Tuesday, 16 December 2014

The Society announces a process for priests to register

The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has announced a process whereby priests in sympathy with the society can register. This is explained by Colin Podmore in this article, which also appears in the Advent newsletter. The following is taken from the website of the Bishop of Beverley:

Priests of The Society
Colin Podmore encourages priests to sign up and make the Society Declaration.

Catholics believe that both women and men are called to different ministries in the Church. But for theological reasons, we are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women as priests (presiding at the Eucharist) or bishops (ordaining priests to preside at the Eucharist).

So when the Church of England has women bishops, how can we know that a priest has been ordained by a bishop whose sacramental ministry of ordination we do recognise? How can we be confident that when he celebrates the Eucharist, we really do receive the sacrament of Our Lord’s Body and Blood?

The need to offer an easy answer to that question of ‘sacramental assurance’ is one of the reasons why our bishops have formed The Society. As it says on the Society website, the Society provides ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’.

Priests are now invited to make a Declaration which says that they:

  • believe and teach the catholic faith
  • are currently entitled to minister as a priest in the Church of England*
  • have been ordained by a male bishop in the apostolic succession of bishops at whose ordination male bishops presided
  • will themselves not receive or join in the sacramental ministry of women priests and bishops or those whom they have ordained
  • will place themselves personally under the oversight of a Bishop of The Society (although they will remain under the legal jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop).

When the relevant Bishop of the Society receives a Declaration from a priest, he will welcome him as a Priest of The Society. The Welcome Letter will serve as proof that the priest is someone whose sacramental ministry we can receive with confidence.

Of course, there will still be validly ordained priests who are not Priests of The Society. Clergy (and, during vacancies, churchwardens) will need to ask some delicate questions about their orders before inviting them to say mass. With Priests of The Society, that research will not be necessary.

Catholic parishes naturally want as their priest someone who is in full communion not only with his bishop, but with all the priests whom that bishop has ordained, and who will support the resolutions passed by the PCC. When advertising for, or interviewing, potential new parish priests, asking them whether they are Priests of The Society will be an easy way of finding out where they stand.

Being a Priest of The Society costs nothing, although the bishops hope that priests and people of The Society will join Forward in Faith, because it is the membership organization which administers The Society on their behalf, and helps to pay for it. Being a priest of The Society involves only the basic obligations of relating to one of our bishops, and looking to him for sacramental ministry we can no longer find elsewhere.

So if a priest has not made the Declaration and become a Priest of The Society, why not?

There is further information on this page, which is copied below the fold.

Priests of The Society

One of the most important purposes of The Society is to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which our people can have confidence - in other words, to offer ‘sacramental assurance’. Registering priests as Priests of The Society is the mechanism for doing this.

Priests are not being registered as ‘members of The Society’ (The Society is not a membership organization), but as priests whose ministry can be commended because they are male priests ordained by a bishop in the male historic succession. Registration is about sacramental assurance - not membership.

The ministry of priests who are not entitled to minister in the Church of England (because they hold no office and have no licence or permission to officiate) cannot be commended to or received by our parishes, so they cannot be registered as Priests of The Society. If a Priest of The Society ceases to be entitled to minister in the Church of England, the Declaration that he has signed obliges him to inform the relevant member of the Council of Bishops of The Society immediately.

In order to become a Priest of The Society, a priest makes a Declaration and sends it to the relevant member of the Council of Bishops. In response, the bishop sends him a Welcome Letter. In the letter, the bishop tells the priest to retain the letter and show it to anyone who wants confirmation of his status as a Priest of The Society. (This might be an incumbent or priest in charge who needs priestly assistance, a churchwarden during a vacancy, or someone involved in making a parochial appointment.)

The Declaration contains no rule of life and nothing about priestly fellowship or mission. The Society is not a priestly society, and it does not fulfil the functions of societies like the Society of the Holy Cross or the Company of Mission Priests. Registration as a Priest of The Society is not about membership, fellowship, holiness or mission. It is simply a way of identifying priests who can minister in parishes that are affiliated to The Society without the need for research about the nature of the priest’s Orders.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 9:48pm GMT | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

One wonders if the more recognised SSC will endorse this?

They surely have the prior claim and have supported the catholic and more recently anti-women constituency since the mid 19th century. This new Society seems unnecessary as all they claim for themselves in terms of easy recognition is already so for SSC, and the core spirituality of SSC is so much more to be encouraged. The other lot seem just about giving some status to a few men.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 10:36pm GMT

Suppose I were ordained by a bishop who doesn't fulfil the requirements of the Society and then I changed my view. I would have to be re-ordained by a "Society" bishop. But it surely is not within the rules for one Anglican bishop to ordain someone already legally ordained by another? Has this been thought about?

Posted by: Turbulent priest on Tuesday, 16 December 2014 at 11:34pm GMT

Oy vey!

As an evangelical Anglican, I find it hard to recognize ANY aspect of my theology of ordination in this statement - even without the things it has to say about the ordination of women.

Posted by: Tim Chesterton on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 12:21am GMT

"How can we be confident that when he celebrates the Eucharist, we really do receive the sacrament of Our Lord’s Body and Blood?"

This seems overly-scrupulous to me. Surely Augustine established that the validity of the sacraments is not dependent upon the piety, or even the orthodoxy, of the priest who administers them? Surely this was the whole point of the Donatist controversy?

Posted by: rjb on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 12:38am GMT

Martin: there are priests who are members of the SSC who would not qualify under the Society's rules.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 8:07am GMT

'Will place themselves personally under the oversight of a Bishop of The Society (although they will remain under the legal jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop)'. I think I know what 'legal jurisdiction' means but what does 'personally under the oversight of a Bishop' mean? What would examples of that be? And can any priest in the Church of England decide to place him/herself personally under the oversight of a bishop other than their diocesan bishop?

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 8:07am GMT

Oh, I didn't realise that.
I am grateful to you Simon.

Posted by: Martin Reynolds on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 8:13am GMT

rjb,
much as I detest the theology, it is not Donatism. The sacraments may not depend on the piety or orthodoxy of a priest but they do depend on the priest being ordained. And if you believe that women cannot be ordained, then this appalling theology makes sense.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 8:53am GMT

This seems to be yet another symptom of a rapidly Balkanising church. Who will be left when these folks go off into their encapsulated space and the extreme Evangelicals do likewise? Perhaps, DV, people more attentive to the Gospel and the needs of this broken world than their own fixation with ritual purity!

Posted by: Cassandra on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 9:10am GMT

What about those priests and bishops, ordained and consecrated by men who also ordain and consecrate women? Are they also tainted?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 9:16am GMT

What sort of parallel universe does this priestly society inhabit? Surely the Church of England can do better than this! 'Sacramental Assurance' seems to have discounted the Wind of The Spirit in its need of gender-based ministry. One wonders how the B.V.M. would have managed to bring forth the Saviour under such conditions.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 9:20am GMT

"And if you believe that women cannot be ordained"

Erika, I believe that kind of gender essentialism is, itself, heterodoxy (though not sacramentally-invalidating, obviously!).

God calls ***persons*** (Imago Dei, male&female) to ordination, in the same way God calls ***two persons*** to marriage. Imposing divisive terms like "gay marriage" or "ordained women", designed to segregate (and subjugate), is nothing less than blasphemy against God's Imago Dei.

St Wilfred and St Hilda must be rolling in their sainted graves over this atrocious misrepresentation of their names by this outfit. Kyrie eleison!

Posted by: JCF on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 9:49am GMT

I did not know it was traditional or catholic for priests personally to choose the bishops under whose oversight they work. Perhaps those who drew up this declaration could give examples of precedents.

Posted by: Savi Hensman on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 10:14am GMT

Richard Ashby,
if I understand correctly the sacramental assurance of male bishops who ordain women is not in doubt, so theoretically, conservative Anglo-Catholics can accept them.
Conservative Evangelicals won't.....

Posted by: Erika Baker on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 10:39am GMT

There are two things mixed up here. One is a register of those priests who wish to have an easy unambiguous way of demonstrating to any to whom this matters that his ordination was by a male Bishop who was ordained and consecrated by male Bishops. Most TA readers' jaws drop at this idea but nevertheless it is an approach which the C of E has holds legitimate. The other is declaring himself catholic, undertaking never to receive Communion from a woman priest and putting himself under the oversight of a particular Bishop who shares his own views. It isn't clear to me why the first requires the second; there must actually be some priests who would like to do the first and not the second. To be precise: producing your certificate to say you are a priest member of the Society is not simply demonstrating to any to whom this matters that his ordination was by a male Bishop who was ordained and consecrated by male Bishops.

Posted by: Peter Mullins on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 11:16am GMT

Perhaps this has a use: avoiding such priests would be a crucial part of my continuing in the C of E.

Posted by: Katherine on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 11:51am GMT

To answer Judith's question, I think it means primarily to attend the Chrism Mass of one of the Society's bishops (rather than the diocesan)and to present all candidates for confirmation to a Bishop of the Society. If other bishops are invited to preach, we recently had the suffragan Bishop of St Germans to preach, they do not preside at the Holy Eucharist ... so we regard + Jonathan, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, as our bishop for sacramental purposes, but remain under the legal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Truro.

Posted by: Mark on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 12:15pm GMT

The implication of Peter Mullins comment would seem to be that this is partly about remaining untainted by anyone who thinks that women can be priests. That does seem to go beyond the CofE's own line on this.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 12:25pm GMT

The younger members of that society might well give their eye-teeth for 'my' Ordination to priesthood, as it was long before OW and, included an Old Catholic line ! (It used to make me delirious back in the day !).

He and the other bishops are now, of course, 'safely' dead.

yours slightly smugly


(not really that smug)

Posted by: Laurie on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 12:43pm GMT

Again the twisted and unfounded "logic" of taint. This was supposed to have been done away with by the recent synod legislation. The bishops of the society need to be put to task by their colleagues on the House of Bishops bench.
All that is required under our new dispensation to allow this sector of the church to flourish are male priests and bishops ordained by male bishops. Full stop.

Posted by: paul richardson on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 12:51pm GMT

Looking at these comments, the expression angels dancing on the head of a pin comes to mind.The Society is offering no more than has been permitted by the recent legislation and accompanying Bishop's Declaration. All the debate in the world is not going to change that. The Society provides what is needed for traditionalist clergy and laity to remain loyal members of the Church of England, so we shall happily look to its Bishops for pastoral and sacramental oversight.

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 1:42pm GMT

'Catholic parishes naturally want as their priest someone who is in full communion not only with his bishop...'. O the irony! In my experience, what traditionalist catholic parishes want is precisely the opposite - someone who is NOT in full communion with his bishop, i.e. his Ordinary, the diocesan, but rather wishes to avail himself of the sacramental ministrations of a different bishop.
Let's be clear - what was generously granted is not, and was never, 'alternative episcopal oversight' but is rather 'extended episcopal care', graciously provided by permission of the diocesan.
I had thought that the new management of FiF/SSWSH was taking a somewhat more reasonable line, but this extremely depressing announcement proves that it's still the same old story. Thanks be to God that some very much better news has knocked this off the top of the listings.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 3:07pm GMT

Presumably the Society anticipates that, in the coming years, their Priests' Declaration will be amended to read "... ordained by a male bishop at whose ordination male bishops presided at whose ordinations male bishops presided... &c"?

Posted by: Dominic on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 3:58pm GMT

"if I understand correctly the sacramental assurance of male bishops who ordain women is not in doubt, so theoretically, conservative Anglo-Catholics can accept them.
Conservative Evangelicals won't....."

Erika - why wouldn't conservative evangelicals accept both sacraments and oversight from a male bishop who ordains women? They have done for decades; sacramental assurance, or validity of ordination aren't the issues for them.

Posted by: CharlieS on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 7:40pm GMT

In reply to Mark: I thought that was probably what it meant but wouldn't a parish have to pass Resolution C to do things like present confirmation candidates to the PEV, etc? Is this Resolution C in essence but the decision is down to the parish priest and not the PCC?

Posted by: Judith Maltby on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 8:50pm GMT

To answer the question at the end, just so that the Society knows that there is an answer to "why not?" - I want to share in and receive the sacramental ministry of women, including my colleagues in the team here.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 11:06pm GMT

I wonder what the layman Jesus would think of all this - including the (to me, sad and silly) idea that only those in the C.of E. who are ordained in the way that this Society prescribes truly deliver the Sacrament of "Christ's body and blood" ! (Long ago, Dean Stanley helpfully explored what that phrase might mean.) My Roman Catholic hospital chaplaincy colleague and Roman Catholic staff and Orthodox patients are among those happy to receive Communion from me. I myself receive Communion regularly in the Uniting Church that I attend (in the absence of any moderate C.of E.church in the centre of Sydney). It is almost wicked to think that is any different from the Sacrament received in my own Church. Although in order to maintain unity within our Anglican Church, I think only episcopally ordained priests/presbyters should preside at Holy Communion, in principle I see no reason why ministers of a Church without bishops, or lay-persons should not preside (as in fact deacons and lay-persons often do in Sydney) or, for example, the parent of a family, or a lay leader among a group of prisoners. There was great diversity among the early Jewish Christian communities (as Andrew McGowan has shown in "Ascetic Eucharists" and as the earlier known liturgy in the Didache illustrates). Indeed, in the Gospels, apart from the longer version of S.Luke (added later, I think), Jesus himself does not say "do this" anymore than he prescribes our three orders of deacon, priest, and bishop - though commending and exemplifying the ministry of service. "I am among you as one who serves". Perhaps that is the important thing !

Posted by: John Bunyan on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 11:36pm GMT

Well, Church of England, you now know the devil you bargained with at General Synod.

As I recall I was one of very few voices on this board saying this was a bad bargain and should be rejected.

I take little pleasure in saying this, but I told you so.

Posted by: Jeremy on Wednesday, 17 December 2014 at 11:54pm GMT

" The Society provides what is needed for traditionalist clergy and laity to remain loyal members of the Church of England, so we shall happily look to its Bishops for pastoral and sacramental oversight."

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 17 December

Surely this is only a divided - not a total - loyalty, in a situation where the Church has decreed that woman shall be bishops in the Church.

Where only certain bishops are considered to be real 'bishops', there seems to be a two-tier division of loyalty. Schizophrenic, really.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 9:09am GMT

CharlieS,
"why wouldn't conservative evangelicals accept both sacraments and oversight from a male bishop who ordains women?"

I spent quite some time trying to get to the bottom of that here on TA over the years and conservative evangelicals have consistently told me that they need a bishop who does not promote "false teachings". So if he ordains women, he is not acceptable to them.

Don't ask me what I think of that! But it seems to be one of the things the CoE has now officially signed up to.
Otherwise we would not need "headship" bishops.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 9:31am GMT

Can't say the tone of the Society's appeal makes my heart soar. But it's part of the deal. I welcome what seems the relaxed ease of Benedict's tone these days. I think he and many other FinF people have now 'got it' and are doing their best to be part of the church. I welcome also the more generous expressions towards 'traditionalists' expressed these days by other liberals besides myself. I also greatly welcome the testimony of John Bunyan, though I fear attendance at his communions would drop off if he were a woman.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 3:31pm GMT

Not a big fan of the tone of this either.

That said, A brief comment Paul Richardson's point that "All that is required under our new dispensation to allow this sector of the church to flourish are male priests and bishops ordained by male bishops. Full stop.":

Had Resolution A (suitably adapted) survived the new legislation, I would be inclined to agree with this. But it has not.

Were I a member of FiF in an Anglo-Catholic parish, simply knowing that my Vicar was a male priest ordained by a male bishop in the historic succession would not assist if he appointed a curate who was not, or arranged holiday cover with persons who were not.

It seems to me that knowing that the Vicar is a member of the Society would satisfy such a concern. One presumes this is why this has been drafted as it has.

Simon Kershaw- I am fascinated by your assertion that some SSC members could not make the above declaration. Would you mind giving some more details?

Posted by: Matt on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 4:52pm GMT

Re SSC ... are there any members of the SSC who regard their diocesan bishop (and not any flying bishop or other bishop) as their spiritual and legal Father in God and where that diocesan bishop has and does ordain women to his college of presbyters? Are there any members of the SSC who are happy to have women clergy preside at the eucharist and to receive the sacrament from them?

The answer to those questions is without doubt 'yes'. Maybe not very many; but it only requires one such priest for it to be the case. I know of such a person. I am not going to name names, though I'm not aware that any of this is secret or confidential.

Such a priest could not in good conscience agree to the last two clauses of the SSWSH declaration.

Posted by: Simon Kershaw on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 5:34pm GMT

In reply to Judith Maltby, Resolution C is now to be replaced by the option for a parish to submit a letter of request to the diocesan bishop asking to receive ministry from a bishop and priests who share the theological convictions of the parish. That is part of the 'deal' that was agreed in the legislation that allowed women to be consecrated as bishops. That decision is one for the PCC, and, unlike Resolution C, is not subject to a veto by the incumbent. The Society, by creating a register of bishops and priests who hold to traditional Catholic practice, can provide a body of clergy who can be drawn upon to satisfy the requirements of a parish that submits such a request. I am far from clear whether there is an equivalent body of conservative evangelical clergy to be called upon to serve parishes which request clergy of that theological conviction.

Posted by: Dexter Bracey on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 8:35pm GMT

OMG. Is this really what CoE signed up for? Or are they undertaking a "shadow church" on their own?

The aggressiveness of this effort is breathtaking. The whole "taint" bit is a heresy, by the way.

I suspect that signing on to this will be professional suicide for priests middle aged and younger. Of course, the justice question is that a lot of women clergy will have to deal with publicly avowed misogynists and the example to girls is dreadful.

People in the pews are supporting this with their charitable gifts? Really?

Posted by: Cynthia on Thursday, 18 December 2014 at 10:51pm GMT

"conservative evangelicals have consistently told me that they need a bishop who does not promote "false teachings". So if he ordains women, he is not acceptable to them.

Don't ask me what I think of that! But it seems to be one of the things the CoE has now officially signed up to.
Otherwise we would not need "headship" bishops."

Hi Erika,
Thank for taking the time to get to the bottom of the views of others. I can't speak for anyone else obviously, but I wonder if you're still conflating two issues.
1. most Christians (including here -see threads on wrong views of the Trinity) would say a Bishop needs not to be a false teacher, and conservative evos may have a longer list of what qualifies, certainly a different list to some. But I've never met any conservative evo who thought that ordaining women made someone a false teacher. This is one of the key differences between managing diversity of views on female ordination as opposed to gay marriage.
2. claims that conservative/headship evangelicals are to be allowed to flourish are cast into doubt by clear and acknowledged under-appearance among bishops/archdeacons etc. Appointing a flying bishop is a confidence-building start in this direction.
It's convenient for one person (the new flying bishop) to provide male spiritual oversight, and to establish good faith on flourishing, but not essential.
Sorry for such a long answer.
Charlie

Posted by: CharlieS on Friday, 19 December 2014 at 10:37am GMT

Cynthia, et al.

Traditionalists (of which, admittedly, I am not one) have never believed in taint.

http://trushare.com/16SEP96/SE96PARK.htm

http://trushare.com/44JAN99/ja99comm.htm

It does nothing for the liberal cause to accuse them of things which they do not believe (and vice versa.)

Tristan

Posted by: Tristan on Friday, 19 December 2014 at 6:15pm GMT

CharlieS,
I can only say what others have told me.
You see, if you look at it at face value, conservative Anglo-Catholics only need a male bishop who has been ordained and consecrated by someone in an unbroken male line. Conservative evangelicals only need any male bishop because they're not worried about sacramental assurance but only about women not teaching men.
So in theory, one Anglo-Catholic traditionalist could serve both.

But the new arrangements have introduced the concept of needing someone who shares your theological conviction, and so evangelicals can now demand a right teaching headship bishop and, if Fr. David on the other thread gets his way, Anglo-Catholics can ask for right thinking bishops too and even reject an Archbishop who has consecrated a woman bishop, something that has nothing to do with sacramental assurance at all.

When theological conviction became a criterion for accepting bishops the CoE really started something new and I believe it will come to regret it.

Posted by: Erika Baker on Saturday, 20 December 2014 at 6:45am GMT

I worship in a church whose services are presided over by a female.
Being of High Anglican persuasion and refusing to accept the sacraments from this lady how should I handle being asked to stand as Churchwarden? I receive the sacraments from visiting male priests and from other churches having a male priest.
Please help.We have our APCM on Monday next week.I have many friends at our Church.

Posted by: Ian Hendry on Thursday, 12 March 2015 at 9:22pm GMT

You don't say in your post whether you want to be churchwarden, and if so what draws you to that. Nor do you say what your relationship with the woman priest (is she the vicar?) is like. I think these would be important questions for you to consider. Who is asking you to stand, and why? How does the vicar feel about it? You don't need her approval, but if you are going to work together for the good of the whole church, then you need to be able to get along, otherwise this will just be an exercise in creating conflict.

Posted by: Anne on Friday, 13 March 2015 at 6:42am GMT
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