Wednesday, 10 June 2015

Bishop of Horsham resigns from SSWSH

Updated again Friday

The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has issued this announcement:

The Bishop of Horsham

Statement by the Rt Revd Tony Robinson, Chairman of the Council of Bishops of the Society

It is with great regret that I have received the Bishop of Horsham’s resignation from the Council of Bishops of The Society. I acknowledge the pain he feels in taking this step, and his regret at the pain it will cause for others.

Part of The Society’s purpose is to continue within the Church of England a tradition of sacramental theology and ministry that accords with the mind and practice of the great churches of East and West. We see this as our contribution both to the breadth and diversity of the Church of England and to the quest for the full visible unity of Christ’s Church.

As a member of the Council of Bishops, the Bishop of Chichester will continue to provide pastoral and sacramental ministry and oversight under the House of Bishops’ Declaration to the clergy and people of The Society in his diocese.

We send Bishop Mark our good wishes for his future ministry.

+TONY WAKEFIELD
The Rt Revd Tony Robinson
Chairman

This has been reported in the local Sussex press with a more tendentious headline: Horsham Bishop will support women bishops in shock shift in theology

The Bishop of Horsham announced today (June 10) that he has stepped down from a traditionalists’ committee following a period of strenuous theological reflection over the issue of women bishops.

The Rt Rev Mark Sowerby has resigned from the Society’s Council of Bishops, which has long held the thinking that women should not be ordained as priests, deacons and bishops in the Church of England.

He said today that he now wishes to accept women into all these roles….

Update
The Chichester diocesan website now has Bishop of Horsham – Resignation as a member of the Society’s Council of Bishops

…The Bishop of Chichester said today: “Bishop Mark’s shift in theological outlook on the ordination of women priests and bishops is a costly one. All who know and respect him will understand the serious struggle with conscience that will have led to his decision. We respect his honesty and applaud his courage. For some of those he serves it will be a development that they cannot follow, and that will be painful; for others, this news will be greeted with relief and considerable rejoicing.

Bishop Mark will continue to minister in the diocese as suffragan bishop of Horsham. Traditionalists who have looked to him for sacramental ministry will still have available to them the pastoral care and oversight of the diocesan bishop.

Future arrangements for the oversight of ordination in this diocese had already been agreed, prior to Bishop Mark’s decision. All ordinations to the diaconate and to the priesthood will take place in the Cathedral; all three bishops will participate in the ordinations, in ways that respect the theological conscience of those present. This will follow the precedent set by the Archbishop of York in the arrangements for the episcopal ordination of Libby Lane as bishop of Stockport and Philip North as bishop of Burnley.

Bishop Martin concluded: “Within the household of faith, we are committed to the trust and respect for theological conscience that undergirds the Five Guiding Principles of the House of Bishops’ Declaration. We seek the greatest degree of communion possible in our apostolic life of faith, of hope and of love. We ask for God’s continued blessing on Bishop Mark in proclaiming and nurturing the call to know, love, follow Jesus.”

The Church Times carries a report, Another woman bishop appointed, as Horsham changes his view, which includes quotes from Bishop Mark’s letter to Bishop Tony.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 1:00pm BST | TrackBack
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Categorised as: Church of England
Comments

It seems to me that this has been well handled by all concerned, in ways that indicate that most people within the C of E have now got a proper grip on what it means to operate two integrities.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 1:57pm BST

This could be a "big deal" couldn't it? If +Mark's reasons for changing his view on this are convincing from a catholic perspective will any/many congregations follow him?

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 5:36pm BST

Double blow for the Society as Lindsay Urwin returns to Australia in the autumn.An almost fatalistic statement but ,I agree, well -handled.
That volte-face took courage though as some will never forgive.I believe it important that there are sufficient SSWH for the constituency although I know it is more comfortable now to be an anglo-catholic who is reconciled/largely reconciled with women in all three orders of ministry (as I am).

Posted by: michael on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 6:41pm BST

Well handled in general, but I am sorry to see in the diocesan announcement reference to the arrangements for the consecration of +Philip North, as if they represented the CofE at its finest and a model for future consecrations. In fact, as was shown in several very long earlier threads on this site, they were widely thought to be unnecessarily divisive, contributing to separate, rather than the required mutual, flourishing, and taking us much closer to a de-facto third province than should ever have been allowed.
But I applaud +Mark's brave decision and I hope that, in due course, he may set down the thinking which led to it.

Posted by: Malcolm Dixon on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 9:57pm BST

Many prayers for +Mark Sowerby at this time and many prayers for The Society, which is losing yet another Bishop.

While the appointment of 4 women bishops so far and Bishop Mark's re-examining of conscience are a cause for great joy for some, it is important that the CofE doesn't lose sight of the importance to make sure that Bishops within the Traditionalist Catholic wing of the church are appointed in equal measure... Not only to represent the diversity of the Church of England but for the sake of the wider church.

Good wishes to Bishop Mark as he takes this new step in his Christian discipleship and Episcopal ministry.

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Wednesday, 10 June 2015 at 10:24pm BST

Note how it states" priests and bishops"..as FIF, SSHW accept women deacons.That shows they are out of line with Roman Catholicism and Eastern Orthodoxy. Therefore their tradition goes back to 1985 when the Church of England opened the diaconate to women!

Posted by: Robert ian Williams on Thursday, 11 June 2015 at 6:34am BST

Sounds just like the Vicar of Bray. But is this the end of those FIF types?

Posted by: Joseph Golightly on Thursday, 11 June 2015 at 1:25pm BST

Lichfield will soon need someone familiar with an area scheme. Mark would be good.

Posted by: Fr William on Thursday, 11 June 2015 at 1:30pm BST

Is it just me, or does this deeply personal reconsideration suggest a very fundamental flaw in the idea that traditionalists can or should be catered to by bishops who are of like mind?

As this news demonstrates, the assumption of like-mindedness can collapse swiftly.

To me this suggests a flaw in the entire project of setting aside certain episcopal relationships based on the (mutable) opinions of the bishop involved.

Posted by: Jeremy on Thursday, 11 June 2015 at 4:15pm BST

I presume this will complicate the Society's work of keeping a register of clergy who have been ordained by bishops who have not ordained a woman. I guess they will need two categories for those ordained by +Mark; those before and after his decision to change his stance on the ordination of women, or at least those before and those after he actually does ordain a woman.
It does rather show up what a nonsense such a register is.

Posted by: Edward Prebble on Thursday, 11 June 2015 at 9:34pm BST

I wonder if any of the parishes that might have thought that they needed a traditionalist bishop will decide that +Mark is OK and stick with him despite his change of view?

Posted by: Susan Cooper on Thursday, 11 June 2015 at 11:04pm BST

The question arises, if the society keeps such a list, as to whether Bishop Mark's change of heart retroactively, in their eyes, [taints/invalidates/calls into question the purity of] the ordinations he has thus far carried out.

Posted by: Jo on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 7:04am BST

The Society has brought this on itself by its very strange conception of how communion within the CofE is now impaired. Clearly if you do not believe that women can be priests or bishops then you are unable to receive communion from a woman priest or a priest ordained by a woman bishop, but they have extended their understanding of impairment to include any, man or woman, who takes a different view to their own. (and if this is not "taint" then I am not sure what is).
That is why, it seems to me that bishop Mark has had to choose for the Church of England as a whole rather than a society which has painted itself into a very narrow corner.

Posted by: Paul Richardson on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 8:00am BST

What with this turnaround by a former anti-women clergy proponent - together with American Tony Campolo's admission that he was wrong in his campaign against same-sex marriage; Christians around the Western world seem to be falling over one another to enter the modern world's understanding of human gender and sexuality. Deo gratias!

(Perhaps R.I.Williams needs to know that even the Pope, Francis, recently made a speech at the VATICAN, stating his opinion that the Roman Catholic Church needs to offer a more extensive range of ministry to its women-folk)

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 8:28am BST

As I understand it, the register is simply to record those who were ordained by a MALE BISHOP - not necessarily one who is in sympathy with the aims of the SSWH. In that sense, those male priests whom +Horsham has - and will - ordain still qualify for inclusion on the SSWH list.

Posted by: Will Richards on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 9:51am BST

It is all a bit complicated:
http://www.sswsh.com/uploads/PriestsOfTheSocietyDeclaration2015.pdf

When the creation of a 'headship' bishop was discussed in GS, I pointed out the problems here if the bishop changed his mind. You cannot appoint someone a bishop just because of their views on one issue.

Posted by: Charles Read on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 11:05am BST

Ron needs to realise that ministry and ordination are not co-terminous.I believe women have a ministry to offer the Catholic Church but not in Holy order. I receive holy communion from a lay woman at mass sometimes and was very grateful to one such lady who ministerd to my Mother in hospital. It is defined Catholic dogma that women cannot be ordianed and Pope Francis has said he will respect this.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 11:28am BST

It would be really helpful if FiF or the society were to explain what beliefs lie behind all the requirements in the Society's declaration and in the arrangements for the consecration of Phillip North. I've failed to find any explanation on FiF's website explaining what they think is wrong with a male priest ordained by a bishop who has also ordained women, or of why the beliefs of priests matter in the declaration. Without this, we're left to guess as to whether they're really as schismatic as they seem to be.

Posted by: Leon on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 2:44pm BST

This is turning into an attack on Forward in Faith and the Society.

+Horsham's change in theological conviction doesn't taint the credibility of these organisations. The CofE has individuals who on the grounds of theological conviction cannot accept the ministry of women, the CofE has recognised this and chosen to create an honoured place for them.

I am sure that Bishop Mark leaves Forward in Faith and the Society with great affection for the organisations and the people he leaves behind; let us express some charity during this time.

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 6:02pm BST

Charles Read: I agree that Bishop's shouldn't be ordained on the basis of their theological conviction (Apart from PEV's and +Fulham) but instead who is the best person for the job but the question is "Will the CofE ever see anyone traditionalist appointed to an Suffragan/Diocesan See because he is the best person for the job? The likely answer is NO".

The moment Dioceses starts excluding individuals from Episcopal appointments because of their theological conviction, it becomes a non-reflective Episcopate and the CofE already has that problem with the lack of senior appointments held by minority ethnic individuals.

Many in CofE fought for many years for a reflective and non-discriminatory Episcopate but this doesn't seem to ring true anymore

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 6:13pm BST

"+Horsham's change in theological conviction doesn't taint the credibility of these organisations."

What credibility?

Organisations that actively advocate discrimination on the basis of sex have little credibility to begin with.

Perhaps +Horsham grew to understand this.

Posted by: Jeremy on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 9:42pm BST

Jeffrey John has been the best person for the job on a number of occasions, and the lack of openly gay Bishops in the CofE is a fairly clear sign that it is unreflective both of the clergy and the laity.

A person who will refuse to accept the ordained ministry of some of their own clergy pretty clearly can't be the best person for the job of Bishop.

Posted by: Jo on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 10:21pm BST

Chuchu Nwagu: "I agree that Bishop's shouldn't be ordained on the basis of their theological conviction (Apart from PEV's and +Fulham)"

So you don't agree that Bishop's shouldn't be ordained on the basis of their theological conviction...

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Friday, 12 June 2015 at 10:33pm BST

"I believe women have a ministry to offer the Catholic Church but not in Holy order."

So every woman who felt called ***to holy orders*** (not to mention every bishop who affirmed that call---and every community of laity who felt blessed by the ministry of a woman IN holy orders) is crazy, sinful, or both, RIW? You can't dance your way around this.

"It is defined Catholic dogma that women cannot be ordianed and Pope Francis has said he will respect this."

Maybe, but not for forever. Do you just hope&pray you won't live long enough to see Rome ordain women?

Posted by: JCF on Saturday, 13 June 2015 at 1:21am BST

Alistair: For the roles of PEV's, +Fulham and +Maidstone; I am in full support that these should be individuals appointed on the basis of their theological convictions because these roles are there for that purpose.

I don't think every appointment should be filled by Traditionalists but if individuals were appointed to a Suffragan/Diocesan See who happened to be a traditionalist on the basis that they were the best person for the job then it will be a much welcomed.

Like I don't believe that a women should be appointed to Suffragan/Diocesan Sees because they are a woman but rather because they are deemed to be the best person for the job... We've heard a lot recently of shortlists being dominated with female clergy but where are the men on those shortlists, surely not all of them are deemed unsuitable

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Saturday, 13 June 2015 at 12:42pm BST

"We've heard a lot recently of shortlists being dominated with female clergy"

Have we? Where?

Posted by: Alastair Newman on Saturday, 13 June 2015 at 9:27pm BST

Alistair: If you look back at previous posts on this site; you'll come across a few correspondence about this issue

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Saturday, 13 June 2015 at 10:12pm BST

Response to JCF. The development of doctrine within the Catholic Church is never disjunctive with the past.The matter of female ordination has been decided infallibly by the Catholic Church.However over the years women's ministry has changed and developed..we never had four hundred years ( as in the Church of England )where women were consigned to just cleaning the Church or teaching children at home. The religious Orders within Catholicism offered women a definite role. From 1559 to the mid nineteenth century women had no ministerial role in Anglicanism.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 7:38am BST

Fr. William: the area scheme in Chichester has been abandoned. It was fatally flawed and cited as such in the enquiry into child abuse in the Diocese. It potentially allowed too much power and too little accountability to the Area bishops who could operate their own mini diocese without reference to the centre.

Nevertheless the news of Bishop Mark's change of stance on the ordination of women as Priests and Bishops is a momentous event here. A year or so ago no bishop here would ordain women as Priests . Today two out of three will do so. Chichester is no longer the 'dead see'. At last.

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 9:19am BST

"We've heard a lot recently of shortlists being dominated with female clergy."

With Alastair, I ask where?

And even if we had, so what?

We've certainly heard a lot, for the past 1900 years, of shortlists being dominated by male clergy.

As for recent appointments to CofE sees, everyone knew that for years, a group of highly qualified woman candidates was just under the "stained glass ceiling."

Posted by: Jeremy on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 11:30am BST

"I don't think every appointment should be filled by Traditionalists but if individuals were appointed to a Suffragan/Diocesan See who happened to be a traditionalist on the basis that they were the best person for the job then it will be a much welcomed."

I am surprised to be reading this. The mind of the church is now settled on women's ministry in all its forms. It is no longer incidental that a person happens to be a non-ordainer. Provision has been made for the very small minority who find the development unconscionable. There will be no further appointments of non-ordainers or headship bishops to a diocesan see. The reason is obvious. Theological conviction on this point is now a show stopper. By definition such a person cannot be the best candidate. I am not prepared to be so dogmatic about suffragan sees, but as suffragans are appointed by diocesans it seems highly unlikely. +Burnley is the last. +Fulham might remain the only exception but he functions more as a PEV for a rather large diocese. The College of Bishops (and most certainly the House of Bishops) cannot function on the basis that some of their members don't recognise the orders of others.

Posted by: Anthony Archer on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 8:03pm BST

I should like the church to be led and served by women.

Posted by: P Griffiths on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 8:09pm BST

There are several issues in this thread.

(1) Shortlists dominated by women - undoubtedly there have been shortlists for posts where a number of women have been included. That was always going to be the case, given the huge number of excellent women candidates who hadn't been able to be considered. It happened with Archdeacons posts when the glass ceiling was removed there. But it's not going to be a continuing story - though there are still more suffragan sees to be announced, and some of those are likely to go to women candidates. In two years time, it's unlikely that we will be speculating about candidature by gender. Even the CofE becomes normal after a while.

(2) It's a tough thing to change your views and lose your friends. +Mark has been brave to do so, and +Martin has been generous in his response. It is a bit of seismic shift for Chichester Diocese - and they could do with our prayers.

(3) One of the major considerations in making appointments to suffragan sees and archdeaconries is that of team and balance. We await the announcement of 3 bishops and 3 archdeacons here in London - one of the key factors for us here is getting new blood - and a team that will reflect the diverse theological and ecclesial spectrum within the bounds of generous orthodoxy. That does mean that appointments can't be seen in isolation... I hope that people will understand that when the London team is announced.

Posted by: Pete Broadbent on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 11:29pm BST

Anthony Archer: I completely disagree with you and I cannot wait for the day when we have another traditionalist appointment to prove all; if not most of you wrong... +Burnley will not be the last traditionalist Suffragan appointment we will have and neither will +Chichester be the last traditionalist Diocesan appointment... It will be difficult to appoint but it will happen.

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Sunday, 14 June 2015 at 11:35pm BST

I also completely disagree with Anthony Archer.

Posted by: John on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 12:30pm BST

It would be interesting to see Bishop Mark's full letter. Just from the quotes in the CT article, it is not clear that he has actually changed his theological conviction. He talks about having to choose between the mainstream CofE and the Society etc. Reading between the lines, it looks like he is saying that his commitment to full communion in his lifetime Church is more important than his beliefs on this issue. It would be interesting to ask him whether he does think it is right for women to be ordained priest and consecrated bishop, or whether he is simply conceding that the CofE has made its mind up and he is going along with it?

Posted by: NJ on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 12:41pm BST

I can see how it suits the majority of contributors here to use the occasion of one man, who simply happens to be a bishop, changing his mind, to put the boot into those loyal Anglicans who as a matter of theological conscience cannot assent to the Ordination of Women as priests and bishops of the CofE.

For the person bringing up the red herring of CofE Women Deacons and 1985, Rome, certainly, stated that this of itself was not an impediment to unity.

For those who enjoy putting the boot into the 'new arrangements', it will work if you have the charity to allow it to work. Though sadly, from what I read here, you seem no more likely to assent to the Five Principles than to the moon being made of cheese.

The determination of a certain quarter within the CofE to continue to hound so-called 'traditionalists' out of the CofE is illustrated nicely by Christina Rees' statement concerning Bishop Sowerby to BBC Sunday, describing it as 'the winter in Narnia beginning to melt'. Typical presumptuous gloating.

As for the 'bravery' of Bishop Sowerby, why 'bravery'? He has 'joined the majority' in the CofE, who will fete him and welcome him with open arms. Far braver to equally obey one's conscience, making one a solitary 'traditionalist' in a diocese, and diocesan public enemy number one, despised and reviled by people who have never met you.

Posted by: James Mather on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 1:42pm BST

This is an interesting taste of some of the issues the church may have to face in the future.

What would happen if in, say, 20 years time a male priest ordained by a woman bishop has a change of heart and wants to become "a traditionalist" (for want of a better way of putting it)?

Will the church start "conditional re-ordinations" of some sort? If there is no shared theology of ordination, some sort of structural change may be inevitable.

Posted by: Neb on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 1:54pm BST

Following Neb's comment: what about a candidate for ordination to a FiF parish who was baptized/confirmed by a woman bishop? The CoI and the CoE accept each other's orders, and it is not inconceivable that the Bishop of Meath and Kildare will ordain a man who in future may wish to join the FiF constituency. Or am I missing something?

Posted by: Fr William on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 3:41pm BST

Neb: In relation to "What would happen if in, say, 20 years time a male priest ordained by a woman bishop has a change of heart and wants to become "a traditionalist" (for want of a better way of putting it)? Will the church start "conditional re-ordinations" of some sort? If there is no shared theology of ordination, some sort of structural change may be inevitable."

While this situation will be unlikely; I often wonder about that myself. "conditional re-ordinations" might be an option but then it will bring about an internal question of the validity of Anglican Orders, if we're having to re-ordain. It's something that I don't think we as a Church know the answers too yet but it will be examined probably on a Case by Case basis.

Posted by: Chuchu Nwagu on Monday, 15 June 2015 at 4:50pm BST

+Mark has made his decision and no doubt it has been difficult, long and complex to come to this point. Given that so many clergy and laity have moved upon this, it is hardly surprising that the episcopacy is not immune Times move on and decisions are made within context, and through experience and prayer. Rather than conjecture upon the mind of +Mark please give a thought to the Diocese. This brings the leadership into a good representative balance, and sits well with moving the Diocese from some of the darkness of the past. I pray that we have this balance for some time. If + Mark move on +Jeffrey would be good.

Posted by: sueeve on Tuesday, 16 June 2015 at 9:33am BST

James Mather is absolutely right in his condemnation of comments made by Christina Rees. Her words were of the most uncharitable kind. It raises the question of whether some advocates of women bishops really are as committed to making the new scheme work as much as they claim. WATCH has a lot to answer for.

Posted by: Benedict on Tuesday, 16 June 2015 at 11:35am BST

I agree Christina Rees' remarks were mischievous.

I also completely agree with 'it will work if you have the charity to allow it to work'. On the whole (lamentable backslidings continue to occur), 'traditionalists' have accepted this (Martin Warner certainly has). 'Liberals' (of whom I'm one) need to be more accommodating. Such accommodation certainly includes the appointment of more traditionalist bishops, because it's not good enough to say to a minority 'we'll look after you till you die off'.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 17 June 2015 at 9:16am BST

James Mather states "For the person bringing up the red herring of CofE Women Deacons and 1985, Rome, certainly, stated that this of itself was not an impediment to unity."

Absolutely false..not one official statement can be found supporting this.

Posted by: robert ian williams on Thursday, 18 June 2015 at 5:44am BST

I preferred a single-clause measure. Why should I be held to the five principles?

i didn't vote for them. Indeed I opposed them as practically unworkable and theologically suspect.

That position is now gaining more empirical support.

Posted by: jeremy on Friday, 19 June 2015 at 3:41am BST
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