Wednesday, 21 January 2015
Consecration of the Bishop of Burnley
Updated third time Thursday morning
Yesterday, Christian Today published the following article by Ruth Gledhill: Consecration of traditionalist bishop set to highlight Church of England divisions
As the consecration of the first female bishop approaches, Christian Today has learned that at the consecration a few days later of traditionalist priest Father Philip North as Bishop of Burnley no bishop will lay hands on him who has previously laid hands on a woman bishop or priest…
And Ruth noted that:
…no-one from the Archbishop’s office, the diocesan office, the cathedral or the women’s ordination group WATCH would comment to Christian Today…
Twenty-four hours later, there has still been no comment from any of these sources. Nor from Forward in Faith or The Society under the patronage of St Wilfrid and Saint Hilda.
There have been two blog articles though:
Archdruid Eileen has published At the Multiple Episcopal Consecration
Jonathan Clatworthy has published A woman’s touch and spiritual danger
I will add links to any further official or other statements about this that I discover.
WATCH has now issued a statement:
Press Release Wednesday 21st Jan 2015
WATCH Statement on Consecrations
Next Monday the Church of England and the nation will rejoice at the consecration of Rev Libby Lane as the first female bishop in the Church of England. That will be a great day, and nothing should detract from that moment of affirmation for all women in all walks of life.
We have known about the arrangements for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley for some time, but have not commented publicly out of courtesy to the individuals involved. Our focus has been on the earlier consecration as the fulfillment of a long and deeply held desire by so many, and as a source of good news from the Church.
We are dismayed that it seems that the Archbishop of York will not lay hands on Philip North at his consecration as Bishop of Burnley. We believe it is unprecedented that an Archbishop should be present at a consecration in his own Province and not lay hands on a candidate, and not preside at the eucharist.
We are saddened that there will be such a powerful visual sign of a divided College and House of Bishops at the moment of consecration. The Bishop of Burnley is a suffragan bishop, and not a PEV: he is a minister for the whole Church of England in the Diocese of Blackburn and the people of that diocese are looking forward to working with him across the traditions.
We will issue a statement on the wider ramifications of this in due course.
A reader of Thinking Anglicans who had written to the Archbishop of York has received a reply from his office, which is copied in full below the fold.
Two more blog articles:
Benny Hazlehurst Apostolic Regression
Kelvin Holdsworth One step forward, two giant leaps back – the English Episcopate
Janet Henderson Woman’s Touch Not Welcome
Peter Carrell Bishops’ magic hands: once tainted, even disinfectant cannot clean them!
According to the CofE Daily Media Digest, The Times [paywall] reports inter alia that:
…the church has yet to confirm whether Dr Sentamu and the Bishop of Blackburn, Julian Henderson, will join the service but adds that Dr Sentamu’s most senior aide said last night that Mr North had not insisted on the arrangement himself.
Thank you for writing about the Consecration of the new Bishop of Burnley. Arrangements have been made carefully according to the plans put before General Synod in July last year.
Paper GS Misc 1079, Women in the Episcopate, A Note from the Archbishops in paragraphs 7-8 it said:
7. Arrangements for consecration services are and will remain the personal responsibility and decision of the Archbishop of the Province, as is made clear in the Royal Mandate. After careful thought and prayer we do not believe that an attempt to offer detailed prescriptions as to how consecration services would be conducted in every circumstance would help to establish the relational framework offered by the five guiding principles.
8. The proper place for the working out of details is in conversation between those concerned, and especially between any new bishop and the Archbishop of the Province. This is in the spirit of the analogous discussions between a parish that has passed a resolution and their diocesan bishop.
9. As Archbishops we will exercise that responsibility in ways that exemplify the five guiding principles, enabling bishops to serve across the spectrum of our teaching and tradition. Any special arrangements to which we may agree in particular cases will arise out of a spirit of gracious generosity, and will involve only such departures from the norm as are necessary to fulfil the spirit and purpose of the Declaration (GS Misc 1076) and to build the peace and unity of the Church. No consecration duly performed by either Archbishop as principal consecrator would be invalid.’
As you will know the five guiding principles referred to above are:
- ‘Now that legislation has been passed to enable women to become bishops the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience;
- Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter;
- 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 God;
- Since those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion, the Church of England remains committed to enabling them to flourish within its life and structures; and
- Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England.’
(Extract from GS 1924 – Report from the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate)
I must stress, as in 7 above, that by Royal Mandate the decision as to who lays on hands at the Consecration of a bishop in the Province is for the Archbishop alone to determine. It is the Archbishop who must, in discussion with the candidate, decide how best to proceed in each case. All those bishops present and gathered round the candidate, laying on hands or not, will be participating in the consecration, through their presence and their prayers. It is my prayer that what has been arranged will be a genuine expression both of the five principles, and of the gracious generosity upon which they depend.
When the bishops gather together for the Ordination Prayer, in close proximity around the candidate, the Archbishop will lead all other bishops present in exercising gracious restraint at the laying-on of hands, permitting two bishops, nominated by the Archbishop on the basis of terms stated in para. 5 (above), to assist in the laying-on of hands, in order to fulfil the requirements of canon C2.1. All other bishops will remain in the arc around the candidate.
Thank you for your concern, and for your prayers for all involved in preparing both for the consecration of the Bishop of Stockport and the Bishop of Burnley. May God the Holy Trinity renew his Church in the power of the Holy Spirit, uniting us in Jesus Christ and filling us with the Father’s love.
With every blessing.
Posted by Simon Sarmiento on
Wednesday, 21 January 2015 at 4:00pm GMT
You can make a Permalink to this if you like
Church of England
From the Gledhill article:
"Archbishops are free to determine what happens at consecrations and who does and does not lay on hands."
Obviously the minders need to be be minded again.
If Parliament doesn't want an informal schism in the established church, then Parliament should legislate immediately.
Perhaps the law should provide that all CofE bishops in good standing may lay on hands.
That should put a swift end to this "taint" nonsense at ordinations.
This rests ultimately on the idea of 'apostolic succession' a concept which is severely flawed and inevitably divisive separating factions and denominations. This is a good example creating a church within a church, which of course is the complete antithesis of what is intended.
Someone, I believe it was "Tristan" who was telling me that I was dishonestly saying that CoE was upholding the heresy of taint.
"Heresy" is VERY BAD when it is about including women and LGBT people. But is VERY GOOD when it excludes women and LGBT people.
I think I'm starting to understand what this is REALLY about. And it relates to LGBT exclusion as well, because it is ultimately about who is created in the Image of God, and who are 1st, 2nd, and 3rd class citizens of God's Creation. And who gets to make up the rules about that, and why they make them up.
As cantankerous as I can be, I have a limit on how much un-affirming language I can take, as both a woman and a lesbian, before it wears on my soul. Sadly, CoE and its "traditionalists" feel very entitled to tell women and LGBT people that we are second class citizens in God's Creation and to disrespect us as also created in the Image of God. As if they could possibly actually know.
I'm going to opt out of TA for awhile. I don't want to hear another un-affirming word about who I am, or about my wonderful, legal, and sacramental marriage in my parish this weekend.
i think a lot of people have chosen to opt out of religion for similar reasons. This exclusive stuff isn't the Good News.
Ok, so now we've gone from the Holy Spirit -- the Third Person of the Trinity, part of God (if I may oversimplify trinitarian doctrine), a God who is allegedly omnipotent -- being stopped cold by a human being who happens to have no Y chromosome, to this same Holy Spirit being stopped cold by anyone who "has laid hands on" a human being who happens to have no Y chromosome.
Here, across the Pond, when I was in elementary school (I don't know the equivalent in England, school for children ages 6 - 12), the boys had a concept known as "cooties". But, somehow, we were supposed to grow out of it.
Regardless of the arguments over an exclusively male priesthood and episcopate, how does merely laying hands on a woman "taint" a male?
John 11:35 KJV, and he still weeps.
Why on earth are the bishops going along with this? Why are they prepared to simply roll over and do what the Archbishops 'direct'? It's offensive and was never something that was discussed by General Synod when we discussed the draft legislation. I also suggest that the arrangements are in direct contradiction to at least three of the five guiding principles that we did agree when we met in Synod.
So neither Archbishop then?
Political, predictable, lamentable.
If correct, the report by Ruth Gledhill is of great concern. The decision to show restraint, made by the bishops, including the Diocesan and the Archbishop, who will stand by as only those bishops acceptable to the candidate lay on hands, will not have been made lightly. The deep pain of this situation will be felt by them and by the candidate himself. It may be that a candidate for the episcopacy cannot, in conscience, accept the ministry of a woman. It may be that a candidate cannot, in conscience, ordain or consecrate a woman. All this has been anticipated and understood. However, not to accept the ministry of those bishops who are “tainted” by their own ministry with women is to be a sign not of unity but of division. The purpose of the laying on of hands by all the bishops present at a consecration is not only the transmission of the apostolic line, it is a two way affirmation of the unity and solidarity of the candidate with the church, as represented by the other bishops. Alongside the good news of the first woman to be consecrated bishop we are now to institutionalise division. Only the Church of England could celebrate the week of prayer for Christian unity by the creation of a new church.
Sadly in an attempt to ensure a "pure" Episcopal succession, rather than an ordination of a bishop into the historic episcopacy there will be a consecration into a narrow schismatic sect. How can anyone in the diocese of Blackburn, or the Church of England, accept the ministry of a bishop so out of communion with his Provincial or Diocesan that their hands are not acceptable at his consecration?
In York consecrations are great family affairs. All the Northern Bishops come and stand round the Archbishop and stretch out their hands or hold the person in front of them
In the case of Burnley all the Bishops are to stand there in an arc and keep their hands firmly buy their side,It is absolute nonsense - but not really funny! It has never happened before . John Goddard and Nicholas Reade were both consecrated by all the Northern Bishops led by the AB who actually put his hands on their head.
Given that Fr Philip North was appointed Bishop of Burnley before Rev Libby Lane was appointed to the suffragan See of Stockport, his consecration should have taken place first ... then there would have been no problem with the Archbishop of York being the chief consecrator. It is also normal practice for a parish priest to give his or her parish three months notice when they move to another post within the Church. Why was Libby's consecration arranged within six weeks of her appointment? I'm sure that she could have waited for another couple of weeks! The timing is also a bit insensitive for another reason, it comes at the end of the Octave of Prayer for Christian Unity; so having prayed for the Unity of God's Church for 8 days, the next day we are going to show Roman Catholics and Eastern Orthodox Christians just how much we value unity with them ...
Doesn't the X chromosome include the Y chromosome? The Y is just an X with one leg missing. Funny that having a crippled chromosome is a requirement, while having two complete ones is a disqualification.
What happens if, at the ordaining moment, the Holy Spirit calls one of the bishops who have ordained women to step forward and lay his hands on Fr North with the others? Is ordination un sacramental and thus legally invalid or tainted?
From Ruth Gledhill's article:
The source said: "We understand that there are only about three bishops who will actually be able to lay hands on Philip North because everyone else will have laid hands on Libby Lane the week before.
Fr. North should pray that none of them come down with the flu or be unavailable at the last minute, or it will indeed be a very interesting (non?)consecration.
It is one thing for Bishop Lane to graciously refrain from the laying on of hands, a wholesale exclusion of anyone who has participated in the ordination of a woman is something else.
I am now wondering who will be the Chief Consecrator of the Conservative Evangelical, so far unnamed, Bishop of Maidstone?
I know I'm being the Ugly American here, but I can't help but wish (imagine) our ++KJS showing up at Fr North's consecration, hands a-ready for co-consecrating, just to set a fox among the proverbial (?) chickens...
Lord, Re-form Your Church!
The action contradicts all that has been agreed so far.
First, if a bishop who happens to be a woman is to be a lawfully elected and consecrated bishop in the CoE, and should be respected, and if it is clear that the CoE has settled the issue on the ordination of women, how is it possible that those bishops who ordained women are not "kosher" enough to lay hands on a bishop-elect who happens to be a man and does not believe in the ordination of women?
Second, and on more precise theological grounds, the ordination of a woman is not a sinful act. And, even if it were to be, what about Art. XXVI? (And that even though, at least "officially" ordination is not a Sacrament of the Gospel.)
Will the new "Evangelical-Headship" bishop-elect refuse to be ordained by a FiF bishop, on account of Eucharistic theology and practice?
If a bishop-elect does not believe in the Rapture of the Church, only bishops who are of the same persuasion should be the only allowed to lay hands on him or her? What about Marian theology? The Atonement? Where is the limit to picking and choosing on theological grounds?
Is this the kind of Anglicanism we all wish to see flourishing?
So, once again, even when the Church is bending over backwards to accommodate those who dissent in an effort to keep the unity of the church, now again we are being kicked in the teeth.
Let this be a lesson for the ABC, the Crown Nominations Commission, and the dioceses. And for all of us!
I dont agree with Rev North, but I do believe in Christian "unity in diversity" - which is served by agreeing to disagree on issues like this... or do we really just want a "pure" liberal church?!
But of course "taint" theology is just a straw man imputed to "traditionalists" by dishonest "liberals"!
"In the case of Burnley all the Bishops are to stand there in an arc and keep their hands firmly by their side."
Seems likely. And what a picture it will make!
The Church of England's genius at shooting itself in the foot is boundless.
It all makes sense now. I could never work out why the risen Jesus tells Mary not to touch him, but as he hadn't got to any of the other disciples by then, it would have spannered the entire apostolic succession.
This is arrant nonsense and should have been grounds for not making the appointment. If, as the above post states, +Reade and +Goddard were ordained by all bishops, then I see no reason for any difference here, save for the fact that now they will have ordained a woman as bishop. I trust that this will be the last appointment of a non-ordainer to a suffragan see (for this purpose I regard Maidstone as deemed not to be a true suffragan see). That way, only the PEVs will be bishops to either the TradCaths or ConEvos and this theology of taint can be contained. The more honest solution would have been to create a second Northern PEV, or resurrect +Hulme for the purpose and 'do a Maidstone.'
re Mark Mesley:
"...and we also showed the Scandinavian Lutherans, who recognise our orders and with whom we are in full communion, that we might learn something precious from them."
re Rev David:
In what sense is desiring a Catholic church in which a bishop of a province is consecrated by the Archbishop and the other bishops of that province - who may agree to disagree - 'seeking a "pure" liberal church? Isn't it simply normal practice?
I worry that the old criticism of the Tractarians - that they fervently believed in episcopal governance of the Church until they disagreed with the bishops - is now true to the extent that those who argue - rightly - for the catholicity of the Church of England are now undermining any claim it might have to be Catholic.
Just a note from your lurking professor of genetics: the Y chromosome is NOT simply a broken derivative of the X. It is a separate chromosome altogether with distinct genetic information (and remarkably few genes). It is also dispensable for life: XO individuals (one X and no Y) are viable, and female although they have several abnormalities.
"Only the Church of England could celebrate the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity by the creation of a new church"
Canon Guy, surely the "new church" will be created on January 26th when something happens in York Minster which has never happened before? What will happen in York Minster a week later on February 2nd will be the continuation of a long Biblical and Apostolic tradition.
Rev David, being consecrated by bishops from a pure male line of priests and bishops is now seen as 'liberal' and not conducive to a diverse church in unity?
Would it not rather be the perfect symbol of it?
I am still mulling over the idea that having all male bishops participate in a consecration is liberal.
Surely, the real progression would be:
I believe that it is ontologically impossible to ordain and consecrate a woman. Therefore, what a woman does has no sacramental effect, neither positively or negatively. In the spirit of showing unity in diversity, I will therefore invite Libby Lane to participate in the laying on of hands.
Run of the mill normal and in accordance with strictly interpreted sacramental theology:
All male bishops ordained and consecrated from a male line of priests and bishops are welcome to lay on hands.
Beyond words spitting in the face of those who worked for a compromise that shows unity in diversity and fosters mutual flourishing, and against any tenet of sacramental theology:
Only those I personally approve of can participate in my consecration.
I wonder what the Bishop designate of Stockport thinks of this. Perhaps both consecrations should be postponed.
Do the Bishops who will attend the episcopal consecration of Rev P North not understand that they personally and individually are being repudiated by him?
Decades ago, when married deacons were brought back to the RC Church, there arose an incident in a Brighton parish where it was customary for the parish clergy to go to the local convent for their Christmas dinner. The year the priests and deacon were invited , but the deacon's wife was not included in the invitation the three priests all declined the invitation. When the sisters asked why, they were told that if one of the parish team was not included, none would accept. The sisters had not got up to speed with the changed circumstances; they apologised and revised the invitation.
Do the non-consecrating Bishops really have to attend? Why should they not sit with the congregation if they feel they have to be present?
Seems to me that Fr North will do himself and those who think like him, immeasurable damage by proceeding in this manner. The theology of 'taint' is alive and being practised by those who have been assured an honourable place within our Church. And isn't choosing ones own consecrators a novel departure from the principles of catholicity? Is there any precedent anywhere?
One understands - thanks to a helpful posting a few weeks back - that it's not about taint but about impaired communion. There must be (there must be? I so hope so) 'traditionalists' who would accept the ministrations of the Archbishop of York on such occasions (and analogous ones, like receiving Communion from him). Such people should be supported. The rest - North and his defenders -should go. Personally, I'm completely fed up defending them - they're not worth it. They have no moral sense.
Steady on with your attacks on Philip North, please. It's been stated officially on several occasions that the decisions are the responsibility of the Provincial, and that PN has insisted on none of these proposals. If I were PN I might well be sad (to put it mildly) that Ebor had landed me in this position.
I wonder whether we read what we have signed. It is my understanding of Porvoo that we accepted the Lutheran Churches of Scandinavia on the basis that Apostolic Succession was vested in the company of the baptized and symbolized in the laying on of hands by the bishops. It seems to me that that is good theology. If we believe that, then it was not in the Archbishop's gift to show 'gracious restraint', in not laying on his hands at Philip North's ordination as a bishop, without reflecting on just what such restrain would symbolize. It is important that both the Archbishop and the new Bishop of Stockport lay hands on Philip North, for they are part of the College of Bishops in the Church into which he is being ordained as a bishop. The inclusion of Libby Lane in the ordination cannot compromise his ordination, if he does not accept her as a bishop. On the other hand, if the issue is that her participation DOES compromise his ordination, then we have accepted the principle of 'taint', which I thought had been soundly rejected in our synodical debates. How these two ordinations are conducted will have a profound effect on the future. They will define future practice and effectively create a 'third province'.
I would suggest that it is time for some correspondents to exercise "gracious restraint" in what they write about Fr. Philip North. He has proved himself to be one of the finest priests of his generation within the Church of England and well deserves to be elevated to the episcopacy. He has already had to endure the Whitby debacle and now as he prepares for his sacred consecration as Bishop of Burnley he is having yet another heap of coals poured upon his head.This falls little short of persecution.
In departing from Scripture and Tradition the General Synod of the Church of England has created one Hell of a mess!
I had a long conversation about impaired communion on my Facebook yesterday and one contributor linked to a Tablet article from 1993 about impaired communion. And there is nothing in there that suggest that Communion can be impaired by the actions of otherwise validly ordained and consecrated priests and bishops.
It was interesting to read that!
Strangely, the link doesn't work this morning, nor do any of the others that Google brings up for old Tablet articles. Very odd.
So far, searching the Vatican archives, all I can come up with is an article from 2004 (http://www.vatican.va/roman_curia/pontifical_councils/chrstuni/angl-comm-docs/rc_pc_chrstuni_doc_20040608_iarccum-ecclesiology_en.html) with a reference to Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Robert Runcie in their Common Declaration of 1989:
“Against the background of human disunity the arduous journey to Christian unity must be pursued with determination and vigour, whatever obstacles are perceived to block the path. We here solemnly re-commit ourselves and those we represent to the restoration of visible unity and full ecclesial communion in the confidence that to seek anything less would be to betray our Lord’s intention for the unity of his people…
***We also urge our clergy and faithful not to neglect or undervalue that certain yet imperfect communion we already share.... *** This communion should be cherished and guarded as we seek to grow into the fuller communion Christ wills.”
The rest of the article discusses whether the Communion is further impaired by the consecration of partnered gay bishops (this in the aftermath of the Gene Robinson consecration). There is no mention anywhere that women’s ordination has further impaired Communion between Anglicans and Rome.
That being so, why would it impair Communion with validly ordained and consecrated priests and bishops among Anglicans or among members of the same CoE?
To continue to accept the idea of impaired communion I would be really grateful if someone here could contribute some evidence for the orthodoxy of this theology.
I have an idea that might just save the Church of England from loss of face on this important issue.
When I was confirmed, in Holy Trinity Church, Coventry in the 1940s, the Bishop wore an immaculate pair of white gloves.
One wonders whether, if Bishops still wore white gloves, they could have the same bishop performing episcopal rites but with a different set of gloves for each candidate. (Perhaps the gloves could be of different colours to suit the candidate's gender).
In this way, 'sacramental assurance' could be ensured by the gloves - rather than whether the bishop was female or male. W@ould that help the C. of E.?
are you suggesting that Fr North did not ask for this but that the initiative came from the Archbishop of York?
"It's been stated officially on several occasions that the decisions are the responsibility of the Provincial," Fr. William
Funny how the Archbishop of York has overarching responsibility in some controversial situations, but not in others.
Whilst I find some things very difficult at the moment, not least the dire warnings of the archbishops about our future and indeed the consecration of the Bishop of Stockport, I would like to say a couple of things.
Firstly I will never tire of defending the right of fellow Anglicans to disagree with me, even when their outlook or belief is so contrary to my own. It is the Church we have and the path we have gone down, to live in tension on many issues.
Secondly, whilst understanding the need to comment and let our feelings be known, it seems fruitless to second guess either Fr. North or the archbishops. Write to Lambeth or Bishopthorpe would be my advice.
Thirdly, I assumed after November gone that this was inevitable if I read all the documents correctly and believed the Archbishops would keep their word. If there was to be this policy, why not start it at the first opportunity, what would be the point in delay? As Father David has pointed out, we live in a new Church of England now, like it or not. We must give it a chance to work, however painful it might be.
Fr. Graeme Buttery SSC
What if one of the 'tainted' bishops forgets himself and reaches out and touches Fr North's head? Will that make his consecration invalid?
Presumably Fr North and his ilk were all born 'of a woman?' How tainted is that?
I thought I had witnessed every way in which the C of E has contrived to demean, insult and humiliate women in ministry and women in general, but this takes the biscuit. (For once) I agree with John. How will the women priests and women of Burnley view a bishop so precious of his calling that he cannot bear to be touched by another bishop who has touched a woman priest? It is beyond insulting.
If I was a woman and lived in Burnley I would make sure I was wearing white gloves whenever I met Fr North!
"In departing from Scripture and Tradition the General Synod of the Church of England has created one Hell of a mess!" - Fr. David -
Couldn't agree with you more, Father. However, the Church sometimes has to show a willingness to be changed - like the Infant Church had to change about the need for circumcision of male Christians.
The problem here would seem to be that someone who does not agree with Church of England polity on women in ministry has agreed to be made a bishop in the same Church where women will be bishops. This anomaly - which indeed it must be - does not need to be complicated with collusion towards a theology of taint.
Fr David - you should note that what is at issue here is not whether Philip North should be consecrated a bishop but how.
Some of us might not like the fact that we will continue to ordain those who think women should not be ordained, but we accepted this concession as part of the legislative package. We did not accept arrangements like these and they would not have got through GS if we'd been presented with them. In the working party such ideas were roundly rejected.
This sorry episode shows why we need more scrutiny by eg GS not less!.
There is a great danger of Philip North becoming the scapegoat for a decision he, apparently, has neither taken nor sought. I am astounded that the Archbishop, knowing how much bile was off-loaded on to Philip North at the time he was nominated to the See of Whitby, has allowed this situation to develop through whispers and innuendo. It smacks of a wholesale lack of transparency and pastoral care at the top. If the arrangements for Philip North's consecration are in accordance with the Five Principles, why not say so from the outset - and with confident, public clarity? Any sense of 'gracious restraint' has now been overtaken by a perception of archiepiscopal high-handedness and lack of candour; and any prospect that both consecrations could be a source of joyful thanksgiving is eclipsed by yet more unedifying public squabbles about the gender of our clergy. And there was me thinking that an archbishop was called to exemplify a crucial dimension of episcope: to be a focus of unity. This has all the makings of the 'Kipper and the Corpse' episode of Fawlty Towers - but it is no laughing matter.
Ebor makes quite clear who is responsible for the decisions: he is. Read his words above.
As I was walking to and from the dentist this morning I could sense the disquiet that this was causing amongst the worthy citizens of Burton. Every passer by stopped to quiz me on the issue (I was in clericals as is my wont). When will we realise that the CoE is merely a limb on the body of Anglicanism, itself not much more than a digit on the body of Christ. As for its place in England, perhaps a pimple. Our bishop wrote encouraging people to give more – the people who are already hard pressed economically and in terms of spare time and energy. ‘Look darling, we have a spare £500. Shall we give it to the church or shall be have a week in the sun’. That’s a hard one.
Fr David - in what sense does one "deserve" to become a bishop?
New Directions editorial February 2014 said:
The issue for us has never been about so-called ‘taint’ but rather with a theology and communion. For example, a bishop, who has in the past ordained women, by that act, created an impairment of communion between him and bishops who did not ordain women. He also created an impairment of communion with some of his priests and his people. If the bishop changes his mind and decides not to ordain women and feels that it is not right for the Church then he returns to being in communion with those who cannot accept the ordination of women. Communion can be broken, but it can also be restored. Our critics would like to brand us as obsessed by a word they have coined, ‘taint’, but that is simply not the case. Our issue has always been one of theology and sacramental assurance. The need for these assurances comes from a desire to preserve the highest degree of communion.
The Tablet link works again.
In this article with the title "Impaired Communion" FiF discuss the proposals for women priests and declare that:
"In our view there will need to be an assured succession of bishops who do not ordain women to the priesthood or recognise them as priests; liberty for clergy and parishes to associate themselves for all sacramental and pastoral purposes with those bishops; and places of theological education and training for the priesthood which respect the position of those whom such bishops recommend."
It's all about sacramental assurance only. The impairment does not extend to sacramentally assured bishops whose theology and actions we don't happen to like.
The decision on who participates in the consecration lies entirely with the Archbishop. This is, as I understand it, Sentamu's own initiative. He wrote to all the Bishops outlining the way in which he intended to proceed. For those of us who have absolutely no theology of tactile succession, believing it to be a superstitious and fond piece of catholic nonsense, this is all a sterile debate. Succession, in scripture, is about adherence to the apostolic teaching (cf 2 Tim 1 & 3)., and this is picked up in the liturgy for ordination. Laying on hands is central to ordinations, but it's symbolism, not pipeline grace. The question of who consecrates was always going to be an issue in the settlement around the ordination and consecration of women. We knew this. We agreed to make room for people who believe in "sacramental assurance" (an RC doctrine) and "headship" (an FIEC teaching). Neither of these are Anglican. But once you accept that there should be space in the Church for people who buy into those ideas, you're led into compromises like this one.
Thank you for that clarification Pete. I seem to remember that at +Martin Warner's consecration a few years back there was a positive scrum of bishops laying on hands,of all persuasions. So I presume that the instructions in this case were, in part, to protect +Libby Lane from being the only bishop not laying on hands ( if she is going to be there, I have no inside knowledge).
What I know about theology wouldn't cover one tile in a public lavatory, but if one believes in this 'tactile succession' thingy, surely it will 'take' from the 'right' bishops and just be 'a nice thing to do' for the 'wrong' bishops to join in with. The right sort of bishopiness will get through anyway and the rest could be regarded as a friendly pat on the head that has no real significance. Surely the 'wrong' bishops' hands don't somehow dilute what is done by the 'right' bishops' hands? Or maybe it is just about 'girl cooties' after all.
I can't believe I'm justifying this unpleasant silliness by bothering to comment!
What a " talent pool" The C of E must have in order to possess the genius to come up with this, i.e. a genius for comedy. How else to explain such farce? The C of E could have headed off to the Nag's Head tavern with a couple of the boys for a laying on of hands and a pint. But this is much better; have the bishops, who are ritually unclean from touching women bishops, stand with their hands by their sides, and participate in the consecration using a Jedi mind trick. Comedic opera anyone?
Bearing in mind that the publication of the date of Fr Philip's consecration in York predated the appointment of Rev'd Libby Lane, the question must be asked why was her Consecration scheduled so quickly so that it was before Fr Philip's. If it was 3 months for him, why was it not the same for her - especially as both are Parish Priests with their own churches. Perhaps someone with an ulterior motive was mischief making when it could have been avoided. No-one has gained by this, and has in effect spoiled the day for both of them because this argument has taken over.
A woman priest in Burnley Diocese wrote to me asking for as many people as possible to email the Archbishop of York pointing out that Fr North will not be consecrated as a PEV but as an area bishop who has to be a focus for unity and who will have care of women clergy.
He should therefore be consecrated by all sacramentally assured male bishops without exception.
Bishop Pete "you're led into compromises like this one." So this what is meant by being Episcopally (and Archiepiscopally) led and synodically governed.
A woman priest in Burnley Diocese wrote to me asking for as many people as possible to email the Archbishop of York pointing out that Fr North will not be consecrated as a PEV but as an area bishop who has to be a focus for unity and who will have care of women clergy.
He should therefore be consecrated by all sacramentally assured male bishops without exception.
Surely the Church of England does believe in sacramental assurance, otherwise it wouldn't insist on episcopal ordination?
On the whole, I agree with +Pete. This is really Messy Church and we should lay off P North. I would like to hear more about 'bums on seats' (cathedrae) rather than 'hands on heads'.
I think Pete Broadbent's comment aptly summarises the problem; the people involved in importing non-Anglican doctrines and teachings into the Church of England certainly seized their opportunities, but the body of the Church let them do so. It is now confronting the harsh reality that actions have consequences.
Those consequences include the further diminution in respect for the church in the day to day life of the nation, not least because the great majority of educated people regard Creationism as not just folly but dangerous folly, for reasons set out rather well by the Pope.
The great majority of educated people regard 'headship' as equally risible; for example, no rational person would wish to be treated by a female doctor who genuinely believed that her husband should direct her in all things, irrespective of his total lack of medical knowledge.
I have no doubt that there are people whose psychological needs are so great that they cannot handle anything short of total certainty, which Creationism and headship gives them; the difficulty is that the rest of us, who can recognise dangerous folly when we see it, can also see that the Church is aiding and abetting that folly.
Perhaps this is simply the latest instalment of the chickens coming home to roost, but it is worth bearing in mind that the women bishops legislation arose because the Church was warned, in no uncertain terms, that Parliament was no longer prepared to put up with further delays. Trying to portray it as a gracious concession by the Church, for which women should be suitably grateful, is doomed to failure...
This is an internal matter for the Church of England for which as a Roman Catholic I shall not comment. I note however how over the years candidates holding views similar to those of the estimable Fr. North have been sidelined in their quest for ordination and more often in the process of selection for promotion. I note also that the Bill currently proceeding through Parliament will for a number of years either preclude or reduce the possibility of male Diocesan bishops including Traditionalists obtaining a voice (whether they want one or not) in the Lords. Imbalance can take many forms.
We see that the Archbishop wrote that "I must stress, as in 7 above, that by Royal Mandate the decision as to who lays on hands at the Consecration of a bishop in the Province is for the Archbishop alone to determine. It is the Archbishop who must, in discussion with the candidate, decide how best to proceed in each case."
Two points here.
First, there was "discussion with the candidate." Does anyone think that this taint-avoidance arrangement is being foisted on Fr North against his wishes?
Second, the Archbishop is obviously getting his messages badly mixed up. Either Synod or Parliament or both should correct the severe misimpressions being created by this novel arrangement.
Additionally, the Archbishop speaks of "gracious restaint." Where have we heard the phrase "gracious restraint" before? Oh yes . . . the Windsor process, which satisfied no one and went nowhere.
"Gracious restraint" is not leadership. It's sitting on the fence.
Well said Bishop Pete!
Probably from the offset we all knew that there would have to be some compromise and this is what has been pieced together. Obviously it was never going to please everyone and to all those who have been disheartened/upset by these arrangements; I pray that you may find comfort and peace but may also rejoice with Libby Lane as she prepares for her consecration.
Both Rev Libby Lane and Fr Philip North are fine priests and bring something amazing qualities to the CofE and the roles that they will soon undertake... I wish them nothing but my support, love and prayers!
Pete: so-called 'sacramental assurance' (at least how it is being played out here) is not an RC doctrine. The RC doctrine is concerned with validity. In RC canon law, a bishop who tried to ordain a woman would be excommunicated, but if he were then subsequently (even if still excommunicated) to preside at Communion or even to ordain or to consecrate a male, those sacraments would still be valid (though illicit). No question of sacramental assurance arises in RC terms. This linking of someone's being in communion with sacramental assurance is not Roman Catholic. This is not to say that it is entirely vacuous (it would arguably have a bit more traction in Orthodox theology), but it's certainly not Roman. For instance, though I am a member of the CofE, I was ordained in the RC Church. So long as I intend to do what the Church does when I preside/celebrate a sacrament, it is deemed valid in RC eyes (though again illicit). It is my understanding that the RC Church still obliges me (Can 976 and 986) to hear the confession of any RC (or others) in danger of death (I say 'understanding' because the Code technically doesn't apply to non-RC's (I'm obviously in impaired communion), though it could also be argued that the obligation arises not from canon law, but from canon law's theological sense of what is required of a priest. I fully accepted that such an obligation arose from ordination, not from membership in the RC Church, and I still consider myself obliged.
A small but important point, Pete, is that the laying on of hands is, I think, a prayer first of all -- a tactile, which is to say, non-verbal charismatic prayer-act for the descent of the Holy Spirit. When priests lay hands at another priest's ordination, this has nothing (or at least it's news to me) to do with tactile succession, but simply with a powerful form of prayer. At my ordination, all the laity were invited to raise their hands and to join in. That said, I take your general point, and Porvoo settled that as far as I'm concerned...
I'm not personally arguing in favour of the 'doctrine' of 'impaired communion', merely trying to take 'Traditionalists' at their best self-estimation (so if they're not 'tainted' by the 'doctrine' of 'taint', I try to believe them).
Graeme Buttery: I entirely applaud and strenuously support your inclusive Anglicanism. But within that model, there can be legitimate debate about boundaries.
I greatly value your constant interventions and attempts to set the record straight.
But if it's the case that Philip North (whom hitherto liberals such as myself have tried to accommodate) hasn't himself required the present arrangement, then he and others who think like him should say so loud and clear, so that (a) there is a theoretical chance that the present arrangement might at the last moment be ameliorated, or (b) if it is not, it should not be regarded as set in stone for possible future events. In my view, there could and should still be space for 'gracious restraint', but it can't be a one-way street. If it is, then I repeat my grave moral charge that such 'traditionalists' lack basic moral sense - and should go/be kicked out.
So, presuming these arrangements are being made so that they are acceptable to Fr Philip and other conservative catholics, can we assume in due time when a conservative headship evangelical is consecrated that "all are welcome", as issues of sacramental assurance are not, then, of issue?
I think the word "taint" is rather a trigger word just now. It is misleading to describe the idea as a doctrine, it is rather a practice, and the reason that the issue emerges in acute form now is that (a) practices involve actions, not just words or ideas, and the proposed actions, together with the domain of meaning in which they are situated, mean that this is the first proposed expression of a new practice; and (b) because the practice here involves the actions of archbishop and diocesan bishop, it is no longer a practice of a group within the church, it becomes a practice of the church as a whole.
Now some will think this wholly appropriate or reasonable. Personally I think that this practice is incompatible with the five agreed principles, and is inimical to the catholic ordering of the Church of England. To me having the principles was supposed to avoid this sort of thing. The principal three consecrators can be men of impeccable pedigree, but why cannot others join those three?
Of course the laying-on of hands is a prayer for the coming of the Spirit. But it doesn't *convey* the Spirit. Only God does that. When I confirm or ordain, I'm involved in doing what the Church does, with signs and words. Liturgy in that sense is performative. What it's not is magic. Tracing tactile lines back through the Borgia Popes and other aberrations is crude - and the "who ordained whom" stuff always leads you back to that sort of simplistic reasoning. No, it's not about "sacramental assurance". It's only about church order. I already believe and accept that Methodists and Baptists are true ministers/presbyters in the Church of God. If we decided that they could be in communion with us in the CofE, I'd not want to insist that they were re-ordained. If we could stop aping Rome with their "validity" notions, we'd be a lot better off.
As for Fr Philip, I rejoice that he's going to be a Bishop in the Church of God. It doesn't matter much to me who lays hands on him, but he will go through a performative liturgy of word and sacrament with the laying-on of hands and ordination vows. I'm sorry that he and others of his persuasion believe themselves to be in "impaired communion" with me and my fellow bishops. That's something I deal with every day, as I'm currently acting as Bishop of Edmonton! But that's their issue/problem, not mine. If I want them to stay in the CofE, then concessions have to be made. The alternative would indeed be to kick them out, but I'm not prepared to vote for that. I'd rather live with the messiness.
Wow! I can't recall another thread which has attracted so many posts within 24 hours. It just shows the strength of feeling about this wholly misguided decision. The matter has already been extensively and angrily debated in these pages in the thread announcing the appointment of Libby Lane as +Stockport (now in the archive for Dec 14). I can only repeat what I said then (I tried to copy it in, but couldn't find a way):-
'This is indistinguishable to me from a third province, with a separate 'taint-free' Abp to look after it. Such ideas were postulated in the early days of this debate, but were ruled out then, and have never been on the table since. What has been denied by law must not be allowed to happen by stealth.
Also, from all that has been said above, it has to be ++Sentamu. He is the right and proper person, and there is no legitimate reason to prevent him. If he doesn't want to (or worse, thinks that he is doing the church a favour by stepping aside on this occasion) then ++ Welby needs to draw himself to his full height as Primate of ALL England, and direct him to.'
If this outrage is allowed to go ahead, it will create a disastrous precedent for 'taint-free' consecrations, from which it will be difficult, if not impossible to row back.
May I graciously refer Nick Nawrockyi to Matthew 8:8 where the centurion replied "Lord, I do not deserve to have you come under my roof. But just say the word, and my servant shall be healed."
May I further refer Nick to Fr. Philip North's excellent sermon at the FinF Solemn Eucharist during the 2014 National Assembly when he boldly said "Let us be fearless in grabbing hold of the invitation the Church has given us to flourish." And "Now we need the imagination and the courage to make it work."
Surely, anyone with such powerful preaching skills as this to communicate the Gospel is worthy to attain the fullness of ministry?
His pastoral, ministerial and skills in mission will be given greater scope in the episcopacy to the benefit of Christ's holy Church and the extension of His Kingdom.
'But once you accept that there should be space in the Church for people who buy into those ideas, you're led into compromises like this one.'
Obviously the Archbishop has been 'led into' this travesty. One wonders by whom.
Factually, the question is whether this taint-free arrangement was necessary from either Father North's or Mother Lane's perspective. I seriously doubt it.
If not, then methinks Ebor is attempting to bend over backwards to satisfy one corner of Anglicanism. Without realizing that this particular attempt is enormously offensive--especially to ordinary Anglicans trying to remain in the pews.
'Of course the laying on of hands is a prayer for the coming of the Spirit. But it doesn't 'convey' the Spirit.' But the Ordinal says: 'Receive the holy Ghost, for the Office and Work of a Bishop in the Church of God, now committed unto thee by the Imposition of our hands.' What could be clearer? The Borgia problem is much worse in fact if you rely on continuity of occupation or continuity of teaching.
Fr David- may I graciously suggest that we avoid quoting scripture out of context to each other? Besides, I still don't think that the verse you quoted implies that the centurion deserved anything.
The things you say of Fr North are well and good, but they still do not mean he "deserves" to be a bishop. If God calls him to be a bishop and the Church discerns it, then very well. But how can ministry be something we earn or deserve? There are many faithful bishops, priests, deacons and lay people who serve because that is what they are called to do, not because they deserve it.
I think you're treating ministry as some sort of promotion for good behaviour or a job well done - steps up the career ladder. I don't think that can be the right attitude.
"Surely, anyone with such powerful preaching skills as this to communicate the Gospel is worthy to attain the fullness of ministry?His pastoral, ministerial and skills in mission will be given greater scope in the episcopacy to the benefit of Christ's holy Church and the extension of His Kingdom."
And what of the women who are just as gifted by God in preaching and ability to communicate the gospel, whose ministerial pastoral and skills in mission should also be allowed to flourish,but who you would deny God's grace to do so.
And the various committees and bishops wonder why more and more people find the church irrelevant at best, and repellant at worst...
"Come unto me, all you who are pure enough... "
The New Directions editorial states "For example, a bishop, who has in the past ordained women, by that act, created an impairment of communion between him and bishops who did not ordain women. He also created an impairment of communion with some of his priests and his people."
It offers no theological justification for this view.
"I could never work out why the risen Jesus tells Mary not to touch him, but as he hadn't got to any of the other disciples by then, it would have spannered the entire apostolic succession." Posted by: David Keen
DavidK, you're TERRIBLE. Come sit by me! >;-)
Perhaps the bishops should all just say the words together and leave the laying-on of hands to a group of children. That way we save the Holy Spirit a lot of bother.
Way too much attention given to bishops again. If only the Church of England would give as much attention to following this coming Sunday's Gospel ('repent, believe in the good news, follow me and I will make you fish for people') as it has done to the mechanics of how a tiny minority of its members will get to be Lord and Lady Bishops (not an issue that appears to have concerned Jesus too much)!
By the way, when I was ordained as a priest in the local church where I had until then served as deacon-in-charge, the local United Church of Canada minister, who didn't realize he wasn't invited, joined the Anglican clergy present and laid hands on me with them. The bishop didn't know who he was so didn't make an issue of it. Is my ordination 'tainted' because he wasn't ordained in the 'apostolic succession'? Just curious - it doesn't seem to have hurt me over the years!
I take +Pete's point....but to an outsider ( or member of another Anglican province,Porvoo or an ecumenical partner, it must seem pretty odd for a Church to consecrate as a Bishop(focus of unity,guardian of the faith etc people who in his words aren't anglican. The problem I suppose is that what IS Anglican is contested....and in my lifetime the various traditions have moved further apart...and comprehensiveness defined as holding things ( often contradictory) in tension rather than as in classical Anglicanism seeing comprehensiveness in terms of fundamentals and non fundamentals.....Messy Church indeed! But didnt the Congregationalist Daniel Jenkins say yhat the C of E wasn't a church...but an attempt to solve the problem of English religion left over from the Reformation.
Dear Nick, if anyone is seriously interested in promotion then the Church of England is not for them. There are so few hierarchical positions to rise to in the first place. I firmly believe in a servant ministry, after the example of the great High Priest Himself. I also firmly believe that Fr. Philip is called to episcopal ministry and will prove to be exemplary in the way in which he exercises his new ministry in Lancashire. Indeed he will be asked at his consecration if he believes that God has called him to be a bishop and I have no doubt that he will do so affirm. So, well deserved, thou good and faithful servant of The Lord.
I think, contra Father David, that I have now arrived at a place where I would feel myself to be in impaired communion with Philip North, in the unlikely circumstance that I was somehow at a service in Lancashire at which he was presiding, precisely because he will have been consecrated only by girl cootie free bishops.
Not a wholly mischievous question – but wondering in what way a course in business management would have made any difference here?
Meanwhile the theory goes that a leader’s legacy is shaped, for good or ill, by the way they manage the first significant challenge they face. For ++Rowan it was Reading. For Fr North, not apparently of his choice, it will be found in the excluding and exclusive drama of his own consecration. It means that, whatever his undoubted qualities, he can never be truly ‘in touch’ with the whole community he is charged to serve.
I completely agree with almost everything Pete Broadbent says.
My problem is with his last line, that in order to keep those who cannot agree with women's ordination in the fold we have to compromise.
Yes, we do! But the big question is how we do that.
There is no theological necessity for the Archbishop and others not to participate in the consecration. And the Five Principles allow it but don't mandate it.
This consecration could have been a sign of how mutual flourishing could have looked in practice. As it is, all its symbolism will highlight the divisions. I really regret that because it wasn't necessary.
"Bearing in mind that the publication of the date of Fr Philip's consecration in York predated the appointment of Rev'd Libby Lane, the question must be asked why was her Consecration scheduled so quickly so that it was before Fr Philip's?" asks Henry Dee.
It was, in the words of Alan Sugar, purely a business decision (we're back to the Green Report...). The College of Bishops was already scheduled to meet in York on Monday 26th January. Holding Libby Lane's consecration then would save the Commissioners the expense of quite a few return fares to York - and avoid another day away from the office for the men in purple.
Erika, I said that tolerating consecration of and by Bishops who would not ordain women was necessary if we believe in "unity in diversity", not "if we are liberal".
However, it is a good question what we mean by "liberal" if we find it impossible (in practice) to tolerate non-liberals believing and doing things that liberals disagree with?
apologies, I had referred to the second part of your statement "or do we really just want a "pure" liberal church?!"
The question isn't one of liberal vs conservative. It's one of mutual flourishing, is it not?
And that should imply retaining our integrity while doing as little harm and damage as possible.
No harm is done to conservative integrity if a validly ordained and consecrated Archbishop and other similarly validly ordained and consecrated bishops lay hands on Fr North.
But a lot of damage has been done by the published arrangements.
You only need to read TA to see how we all started tearing into each other again, full of mutual distrust and resentment.
This could have been avoided without conservatives losing any of their conservative integrity.
Erika, no that's the whole point. WE might think that conservative Anglo-Catholics would accept all Bishops joining in but THEY don't... or at least they won't if a woman turned up to join in!
And, if I had to guess, THAT is the unspoken reason why the principle of general abstention is being established now.
the point is that we don't, traditionally, get to choose the bishops we like. It has been one of the great strengths of the CoE that everyone united under one Diocesan bishop and Suffragan/area Bishops, whether they liked them or not, whether they agreed with their theology and actions or not.
Yes, it is important to believe that your priest really is a priest, so the ABC parish system made sense. The PEV system less so, that's where the rot set in. But at least it was still confined to catering for one group of people.
Now we have a bishop who is responsible for the cure of all the priests on his patch, and who does not recognise the ministry of the women priests, nor believes himself to be in Communion with those male priests on his patch who have participated in female ordinations.
Somehow, and without any consultation as far as I'm aware, our whole understanding and outworking of the Episcopate seems to have changed.
Changed to the point that a Bishop can publicly no longer be in Communion with his own Archbishop.
And we dismiss all of that as nothing but a courtesy!
There was no need to interpret the Five Principles this way. If those who carefully negotiated them and those who voted for them with a huge leap of trust (on both sides) had known that this is how they would be implemented, they would never have voted for them.
In admitting that I have difficulty with Bishop Pete's evangelical annulment of the power of the Holy Spirit being conveyed through the laying on of hands by the bishops - being a liberal Anglo-Catholic - I do wonder at F.i.F.'s request for male-only-untainted-by-female-ordination bishops for Fr. North's episcopal ordination.
If there are defective(?) bishops present, this would surely not prevent the grace being conferred through the laying-on-of-hands by acceptable bishops - even though they be no more than 3 in number? Unless, of course, the presence and ministry of female-ordaining bishops could be thought to negate the grace bestowed through the F.i.F. bishops present.
+Pete Broadbent's charity rather shows up some of the other comments I have read. When will we learn to love and tolerate each other as we are, rather than as we would have the other be? However, his comments on sacramental assurance vis a vis Methodism cannot go entirely unchallenged. It has been the general position of our Church of England hitherto to reordain convert Methodist clergy, which suggests that not everything (yet) is interchangeable...
The lack of charity, and the near-vilification of Philip North, mean that I say goodbye to TA. As several of my flock have said to me 'our understanding of the faith has not changed, It is not we who have invented a new sect.' Goodbye.