Monday, 24 January 2011

SSWSH: 12 bishops issue pastoral letter

MEDIA INFORMATION
THE SOCIETY OF ST HILDA & ST WILFRID (sic)
FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Monday 24 January 2011

Provision to Remain
Anglican Bishops issue Pastoral Letter

Twelve Church of England bishops who seek to both maintain and promote its Catholic heritage have written a Pastoral Letter to clergy and laity suggesting that despite recent decisions by the General Synod concerning provision for those opposed to the ordination of women bishops and priests “even at this late hour we are seeking a way forward that would enable us with integrity to retain membership of the Church of England”.

Referring to those who have already left the Church of England the bishops write: “We genuinely wish them Godspeed as, heeding the call of conscience, they embark on a new episode in their Christian discipleship. We, too, in similar obedience to conscience, seek, if at all possible, to remain faithful members of the Church of England and undertake to support all who seek to do likewise.”

The bishops state: “We are passionate in our commitment to the mission of the Church of England and urgently seek a settlement through which we would be free to play our part to the fullest measure.”

One of the ways of achieving this, they believe, is through the setting up of a new Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and St Hilda.

The bishops write: “We believe this could be done by the formation of a society within the Church of England, overseen by bishops committed to our viewpoint. Such bishops would need, of course, the necessary ordinary jurisdiction that would enable them to be the true pastors of their people and to be guarantors of the sacramental assurance on which we all depend for our authentic sharing within the Body of Christ. Given that our parishes are also constituent parts of local dioceses we also understand that some way would have to be identified for sharing jurisdiction with the diocesan bishop.

They add: “We understand it to be something of this nature that our archbishops were trying to achieve in their ill-fated amendment at the July meeting of the General Synod. That amendment, though narrowly defeated in the House of Clergy, was widely supported elsewhere in the Synod and, indeed, a majority of members supported it. It might well be that a revisiting of the archbishops’ proposals, with some further development of them, could still help our Church to find a way forward that enabled us all to remain faithful members of it.”

The bishops are continuing to meet regularly and to listen to the views of many different people as they add substance to a draft constitution for The Society.

Many have already enrolled as prospective members of The Society and the bishops have encouraged others to do so.

In an appeal to the wider church to listen to their concerns the bishops write:
“We do not want to build up false hopes. Every attempt we have made so far to persuade the Church of England to make the kind of provision that would enable us in good conscience to remain within its fellowship has been thwarted. We feel, nevertheless, duty bound, once again to seek a way out of the impasse that otherwise would make it impossible for many of us to remain faithful members of our Church. We recognise the huge change of heart that would need to happen for us to succeed.”

+ Nicholas Blackburn
+ John Cicestr
+ Geoffrey Gibraltar
+Martyn Beverley
+John Burnley
+Peter Edmonton
+Mark Horsham
+John Plymouth
+Anthony Pontefract
+Martin Whitby
+Lindsay Urwin
+Robert Ladds

The full text of the Pastoral Letter appears below the fold.

PASTORAL LETTER

We write as bishops within the Church of England, who seek both to maintain and promote its Catholic heritage, believing that this demands maintaining the ministry of bishops, priests and deacons in a manner consistent with the tradition of the Church, East and West. We address all those, ordained and lay, who look to us at this time for pastoral guidance.

In July 2010 the General Synod of the Church of England took yet another decisive step in the direction of enacting legislation that would make it possible for women to be admitted to the episcopate. At the same time General Synod declined to make any appropriate provision that would satisfy the consciences of those of us who cannot accept that such ordinations would be a legitimate development in the life of the Church. Some have already decided that they can no longer remain within the Church of England. We genuinely wish them Godspeed as, heeding the call of conscience, they embark on a new episode in their Christian discipleship. We, too, in similar obedience to conscience, seek, if at all possible, to remain faithful members of the Church of England and undertake to support all who seek to do likewise.

Even at this late hour we are seeking a way forward that would enable us with integrity to retain such membership. We are passionate in our commitment to the mission of the Church of England and urgently seek a settlement through which we would be free to play our part to the fullest measure. We believe this could be done by the formation of a society within the Church of England, overseen by bishops committed to our viewpoint. Such bishops would need, of course, the necessary ordinary jurisdiction that would enable them to be the true pastors of their people and to be guarantors of the sacramental assurance on which we all depend for our authentic sharing within the Body of Christ. Given that our parishes are also constituent parts of local dioceses we also understand that some way would have to be identified for sharing jurisdiction with the diocesan bishop. We understand it to be something of this nature that our archbishops were trying to achieve in their ill-fated amendment at the July meeting of the General Synod. That amendment, though narrowly defeated in the House of Clergy, was widely supported elsewhere in the Synod and, indeed, a majority of members supported it. It might well be that a revisiting of the archbishops’ proposals, with some further development of them, could still help our Church to find a way forward that enabled us all to remain faithful members of it.

To this end we have set about forming ‘The Society’. It is under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda. Two of our number, the Bishops of Blackburn and of Gibraltar in Europe, have agreed to serve as episcopal protectors of The Society. The Bishop of Beverley will be the co-ordinating bishop. We are still in the process of giving more substance to its constitution. It may well be that the latter cannot be finally resolved until we know whether or not the House of Bishops and then the General Synod will be prepared to build further on our initiative. You can find more details as to our thinking by visiting The Society’s website. Many have already enrolled as prospective members of The Society and we now encourage all who support us to do so. We need to discover whether such a way forward commands the support of those who look to us for guidance. If that were to be so then it would be good to demonstrate to the wider Church just how many of its members need such provision in order to remain faithful members of it.

We do not want to build up false hopes. Every attempt we have made so far to persuade the Church of England to make the kind of provision that would enable us in good conscience to remain within its fellowship has been thwarted. We feel, nevertheless, duty bound, once again to seek a way out of the impasse that otherwise would make it impossible for many of us to remain faithful members of our Church. We recognise the huge change of heart that would need to happen for us to succeed. We ask you to pray fervently that such a change of heart might take place and encourage you to support us by enrolling in The Society.

+ Nicholas Blackburn
+ John Cicestr
+ Geoffrey Gibraltar
+Martyn Beverley
+John Burnley
+Peter Edmonton
+Mark Horsham
+John Plymouth
+Anthony Pontefract
+Martin Whitby
+Lindsay Urwin
+Robert Ladds

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 6:14pm GMT | TrackBack
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Comments

There seems to be confusion on the part of the press release writer about the name of the society: is it Hilda and Wilfred or the other way round?

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 6:26pm GMT

I do hope that some agreeable way may be found to keep this particular constituency within the Church of England. Whatever one may think of their (sincerely held, by most) objections to the ordination of women, the majority are loyal to the CofE and to the Anglican expression of Catholicism. Unlike those who always owed a tacit allegience to Rome, many of whom have jumped/are jumping to the Ordinariate, the CofE would be much poorer without them. However, these bishops must make it crystal clear to their constituency, particularly their priests, that they are members of the Church of England and if their true allegience lies with Rome then that is where they should go and not carry on the farce of pretending to be Roman Catholic in everything but obedience.

Posted by: Ecclesia Anglicana on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 7:09pm GMT

@ Simon S: I suspect the name (order) doesn't matter, as long as the Society's "Hildas" know they are to be FOREVER subordinate to their "Wilfrids"! ;-/

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 7:18pm GMT

Sounds to me like a re-run of the flying bishops. Do we really want more of the same? And beneath it all is the implication that if they don't get what they want they will go to Rome too.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 7:31pm GMT

I believe it's Brackett and Hinge, Simon.

Posted by: Rev Sidney Jensen on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 8:47pm GMT

There are a few simple questions I would like to hear posed to those who wish to set up such a society:
Do you consider that your ordained colleagues in ministry who are women are truly priests?
Are you willing to accept the sacramental ministry of bishops who have ordained women to the priesthood?
Are you willing to renew your ordination vows at chrism masses together with women priests?

If the answer to all these is yes, then I see no need for a separate Society - the provisions already in the legislation should be enough.
If the answer to any of these questions is no - then how is this society a full part of the Church of England if they cannot share sacraments with everyone else? (And can they share sacramentally with the Archbishop, who is an "instrument of unity"?)
If the Church of England thinks that it can allow clergy who do not accept the full priestly ministry of collegaues, then in its actions it still does not fully accept the priestly ministry of women. I don't want faithful Anglicans of any sort to feel unwanted - but how do the proponents of this society think women feel if the reason for the need for this society is that they don't accept the priesthood of women -it doesn't matter how valid they might consider their reasons to be; it is still rejection of a fundamental part of the identity of every ordained woman.
The relationships bewteen Society bishops and the rest of the bishops may be fine personally, but the same potential conflicts will arise as were discussed in great depth by the Revision committee last year.

Posted by: Rosalind on Monday, 24 January 2011 at 11:17pm GMT

Why Wilfrid and Hilda?

Why not Winifred and Hilde?

Or, is the goal to make sure that a man appears in charge?

Posted by: Randal Oulton on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 4:22am GMT

It's Wilfrid and Hilda - and Wilfrid is spelt with an "i" not an "e"

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 6:42am GMT

Whoops my bad. WilfrId. WilfrId. WilfrId. Got it now.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 7:59am GMT

I can't quite understand what the alternative is. Does it have to be the jurisdiction they crave otherwise they'll leave? This is a genuine question.

If the legislation is passed as framed I can see no reason why, in a letter of request, a PCC can request the ministrations of a Swish priest and Bishop without any difference to the legislation.

Language such as used which suggests that unless this group get what they want they'll leave cannot remain unchallenged.

Posted by: Wilf on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 9:04am GMT

Some degree of tolerance is needed on both sides. Women clergy need to accept that there are those who have doctrinal problems, and be willing to give way (cf St Paul and meat offered to idols) and those who do object to women should continue to play their full part in the diocese and not become a church within a church as happened with PEVs.

Posted by: Fr Michael on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 9:05am GMT

This will be the final test on how inclusive the CofE really is - and I am sure it will fail.
Scratch a liberal and you will find a fascist!

Posted by: Antony on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 9:12am GMT

2,000 years of unquestioned tradition is difficult to change 'overnight'. Some compassion and understanding should prevail. The Church of England musn't enact a scorched earth policy - they're better than that. A place must, if possible, be secured for those traditionalists loyal to the Church of England. But goodwill is required from both 'sides'. Staying in the Church of England should not be out of 'convenience', but should entail a genuine involvement in and commitment to its life and well-being - no more creating of 'ghettos' and sniping from the sidelines, for anyone.

Posted by: Ecclesia Anglicana on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 9:48am GMT

"Scratch a liberal and you will find a fascist!"
- Antony -

Not of Padua, obviously. Seriously, though, do we have to descend to such a level?

I would have thought that, given the provocation from Rome, the Church of England is not doing too badly. If it were the other way round, goodness knows what might happen.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 9:57am GMT

"This will be the final test on how inclusive the CofE really is - and I am sure it will fail.
Scratch a liberal and you will find a fascist!"

See! We *are* brothers-under-the-skin!

Seriously . . .

You can't close down conversation for generations, exclude, on increasingly shaky grounds, a whole range of developing thought, call names (heretic, apostate, etc.), *then*, when you've finally crossed the line, even for the most tolerant, cry and scream that those opposing you are intolerant.

Simply put, whatever is happening to "conservatives" (reactionaries is a better term) in Anglicanism is merely the product, the mirror image, of the absolute unwillingness and ungraciousness of the entire "conservative" wing.

And, before there is a chance to cry about it, yes, that is blaming the victim - however, it's blaming a victim who is the victim of *his own* cruelty, malice, and selfishness. Did you really expect that anyone would allow you to do this to them forever?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 10:22am GMT

I think it is a good, even noble, letter. I support it. I think many, of many different shades of opinion within our beloved Church, will do so too.

I do not think it should be regarded as defeatist. There is a fight – one can hardly deny that – and these people are still fighting. The manner of their doing so is greatly to their credit. How different it is from the seemingly endless malignity and sycophancy one finds in some other places.

However (but it's not a strong adversative, because I think many FiF people now think this too), I also agree with the last bit of Fr Michael's comment.

I think it's important to add that there are women priests who support FiF's integrity, even as (obviously) they disagree with them on WO. One of our visiting woman priests, who is an excellent preacher as well as an excellent priest, much loved by all church people (including some FiF people), preached a particularly inspiring sermon on Grace on the Sunday before the last Synod vote on this matter, in which she ended with a prayer that 'Grace may prevail at the present Synod'. Pity our FiF people weren't there to hear it!

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 11:32am GMT

Antony must be a regular watcher of Fox News. Calling liberals fascists (Nazis, socialists, whatever) is a favourite pastime there. But seriously, name-calling is always odious. By the way, if you understood the meaning of fascism, liberal attitudes are the last thing you would find. Calling someone a fascist has serious implications and not appropriate to this or any debate among Christians.

Posted by: Adam Armstrong on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 1:01pm GMT

"Every attempt we have made so far to persuade the Church of England to make the kind of provision that would enable us in good conscience to remain within its fellowship has been thwarted. We feel, nevertheless, duty bound, once again to seek a way out of the impasse that otherwise would make it impossible for many of us to remain faithful members of our Church. We recognise the huge change of heart that would need to happen for us to succeed".

The insurmountable problem here is that the kind of provision requested would continually and permanently undermine the episcopal actions of any woman bishop. Imagine for instance a member of the proposed Society seeking ordination, who had been confirmed by a woman bishop. Would his confirmation be regarded as valid or would he have to be reconfirmed?

Posted by: Jenny on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 4:05pm GMT

"Women clergy need to accept that there are those who have doctrinal problems, and be willing to give way (cf St Paul and meat offered to idols)"

Did you read what you just wrote, Fr Michael?

I understand that you're TRYING to be eirenic, but you've just compared someone's ***calling by God*** (confirmed by the Church) to a suspect shish-kabob! When the scale is so vastly different, I can only call your above analogy a reductio ad absurdum.

Posted by: JCF on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 7:39pm GMT

100% with you John! At least all of us know that conservatives have a minority block on your Lay House of GS... And perhaps, another in Bishops House... A deal has to be made and liberals have to understand one thing. If this vote fails, you'll have 2 or 3 generations more without women Bishops and liberals could even loose places and influence in next GS's because people should think that conservatives are more "open" or less stressed... Or simply better governors of your Church... Humbly, for me this is your last chance!...
More, reading these Bishops letter it seems that they aren't so radical than others in other occasion even in recent times. At least they don't ask for diminished Dioceses, as your Archbishops, but for an as good as possible solution...
There are no perfect systems... Societies are not a perfect one... But it would be better an unperfect system than nothing!... And at least here in the RC Church we have similar schemes!... Have you ever heard about the Jesuits, lead by mitred Abbots who ordain their Priests independently of the area Bishops for centuries? Or the worldwide special Diocese for the Opus Dei which is a Personnal Ordinariate? Or even Dioceses for the Army in most of the RC countries?
Have a good Evening!...

Posted by: Pensamento Positivo on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 9:54pm GMT

The creation of "flying" bishops had led to the uniqiely modern heresy that one is entitled as of right to have a bishop that agrees with you. That has got to be one of the daftest things ever to come out of the Church of England, and the sooner it is done away with, the better.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Tuesday, 25 January 2011 at 10:01pm GMT

Pensamiento Positivo - thank you: you have unlocked my brain, more on SSW&SH than on the new Personal Ordinariate in England & Wales - though both have still to show that they are a real home for travellers.

It has to be possible, surely, for those terminally opposed to women in a variety of Orders in the C of E to exist, live, thrive within the context of a designated and ring-fenced Society as long as they are able still to be in nominal but declared communion with whoever is the ABC - until she is a woman, which, let's face it, is a very long way off.

The bit I can't get my head round, still, is the current status of most of the episcopal signatories, many but not all of whom are in diocesan colleges with those whose actions in ordaining women they seem to tolerate but think erroneous. And, worse still, those who license women they are not willing to ordain, but are content to employ, and to treat as priests.

Consistency commands respect; playing the system and crossing fingers does not. Equally, those who favour WO have to give respect where it is due. Both sides have to shift to accommodate what may turn out to be legitimate if it is passed by law!

Posted by: Peter Edwards on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 12:27am GMT

"There are no perfect systems... Societies are not a perfect one... But it would be better an unperfect system than nothing!... "

That's why Jesus and his Apostles chose to make a deal with the government, with the prevailing prejudices, rather than face death. You know, always better to live to fight another day.

"We're only human!" is a cry that would have us still living in caves and hoping to live to 35.

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 5:16am GMT

This double name is so tiresome. Why not just call themselves , the Society of the Vicar of Bray?

Posted by: Robert Ian Williams on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 6:09am GMT

"Why not Winifred and Hilde?"
Maybe because Winifred or Gwenfrewi is Welsh and Wales is a seperate province from the two English provinces.
But why "Wilfrid and Hilda"? Both northern saints. Is that why the two southern PEVs (Ebbsfleet and Richborough)have poped and the sole northern PEV (Beverley) has remained loyal to the CofE?

Posted by: Father David on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 7:12am GMT

Peter Edwards "...the ABC - until she is a woman, which, let's face it, is a very long way off."

I wonder if it need be all long a way off. My Lord Carey was a bishop (of Bath & Wells) for only three years before his exceptional talents were recognised by the then incumbent of Downing Street as worthy of being shared with the whole Church and he continued his meteoric rise to the glory of the archiepiscopate. One can barely imagine it, I suppose, but it may prove to be the case that there is somewhere an ordained woman with nearly as great gifts as His Lordship...

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 8:49am GMT

"Have you ever heard about the Jesuits, lead by mitred Abbots who ordain their Priests independently of the area Bishops for centuries? Or the worldwide special Diocese for the Opus Dei which is a Personal Ordinariate? Or even Dioceses for the Army in most of the RC countries?" - Pensimento Positivo -

Yes, have heard of the Jesuits and Opus Dei, and the Roman Catholic system of Ordinariates, and that is one of the most persuasive reason for many of us Anglicans not wanting to be part of it.
We are not Roman Catholic, and what most of us are struggling against at this time in our history is the prospect of becoming quasi-Roman with a central magisterium.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 9:56am GMT

'One can barely imagine it, I suppose, but it may prove to be the case that there is somewhere an ordained woman with nearly as great gifts as His Lordship...'

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 8:49am

I'm sorry, Mark, but I just cannot imagine that anyone might come any where near to George Carey.

However, I agree it is quite possible that Rowan's successor may come from the current body of serving women ministers.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 11:50am GMT

"Wilfrid and Hilda"? Both northern saints

Bede's HE IV:13 records Wilfrid's activity around Selsey and among the South Saxons, if that helps?

Posted by: david rowett on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 12:58pm GMT

It is a pity we cannot really gauge how large their constituency is..in many FIF parishes there are people who support womens ordination and, for example, in my fairly catholic parish where a retired woman priest celebrates from time to time there are a few who do not make their communion.Again, if the legislation is passed in its present form some will find it impossible to stay..others esp most laity will simply shrug and carry on..It might be helpful if we knew what will happen if the signatories themselves find it impossible to remain as faithful members of the C of E.Perhaps they dont know themselves. Some may join the Ordinariate I suppose but looking at some of the names i dont think this is likely.Nor is a continuing Traditional C of E a likely prospect.Lay communion perhaps? One of the signatories is already retired and several are not far off.

Posted by: Perry Butler on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 3:31pm GMT

The key point of this letter is the phrase:
"the necessary ordinary jurisdiction that would enable them to be the true pastors of their people and to be guarantors of the sacramental assurance on which we all depend for our authentic sharing within the Body of Christ. "

The legislation that has been sent on to diocese already includes provision for parishes to request a male incumbent, and the oversight of a male bishop.
The sticking point for the signatories to this letter is that these bishops must be "normal" suffragans - ie not made bishops only in order to be a "non-tainted" bishop for those who still do not believe that ordained women are truly priests. We have lived with this sort of separation under the name of unity since 1994, and experience has shown that this has not led to greater understanding between those with different view points but a greater separation and stereotypoing of ordained women.
Opposition to the use of the Society by these people in a way such as described in the letter is not about refusal to accept that there are those who still hold personal views that do not let them accept the priesthood of women, but is about using the Society as means of continuing to live as though priests who are women and later, bishops, do not really exist and there is part of the C of E which will remain "ring-fenced" and for ever denying the validity of the ordination of women.

Nor is there any truth in the claim that the church cannot be trusted to fulfil what is ageed in a code of Practice -the Act of Synod was always dependant on good will to be put into practice but it has been kept to, despite its provisions being taken much further than those bishops who introduced it seem to have expected.

Posted by: Rosalind on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 4:46pm GMT

"One can barely imagine it, I suppose, but it may prove to be the case that there is somewhere an ordained woman with nearly as great gifts as His Lordship..."

There are footstools, unmatched socks and kitchen utensils with gifts easily as great as his Lordship.

Posted by: Malcolm French+ on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 8:04pm GMT

Father Ron,

The whole point of PP's comment was that there is de facto pluralism within the RC Church, just as (according to him and me) there may be legitimate pluralism within the C of E. Therefore, invocation of 'the central Roman magisterium' completely misses the point.

PB,

The things you say are true - realities are messy. My 'weak', 'live-and-let live' position (by which I myself receive much charity from 'conservatives') notes that these people really, really don't want to 'pope', and we should help them. Very few of them are actually bigots. Some of them are not very bright. Some of them are bright but are (we agree) misguided. But they are Anglicans at heart. Their minority opposition - which actually allows de facto ordination of women within their dioceses (for which 'inconsistency' we should salute them) - infringes the rights and integrity of WO (to which I'm totally committed) only marginally. These messinesses are absolutely inevitable and we should live with them.

Our churches - of whatever hue (except strongly Evangelical or 'Catholic' in areas which allow recruitment from near and far) are practically empty. Such failure or success is not substantially governed by 'liberalism' or 'traditionalism'. Much more practical factors determine things.


Posted by: john on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 8:14pm GMT

Perharps I have been misunderstood in some comments. My intention was not to compare different views on leadership between RC and Anglican Churches. It was the opposite: To demonstrate that it seems that there are things that for the Catholics are not polemic!... Special Dioceses or Mitred Abbeys? No problem!... So it would be a help for the Anglicans. My appologies if not!...

More: RCC is a communion of 23 sub juris Churches, named Rites, all of them independent. For example, only in the Latin Rite celibacy is mandatory. 95% of the atherents? Of course, but the other 5% have different rules. Rites should be and are in our Church a way to avoid constituency problems like the one discribed in a comment. I hope, at least, that it would be possible to have an Anglican "Rite" to the conservatives and an Episcopalian one to Liberals, if a better solution becomes impossible in both CofE and AC...
About Anglican Ordinariate? Unfortunatly I have to say that I am against it! Why? Because I respect the right to the difference! All times there were priests and lay people who crossed the tiber in both directions accepting the rules in their new spiritual home. No problem! But what is unadmissible is that a group would find a way to put his nose on the other group. And unfortunatly our Pope did it! My appologies for that to my trully Anglican or Episcopalian brothers in Christ Jesus!

Excuse me to be so long and have a good evening!...

Posted by: Pensamento Positivo on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 9:26pm GMT

Rosalind, we have lived with this situation precisely because General Synod and Parliament made promises in the form of legislation and statements at the time which were designed to give a permanent place to those who, in conscience, could not accept the Ordination of Women. No one said it was "terminal care" and indeed statements to Parliament and to the Ecclesiastical Committee said that these were permanent provisions. 20 years on, the General Synod has voted to remove the provisions and they have the audacity to ask us to believe that a "Code of Practice" (which cannot be approved before General Synod passes the substantive legislation) will meet our needs. A CODE OF PRACTICE WILL NOT DO! Partly because it is unknown and does not meet the theological objections but also because we do not believe General Synod will keep their word and we therefore need a legal framework in which to continue to operate.

The official position of the Church of England since 1992 has been that the two views on the ordination of women could be held by faithful members of the Church. A Lambeth Conference some years ago asserted that adherents to both views "are loyal Anglicans".

The Society model is far from ideal. Forward in Faith argued in "Consecrated Women" the need for a separate Province in England in which Women are not Ordained. This Province would be like many other Provinces in the Anglican Communion that do not have Women priests/Bishops. The Geographical Provinces of Canterbury and York would then be free to pursue the Ordination of Women Bishops and Have a female Primate while the "free" Province could remain fully part of the Anglican Communion. In time, it may wither and die which will be the clearest vindication of the working of the Holy Spirit in the Church of England demanding the Ordination of Women. The sadness is that such compromise proposals have all been strangled at birth which is why the son of the former Archbishop of Canterbury felt compelled to begin an article in the Church of England Newspaper thus: "The Church of England’s apparent pride in its comprehensiveness in contrast to the ecclesiological narrowness of Roman Catholicism is now emerging as fantasy."

Posted by: Anglican voice on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 11:57pm GMT

I'm surprised that Wilfrid found time to visit Selsey as more often than not he was flitting off to Rome.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 27 January 2011 at 7:09am GMT

Rev'd Ron Smith:

I know that I shall regret asking this and I also know what sort of answers I am going to get- but could you please tell me what you find so terrible in the Catholic Church.

Posted by: mark wharton on Thursday, 27 January 2011 at 8:15am GMT

Mr. Wharton,

You've aked Ron Smith something, but I would ask you - why would you ask questions if you believe you already know the answers and the form they would take?

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Thursday, 27 January 2011 at 9:08am GMT

An Anglo Catholic "priest" friend of mine insists that no matter how long an Anglican Bishop lays his hands on a female ordinand, it doesn't take. Then some people think that all Anglo Catholics are just protestants in fancy dress.
Thank goodness those "priests" joining the Ordinariate are being re-done.
Lady Bracknell springs to mind...mmm:

"Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that."

Posted by: Locus Iste on Thursday, 27 January 2011 at 11:08am GMT

""Have you ever heard about the Jesuits, lead by mitred Abbots who ordain their Priests independently of the area Bishops for centuries? "

Source, please.

Posted by: Bill Dilworth on Thursday, 27 January 2011 at 1:28pm GMT

SW&SH does sound rather fetching for a male-only religious institution. One can just imagine the processions of new vestments with St. Peter's Keys crossed with the 39 Antique Art Objects - even though St. Hilda was far more important in the cause of the Church Catholic in her day than the merely-male St. Wilfrid.

BUT! Where will these magnificent processions take place? I know of a few respectable Masonic Lodges around the place. They may be available.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 29 January 2011 at 9:45am GMT

Where is Forward in Faith in all of this? There seems to have been no public statement since Christmas. Since then, its former chairman has been ordained as a catholic priest, as have other former bishops. We hear more council members are making the same journey. SWISH has sent out its letter. But not a word from FiF. Has it reached the end of its shelf life? Members now attached to SWISH or the Ordinariate?

Posted by: Rose on Saturday, 29 January 2011 at 4:43pm GMT

"Some have already decided that they can no longer remain within the Church of England. We genuinely wish them Godspeed as, heeding the call of conscience, they embark on a new episode in their Christian discipleship."
Is the +Edmonton who signed this the same prelate who, at a clergy meeting earlier this week, openly condemned those joining the Ordinariate?

Posted by: Rose on Saturday, 29 January 2011 at 4:47pm GMT

"A CODE OF PRACTICE WILL NOT DO! Partly because it is unknown and does not meet the theological objections but also because we do not believe General Synod will keep their word and we therefore need a legal framework in which to continue to operate." - Anglican Voice -

The same old argument from the F.i.F. style Anglo-Catholics, who obviously have not yet come to terms with the fact that women have been emancipated - in the world, if not yet happily or universally by the Church.

To remain an Anglican is to believe that our ongoing mission and ministry needs to develop - along with the advent of new knowledge about the status of women in society; the equality of both hetero- and homo-sexuals in the sight of God our Maker; and the abomination of discrimination against both women and gays in the Church.

On the other hand, the Roman Catholic Church officialy proclaims doctrines about gender and sexual matters that are, as yet, hardly changed from the mediaeval times in which they were first conceived. It seems pretty clear that one either accepts the guidance of the Holy Spirit in the doctrines of the Church we were brought up in; or, the only real alternative is to convert to a Church whose doctrine accords with one's own understanding of what God is 'up to' in the world of today. (Or, is God still sleeping?)

No General Synod in the Church of England - as far as I am aware (or the Church of any other Anglican Province) can make an irrevocable promise to maintain any particular doctrinal stance on anything pertaining to our human state that cannot, at some time in the future, be overturned by subsequent legislation. Only the Roman Catholic church believes that to be true of her own unique Magisterium.

The doctrine pertaining to the Person of Jesus Christ is utterly something else - though indeed our human understanding of that doctrine can still be changed - if that is what God wants of his Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 30 January 2011 at 4:27am GMT
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