Thursday, 10 September 2015

SSWSH statement on Communion and Catholicity

The Council of Bishops of the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda (SSWSH) has published a document entitled ‘Communion and Catholicity in the Church of England: A Statement of Principles’.

It appears in the September issue of New Directions and is also available on the Society website here.

According to the SSWSH website:

The statement explains

  • the nature of communion;
  • The Society’s aspiration to be an expression of full, visible communion;
  • the communion that the parishes and people of The Society continue to share with other members of the Church of England.

It reflects on the vocation of catholic Christians in the Church of England.

The Chairman of the Council of Bishops, the Rt Revd Tony Robinson (Bishop of Wakefield), has commented:

“This teaching document is our contribution to shaping understanding and custom that will engender greater trust in our position. We believe, humbly and with hope and trust for the future, that the tradition of Anglican identity exemplified by The Society has a distinctive contribution to make to our common life in the Church of England and to its mission.”

This statement will be accompanied by a second statement focusing on the practical application of these principles, which will be published in the October issue of New Directions.

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From the document:
2.2 The Society is an ecclesial community established by the traditional catholic bishops of the Church of England to address the new situation created by the ordination of women to the episcopate as well as to the priesthood.

• It promotes and maintains catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England. (according to its own narrow and blinkered definitions)

• It offers a ministry in the historic, apostolic succession, and continuing sacramental assurance in the Church of England, by commending Priests of The Society whose ministry can be received with confidence. (theology of taint still going strong, it seems)

"Nurtured by the tradition as we have received it, and mindful of the judgement of the greater part of the universal Church, we are unable, for theological reasons, to recognize some of those whom the Church of England has ordained as bishops and priests as standing within the historic succession of apostolic ministry as it is held within the ancient churches of East and West. This means that the Church of England no longer celebrates in every place one Eucharist in which all can share, [...] there is a tear in the fabric of our common life and in our communion."
(the rest of the church seems to manage, it's really only you.)

Lovely little document, so humble and gracious.

Posted by: Mary Evans on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 10:47am BST

So there you have it folks..a third province in another name!

Posted by: robert ian williams on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 11:54am BST

2.5 "As catholic Christians living in full communion with catholic bishops and with each other, those who belong to The Society participate in the one, holy, catholic and apostolic Church". What Church are the rest of us participating in?

Posted by: Julia Redfern on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 12:05pm BST

Isn't 'ecclesial community' how the previous Pope described non Roman churches when he didn't want to dignify them as churches?

Posted by: Richard Ashby on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 2:52pm BST

"What Church are the rest of us participating in?"

They - for I am not one of them - should logically and coherently respond "no church at all," if their statement were anything more than an elaborate self-justification for remaining in the Church of England. It is hard to see how it can be reconciled with their inane slogan "Better Together!"

Posted by: William Tighe on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 2:54pm BST

Canon A1 Of the Church of England

The Church of England, established according to the laws of this realm under the Queen's Majesty, belongs to the true and apostolic Church of Christ; and, as our duty to the said Church of England requires, we do constitute and ordain that no member thereof shall be at liberty to maintain or hold the contrary.

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 3:10pm BST

Think it's OK myself. Ideally, I'd have liked something about 'mutual flourishing', but it's largely an in-house document, designed to reassure the like-minded.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 3:50pm BST

'Humble' and 'gracious' are scarcely epithets for those believing to stand for Catholic truth. Mary Evans might wish to delve into the early councils of the Christian Church, say Ephesus and Chalcedon. Cyril or Leo would scarcely fit into the polite, dare I say genteel (perhaps not) realities of contemporary Anglicanism.

Posted by: Clive Sweeting on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 4:12pm BST

To me, it is how to lose the plot of what really matters. Mark 7.8 comes to mind.

Posted by: AIC on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 4:52pm BST

I can't help noting that the document is intended to "engender" trust. Deliberate or accidental choice of word?

Posted by: Turbulent Priest on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 5:28pm BST

Speaking as a woman, I think it is a fine document for the most part, although I cry at some of its judgementalism. There should be a place in the church for those who support women bishops and equally a place for those who don't. For that dichotomy to be a positive pluralism rather than a fractious divide will take deliberations and documents such as this to set out how the two groups can live and work together in harmony.

Posted by: Kate on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 5:41pm BST

"as our duty to the said Church of England requires, we do constitute and ordain that no member thereof shall be at liberty to maintain or hold the contrary." -- Canon A1, as cited by Mark Bennet

Mr. Bennet, in a robustly democratic, freely-speaking society such as Merry Old England, the Church of England can constitute and ordain anything it pleases, but that doesn't mean that all of its members are going to go along.

Posted by: peterpi - Peter Gross on Thursday, 10 September 2015 at 7:20pm BST

"This means that the Church of England no longer celebrates in every place one Eucharist in which all can share, [...] there is a tear in the fabric of our common life and in our communion."

This is, surely, the language of intentional schism. Saints Hilda and Julian of Norwich must be turning in their graves!

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 1:02am BST

“....we are unable, for theological reasons, to recognize some of those whom the Church of England has ordained as bishops and priests as standing within the historic succession of apostolic ministry as it is held within the ancient churches of East and West. “

The problem with the Othodox/Roman/Anglican triumvirate is that it is believed in only by Anglicans, and of interest to only a certain group of Anglicans. If they took any interest, which I doubt they do, the ancient churches of east and west would see a group of laymen claiming to be in Holy Orders, but not, with the authority to ordain precisely no one, arguing about another group of laymen and women.

Posted by: Disgraceful on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 5:26am BST

What kind of being (animal, vegetable or mineral) is an "ecclesial community" if not a Church? Surely the very word ecclesial means relating to or constituting a Church or denomination, therefore the Latin Church itself is also an "ecclesial community, is it not?

Posted by: Father David on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 7:22am BST

Father Ron Smith is very extreme in his reference to schism. What he continues to fail to understand is that SSWSH and its members are in and of the Church of England. As has now on two separate occasions been identified by the Independent Reviewer, their views are completely in line with that which is viewed as permissible by the recent legislation. Living in New Zealand and therefore outside the culture and context of the Church of England he has perhaps misunderstood the nuanced nature of the five Guiding Principles. Furthermore,the Communion statement is a product of theological reflection and learning, seeking to show we can still live in communion in the same church, albeit impaired communion.

Posted by: Benedict on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 11:27am BST

To me, the document reads like no more than the righteous manifesto of a faction - the People's Front of Judea trying to distinguish itself from the Judean People's Front.

Posted by: Andrew Gray on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 12:02pm BST

Yes indeed Andrew.

What has the General Synod ever done for us?
... Women bishops!
What has the General Synod ever done for us apart from women bishops?

or:

He's not the Archbishop*, he's just a naughty boy

* or Prolocutor, or substitute office as appropriate

Posted by: Charles Read on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 2:47pm BST

As has always been the case with this particular controversy, it butts up against the classical definition of what it means to be in communion: which entails recognition of ministers. The Roman Church is clear on this in its canonical self-understanding as subsisting in those who recognize and relate to the bishops in communion with the Heir of Peter. Many an ecumenical process is based on precisely this principle, that a church is in communion with another ecclesial body when there is mutual recognition of ministers.

Rome and the East are not in communion with the Church of England, so appealing to them for authority is paradoxical at best.

Let me hasten to add that I don't believe anyone should be forced into a crisis of conscience, and so long as live-as-let-live policies are in place, so good. But there is no point talking about degrees of communion any more than in degrees of virginity. It may be too much to call it schism, but communion it is not.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 4:12pm BST

The problem as highlighted in the comments is their position is very difficult to maintain. Their main defence seems to be the very one that ARCIC floundered on, for Romans only communion with Rome makes you part of the visible church Christ instituted. Hence the ordinariate (anyone remember that?!) is the only way to maintain the catholic apostolic line argument if your appeal is to Rome or the East. Whether you have women or not seems to be irrelevant if sacramental assurance and the catholic line argument are what truly makes a church.

Posted by: Paul on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 4:16pm BST

So many of these arguments within the church seem to be about derived issues. Maybe it is time for a church council to decide some fundamental issues:

What do the terms "man" and "woman" mean because as professional athletics has discovered birth certificates are only an approximation


With those terms defined, is the fundamental spiritual nature of men different to the spiritual nature of women

Can apostolic succession be tainted or invalidated or does the Presence of God redeem any deficiencies?

On the last point I can see that traditionalists would struggle with a bishop elevated only by women bishops but providing sufficient male bishops are present the addition of further 'lay' hands (in the eyes of Anglo-catholics that's the status of women) seems irrelevant to me.

Kate

Posted by: Kate on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 5:11pm BST

One of the reasons why FiF people or SSWSH people move me (old sentimentalist that I am) is that they clearly love the C of E. Sometimes this love is overt (Father Trevor Jones: 'O sweet my mother, cast me not away'; Bishop Martyn Jarrett: 'I love the Church of England and it would break my heart to leave her'; last rector of St Luke's, Derby: 'I was born in the Church of England, and I shall die in the Church of England' (as indeed he did); sometimes it is rather 'the love that dares not speak its name' and is accordingly dressed up in elaborate theological garments which are real enough but which yet disguise deeper realities. Another is that they are continually and often meanly attacked by former friends who have joined the Ordinariate or otherwise 'swum the Tiber'. One example here; another current on Father Ed's blog.

Posted by: John on Friday, 11 September 2015 at 7:25pm BST

" Furthermore,the Communion statement is a product of theological reflection and learning, seeking to show we can still live in communion in the same church, albeit impaired communion." - Benedict -

My question, Dear Brother, is; how can you possibly think of yourselves as both 'catholic and Apostolic - in the terms that you arrogate to yourselves in SSWSH and F.i.F., which denies the catholicity and apostolicity of the Church of England, on account of its acceptance of women clergy - while yet claiming membership of that same sodality whose catholicity you deny.

You simply can't have it both ways. Either you are fully 'catholic and apostolic', or you are members of a Church that is not possessed of the characteristics you claim as indispensible to your status as 'Church'.

It seems to me that your much-vaunted precious 'catholicity' is tainted - in the very same way that you consider any connection to women's ordination as being 'non-catholic'.

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Saturday, 12 September 2015 at 12:57am BST

Like others on this thread I wonder just what reality the authors of this document inhabit?
Like many of my fellow priests and co religionists we would be delighted to see our Church and the Orthodox recognise or regularise Anglican Orders, but in the meantime we cannot pretend this has happened.
Just because the bishops of this group shop for their ecclesiastical attire in the same street as the Pope or venerate Our Lady as much as he and use our rather awful new rite doesn't make them acceptable to the strange beings that run our Church. Indeed what happened in the secret preparation and launch of the Ordinariate says more than I can about how devious Rome remains and how little they can be trusted in ecumenical affairs.
I would hear much mocking from Roman dignitaries at the way these English bishops and clergy would ape up to date Roman fashion and even some snide remarks about the leaders of the Ordinariate! There is real sense among many Catholics that these men, both from SSWSH and those who joined the Ordinariate are Pappa Benedicts men rather than Pappa Francesco.
The document has a style that reflects this and underlines just what a dream world these men inhabit. To a modern mind both its content and approach echo not the mystery of Christ and His Church but rather, just a mystery ......
What is significant from a lawyers perspective is underlined by Robert Ian Williams, this is a voluntary group akin to the Mothers Union, it is making a play to seem something else, but it is not. It is not a third province by any name, the churches of Rome and the East will see this. It is as much a ruse as their tailoring.

Posted by: Fr Alan on Saturday, 12 September 2015 at 1:28pm BST

One way of approaching these Principles is to start with footnote 14 which refers to clause 3 in Unitatis Redintegratio. UR:22 tells us that, ‘Though the ecclesial Communities which are separated from us lack the fullness of unity with us flowing from Baptism, and though we believe they have not retained the proper reality of the eucharistic mystery in its fullness, especially because of the absence of the sacrament of Orders, nevertheless when they commemorate His death and resurrection in the Lord's Supper, they profess that it signifies life in communion with Christ and look forward to His coming in glory’. ‘Communion with Christ’ seems to me the key thing to hope for, and I find problematic the juxtaposition of Roman Catholic teaching regarding ‘the absence of the sacrament of Orders’ and the sentence in The Society’s Principles at (3.1), ‘Nurtured by the tradition as we have received it, and mindful of the judgement of the greater part of the universal Church, we are unable, for theological reasons, to recognize some of those whom the Church of England has ordained as bishops and priests as standing with the historic succession of apostolic ministry as it held within the ancient churches of East and West’. I take Kate’s point about working with the dichotomy, but I don’t think this Society document is well-thought through. I think it would have benefitted from rigorous editing vis-à-vis the use of catholic and Catholic. Also a definition of what the Society understands as the 'catholic life in the Church of England' and 'catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England’. I am an Anglican who finds much in Roman Catholic teaching and practice helpful. My interest in these Principles is not from any desire to attack anyone. The church where I was confirmed and where I continue to worship periodically will see the installation of a Society priest later this month, and so I think it is sensible to take an interest in The Society. I also still recall Archbishop Justin’s words at the National Service at St Paul’s Cathedral last year, ‘Let us therefore celebrate with fullness of heart and no holding back, not in triumphalism, but in awe at the God who so loves us that He gave us his whole self – so that all of us, men and women equally, may give our whole selves in following Christ our Lord’.

Posted by: Julia Redfern on Saturday, 12 September 2015 at 1:35pm BST

John, thank you for your comment. Whether one agrees with the members of FIF and SSWSH or not, they wish to remain committed to the Church of England where they have been promised a recognized place. They have not fled to Rome and then made snide remarks about the Church which nurtured them. For this they deserve respect.

Since we have to live in a Church of England which includes those who peddle homophobia and biblical fundamentalism and disregard the liturgical nature of Anglican worship, it behoves us to be generous to others who adhere to the historic values of our Church. Where difference of opinion is concerned, the policy of Gamaliel (Acts 5:34ff) seems the best one.

Posted by: Barry on Saturday, 12 September 2015 at 6:12pm BST

You have answered your own question Father Ron. Our Catholicity and apostolicity derives from our remaining within that continuum and succession that you have stepped outside of, by your acceptance of innovation and developments not commensurate with Catholic teaching.

Posted by: Benedict on Saturday, 12 September 2015 at 10:30pm BST

Benedict, not to sound funny, but is marriage for priests commensurate with Catholic teaching? Looking at its make-up, it seems to me that the Society's Council of Bishops picks and chooses somewhat when it comes to 'innovation and developments'! Of course, there is no reason why any of them shouldn't be married, given that they are Anglicans not Roman or Orthodox Catholics. I make the point not to be mean but to point out, gently I hope, the inconsistencies in The Society's approach.

Posted by: Julia Redfern on Sunday, 13 September 2015 at 10:12am BST

Thank you, Barry. Sometimes one gets despondent about the continuing bickering. Your reply has cheered me up.

Posted by: John on Sunday, 13 September 2015 at 2:46pm BST

Father Ron, the evidence seems to suggest that yes, marriage for priests is commensurate with Catholic teaching, otherwise the Roman Catholic Church wouldn't have within its ranks any at all, even if they are former Anglicans. I don't see any evidence, however, of women priests or bishops in its ranks.

Posted by: Benedict on Sunday, 13 September 2015 at 3:56pm BST

The marriage discipline aside (as I understand it to be a discipline, not a doctrine) the more important reality is the formal Roman definition of Anglican Orders as utterly null and void. These "ecclesial bodies" are most definitely not in communion with Rome to any degree, and by their own admission are in "impaired" communion with their own mother Church. This does not constitute either catholicity or apostolicity. As a wise bishop once pointed out to an earnest Episcopalian troubled by innovations in his church (Fr Paul Wattson, founder of the RC Society of the Atonement), "You cannot appeal to an authority in all things except for its view of your own ordination." Wattson found this persuasive and became a Roman Catholic. The Episcopal bishop in question also later resigned his office, and lived as a Roman Catholic layman to the end of his days. I am not suggesting anyone should follow this path, but it is a path that remains open.

Posted by: Tobias Haller on Sunday, 13 September 2015 at 6:40pm BST

Can someone point me to the passage in these principles which explains why a bishop consecrated by an archbishop who has also consecrated a woman is not a 'proper bishop'. I've been struggling for some time to find an official FiF/society document that explains this.

(I know what the usual argument is; I just haven't noticed it in any official FiF documents. And it would be quite interesting were it to be genuinely missing)

Posted by: Leon Clarke on Monday, 14 September 2015 at 10:15am BST

I wonder about a church and a morality that essentially says that due to persecution of Christians, we need to be in solidarity with the ancient churches of East and West, i.e. RC and Orthodox (forget about the numerous Protestant churches that struggle less with female pastors). Being in solidarity/communion means persecuting and excluding women in CoE...

And much of this is based on the "theology of taint," which I call the "cootie doctrine" (it doesn't translate well, cooties are like invisible germs boys get from girls before they realize they like girls).

The sacraments are valid when performed by criminal male bishops and priests. They are not valid when performed by male bishops who've consecrated females... Sorry folks, but this is about power, not "sacramental assurance."

Posted by: Cynthia on Monday, 14 September 2015 at 6:30pm BST

A stern injunction from FiF Director Dr Colin Podmore (Vocations Day at Gordon Square, November 2013) made me smile. '... … I am depressed by the way in which some in the Church of England seem to believe that they are entitled to ignore the canons that have been agreed by the synods of the Church and instead do what is right in their own eyes. (Incidentally, bishops are bound by the canons that have been agreed together in Synod, just as everyone else is. We do not believe in arbitrary government by bishops who think that they are a law unto themselves). When people ignore what has been commonly agreed – whether locally, nationally or internationally – and do what is right in their own eyes, that is disorder, and disorder is most definitely not what God wills for his Church, and not what Paul advocates in his letters. Disorder is unhealthy for the body and contrary to the will of him who has ordained and constituted the services of Angels and men in a wonderful order'. Onwards and upwards for next Sunday's Installation at the Chapel Royal Hampton Court. Perhaps all that is needed to 'mutually flourish' is a sense of humour.

Posted by: Julia Redfern on Monday, 14 September 2015 at 11:01pm BST

"Can someone point me to the passage in these principles which explains why a bishop consecrated by an archbishop who has also consecrated a woman is not a 'proper bishop'. I've been struggling for some time to find an official FiF/society document that explains this."

There is a reason you have not found such an explanation, namely that this is not the FiF/Society position. The position is that they *are* proper bishops, but communion with them is impaired.

"The sacraments are valid when performed by criminal male bishops and priests. They are not valid when performed by male bishops who've consecrated females"

The same misunderstanding. The FiF/Society position is that the sacraments *are* valid when performed by M.B.W.C.F. but because of the impairment of communion that results it may not be appropriate to partake of those sacraments, valid though they be.

Posted by: Dafydd on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 at 8:33am BST

"some of its judgementalism"

That's one of those "irregular verbs", isn't it?

- I speak the truth in love
- You could express yourself more tactfully
- He is judgemental

Posted by: Dafydd on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 at 8:42am BST

I wish someone would respond properly to Leon Clarke's query. I think I understand the FiF/SSWSH position and, so understood, it doesn't seem to me to involve any theology of taint, and I therefore regard it as legitimate within the C of E (though I don't accept it myself and on balance regard it as wrong). But it's difficult to articulate cleanly.

Posted by: John on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 at 12:56pm BST

I think I have mentioned before:

Bishop Richard Hare once observed that if someone wants 'a word in love' you immediately protect sensitive parts.

That's not exactly how he phrased it. :-)

Posted by: John Roch on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 at 5:56pm BST

"The same misunderstanding. The FiF/Society position is that the sacraments *are* valid when performed by M.B.W.C.F. but because of the impairment of communion that results it may not be appropriate to partake of those sacraments, valid though they be."

Thank you for the clarification, Dafydd. Alas, there are several major issues with this, as clean and neat as it may be. This Society is choosing who to be in communion with and who not to be in communion with. They are choosing RC's and Eastern Orthodox and not Quakers, Presbyterians, etc., i.e. Protestant churches who are way ahead of CoE on women ministers.

Choosing "communion" with excluders rather than includers is morally dicey. MLK wrote from the Birmingham Jail that it was immoral of the moderates (those who would ask him to wait to push for justice) to ask African Americans to bear the burden of injustice for the comfort of the comfortable status quo. Excluders in this case extract a cost from the dignity of women and girls. Girls notice when we're excluded and it has a nasty impact on self esteem. Boys who haven't been taught well notice too, with unfortunate consequences...

I notice that CoE about never talks about the impact of its words and deeds on children. Jesus tells us that we can tell the real prophets from the false ones by the fruits of their labor. If we look at how the fruits of our labor impact children, we would behave very differently, and inclusively.

Posted by: Cynthia on Tuesday, 15 September 2015 at 6:57pm BST

This Society is choosing who to be in communion with and who not to be in communion with. They are choosing RC's and Eastern Orthodox and not Quakers, Presbyterians, etc., i.e. Protestant churches who are way ahead of CoE on women ministers.

Cynthia, can I gently suggest that the reason for that is they regard themselves as catholics and not protestants!

Posted by: Ian on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 12:48am BST

Benedict, the Roman Catholic Church may not have any women clergy or bishops in its ranks - but neither do they have any Anglican clergy in their ranks. Not even F.iF. or SSWSH clergy are members of the R.C. Church. No matter how much you want them to accept Anglican clergy as either catholic or ordained, they do not offially recognise any Anglicans as ordained clergy- apart from those holed up in the Ordinariate - (even if they pretend to be Anglican clergy while acting as quasi- Catholic clergy).

Posted by: Father Ron Smith on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 5:47am BST

Ron, all Ordinariate clergy are re-ordained by the RC Church when they transfer.

Posted by: Simon Sarmiento on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 7:06am BST

"Cynthia, can I gently suggest that the reason for that is they regard themselves as catholics and not protestants!"

Thank you, Ian. And yet, the Anglican Church claims to be both catholic and protestant. And oddly enough, this society's concern for being "in communion" with Rome is not reciprocated by the RC's. It is rather bizarre. As is all that theology of taint. Tortured thinking.

Posted by: Cynthia on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 7:21am BST

I do not think David W.'s 'clarification' is correct. While it is true that individual FiF people have sometimes said something like that, the desire for 'sacramental assurance' necessarily implies the contrary. I ask again for a properly measured exposition of the FiF position. I don't ask that to 'flush them out', but to try to get the debate on a higher level, because at present it is pretty poor. And of course I continue to believe that debate is itself pointless, and what is required is benevolent co-existence. Works both ways: I wish FiF people were pleasanter to those who are trying to help them. But virtue is its own reward, they say.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 9:06am BST

My use of the phrase 'proper bishop' was sloppy language; sorry.

I want to understand the mechanism by which the possibility of impaired communion arises when an archbishop who is known to be very strongly in favour of women bishops who has actively worked to change canon law to allow women bishops consecrates a woman bishop.

Posted by: Leon Clarke on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 10:14am BST

When I have asked FiF folk, in civilised conversations eg at the pub, about their reasoning they have tended to direct me to Jonathan Baker's book "Consecrated Women?" and reviews in back issues of the journal New Directions beginning in October 2004, and the journal generally. (The archive is on Trushare). The best way to receive a properly measured exposition / understand the mechanism would be to ask the Bishop of Wakefield and the Bishop of Fulham to provide one. Ideally in 400 words that could be posted here! Benevolent co-existence is excellent but I don't think it does any harm to try to understand what brings about impaired communion if you are told that that state exists. I have found myself idly wondering whether the future chaplain at Hampton Court considers himself not in communion with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Is he with the Dean of the Chapels Royal / Bishop of London? If no to the former, and yes to the latter, why? Or does it not matter? A sense of humour is definitely needed. Looking forward to the second statement focusing on practical application.

Posted by: Julia Redfern on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 2:37pm BST

I continue to believe in 'benevolent coexistence'. If you push FiF people up against a wall and confront them with their 'contradictions', they will of course say: 'it's all the fault of you liberals for abandoning tradition and communion'. Far better to blur things - and also to admit - what everyone knows to be true but finds hard to say - 'communion' isn't everything. I (John) can be 100% 'in communion' with (say) St Nick's or St John's Durham, but actually I greatly prefer St John's, Newcastle (opposite Central Station). Similarly, 'liberals' (most of them) should admit that they are far happier with the liturgy of (e.g.) said St John's, and, equally, FiF people should proclaim loud and clear that when THEY celebrate communion, EVERYONE is welcome at the Table. I don't really believe that when I attend Father David's church (as I hope someday to do), he will say: no communion for you, ueber-liberal John.

Posted by: John on Wednesday, 16 September 2015 at 7:48pm BST

Uber-liberal John, let me assure you that you are correct in your assumption and you would indeed be most welcome. Indeed earlier this year over fifty members of the congregation studied the course "Everybody Welcome" which took place over a period of five successive Sundays.

Posted by: Father David on Thursday, 17 September 2015 at 6:30am BST

Father Smith, you have missed the point. You raised the issue of the RCs not allowing married clergy to suggest that traditionalists were not maintaining this discipline in the C of E, and yet opposed women bishops. You were implying a pick and choose attitude. I refuted that by saying that, actually, RCs do allow married clergy, so we must assume it is acceptable in that Church, albeit in limited circumstances. Women Bishops are not.

Posted by: Benedict on Thursday, 17 September 2015 at 9:09am BST

Thank you, Father David. Now if you could kindly give me the address (you presumably know my e-mail - if not ask Simon). I promise to keep it secret.

Posted by: John on Thursday, 17 September 2015 at 9:57am BST

Benedict, I think I am the one guilty of implying a pick and choose attitude ... Having done a bit of Googling, I see that I am about 60 years behind the times. Thanks for putting me right.

Posted by: Julia Redfern on Thursday, 17 September 2015 at 1:08pm BST
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