Saturday, 23 November 2013

News from the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda

See our report of September 2010 about the formation of this organisation.

The organisation now has a redesigned website.

The front page says:

The Society is an ecclesial body, led by a Council of Bishops. The purposes of the Society are:

  • to promote and maintain catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England
  • to provide episcopal oversight to which churches, institutions and individuals will freely submit themselves
  • to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which they can have confidence

The Society is supported by Forward in Faith and administered by its Director.

A letter has been sent to all its supporters, which can be read as a pdf here. The full text is copied below the fold.

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
Chairman of the Council of Bishops
18 November 2013

Dear Supporter,

This letter comes to you because you have sent in a form or an email to express your support for the Society. To those who did so quite some time ago I apologise that this will be the first communication that you have received.

The Society is intended to address a situation that does not yet exist and, following the failure of the Women Bishops Measure last November, will not exist for two or three years at least. This has given us more time to make preparations, and has made the announcement of detailed plans somewhat less urgent. It also means that the precise context for the Society’s life, and therefore the precise shape that it will need to take, are not yet clear.

The last three years have been years of change and growth. We are delighted that in some dioceses and regions the Society has come to life locally and given a new identity to those are committed to the catholic faith and catholic order as the Church of England received them. The increase in the number of ordination candidates from our tradition is a heartening sign. The consecration of the present Bishops of Richborough, Fulham, Beverley and Ebbsfleet in 2011 and 2013 has also given encouragement – not least to their fellow bishops.

We have been meeting regularly as the Council of Bishops of the Society, consulting with leading representatives of the Catholic Group in General Synod and the Catholic Societies, as well as with our retired brother bishops, and laying plans for the future. I write now to share some of these plans with you. Further news will appear in due course on our re-designed website: www.sswsh.com

The Council of Bishops is working closely with the Catholic Societies. We look to the Additional Curates Society, for example, to take a lead in vocations work and support for parishes, and to the Church Union to develop resources for education and catechesis.

On the original website we explained that the Society would not itself be ‘yet one more Catholic society’. Instead, the vision was and is that it will become ‘an Ecclesial Body’. We said that, because it costs nothing to join the Church, there would be no subscription fee, but that we would invite those who could afford it to make a small financial contribution to administrative costs.

This would have required the creation of a new organization with charitable status, and a new administrative structure to support it. We have concluded that this is not necessary. Forward in Faith already exists as a charity whose Constitution gives it ‘power to seek an ecclesial structure which will continue the orders of bishop and priest as the Church has received them and which can guarantee a true sacramental life’. The Society will be that ecclesial structure, and once women have been ordained to the episcopate in the Church of England, Forward in Faith’s main purpose will be to support it. Already, the new Director of Forward in Faith, Dr Colin Podmore, is acting as Secretary to the Council of Bishops, and necessary costs (such as the cost of developing the new website) are met by Forward in Faith.

So there is a distinct contrast between Forward in Faith, as a membership organisation, and the Society, which is an ecclesial body. Membership of the Society is not gained by subscription but through the sacraments of baptism, confirmation and the Eucharist, and the consequent practice of Christian discipleship. This discipleship is lived out in the conscious decision to identify oneself with the teaching and practice of the bishops of the Society and the priests and people who look to them for sacramental and pastoral provision.

We envisage the Society and Forward in Faith as two sides of the same coin: the same people – structured as an ecclesial body led by bishops for the sake of mission, sacramental ministry and pastoral care; structured also as a democratically-run charitable organization, offering advice, support, advocacy and, where necessary, defence.

When he commissioned Dr Podmore for his new role back in April, the Bishop of Fulham described Forward in Faith as ‘the Marmite among ecclesiastical organisations, loved and loathed in equal measure’. Like the catholic movement as a whole, it too has undergone significant changes. Its Chairman (the Bishop of Fulham), Vice-Chairman (Dr Lindsay Newcombe), Secretary (Fr Ross Northing) and Director have all taken up office in the last three years.

Many of the recipients of this letter have long been members of Forward in Faith – some since its inception. Others have, in the past, stood back from joining what has necessarily been a campaigning organization. The same is true of the members of the Council of Bishops. Some have been members of Forward in Faith for a very long time, while others have joined only in recent months.

All of the bishops of the Society are now members of Forward in Faith, and we encourage all those who see the Society as the context for their future life in the Church of England to help build up and finance the necessary support structure by joining Forward in Faith. A membership form is enclosed with this letter and we would encourage you to consider joining so that we can continue to resource the important work of our part of the Church and make a positive contribution to the Church of England.

Our other immediate request is for your prayers. Please pray for us, your bishops, as we seek to discern the future that God wills for us as a Society within the Church of England. As a focus for your prayers, a prayer card is also enclosed with this letter.

The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
Bishop of Pontefract
Chairman of the Council of Bishops
+ GLYN BEVERLEY + JOHN BURNLEY + MARTIN CICESTR:
+ JONATHAN EBBSFLEET + PETER EDMONTON + JONATHAN FULHAM
+ MARK HORSHAM + NORMAN RICHBOROUGH + LINDSAY URWIN
+ ROGER JUPP

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Comments

I have too much regard for the sanctity of SS Hilda and Wilfrid to believe that, given the ethos and understanding of the Church in the world of today, both of these English Saints, would want to fight to the death about Women Priests and Bishops in the Church of England.

After all, Hilda was noted for her authority over men in the double monastery at Whitby. What could be more power-sharing and Holy Spirit-led than that God-given role?

This terrible fear of a 'tainted ministry' from Women in The Church - and the formation of a 'Ghost Society', in order to cancel out its presumed deadly effects, is nothing less than ludicrous, and an insult to Blessed Hilda.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 6:25am GMT

Per Lao Tzu, "The Tao that can be spoken is not the eternal Tao. The name that can be named is not the eternal name."

And those who purport (by their fallible human agency) to "guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession" inspire in me little-to-no confidence.


Posted by: JCF on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 8:14am GMT

'Ludicrous', 'insult'. I can't see that such vocabulary serves any useful purpose in this context. Indeed, it does harm. Father Ron, please desist. Have some sense of proportion.

Posted by: John on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 1:57pm GMT

With whose authority has this new 'ecclesial community' (sic) been set-up ?

Have the diocesan and other bishops involved sought clearance from their Ordinaries ?

Or do they live in disregard of their Ordinaries (in the great Anglo-Catholic tradition) ?
Inescapable conclusion :
So they really only have a concern re authority, when it is to be exercized by women.

Posted by: Revd Laurie Roberts on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 2:46pm GMT

With whose authority has this new 'ecclesial community' (sic) been set-up ?

Do you not get the feeling that a good number of the liberal constituency of the church, wish the anglo catholics would just go away?

Posted by: ian on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 3:55pm GMT

"Do you not get the feeling that a good number of the liberal constituency of the church, wish the anglo catholics would just go away?" (ian)

Please do not conflate women clergy denialists with Anglo-Catholics!

Posted by: Geoff on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 5:58pm GMT

Ron, Both St Hilda and St Wilfrid were staunch convinced" Romanists"..stop living in a fantasy world.

Posted by: robert ian Williams on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 6:45pm GMT

Pray for us "your bishops"??? Please pray for all bishops, including the women who are consecrated Bishop in due course. Whether you agree with them or not, or consider them validly consecrated or not. All need our prayers, whether we agree with them or not. Where in scripture does it suggest that prayer should be partisan (bless your enemies and pray for those who persecute you). And tell me, where do "your bishops" fit into "catholic order"?

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 9:13pm GMT

It is fortunate for traditional Anglo-Catholics - and, I believe, for the entire CofE, that those charged with preparing and shepherding the legislation through Synod are so much more charitable and open minded than many of the liberal commenters here. Even WATCH has been considerably more conciliatory in tone than Fr Ron and JCF. Can you really not live and let live? Is nothing short of a total victory that annihilates the traditionalists going to satisfy you? I do hope not because I've seen that in action here in Canada and it's nothing but sad.

This legislative package offers real hope, the prospect of cooperation and even enthusiasm to get women into the House of Bishops much faster than anyone thought possible a year ago. A little graciousness might be in order and would go a long way to securing the outcome.

Posted by: Clive on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 10:18pm GMT

I see the creation of this society as a very wholesome development and it should be welcomed. If people come to the view that women should be bishops then all is well as that (hopefully from my point of view) will be the position of the Church of England. If on the other hand one does not subscribe to that position and does not want to leave the Church of England for the Ordinariate then this kind of structure is, I think, necessary for some kind of peaceful and fruitful co-existence within the Church of England and to that extent should be welcomed.

Posted by: Craig Nelson on Sunday, 24 November 2013 at 10:30pm GMT

If I say to someone,"please pray for me" it does not logically follow that I am asking them not to pray for other people too. Mark Bennet's related point about the Bishops' letter and their request for prayers is thus silly. The letter is addressed to a specific constituency whom they care for pastorally and sacramentally. I sense some frustration in the comment Mark makes, perhaps because matters are not developing in the way he would wish in respect of the women bishops legislation. As Rose Hudson-Wilkin herself suggested in an interview on the Today programme, like it or no, it must be recognised that there is a constituency in the C of E who, in conscience, are simply unable to accept the innovation of women bishops, hence the new path along which we are travelling. A spirit of compromise is indeed in the air, at least among synod members, so let us thank God for it.

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 12:15am GMT

"Is nothing short of a total victory that annihilates the traditionalists going to satisfy you?"

Oh brother. HOW does one conciliate w/ such hyperbolic Victim-Playing? [Serious question]

No, Clive, you haven't seen traditionalists "annihilated" in Canada: That Has Not Happened. Climb down from the cross already---EVERYBODY can make better use of the wood.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 7:50am GMT

Benedict - my point was about the designation "your" Bishops, not on asking for prayer for specific people. I have no problem with people praying for the pope or their PEV, but to do that as a routine thing and not to pray routinely for the diocesan bishop - as has happened - seems to me to be an uncatholic way to pray.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 1:46pm GMT

With the greatest respect in the world, JCF, you don't know what I've seen any more than I know what you have.

I am not playing victim at all - in fact I find the whole "oppression" talk from the other side of the debate to be nothing more than victim-playing and I despise that as much as you do, so we agree there.

What has happened in Canada, in truth, is that it is impossible to live in the Anglican Church of Canada and be opposed to, or even uncertain about the ordination of women. The latter is my position. There hasn't been any provision for opposition for many years.

Traditionalists on that issue have either broken away to the fragmented and chaotic Continuing Anglican movement, or gone to Rome, or simply fallen away from the church. There are no traditionalist Anglo-Catholics left in ACC, because there isn't any way they can live with integrity in that church.

It seems to me that this is the outcome you seek for the CofE as well, and I don't see that it's desirable, particularly since the traditionalist Catholic wing of the CofE is a much larger component of the church than it was in Canada.

I notice that you attacked me as a "victim-player" rather than answer my question, however.

Posted by: Clive on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 2:09pm GMT

Please do not conflate women clergy denialists with Anglo-Catholics!

Thanks Geoff, but I know who I'm talking about, and I think your comment probably emphasises what I said in the first place.

Posted by: ian on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 4:27pm GMT

Mark,you are splitting hairs. The Bishops,in their letter, are smply asking for the prayers of those who look to them for spiritual, pastoral and sacramental oversight. Remember, it is addressed to a specific constituency. In that sense, they are indeed "our" Bishops. It does not imply that we should not pray for other Bishops. At our church, we pray regularly for the Diocesan, even though he is not pastorally or sacramentally responsible for us. To this, however, will be added prayers for Glyn "our" Bishop.

Posted by: Benedict on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 6:49pm GMT

In 2014 a pilgrimage will be organised by the Chichester Diocesan Pilgrimage Committee, which is not surprising given the title of the committee, but they have chosen to make the details available only on the web pages maintained by the Chichester Branch of the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda. See http://www.chichester.anglican.org/pilgrimages/

A committee that should be trying to work with churches representing the breadth of opinion within the Diocese, which is broader than is sometimes perceived, has instead chosen to identify itself with only one part of the Church of England.

Posted by: John on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 8:50pm GMT

Do we have to get into the semantics of the word "annihilated", Clive?

When I use the word, I'm thinking of, say, what happens to a known LGBT person in many parts of Africa (and elsewhere): beaten, shot, stabbed, burned alive [I freely admit, this happens to known Christians, also, in places like Pakistan]

For the record: I don't want to see ANYTHING like this definition of annihilated happen to even the most intransigent foes of women's ordination (in Canada, the UK, here where I am in the USA, anywhere).

...but I don't want the *position* of denying women their God-given callings to ordination to "flourish", either. Unlike the better-known case of homophobic Christians towards God's LGBT children, opposing those w/ an "anti-women's ordination chosen lifestyle" is a TRUE "Love the sinner, hate the sin" *conundrum*. I don't pretend to have all the answers here.

Posted by: JCF on Monday, 25 November 2013 at 9:58pm GMT

One Question: In the light of the raising up of a Society of St. Wilfred and St.Hilda, on the premise that Women cannot be either Clergy or Bishops in the Church of England; is this society going to be fraternally linked (I use that word advisedly) with the misogynistic Anglican Guardianship of the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham, which also declines to allow Women to celebrate the Eucharist there?

I'm not sure what Our Blessed Lady would think, in today's world, of this male-supremacy ethos. She, after all, was the Theotokos, Christ-Bearer, in her own body, and a Woman, to boot.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 2:20am GMT

"I think your comment probably emphasises what I said in the first place."

Think again! I don't wish for anyone to be pushed out of the Anglican Communion, having come to it myself from a tradition which was not so accommodating to a plurality of theological perspectives. And the sorts of Anglo-Catholics you describe are by no means dead even here in Soviet Canuckistan, despite what you may read in the ironically titled "Virtue Online." (Indeed, after the rescinding of the "conscience clause" as a formal legislative measure, one of the bishops with a reputation for licencing clergy with private reservations the most "liberally" was +Victoria Matthews in west Toronto and then Edmonton!)

Posted by: Geoff on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 3:06am GMT

I can understand that the society will be working with Forward in Faith. Now that Forward in Faith has adopted a policy of "anything will do" it will be easier for these bishops to work with it than it was when it was arguing for a new province - thanks be to God for Bishop Baker's seeing sense and moving on from his earlier strong position.

I am concerned about ACS and the Church Union - they are charities whose money by and large came from members of the Church of England for charitable work within the Church of England. This new legislation makes it clear the the Church of England has reached a decision on Women's ordination, and while it provides for theological dissent it does not allow denial as to the Church's position. Can these charities now declare that they will only work in this small sect within the Church of England. Is there not a strong legal argument that they must work with the Church of England as defined by this legislation? Can we not insist that ACS gives grants to parishes staffed by women. The present practice surely cannot continue once this legislation is passed? There should be legal challenges.

Posted by: Rose on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 10:34am GMT

I wish I could be as positive as Craig Nelson about the relaunch of SSWSH 'under new management'. I fear that the 'ecclesial community' referred to just rationalises, and gives a name to, the 'church within a church' which FiF have been running for nearly 20 years. I suppose that the SSWSH bishops will continue to hold their own Chrism masses, and I don't understand how that can possibly be considered consonant with the 'guiding principles' of the new legislation. If this practice continues, it will only confirm that the 'maximum possible degree of communion' referred to remains close to zero.
I also note the use of the word 'oversight' in the stated purposes of the society. This suggests to me that the model envisaged is 'alternative episcopal oversight', not 'extended episcopal care', which is all that was allowed by the Act of Synod.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 11:04am GMT

Ummm, because "Orthodox" gets bandied around so much in many of these discussions, may I just clarify from Fr Ron's post above that the title "Theotokos" very specifically and exactly does NOT mean 'Christ-bearer'; this (Christotokos) was Nestorios's formulation and was condemned at the Council of Ephesus in 431. Mary is the Theotokos, the bearer of God, or the Mother of God (Mater tou Theou) not the bearer of Christ (by implication His Humanity but not His Divinity). Perhaps a tiny technical point but wars have been fought because of this. =:-(

Dion

Posted by: Dion on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 11:13am GMT

Benedict - this is the problem with the Act of Synod. Parishes which have passed resolution C routinely pray for N our Bishop (referring to the PEV) when it would be more accurate to pray for the diocesan and then pray for N our Visitor. (I've heard it done this way on a small number of occasions.) Passing resolution C does not take a parish out of the diocesan structure - your diocesan bishop is still YOUR bishop - you simply receive pastoral and sacramental care from your VISITOR. To claim anything other is self-deception and not what the Act of Synod provides for.

Posted by: Nick Nawrockyi on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 12:03pm GMT

I've heard the Pope followed by the PEV and no mention of the diocesan.

Posted by: John Roch on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 12:37pm GMT

Rose:

"Is there not a strong legal argument that they must work with the Church of England as defined by this legislation? Can we not insist that ACS gives grants to parishes staffed by women. The present practice surely cannot continue once this legislation is passed? There should be legal challenges."

Without taking a position on it can I first say it's slightly depressing that less than a week after the vote someone is already thinking in terms of cash?

Secondly, they are charities acting for the CofE, not part of the CofE, consequently, noone outside the charity concerned is in much of a position to "insist" on anything that isn't contrary to its own constitution. Regardless of what the CofE says, if the constitution repeatedly makes reference to providing "men" to serve in parishes then the answer to your "can we have the money please?" is no. They can't, as the CBS found to its cost, start giving money to other churches, but they are very much at liberty to distribute *within* the CofE on whatever terms they wish, in the same way that Oxford University has travel scholarships which can only be given to students who used to be at Eton, or you can't be a male Girl Guide.

If the charities wish to change their own constitution (if necessary), then that is up to them - I'm not taking a position either way in my response to you - but neither the CofE nor English law can dictate terms.

Posted by: primroseleague on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 1:14pm GMT

Thanks JCF. That clears things up. Aside from overly colourful language (my bad) then I did accurately characterize your position; again, I'm thankful that those working to achieve the consecration of women in the CofE have a more tolerant, less absolutist position.

Try as I might, I can't see my unease with the Anglican world proceeding with OOW in isolation from Rome and the Orthodox as a sin, but in due course I will find out if it has been so.

Posted by: Clive on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 2:32pm GMT

Nick, in response to your point, I'm afraid the reality is that we do indeed see the Bishop of Beverley as "our" Bishop, whatever the technicalities. When I was a school boy, Miss Cowans was the Headteacher and technically in charge of the school, but "my" teacher was Mrs Curd. In praying for them I think I would have made the same distinction as I do for our Bishops. Rescinding the Act of Synod will do nothing to change that.

Posted by: Benedict on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 4:58pm GMT

Father Ron is right to regard Walsingham as a bastion of orthodoxy; long may it remain so. We may not be granted a Third Province but unofficially Walsingham could be regarded as the centre to which Traditionalists look for a guarantee that the Faith of our Fathers is not completely extinguished in England. I'm sure that Our Lady wholeheartedly approves.

Posted by: Father David on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 6:58pm GMT

All this scrapping is unseemly. A deal has been done. Like all deals, it is imperfect. But it's an honourable attempt to keep people together within the C of E, which is where these disparate people want to remain. The C of E - like most Christian denominations (whatever term one wishes to use) in the UK and indeed the West generally and indeed to a greater extent than some denominations - is in poor shape. This is only trivially because it is out of line with society at large on women priests: the issues are much more fundamental. So all this scrapping is stupid, destructive and self-destructive. It has to stop.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 8:56pm GMT

"There are no traditionalist Anglo-Catholics left in ACC, because there isn't any way they can live with integrity in that church." - Clive on Monday -

Is this evidentially true? I would doubt very much that there are no Anglo-Catholics remaining in the Anglican Church of Canada. The fact that they acknowledge the authenticity of women as clergy and bishops in the A.C of C. does not invalidate their Anglo-Catholic provenance.

Also, may I question the following statement:

" may I just clarify from Fr Ron's post above that the title "Theotokos" very specifically and exactly does NOT mean 'Christ-bearer'; this (Christotokos)" - Dion, on Tuesday -

This, of course, questions the fact that Jesus Christ, as a Person of the Trinity, is also 'God'. My use of the word 'Theotokos' was thus not inapposite - if Christ is, indeed, God!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 10:23pm GMT

Benedict - that's just not good enough. For a start, I don't really think the teacher analogy works in the same way. Also, it doesn't really make sense in terms of catholic order - the diocesan bishop is the diocesan bishop. Your constituency's pretense doesn't change that. I've seen countless references to the "Ebbsfleet Apostolic District" and even saw the bishop of Edmonton referred to as "Episcopal Administrator of the Fulham Apostolic District" in a desperate attempt to imply some level of jurisdiction where none exists. It seems you want to preserve catholic order at the expense of catholic order. I'm afraid you can't have your cake and eat it.

Posted by: Nick Nawrockyi on Tuesday, 26 November 2013 at 10:55pm GMT

Nick, Catholic order demands that the Diocesan Bishop is a focus for unity in his Diocese as well, but that does not always obtain in the current dispensation, and it would have been even more apparent with the ordination of women to the episcopate had the last piece of legislation been allowed to go through. The C of E is full of anomalies, so one more makes no difference.

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 12:09am GMT

John,
for once, I think you don't go far enough. The deal that has been done is more than good enough, it's almost a miracle that seems to have been able to square the circle. All groups within the CoE have welcomed it, from WATCH to FIF.
And I am delighted to see that the traditionalists who comment here seem to be happy with it too.

As most of those here on the liberal side who are completely opposed are not members of the CoE I hope the traditionalists here do not take their comments as evidence that liberals in the CoE do not welcome this deal.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 6:37am GMT

"I did accurately characterize your position": Clive, only if you also thought "...JCF has arrived at this position via (prayerful) Scripture, Tradition and Reason" (may I hope?)

To help illustrate what I mean by "sin" in this context. A few years ago, multiple RC diocesan discernment campaigns were using billboards w/ an image much like this one: http://bit.ly/1hhBcxM

Seeing one of them, I thought to myself: how long before a faithful RC woman, actively following a process of "consideration" (discernment), is ARRESTED? [For trespassing at the diocesan vocations office, for example? "Here I am, send me!" "Yes, to jail"]

When you pitch your tent w/ the principalities&powers, to keep your institution free of the "taint" women, inevitably those principalities&powers show up to do the dirty work. And that, IMO, is sin.

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 7:35am GMT

Erika,

I agree with everything you say here.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 11:15am GMT

@JCF: Of course, I understand and respect how you arrive at your position; indeed the "Thinking" part of this blog is always reflected in the level of commentary. That some come to different positions, however, does not mean that they too have not reached them by the same careful and prayerful considerations.

It still seems to me to be a stretch for you to label me a sinner - but if you must, so be it.

@Erika: My traditionalist friends in England are indeed very relieved and happy to see things going forward as they are. I hope that hardliners on either side will be fewer in number than they are in North America.

@Fr. Ron: Note I said "tradtionalist" Anglo-Catholics. There are plenty of bells n smells churches still in ACC, but virtually none opposed to - or unsure about - the ordination of women. They have been unwelcome for many years and have dwindled away to nothing.

Posted by: Clive on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 2:35pm GMT

'liberals in the C of E do not welcome this deal.'

Erika and John: It's not a case of not welcoming it, but being a little wary that it's a 'done' deal yet? We are not comparing like with like, last weeks vote was simply allowing the legislation to go forward to the next stage. I prefer to heed the advice of the Bishop of Rochester and Abp of York and keep the champers on ice for a while.
Benedict: re: Ms Cowans & Curd. My first two primary school teachers were two fearsome elderly dames called Mrs Bone and Mrs Body. I used to pray that I would arrive in school of a morning to discover that they had turned into Miss Peaseblossom and Miss Flowerdew. It never happened!

Posted by: Stephen Morgan on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 2:52pm GMT

Perhaps "Our Lady" would approve of the ordination of women -- not as "headship" or power, but as an office of service and dedication. I've long thought that the model "bishop as midwife" is probably the most helpful.

If "the lowly and weak" are to be "lifted up" -- as she sang -- she evidently intended there to be no stained-glass ceiling.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 4:08pm GMT

Stephen,
I have no issues with waiting to see what will actually happen.
What does trouble me is the level of acrimony flung here against traditionalists.
It has been the stated aim of the CoE to find a solution that ensures traditionalists have a place in the church and every single pro-woman organisation within the church has supported that aim right from the start.

I do wish people would recognise that instead of continuing to fight a Punch and Judy show battle along the lines of "you're wrong and intolerant" - "no, you're wrong an intolerant".

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 27 November 2013 at 4:10pm GMT

Tobias, why didn't you think of that thought 20 odd years ago; it might have saved a whole lot of hassle and unpleasantness? That's what I call thinking out of the box which I'm sure Our Lady would smile favourably upon. The answer to all our problems - the introduction of a fourth order of ministry to add to the traditional three fold order of bishop, priest and deacon. A female order of ecclesiastical "midwife " with specific responsibility to lift up "the lowly and weak". I wish I'd thought of that! Although, may I say that Tobias and Our Lady don't seem to be singing from the same hymn sheet as I have always understood that what Mary actually sang was that "the humble and meek" (BCP) who were "exalted"?

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 4:55am GMT

"I do wish people would recognise that instead of continuing to fight a Punch and Judy show battle along the lines of "you're wrong and intolerant" - "no, you're wrong an intolerant". - Erika -

Just as a point of interest, Erika, and scanning your eirenic attitude towards those who simply refuse to accept the ministry of women; have you not found any traditionalists have voiced their prejudice against you in your situation? If you have, and you can still allow them to maintain their intolerance of your situation - vis-a-vis on the same-sex issue - then you are indeed qualified to condemn other people's prejudice. You may actually be a Saint in today's Church.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 9:47am GMT

Well said, Stephen Morgan. Although I too give thanks for the much better spirit in which last week's GS debate was conducted, it's much too early to be talking of miracles. Let's not forget that the previous package was sent out to the dioceses and returned with overwhelming approval, but still failed at the final vote. Both FiF and Reform have said that they will not be able to vote for this package at final approval, although FiF have said that they will consider 'principled abstention'.
The new package has done as well as it has through clever and careful choice of words, which allow each side to read into it as much or as little as they desire. (In that respect, it's much like the 'Elizabethan settlement', so quite a precedent!) But the fundamental problem, that it isn't possible, at one and the same time, to be a church that believes that women can be ordained, and a church that believes they can't be, remains. To my reading the new package makes it very clear that the CofE will be in the former category, and that no-one will be able to deny it. I'm not sure that everyone is reading it that way.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 11:20am GMT

Actually, Fr. David, I've been saying this more or less for over 40 years... though not as a fourth order, but as a manner of approach to all ministry.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 12:46pm GMT

'I have always understood that what Mary actually sang was that "the humble and meek" (BCP) who were "exalted"?'

As venerable as the language of the prayer book is, I hope I am not breaking any earth-shattering news to Father David in pointing out that Our Lady didn't speak English (nor did anyone else in the 1C!). We may debate the relative merits of different translations, but they are just that.

Posted by: Geoff on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 2:12pm GMT

Ron,
I worship in a church that has, right from the beginning, said that it wants to do what it can do accommodate traditionalists. All groups within that church have supported that aim.
Of course you can say that the church is collectively wrong in having this aim. But those are the facts. It does. And it has now found a solution that looks as if it might be fulfilling all stated criteria.

The battle you are waging here with some traditionalists may well be worth waging - but it is not one the CoE is engaged in. Never was.

In the same sex debate I would give you the same answer. I do not need every single person in the church to agree with me. I do not need every last priest to be forced to conduct same sex marriages.
If - and it's a long shot - if we ever got an arrangement similar to these women bishop proposals, whereby partnered gay people could be fully equal in the church but where no priest could be forced to celebrate our relationships, I would be very happy.

My most cherished example is still a member of my congregation who rejects everything I stand for and who has publicly debated with me, campaigning for his anti-gay stance.
But we kneel at the altar together, he prayed for my daughter faithfully every day for 3 years while she was ill, I was welcome to attend prayer breakfasts at his house, we exchange chat about each other's families.
That is what it's about.

For me, the CoE is a unique church. It has successfully formally accommodated Evangelicals, Anglo-Catholics and Liberals and many shades in between for a long long time. The side by side hasn't always been easy but to me, it is THE example of what unity in Christ can look like. It is a model worth preserving, or at least trying to preserve.
Everything that suggests "my way only" is destructive.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 5:53pm GMT

Geoff, I shall be most disappointed when/if I get to Heaven and Mary and all the saints are not using the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorised Version of the Holy Bible.tobias, I think your idea of holy midwives is brilliant - bringing new Christians to birth, that's definitely what I would call a "Fresh Expression".

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 6:38pm GMT

"Everything that suggests "my way only" is destructive." - Erika -

With all due respect, Erika; is that not what F.i.F is asking for, precisely, in its insistence that women cannot exercise ministry in 'their part' of the Church of England?

Incidentally, I do appreciate your situation, and especially the fact that you can get along with those who actively oppose your own relationship. However, do you not find the double-mindedness involved to be a real spiritual problem?

I do understand something of the Church of England, having received my basic formation there in Baptism Confirmation and adult life, and am still interested in what is going on in my alma mater, even though now living in New Zealand.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 11:11pm GMT

"I shall be most disappointed when/if I get to Heaven and Mary and all the saints are not using the Book of Common Prayer and the Authorised Version of the Holy Bible." - Fr. David -

Oh, very droll, Father! I suppose you believe in a tripartite Heaven where Our Lady holds court in 3 different venues: R.C., Orthodox and Anglican? I think Heaven will be about Unity - not division.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 28 November 2013 at 11:20pm GMT

Erika: Amen. You are indeed on the right path toward sainthood I think. And, at least when I was in England, that was also the goal of many on the traditionalist side, like the man you describe.

I am I suspect a lot less "traditional" on the LGBT issues as people might think; I support same sex marriage here in Canada; unqualified support for the civil institution and I think religious people should be free to do as they choose on the issue - even within the one body such as the CofE.

After all, without gay clergy where would Anglo-Catholicism ever have got to? ;)

It will be a matter of regret for me that being the other side of the ocean I won't be able to kneel beside you myself one day. I can't say the same for other commenters, although I am trying.

Posted by: Clive on Friday, 29 November 2013 at 3:52am GMT

Such a dry Kiwi wit, Fr. Ron. No, I most certainly believe there will be unity in heaven, it is after all, what our Blessed Lord prayed for here on earth. If it is in accordance with His divine will then we should do all in our power to try to achieve it and not put obstacles and innovations in its way. By the way, Father, I note that your tripartite heaven only includes Roman Catholics, Orthodox and Anglicans ( wouldn't it be wonderful if we could achieve unity between all three here below?) isn't there room in your vision of heaven for No-Conformists then?

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 29 November 2013 at 10:07am GMT

Ron,
FiF are not asking for the whole church to reject women priests, they are asking for a place in which they can worship in the way they used to.
Whereas many liberals here seem to be saying "you can't have that, the only thing we will accept is for the whole church to make no provisions for you women hating people".

And, I repeat, while that may be a valid political stance, it is not and never has been the stance of the CoE.

As for double mindendness being a real spiritual problem - no.
We spend our whole lives alongside people who don't share our passions. People disagree strongly with me on war, the death penalty and tax evasion. Some disagree with my parenting, others don't like the way I train my dogs... if I got worried about all those things I'd never stop.

My focus is on God not on what those around me think of me. And what I'm fighting for is to be allowed to make my own decisions in life and to be responsible for them, and for those who want to support my decisions to be allowed to do that.

As soon as those who oppose lgbt equality no longer have any actual power over my life I can happily live alongside them. I shall simply think that they're wrong. They shall think that I'm wrong, and that's where it ends.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Friday, 29 November 2013 at 10:32am GMT
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