Thursday, 4 April 2013

Women Bishops in Wales

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales will be meeting on 10 and 11 April 2013. The agenda includes group discussion on women bishops, as this extract from a press release describes.

The ordination of women as bishops will be discussed by clergy and lay people from all over Wales at a key Church meeting next week.

Theological arguments for and against women bishops will be presented to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body during its two-day meeting at the University of Wales, Trinity Saint David, in Lampeter, on April 10-11.

The 144 members will be put into seven groups, each facilitated by a bishop, to consider two papers – one outlining the case for the ordination of women and one setting out the case against.

The discussions are being held ahead of the introduction of a two-stage Bill to the Governing Body in September to ordain women as bishops. That legislation, however, will not be addressed by the groups next week.

The Bishop of St Asaph, Gregory Cameron, says, “It is now five years since the last time that Governing Body considered the question of the ordination of women to the episcopate, and many of its members will have changed. The bishops feel it is important that Governing Body has the opportunity to explore the theological questions behind these issues, and understand the conscientious reasons why those opposed to the ordination of women to the episcopate would not be able to accept the sacramental ministry of a woman bishop as well as the theological reasons why those in favour believe that the time is right for such as a step.”

The discussions will take place on Thursday morning from 9.30am.

The full agenda is available online.

The Governing Body previously considered a bill to allow women to be bishops in April 2008. It was defeated then as it failed to achieve a two-thirds majority in the House of Clergy.

Posted by Peter Owen on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 2:36pm BST | TrackBack
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Comments

Will this and every question have to be discussed whenever there has been a change of membership of a church body? I had thought that discussions had taken place and conclusions had been reached, hence the legislation.

Posted by: Commentator on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 3:41pm BST

Here we go again! Do not women in ministry feel insulted to have to go through this time after time? Has not all this already been discussed at great length?

Posted by: Stephen on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 4:15pm BST

"to consider two papers – one outlining the case for the ordination of women and one setting out the case against"

Do you think God had to listen to papers presented by Satan, For&Against, before accomplishing the whole Adam's Rib thing? O_o

Posted by: JCF on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 7:40pm BST

It isn't only women in ministry, Stephen. It's all of us who are being insulted time and time again. The big question is whether or not women are created equally in the image of God. And time after time we are told that we are not. It's insulting and depressing at best.

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 8:05pm BST

Will they also discuss the merits and effectiveness of ducking-stools and herbal broth cures with added eye-of-newt perchance ?

Only asking.

Posted by: Laurence Roberts on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 8:07pm BST

"Theological [insert emoticon here] arguments for and against women bishops will be presented to members of the Church in Wales’ Governing Body during its two-day meeting at the University of Wales ..."

It's not enough that the church is foolish, but it must be seen to be foolish. What a sideshow. But I suppose the martyr complex at work in the opponents of gender equality requires both a spectacle and an audience in order for it to be worthwhile having one. After all, what's the fun in being a martyr if you can't draw a crowd?

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Thursday, 4 April 2013 at 9:12pm BST

It may be tiresome, but for supporters of women bishops in Wales, isn't this better than just letting the 2008 decision stand?

Posted by: Paul Powers on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 2:38am BST

Nobody is being insulted, Cynthia, and the question at issue is not whether women are created equally in the image of God. Failing to acknowledge the legitimacy of our opponents' concerns (however theologically questionable their premises might be) is no way to convince them that they should reconsider. For those of us who would like to see women bishops as soon as possible (if not last year!) I'd suggest the approach recommended by the apostle in Romans 14:

"Welcome those who are weak in faith, but not for the purpose of quarrelling over opinions. Some believe in eating anything, while the weak eat only vegetables. Those who eat must not despise those who abstain, and those who abstain must not pass judgement on those who eat; for God has welcomed them. Who are you to pass judgement on servants of another? It is before their own lord that they stand or fall. And they will be upheld, for the Lord is able to make them stand."

Posted by: rjb on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 5:12am BST

It's never easy for the Church to be about 'semper reformanda'.
There are always those - as our comments show - with their philosophical presuppositions which cannot be questioned!!
God certainly created us male and female; by definition equality is irrelevant. So is inequality in this!
By making us creatures in His image male and female, distinct,and together forming the image He would have on earth - it is dishonouring to His diversity to conflate and talk about 'gender equality'.
Until we grasp that basic foundational glory of our creaturehood, the church will be forever engaged in the battles which the Church in Wales is seeking to grapple with.

Posted by: william on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 7:34am BST

William,
and unless it is always the more powerful group that dictates to the less powerful group what God wants for them, without taking their opinions into account, we will continue to see this as nothing more than a power play that has nothing of God in it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 1:57pm BST

Erika, and surely therein lies the rub. Is the power play the powerful liberals vs the weaker traditionalists or the powerful men vs the weaker women (I don't believe that but anyway for the sake of argument...)?

Both sides can equally plead "discrimination" and "oppression" and it gets us nowhere. Its just linguistic games.

As Cynthia has said elsewhere and William highlights, there is more than one legitimate reading of Scripture on these matters. Added to that both can plead, if they wish, that they are the victims in all this. It always ends-up in deadlock.

That is why I have come to the opinion that there is no solution to these problems at present other than a "structural" one or the departure of one "faction".

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 3:02pm BST

Sorry, that was of course meant to read "and while it is always..."

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 3:06pm BST

Exactly, Erika. It's about power. It's about the power of the few to oppress others.

To William and rjb (who says that we women should not feel insulted by substandard treatment at the hands of the church), the fact of the matter is that if some women are called to ministry and the old white men bar them, that is an exercise of power and it is oppression. When they exercise that power, all of us women, not just those called to ministry, get the message loud and clear. And it has devastating consequences. We must not be in denial about the devastating consequences of discrimination - depression, hurt, violence, rape, poverty - those are the fruits of keeping us women "in our place."

William, do you really think that you are qualified to FORCE women into your notions of the role of women? If vast numbers of women themselves see their roles quite differently, your answer to us is what? You know best? Really? How do you know better? Please explain it? Your notion of the differing roles is based on what?

Let's see "dishonoring God's diversity" when women are called by God to ministry? When they are blessed with talents for it that are a gift to the church? But it isn't dishonoring God's diversity to forbid diversity amongst the clergy? Interesting logic.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 4:36pm BST

rjb
In the early feminist movement of the 1960's, women got together to share experiences. They set up rules for these conversations to not interrupt and not to tell each other how they should feel. Their men had told them for years how they should feel. I've been told that that was perhaps the most liberating part of women's lib.

When you tell me it isn't an insult, yet again, to hear the issue of WB's debated, this is breaking a cardinal rule of telling me how I should feel. It is an insult to have to hear yet again the offensive and twisted language against women. And there is injury, as I keep pointing out. That demeaning language affirms those with power over women, be it in governments, in homes, campuses, or brutal (to women) third world nations.

This is what people really need to absorb. Discrimination causes suffering and when the church does it, it is particularly affirming to abusers. This insults me, not just personally, but on behalf of suffering women who can't speak up for themselves.

If CoE and Wales can't work out the injustice under their noses, (and continue to inflict hurt) what use can they possibly be in this hurting world?

Don't tell me it isn't an insult that very comfortable, well educated and well fed people can't think beyond their boys club mentality to address the pain of the world - particularly the pain of women and girls (see the UN's Millennium Development Goals and it's emphasis on girls and women).

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 4:52pm BST

Johnny
I would strongly encourage you not to begin to think of structural change or factional separation.
Together we form the living organism which is the body of Christ on earth.
Within the Church of Scotland we managed to retain structural unity throughout our deliberations and biblical discussions, back in the 80's, on ordaining women elders.
Maybe it was easier within Presbyterianism, but maybe not, to function within our biblical understandings [and that is crucial]; congregations being able to have all male or joint male/female kirk sessions.
We are almost maintaining functional unity on the homosexual clergy issue also, although sadly 3 congregations have left the denomination and a handful of ministers have demitted office.
But overall for the wellbeing of the local christian family and the witness borne in our society, Johnny, I would encourage you to make every effort to resist schism. the world is watching, and having been persuaded of gender equality, will not understand separation on either of these issues - women bishops or practising homosexual clergy.

Posted by: william on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 6:04pm BST

Cynthia
I think I can understand just a little of the zeal with which you are pursuing this matter.
But do you remember Professor Gamaliel's wise advice to equally zealous folks on another issue?
What if indeed you were to discover Acts 5.39[final statement]?
In building the Church of Jesus Christ His mind and His wisdom are fundamental. When God says My ways are not your ways, we must listen carefully to all that He has revealed to us.

Posted by: william on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 6:47pm BST

For Johnny, you wanted evidence that exclusive language and suffering are linked. Here's one LGBT example and one Witness for women.

Article linking "Christian" driven homophobia to an epidemic of teen suicides. http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2011/07/michele-bachmann-teen-suicide?page=3

I note that there have been many, many, other instances. This one got covered because it was in the Congressional district of one of the GOP candidates for US President, Michele Bachmann.

There is cause and effect.

Earlier, I wrote about my Witness in Haiti, it apparently got edited. I wrote about how much the visits of female clergy and PB from TEC means to the women there. It is a patriarchal, horribly impoverished country. It was intended to convey that what CoE and TEC say and do can lift up women beyond our borders - it can also empower abusers. I note that the UN Millennium Goals deals a lot with lifting up women and girls and that some of the harshest countries for them are in the Anglican Communion.

So yes, what Wales does, and what CoE does on justice, dignity, and equality for women will have an impact.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 5 April 2013 at 11:28pm BST

William, I'm all ears. So what's your rational for resisting WB's? I'd love to come to a place where I can at least feel compassion for your side. I can't right now because I live on the edge; I do lay ministry in our inner city and in Haiti. I see the suffering. I'm seeing the actual cruelty of the oppressive position, which has been dominant for centuries (like racism and other failings).

The arguments so far: complementary theory, difference described as the "glory of our creature hood," Scripture misinterpreted (cherry picked, really), and Scripture conflated with culture. Some people have a bizarre loyalty to Rome and other's look to the "Anglican Communion" most especially Uganda and Nigeria, bastions of human rights, when perhaps they should look at Canada, South Africa, New Zealand, TEC. Surely we've done away with the "male headship" bit, right? None of those arguments are convincing and TEC was done with them 4 decades ago. Do you have a new one?

My question is this:
When God calls women to ministry your response is that you know better? All of those women, and every member of their discernment committees are wrong? Not one of those people are in communion with God herself? Is that the position? By all means, clarify.

Is it possible that something is wrong with your theory if it requires outright oppression to enforce?

I'm particularly unclear about your objections. In CoE there are some people who don't believe the sacraments are valid at the hands of a woman. I can assure them otherwise if they were open... But if it isn't about the sacraments, then what?

Basically, I'd love to see someone say that they just can't deal with the change. It would be honest. As intense as I am for justice, I'd minister to these people in a heartbeat. Even I would say "here, here, have your male bishop." But the rationalizations do tend to be insulting and institutionalizing discrimination is not OK. Some pastoral ministry would be quite decent, in my view.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 12:59am BST

Cynthia, with the very greatest of respect that is anecdote, not evidence.

If you are to continue to make assertions, linking women bishops and rape etc they will be without any force unless they are supported by some empirical evidence.

Likewise describing those who disagree with you as akin to or actual "abusers" is empty without you being able to prove connections between their conduct and negative outcomes for women.

I appreciate that you have a certain worldview and of course you are entitled to that but if you are going to convince the rest of us that it is the correct view it will take rather more in the way of hard facts.

I also appreciate that there is a very long list of what the church could and should do to relieve the oppression of women around the world but I rather think that whether or not women can be bishops in England, if it is on that list at all is so near the bottom that the linking of the issues adds nothing to the debate.

I fear that linking the issues as you do might do rather more to serve the interests of some women in the western church than it does to actually alleviate genuine oppression of women in the impoverished world.

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 1:43am BST

It is very hurtful to a whole group of people when churches debate whether their kind may be ordained. In this case, it is the consecration of women to the episcopate.

Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 4:52am BST

Cynthia, thank you. You speak for women and their status worldwide, not just English Anglicans.

There are already women bishops in the Anglican Communion. The procedure will not be turned back.

Posted by: Sister Mary on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 6:39am BST

Staggering - it has only taken the Governing Body of the Church in Wales five years to come up with a process that reads like something from the late 80's early 90's. Male Bishops as the group facilitators? The Bishops 'feel' it is important? We need to know what they believe not what they feel.

I pray women in the Church in Wales will tell them what they can do with their feelings which suggest appeasement rather than a commitment to to fully enable women's ministry. The language of press releases often seem to be about dampening down feelings rather than setting out to explore beliefs in positive and sensitive ways. It is profoundly depressing and insulting to note that the process is adversarial from the outset and speaks of 'power games'.

Posted by: Rosie Bates on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 1:28pm BST

The tone of the press release is a bit paternalistic.

But what a joy it would be in September if the Church of Wales could show the way.

Posted by: Jeremy on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 4:23pm BST

Johnny, if CoE and Wales exclude WBs, it loses credibility to tackle social justice within the UK and without. It is that simple.

I'm not a social scientist, my guess is that there is a ton of research showing the empirical link with discrimination and suffering. It certainly is the American experience, I saw evidence of it in Haiti and I've read and listened to Desmond Tutu who is all about lifting people up.

There was an American civil rights leader, either Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, who noted - American southern dialect coming - De Nile isn't just a river in Egypt. It was referring to people who couldn't see the suffering of others or the cause of the suffering.

In Haiti there's an expression, which I can't do in Creole, "the illiterate are not ignorant." It means they know exactly what is oppressing them, often when the oppressors themselves are unaware of their impact. I'll skip the anecdote about American charity rice... When a gazillion women and male supporters rise up to say it's time to end the oppression and address the suffering, it is perhaps time to lift the fog of denial.

The choice is pretty simple, is Wales a boys club or a church that espouses the Good News to all? Discrimination withholds the Good News from some.

I support a pastoral response to those troubled by the change, but institutional discrimination against half of the population is too dreadful.

Posted by: Cynthia on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 6:20pm BST

William wrote: Cynthia - do you remember Professor Gamaliel's wise advice to equally zealous folks on another issue?

I am glad William has brought Gamaliel to the discussion. Several decades ago, when the Anglican Church of Canada's General Synod was discussing the ordination of women to the priesthood, one of the leading opponents was an eminent and highly regarded Anglo-Catholic Archdeacon. He made his opposition crystal clear, and brought up Gamaliel.

Time passed -- a couple of decades as I recall -- and that same Archdeacon was again talking about the ordination of women. He was now in favour, precisely because he had proposed the test of Gamaliel, and saw that the ordination of women had passed the test -- his own words, was from God and the right thing to do.

My only complaint about WIlliam's position is that he is completely ignoring the experience of several Anglican jurisdictions outside England, where the ordination of women to the episcopate has clearly been from God and the right thing to do.

The principle of the ordination of women to the episcopate was accepted at Lambeth a couple of decades ago as authentically Anglican, and by the CofE itself some time ago. Experience in several different members of the Anglican communion -- the test of Gamaliel -- has ratified the validity of that principle.

Unless the CofE is not part of the ANglican communion and just lives in its own little box with no communication to the outside, ignoring everything that is happening around it, what is left to which the test of Gamaliel can apply? (Though I do acknowledge that this picture of the CofE is one that many of us outside England find awfully accurate a great deal of the time).


Posted by: John Holding on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 6:25pm BST

Gary Paul Gilbert,

With regards to "it is very hurtful to a whole group of people when churches debate whether their kind may be ordained. In this case, it is the consecration of women to the episcopate."

It is equally hurtful when people make the wholly discriminatory assumption that all women (or men) share the same view merely by dint of their gender.

That is why the debate in the CofE is not as you suggest about whether women can/will be bishops but about how to provide equally for those men AND women who do and do not accept the innovation.

A debate on any other terms promotes discrimination including the type of discrimination that you have fallen in to.

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Saturday, 6 April 2013 at 11:30pm BST

Johnny, there is strong evidence that discrimination and stereotyping lead to ill effects such as depression and violence. There is evidence that inequality leaves people vulnerable. Check out the UN site that Jane gave. Check out a ton of social science and leaders in social justice. It is before your very eyes.

"De Nile isn't just a river in Egypt."

The idea that the problem is that men need to be nicer is rather naive, and patriarchal. It comes down to power, which must be shared. You have women telling you that we are discriminated against and we want equality, and you are telling us to settle for our "appropriate place." Why should you have the power to define me and my role, and that of my sisters? If God created us in her/his image, then what is to bar us? And what is YOUR evidence? You have presented none. Your version of the role of women is not self evident. Not at all.

Some things are experiential. I have a lifetime in a church with WB's and experience in the 3rd world. I don't know a single submissive woman, in or out of the church. Not one. I know plenty who are filled with the Spirit and having a fabulously positive impact on those around them. My experience includes a lot of women clergy doing some serious spiritual heavy lifting. And thank God for them! I can't believe that in the 21st Century Wales and England are still rejecting the gifts of WB's and humiliating their women clergy.

Posted by: Cynthia on Sunday, 7 April 2013 at 7:15am BST

Dear Cynthia,

In the few months I have been following this site I have become convinced both that I am not and will not be a liberal. I love your comments but your last two posts show the reasons why I have come to that conclusion.

That is because your responses demonstrate a combination of the liberal, illiberal and discriminatory. You say:

A. Falsely, that I am trying to define you- I am not. I am 3,000 miles away on the end of lots of ones and zeros. You can do as you like- I claim no power over you other than a mutual right to free speech. Falsely, ascribing motives to people that they don't have is not liberal.

B. (Among many misrepresentations) that I am telling you to settle for an "appropriate place". I have said no such thing. Do as you like. Ascribing views to people that they don't have is not liberal.

C. What you said was (as a non social scientist)a "guess" about social science in your former post becomes "a ton of social science" in your later post, when what I asked for was empirical evidence. Passing off guesses as empirical is not liberal.

D. That the secular world must drive the theology of the Church rather than vice versa. I accept that is liberal.

E. That your "experience" as a woman torpedoes the need for empirical evidence. It does not. Nor does it deal with the experiences of women who disagree with you. I accept however that such an approach is generally regarded as liberal.

F. That men cannot disagree with women without being patriarchal- which is just a non-academic means of closing down debate. That is not liberal.

G. That the world must be seen through the outdated prism of gender wars when it is clear that neither gender shares a single view on issues such as women bishops. That is discriminatory.

H. You accuse me of having presented no evidence for a position I have never advanced. That is not liberal.

I will continue to try and be "nicer" to women as well as men because that is what the Lord requires despite your discouragement to me- please forgive my naïve theology. I also pray for the people of Haiti and your teaching.

johnny

Posted by: johnny may on Sunday, 7 April 2013 at 4:03pm BST

Thanks Johnny. You misunderstand much, and it's a world view thing I guess.

I'll try to explain the logic.
When you don't accept WB's, you are defining women as not capable or appropriate or something, in that role. I personalize it as a rhetorical gesture. It doesn't matter that I'm 3000 miles away, for now (or I'll be in the UK this summer). When your theology excludes me and my sisters from a role, that is defining and excluding us. It just is. There's nothing abstract about it, you're telling half of the population that you find us unacceptable in a role that some feel called to.

If you are an academic, surely you can do your own research on the social science of justice issues. My "guesses" are accepted wisdom in many circles, highly educated ones. Do your own research. You haven't exactly been forthcoming on support for your cause.

The problem with experience comes when members of the status quo won't listen to the experience of others. Ultimately, it is the stories of real people that changes hearts. Empirical evidence is great, but we are dealing with Faith, and Compassion, and Mercy, and the working of the Holy Spirit. It is in encounters when the walls come down. That's been my experience with race.

One example of the cross talk is that you say that WB's in CoE will have no effect beyond CoE. People in other countries say "yes, there's an impact." Your response is "no there isn't." People here have spoken about the impact and a brief look on the UN site affirms the role of the church on the women's lives, look at the 1st paragraphs of the paper from Senegal. If you don't read French, there's always Google Translate. This impasse gives the impression that you aren't open to listening.

I hope that CoE figures out a pastoral approach to address your resistance, but institutionalizing discrimination would be extremely hurtful.

Believe it or not, my views are pretty mainstream. My passion arises mostly from engaging in ministry and seeing the impact of our collective actions. We, collectively, have much to answer for, including racism, misogyny, homophobia, classism, imperialism (both of our countries). It's time to see what our actions have wrought and to do better.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 1:07am BST

Bearing in mind that only about 1 per cent of Welsh persons actually attend the Church in Wales on an average Sunday!

Posted by: robert ian williams on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 7:15am BST

Cynthia
Have you ever considered the possibility that your argument is with God?
Do you ever consider the possibility that there is anybody in this world [and beyond!] who can justly make decisions about you, your life and your usefulness. Or is that not allowable?
In your mindset, when anyone/anything goes contrary to your world view does it just become "your theology excludes me ....." and not the living God, I mean the One who is there [not the one we have defined for ourselves!], daring to have His way?
And just imagine, if there is a God who is there! And He is wise, and He is gracious, and He is full of compassion - for you and all of us - and can make us truly great... Would you prefer that, or would that appear a less valuable pearl?
And yet, as Gamaliel warned,you could be opposing Him, resisting Him, indeed refusing all that He has for you and would pour into your life...
But you don't want that kind of God, the kind of living God that Isaiah spoke about, rather you would have the lifeless idols that the people of his day called their gods... As CS Lewis would have called "a safe god".
You want to be god. As you say to Johnny, could it also be true of you, "you misunderstand much" of what is really going on in this world. What it means to be His creation, what it means to be either male or female in His world, to bear His image.
When we come to Him recognising that all our lives we have been trying to be our own gods, then in His Son He will recreate us in His likeness.
Is that not the pearl of great price worth selling all for?

Posted by: william on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 10:51am BST

William,
have you considered that you are playing God by overriding the discernment of all those women who feel called to the priesthood by him? And the discernment of all those who affirm her discernment and train her? And the discernment of all those in her congregation who feel enriched by her priesthood?

Have you considered the possibility that it is you who is denying God his right to call Cynthia to the priesthood? Will you really take on the enormity of being answerable for that?

Ultimately, we are all responsible for our lives before God. What makes you think you can take on the responsibility for Cynthia's life and deny her, those who validate her vocation, those who train her and those who benefit from her Ministry the ability to make their own choices - right or wrong?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 12:54pm BST

TA watchers may be happy to learn that Wales will not be hosting a FULCRUM conference and so we will not have to follow its advertising and outcome here.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 1:01pm BST

Erika
The christian religion is both a historical and a revealed religion:Jesus Christ, the divine eternal Word became flesh and dwelt among us.
Through His life, death and resurrection He became life-giving Spirit, so His followers can be spoken of as those who are born of God.
They are then called and delight to hear the voice of their good shepherd and obey.
It seems that kind of supernatural perspective of the life and practice of the Church of Jesus Christ is alien to the perspective which sees belief and obedience to the inscripturated Word of the living God as simply the ideas and rules of men... "What makes you think you "
Jesus saw these same reactions to the religious of His day - and showed His opposition to it by anger and tears.
Ultimately we submit to the Word of God, that alone gives any of us the answers to questions like "What makes you think you" ....

Posted by: william on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 2:35pm BST

William,
yes to all of that.
How does it help us to discern whether your theology of women in the priesthood is correct or that of all those churches all over the world who have women priests?

You telling Cynthia that she is wrong because you are right and you understand the mind of God is nothing more than an assertion and quite an arrogant one too.

She is just as entitled to tell you that her ministry is clearly thriving and supported by her church and her congregation and by excellent theology.

Will we ever know the truth? I expect so, eventually.

In the meantime - why should your interpretation of God prevail? What if you got it wrong? What if you are actively and passionately standing in God's way?

You can ask for accommodation of your view within the church.You can refuse the priestly ministry of a woman.
That is where your authority stops.

You cannot ask the church to throw away its own discernment and the reality of its excellent women priests.
That is not going to happen.
Why should it?

Remember - we are only discussing the level of accommodation of your view. We are not discussing the validity of women's orders. The CoE has already decided that.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 3:23pm BST

> Have you considered the possibility that it is you who is denying God his right to call Cynthia to the priesthood? Will you really take on the enormity of being answerable for that?

How can we know what God wants, except through listening to the teaching of the Church (by which I mean the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church throughout the world, not a province of it such as the Church in Wales)?

Whether we like it or not, the testimony of the Church, both past and present, is overwhelmingly against the ordination of women. Who are we to break ranks with the Church throughout the ages and the vast majority of Christians living today?

Posted by: Veuster on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 3:56pm BST

In other words: Submit to the Word of God . . . which requires discrimination against women.

No wonder that many people don't even try to listen for the Word of God, or seek to understand it.

The CofE's resistance to women bishops isn't just damaging Anglicanism--it's bringing all of Christianity into disrepute.

Posted by: Jeremy on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 4:10pm BST

"How can we know what God wants, except through listening to the teaching of the Church (by which I mean the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church throughout the world, not a province of it such as the Church in Wales)?"

You may mean that, but that doesn't really mean anything, does it.
Or are you seriously suggesting that all those Anglican and Lutheran and Baptist and Methodist etc. churches with women priests are wrong, just because the Catholics haven't given their approval?

You may personally believe that to be so, but that's as far as it goes.

The CoE has its own discernment processes and through them it has decided that women can be priests.
And guess what, they have been priests for about 20 years now. And there are as many female ordinands as male ones.
This is the reality in the church!
What blinkers are you wearing if you don't see that?

I repeat - whether women can be priests or not is NOT the argument.
The only question is to what provisions the CoE will make to accommodate your view.

You really ought to understand that by now.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 4:47pm BST

William, your argument consists solely of "My interpretation of God is correct and everyone else's is wrong." You claim history as part of it and I've pointed out the churches nasty history of racism, burning witches, etc. The idea that you are right and millions of women and male supporters are wrong is breathtaking. A circumspect view would take in the fact that Jesus's harshest words were for the Establishment for excluding and demeaning people, and that his ministry lifted women up, extraordinary for his time.

My rhetorical device of saying "you're telling me that I'm not equal" has backfired. It is supposed to illustrate that what the UK does about WBs will be a strong statement that radiates beyond your shores, positive or negative. I use it to point out that the anti-women position is actually quite rude. Just as I point out that the discriminatory position has a nasty impact on the well being of women world wide.

I think I'll tone down the rhetorical device because it should not be about me, per se. For the record, I am not a priest nor am I aspiring to be one. I work in another field that is also rigidly anti-woman. I really am simply a Witness.

Another "for the record" William, I am at peace with God, who seems to delight in my impish ways. But here's the thing, I do have what evangelicals call a personal relationship with God (and I'm Anglo-Catholic!). God has been there as my father lay dying, as I listened to the sorrowful stories of my Haitian friends, as Jesus pulled me out of a black hole after one of the Haiti trips. The experience is one of great love and not a trace of judgement. The rub? Not once has an encounter been about other people, except maybe to love them. So I am hard pressed to believe that you or anyone else is receiving hateful, judgmental, or exclusionary messages from God.

You should step out of the boys club William. There's a brave new world and it has such amazing people in it.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 5:06pm BST

Erika asks - "How does it help us to discern whether your theology of women in the priesthood is correct or that of all those churches all over the world who have women priests?"
Answer is very simple at one level: we sit down together with the Scriptures, and submit to them as the wisdom of God which He has been pleased to reveal to us. I detect that both Cynthia and yourself would rather hold to the view that the Scriptures may be wrong!
ie some would want to argue with God, because their religion is not the revealed historical religion of Jesus Christ.
If I've misread you, and I'm open to that with your opening statement - "yes to all of that", I'm all ears. But maybe that opening remark needs unpacking!!

Posted by: william on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 5:56pm BST

No, William, Scripture is not wrong. Our interpretation of it may be.

Can I go back, for the last time, to the point that the CoE has already discerned that women can be priests and that it has ordained women to the priesthood for 20 years?

You are having the wrong argument.

We are not about to tell all these women that they must leave their parishes!

The only only only question is to which extent your view will be accommodated in the CoE.
You can wish it was different. But it actually isn't.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 6:28pm BST

> I repeat - whether women can be priests or not is NOT the argument.

Erika, around two thirds of the world's Christians say that it *is* the argument. Compared to the vast preponderance of Christians in the world - Roman Catholics and Orthodox - Anglicans are in the minority.

Who are we to say that we not only know better than nearly all of the Christians who have lived during the last two millennia but also know better than most of the Christians who are alive today?

Posted by: Veuster on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 6:31pm BST

Scripture - God created male and female in his/her image (the "his" is grammar, not literal). In God there is neither Greek nor Jew, male nor female... Jesus breaking taboos to lift up women at every turn. Mary Magdalene the first Witness to the Resurrection.

In early Christiandom, there were female deacons and leaders. When it became institutionalized it took on the cultural norms.

William, this is Scripture and history that one ignores at one's peril.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 7:07pm BST

"Erika, around two thirds of the world's Christians say that it *is* the argument. Compared to the vast preponderance of Christians in the world - Roman Catholics and Orthodox - Anglicans are in the minority.

Who are we to say that we not only know better than nearly all of the Christians who have lived during the last two millennia but also know better than most of the Christians who are alive today?"

You write as if the Reformation never happened. Many of the reformed churches are very open to women's ministry, as are the Anglican Churches in Canada, Scotland, US, South Africa, Uruguay, New Zealand, Australia, and others, I'm sure.

We're to take our lead from Rome? They opposed contraception even in the face of the HIV/AIDS epidemic, no abortion ever, Papal infallibility? And it isn't as if every single Catholic accepts the party line on women or anything else. Yes, I absolutely believe that we Anglicans know better than Rome!!!

As for the Orthodox. I was raised Greek Orthodox. It's lovely. It's highly cultural. Most people leave the church when they grow up. The women who stay have the patience of Job, that doesn't mean they agree with the party line. What the Orthodox do has little impact on the outside world, as they don't have the colonial history that we and the RC's have.

One must be cautious in invoking the supposed "2/3rds." It is far more complicated. Anglican women in Africa are being raped and held in extreme poverty because of inequality. Their voices definitely aren't being heard in that "2/3rds."

Of course, if you are saying that only the voices of the men count... the men in Rome, the men in Constantinople, the men in Africa, isn't that a problem in itself? Praise God that in my church, we make efforts to listen to the voices of all, youth, Native Americans, African Americans, Latinos, we believe that all are part of the Body of Christ and that the Holy Spirit speaks through the diversity of God's magnificent creation.

Jesus told us that we can tell the real prophets from the false ones by the fruits of their labor. The fruits of discrimination and inequality have always been dreadful, and never more dreadful than when supported by Mother Church.

Thank you again for illustrating a world view that is shaped exclusively by certain men for the benefit of certain men.

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 7:28pm BST

Veuster,
I suppose it depends on why you have the argument. If you sit down in a pub with your mates discussing the principle of women priests, your argument is a valid debating issue.

But if you are a member of the CoE it is completely irrelevant. Your church has already got women priests. Thousands of them. And this very minute as many women are being trained for ordination as men.
You seem to be ignoring this completely in your determination to claim that women cannot be priests and that this is still a reasonable argument to make in this church.
It is not.

Do you people seriously think you can wind the clock back? Is that actually what you believe?

Whether women can be priests is NOT the argument.
The only argument is to which extent your views will be accommodated.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Monday, 8 April 2013 at 9:57pm BST

"The Angel of The Lord appeared to Mary and she conceived by the Holy Ghost. 'Hail Mary full of grace the Lord is with you, blest are you among women.....!' "

And, Yes! Mary was actually a woman! Do we need any further proof of the value of women to God? Mary's 'Magnificat' was a direct response to her 'finding favour with God'. In today's world (and the Church) God is helping to raise the status of women to what God had intended for women from the very beginning. Let's just get on with it!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 1:06am BST

Those who do not want to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood and their eventual consecration to the episcopate in the Church of England are a clear minority who can choose to remain within the C of E or choose some other ecclesial body which suits them. To deny people of talent a chance to contribute to the larger body is a sin.

The debate about the ordination of women is over.


Gary Paul Gilbert

Posted by: Gary Paul Gilbert on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 6:19am BST

But Gary what if the decision was 'wrong'? Does that not matter? We just press on ... And cease to be the Church of Jesus Christ?
In your drive for equality - "To deny people of talent a chance to contribute to the larger body is a sin" you may not be grasping things as they are in God's world.
The male of the species is barred from bearing children into this world? Is that a sin? Presumably on God's part!
We need to escape the indoctrination society has fallen into - 'gender equality' in its abandonment of the wisdom of God.
Rather God has given us gender diversity; the church has a responsibility to communicate that glorious truth. More to display it in His Church. We have let the world squeeze us into its mould in this as in so many things!

Posted by: william on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 8:38am BST

William,
as it's just as likely that the Catholic decision not to have women priests is "wrong", we cannot escape the responsibility of making a choice.

And if we did get it wrong? Then what?
What are you afraid of?
The big bad God in the sky who will be pouncing on you, saying "ha! I caught you out! you got something wrong!"?

If you're that scared of this God, then stay in a church or in a part of the CoE that does not have women priests. You'll feel safe there.

Let the rest get on with their discernment and their wish to get it right before God and their discernment of what that might mean.
You might as well - you do not actually have a choice here.
The CoE has had women priests for 20 years... did I mention that?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 9:08am BST

"But Gary what if the decision was 'wrong'? Does that not matter? We just press on ... And cease to be the Church of Jesus Christ?"

So . . . being the Church of Jesus Christ requires gender discrimination?

Are you by any chance on Richard Dawkins's public-relations team?

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 9:46am BST

Jeremy - No!! Being human requires gender discrimination. God made us that way. He made us male and female!
Are we so indoctrinated by today's misplaced convictions about 'gender equality' we cannot even grasp now the basics of how God made us?
The terms equality and inequality are meaningless as far as male and female are concerned. Just as in the world of colour, green neither equals red or is superior to red; or in the world of mathematics with complex numbers - they cannot be ordered!!
We need to grasp what our society has lost and the church is in danger of losing - the complementarity of male and female. Our usefulness to the world as God's image bearers is not independent of this. Selah!

Posted by: william on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 11:04am BST

William,
let me ask you a direct question, seeing you have avoided to engage with a single point I made in various replies to you.

Is it your aim that the Church of England should sack all its ordained women, that it should revoke their ordination and declare it invalid, and that it should become a male priest only zone?

And if this is your genuine aim, how likely to you think this is going to happen?

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 1:49pm BST

Erika, Cynthia and others - I can't help finding it amusing that, to the supporters of women priests and bishops, a two-thirds/one third majority in the General Synod of the Church of England is the indisputable voice of the Holy Spirit and cannot in any circumstances be argued with, while the two-thirds/one third majority of the Universal Church is utterly irrelevant and the Holy Spirit must have got it wrong . . .

Posted by: Veuster on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 2:40pm BST

By generating such theology, the church indicts itself.

"The terms equality and inequality are meaningless as far as male and female are concerned."

Wow.

"Being human requires gender discrimination."

Wow again.

Are the Churches of England and Wales incapable of disassociating themselves from this kind of thinking?

Posted by: Jeremy on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 2:50pm BST

Re William, "The terms equality and inequality are meaningless as far as male and female are concerned. Just as in the world of colour, green neither equals red or is superior to red."

How very pious, how very mistaken! Equality and inequality are only meaningless to those who never have to struggle for the former, and who are constantly denied the latter. "Just as in the worlds of color"? Think about what you are saying. Are Black or Red skin colors equal to white skin colors? Is white superior to Red or Black?

Discrimination based on color, gender, orientation, is a terrible word that describes a reality that people live with every day. By all means, let's tap into our cosmological myth and proclaim that men and women are (1) made in the image of God and (2) made as male and female. Rather than try and set these two aspects at odds with one another in defence of a social construct, let's keep them together. Men and women reflect God's image equally, and both men and women may be called to any office or administration in God's church.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 3:55pm BST

Rod, am I reading you properly?
Do you want to argue in the world of colour against my statement?
And do you consider it a myth rather than historical reality that God made us in His image, male and female.
Philosophical presuppositions should always be declared when discussing fundamental issues; we could agree on that!!

Posted by: william on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 4:41pm BST

Veuster,
I ask you again what kind of debate you are having.
The Church of England believes that it can make the discernment that women can be priests. It has (forgive me for mentioning it again, Simon), ordained women to the priesthood for almost 20 years.
The Church of England clearly believes that the opinions of other churches are not relevant to its discernment.

Now, you can have a debate in the pub about whether the church is right or whether it should do what the other 2/3rd in the world do. That's a legitimate topic over a pint or two.

But is is a completely irrelevant conversation within the context of the CoE.

This church has women priests. Lots of them.
It will not sack them and remove them from their parishes. It will not stop training and ordaining them.

Are you seriously suggesting that it should? And that there is any slight possibility that it might?
Can we have a reality check, please?

This church is currently still tolerating your views and as it has promised that you will be able to have a safe corner in it, it is currently doing what it can to find a way of giving you that safe corner.
But please do not kid yourself that there will ever be anything else.
Your views are no longer the official views of your church. They are merely views that are still being accepted as being capable of being held with integrity.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 4:54pm BST

William, I feel bad for you. Look at this statement of yours: "The terms equality and inequality are meaningless as far as male and female are concerned."

God created women with extraordinary gifts that are meant to be put to use in the healing of this world. Is your faith based on superstition? I can assure you that the sky has not fallen in the Western Hemisphere or Down Under.

Your rather quaint view of male and female doesn't actually deal with the reality of God's creation. It is based on submissive women everywhere. God didn't create most of us that way. When we use our gifts, you must truly think we are Eve leading mankind down the path to damnation!

The evidence of God's creation is all around you, listen to it, listen to us. Your narrow world view is really a medeival England product, as far as I can tell. I love England, but God's creation is bigger.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 5:05pm BST

Veuster, I'm glad that you are amused. I hate to rain on your parade but I'm afraid that I'm an American. We've had WO and WB for my entire adult lifetime, and we most certainly got it right.

The political machinations of your General Synod hardly stand up to the deep listening process we practice in TEC. It looks to me like CoE is better at shutting out the Spirit than inviting her in. The Welsh process similarly looks more like a way of shutting out, censoring, and editing, than inviting in.

Has anyone in CoE heard of deep listening? It's a technique that you practice. You try to hear what others are saying without a filter, which is incredibly difficult. When you hear people's stories, and the impact the world is having on them, it certainly broadens your capacity for empathy and compassion.

Yes. That was a statement. I find the anti-women positions lacking in empathy and compassion. I find them unable to engage with the liberating portions of Scripture and the life of Jesus. I find them lacking in engagement with anything other than the most privileged of circles - isolation that is so easy for us in the UK and US.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 5:22pm BST

> This church is currently still tolerating your views

And, by implication, the views of most of the world's Christians? Hey, that *is* a relief!

Posted by: Veuster on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 7:36pm BST

Re William,

Q. "Do you want to argue in the world of colour against my statement?"
A. What a problematic analogy you use with regard to equality? Color, seriously? I think you hoisted yourself on your own petard!

Q."And do you consider it a myth rather than historical reality that God made us in His image, male and female.'
A. Not sure what you are asking here, but the creation stories from Genesis, for example, are cosmological myths, not history. They are no more history than, for example, than other creation stories from the ancient near east, or creation stories from Native North Americans.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 8:29pm BST

Just listening to Bible Defence of Slavery and Origins, Fortunes and History of the Negro Race by The Revd Josiah Priest, freely available as a Librivox recording. (1843)

It is amazing how the arguments on difference, complementarity and all the rest are almost identical to those we find advocated in a different context today.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 9:28pm BST

Cynthia - Your statement "It is based on submissive women everywhere" confirms that you have swallowed the equality/inequality line as far as gender is concerned.
The Scriptures rather rejoice in the diversity of male and female, where they are neither equal nor unequal. Jesus Himself rejoiced in and practised this diversity, often to the consternation of His disciples, certainly to the religious majority in the synagogue [who had more than a 2/3 majority for their perspective!!]

Posted by: william on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 10:23pm BST

Hmmmm, Cynthia.
Harriet Baber doesn't seem overly impressed with the deep listening process she was party to ..
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2010/feb/08/general-synod-anglican-episcopal-church

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 10:40pm BST

Re arguments pro and con the ordination of women in Wales,and on this thread, I'm embarrassed for the Church in Wales, embarrassed for the people who will attend the governance event, and embarrassed to be in a church that is in communion with such a province.

And for those of you who are holding out the "equal but different" notion, you may be interested in this piece from Thomas Merton's "The Wisdom of the Desert", XXl

" A monk ran into a party of handmaids of the Lord
on a certain journey.Seeing them he left the road and gave them a wide berth.But the Abbess said to him: If you were a perfect monk, you would not even have looked close enough to see that we were women."

Delicious irony, perhaps?

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 11:16pm BST

Rod - I think not. You did notice that you have reduced the general world of abstract colour which I spoke of to the particular world of skin colour! The argument changes in that world!!
But you were honest enough to admit to your philosophical presuppositions on myth and history. That obviously influences the argument as well!
Is your understanding of the Church of Jesus Christ that it is a supernatural living organism, raised with the resurrected Christ, by God the Father because of the great love with which He loved us, when we were dead in our sins?
Or are we not nearly so blessed, just an earthly composition, indistinguishable in any ultimate sense from the fallen world?

Posted by: william on Tuesday, 9 April 2013 at 11:42pm BST

Martin, I have to say that Harriet Baber's experience in TEC hardly mirrors mine. I was in a conservative diocese for some time. The bishop and the big money churches were very conservative. However, the vast majority of parishioners in the regular parishes were liberal. Our delegates resembled the majority and over time the diocese changed. The same story has played out in the middle of the road/recently quasi-liberal diocese I live in now. So to me, the liberation in TEC looks like a grass roots movement, not the manipulative "top down" version described by Ms. Baber. Our gay group, Integrity, certainly did a lot of Witnessing, but we certainly didn't have the power to ram anything down anyone's throat. To me, it looked like a lot of story telling and personal connection made a huge difference to people who didn't know any gay people (or didn't know they were gay). And there are lots of people who will testify to the fact that contact had a positive impact.

The views in the US toward LGBT people and marriage equality have evolved rapidly, to the point of majority support. TEC may have been ahead of the curve, but not by much. So I find Ms. Baber's tale of woe disingenuous, or perhaps an unfortunate, but minority experience. I also found her dismissive attitudes towards liberation repugnant.

I do find that the Guardian has a knack for digging up new angles to paint religion in a bad light.

Have a look at our last General Convention. It made sure to hear from youth, Native Americans, Latinos, you name it. Very inclusive. And hearing those stories matter. I went to racial awareness workshops and sessions is the 1990's. There's no substitute for graceful people sharing their stories. The scales drop from your eyes.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:11am BST

William said: Your statement "It is based on submissive women everywhere" confirms that you have swallowed the equality/inequality line as far as gender is concerned.

William, I think you're swallowing the medieval, pre-Scientific view! The liberating aspects of Scripture are being ignored. These views of gender in Scripture are inventions of William's mind, not the mind of God!

Martin has it right. These arguments were used to support slavery and a ton of woes...

The position is so disconnected from reality, and seemingly childish... It is beyond rational, which is the crux of the stereotyping and fear that drive discrimination.

(Deep breath.)

OK. OK. I've listened. I think I've listened fairly deeply, surprisingly enough. It is finally quite clear to me that folks on the anti women side are in enormous need of ministry. Enormous. The rational is not going nurture the soul, and there seems to be a lack of capacity to empathize with the people on the receiving end of discrimination, let alone accept responsibility for the churches role in it. There is no Scripture, history lesson, theology, or personal testimony that will move them. It isn't a rational exercise.

It would be horrific for CoE to institutionalize discrimination or demean women in any way. Perhaps the best path is to shore up some pastoral statement/agreement/arrangement. Something very separate from the institutional policies.

I would think that the ability to be pastoral towards all people would be a requirement to be a bishop. We have excellent examples in TEC of female and male bishops having a pastoral response to people and parishes that struggled with women and LGBT inclusion in the larger church. (Clearly, that hasn't worked everywhere, but it has worked in some places).

So I urge CoE to find a compassionate pastoral response, completely separate from the policy of inclusion.

I recall that the very conservative late Bishop of Cincinnati absolutely LOVED me and my partner, even though we could never agree. I love you William, I want you to have a place in the church and the pastoral ministry that will feed your soul.

God bless.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:50am BST

> This church is currently still tolerating your views

Veuster said
And, by implication, the views of most of the world's Christians? Hey, that *is* a relief!

In the US, a vast majority of Catholics do not subscribe to the views of their leadership. Sorry. That majority is not tolerating your view. I suspect that is true of many RC's the world over. As I pointed out, Protestant Christians tend overwhelmingly to support women. Do you not refer to Protestants as Christians?

As I also noted, you are taking great comfort in the oppressive rule of the men of Rome, the men of Constantinople (figuratively for the Orthodox), and some of the men of Africa.

The women have a different story. Bummer if you have no ears or heart to hear it.


Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 1:48am BST

Re William, Its your analogy (color), so you may take responsibility for its ineffectiveness.

As for your long question at the end of your post, re my understanding of the church, well its not really a question, is it?

But as for my "philosophical presuppositions on myth and history." I am indeed honest. I read the Genesis stories as myths. The theory that they are myths makes the most sense of the evidence.

But our disagreement is not based on theology. It is based on something much more immediate and visceral i.e. what constitutes basic social justice and equality. We're not even in the same ballpark.

The ordination of women to the episcopate is inevitable in England and Wales too likely, from what little I know of it. The ridiculous parading of "pro and con" arguments, is mostly political posturing in advance of the same, an attempt to consolidate the best possible terms for opponents of women's ordination once it comes about. Shame on organized religion for its lack of solidarity and courage in playing such a game.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 3:18am BST

"Are we so indoctrinated by today's misplaced convictions about 'gender equality' we cannot even grasp now the basics of how God made us?" - William

William, I'm pretty old myself, but not beyond the understanding of modern biological science which tells us that human sexuality is on a continuum - running from 'macho' male to 'fem' female. Very few human beings are entirely either masculine or feminine. This helps to explain the phenomenon of sexual variety, where a minority of human beings have a sexual-orientation that is different from the 'norm'.

However, the argument about gender functionality for religious purposes, which has for too long been biassed towards patriarchalism, has now been largely countered, by the modern understanding of the dictum of St. Paul: "In Christ, there is neither male nort female" - an understanding that he pronounced - even without the scientific knowledge that we have today about chromosomes and their functional variability.

I think that you would agree that Christ died - not just for the male of the species but also for women. Christ's humanity, though biologically male, represented ALL humanity - including the females of our species.

If our inheritance in Christ is without gender specification; then what is to prevent women representing Christ at the altar - just as Mary was able to contribute her female genes to Christ in her womb. Without her femininity, there may have been no God/Man in Christ. So Christ has partaken of the feminine in representing humanity in the God-Head. Or was Jesus not fully human?

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 12:52pm BST

Thanks to those of you who responded to my question at the head of this thread. Unfortunately, the most cogent and sensible response (IMO), by Fr. Michael Gollop, SSC, was posted elsewhere:

http://letnothingyoudismay.blogspot.com/2013/04/the-liberal-mind-of-church.html

Posted by: William Tighe on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 1:51pm BST

Watching again from afar, I am struck by the futility of the exercise - two groups talking at each other and neither really listening.

Bottom line people need to understand is that Erika is spot on: WO is here to stay in the CofE and CinW and WO to the episcopate is also inevitable. If you really can't live with that under any kind of arrangement or compromise, you should have left by now.

I'm one of what I think is actually the largely silent majority of opponents of WO - I had misgivings. I wasn't sure. I wanted sacramental assurance. The PEVs provided that in England, but when I moved to Canada, the Anglican Church of Canada was just too uncertain for me and I went to Rome. I respect those who embrace WO, and I have many Anglican friends including ordained women. But I feel at home where I am now. There is an Ordinariate parish now in my city but I am not connected with them - I visit and I wish them well but I'm a happy mainstream RC.

So the discussion should, as Erika keeps pointing out, be about provisions for those with misgivings. And this, I think is where those on the pro side might benefit from doing just a little more listening and less prescribing. In particular, Cynthia's assertion that a pastoral approach has been successful is simply false. There has been nothing pastoral in +Schori's comparing +Lawrence to Adam Lanza, for example. +Jane Dixon's forced visits to parishes opposed to WO are not a pastoral response. Any arrangements are made at the will of the liberal majority and are simply handed down as scraps to the minority who are not consulted in what they should be - at least in Canada and the US. That's what English traditionalists fear. Strident and endless restating of the liberal case does nothing to allay that fear.

In the end I think it would help to recognize that many people are a lot more reasonable and less extreme than threads like this suggest, and it's those people who should be engaged in the process now. And for Cynthia et al, I think it would be beneficial to recognize that in some ways you are treating those who have misgivings about your agenda in exactly the oppressive, dismissive and inferior way to which you profess such opposition.

Endlessly calling the other side names like "discriminator" won't earn their trust and won't change their minds. Respecting where they are at, listening to that, and appreciating that a very great deal of the reason opponents are acting as they are is out of fear of being excluded from their church would go a long way. Not with all opponents, sure, but I do believe with the vast majority who are not as extreme as some commenters here, or as some other commenters here paint them.

Posted by: Clive on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 5:13pm BST

Re Clive, I read with interest.I respect the irenic but I can't agree with it as a basis for policy. I consider myself a reasonable person, but one who has also been radicalized on the issue of Women's ordination because of the Canadian experience.

The Anglican Church of Canada had a conscience clause; but it was grand-fathered in 1986. The primary reason it was grand-fathered by our GS was that clergy opposed to women's ordination used the clause as a way of harassing women clergy--their colleagues. Despite the GS 1986 grand-fathering the clause, some bishops have continued to give some parishes and clergy an informal conscience out, an avoidance strategy that causes confusion, and undermines the integrity of all women in orders. I am convinced that only gender equality on principle is workable.

Clive has done the right thing by going to "mainstream" Rome. The ordinariate is not popular with Roman Rite Catholics. Better to join an existing church like Rome than to rend the body of Christ with a church boutique tailored to one's preferences.

Posted by: Rod Gillis on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 9:53pm BST

Clive, you definitely speak from the privileged group.

Perspective is definitely different for those of us who have been on the receiving end of discrimination. I've had it. It's awful. It's horrible. It is the opposite of God's radical love.

I do volunteer work in outreach, I'm keenly aware of the ill effects of discrimination on women around the globe, LGBT teens, as well as LGBT people in general. Discrimination inflicts suffering. All the denials and attempts to maintain that firm hold on privilege is not going to help anyone.

Recently, some women from Africa spoke at the UN and stated that the church is a major source of inequality and unspeakable suffering of women there.

I can't imagine the RC's reflecting on the words of these women and accepting any responsibility for their role in it. But I can imagine the Anglican churches saying "enough," as the Canadian, American, Scottish, and other churches have done. Time for CoE to own up and decide if they want to be a healing force, a destructive force, or just neutral fudgers.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 10 April 2013 at 11:26pm BST

I resent the assertion that I speak from privilege. On the contrary, I have lost much, sacrificed much, given much, to land where I am. Many things I miss and mourn daily even all these years later. Cynthia, I do not begrudge you your victories, so please, I ask you, respect my losses and sacrifices. If you can do that you will be living what I have no doubt are your own values.

If my new church ordains women I will embrace and support it. Sacramental assurance flows from the seat of Peter for me. I am not anti women. I am merely concerned that there be zero doubt in the sacraments I receive.

If Anglicans can respect such misgivings and give them space, instead of proclaiming a secular, rigid, feminist world view. *exclusively* then they will gain what they seek sooner. Note I say *exclusively*. Give the traditionalists real, generous space and both sides would be the better f

Posted by: Clive on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 12:33am BST

The Church in Wales Governing Body under the guidance of the Holy Spirit also approves our Book of Common Prayer by Bill procedure. This doesn't seem to stop Fr Michael Gollop and his confreres using the Roman Rite .........

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Thursday, 11 April 2013 at 11:41pm BST

'I am not anti-women. I am merely concerned that there be zero doubt in the sacraments I receive.'

Leaving aside the facility of this argument: how can you be 'merely concerned' about 'zero doubt?' I have only been viewing this site for a few months and the many and various ways in which women and LGBT's have been casually insulted fair takes the breath away, but this may win the coconut. I gave the sacraments for twenty-two years - sometimes with cream crackers and italian vermouth - and I never knowingly administered to a 'zero doubter!'

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 1:39pm BST

Stephen, I genuinely fail to see how you could read any insult into what I said. Reflecting back, although OOW was a factor, I think it's probably truer to say I was always on a long path to Rome in any case; that once it became obvious that the once held vision of restoring unity between Canterbury and Rome was dead, I felt I needed to be on the Roman side.

However, to me, once the various pieces of Anglicanism began making a fundamental change to holy orders in isolation from Rome and Orthodoxy, that must call further into question the validity of those orders going forward. I don't see how it cannot introduce some doubt there. Now of course you're right that there can never be zero doubt, I misspoke there. But for me, the piecemeal and secularly driven introduction of OOW called into question the Anglican claim to catholicity. Simple as that. But as I say, I think it's true to say that Rome is where I feel called to be regardless

Posted by: Clive on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 5:48pm BST

Also, since I seem to have been indirectly accused of insulting the LGBT community, let me also say that the CofE position on SSM makes zero sense to me. We have had SSM in Canada for many years; the sky has not fallen. The civil partnership thing never made sense to me - that does to me seem to be an insulting halfway house. Provided no religious group is compelled to implement SSM, I really don't see what the problem is. It's always framed around Christian churches, but in reality the group least likely to implement religious SSM are Muslims. Here in Canada churches (and mosques, I guess) have the freedom to decide their own position on SSM, but the law is clear that a SSM is the equal of a "traditional" marriage. And that to me makes perfect sense. I cannot see why the CofE is coming out with the stuff it is. Just say they want the freedom to decide for themselves as a body on the issue and let the law go ahead.

Posted by: Clive on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 6:04pm BST

Clive we come together on SSM.

God offers us many paths because it isn't easy to connect. Each path is a gift and if Rome is your path, blessings. As long as people are free to choose.

The Anglicans are part catholic - but not beholden to Rome - and part Protestant. That is a different path.

I actually have zero doubt about the sacraments received from male or female priests. Long ago, the RC's came up with the wisdom that the sacrament doesn't depend on the morality of the priest. It isn't a difficult step for Anglicans to say that it isn't dependent on the gender of the priest either.

I definitely want the Anglican church to value me, and not dehumanized me in any way. That's why I can't be RC - though they used to be a great force for social justice in the US - and I couldn't stick with my Orthodox roots.

Go in peace. Just know that exclusionary language hurts. And this is about inclusion and dignity for all within the Anglican church.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 12 April 2013 at 9:24pm BST
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