Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Diocese of Blackburn clergy write to the Archbishop of York
The following press release has been received:
22 January 2013
Lancashire clergy write to the Archbishop of York
Over fifty clergy from the Diocese of Blackburn have written to the Archbishop of York, urging him to ensure that the next Bishop of Blackburn will be prepared to ordain women as priests, and fully affirm their ministry.
The letter was co-ordinated by the Vicar of Lancaster, the Revd Chris Newlands, and has been signed by fifty-five clergy from across the diocese who are keen to see a supporter of women’s ministry appointed as Diocesan Bishop.
Mr Newlands said, “Many churches across the diocese have been greatly enriched by the ministry of women, and we believe that to fulfil his calling as a focus of unity, the next Bishop of Blackburn should affirm the ministry of all the priests in the diocese who hold his licence.”
The Crown Nominations Commission will be meeting at the end of January to choose the name that will be submitted to the Queen who formally makes the appointment. An announcement is expected within the next weeks.
The last two diocesan bishops have not accepted the ordination of women as priests and the signatories to the letter have urged the Archbishop and members of the Crown Nominations Commission to ensure that the 9th Bishop of Blackburn is a supporter of the ministry of women priests in the church.
For further information please contact:
The Revd Chris Newlands, Lancaster Priory.
The first meeting of the Crown Nominations Commission for the See of Blackburn was held on 10 January. The second meeting is due to be held on 30/31 January.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Tuesday, 22 January 2013 at 7:07pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
This is a new initiative which I find very encouraging.
There should be no further diocesan bishops who refuse to countenance women in the ordained Ministry. The PEVs really are more than enough.
Give Blackburn a break.
Whilst Dr Martin Warner may well prove to be an excellent choice as bishop of Chichester, there are a number of women clergy in Sussex who expressed their candid dismay at the preferment of yet another bishop who will not ordain women. There was a feeling that the CNC made some crude assumptions and generalisations about the Chichester diocese, by assuming that it must always have a diocesan of those views (or, at any rate, fewer FiF clergy would bolt for the Ordinariate if a bishop of their views was preferred). Although Chichester is often dismissed as a ghetto for clergy antipathetic to the ministry of women, it does have a sizeable number of female clergy.
What goes for Chichester must also - surely - pass for Blackburn, London and Truro. Mr Newlands and his colleagues are therefore surely right to notify the authorities that the views of those in favour of women priests should not be discounted because of the [largely erroneous] reputation of any particular diocese.
NOT AGAIN - Let us not create another +Whitby situation.
Bishops are not appointed on what they believe in or whether they agree theologically with the majority of people in their Episcopal Area but on what they as a person can offer the role.
+Sentamu and the CNC should stand firm and appoint who people have recommended and shortlisted be it those opposed or those in favour of the ordination of women.
Once you start basing choice of bishops of preference, we've lost all hope - You might as well state that I want a Bishop who went to Westcott, a Evangelical, a Tall guy and etc.
We have faithful catholic clergy who are more than suitable to be Bishops let us not bar them from preferment.
Supports of woman bishops said that 'Why can't they just trust that a female bishop will ensure provision is in place for those opposed'. Now here is the reply 'Why can't those supporters of the ordination of women trust that a traditionalist bishop will make sure that the ministry of women is fully embraced and nurtured regardless of his theological views'.
Perhaps the CNC need to consider this: How can a diocesan bishop who 'does not accept the ordination of women as priests' ever be a focus for unity?
That goes for the Diocese in Europe too.
+Truro ordains women Froghole.
"Bishops are not appointed on what they believe in or whether they agree theologically with the majority of people in their Episcopal Area but on what they as a person can offer the role."
In that case, can we please scrap the PEV scheme, because there is not a single bishop who is not male and therefore sacramental assurance is not threatened anywhere in the CoE and the whole PEV scheme is about wanting someone who agrees with you.
On the other hand, if a Bishop ordains women but is male, he does not do you any actual harm. If a Bishop does not ordain women he actively rejects the priesthood of his own clergy and does not even ordain them. That goes way way beyond just having a different view and should never be allowed.
The Newlands initiative (the Blackburn imitation of the Whitby band wagon) is actually saying to the Commission: kindly acknowledge only majority opinion in the C of E when episcopal appointments are made and just send us another liberal catholic. Such initiatives are no doubt well meant but they are inimical to that charitable comprehensiveness that honours all Anglicans which we sign away as a Church at our peril. Actually, the interests of fairness surely suggest a conservative evangelical should be appointed a diocesan bishop as a matter of urgency.
"Once you start basing choice of bishops of preference, we've lost all hope - You might as well state that I want a Bishop who went to Westcott, a Evangelical, a Tall guy and etc." - Chuchu Nwagu -
It already started, Chuchu, in Chichester. Martin Warner was elected precisely because he suits the provenance of the diocese. This cannot be denied.
What's sauce for the goose is also sauce for the gander.
Just imagine the Holy Roman Catholic Church allowing anyone to question the Bishops it sees fit to ordain. Church Order needs to be universally accepted by the memberships of the Church that ordains its clergy and bishops, surely. Otherwise, what integrity reigns in the bestowal of Orders?
Any dismissal of the Diocese of Chichester as a ghetto or safe haven for those opposed to the ordination of women is based on an eroneous understanding. Indeed it may have that reputation, but it is a fact that the Diocesan Synod voted FOR women bishops at its meeting to consider the legislation last year. It voted against the currently proposed legislation. Those who believe that the diocese is a safe haven are living in cloud cuckoo land.
When the selection of a new diocesan was being discussed, considerable disquiet was expressed, and loudly expressed, that the Vacancy in See committee did not represent the real weight of opinion in the Diocese, those opposed to the ordination of women being in a large majority on it. There were many expressions of disquiet at the way the Committee seemed to have been packed and I believe that this was made quite clear to the Crown Nominations Committee and anyone else who would listen. Our exertions were in vain.
However we have what we have. Bishop Warner has said that he will appoint a suffragan who will ordain women and confirmed that such a bishop would not be restricted to one particular area. This can at least be seen as a positive development and there are more to come. Even in Chichester things are changing. Please don't tar us all with the same brush, most of us want to live in the real world not some lace fringed, men safe fairyland.
I welcome this initiative and hope the Crown Nominations Committee take note. We have 3 PEVs and they are enough to minister to those parishes which will not accept women priests or bishops
A simple request for the present tactic of erecting ghettos to cease.
If there are priests who oppose WO suitable to be called as bishops then they should be called to any diocese. The present arrangement is not catholic and all should be glad to see it swept away.
I would be most surprised if the Roman Catholic church, or any other church, appointed a bishop who did not clearly believe that the clergy who served under him were actually clergy. Even in more hierarchical churches, there might be some awareness of the oddity of a bishop who will not administer certain sacraments to, or receive certain sacraments from, the priests whose ministries he is largely there to uphold and nurture.
The last twenty years have shown beyond doubt that Traditionalist clergy and people cannot fully accept the sacramental ministry of a bishop who ordains women to the priesthood and cannot accept him as a focus of unity, in fact he is a focus of disunity. If we are now saying that a Traditionalist cannot be a diocesan bishop then the only answer is to make Beverley, Richborough , Fulham and Ebbsfleet dioceses.This seems to be the only logical outcome if people are determined to exclude Traditionalists from holding office as diocesan bishops or as mainstream suffrgan/area bishops.
Nigel: there are conservative evangelicals who support the ordination of women - unless you redefine ConEvo to mean opposition to OW is of the esse of that position.
The problem with the Whitby / Blackburn / Chichester successions has been that successive bishops have been appointed who do not regard their female clergy as actually ordained (at least not in the same way as the male clergy). Thus it is not the same as always appointing a bishop who does ordain women - he regards all his clergy as clergy.
'Why can't those supporters of the ordination of women trust that a traditionalist bishop will make sure that the ministry of women is fully embraced and nurtured regardless of his theological views'.
You would need to listen to women clergy who have discovered that in certain instances they cannot be trusted. Sara McVane mentions the Diocese in Europe. The Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe has been granted an extension and so he will now serve for another five years beyond 65. One of the tactics employed in this Diocese is to put Archdeacons in charge of PTO. The last Archdeacon adopted the policy of not replying to retired women clergy when they applied for permission to officiate. He did not reply to a letter and an email of mine. This despite the fact that there is insufficient cover in my area. The atmosphere of bullying, exclusion and waste pervades. The post has been advertised four times now and no suitable candidates have applied for the part time post. Three very experienced retired locums who were covering for three months each did not consider the situation viable and saw the injustice in it. This tells me that male clergy also have huge question marks about the Diocese and may avoid the area. There are women serving in the Diocese but it is patchy and I know one woman who did not feel supported at all to the detriment of her health.
I now worship with the Roman Catholics who treat me with respect in the full knowledge that I am an Anglican Priest.
Many of us fear that the CofE could continue to live in cloud cuckoo land for a number of years yet - to the detriment of unity and mission. Whilst an atmosphere of dishonesty prevails in many a Diocese it does seem right to me and the Holy Spirit that male clergy who wish to support women ordinands and women priests will unfortunately have to adopt a militant stance in order to represent the views of their parishioners who encourage vocations. More than half the ordinands in training are women and more women than men were ordained in the CofE last year. Our opponents are clearly unhappy with what God is providing - tough because He/She abhors waste and discrimination.
Wow. I can't believe that CoE dioceses don't get to elect their own bishops. In the 21st Century. The system is inherently patriarchal.
So interesting to see the arguments that essentially say that bigotry can be a source of unity. Or is in fact the only source of unity, as support for woman's ordination is so "obviously" related to disunity. Wow.
Maybe unity is not more important that doing justice, showing kindness, and walking humbly with God. CoE's brand of "unity" supports hurtful acts toward their women clergy. That's the Good News??? And it builds up the spirits of girls...
Chuchu, what, precisely, can a bishop who refuses to ordain women as priests and does not believe that women can be priests offer them? Exactly how can their ministry be 'fully embraced and nurtured?'
Apparently women cannot be foci of unity, yet bigots can.
"Bishop Nicholas has been a wonderful pastor to the clergy and all the people of the diocese. He has seen the whole diocese as his parish and has been a wonderful parish priest to everyone in it."
Rev'd Chris Newlands
(BBC Radio Lancashire 27 October 2012)
Having made this statement to the BBC, it surely cannot be that Mr Newlands is suggesting that Bishop Reade was unable "to fulfil his calling as a focus of unity"?
"...arguments that essentially say that bigotry can be a source of unity" Why is it bigotry that those who in conscience are unable to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopacy? Those that sincerely believe this are no more a bigot than those who constantly hurl in a hurtful manner this and show why those who cannot accept women's ordination cannot trust us or have "respect" we are not doing ourselves any favours using uncharitable, un-Christian language. No wonder my vicar feels so ashamed when such is hurled about in her name!
This is an important initiative which the CNC ignores at its peril. A non-ordainer is simply unappointable given recent events and in view of what is now the settled view of the Church, despite the fact that the General Synod is playing catch-up with the rest of the Church it claims to represent. A conservative evangelical would be excellent, and I can think of candidates who would ordain woman as presbyters. The last thing that Blackburn needs is the events re Whitby being played out on a larger canvas.
As a signatory of Chris's letter, can I briefly say that I signed because
1) I wanted to ensure that the CNC was clearly aware that many clergy supported women priests in our Diocese.
2) the previous two Bishops have placed women in parishes to administer sacraments to the people that they themselves would not receive. This seems a paradox, if not a contradiction.
3) we have a traditionalist suffragan in post to serve clergy and parishes of that tradition. Many other Dioceses rely on PEVs, whereas even with a bishop who ordained women, we would have more provision.
Jean Mayland wrote:
"We have 3 PEVs and they are enough to minister to those parishes which will not accept women priests or bishops"
There may well be some mileage in that argument; as long as any new legislation re WB retains the PEVs and gives them jurisdiction.
"[W]e are not doing ourselves any favours using uncharitable, un-Christian language."
Actually, if the past 30 years show anything, it is that Anglicans do themselves no favors when they avoid serious disagreements, or package them up in false politeness, euphemisms, and circumlocutions.
The CofE will benefit from honesty. It will also benefit from clearly disassociating itself from discrimination--something that the CofE has twice recently attempted, and failed, to do.
Refusing to use the words "bigotry" and "discrimination" does the CofE immense moral damage. Let's name the sin.
If Blackburn continues to have a diocesan who does not ordain women that encourages a clear tradition for the diocese. Surely a bishop who does not ordain women could be appointed to other diocese, thus making a shared experience of the church. At the moment this practice is the continued lot of the few.
A priest of Chichester, who finds it hard to regard herself as in communion with her diocesan, however caring and nurturing he is.
I wonder if other branches of the Church Catholic has Bishops who refuse to recognise the integrity of legitimately ordained priest in their Communion?
By the continuation of the regrettable polity of 'Provisional Episcopal Visitors', the Church of England erodes any 'catholic' understanding of collegiate episcopal oversight. Congregationalism is not part of traditional Anglican strategy.
Better to extinguish the source and continuing culture of 'Flying Bishops' - this 'rara avis'.
"We have faithful catholic clergy who are more than suitable to be Bishops" [Chuchu]
Indeed we do: no need then to resort to consecrating those catholic clergy who are unwilling to do bits and pieces of the job (such as presiding at ordinations) and are in that respect unsuitable.
"Why is it bigotry that those who in conscience are unable to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopacy?"
Excluding an entire class of people from the possibility of a particular rôle or vocation is pretty much the definition of bigotry. Slapping "in conscience" on the tin doesn't make it conscientious.
"Why is it bigotry that those who in conscience are unable to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopacy?"
Rhetorical questions like these always leave me gobsmacked.
Why is it the dialogue-ending defense of "conscience" cannot be separated from the POWER-OVER implication of the word "accept"?
If your "conscience" takes you out the CofE doors, there they are. Vaya con Dios.
But to even PRETEND there is anything "conscientious" about using POWER-OVER to deny ***someone else's conscious*** about their divine call to holy orders, is BEYOND decency. Why call it "bigotry", Collette? Because, plain and simple, IT IS BIGOTRY. Kyrie eleison!
Collette asks "Why is it bigotry that those who in conscience are unable to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopacy?"
Because in the 20th and 21st Centuries, a good many excellent theologians have re-examined the Gospel with an open mind. And with a keen sense that the church has gotten it seriously wrong before, with racism, slavery, colonialism, wars over belief... Theologians and historians have looked at Mary Magdalene, the First Witness to the Resurrection, and Jesus's relationship to women, breaking taboos to teach, heal, and hang out. They've thrown on the spotlight that women were early church leaders. They've listened to St. Paul when he said that in Christ there is neither male nor female, Greek nor Jew, slave nor free... The overwhelming message of the Gospel is about justice and compassion, and inclusion.
One doesn't need special skills or historical knowledge to note that Jesus's most harsh words are towards the Establishment for using the law to exclude and demean people.
You call it "conscience," conscience based on what, exactly? Centuries of oppressive culture? One statement by Paul to one particular church?
I'm an American. We are 40 years ahead of you on women clergy and bishops. That covers more than my entire adult lifetime. Just imagine how Neanderthal it looks to me and my generation? I live in Colorado at 5200 feet before I start climbing any of our mountains. From the perspective of decades of knowing the blessings of WO and WB's, and the view of quaint and foggy England from the crisp big skies out here, it's pretty clear that your "conscience" is rooted in personal prejudice and unwillingness to accept that the church is doing outright harm.
It is a major temptation to try to create God in our image rather than see the image of God in ALL people.
For those who think that making accommodation with the forces of discrimination is the "Christian" way, it might be worth reading this. It's MLK's letter from the Birmingham (Alabama) jail. His harshest words were for the moderates who questioned MLK's methods. Essentially they just wanted their comfortable status quo, regardless of the fact that it meant continuing injustice for African Americans.
The oppressors have had their way for centuries. Time's up. With modern sensibilities it is clear that oppressive policies HURT. So it is not "Christian" to continue with hurtful policies and hurtful leadership.
If you have to make accommodation, then get one female and one male bishop per diocese and get on with the Gospel.
If I can get us back to the letter, a key consideration in sending this letter was that the representation from our Vacancy in See Committee is heavily weighted in the traditionalist direction. However, it's important to note that even Blackburn Diocesan Synod [narrowly] passed the women bishops draft legislation at the consultation stage in Oct 2011. Therefore we felt a need to highlight the fact that Blackburn has a majority of clergy and people who accept the ministry of women, despite the balance of our reps on CNC
Can someone explain to an outsider how reps for the CNC are chosen?
Let us rightly understand one key point.
Where do people's "consciences" come from?
When one opposes the ordination of women "in conscience," one is making a claim not only about one's own conscience, but also about the Christianity that helped form it, and that helps legitimate its claims.
So such a person is really saying, "my understanding of Christianity requires me to exclude all women from this vocation."
In other words, "Christianity requires me to discriminate."
That message is incredibly damaging to the Church!
If that message really is part of the CofE--if people who espouse it really have an "honoured place"--then many conscientious people will want no part of the CofE.
Hence the need for individual Christians to use honest language to describe such perverse dictates of "conscience."
Hence too the need for the CofE officially to distance itself from discrimination.
I write to second Jeremy's comments with regard to bigotry as a sin that needs to be named, and for which no apologies or excuses on the grounds of "conscience" in the C of E ought to be made. I also concur with the concerns expressed by Sarah and Rosie regarding the regrettable situation in the Diocese in Europe, and the needs of the said Diocese for its health and witness in the future.
What a state the Church of England has got into! It seems that whatever path is chosen, the outcome is discord and disunion, if not utter contradiction.
At least for some, there is a way out. I am referring to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham. They seem a pretty happy and united bunch.
I expect they are, Paul, and it would be a surprise if they weren't, bearing in mind how short their life as a community has been so far, but it won't take long for them to find things to argue about, unless they aren't actually human beings at all!
Hmmm, but the people who went to OLOW should probably always have been Roman. Those of us who are just a long way up the candle would have to have a pretty good reason to suddenly accept the papacy, etc, so it's not like the dissenters could just run away to Rome in a heartbeat.
I have to say, I think Cynthia has hit the nail squarely on the head - a male and a female bishop per diocese (not co-equal but guaranteed that if the diocesan isn't male at least one suffragan will be, and vice versa of course) and let's get on with the gospel. I'm so tired of fighting, but I could live with that. I suspect that the PEVs would probably still be necessary for some though, which would be a sticking point. Maybe lots of others couldn't, but I'll happily keep that ball rolling.
Can someone concisely, and without politics, explain to someone who missed the argument at the time why we're not just consecrating women to the bishopric and keeping Res ABC and PEVs anyway? If the wider CofE wants women bishops, which it clearly does, then why not just keep the arrangements already in place? Then all this might have been avoided surely?
In reply to Martin Reynolds
The CNC for diocesan bishops has 14 members - eight central members and six diocesan members.
The central members are
* the two archbishops
* three members of the General Synod House of Clergy elected by the House
* three members of the General Synod House of Laity elected by the House
The elected members serve for five years.
Since the CNC for Blackburn is meeting while there is no Archbishop of Canterbury, his place is taken by the most senior bishop on the southern province willing to serve, in this case it is the Bishop of London.
The diocesan members are six members of the diocese's Vacancy in See committee elected by the committee. Only one member of the bishop’s senior staff team (suffragan bishop, assistant bishop, archdeacon and dean of the cathedral) may be elected to the Commission.
The composition of the vacancy in see committee can be found at the beginning of this article:
As usual, I'm out of step here. I think that if (a) 'traditionalist' bishops who do not accept - or do not necessarily accept - the validity of women priests as dispensers of the sacraments, but (b) nevertheless support them and allow them to be ordained (by others) as priests because that is the general policy of the C of E, they are doing their job as bishops within the C of E and should be regarded as sufficiently compliant. Several women priests here have testified to the conscientiousness in this regard of e.g. Philip North, Martin Warner and Martin Jarrett.
Yes, but John, it does not necessarily follow that such traditionalist bishops should occupy the same see one after the other in an unbroken line.
That, I believe, is what is being objected to here.
Surely Bishop Martin of Chichester isn't going to be left as the sole Guardian of the Faith?
I read all these comments with interest. Many of them are really wise and perceptive and add to the discussion. Isnt it interesting that this post currently has 7 times more comments than the more recent one on eradicating hunger via the "IF" campaign. I wish we got more hot under the collar about what might galvanise us around making a difference to rather more lives both in this country and globally than gender and sexuality - important though that is.
"I wish we got more hot under the collar about what might galvanise us around making a difference to rather more lives both in this country and globally than gender and sexuality - important though that is."
Spoken like someone who's never been discriminated against.
"Spoken like someone who's never been discriminated against."
Exactly, Jeremy. Injustice hurts. It does harm. And to say that the church should be allowed to continue harming people of various classes, female, LGBT, so that it can pursue...
I'm all for getting on with the work of the Gospel, feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, etc. But a good portion of the Good News is liberating the oppressed. So it is quite vital for the church to stop oppressing. Otherwise, they have no credibility on the social justice portion of the Good News. And it is much needed.
"Surely Bishop Martin of Chichester isn't going to be left as the sole Guardian of the Faith?"
- Father David -
Would that be the patriarchal 'Faith of our Fathers' then David? Certainly not the Faith of our Mothers - including that of the Blessed Virgin Mary, whose faithfulness led to the Incarnation of Christ.
Faith doesn't need guarding. And God doesn't need to be protected. People need to to make faith a verb. The actions include justice, compassion, and mercy. Exclusion isn't compatible. Feeding the hungry, healing the sick, and including all people as brothers and sisters created in the image of God, is compatible.
God is calling. God is calling people that are different from you, no matter who "you" are. And it's time to shed childish ideas of having to guard the faith and get out there and DO the faith.
Long live the "Guardians" of the Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham.
"Lady of Walsingham, be as thou hast been, England's Protectress, our Mother and our Queen!"