Friday, 17 January 2014
Women in the Episcopate: Forward in Faith responds to latest drafts
Press release from Forward in Faith:
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Friday, 17 January 2014 at 5:46pm GMT
Women in the Episcopate: The Latest Drafts
Jan 17, 2014
Women in the Episcopate: Draft House of Bishops’ Declaration and Resolution of Disputes Procedure Regulations
Forward in Faith welcomes the publication of the House of Bishops’ report (GS 1932 – available from http://www.churchofengland.org/about-us/structure/general-synod/agendas-and-papers/february-2014-group-of-sessions.aspx).
In commenting on the proposals in November we set out three matters that still needed to be resolved. We are grateful that two of them have been addressed: the draft Declaration now contains transitional provisions, and the House of Bishops’ Standing Orders will provide that the Declaration cannot be amended unless two-thirds majorities in each House of the General Synod support the amendment. We also welcome the other minor improvements which the House has made to the draft Declaration and Regulations.
However, we note that the draft Declaration does not address the third of the matters that we raised in November. Para. 42 of the Steering Committee’s report (GS 1924) pointed to the need for ‘an agreed way of proceeding’ with regard to ‘issues that will arise in relation to consecration services for Traditional Catholic bishops’, including the ‘further and sharper issues that will arise in due course as and when there is a woman archbishop’. The Steering Committee was clear in envisaging ‘an overall, balanced package’ and that the dioceses should ‘vote on the legislation in the knowledge of how all the elements of the package fit together’ (para. 42).
It is essential that an acceptable way of proceeding in relation to the consecration of Traditional Catholic bishops is agreed before the legislation is referred to the dioceses. Resolution of this outstanding matter is crucial for the acceptability of the package as a whole.
We also note the publication of a first draft of the Guidance Note for Bishops and Parishes (GS Misc 1064). Forward in Faith will study this closely.
+ JONATHAN FULHAM
The Rt Revd Jonathan Baker, Bishop of Fulham
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
FiF seem to want but don't quite say, separate services for the consecration of anti-WO bishops.
I wonder how come the words "smoke and mirrors" come to my mind?
Is that what FiF want? Or would they settle for services in which women bishops are not ordained and consecrated alongside 'their own', and in which women bishops do not take any episcopal or presbyteral part?
At the moment there are not special services for bishops just because they oppose women priests. One might argue that this should continue. The alternative is to continue to isolate such people, and that's not a good thing in my experience, as we saw with the previous flying bishops.
Follow the logic: if you believe a particular bishop not to be a bishop (s)he cannot be the co-consecrator of a new bishop. But since we have promised that those who hold such a view will have a continuing place in the CofE, there has to be a way found to allow those that hold that view to flourish and propagate their ministry.
It is rightly pointed out that the problem is magnified if some believe that an archbishop is not a bishop and is not qualified to preside at the consecration of new bishops.
Furthermore, we will all soon have to come to terms with the fact that males ordained deacon or priest by a female bishop will not be found acceptable throughout the whole CofE - and we are promising that those who hold the traditional (minority) view will have a continuing place in the CofE without time limit.
Smoke and mirrors? You mean Third Province by the back door? Can it be avoided given the views held and the promises made?
"It is essential that an acceptable way of proceeding in relation to the consecration of Traditional Catholic bishops is agreed before the legislation is referred to the dioceses. Resolution of this outstanding matter is crucial for the acceptability of the package as a whole."
- FiF Statement -
FiF's use of the term 'Traditional Catholic bishops' would seem to presume that only bishops they approve of would qualify for this epithet.
Does this them mean that the future legislation will identify two separate types of bishop in the Church of England, demanding two separate types of episcopal ordination? If so, the world will see that the Church of England has two different and separate standards of episcopate, denying the catholicity of Anglican episcopal orders.
Ron, the "provisions" are outside the legislation.
More generally, it would seem that we are in the process of surrendering the claim that the CofE maintains the historic ministry of the universal Church. Whither the Via Media? We are sawing off the branch on which we sit. The greater part of the Church universal has not moved at all on the policy of only ordaining men, and shows no signs of doing so. The international majority may yet, of course.
'Is that what FiF want? Or would they settle for services in which women bishops are not ordained and consecrated alongside 'their own', and in which women bishops do not take any episcopal or presbyteral part?'
This is completely unacceptable and I hope if comes to it, that Parliament (remember them ?) will not permit it.
FiF is about setting up a situation in which there are two Churches of England. One is the one in which the process of ordination and consecration of clergy and bishops proceeds normally. The other is one in which women are excluded, including those clergy and bishops who are supportive of the ordination of women.
This is the one which FiF promises to recognize as the Church of England. The other one is not a church at all, in their view.
So we arrive at two parallel churches, one in which things proceed normally, and one fenced off from the rest, in which any contact, tactically and cognitively, with the presence of women is prohibited in the process of ordination and its recognition.
As an American, I immediately think of John Cleese -- This is silly. This is foolish. This is absurd.
I think of the words of TS Eliot -- "so many, so many/ I had not thought death had undone so many."
Why can't FiF -- and for that matter, their evangelical counterparts -- recognize how silly all this really is?
'Traditional Catholic bishops'
oh yes FiF and the PEV are very 'Traditional' and very 'Catholic' !
at least they have a sense of humour ! - that should help.
We have all of us been ordained since Florence Li Tim Oi was priested during WW2 - so none of us can be That traditional - but we all still belong to the Catholic Church last time I looked....
"it would seem that we are in the process of surrendering the claim that the CofE maintains the historic ministry of the universal Church. Whither the Via Media? We are sawing off the branch on which we sit."
Poppycock. The "Via Media" is between Protestantism, and Romanism (and "Easternism", I guess). FINALLY rectifying the situation of affirming God's Call to anyone ***God*** is calling, regardless of sex chromosomes, is hardly "sawing off a branch". Rather, it's the cessation of unGodly pruning!
"Third Province by the back door?" Bring it on!
There we have the problem in a single word.
The concerns of a proportion of the CofE which has been recognised as legitimate are just dismissed in a word.
"More generally, it would seem that we are in the process of surrendering the claim that the CofE maintains the historic ministry of the universal Church.' - Labarum -
My first question, Labarum is: 'By whom?' Rome already does not consider Anglicans to be legitimately ordained in their understanding of Catholic Order. So what changes here? This, despite the fact that we now have a N.Z. Anglican Bishop as the Anglican Communion's official representative to the Vatican. How convoluted can relationships in the body of Christ get? Yet still, the Church goes on apace. Thanks be to God!
"The "Via Media" is between Protestantism, and Romanism (and "Easternism", I guess)"
Now I have been for a bracing bike ride I will clarify my claim that the Via Media is being abandoned, or at least very seriously weakened.
One of the claims of the English (Anglican) Reformers was that they were attempting more modest adjustments to late medieval Christianity than the continental reformers. Part of that was the assertion that they were continuing, rather than abolishing, the historic three fold order of Bishops, Priests and Deacons; and that the orders of the CofE were substantially identical and interchangeable with those of the Roman (Latin Rite) and Eastern Churches. The Roman Church did not accept that view, and the Eastern Churches are at best ambivalent; nevertheless the intellectual claims are sustainable. Those claims are very seriously weakened by Anglican insistence (against the majority international view) that the historic orders may be conferred upon females as well as males.
By pursuing this policy it could be argued that the Anglican Communion has compromised its traditional "middle way" and shifted the balance in favour of Protestantism.
I accept Evangelical opponents to the ordination of women will argue differently.
Crossed posts, Ron.
But mine makes a stab at answering yours.
But Labarum, you must know that there is a long standing RC doctrine (which I believe we Anglicans inherited) stating that the character of the priest or bishop does not interfere with the grace of the sacraments.
The idea that a priest's ordination or a bishop's consecration is invalidated by the presence of a woman - especially when there are male co-consecrators - is not supportable by tradition or doctrine. It is a modern invention.
This idea of "taint" goes against centuries of doctrine, used most recently with the RC's assuring people that sacraments at the hands of pedophiles are still valid.
As long as their are guys around, that fulfills doctrine. To go beyond that, into this "taint" thing is a new superstition.
I am all for keeping the guys around. That fulfills the doctrine for traditional Anglo-Catholics, liberal A/C's are already onboard with women bishops. So are you now saying that CoE doesn't only have to accommodate the vast majority of A/C's, but also those who are holding to a modern superstition?
Similarly, not all ConEvos are into this "male headship" business. So is CoE going to appease what is even a subset of ConEvos?
God is loving, compassionate, and merciful. God will not withhold Grace for these things that concern some people… In fact, God loves justice and God is calling women to serve, so I think we are all going to be OK.
If Labarum thinks all female Anglican priests are Protestants, I must be blessed to associate with a higher calibre of them!
"If Labarum thinks all female Anglican priests are Protestants . . . "
"The idea that a priest's ordination or a bishop's consecration is invalidated by the presence of a woman - especially when there are male co-consecrators - is not supportable by tradition or doctrine. It is a modern invention."
Cynthia, you overplay your hand more than you claim I am.
The doctrine of taint - which I do not accept - does not touch the objection, but the one being ordained does need to recognise the orders of the one doing the ordaining.
As FIF have noted the problems are greatly magnified if the Archbishop is not believed to be a bishop, or even a priest. How could a candidate consent such a rite with a defective principle celebrant?
None of this is to do with "taint".
(By the way, I am not a member of FIF. I have serious criticisms of them.)
This talk of "taint" is a clear reminder that a major temptation always facing Christians is to give up being a religion and become a purity cult.
It is essential that an acceptable way of proceeding in relation to the consecration of Traditional Catholic bishops is agreed before the legislation is referred to the dioceses.
Translation.....if you want this measure to pass quickly,an untainted line of succession please.
I think proponents, should consider waiting to a more representative synod is elected rather than conceding this " bantustan " for the likes of Bishop Baker and co.
"an untainted line of succession please."
Robert, you are misusing the term "taint".
A bishop's credentials are said (by some) to be "tainted" if he ordains persons not qualified (by gender) to be ordained. What that claim amounts to I am not sure, as the said bishop's orders are not invalidated by the (illicit) ordination.
FIF is seeking assurance that only bishops validly ordained according to the historic criteria (ie male bishops ordained by male bishops) will be deployed to ordain ministers for service within the traditionalist circle. Since the CofE is promising the traditionalists room to flourish "without time limit" this request is entirely reasonable.
Yes, it does involve a branching pedigree: that is unavoidable given the various legitimate opinions held, and the promises made to enable living with differences.
I'm glad that FiF have finally mentioned a female Archbishop because this really does have to be sorted out once and for all. But is it really possible that the CoE would accept a solution that required one traditionally consecrated male Archbishop at all times? Could there be any other solution?
The Church of England would be mad to allow a parallel episcopate to emerge which thought itself purer and " more valid." It would be a knife poised at the very heart of the Church of England, and imagine if an evangelical bishop was consecrated as well.. unlike Anglo-catholics they have viable congregations, with the potential to become self supporting.
I think it is historically accurate to understand that the (recent) need for three consecrating bishops is in case any are in some way "defective". Only one is theoretically required. Until we have a male bishop consecrated at the hands only of female bishops, I don't myself see how the putative succession of men is actually broken.
My own understanding of the consecration of bishop involving God and the Church as a whole does not place such a high view on the individuals involved.
Since (a) the male bishops consecrated in the conservative catholic tradition are likely to have only male bishops laying hands on them under pastoral arrangements and (b) even if there were women involved, there would be at least three men, and (c) the number of men consecrated 'at the hands' of women only is likely to be zero for at least generation or two, and possibly for ever, by which time the whole issue will likely have a different shape, and (d) there was a process involved here in which all participated, and none were excluded ... I cannot see why the church would break the package at this crucial juncture.
Of course people are entitled to make their appeal at every stage, but the effect of last minute tweaks on this issue has been unedifying in the past.
Although I see Mark's contributions as serious Erika, his point will not satisfy all; but I don't see either the need for one Archbishop always to be of traditionalist pedigree. It would be sufficient to have a continuing understanding that the presiding bishop and all co-consecrators should be in the male only pedigree when requested. So also for the ordination of deacons and priests.
Mark is right that, over time, the issue might take a different shape. Either the number of traditionalists will reduce to (near) zero, or they will cede from the CofE, or an international consensus for female priests and bishops will emerge in the whole Church, or the views in the CofE and other Anglican provinces will revert.
We cannot predict how history will turn, but at this crucial moment we can avoid a fracture even if it involves a lot of untidiness.
All I can say at this juncture is; Thank God the Anglican Tradition does not only rest with the provenance of the Church of England!
We in other Provinces of the Communion have no such problem with supposed 'sacramental assurance'. It has seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us that we have accepted women as a constituent part of the human race, capable of bearing office in the local Anglican Church as God's sacred ministers.
"We in other Provinces of the Communion . . . "
but not all of them.
Surely FiF aren't going to wreck the carefully constructed and balanced proposals over this? They mustn't be allowed to have separate consecrations where only male and untainted bishops are present. The worst thing that has happened over the past painful 20 years is separate Chrism masses, which should never have been tolerated, but separate 'untainted' consecrations would be worse than that.
The Steering group's proposals said that, after the legislation was agreed, no-one would be able to suggest that the CofE was a church which did not believe that women could be validly ordained to the threefold ministry. Holding separate consecrations would be suggesting exactly that.
Having an acceptable male bishop present must be enough for the dissenters (together with the 'Dutch touch' as well, if anyone still thinks it's relevant). The more the merrier!
if I understand correctly, all bishops are consecrated by an Archbishop. In order to continue to have traditionalist Catholic male bishops you would therefore have to ensure that there is a traditionalist Catholic or Evangelical male bishop to perform this task.
Is that not correct?
And yes, we are not looking at the immediate future here, but I had understood FiF to have asked for the question to be looked at and answered within the coming legislation and provisions.
Am I misunderstanding this?
Erika - CofE Canon C2 currently reads
C 2 Of the consecration of bishops
1. No person shall be consecrated to the office of bishop by fewer than three bishops present together and joining in the act of consecration, of whom one shall be the archbishop of the province or a bishop appointed to act on his behalf.
2. The consecration of a bishop shall take place upon some Sunday or Holy Day, unless the archbishop, for urgent and weighty cause, shall appoint some other day.
3. No person shall be consecrated bishop except he shall be at least thirty years of age.
4. No person shall be refused consecration as bishop on the ground that he was born out of lawful wedlock.
5. Nothing in this Canon shall make it lawful for a woman to be consecrated to the office of bishop.
'It would be sufficient to have a continuing understanding that the presiding bishop and all co-consecrators should be in the male only pedigree when requested. So also for the ordination of deacons and priests.'
This is insufferable. No way ! I see you are teasing us with your wonderful sense of humour.
I hope so. It is totally unacceptable for FiF and the rump left in the wake of the ordinariate to try to call such a tune.
Again, the theology of "taint" is ridiculous. And why would evangelicals care??? As long as some of the co-consecrators are guys, it keeps the male line going. The presence of a woman does not invalidate the sacrament. That is absolutely insane. It goes against ancient doctrine about the validity of sacraments. They are making this up, a brand new "tradition."
There is no reason to have separate rites. All can be accommodated by the presence of male co-consecrators. Diversity is a good thing. It would look like God's Creation, for one thing...
it is not about taint. If you believe that it takes 3 ordained people to ordain someone else, and if you believe that women cannot be ordained, then the presence of a woman reduced the number of people doing the ordaining to two.
Yes, I know it's rubbish, but the church has said that it wants to keep FiF within its fold, so there we are.
I quite like Mark's thought of returning to the understanding that only one person is needed to effect the ordination.
And,Labernum, there is no single solution that "will satisfy all". The task is to arrive at a compromise that will get through Synod.
Might this not do it?
Cynthia, of course you are right. It's not about taint. The notion gets thrown in to muddy the waters.
I doubt that FIF would insist that three bishops are required to ordain another. The Canons of the CofE apply that rule, as do the customs of other Churches. Three is the belt and braces norm, but (in general tradition) one bishop is sufficient to ordain another.
Surely the FIF objection is not one of taint - the objection is not that some of the consecrators are tainted bishops but that they are not bishops (not even priests) and should not be standing there.
And no, Laurie, I am not exercising my sense of humour, I am exercising my sense of logic.
And Erika "Might this not do it". What might do it?
I repeat: with the legitimate positions held and the promises made to allow traditionalists to continue without time limit, and to flourish within the CofE a branching pedigree has to be allowed. That is the logic of our present situation.
In general I embrace your logic and am not much bothered by the 'branching', even 'fracturing', thereby entailed. But could you have a female priest, even a female bishop, even eventually a female archbishop present (and visibly present because wearing some of their regalia [negotiable]) but not actually consecrating? If that were possible, it seems to me that it would be very helpful for maintaining a commonness which to some degree overrides the 'branching'. After all, such 'smudging' occurs all the time, e.g. ordinary members of the C of E who may be pro-WO and their priests (ditto) do attend (with whatever emotions - certainly, they're not all negative) FiF (or similar) ordinations, and no one seems particularly bothered.
John wrote: "In general I embrace your logic . . . could you have a female priest, even a female bishop, even eventually a female archbishop present (and visibly present because wearing some of their regalia [negotiable]) but not actually consecrating?"
The logic of the case does not rule that out; but I do not and cannot speak for FIF or the traditionalist Evangelicals.
The "Diocesan Bishop" could be present in the Cathedral and the "Archbishop" in the Metro-political Church (or St Paul's) and watch the rite (even from the cathedra), having, by prior administrative act, "delegated" functions to more suitable ministers, in order that all members and ministers of the CofE might continue to flourish and practice their faith according to conscience as legitimate members of the national Church.
Some priests would need to understand they were present on the same terms as the watching bishop or archbishop.
(For the first time I have found it necessary to put certain nouns in quotes - we must be getting near the edge.)
Conservative evangelicals do not believe ordination is a sacrament. Indeed, the doctrinal basis of certain Anglican ConsEvo organisations contain a specific denial of any spiritual gift being imparted even in baptism and the Lord's Supper, let alone in the five "lesser" sacraments. In the same way, the notion of "validity" is utterly foreign to conservative evangelicals. No female apostles means no female bishops. End of argument. "Validity" is a nasty Roman concept and isn't biblical in their view.
Part of the problem in England is that opposition to women's ordained ministry comes from two groups with totally opposed theologies and is a classic battle on two fronts.
I agree. You put it eloquently when you write:
The "Diocesan Bishop" could be present in the Cathedral and the "Archbishop" in the Metro-political Church (or St Paul's) and watch the rite (even from the cathedra), having, by prior administrative act, "delegated" functions to more suitable ministers, in order that all members and ministers of the CofE might continue to flourish and practice their faith according to conscience as legitimate members of the national Church.
Personally, I would find that very moving.
Of course, I too hardly speak for anyone other than myself (and sometimes not even that).
Let's see if I got this right.
Labarum wrote "I am exercising my sense of logic." concerning "the objection is not that some of the consecrators are tainted bishops but that they are not bishops (not even priests) and should not be standing there."
My sense of logic tells me that if there are always male co-consecrators, then every male priest, bishop, and archbishop will be male line and their orders valid. It does not have to be "male only," it just has to be male participatory. Otherwise, we get into the superstitious realm of taint.
There is perfectly good reason to have a diverse group, as diverse as three can be, ordaining and consecrating. The Body of Christ is diverse, God's Creation is diverse. There really is a way here to honor all the sensibilities, unless one gives in to brand new superstitions, and where does that end? Floods caused by equal marriage? etc...
my point is the same Cynthia is making, and which I believe Mark to have made. Male only bishops are not necessary if you accept that it takes only 1 person to effect an ordination, because then you can have 3 co-consecrators of whom 2 could even be women provided the third one was a traditionally ordained male.
Cynthia, the issue is not taint but qualification; not superstition but a reasonably held theological view that is to be respected as legitimately Anglican.
Those being ordained, and the congregations who are to receive the ensuing ministry, are asking for assurance that the ministers of the ordination be qualified for the purpose.
The need for three consecrators is, as I have already said "belt and braces" - one consecrator is sufficient - three are deployed to cover the case where some consecrators should in the future be shown to have been defective. It is quite a different issue to admit persons to the college of consecrators who are known to be defective.
And by "known" of course I mean as judged by a sub-set of the CofE who may hold a minority view, but a view that is within the acceptable norms of Anglicanism, and is the majority view in the whole Church.
Of course, the issue is particularly focused when the principal consecrator (the Archbishop) is known to be unqualified.
The point is that one valid consecrator is sufficient to establish succession (though whether consecration is properly a human act or a divine one is open to discussion). The Roman Catholic Church does not accept the validity of orders in the Church of England - one reason given for this is that the consecration of Matthew Parker as Archbishop of Canterbury in 1559 was defective and broke the succession. As I understand it, there was - at one stage - some conscious attempt to repair the succession by inviting Old Catholic Bishops to participate in consecrations - but I believe that this has not involved/did not involve - always three Old Catholic bishops, but perhaps only one. If three valid consecrators were necessary this approach to repairing succession would have no hope of success. Here we see also that the presence of invalid consecrators - who are not regarded as bishops at all - may be no barrier to a valid consecration.
The details of this may not quite be right - I think I picked some of this up as incidental material in a biography of Cosmo Lang - and it would be good to have a more accurate account from someone who has engaged in deeper research on the point and has some facts to hand. As I recall, Cosmo Lang did not approve the theory behind this. (It was part of the fall out from the Lambeth Appeal to all Christian People issued in 1920 - my goodness the centenary will be upon us before we know - which gave prominence to the Chicago-Lambeth Quadrilateral).
No, I don't think Old Catholic bishops have ever been used in a 'conscious attempt to repair the succession'.
First because the CofE does not admit that there was any break in the succession, so consequently no 'repair' is necessary.
And secondly, because the inclusion of Old Catholic bishops is a symbol of the mutual recognition of Orders between the Old Catholic Churches of the Union of Utrecht, and the Church of England and other Anglican Churches, and is a direct consequence of the 1931 Bonn Agreement between the two Churches.
To answer my own question put in an earlier post on this thread, Yes, it does look as if FiF would wreck the carefully balanced package of proposals over this issue, at least to judge by the comments of their sympathisers here. So it's no more the glad confident morning of Nov 2013, and back to the gloom, despondency and national derision of Nov 2012.
If Parliament and the secular media were incredulous then that we should find any grounds for not having women bishops, how much more incredulous would they be if we derailed a widely supported set of proposals over such an arcane issue as how traditionalist male bishops should be consecrated?!
The recent comments on this thread seem to be forgetting that any legislation to enable women to be ordained as bishops in the C of E is based on the 5 principles agreed last February, and which are being written into the Declaration. The first of these includes:
"now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops , the Church of England..... holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are the true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience" and then the statement that
"anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the C of E has reached a clear decision on the matter"
The last of the points commits to providing pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England in a way that "maintains the highest degree of communion and contributes to the mutual flourishing across the whole church of England"
Mutually contradictory? If we start applying too much logic and lay down too many limitations and personal demands at this stage - yes. If we want to respect each other and each other's orders and learn how to live together...then in God's grace, possible. Individuals may work out their own take on the theology of ordinations and consecrations and a whole number of other issues. There is no way that any individual or group will get a clear way forward that they can be completely easy with. Those who like it all to be water tight and clear will no doubt get frustrated, but if we want to move on together then we'll need to learn to live with some fuzzy boundaries - and people of all shades of theological opinion will find the fuzziness frustrating, but hopefully the walking together will be rewarding.
Rosalind, I touch on your point here
The issues I raise were not followed up.
The paragraph that stands stands against the others you do not quote. I do:
"Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches,
including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those
provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men
as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own
clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of
discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of
As far as I can see FIF (and I am not a member or even a great sympathiser) is not intent on blocking the new plan, but does want to see the agreed principles fully implemented, and there is room yet for negotiation in the understandings outside legislation
Simon - p365 of JG Lockhart's biography of Lang says of the agreement with the Old Catholics "It established inter-communion and - of perhaps even greater significance - carried the necessary authority for inter-consecration. [...] It served to dispel some of the doubts of Orthodox theologians about Anglican Orders"
There is another relevant passage at p359-60 "that whatever view might be taken of the original validity of Anglican Orders, they might in time acquire a footing identical with that of a Church whose orders were not questioned."
Stephen Neill's "Anglicanism" p373-374 (4th ed 1977) has "This raises an interesting point in Anglican relations with the Roman Catholic Church. That Church recognises the Old Catholic succession of episcopal consecrations as valid but irregular. Old Catholic and Polish National Catholic bishops have often taken part in Anglican consecrations. Considerably more than half the Anglican episcopate now has the Old Catholic as well as the Anglican succession [...] No Anglican imagines that anything is added to his consecration or ordination by Old Catholic participation; but from the Roman Catholic point of view such orders might be held to have regained something of that regularity and validity which the Pope's Bull of 1896 denied to them."
So someone was tracking the succession in hope ...
Just out of curiosity - is the practice of the Church of England to have only three bishops consecrating?
It's my understanding that in TEC there are three "official" consecrating bishops but at every TEC consecration I've ever been to, there are a significant number of other bishops that join in the consecreting.
Even if there was a problem with one - or all three - of the "official" consecrating bishops, there would almost certainly be a bishop in the accompanying horde that didn't have problems, which would make the consecration unquestionably non-problematic.
"So someone was tracking the succession in hope ..."
A long time ago I read an essay by a liberal RC scholar who suggested that before very long every Anglican Bishop would be able to trace his pedigree through the Old Catholic line, and that this might give the Vatican an excuse to change its mind without denying what had been previously said. Of course the Anglicans have always insisted that the Roman judgement against them arose from bad evidence and poor reasoning - no repair was needed. On the other hand the Roman Church lacked the motivation to use the excuse.
Of course the issue of repairing succession over time is different to progressively surrendering succession over time. Wilfully to allow persons not qualified to ordain persons who may be legitimately ordained and persons who may not be legitimately ordained could be construed as a misbehaviour so serious as to subvert the whole status of a Church. FIF seems keen to avoid that danger within its own circle; and, as constantly said, such opinions are to be regarded as authentically Anglican and those who hold them allowed to flourish.
"Just out of curiosity - is the practice of the Church of England to have only three bishops consecrating?"
20 or more bishops would commonly be present and all would join in the laying on of hands.
"It's my understanding that in TEC there are three "official" consecrating bishops but at every TEC consecration I've ever been to, there are a significant number of other bishops that join in the consecrating."
"Even if there was a problem with one - or all three - of the "official" consecrating bishops, there would almost certainly be a bishop in the accompanying horde that didn't have problems, which would make the consecration unquestionably non-problematic."
I disagree. Not unquestionably. If a church, by official decisions, allows persons unqualified to join in the laying on of hands, the status of that church might be called in question by others. I make that point above.
If the principal minister of the rite is unqualified the situation becomes even more problematical. If the principal minister is not even a priest the necessary Eucharistic context of the rite of ordination is called in question.
Yes, of course people have commented that the inclusion of Old Catholic bishops as co-consecrators might enable Rome to change its position. But this is sleight of hand and suggestion. It is not the official position of the CofE and is not the intention behind inviting bishops from the Union of Utrecht to join in episcopal consecrations.
From the Anglican perspective there is no breach to repair. To suggest otherwise is to allow a scintilla of doubt to creep in, which would be ridiculous.
Simon said: "From the Anglican perspective there is no breach to repair. To suggest otherwise is to allow a scintilla of doubt to creep in, which would be ridiculous."
A scintilla is a very small unit, Simon. When we were both young I would have agreed with you. I would have said that with a very high probability Anglican orders were substantially identical to those of the Latin and Byzantine Rites - mine, because of the date of my ordinations are still secure; but for future Anglicans, I am not so sure.
The CofE and other Anglican provinces have chosen to vary the parameters of ordained ministry without the consent of the greater part of the Church with whom the claim to share a historic ministry. They did so against the advice of friends in those other churches who made it very clear the Anglican development would seriously impede mutual recognition. To what extent and with what certainty can the CofE now claim substantial identity of ministry with those maintaining the historic continuity? The proposed changes to the parameters of episcopal ministry increase the problems by an order of magnitude.
I have every sympathy with those who are trying to distance themselves from this development. The present documents refer to a period of discernment in the whole Church of God: I see none, only a formal reiteration of the classical parameters for the historic three fold ministry.
The greater Church may change its mind. I see no sign of serious discussion yet.
May I draw to interested readers' attention a rare "tract" bearing on the participation of Old Catholic bishops in Anglican episcopal consecrations? It is *Accipe Spiritum Sanctum: Historical Essays on the Agreements of Bonn and Merissen* by Brian Taylor (1995, Guildford: St. Thomas's Trust; ISBN: 0-9520140-3-3). The essays, which were the result or research in the Lambeth Palace archives, do demonstrate that those who were most eager and active in promoting such Old Catholic participation in Anglican episcopal consecrations in the aftermath of the 1931 Bonn Agreement, Canon J. A. Douglas, a leading Anglo-Catholic "ecumenist," and A. C. Don, Archbishoip Lang's chaplain, were very keen on the idea that such consecrations would provide a way of "getting around" Apostolicae Curae, as was also the "Liberal Catholic" Cambridge academic N.P. Williams; and that Abp. Lang himself was willing tacitly to countenance such a view.
Fr. Taylor himself was a Borneo missionary, and subsequently Rector of St. Nicholas, Guildford, before "poping;" and has since been parish priest of St. Edward the Confessor Catholic Church in Sutton Park, Guildford.
"A long time ago I read an essay by a liberal RC scholar who suggested that before very long every Anglican Bishop would be able to trace his pedigree through the Old Catholic line, and that this might give the Vatican an excuse to change its mind without denying what had been previously said. Of course the Anglicans have always insisted that the Roman judgement against them arose from bad evidence and poor reasoning - no repair was needed. On the other hand the Roman Church lacked the motivation to use the excuse."
Well, yes, but (and cf. my previous comment) "the Roman Church" still "lack(s) the motivation to use the excuse," as the pretended ordination of women has rendered the whole question moot. Those who trust in the constantly receding mirage (as I see it) of a liberal pope may continue to believe otherwise, but Pope Francis has expressed himself clearly enough on this issue.
Sorry, Simon, if I was careless in how I expressed myself - there has never been any internal doubt about Anglican Orders. The comments I quoted originated 50 years ago in very different circumstances (hopes for unity, including the Second Vatican Council). I think it is clear from what I quoted that hopes were raised, and though the mutual consecrations may not have had as their primary purpose making it easier for others to recognise Anglican orders, that was certainly present in the minds of some as a desirable secondary effect - and I think may have helped to motivate ensuring that Old Catholic Bishops were present at as many consecrations as possible. Going back to 1920 and the Appeal to All Christian People, there was explicit recognition by that Lambeth Conference that such matters may need attention - Resolution 9 VIII stated:
" We believe that for all, the truly equitable approach to union is by way of mutual deference to one another's consciences. To this end, we who send forth this appeal would say that if the authorities of other Communions should so desire, we are persuaded that, terms of union having been otherwise satisfactorily adjusted, bishops and clergy of our Communion would willingly accept from these authorities a form of commission or recognition which would commend our ministry to their congregations, as having its place in the one family life. It is not in our power to know how far this suggestion may be acceptable to those to whom we offer it. We can only say that we offer it in all sincerity as a token of our longing that all ministries of grace, theirs and ours, shall be available for the service of our Lord in a united church.
It is our hope that the same motive would lead ministers who have not received it to accept a commission through episcopal ordination, as obtaining for them a ministry throughout the whole fellowship.
In so acting no one of us could possibly be taken to repudiate his past ministry. God forbid that any man should repudiate a past experience rich in spiritual blessings for himself and others. Nor would any of us be dishonouring the Holy Spirit of God, whose call led us all to our several ministries, and whose power enabled us to perform them. We shall be publicly and formally seeking additional recognition of a new call to wider service in a reunited Church, and imploring for ourselves God's grace and strength to fulfil the same."
My main point, though, and why I raised it, was to provide some more insight into how consecrations are conducted, and how the succession is maintained (for those who need the succession to be secure). The point is that three bishops are canonically required (there may be more), but succession can be secured through a single bishop.
" If a church, by official decisions, allows persons unqualified to join in the laying on of hands, the status of that church might be called in question by others. I make that point above.
If the principal minister of the rite is unqualified the situation becomes even more problematical. If the principal minister is not even a priest the necessary Eucharistic context of the rite of ordination is called in question."
This is really getting into the area of how many angels can sit on the head of a pin. And despite the protestations that this isn't about "taint," this is clearly saying that an "unqualified person," i.e. a woman, mucks up the succession despite the presence of a gazillion "qualified persons," i.e. men.
If there are guys present, it's succession. Regardless, God's Grace will be present, because God calls these people, including the women. The presence of the guys serves as plenty of accommodation. Good grief.
Mark said: "My main point, though, and why I raised it, was to provide some more insight into how consecrations are conducted, and how the succession is maintained (for those who need the succession to be secure). The point is that three bishops are canonically required (there may be more), but succession can be secured through a single bishop."
Agreed, but I have suggested there is a lack of symmetry between the cases. One is about repairing potential accidental (historic) errors in transmission. I am not sure if that "repair kit" is up to the job when we see a wilful and clearly defined policy to subvert the tradition.
Well said, Rosalind R. It's the walking together that's essential, not walking apart to different consecration ceremonies. I pray that the principles of tolerance which you outline will hold sway with those who will decide this issue.
Many of us do not see ordination and orders as being a pipeline as implied here, nor even an olde boys' club.
I do wish a wider range of views of Orders were here advertised.
Ordination can be apprehended in more rationally.
There is something a little disquieting, imho about the kind of 'pedigree' approach so evident on this thread. And also something unhealthy as well as disquieting about the clear obsession with the Church of Rome, here. I should like more reference to be made to the historic British 'Nonconformist' tradition, and those of other countries.
Otherwise, the whole subject is clouded in a kind of paralysing chauvinism, I sense. Grace seen as something from the remote past to be brought into the present by following certain rules and procedures, rather than
Grace as a present reality.
The Church of England is a hybrid - Catholic-Protestant or Protestant-Catholic. People within it legitimately situate themselves at different points along the spectrum. Provided certain virtuous aims are secured (women bishops, for example, or an end to discrimination against gays), provision should be made for those who in good conscience (because, for example, they are more at the Catholic end of the spectrum) do not accept or are unsure about women bishops (for example). When they consecrate new bishops, that is their show and at the very least it would be bad manners (and rotten politics) to have women bishops clambering in on the act. On the other hand (above), it would be good - and healing - if others could be present. In fraught and complicated political situations it is always unhelpful when the different participants loudly proclaim - or are forced to proclaim - their core principles to the exclusion of other possible principles - like, for example, their desire to remain in the Church of England after the failure of the ordinariate instigated by a rascally pope (for so he was). In the church at large, I think there is now a very widespread desire to make this thing work. Endless debating, as on TA, obscures - and no doubt to some extent frustrates - this reality.
Thank you John.
My impression is that without this last piece of the jigsaw on which FIF is seeking formal understanding, the present plan will, by them, be judged unfit for purpose.
"When they consecrate new bishops, that is their show and at the very least it would be bad manners (and rotten politics) to have women bishops clambering in on the act. On the other hand (above), it would be good - and healing - if others could be present."
'When they consecrate new bishops, that is their show'
But that's the nub of it, isn't it? The consecration of bishops is not a private act of no relevance to anyone else. Bishops are not consecrated to a private club. That's veering towards congregationalism.
This is the difficulty -- to balance (on the one hand) the wish to provide bishops whose ministry will be received by some of our brothers and sisters, with (on the other hand) the wish to express that bishops are consecrated by the whole church (acting through the person of the archbishop with the assistant bishops) and not by a subgroup within the church for their own needs.
So it is not 'their show'. It's the Church's 'show'. How best to organize that? My suggestion follows:
When the archbishop is a man, he should always be principal consecrator (unless prevented by some urgent cause). When the archbishop is a woman, she should appoint the senior diocesan (London in the south, Durham in the north) as her commissary -- or the next most senior male bishop if that bishop is also a woman.
For the unity of the Church there should for the foreseeable future always be at least one male bishop among the three main consecrators, (to provide for people who haven't accepted women bishops, and in particular to ensure that the suggestion in the previous paragraph can continue).
This is not great, for either group. But it might be tolerable for them. And it tries to ensure that consecrations remain an act of the whole church, and that there isn't some private succession which would tend towards increased isolation. We've seen what happens when there are bishops with such isolationist views and -- certainly from the perspective of Anglican unity and witness -- it wasn't a pretty sight.
You can try, Simon. I don't think it will run.
To use computer-speak, it will crash unless it runs in a sandbox.
I may be wrong.
From the progressives point of view, if they really do think history is on their side they would be wise to admit the extra untidiness - it will only last a few years.
On the topic of Ordination, for those wishing to learn more about its history and theology, there is a book by Paul Bradshaw just published. My copy has only just arrived, but it looks worth reading.
Rites of Ordination: their history and theology
Paul Bradshaw, SPCK 2014
Labarum, please expand on what you see as the objection.
What I have suggested provides -- where this is pastorally appropriate -- for all the consecrating bishops to be male.
And it provides for a continued all-male succession for every bishop, thereby not treating an all-male succession as special to some sub-group. (This is the bitter pill for supporters of women bishops to swallow.)
That all-male succession is not always via the principal consecrator (when the Archbishop is female), but via one or more of the bishops-assistant -- which is after all one of the reasons why the assistants are there. (This is the bitter pill for those opposed to women bishops to swallow.)
Shared bitterness -- but hopefully shared sweetness too: the shared sweetness of caring for and being in communion with our brothers and sister across this spectrum. And a shared witness to the wider world of overcoming conflict.
In their own dioceses the Archbishops willingly delegate the ordination of traditional catholic candidates to traditional catholic bishops and priests so ordained are priests of the whole church.
It is no different whatsoever for the Archbishops to willingly delegate the role of chief consecrator to a traditional catholic bishop and the new traditional catholic bishop so ordained would be a bishop of the whole church.
As the Archbishops are willing to delegate the ordination of priests within their own dioceses to suitable traditional catholic bishops it is nonsensical to argue that they shouldn't be willing to delegate the consecration of bishops. Indeed this is entirely in keeping with the spirit of the Bishop's Declaration.
I would be inclined to suggest two additions, or more exactly one modification and one addition, to the proposals made above by my colleague for what the custom should be when a traditionalist catholic is being consecrated bishop
Modification: all three of the principal consecrators should be male.
Addition: a woman should not be consecrated bishop at the same service. (But if at all possible, another man should be included, so that the service is clearly not "only" for traditionalist catholics.)
Note for those outside England: it is common practice in England for bishops to be consecrated in groups of two, or occasionally more.
Simon, as far as I understand the logic of FIF, I apply it:
Your proposal for a female Archbishop to delegate the role of presiding consecrator to the male next in seniority is fine (providing that male bishop is secure in an all male pedigree)
"For the unity of the Church there should for the foreseeable future always be at least one male bishop among the three main consecrators, (to provide for people who haven't accepted women bishops, and in particular to ensure that the suggestion in the previous paragraph can continue)."
For the reasons I have outlined above I do not think that (within their paradigm) it will be possible for FIF to tolerate an unqualified minister among even the outer circle of co-consecrators.
By unqualified minister I mean a female bishop or a male bishop who does not have an all male pedigree.
What has been the practice of traditionalist ordinations to the priesthood? I have never been to one. I would be surprised if a female priest has been allowed to join with the presiding bishop in the laying on of hands.
As I said, Simon, you can try, but I don't think it will run. A clear decision is being taken to change the parameters of episcopal ministry, departing from historic and internationally agreed norms: FIF chooses to continue the old ways and the rest of us have agreed they can have that space to flourish and live alongside with honour and integrity.
Thanks to my colleague for his suggestions, with which I agree. I realize that I wasn't as clear as I should have been, and that I described two situations in my earlier proposal in a way that may have led to confusion between them.
In the case of consecrating a bishop to minister to those who have issues with women bishops, then yes, it would be pastorally appropriate for all the assisting bishops to be male -- indeed not just those who are formally listed, but all those who stretch their hands forward, which can be quite a few. (I have been at a consecration where there were at least a couple of dozen such bishops from all round the Communion, and I had a discussion afterwards with one bishop who had arrived late and sat in the congregation instead of up front, but still wanted to claim being a co-consecrator; he's a commenter here.)
So my proposal about appointing a male commissary as principal consecrator when the archbishop is a women was about getting around the fact that the archbishop should normally always be the principal consecrator, whilst not taking away from them the legal right, only the sacramental.
My second point -- that at least one of the main consecrators, those who physically lay hands on the head of the bishop-elect, should be a man -- was suggested for other consecrations: those of bishops who do not take issue with women bishops, and/or who will minister in that context. Such consecrations should not be, not yet anyway, by a female archbishop assisted only by other female bishops. There should be at least one, maybe more, male bishops involved and actually laying hands on the bishop-elect.
The reason for this second point is so that those who have an issue with women bishops are able to accept that all bishops are actually bishops, properly ordained and consecrated, and that the episcopal acts of such bishops -- in particular their ordinations of priests -- are also able to be accepted, at least where the bishop being ordained is male.
We really want to try and avoid the situation where 'lines of succession' have to be intimately examined.
This requires some goodwill on either side. Goodwill of women bishops and their supporters not to insist that it is an insult (or worse) to them. And goodwill by those who take issue with women bishops, that they will accept that just because a women bishop has taken part in the consecration does not invalidate it. (But this is only suggested for consecrations of those not having issues with women bishops; it would be al men for consecrations of those who do.)
'a traditional catholic bishop'
Phrases like this suddenly appear without warning or explanation. I wish you would stop !
Borrowed from Rome or an imitation of Rome i suppose, but chauvinistic and divisive in an anglican context, as in an RC context.
Also dismissive of those deemed to be outside this marker. But the Church is Catholic, the whole Church and not just some ecclesiastical party within it. I have to say that I find this use of the word 'catholic' and the phrase above, and similar phrases condescending and insulting to those deemed to be apart from the Catholic Church- whoever they may be. The anglo-catholic party has much for which to answer.
They must not get their own way on the episcopate and women - not again.
There must never be Consecrations or other Ordinations held by and for FiF or the anti-WO party. No way.
Remember what happened under the PEVs at Ebbsfleet and elsewhere? That should be salutary, and a warning; and must never be allowed to happen again.
I have myself, been part of the anglo-catholic set-up for much of my life, so my criticisms come from that background.
Just ask, 'What would Michael Ramsey do ?'
Laurie, that is precisely why some care must be taken to see how the catholic tradition of "Apostolical Succession" (advanced as a rallying cry of what became the Oxford Movement by JH Newman in Tract 1 and John Keble in Tract 4 of the Tracts for the Times) has been embodied and understood within the Church of England over time. There are ordained women who may yet become bishops who would understand succession in a "traditional catholic" way. The issues of which you write have been caused by serious ecclesiastical and episcopal novelties for the Church of England, the consequences of which have not been understood - especially by those who have sat light to the catholic tradition, and have not understood the symbolic meaning the changes have had within that tradition.
Mark, please unpack that some more.
Arthur Couratin, who had a colourful way with words, used to say "Apostolical Succession: its not about hands on heads, it's about arses on thrones."
The nomenclature is difficult - you will note higher up the page that I reference the "Latin and Byzantine Rites" rather than "Catholic and Orthodox", and I have avoided "Traditional Catholic" for "Traditionalist".
The opposite of "catholic" is "heretic", of "orthodox", "heterodox". Those churches that try to claim exclusive use of the positive terms overplay their hand - the trouble is, we understand the usage and it's too easy to fall in with it. The terminology, of course, may define the outcome of the discussion. And Anglican use of the term "Roman" for the Latin and associated rites sometimes upsets their adherents -"The Catholic Church" they are not, only a broken fragment of it.
And yet in a discussions like this current one we do need to use terminology accurately and dispassionately. If it is believed by some that a particular minister is defective, then that's the word we must use to describe the situation; and where words like "taint" which have precise meaning are used sloppily as general slurs to muddy the waters, then we need to correct the usage.
The CoE is in trouble the minute it accommodates minority superstitions. The idea of excluding women bishops from consecrations will perpetuate humiliation of women and clearly put them in an inferior position.
All it takes is having a diverse group consecrating, including men, of course. That does it. That keeps the succession going, that consecrates male bishops by male bishops.
To disallow women to participate, or to be consecrated in the same group as men and whatnot subscribes to the "theology of taint." I call it the "cootie doctrine" but it doesn't seem to translate across the pond.
If women bishops, as a pastoral matter, decide not to participate, that is fine. But if their exclusion is forced, then it perpetuates discrimination and makes them 2nd class bishops.
Sorry to both Simon's, but those solutions are discriminatory and theologically unnecessary.
Emotive arguments help no one.
To describe a rational school of theology a "minority superstition" makes reasonable discourse near impossible.
The minority view in the CofE is the majority view in the whole (international) Church.
Thank you Simon (both of you) for trying to tease out some detail of what might prove an acceptable way forward on this issue. I agree with much of what you state as your aims, but I fear that some parts of your proposals appear to work against those aims and against at least one of the 5 principles, and on this I find myself in agreement with Laurie and Cynthia.
As I said a great deal earlier in this thread, the most regrettable development in the past 20 years has been the emergence of separate Chrism masses. Whilst I can understand the concerns over sacramental assurance that gave rise to them, they became traditionalist jamborees at which dissenters from several dioceses could celebrate their apartness and thumb their noses at their proper dioceses and bishops. We must ensure that nothing similar emerges regarding consecrations.
There has already been a foretaste of what might happen in June 2011, when two PEVs were consecrated together in Southwark Cathedral. That was turned into a dissenting jamboree for the whole of the southern province, and was followed by a celebratory lunch and then Solemn Evensong and Benediction at St Alban's Holborn at which, according to their house journal, the new bishops were able to cast off their protestant robes of rochet and chimere and put on their proper catholic attire!
Much mischief flowed from that event, and we must ensure that nothing similar is allowed to happen under the new proposals.
"The minority view in the CofE is the majority view in the whole (international) Church."
Really? In the US, all of the mainline Protestant denominations (save Southern Baptist) now have women clergy. That leaves only the Romans and Mormons among major Christian groups in this country without women clergy.
Besides, I always thought one of the points of Anglicanism was locally adopted canons.
"Really? In the US, all of the mainline Protestant denominations (save Southern Baptist) now have women clergy."
Yes, really. Look at the world wide figures, not the perception within the USA.
The RCs count for 1.2 Billion of the world's 2 billion or so Christians, even without counting the various strains of Orthodoxy the majority view is well established. The Oriental Orthodox number more than the Anglicans.
The Lambeth-Chicago Quadrilateral speaks of the historic episcopate locally adapted: the present argument turns on the question of when a local adaptation becomes an illegitimate adaptation.
And since this current discussion is about the parameters of episcopal ministry, I am not sure that the membership numbers of the non-episcopal churches figure in the arithmetic.
None of that changes the fact that the minority view in the CofE continues to be the majority view in the whole Church.
Obviously, Cynthia's language is not right.
Obviously, Malcolm's information gives great cause for concern. I take it that there are 'traditionalists' who do not approve of such behaviour.
Labarum - I have spent a lot of time on this thread, and have made the point I was intending to make. I agree that the language is tricky - particularly the use of the word 'catholic', which has a number of different meanings and uses. In fact The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church lists five main meanings, aside from simply universal. "The opposite of 'heretic'" is not the whole meaning.
"I take it that there are 'traditionalists' who do not approve of such behaviour."
I guess there are. I know there are. I am not a member of FIF. I can only describe myself as a crossbencher with serious reservations on all sides. Bottom line: in principle, yes; but we shouldn't have done it. Without general consent we surrendered the claim to be maintaining and continuing the historic ministry which the Lambeth Quadrilateral declares essential to the nature of Anglicanism.
For those outside the UK:
Re Malcolm's comment: the parish in which I live and worship was for 20 years an A/B/C place. I entirely agree that the isolationist view which this made possible, and which seemed to be encouraged by the then PEVs was -- shall we say -- unhelpful. (And to cross threads, it would certainly be easy to see myself as having been sidelined and even on occasion bullied by the then incumbent and lay leaders.) We should try very hard indeed not to put in place structures that would lead to that happening again. That is indeed the context from which I was writing in making my suggestions above.
The other side of that same coin is that I want to continue to worship with people with whom I disagree on this topic; I don't want them to feel that they must leave (though obviously some have done so, including in the parish where I am now churchwarden). But in principle we should be able to be generous, though I appreciate that as a lay man it's perhaps easy for me to be generous with episcopal women's standing.
The route through this is to be as generous as we can be and if there must be pain to make sure it's not all borne by one group.
Labarum is right only if we assume that all the members of the various churches agree with the position taken by those who lead them. The truth is that many RC(and, I suspect Orthodox)Christians would like to see women ordained - I am married to a Catholic who feels this way and have met many more RCs who think likewise. How many of those around the world are of the same view (or have never given it any thought, but if the issue was raised would be in favour)? While there are Anglicans who are opposed to the ordination of women, their voices are heard and represented in the discussion (often disproportionately). There is no real forum for lay RC's to make their feelings known, (yet), so we really can't say what their view would be.
"That leaves only the Romans and Mormons among major Christian groups in this country without women clergy."
Are you suggesting there are no Easterrn Orthodox churches in your country or are you breaking the rather startling news that they have begun ordaining women?
Mark, it is this sentence in particular that I find needs elucidation:
"The issues of which you write have been caused by serious ecclesiastical and episcopal novelties for the Church of England, the consequences of which have not been understood - especially by those who have sat light to the catholic tradition, and have not understood the symbolic meaning the changes have had within that tradition."
And yes, both "catholic" and "orthodox" have a variety of meanings. I have a problem with those communities that try to claim their exclusive use, especially since those outside their number, by implication, are described by the opposite.
"Labarum is right only if we assume that all the members of the various churches agree with the position taken by those who lead them."
Or course. We cannot say how numbers would fall out of an international referendum.
My guess is that among the RCs in the British Isles there would be a strong vote for married priests, yet it might fall short of 50%. My guess is that votes for women priests and bishops might be less forthcoming. Has anyone attempted a scientific survey anywhere?
And it is true that Anglican Synods make more voices heard; but there is much grumbling in the pews about activists spoiling the way things used to be!
Too difficult to know what the faithful truly think; yet it is a useful caution to note that what is seen as a clear majority view in the USA and UK is far from clear in the whole (international) Church.
The statement of guiding principles annexed to GS Misc 1064 here
references a "broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God"
Show me evidence of that process in Episcopal Churches outside the Anglican Communion.
"Obviously, Cynthia's language is not right." When I said "The CoE is in trouble the minute it accommodates minority superstitions."
Actually, my language is quite precise in that the whole thrust of the traditionalist argument rests on the "theology of taint" (despite Labarum's protests to the contrary), and that theology is absolute rubbish.
Succession is maintained and the sacrament assured (to most traditionalists) by the presence of guys doing the consecrations. The idea that the presence and participation of women negates the Grace of God is pure superstition. There's an ancient doctrine that the character of the priest or bishop (say a pedophile, for a modern example) doesn't render the sacraments invalid. If the sacrament is robust enough that it is valid in the hands of murderers, pedophiles, philanderer's, thieves, etc., then God is certainly not so stingy as to withhold Grace because some of his/her female servants are present.
Re: the Orthodox. I was raised Greek Orthodox. The laity have no power or influence at all, and I can assure you that plenty of Eastern Orthodox members do not agree with the exclusion of women. So when traditionalists draw upon the "international church" being the RC's and Orthodox, they are talking about a small club of leadership that is protected from any challenge to ancient misunderstandings or any new revelation.
Cynthia says: 'The idea that the presence and participation of women negates the Grace of God is pure superstition.'
I think it is possible to construct a coherent argument, even if it is not one that you or I might agree with.
One might argue that inherent to the validity of the ordination is the intention of those participating. And if their intention is sufficiently different, then it calls into question that validity. So if one says that having a woman ordaining or consecrating is 'sufficiently different' then one might claim that it follows that everyone who participates in such an ordination has an intention sufficiently different, and therefore call the validity of the ordination into question.
I think that is subtly different from 'taint' at least as commonly understood.
For the avoidance of doubt, I'll repeat that it's not an argument I agree with; but I think it's an argument that needs to be addressed.
Labarum - what I meant by the symbolic thing - broadly - was, as an example, that the PEVs appear to have been intended to exercise a pastoral role within dioceses, but the dynamic from the catholic tradition was to gather a church around them and pattern the the relationships in relation to the PEVs rather than the dioceses in which they were acting as assistants.
"I think that is subtly different from 'taint' at least as commonly understood."
I appreciate the effort to address the other side of things. But the difference is rather subtle. I keep bringing up the ancient doctrine that really should answer the other side.
Ultimately it is a question of Faith, isn't it? The talk about "intention" and whatnot being able to bring an ordination into question.
I'm as Anglo-Catholic as they come. For me, the smells and bells and its deep symbolism help me connect more powerfully to God and my fellow travelers. But I don't believe for a second that the absence of smells and bells (and fussy ordinations, consecrations, and vestments) = the absence of God. Our acts don't invoke God. God doesn't withhold Grace and Love based on such things. These things are for us, God doesn't need them!
I guess what is at stake is how CoE envisions God, how it relates to God, how it brings the Good News to the People of God. Some of what I'm hearing sounds like pure superstition, and it takes the Good News away from women.
You're not helping here. Your language was/is offensive. It's not in the least bit 'subtle'. Neither you nor Father Ron seem able to accept that in the C of E there are people just as liberal as yourself, just as committed to women priests and women bishops, who yet want people such as Labarum (and Father David and Benedict and the supporters of 'Better Together', who include leading FiF people) to be happy within our church (which actually isn't your church).
The Eastern Orthodox represent a very small percentage of Christians in the US.
And, as others here have noted, whether the actual church-going members of any denomination agree with the positions of their leaders is an unknown quantity. I suspect most of them, if polled anonymously, would have no opinion whatsoever, beyond "I'm happy with the rector/pastor/minister in my own local church."
No one has talked about why this matters so much, why it matters to actually achieve equality for women, even as CoE struggles to make provisions for a subset of "traditionalists."
The moral issue of our time in the 21st Century is equality in all sorts of guises. Most of all economic. In the area of gender, the UN Millennium Goals includes a lot about educating and empowering women. Why focus on women? Because the more women prosper, the more society prospers. Empowering women is a major road out of extreme poverty. Right now, internationally, the oppression of women is extreme and horrible.
Can anyone argue that Jesus didn't come to the impoverished and oppressed? Didn't he have angry words for the power establishment for oppressing others?
If we can't get this right in the church, how can we spread that Good News to others? How can we talk of justice and mercy for the poor when we don't grant it to our own wives and daughters?
I see that there is a lot at stake. I see so much possibility. These decisions mean a lot. Is the CoE going to collapse inward and keep it a private club? Is it going to take the path of moral courage and share that with the world?
It's your choice. But I do wish the choice was made with a larger view of the Promised Land. Is for all, or just the people with clout? This question is going to be asked and answered in many, many ways this century. What does CoE have to contribute?
My wife is half Cypriot and Greek Orthodox. Her Grandfather was a Greek Orthodox priest. Now I am retired we live half the year in my wife's family house in a village on the outskirts of Nicosia, just 100 yards from the church where she was baptised. The most of the local folk (for all their veneer of western sophistication) would be horrified at the thought of a woman priest or bishop. The Orthodox in the USA may have embraced the values of the liberal western community, but the Orthodox in the Middle East have not. It takes them all their time to accept me - a male priest with no beard who does not always wear a cassock.
To what extent were these matters culturally rather than theologically driven?
The landscape looks very different when you leave North America and the British Isles. Unchallengeable norms can become eccentric minority opinions.
A little story:
One Sunday after a Common Worship Eucharist in St Paul's Cathedral, Nicosia (it sounds grand, but it's a 120 seater "The English Church".) I was talking to an Armenian man from the Lebanon who now lives with his family in Nicosia and works for The Bible Society in the Middle East. He had just come back from a business trip to the USA. He told me he had been asked on entry by the passport inspector. "You say you are a Christian. When did you convert?" My jaw dropped. I said to the Armenian "I hope you told him your family had been Christian for at least 1700 years."
These parochial discussions really do need a broader context.
Thanks to William Tighe for drawing attention to: Accipe Spiritum Sanctum: Historical Essays on the Agreements of Bonn and Meissen by Brian Taylor (1995, Guildford: St. Thomas's Trust; ISBN: 0-9520140-3-3) - aside from anything else it identifies some key material on succession through the history of the Church of England, as well as giving some detail of Old Catholic participation in consecrations.
Here's a question, Labarum: when at Orthodox services, are you offered (full) communion?
"Here's a question, Labarum: when at Orthodox services, are you offered (full) communion?"
I have never asked. I know what the answer would be. And your point?
I don't often attend, although one of the three churches within a few hundred yards of our house celebrates the liturgy once a month in English.
My wife practices mostly as an Anglican though will occasionally receive, with the lady next door, at the Greek Liturgy after observing the customary fast.
On one United Nations Peacekeeping tour as a chaplain in the British Army I did regularly concelebrate at the Roman Rite; and at an ordination of priests on that tour was dragged forward from the ranks of the concelebrants to assist in the laying on of hands. I'm sure it was irregular, but the Cardinal and the Apostolic delegate were watching.
Yes, I know where all the problems lie.
I didn't see an earlier response of mine appear here.
John said "You're not helping here. Your language was/is offensive." And he wanted to say that plenty of liberals in CoE want a way for traditionalists to stay. And John made it clear that CoE isn't my church.
So my response is.
1. I'm sorry that I am not buying the theology of "taint," which is what is behind the idea of separate consecrations. The doctrine that says that sacraments are valid regardless of the character of the celebrant(s) is ancient. Thus, having men at all ordinations and consecrations satisfies both succession and the validity of the sacrament. The idea of "taint" = superstition. It is not sound theology or doctrine. Sorry that's offensive.
2. All of the people arguing for the provision of separate consecrations are male. This again raises the specter of men dictating to women what we MUST accept, whether we like it or not, whether it is just or not, whether it is sound theology or not. I'm sorry, you need at least 51 percent of the female vote or this is oppression.
3. Rowan and Sentamu came to TEC's General Convention to lobby against inclusion. Clearly, they don't think CoE is just their church. But I'm OK if we separate a bit more…
Finally, I said that there is a larger issue here. The moral issue of the 21st Century is equality. Therefore it is vitally important for the church to get it right, and have the credibility to spread the Good News to those in need of hearing it. If CoE chooses a path that makes women 2nd class bishops and continues humiliation, that isn't the Good News.
Honestly, ordinations and consecrations will not be invalidated by the participation of women. The presence of guys participating is all that's needed. Really. Excluding women invalidates the justice and equality that the vast majority is yearning for. To invalidate the equality piece over bad theology just seems so unnecessary.
It's going to be hard enough to work out the pastoral and administrative issues. Making up new theology, the "taint" idea, makes that harder.
Obviously, I am interested in the degree to which inter-Church barriers may be ignored/sidelined in practice and in what sort of contexts. Obviously also, as a brash 'liberal', I am not overly scrupulous in these matters. My fairly extensive experience is that RC priests in Germany and France just don't care. This is sometimes made absolutely explicit, if I introduce myself as an Anglican. On Greek islands, mostly, (where also my experience is pretty extensive) non-Orthodox are welcomed with open arms; ordinary Greek islanders (not effete intellectuals like myself) seem to find intercommunion barriers odd and untenable. Same goes for the laity in Italy. Same goes for RCs (whether Brits or foreign) when they attend communions in C of E churches. So I tentatively conclude that 'authorities' are out of sync with their people and - often - their priests. I agree it is/may be different with women priests. I seek to coerce no one here.
Thank you Simon K for sharing your experience of an A/B/C parish, which almost exactly mirrors my own. Only almost exactly, because you were eventually successful in bringing about change (well done) whereas I was repeatedly unsuccessful and found it necessary to leave for a more open parish. I agree with the rest of what you say in that post, but I found your later post, where you developed an argument to counter the accusations of taint, a bit too sophisticated for me (and I note that you do not agree with it yourself). The only way I can find to address that argument is to say that it is wrong, and is in fact closely related to the collegiality argument which was used to justify the separate Chrism masses in the first place.
The extraordinary length of this thread shows that the Steering Group have a very difficult task trying to find a way through this issue. They need our prayers!
"I am interested in the degree to which inter-Church barriers may be ignored/sidelined in practice"
The Autocephalous Church of Cyprus is far from being the most liberal in Christendom! It arises in part from the defensive politics of a divided island.
In my Armed Forces career I spend some time on a NATO Peackeeping mission in Macedonia (FYROM) and found the Orthodox clergy there much more relaxed. Macedonia is another Autocephalous Church. I was never free on a Sunday, and the problems of complex rite and language would have beaten me, but the Saturday after 9/ll I stood in cassock and stole in a semi-circle with the other priest while they say the Office of the Dead. I then said memorial prayers in English. There were American-Macedonians present with families affected in New York. The "Dean" of Skopje Cathedral was Australian.
I can't say about the French, but the Germans are fairly relaxed, It was once said to me "What the Vatican doesn't know about, the Vatican can't get upset about." In the UK I have found matters more rigid.
The Angola experience was interesting in that, although I had been concelebrating at some very public events, and even at the right of a bishop, at this ordination where the diocesan was chief celebrant and the cardinal and Apostolic Delegate were present I hung back. I am 6ft3in tall, but a black priest bigger that me stepped forward, grabbed me very firmly by the shoulders and dragged me into line saying "Come on, Father, the Anglicans are our cousins." Now I understood there was considerable mileage in the hierarchy displaying the United Nations Chaplain among their number but there was also a real desire to see me incorporated.
Break here . . .
Continued . . .
And, by the way, John, I would class myself a liberal catholic - in liturgy would describe myself as a "Bauhaus Minimalist", nevertheless I do believe we called badly the issue here being discussed. "In principle, yes; but we should not have done it."
In Angola I got to know quite well the Secretary of the Bishop's Conference - we were both liberal catholics and very very close on most issues. On the question of the ordination of women he said "You're running the pilot scheme for us". Well how well has it gone?
Mark Bennet (and others),
There is also information on these matters in *Reuniting Anglicans and Rome: Documents - Issues - Progress (a special issue of The Messenger of the Catholic League);* No 254, October 1994; ISBN: 0-85191-296-6. Some of the information in this booklet is not replicated in Fr Taylor's essays, but the historical information in the latter is more ample and complete.
"You're running the pilot scheme for us". Well how well has it gone?"
If the objection is the uncertainly of the efficacy of the sacraments - how would you know?
Thank you, Labarum, all very interesting.
Cynthia, I fully agree Williams and Wright were invasive and crude. I often said so at the time.
"If the objection is the uncertainly of the efficacy of the sacraments - how would you know?"
I don't think that is what was in his mind. Like me he would tend to the view that, in principle, there was no theological problem, provided general consent could be achieved. In other words, would the development be received by a strong majority of the faithful in all those churches claiming to maintain the historic three fold ministry?
The problem is that a "pilot scheme" mounted by part of the church without even the tacit agreement of most of the church is likely to run into objections that would not otherwise arise.
Is that not what we have found?
(And we need to bear mind that it was just a throwaway line in general conversation.)
if there is no theological problem, why do we need general consent?
Each individual church has its own Canons and discernment procedures.
I can accept that some do not agree with the discernment. And I fully support provisions to keep FiF etc. within the CoE.
But to say that we need the agreement (100%? 2/3 majority? 51%?) of all the churches in the world is nothing but a recipe for guaranteed stagnation.
And if we accept the possibility that God might actively be calling women into ministry, I would even call it deliberate disobedience against what we believe to be his will.
Folks are skirting the issue. If the women don't agree, then the "provision" is oppression, injustice, and inequality perpetuated. Just dressed up a bit to look nicer to the outraged public.
As for the RC and Orthodox churches, Anglicans broke off from Rome for a reason. As for the Orthodox, my particular Greek strain, coming from Plomari, Lesvos, is chock full of independent minded women who do not buy into the orthodoxy of male supremacy. I wonder how readily they would bother to share that information with Anglos?
"If there is no theological problem, [an opinion expressed in a conversation between two] why do we need general consent?"
Because the lack of general consent raises other theological problems. At what point does a particular church cease to be doing what the whole church does?
"Each individual church has its own Canons and discernment procedures."
But not the right to commit apostasy. I have already said that this discussion turns on when the "local adaptation" of the Lambeth Quadrilateral becomes an illegitimate adaptation. Reducing the qualifying age for each of the orders of ministry by two years may be judged an acceptable local adaptation; but reducing it to 8 years for all orders might not be so judged.
The CofE and some other parts of the Anglican Communion first ruled that the proposed changes to the parameters of ministry were not of substantial nature and then legislated for them.
It is true that waiting for general consent would have delayed the innovation in part of the church significantly. It may also be true the precipitate action by a few has delayed general consent in the whole church, and therefore frustrated the ends of the innovators.
You and I are on the same side. Nevertheless, when you argue, you caricature the issues. The category confusions, the slides/elisions can hardly begin to be enumerated. It's not right.
"At what point does a particular church cease to be doing what the whole church does"
At the point those charged with discernment in that church, through the approved processes decide that this is what it will be doing.
And, yes, others may see that as apostasy. It's one of those words, like heretic and bigot that are used too often and not always appropriately.
Those charged with discernment and who are using the channels prescribed by their church for that discernment would not say they are committing apostasy. They are not suddenly breaking with the tradition of their church, they are developing it further.
And while it might be interesting to see whether other churches are of the same view, it is ultimately irrelevant. The break between the various Catholic churches and the others has been made many centuries ago. It did not take women's ordination for the Roman Catholics to declare Anglican orders as null and void. And Rome, too, has developed its own understanding without asking anyone else or waiting for their approval. I do not recall ever hearing the argument that Rome must renounce Papal infallibility and some of the Mary doctrines because the church committed apostasy when it adopted them.
The CoE has absolutely no compelling reason for delaying to answer God's call to it just because other churches are not sharing that discernment.
Provisions for FiF are right from within the CoE, they are not right because other churches agree or disagree with what the church is doing.
And, really, the other churches are responsible for their own discernment. One must assume that their processes allow them to interpret what God is saying to them. To suggest that they might spitefully delay something new just because someone else did it first without waiting for them makes them sound rather petulant and not focused on following God alone. I don't really want to entertain that possibility seriously.
Each church should be focused on God and on what it genuinely believes God to be asking from it. A church that had discerned that God is actively calling women to ministry yet did not act on it because other churches were not hearing the same message would be wilfully disobedient to God's will. That would be far more serious than not waiting until all the others had caught up.
"And while it might be interesting to see whether other churches are of the same view, it is ultimately irrelevant."
I cannot agree, because I believe I belong to the whole church and not just part of it.
""If there is no theological problem, [an opinion expressed in a conversation between two] why do we need general consent?"
Because the lack of general consent raises other theological problems. At what point does a particular church cease to be doing what the whole church does?"
Didn't we answer that question some 500 years ago with the Reformation? When first the Lutherans and then so many others declared that they owed no allegiance to the Bishop of Rome?
""Each individual church has its own Canons and discernment procedures."
But not the right to commit apostasy."
Should have included this in my previous post--I am reminded of a comment by Benjamin Franklin in the musical "1776":
"All revolutions are illegal in the third person--their revolution; it is only in the first person--our revolution--that they are legal."
I suggest the same may be true of apostasy and heresy.
but you only ever engage with one of my points not with the whole thrust of the argument.
The Reformation is one aspect, the fact that Rome committed "apostasy" when it introduced several major innovations after the split of that mythical universal church is another.
This church does not actually exist. It is only ever rolled out when people try to stop their own church from doing something new.
And my main point is that we should be God focused on focused on each other. If we genuinely believe that God is calling women to the priesthood, individual people who hear that call and want to answer it - then we are being wilfully disobedient if we procrastinate because we are putting other churches ahead of God's will. It's completely the wrong focus.
"If we genuinely believe that God is calling women to the priesthood . . ."
Then why is this call only being heard effectively in one tiny part of the church, and in a particular culture?
My suggestion that what appears as a majority view in a tiny part of the church is a minority view in the whole of the church has not been entertained here; neither has my suggestion that the issue may be driven by changing cultural norms seen in only part of the world.
The matter, even in the very conservative Church of Cyprus, is not as closed as some might think. One of the best cantors in the parish in which I live is a woman - there are growing number.
But on the central issue, in the middle east where I spend half the year the response is likely to be "Woman Papas? What!" And that from women who show a fierce independence of mind, who do indeed rule their households.
The more you understand the culture, the funnier is the movie "My big fat Greek wedding."
I note the observations made on this thread about the Roman Church. It is necessary to look to the Eastern Rites too - and they are way over the horizon for many. The Latin Rite Christians are likely to change their mind on the issue faster than the Easterners. But we all have responsibilities to each other.
O yes, "The Church" does exist.
So an 'acceptable way of proceeding' regarding consecrations is 'essential.' For what its worth, I think FiF will not be alone in finding that the guidance issued will be critical to the smooth passage of the legislation, albeit from a different perspective. For example, there is a world of difference in one party freely choosing freely to abstain from an activity (eg consecration) when it causes another conscientious difficulties, compared to their absence being forcibly demanded. One rests on grace and mutual respect, the other on isolation and intolerance. A church demanding that certain bishops MUST be excluded from certain consecrations, risks segregating, belittling and demeaning them, constantly implying that their orders are suspect. It will also diminish our capacity as a church to work together as closely as our differences allow. If that is what FiF are seeking ( and I'm sincerely hoping that its not, certainly this article doesn't state what solution is being sought), then I suspect there are significant number of men and women, lay and ordained, who would find the implications for church unity, ecclesiological integrity and the theology of grace, (not to mention the spiritual emotional and mental wellbeing of women) ultimately untenable. Just a thought...