April:

“Obviously, the Archbishop of York and I will want to speak to the debate in Synod, but if we speak before that we want to make sure that we have something coherent to say.”

If the Archbishops genuinely believe that their proposals are coherent then we really are up the creek without a paddle...

Read more: http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/04/26/100426fa_fact_kramer?currentPage=all#ixzz0rcxYvkog

Posted by: chenier1 on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 12:34am BST

To expand on Paul Davison's comment.... It is interesting that two questions were asked in the Commons, including one by a Tory Member:

CHURCH COMMISSIONERS

The hon. Member for Banbury, representing the Church Commissioners, was asked—
Women Bishops

2. Diana R. Johnson (Kingston upon Hull North) (Lab): What progress the Church of England has made on proposals to enable women to be consecrated as bishops. [3388]

See rest at
http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201011/cmhansrd/cm100622/debtext/100622-0003.htm#10062245000011

Ed Note: I have edited this answer since we have just published the full text of the reply as a new article on TA, see above.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 2:24am BST

Yes, WATCH. This is a clever way of re-introducing systemic discrimination in all but name. It is also correct that it is introduced as a hurried amendment by two persuasive and influential archbishops.in much the same way as the Act of Synod was initiated by the then Archbishop of York after the Measure was passed in 1992. This collusion with injustice towards diocesan bishops is unacceptable. Una

Posted by: Una Kroll on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 6:43am BST

It has come to mind that all human fetuses are female until the testoterone kicks in - so female is the basic pattern, we are all 'essentially' female. I wonder if that is the basis of the deep-down fear some men seem to have of women.

Posted by: Sara MacVane on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 7:17am BST

The Archbishops are only trying to honour solemn promises made when the Act of Synod was drawn up, which the Bishop of London has been working hard to keep as well. Without the Act of Synod there would have been the chaos of a number of Dioceses being 'no go' areas for women, and people seem to forget that huge numbers of women were ordained in Dioceses whose Synods had rejected the POW measure but who allowed pro-women Bishops to 'do the necessary'. Then there was respect for conscience, and generally both sides have behaved reasonably in making things work. It will need something like this in order for that spirit to continue.

Posted by: Neil on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 8:02am BST

"The Archbishops are only trying to honour solemn promises made when the Act of Synod was drawn up, which the Bishop of London has been working hard to keep as well." - Neil on Wednesday -

Is that SO? The Holy Spirit is not bound by the 'promises' of Church Officials - especially in this case, where each General synod is responsible for canonical legislation to take place during the tenure of its elected membership.

In any event, who could possibly 'promise' that there would be absolutely no change to the status quo of any determination made by any particular synodical body - except, perhaps the Roman Pope?
Such promises as may have been made - to continue accommodating a culture of misogyny and statutory provision for anti-women-clergy - were only, let us remember, provisional. They were not set in stone like the Ten Commandments. Even the BCP and the 39 Articles have had to make way for a modern understanding of Church in the modern era.

'Semper Reformanda!'

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 10:34am BST

Una has put her finger on the nub of it again.

This is the point.
We must beware !

'Yes, WATCH. This is a clever way of re-introducing systemic discrimination in all but name. It is also correct that it is introduced as a hurried amendment by two persuasive and influential archbishops.in much the same way as the Act of Synod was initiated by the then Archbishop of York after the Measure was passed in 1992. This collusion with injustice towards diocesan bishops is unacceptable. Una'

Posted by: Una Kroll on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 6:43am BST

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 12:19pm BST

The claim that the Revision Committee has not honourably considered all proposals put to them in great and thoughtful detail, which is implicit in Neil's post, is, in my view, a dishonourable one on his part.

If he has evidence to support his claim he should produce it; otherwise it appears that he is simply defaming members of the Revision Committee in his haste to defend the indefensible....

Posted by: chenier1 on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 2:30pm BST

How long has this debate been going on? The 'mens club' of bishops have been fighting a rear guard action for many years. They have behaved disgracefully to their sisters in episcopal orders, and now think they can bring an amendment at the last moment to scupper or delay the consecration of women as Bishops. Grow up men, accept that in the church since its inception women have played an apostolic role. Mary brought the news of the Risen Christ. Today we celebrate St Etheldreda, Abbess of Ely, to name but one in a cloud of female witnesses.
The Diocesan Bishop is the focus of unity in the diocese, so lets get on with passing the measure,. A Diocesan Bishop respected by all, regardless of gender, and lead by the Holy bSpirit in doing that which Our Lord commanded us to do.

Fr John

Posted by: Fr John on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 4:21pm BST

All the he/she his/her language with regard to the diocesan bishop in the archbishops' proposal presumably indicates not as some have wryly suggested that parishes will be able to request a female co-ordinate bishop rather than a male diocesan, but that parishes will be able to reject a male bishop on the grounds that he ordains women or has been ordained by someone who also ordains women, or ordained by someone who has been ordained by someone... etc. If that is so, the theology of taint lives on in this amendment.

Also, the distinction between a diocesan bishop being forced to give up part of her (or his) jurisdiction to another bishop, and (as in this proposal) being forced not to exercise part of his or her jursidiction is a distinction without difference.

Posted by: Samuel on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 7:57pm BST

Oh how short memories seem to be chenier1. And how quick you are to dishonour. There is nothing indefensible in the interventions of the Archbishops, nor hasty in my comments. Indeed the rush to judgement seems more your style. My post has nothing to do with the revision committee, but everything to do with trying to explain to people like you the likely background to the thinking of the Archbishops. In the words of the Bishop of London:

'The question remains of how to honour the promises made when women were
ordained to the priesthood that those who could not accept the decision
of General Synod as one authorised by scripture and tradition would
continue to have a secure and honoured place in the life of our church.
It was clear from the debate on Monday that there are profound doubts
about whether a national code of practice could provide such a "secure
and honoured place".
With all this in mind I am summoning a Sacred Synod for those who wish
to consult about how to reaffirm and reinvigorate the London Plan. We
shall be able to discuss the potential of the Plan for keeping open that
"secure and honoured place" which has been promised to those who share
the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all the
nations but whose convictions do not enable them to accept that the
consecration of women as bishops is authorised by scripture or
tradition.'

Posted by: Neil on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 8:54pm BST

"The question remains of how to honour the promises made when women were
ordained to the priesthood that those who could not accept the decision
of General Synod as one authorised by scripture and tradition would
continue to have a secure and honoured place in the life of our church."

This, perhaps, is the core of the problem: Why should these people continue to have such a place when the church, speaking as a whole, has decided they are wrong? Should we have promised a secure and honored place to those who believed that scripture and tradition did not authorize the ordination of those not white? Or that slavery was not approved in the scriptures?

Why does THIS decision of the church gathered in synod (or general convention as in my country) require such a promise when those others did not?

Posted by: Pat O'Neill on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 10:27pm BST

Neil

'trying to explain to people like you'

Gosh, you really do know how to win the hearts and minds of people like me; I'm beginning to wonder whether some strange virus has been stealthily penetrating the ranks of the faithful, starting with the ABs and moving on from there to the point where whole swathes of eager commenters seem to be located on a different planet.

Your post was crystal clear in its willingness to dismiss the work of the Revision Comittee as dishonourable; your only objection is that this has been pointed out when your preference, along with Canon Kearon, is to keep it quiet in case people might get to find out about it. Actually calling a spade a spade seems to horrify you.

As for your belief that you are able to explain "the likely background to the thinking of the Archbishops" perhaps you could identify yourself so we can judge for ourselves whether you have the qualifications to do so.

I am merely a humble occupant of the pew, apart from at Evensong when I get to sit in the quire, so I claim no inside knowledge. I do, on the other hand, have some expertise in the construction of language, hence my observations on your first post.

But you are clearly privy to the inner circles on these matters, so you do need to tell us how you got them...

Posted by: chenier1 on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 11:48pm BST

"'The question remains of how to honour the promises made when women were ordained to the priesthood that those who could not accept the decision of General Synod as one authorised by scripture and tradition would continue to have a secure and honoured place in the life of our church." - Neil on Wednesday -

This quotation from a statement made by the Bishop of London has to be examined in the light of what exactly was 'promised' to the dissenters. In fact, the concept of women's ministry was a matter for 'discernment' for A PERIOD, within which the Church would proceed in a manner consistent with the outcome of her experience of women as priests.

That discernment period is now well and truly over There can be no going back on the fact that women have been proven to be authentic and capable of sacerdotal ministry in the Church of England (as well as in other parts of the Anglican Communion).
For F.i.F and others who disagree with the whole idea of women's ministry, surely the time is now upon us for them to consider whether they can still stay in a Church that ordains women - in any capacity whatsoever. To stay must surely be some indication of the fact that they DO accept the ministry of women in the Church of which they are a part. To not do so would mean that they are absolved from the need to conform with the canons and statutes of the Church of England - which has already authorised the ministry of Women.

There can be no 'smoke and mirrors' in the Church - except that arising from the incense offered to God by God's human ministers - male or female.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 11:52pm BST

But this amendment , if passed, would continue to deny all women an honoured place within the Church of England, by stil defining them as "a problem". The response: "oh, we do honour you" is shown to be hollow by words and actions such as this amendment. The Act of Synod may have worked well for some - but it has never worked well for women and those who would like to see all orders open to all in whom the calling to ordination is discerned. I don't think this was what Synod intended in November 1992 - and I find it hard to see how that decision, voted on in 1992, does not have the same validity and weight as a "promise" that is talked about much but not referenced other than anecdotally.

Posted by: Rosalind on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 11:53pm BST

What promise was that then ?

Made by whom, when, why and what ?

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 12:24am BST

"I prefer episcopal authority to that of a pressure campaign group. They didn't consult 'senior women?' So what? We're not congregationalists."

So keeping women out of the episcopate means bishops never have to hear from the women they keep out of the episcopate: very clever, Tristan.

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 4:52am BST

Another important question that still lingers in the minds of many of us in this matter of the ministry and jurisdiction of women and bishops in the Church is: - how can the Church of England continue to sustain ecumenical relationships with PORVOO Churches that ordain women (and gay) bishops, while yet distancing itself from TEC and the Anglican Church of Canada (Provincial Churches within the Anglican Communion) because of their inclusiveness in this matter? Is this not duplicitous?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 10:38am BST

"Is this not duplicitous?"

It is; and therefore the Church of England should repudiate communion with ALL of these apostate bodies.

Posted by: William Tighe on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 4:19pm BST

W. Tighe responded to the question of duplicity by the CofE within and without the Anglican Communion with the observation: "It is; and therefore the Church of England should repudiate communion with ALL of these apostate bodies." First of all "it is". It is of course easy, within the context of Communion politics, for prelates in the CofE to attack TEC and Canada on the grounds that developments here compromise "ecumenical relationships." It is more difficult to make a big fuss over PORVOO Churches and risk undermining well regarded formalized ecumenical advancements. Such a strategy seems much like the advice once offered by Abraham Lincoln that "one [civil] war at a time is enough." Its really a kind of careful political expediency. As for The Church of England repudiating communion with "all these apostate bodies", does that mean that Tighe does not consider the CofE itself apostate? And, I might ask, apostate from what exactly--classical culture? It's an old debating trick, stick a label from some past heresy or reasonably settled question on your opponent, and attack it rather than engage the issue at hand. From what I can tell from most of Tighe's one liners he belongs to what Bernard Lonergan once referred to as "a solid right determined to live in a world that no longer exists." It explains perhaps in part his penchant for some of the most bizarre attempted connections between the problems of today and the heresies of yesteryear.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 8:26pm BST

I propose that for the next decade at least all C of E bishops are ordained at the Methodist Conference by the President and other leading ministers and members. That could sort out quite a lot of FiF's and others worries about bishops of all genders and agendas and none !

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 10:38pm BST

"I propose that for the next decade at least all C of E bishops are ordained at the Methodist Conference"

This is just provocative nonsense written by someone with no understanding of Catholic order. Regardless of the debate over the ordination of women, Catholics on either side (FiF or AffCath) would balk at the image described here.

Posted by: Fr James on Sunday, 27 June 2010 at 10:59pm BST

Dear Father James. Do you not recognise irony when you come across it in this blog? A little humour goes a long way - especially when ecclesial dignity is threatened.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 12:52am BST

Dear Fr Ron,

Very amusing, I'm sure. I didn't realise Thinking Anglicans was a forum for having a joke at the expense of those with whom liberal Anglicanism disagrees. My mistake.

Posted by: Fr James on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 8:39am BST

"I propose that for the next decade at least all C of E bishops are ordained at the Methodist Conference"

This is just provocative nonsense written by someone with no understanding of Catholic order. Regardless of the debate over the ordination of women, Catholics on either side (FiF or AffCath) would balk at the image described here.

Posted by: Fr James on Sunday, 27 June 2010 at 10:59pm BST

So are you suggesting that the Methodist Church is somehow beyond 'Catholic Order' ? Why did the late great Michael Ramsey champion a mutual acceptance & recognition of ministries and order ?

WE in the Church of England have much to receive from them.We are too high and mighty for our good and the good of Christianity.

Surely this step would also help us move beyond primitive, unhelpful,'pipeline' ideas of ordination and ministry ?

I happen to have had Old Catholic 'input' to my ordination, but do you think that -beyond a certain Romanticism-- it makes a blind bit of real difference to my ministry and its effectiveness ?

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 11:51am BST

'Catholics on either side (FiF or AffCath)' are united on something ! alleluia !

Now there's progress for you -- at the mere mention of British Methodism !

Posted by: Pantycelyn on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 11:53am BST

I'm suggesting that Methodism understands both episcopacy and priesthood (or rather, presbyteral ministry) in different ways. You'll note that, despite the desires of the 'late great Michael Ramsey' we are not in a state of full communion or interchangeability of ministries with the Methodist Church.

We do indeed have much to receive and learn from our Methodist brothers and sisters. But the differences between orders of ministry cannot simply be ignored. That's why its good that Christians can work together (i.e. in LEPs) but why it's also proper for there to be some limits in place.

I don't imagine for a second that your Old-Catholic input in your ordination had any difference at all. They've maintained apostolic succession, just like we have.

Posted by: Fr James on Monday, 28 June 2010 at 1:02pm BST
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