Comments: Women Bishops in England

Looking at the list of the petitioners to Canterbury and York - those opposed - there are a lot of retired clergy among them. Not that their voices don't count - but it is not quite like there being 1300 active stipendiary clergy who are against.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 10:11am BST

Two points:

1) The letter does NOT state that the signatories will leave if there is no provision for those opposed to women bishops. It says that "we will be asking whether we can, in conscience, continue to minister". This carefully stops short of a "threatened mass exodus", although it does suggest that some might go.

2) Of the signatories, on a quick count, of the priest and archdeacons, 523 are retired. Of the bishops, 4 are honorary assistants (therefore (mostly) retired?).

I'm sure this letter is sad and sincere, but it differs from the reports about it both in tone and statistical import.

Posted by Far North at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 12:04pm BST

My first thoughts were of Fr Peter Geldard and his rousing oratory when the matter of women’s ordination was initially discussed and adopted in England. Peter left for Rome with the large compensation payment he helped negotiate then – and generous was the word!

It was amazing to see then opportunistic clerics suddenly discovering a “conscience” deeply opposed to women’s ordination that not even their closest friends suspected their having.

That being said, those who have a genuine conviction are these days already heavily compromised within a Church that practices WO and has seen no theological objection to women as bishops for decades. As world-wide Anglicanism fragments into competing groups they are likely to find that one offshoot will offer them a home sympathetic to their position, this will inevitably mean leaving the Church of England but then they will have a sort of legitimacy and a structure they have been asking for. One can only speculate, but I suspect that the FiF constituency and that of Reform are inevitably going to require accommodation in separate entities. All this will seriously impact on the CofE – it might even touch a little here in Wales – my hope is that in the end as the dust clears a new sense of mission and confidence comes to the rump.

Here in Wales we remember only too well how religious revival foundered to a large degree on the infighting that developed within the chapels. M village eventually had four independent Calvinist chapels who despised each other with a special hatred, as split followed split ….. they have now been closed for longer than they were in use.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 12:13pm BST

What is good is that the names of the signatories of the letter arguing for structural provision have been put in the public domain: http://www.forwardinfaith.com/artman/publish/article_413.shtml
It is good that people are prepared to be identified and sad the earlier letter from female clergy resisting such provision did not include the names of the signatories.

The online petition from laity calling for a single clause can be discounted on the grounds that some signatories note they are from overseas, others claim to be Roman Catholics and an e mail inviting signatures specifically stated that non churchgoers should be asked to sign. Not only does this significantly lower the number of signatories but it also raises deeper questions. If the figures supporting a single clause are not so high as claimed, and if the myth that no one will leave has now been exposed, on what basis might one be expected to trust the word of the proponents on other matters such as promisses to abide by a code of practice.

Posted by David Waller at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 2:05pm BST

Anyone like to comment on the high number of retired clergy in the list. Are we able to distinguish between those who are really retired from the ministry and those who have a warrant or a licence and serve local congregations although they have left full-time ministry?

Hopefully someone from south of the border will inform us.

Kennedy

Posted by Kennedy at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 2:21pm BST

i did a swift word search on this list and found 531 who are listed as retired, a further 12 who are listed as honorary assistants. that makes 542. i also noticed several names of people, whom i know personally, who have put themselves in as 'assistant curate' and who are nsm, VERY part time. i don't know how many of these there are hidden in with the others. (please don't think that i don't value the ministry of these people, but they aren't the clergy we rely on day-in day-out). so, that makes a total of well under 800, and these are people who are 'considering' leaving, if the circumstances are right - i assume that means generous pay offs. i guess that fewer than half will actually take the plunge, as was the case when women were first ordained to the priesthood. even then, quite a few found the tiber very cold and quickly swam back. i would also add that from the names i've seen here, we'd be a great deal better of without a lot of them. so, if you've got a barrel of salt you may want to use it here.

Posted by poppy tupper at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 2:33pm BST

The words of Ko Ko come to mind....

He's got 'em on the list — he's got 'em on the list;
And they'll none of 'em be missed — they'll none of 'em be missed.

W.S. Gilbert

Posted by Graham Ward at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 3:07pm BST

"from the names i've seen here, we'd be a great deal better of without a lot of them."

That, of course, is exactly what synod must decide. In so doing it should bear in mind the thousands of laity who depend on these priests for sacramental ministry. As for the retireds, many parishes depend on them!

Above all remember that in the 1990s debates LAITY as well as priests were promissed a permanent place and that provision includes the provision of clergy of their tradition!

Finally, there are those saying few will go, trying to deny the impact a single clause weill have......my urgent advice- get out that barrel of salt before it's too late!!

You are driving out the faithful in your "cleansing" of the church - that is not inclusion!!

Posted by David Malloch at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 3:17pm BST

"My village eventually had four independent Calvinist chapels who despised each other with a special hatred, as split followed split ….. they have now been closed for longer than they were in use."

Time for an old story:

Cruise ship blown off course finds uncharted island. On it, a long lost and presumed dead sailor from a long disappeared trans-Pacific sailboat race vessel.

Crew from cruise ship finds man sitting in front of small shack, and in the distance, two more shacks. Clearly he's sitting in front of his home.

"What's that next shack over? they ask.

"That's my church," he says.

"What's that far shack, then?"

"That's the church I used to go to."

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 3:19pm BST

I spotted one name, of someone I thought swam the Tiber many years ago. He listed a parochial connection (Assistant Curate of X), but appears neither in his diocese's list of clergy nor in Crockford.
What is going on?

Posted by cryptogram at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 4:42pm BST

For further breakdown, analysis of the figures go to:
http://www.forwardinfaith.com/artman/publish/article_417.shtml

Posted by David Waller at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 5:06pm BST

What a splendid letter !

(But why does it say cergymen and women? Have they accepted clergy women now at least ?)

Pasting this in my book of golden moments of the C of E alogside the FOCAs letter, I am building up a wonderful momento ---

How proud can be the heart that Beats in my Breast of such religious zeal !

People will be flocking --postively flocking to anglican churches around the world ?

We want what youre on !!

Posted by Treebeard at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 5:07pm BST

Quote: 'I spotted one name, of someone I thought swam the Tiber many years ago. He listed a parochial connection (Assistant Curate of X), but appears neither in his diocese's list of clergy nor in Crockford.
What is going on?'

I suggest that cryptogram emails Forward in Faith and asks - someone I spoke to there just now would be happy to check for him.

Posted by Stephen Marsden at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 5:45pm BST

It appears that failure to uphold an opt-out would finally spell the end of the Anglo-Catholic movement in England. The resulting damage would dwarf that inflicted by the Gafcon rebels, which only have the full support of two serving bishops, Rochester and Lewes.

Posted by John Omani at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 6:14pm BST

David Malloch repeats the false claim that in the 1990s promises were given of permanent provision for those opposed to women priests. Saying this a lot of times will not make it true. No promises were given in the legislation. Statements were made, on both sides, as to whether there should be provision. Some private individuals in Synod, and some discussion documents made such promises, BUT they were never incorporated into the legislation. Get over it.

Posted by poppy tupper at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 6:33pm BST

PS. I may have missed a name, but as far as i can see, none of the bishops here sits in the house of lords, or is ever likely to. i think that says quite a lot. either retired or going nowhere. interesting, too, that the previous bishop of chichester has signed, the present bishop of chichester (recently put into the lords) has not.

Posted by poppy tupper at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 6:37pm BST

Reviewing the commitment of FiF and Reform to the Anglican World of Chris Sugden as unfolding in FOCa (I like “a”) – I can see absolutely no reason now why the English Synod should give a moments consideration to anything other than a one clause measure. Listening to addresses and reading articles on their website this afternoon leaves it absolutely clear that they already see the rest of the Church of England as apostate and not possessed of real bishops!

With such an overwhelming commitment to this new developing entity and the new sects it is soon to spawn – those who follow the Reform and FiF leadership will not have to ask for a third Province – they will have Archbishops Jensen/Akinola/Orombi and Presiding bishop Venables as their leaders in a new communion.

Following what bishop Venables has been saying in London – it is clear there is no room for compromise or quarter.

LOL Treebeard!

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 7:12pm BST

There may be quite a few 'retired' priests among the signatories but there are also a large number of younger clergy. Many of these men are extremely talented and deserving of promotion and yet have notoriously found it difficult to find jobs from hostile diocesan bishops simply because they are principled, faithful Catholics. Their determination at this crucial moment to uphold and obey the apostolic teaching of the universal Church regarding the character of the sacred ministry will be saluted by thousands of Anglican lay women and men throughout England and beyond.

Posted by Britannicus at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 10:33pm BST

There will be no mass defection..its all bluff..
The General Synod must not create a GAFCONIAN style sword to hang over the Church of England.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 1 July 2008 at 10:37pm BST

"My first thoughts were of Fr Peter Geldard"

Martin, this was the RC priest interviewed a few weeks ago on (the Popoid channel) EWTN. I was struck by how *utterly dehumanizing* he was towards women believing themselves called to be priests: not even his misled opponents, they were simply "it" to him. Despicable! >:-0

***

As I always say, I don't want ANYONE to leave . . . however, if the signatories do (God forbid) leave---it'll leave more appointments for those women God IS calling to holy orders! ;-)

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 12:05am BST

More bizarre is the very large number of gay clergy who have signed the letter.

Posted by Fr Mark at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 9:12am BST

John Omani writes: 'It appears that failure to uphold an opt-out would finally spell the end of the Anglo-Catholic movement in England. The resulting damage would dwarf that inflicted by the Gafcon rebels, which only have the full support of two serving bishops, Rochester and Lewes.'
Not so. The Catholic movement in the Church of England flourishes, with the work of the Society of Catholic Priests who welcome the priesthood of women. http://www.scp.org.uk/ The future should belong to them, and this legislation should advance their cause. If we do not pass this legislation, then we tie up many churches in the catholic tradition, condemning them to becoming ghettoes with anti-women clergy. They deserve better than that.

Posted by poppy tupper at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 10:51am BST

Poppy Tupper notes that the former bishop of Chirchester is among the signatories of the FiF letter. We might remember that he was the one who appointed Bishop Benn as one of his suffragans, and Bishop Urwin as another.

Posted by cryptogram at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 11:33am BST

Poppy Tupper seeks to re-write history, but fails. Promises were not made by ‘private individuals’, but by Officers of the General Synod, giving evidence to the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament (203rd & 204th Reports of the Ecclesiastical Committee, pp.66, 84, 86 & 134). The only reason the members of the Ecclesiastical Committee deemed the Ordination of Women Measure expedient was that they understood that the representatives of General Synod were not liars. Had they not so deemed it, it would never have passed into law and women would never have been ordained. If the C of E was to renege on those promises now, it would make liars of George Carey, Michael Adie and David McLean – but perhaps in the interests of purging the Church of those who dare to disagree with the secular agenda that would be a small price to pay. After all, they’re all retired now, and yesterday’s men must never be allowed to hold back Poppy’s brave new world, must they?

Posted by Stephen Marsden at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 12:13pm BST

Stephen Marsden can say it as often as he likes, but that won't make it true. No promises were included in the legislation. Parliamentarians are not unaware of this. Only that which is in the legislation is effective. Officers of the General Synod can can what they like, to whom they like. Unless they come with the authority of Synod, as expressed through a vote, they speak only as private individuals. I note, again, that there are people who think that if they say it often enough, the myth that promises were given will turn into truth. It won't.

Posted by poppy tupper at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 1:55pm BST

I think you'll find that benn and urwin were appointed by eric kemp, the previous bishop of chichester. i may be wrong.

Posted by poppy tupper at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 2:27pm BST

"David Malloch repeats the false claim that in the 1990s promises were given of permanent provision for those opposed to women priests. they were never incorporated into the legislation. Get over it."

Well, unravel it all and what do you get?

Promises were made but not in a measure? So, why on earth should we trust promises and not a measure now????

It was never in the legislation that provision would be permanent? The committment to provision was in the same measure that allowed women's ordination - therefore you need to decide whether or not the ENTIRE MEASURE was permanent.

Also, remember the language of reception used in the 1990s - it is fairly clear there that both the ordination of women and the provisions ae tied together and that they are both provisional.

So, if the rightness of a single clause and code of practice is dependent on this total rewriting of history I can only echo your advice and say "Get over it"!

Posted by David Malloch at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 2:48pm BST

Poppy writes:"Statements were made, on both sides, as to whether there should be provision. Some private individuals in Synod, and some discussion documents made such promises".

Documents coming from the Archbishops, Bishops and officers of synod, Poppy. i.e. the very same people you are asking us to trust and rely on to draft and implement the lovely Code of Practice. Thank you for highlighting just why that code will be totolly worthless.

Posted by Rose Gaudete at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 2:53pm BST

"Promises were not made by ‘private individuals’, but by Officers of the General Synod, giving evidence to the Ecclesiastical Committee of Parliament (203rd & 204th Reports of the Ecclesiastical Committee, pp.66, 84, 86 & 134). The only reason the members of the Ecclesiastical Committee deemed the Ordination of Women Measure expedient was that they understood that the representatives of General Synod were not liars. Had they not so deemed it, it would never have passed into law and women would never have been ordained."

Reading this makes me ever more glad of the US Constitution's prohibition of an established church.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 2:54pm BST

"as far as i can see, none of the bishops here sits in the house of lords, or is ever likely to. i think that says quite a lot. either retired or going nowhere. "

This very issue is addressed in the Pilling report, which was embraced by synod 12 months ago. The report notes how traditionalists have been underrepresented among episcopal appointments. Synod has accepted the reports criticism and resolved that the balance should be redressed.

The imbalance is, of course, another fine example of liberals running the show and failing to honour pledges of inclusion.

Posted by David Malloch at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 2:58pm BST

"The imbalance is, of course, another fine example of liberals running the show and failing to honour pledges of inclusion."

Nice paranoia, here, and, maybe in England where bishops are appointed, there may be something to it, I don't know. Thing is, this is exactly the same thing levelled at TEC and the Canadian Church, where bishops are elected by lay representatives, who are elected by their parishes, all processes above board and democratic. There is no cabal that appoints their favourites in North America. Given that the accusation is totally unjustified in the North American context, I find it hard to believe when someone of like mind makes the same accusation in Britain. Given as well that conservatives have a tendency to denounce as liberal and oppressive of them anyone who does not agree with them, even if that disagreement is merely to state that we should allow the processes of the Church to go forward and not do anything rash, which has been done to our own bishop here, I have even more trouble accepting the premise that the poor faithful remnant is oppressed by the evil pagan liberals.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 4:32pm BST

That's what I wrote, Poppy!

Posted by cryptogram at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 4:57pm BST

I'm glad that David Malloch raises the issue of a time of reception. I should have included it myself. That was by far the most settled mind of the church at the time. There would be a period of reception, after which, separate provision for objectors would not be needed. There was NEVER any intention that separate provision should continue for ever. The promises (not the legislation, remember, just promises) were made in the expectation that the matter would be settled. There was never the expectation that new priests would be ordained who would object - nor, in my view, should there have been. All training and all ordinations should have been for men and women together. The separate provision was for those already ordained who felt they could not accept the change in the church. The PEVs have acted dishonourably by drumming up new candidates who also do not accept the priesthood of women. Time to stop them now.

Posted by poppy tupper at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 5:25pm BST

Ford - not paranoia, the position as highlighted by an official synodical report!

Poppy - With respect, that is simply untrue. Those who advocated the concept of reception, Abp Habgood in particular, were absolutely clear that the process of reception was open and indefinite and that until the whole of christendom arrived at a common mind that would be the case. At no point was there any suggestion it was time limited and there was never any suggestion that future ordination candidates would have to accept the ordination of women. If you believe what you claim then you are adopting your own rewriting of history.

As for the PEVs, they have faithfully fulfilled the ministry entrusted to them by successive archbishops in accordance with the Act of Synod. The fact that you do not like that gives you absolutely no right to slander them and call them dishonourable. Also, bear in mind that PEVs cannot sponsor any candidates for training, nor can they offer posts - it is the "women-ordaining" diocesans who have sponsored and appointed these men.

The campaign for women bishops is not well served by wild inaccuracies and accusations. If you do not accept what I have said re reception and the honesty of the PEVs, I suggest a call to Lambeth palace might get an official response.

Posted by David Malloch at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 6:04pm BST

As the doctrine of reception makes it clear that the ordination of women was offered to the whole church, and as it is clearly evident that the whole church has decided not to receive it, the impermanence of the 1993 Measure which Poppy has so ably and liberally demonstrated means that the way forward is both clear and simple: (i) rescind the 1993 Measure (ii) get over it.

Posted by Stephen Marsden at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 6:07pm BST

'There was never the expectation that new priests would be ordained who would object'

Re-writing history again! The actual expectation was set out clearly enough for even the meanest intellect in clause 1 of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993: 'Except as provided by the Measure and this Act no person or body shall discriminate against candidates either for ordination or for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views about the ordination of women to the priesthood.'

Now, which particular bit of that sentence don't you understand?

Posted by Stephen Marsden at Wednesday, 2 July 2008 at 7:23pm BST

again, stpehen marsden fails either to understand or to remember. at the time of the debates, much was made of the fact that there were clergy who had been ordained into a church where women were not priests. following the measure that was no longer true, so, it could not be possible for candidates to claim that they had not expected women to be their colleagues in parishes and chapters and synods, etc. therefore, anyone who was subsequently ordained should not expect to live and work in an exclusion zone. it's quite simple. they wouldn't be refused ordination, but they should expect to live in the real world. the scurrilous actions of the PEVs have prevented this. get rid of them. as for a period of reception having proved that it has not been accepted. try that one in the real world, stephen.

Posted by poppy tupper at Thursday, 3 July 2008 at 8:13am BST

Oh dear, Poppy's understanding of the doctrine of reception is a bit threadbare. It's worth looking at the Grindrod Report of 1987, esp. paras 90 - 95, where it is explained quite clearly. One particular passage particularly catches my eye: 'The development should be offered to the Anglican Communion in an open process of reception. The development could not be expressed as the mind of the Church until it were accepted by the whole Communion. Even then there would necessarily be a tentativeness about it until it were accepted by the universal Church.'

No doubt the development has been accepted by the universal Church in the 'real world' occupied by Poppy, but out here in the real real world, the universal Church has done no such thing.

As for characterising the ministry of the PEVs as 'scurrilous' - I just hope you've got a really good lawyer, Poppy!

Posted by Stephen Marsden at Thursday, 3 July 2008 at 10:10am BST

Poppy, I guess that you, like me, are a Doctor Who fan? But in which parallel universe do you exist? The plain facts are that people have been ordained since 1992 on the basis of promisses made and the provisions of the Act of Synod. You can argue until you are blue in the face that the provision was time limited and did not apply to subsequent ordinands but that is simply not the case.

Fortunately, the exact texts to which Stephen Marsden has refered are cited in the Manchester Report. Therefore, if synod votes to take note of the report on Saturday it will have owned its history. Subsequent debates can then take place on the basis of promisses made in perpetuity.

I cannot comment on which of the parallel universes is "real" and therefore in which world Stephen Marsden lives. All I know is that this weekend's synod is happening in the world that made solemn and lasting promisses, noted them with full references in the Manchester Report and is most likely about to take note of that.

Posted by David Malloch at Thursday, 3 July 2008 at 10:36am BST

say it all together. say it as often as you like. it still isn't true. no promises were given in the legislation.

Posted by poppy tupper at Thursday, 3 July 2008 at 5:18pm BST

Stephen,

"out here in the real real world, the universal Church has done no such thing"

I think if you look back at Church history, you will find that many decisions were taken and enacted against the will of a large number of people who called themselves "orthodox". It was when the Church accepted these ideas that they were discerned to be orthodox doctrine. Councils can dictate, but that doesn't make their dictates orthodox. There have been a lot of councils, only 7 considered orthodox, and the recognition of that depended on the will of the ecclesia led by the Spirit to accept their pronouncements as such. So, it really isn't that odd for something to be done in the Church against the consciences of some, even many, only later to be shown to be orthodox through acceptance by the Spirit manifested in the ecclesia. That process can take centuries. If you expect the orthodoxy of female bishops to be proven or disproven in our lifetimes, you may be disappointed. God's still God, though, He still loves us, and He ain't gonna kick you out of the sandbox becuase you made a wrong decision(to accept a female bishop) for the right reason(respect for the dignity and God justified freedom of another child of God). And before anyone jumps on me, calling a female bishop "wrong" was just for the sake of argument. It was a female bishop, after all, who changed my mind on the lack of theological ability in the leadership of the ACC. I hope you crowd in New Zealand know how lucky you are to have Bp. Matthews.

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 4 July 2008 at 7:20pm BST

Hmm - not being facetious here but what's the quickest anyone has gone from adult baptism to being consecrated as a priest? If these traditionalists leave, they may find that others, myself included, would seriously think about a career change in order to invest the CoE with even more practical progressivism.

Let them go.

Posted by orfanum at Thursday, 14 August 2008 at 1:09pm BST
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