Comments: Kasper comes to Market Bosworth

Re the Cardinal's speech. So what? Did not the Vatican declare Anglican Orders invalid back in the 19th century? {my best reference books are not to hand at the moment.)

I remember during the run-up to women's ordination in the US a fair number of handwringings about how ordaining women to the diaconate and priesthood would 'prevent reunification with Rome.' So what? If I wanted to be reunified with Rome, I would have swum the Tiber.

Let me be clear. I am for cross-denominational cooperation, and hope some day that my RC friends could take Communion from me, and I from their priest. I participate in a text-study that includes pastors from the Episcopal, Presbyterian, Methodist, Roman Catholic, Lutheran, and Mennonite churches. One of the glories of the group is the variety of voices and traditions we bring to the table. But as much as we value each other's contributions, none of us wants to merge our churches into one great lump.

So if the Romans say ordaining women to the diaconate, priesthood, and now the episcopate present problems for them, OK. Let them take back that ruling about the validity of our orders, which well precedes even the whiff of a thought of ordaining women, and then we may have reason to talk. Otherwise, it is interesting to hear from them.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 7 June 2006 at 6:00pm BST

It would be most interesting indeed to hear the reasons some believe women cannot be priests and bishops.

And I don't mean the Pastoral letters, and I do take for granted, that everyone understands that the Tradition of the Church is ever changing.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Wednesday, 7 June 2006 at 8:59pm BST

If the consecration of women as bishops prevents union with Rome, that can only be a good thing for the preservation of Reformation truth.

Posted by BrianMcK at Wednesday, 7 June 2006 at 10:07pm BST

Has an Anglican bishop ever been invited to address the College of Cardinals, in a "Here's how I think y'all should run your Church" sort of way? :-/

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 5:21am BST

I found about this via the Catholic News Service (I like to keep in touch with what the Pope is advocating).

The article commented that at one point the Catholic Cardinal stated "A decision in favor of women bishops made broadly by the Anglican Communion, he said, would also represent a turning away from the "common position of all the churches of the first millennium." He said this meant that the Anglican Communion would no longer occupy "a special place" among the churches of the West but would align itself closely to the Protestant churches of the 16th century."

I then contemplated how the Catholic church is playing a good role in fostering interfaith dialogue with the Muslims and Jews, how they are building bridges with the World Council of Churches. I also contemplated the WCC and how various diverse forms of Christianity are able to find common grounds to work from, without losing their diversity in the body of Christ.

I could not help but ponder if this is necessarily such a bad thing? In the diversity of Christ we are not meant to be the same. It does not hurt the Catholics to have to acknowledge that the Protestant churches have developed a more robust reputation for fighting corruption - see: . This would not have happened without the Protestant Reformation.

Similarly, it would not hurt the Catholics to have a part of the body of Christ that provides a voice for women and a place of refuge for women who need a respite from the abuse by men (whether that be fathers, husbands, ministers, employers or hostile "neighbours"). It would not hurt the global community to have an arm of the church that acknowledges that celibacy is beyond the reach of most human beings, especially those not called to be celibate priests. It would not hurt the global community to acknowledge that "sex happens" and that if we want to stop women's wombs being torn open by semen and slow the spread of STDs such as AIDS that condoms play a pivotal role.

It would not hurt the global community for women to be granted some avenue to articulate how they have been enslaved and to offer a vision of a future where both the masculine and feminine elements of creation are revered. In fact, this would improve Christianity's reputation in the Eastern traditions where there is a recognition that where either the masculine or the feminine overwhelms "the other" that this leads to periods of turmoil and strife.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 9:10am BST

And there was me thinking that all the theology espoused in Cardinal Kasper's Speech was sensible.

I think it is more international bishop's conferences which Anglican Bishops have spoken at than the college of cardinals which only really gathers together infrequently (to my knowledge). The Bishop of Chichester did at some point either this or last year - I couldn't provide you with a link though.

Posted by Edward at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 9:46am BST

An excellent presentation of the biblical and catholic position on the ordination of women is to be found in Manfred Hauke's book, "Women in the Priesthood?" Publ. Ignatius Press, 1988.

It would be surprising if the College of Cardinals thought that Anglicans could offer any advice of the kind JCF suggests. More likely the title of the address would be "How not to run a Church."

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 10:58am BST

"How not to run a church" indeed! Let's see - have a policy of moving pedophile priests from parish to parish for a long periiod of time, remove Cardinal Law of Boston from the reach of press and, in practical terms, secular jurisdiction by giving him a cushy post in Italy, and have him preach a major homily upon the death of JPII, end of having several archdioceses near bankruptcy because of court judgments against their on-going policies of sheltering and enabling pedophile priests ... hmmm.


Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 11:39am BST

Perhaps ECUSA did give Cardinal Law some lessons?

Posted by Alan Marsh at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 2:18pm BST

I note yet again how easily and quickly any differentiation from a conservative conformed approach turns into nothing but a simplistic occasion which boils down to Either/Or. And again how solidly the conformed conservative side of the Either/Or is hands down the better or best or only viable alternative. Whether it is reading scripture, reunifying with Rome, avoiding the travesty of women in ministry (especially sacramental ministries - though naturally not service in kitchens), getting people to turn off their minds and stop asking questions, how to run a church, or how to run a society - the conformed conservatives are well into the dramatization of their encyclopedic grasp of everything that matters. If this were an old Monty Python skit it would be one thing. We could all have a good laugh at how odd it is. Is Canterbury then fated to end up presiding over a worldwide communion of conformed biblical silly walks?

If reunion with Rome is the key to the kingdom, then why not just go on to Rome? In one fell swoop conformed conservatives can be embraced by a worldwide, comprehensive, highly structured church institution which clings fast to so many of their favorite talking points:
-No women who count in the final power analysis/functions
-Plenty of gay priests who shoudln't be there and will be dealt with, decisively, behind the scenes (silent=invisible=good)
- A quintessential Old Boys Club that happens to still remain among us as a worldwide institution
-A strictly conformed reading of sexuality and human nature mostly applied as if ethics were nothing but a brake system on the human body
-A pope who talks so fondly of the world's poor while pointing his holy finger at the queers who just happen to be the complete downfall of the planet (Gee I thought global warming was more likely a candidate.)
-Plus - lots of carefully crafted intellectual back doors which allow for exceptions of conscience as long as those who hold them keep very orderly and quiet and don't object to the official teachings of the church to which they have taken conscientious exception.

Thus instead of seeking more welcoming relationships between the real believers involved, we are busy inventing institutional processes and institutional theological reasons why. The mystical one church is getting too easily and too uncritically collapsed into the worldwide institutional church, whether we are imagining a newly conformed Anglican Communion or whether we are listening to ourselves in rapt study of Rome.

Rome is the worldwide church institution, by the way, that gave us several of the Renaissance popes, put scientists under house arrest (and would continue to do so if it had the secular power in many countries around the world), and constantly has posted off limits signs to inquiry in many different domains. And, yes, this is the institutional juggernaut that kept feeding church kids to pedophile priests rather than risk what was predicted to be a possibility of public scandal. This same institution has yet to deal effectively with how its own processes of spiritual and personality formation - so frequently effective in keeping its priesthood ignorant and fearful and immature about their own sexualities - helped wittingly or unwittingly to create the sexual undergrounds of incomplete human development that later were yet again revealed as so deeply toxic. It is possible to read these instance of the church falling short as institution as nothing but a simple function of particular fallible people having particularly bad or spaced out days at the helm of this or that occasion. But that ignores how complex institutional processes or dynamics helped give rise to how those people, on those days, exercising poor judgment or poor leadership, happened to be there in the first place. Does a certain sort of theological apparatus go very well with a certain iteration of the Peter Principle?

Going back to Rome is no fun, though, compared to the challenges of trouncing all the other, differently conformed and unconformed believers while laying siege to their lunch money? I have heard this tune before - from school yard bullies - the underlying energy and attitudes are quite familiar and clear: If I can't have it all, nobody can.

Alas. Lord have mercy.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 3:47pm BST

"have a policy of moving pedophile priests from parish to parish for a long periiod of time..."

I know exactly what you mean, Ms. Gilliatt kind of like how bishops turned a blind eye to the affair between Fr. John Bennison with a 14 year old girl and Bp. Swing now bemoans he is powerless to remove the priest!

Posted by Tom at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 4:37pm BST


It was a long post, but it was a good posting. I found this article about radicalism today and it dovetails nicely into your posting: I particularly liked this passage "Since when did radical ideas become a bad thing? Ideas of hate, yes, but radical ideas in themselves have historically created the liberal western values we so often brag about. The abolition of slavery came from some radicalized discussions, and so did the vote for women and all manner of key reforms. But today there is a disturbing slide away from the kind of critical, radical expression that once kept our democracy healthy. The Oxford dictionary insists that radical means "pertaining to a root or to roots;" that radical qualities are those "inherent in the nature or essence of a thing or person." For the OED, radical is "Going to the root or origin." "

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 6:05pm BST

"It would be surprising if the College of Cardinals thought that Anglicans could offer any advice of the kind JCF suggests. More likely the title of the address would be "How not to run a Church.""

Indeed, Alan: that's what I would expect them to think. The more curious question, is why the CofE HofB doesn't think "back atcha" re the RCC? (For reasons Cynthia suggests, among others)

["biblical and catholic position ... Ignatius Press" {snort!} I think the terms you're really looking for are "Papist and reactionary position"?]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 7:35pm BST

For those who not aware, you'll get very little pastoral care in the Roman Catholic Church. I worked for years as a music director and organist in various Roman Churches and the priest didn't know names and in many cases didn't even recognize faces when he went out into the public. On the other hand our priest know us, our faces, our names and at least in my case my priest been to my home. I have no desire to seek reunification with Rome. I like a more personal touch.

As for women in the episcopate, why not. Didn't St. Paul get instruction from women? Imagine that, a man learning about Jesus from two women.

Peace, Rob

Posted by Robert Christian at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 10:27pm BST

Oh who the hell cares at this point! I spent most of my adult life praying for reunion with Rome. I admire the RC church: I admire the courage of RCs in supporting unpopular causes and oppressed people, I admire their serious religious commitment, and I admire the way they do business. I admire them for supporting religious devotion in a way that most Anglican churches don't--for keeping churches open and having services every day. Why don't we do that?

I teach at a Catholic college and I am gung-ho with the program: I wish I could go for Communion in my college chapel. I wish I could visit churches in Continental Europe and feel I had a right to be there.

But it isn't going to happen--regardless of whether women are ordained to the episcopacy or not, regardless of what back-flips or acts of penance we do--because to them the Anglican Church is just another crappy little bunch of Protestants who happen to go for fancy dress. Ecumenical specialists know better but this is the view on the ground.

So for Christ sake pack it in. They won't go for intercommunion, much less union, whatever happens. Try to emulate the good things they do--maintain theological orthodoxy, support religious devotion, back unpopular causes, stop being jackasses and get real. These things aren't the exclusive property of the RC Church--going back to Confirmation Class, the Anglican Church is one of the three branches of the Catholic Church that go straight back to Christ and its legitimacy doesn't depend on getting the RC imprimatur. Or the Orthodox imprimatur.

Posted by H. E. Baber at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 10:34pm BST

'And, yes, this is the institutional juggernaut that kept feeding church kids to pedophile priests rather than risk what was predicted to be a possibility of public scandal.'
This is a disgraceful comment, even though the Catholic Church itself acted disgracefully. Wilfully and deliberately 'feeding church kids' to paedophile monsters?
I enjoy your posts, even though fullsome and more than regular, but I really do not think this sort of comment is acceptable.

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 8 June 2006 at 11:19pm BST

i would say

Unity is impossible with the Catholic Catechisms in place.

After all, we protestants are anathema in their declarations.

Deception at its best..........

Posted by prophetjck at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 5:01am BST

H E Baber said, "Try to emulate the good things they do--maintain theological orthodoxy..."

And indeed, that is precisely the point. It is no good pretending to be "one of the three branches of the Catholic Church that go straight back to Christ" if all that is left is the institution, and not the faith.

Posted by Alan Marsh at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 9:56am BST

Whether or not my comment is unacceptable, I for one wish it were not apparently true. Documents obtained during legal discovery in various Boston cases, for example, demonstrate how the internal church noted, documented, and weighed what was going on - though possibly not the fullest extent of how many different children might have been involved. Cardinal Law later explained that church leaders didn't know better in those days. Could this witting or unwitting ignorance have something to do with a theology of sex that claims to already know and define everything worth knowing?

I was there as a master's level trainee, still learning in clinical and classroom venues. I kept bumping into some of these guys - at various community meetings or forums or classes. I got the clues, too, to the extent that I thought them a quite odd bunch of fellows. Later I could look back and connect the dots that often, though not exactly and not always, suggest pedophilia. By this era, we were getting plenty of empirical data about pedophilia, but the church leaders simply did not regard the domain as their problem. After all they were the holy, catholic, apostolic church - in sole possession of the eternal truth. It was the Copernican error, but this time children's well-being was often at stake on the gamble that the church already knew everything it really needed to know about sex, sexuality, and human nature. Alas. Yet again circumstances dramatized the error. Yet the current Vatican rolls on, depending on the failed contamination theories - queer priests have corrupted the good ones - to do, instead of a more careful, deeper discernment of sexuality and human nature.

Posted by drdanfee at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 3:53pm BST

Re the Bennison situation - I would not cite that as a shining example of good practice.

That is not to say it is equivalent to the widespread and systematic coverup over a long period of time of many instances of pedophilia in many dioceses, with the offenders being moved from parish to parish.

No church is free of individuals who commit evil acts - and I can think of few more evil than preying on children - and no church is 100% led by bishops or other overseers who never make bad judgments.

But that is quite different from having a policy of deceit and coverup, transfer [of offenders] and payoffs [of families].

In my diocese, all clergy, oparochial or not, stipendiary or not, and all lay people who work with kids must take a very demanding workshop on prevention of child abuse. Cergy newly ordained or coming in to the diocese are subject to criminal background checks.

This does not result in perfection, but it sure beats liea and coverups and blaming the victims.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 6:00pm BST

H.E. Baber hit the key lesson "Try to emulate the good things that they do maintain theological orthodoxy, support religious devotion, back unpopular causes, stop being jackasses and get real." Although, I for one would question theological orthodoxy if that means ultimate monolithic scriptural interpretation. I relish that the Catholic Church has survived as long as it has, and that in these times of turbulence they have decided that they are going to stick to their core cultural dynamics of celibacy and male priests. However, I would be against them if they were then to demand that all churches submit to their cultural practices. There are advantages to diversity e.g. priests who can marry and have real life experience in raising children in a "normal" domestic setting.

And, no, the comments about complicity in hiding pedophiles (or other forms of corruption) were not below the belt. That renouncement of corruption by priestly castes was a major driver of the Protestant Reformation, and motivated many Old Testament prophets e.g. Obadiah, Malachi, and Isaiah lobs a few home truths in this regard too. The tragedy of this period in history is that even the Protestant churches (not just Anglican) have become complicit in hiding abuse and corruption, and using intimidation and dishonesty to maintain control.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 6:03pm BST

The Cardinal stated, " But the Catholic Church has always perceived the Church of England as playing a unique role in the Anglican Communion: it is the church from which Anglicanism derives its historical continuity, and with whom the divisions of the 16th century are most specifically addressed; it is the church led by the Archbishop of Canterbury who, in the words of the Windsor Report, is ‘the pivotal instrument and focus of unity’ within the Anglican Communion; other provinces have understood being in communion with him as a ‘touchstone of what it was to be Anglican’ (§99); finally, it is the church which we in continental Europe directly associate with Anglicanism, in part because of your many Church of England chaplaincies spread throughout the continent."

That would suggest that Rome sees Canterbury as something of its own reflection: the central see, shaping if not outright defining the practice of the Communion. So, if Rome could reach agreement with Canterbury, agreement with the rest of the Communion would follow naturally, if not immediately.

That is a view that we Americans would reject as surely as the Church of Nigeria (Anglican) already has in changing its own Constitution. It elevates Canterbury above primus inter pares, to a (perhaps inferior) patriarchal status (as in, perhaps, the relationship of the Serbian Patriarch to the Ecumenical Patriarch of Constantinople).

I think perhaps we're not ready for what the Cardinal describes as "true ecumenical diologue... with a goal of restoration of full communion." Considering the differences that have been expressed over the Seattle Statement on the Blessed Virgin Mary, I'd say we have a lot more work to be done in our own houses before we're really ready to share living space.

Posted by Marshall Scott at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 6:38pm BST

Found this

The book doesn't seem to be very convincing.

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 6:44pm BST

I would say that the AC *should* try to do what WE do---"maintain theological orthodoxy"---and then hope that the RCC (currently captive to their Papist interation) catches up...

[Well, at least that's what I feel confident that the Episcopal Church will do---all things in God's Good Time! :-D]

Posted by J. C. Fisher at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 9:38pm BST

The other question that I am finding myself contemplating is the concept of theologoical geneology. This need to be seen to be able to trace one's origins back to the source is actually part of the romanticism that makes The Da Vinci code so popular. Yet, this very concept of geneology can become a hindrance to being in a proper relationship with God. It can lead to nepotism and hypocritical self-righteousness. The argument runs along the lines that if we can trace our geneology back to Christ, our church is therefore more legitimate than other churches.

Yet God makes it clear that if the priests defile their covenants, that God will divorce them and replace them with new churches, not necessarily of the same geneology. There is a specific phrase in Jeremiah 33:20-21 that covers this, but it is also alluded to in various other imagery e.g. breaking off branches, withering, burning, reducing to dust, or divorcing that which God hates. Offset by imagery of grafting, planting, taking twigs from the tallest trees, or reducing back to root stock as imagery where God promises to cultivate that which is pleasing to Him.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Friday, 9 June 2006 at 11:38pm BST

I should clarify that I'm pretty latitudinarian about "theological orthodoxy"--I'd say the Nicene Creed was just fine--Filioque clause optional. Or at the very least bare minimum the idea that believing in God is interpreted in such a way that it involves the good old existential quantifier--and doesn't just cash out as "I am committed to an agapistic way of life" or "I support oppressed peoples in liberating themselves from white, Western, male, heterosexual hegemony."

In my experience all RC priests are orthodox in this broad sense even though most don't buy into their all the details of their church's agenda--including the official positions on homosexuality and women's ordination--but that lots of Episcopal priests are seriously confused. In my experience also quite a few Episcopal priests don't believe in what they're doing and in particular don't believe that there's any real point to religious devotion--that it's important to keep church buildings open so that people can go in to pray or meditate or that even that it's important to do services.

Forget about same-sex unions and the other hot-button issues which are theologically peripheral at best and forget about the sex scandals in the RC Church--corruption is a universal fact of life. The bottom line is that if the church isn't committed to religious belief and practice as such it hasn't got anything. But you don't have to let the RC church set the agenda to fix that.

Posted by H. E. Baber at Saturday, 10 June 2006 at 4:50am BST

H.E. Baber, I am liking your postings, especially as you clarify your positions. I agree that we don't need to RC church to set the agenda. Yet it doesn't hurt to monitor what they are doing and emulate that which is beneficial. One of my concerns is that the churches (not just Anglican) have become unsure of the absolute divinity of God and shyed away from incorporating latest scientific discoveries into their theological models. In that sense, many church people and leaders have become excessively insular and thus made themselves irrelevant, to the point of sometimes discrediting themselves by showing a resistance to change reminscent of the dark ages.

And on the comment of corruption is everywhere, yes corruption can develop anywhere, including in churches. And the larger the power base and the bigger the influence a church has, the more likely it is to attract those who crave power above all else. That is why I have appreciated secular societies putting in place checks to manage corruption, including in churches (a "watch each others' backs" safety net). One of the saddest things I heard last year was a minister announcing that corruption only occurred in the Old Testament and "incorrect churches", the inference being that a church or diocese that has the correct scriptural understanding is proven to be protected by Christ and therefore above corruption or misuse of power. The only thing I learnt from this experience was that this can lead to a kind of sociopathic thinking that means you can dismiss anything that threatens your world paradigm once you find evidence of the confounding person/s' sinfulness and therefore proof that they are not covered by grace. This also leads to "all or nothing" thinking whereby one example of an error or fall from grace means that everything can be dismissed (institutionalising throwing out the baby with the bath water). This creates a nice, insulated world view, but it is a world view that becomes more and more marginalised and discredited as more and more people are eliminated from the fold.

Posted by Cheryl Clough at Saturday, 10 June 2006 at 9:21am BST

All this discussions puzzle me.I see I am not as clever as any of you or as good at language. The Catholic Church, Roman as you call it is made of human beings with all the virtues and vices. It is their comitment to God and Jesus teachings that will santify them. Many catholics are doing that and the more that do the better priests we will have. Union of the church is what Jesus wanted, not separation. If the Church needs improvement it has to happen inside, in union not by separating. There might be things I might not agree with in the RCChurch, but who am I to be unfaithful, to pick and choose, I pray for the Pope to be filled by the Holy Spirit.
Better families will make a better Church.
A mother.

Posted by montse sanchez at Thursday, 16 November 2006 at 10:30pm GMT
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