Comments: women bishops: further proposals

I suspect that the article misunderstands what Synod actually agreed to do. Whether it's a Code of Practice or a separate Province, or anything in between, you still have to make provision for there to be bishops to look after those opposed. And given that we'll be repealing the 1993 Measure, there will have to be a new Measure to replace it and to which the Code of Practice is to be attached. And if you're not going to have up to 44 new suffragans created so that there can be a complementary bishop in every diocese, you'll need some to cross diocesan boundaries - flying, driving or walking!

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 12:17am BST

Cardinal Walter Kaspar, the head of the Council for Christian Unity, attended a Houseo f Bishops meeting last year to urge caution over proceeding with a move that would not be recognised by either the Orthodox or Catholic Churches. He added that if the ordination of women as priests had led to a "cooling off" of relations between the Anglican and Catholic Churches, making women bishops would cause a "serious and long-lasting chill" -
Telegraph article by Jonathan Wynne-Jones

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 2:45am BST

How pathetic. It is like watching a film of troops marching forward according to a vote, only for the camera operator to then throw a lever and show the film backwards.

In fact backwards seems to be the predominant movement of everything that comes from the supposed centre.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 3:14am BST

The above article by Jonathan Wynne-Jones in the Telegraph warns of the possibility of a "serious and long-lasting chill" in relationships with Rome - should Anglicans proceed with the ordination of women as bishops.

Since when has the Roman Catholic Church ever seriously considered the validity of Anglican Orders anyway - since they pronounced them to be 'invalid' during the reign of Pope Leo?

This being so, why should the ordination of women ever disturb the fractious relationship with the Church of Rome, when they do not presently consider our male clergy to be validly ordained?

This duplicity on the part of the Roman Catholic hierarchy ought not to deter the Reformed and Catholic Churches of the Anglican Communion from further reformation of our ministerial ordering. By kowtowing to Rome on this issue, we would be resiling from our tradtion of 'semper reformanda', which has promoted a more open sensitivity to the real needs of Christians in the world of today than is presently evidenced in the exclusivist nature of Roman dogmatic theology.

For our Mother Church of England to now go back on its synodical decision to open the episcopate to the women of our Church - without applying special concessions to the disaffected - would be to make a mockery of the synodical process and cause some discomfort to those of us in other Churches of the Communion who have already accepted the process - believing it to be a logical step towards the legitimate expansion of the Gospel to all people.

Besides, how will we look when, in a few years time, Rome itself will inevitably come to accept the need to ordain women as priests and bishops?

One cannot help but sympathise with those women clergy who are faithfully serving the Church as priests, but whose ministry is seen, by some, to be peripheral or in some way defective. I wonder what Abbess Hilda of Whitby (who ruled over a joint monastery of women and men) might have to say about this if she were here today?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 3:16am BST

This is, of course, exactly the opposite of that Synod voted for, i.e. an end to separate provision. Pete Broadbent, as usual, chooses to support gender aparteit.

Posted by poppy tupper at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 9:08am BST

This is really just a revamping of the status quo, surely?

Does it not seem to reek of clericalism that this making of non-cooties bishops is being done primarily for *traditionalist* clergy? I realise the original flying bishops arrangement was dependent on the PARISH adopting resolutions A, B and C (or any combination thereof), but how relevant is this, more than 15 years after this process was adopted?

What is the total number of resolution A, B and C parishes in the CofE? Would these parishes vote the same way now? If not, why should they be stuck in an isolating tendency just because their priest is a self-described *traditionalist*?

I'm not saying that something should not be done to accommodate those who will not accept women as bishops, and who are not going to act on their principles and go elsewhere. But it really shouldn't be done for the sake of clergy alone: the process must involve the people at the parish level for it to have real legitimacy in the eyes of people within and without the Church.

Posted by kieran crichton at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 9:23am BST

Fr Ron, this is the rub perhaps. Listening to the Cardinal made me aware of how untraditional the centralised post Vatican I Roman Church's working methods are!

Posted by Bishop Alan Wilson at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 9:24am BST

""serious and long-lasting chill" in relationships with Rome"

Well, yes, I mean, it's be a tragedy to lose the mutual love and respect that we have so enjoyed in the past, all too brief, five centuries! Oh for the good old days, when we loved each other so much we lit fires to save one another's souls.

Posted by Ford Elms at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 3:41pm BST

With the threats of "serious and long-lasting chill" coming from Rome, somehow the following story leaves me incredibly happy:

http://timescolumns.typepad.com/gledhill/2008/10/the-tomb-was-em.html

John Henry and Ambrose, whose remains---as whose souls---are eternally indivisible, pray for the Church.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 6:39pm BST

Is there any connection between this desire to make the House of Bishops all powerful with the fact it is the only house of Synod that is male-only? Oh, surely not!

Posted by Grumpy High Church Woman at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 7:05pm BST

I know Bishop Pete is talking about the comparative virtues of schemes to keep people in the Church of England, but the prior questions of principle are more important. a) the principle of theological apartheid is wrong, the Act of Synod was wrong. Even for Anglo-catholics, to break communion with your own diocesan is a greater travesty of catholic polity than to ordain women. b) The Church of England stated in the 70's that there were no theological objections to the ordination of women. In the 80's they were deaconed, 90's priested and now the 00's sometime will be consecrated bishop.

Remembering +Pete as a curate in 1977, this must meant that only those ordained before the mid seventies have anything vaguely approaching a legitimate gripe with the CofE. +Pete's generation and later cannot call foul.

Posted by Andrew Spurr at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 7:26pm BST

Interesting!
Can I just say that this is just the process works. Synod did not vote a particular way in July, especially given the use of "voting by houses". What it did was to start the work on legislating for women bishops by having asimple measure and code of practice. there is no guarantee that what is voted on in a couple of years time will bear any relation to what comes out for February.

Graeme Buttery

Posted by Graeme Buttery at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 7:44pm BST

Er - well, yes, it was actually what Synod voted for:

That this Synod:
(a) affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate;
(b) affirm its view that special arrangements be available, within the existing structures of the Church of England, for those who as a matter of theological conviction will not be able to receive the ministry of women as bishops or priests;
(c) affirm that these should be contained in a statutory national code of practice to which all concerned would be required to have regard;

And if you have any evidence whatsoever that I have ever supported "gender apartheid", please produce it, or else withdraw the remark.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Sunday, 5 October 2008 at 9:36pm BST

I guess that the argument will be repeated that any compromise to traditionalists would mean that all diocesan bishops were not equal. And it is true that it would be invidious for women bishops if churches could opt in and out depending on whether the diocesan was a woman.

But if traditionalist churches have to opt for traditionalist episcopal provision ALL THE TIME - not just when the diocesan is female - then all diocesan bishops WILL be treated equally.

Posted by davidwh at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 4:21am BST

Since the abolition of the flying bishop in the Church in Wales there has not been one clerical defection.

Call my bluff should be the name of the game.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 6:56am BST

I welcome Pete's invitation to repeat the fact that he is a supporter of gender aparteit in the church. I also welcome Andrew Spurr's reminder that all clergy of Pete's generation and later were ordained in the full knowledge that the Church of England saw no theological objections to the ordination of women, and the women priests were likely to be serving alongside them.
White-only beaches in South Africa. White only lunch counters in the southern states of the USA were, obviously, considered to be a form of aparteit. Male-only altars are gender aparteit. The provision of alternative episcopal oversight for those who will not accept the priestly ministry of women is gender aparteit. I am old enough to remember when all the priests of a diocese would gather in the cathedral on Maundy Thursday to renew their priestly vows. All gone, now, thanks to institutionalized gender aparteit in the church. The legacy of John Habgood.

Posted by poppy tupper at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 9:08am BST

The Manchester group is made up of people from both ends of the debate; if they can come to the consensus that the only way forward is with provision that is enshrined in law, shouldn’t we trust their judgement and allow the synod to consider this recommendation?

I am a member of FIF, but I recognize that if a woman can be a Priest, then she can be a Bishop and I simply want the synod to get on with this; the last thing that traditionalists want is for the whole measure to fall at the final hurdle because its does no one any good. Let’s get on with this, but with love and charity and give traditionalists what they have told us they need.

Let me ask you a question: If I build you a bridge, believing that it will hold your weight, and you protest that it is too weak, and then it collapses beneath your weight, have I really built you a bridge? The code of practice cannot hold the weight that it demands; we need to go back to the drawing board and start again because this is going nowhere, all because the synod has not seen the bigger picture.

Posted by Mark Wharton at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 10:24am BST

Vicars (and bishops) come and go, The people saddled with whatever the Vicar (or Bishop) determines is good for them are left 'holding the baby' Where is the consensus of the laity in all of this?

Surely there needs to be a determined effort to debate the issue of women's ministry in the actual parishes where it is (hopefully) to be exercised - not for the convenience of the clergy themselves, but rather for the laity with (not just to) whom they will be ministering.

One cannot but feel that - as in the world outside the Church - the majority of people could not be too bothered whether it is a female or a male priest who brings Christ into being at the altar. Saint Paul tells us that: "In Christ, there is neither male nor female." Is that not evidence enough from an apostlic authority who has more than once been called a misogynist?

If a Queen can be the titular "Head of The Church of England", can not some of her clergy be female? Male supremacy no longer has the edge in the outside world. Why should it persist in the Church? And what about the business of 'equal opportunity'? Surely the Church can no longer consider itself immune from this aspect of common justice? (Even Saint Patrick is supposed to have 'put women in charge of the little wooden churches' in Ireland') - something even the Roman Catholic hierarchy are loth to admit.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 12:10pm BST

This does perplex me. But what would members of Forward in Faith have been suggesting in 'love and charity' for the supporters of women's ordination in 1992 if the vote had just failed to get its 2/3rds majority in one house (which nearly happened). I would find the answer to that a most helpful guide for how we should go forward now.

Posted by Judith Maltby at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 12:24pm BST

Poppy writes: "I also welcome Andrew Spurr's reminder that all clergy of Pete's generation and later were ordained in the full knowledge that the Church of England saw no theological objections to the ordination of women, and the women priests were likely to be serving alongside them."

Well, you can be as selective as you like in your memory and retelling of history, BUT - whatever was said in the 1970s, things changed in the 1990s! In the 90s it was agreed that those opposed to the ordination of women were equally loyal members of the church and that provision would be made for them IN PERPETUITY. My guess is that negates the 1970s vote and my further guess is that an employment tribunal might well think likewise!! Folk have been ordained on the basis of promisses made, laity have funded a church on the basis of those promisses. Poppy, get real and accept that those against WO have remsained because the CofE made them promisses!

Posted by David Malloch at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 2:03pm BST

I have read the legislation very carefully. There were no promises that provision would be made in perpetuity. There were unsupported statements by individuals, who had no authority to make promises, but there are no such promises in law. You really must get real, David Malloch. BTW, Pete Broadbent will now come along and say I am wrong, but all the evidence he cites will be extra-legislative and bear no authority. The Act of Synod was meant to bridge the gap during a period of reception.

Posted by poppy tupper at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 3:57pm BST

"Bishop Reade spoke against the Synod becoming parliamentary with two competing sides: “Ideally I think the House of Bishops should be there, and we should be listening to the debate, and we should go away and make the decisions.”

He said the clergy and laity should vote, but that it should simply be used as information for the bishops. "

Ah, the return of the Prince-Bishops - no need for the rest of the CofE to worry about such things, the Bishops know best. I presume that my Lord Bishop also prefers the Divine Right of Kings, well represented by the late King Charles I (executed by his Parliament) and Tsar Nicholas II (deposed by his Parliament and later executed...)

Either that or he prefers the Roman model of Papal authority (although his right to protest in the Roman Catholic Church would be limited at best)

Really, along with +Carlisle and +Rochester losing the plot, has +Blackburn decided 'democracy is bad'?

Posted by Richard at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 4:35pm BST

Cardinal Walter Kaspar, the head of the Council for Christian Unity, attended a Houseo f Bishops meeting last year to urge caution over proceeding with a move that would not be recognised by either the Orthodox or Catholic Churches. He added that if the ordination of women as priests had led to a "cooling off" of relations between the Anglican and Catholic Churches, making women bishops would cause a "serious and long-lasting chill" -
Telegraph article by Jonathan Wynne-Jones

As usual, Rome seems to think that the only valid Anglicans on the planet are members of the Church of England! Will someone please remind him that there have been female bishops in the Anglican Communion since the early 1990's, and the climate doesn't seem to be noticeably chillier than it would otherwise have been.

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 4:47pm BST

Excellent comment Tim...it is ARCIC not CERCIC!

The Primates should complain about this.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 6:07pm BST

"the climate doesn't seem to be noticeably chillier than it would otherwise have been."

See, they are now having problems with crowd control. The old model of "pay up, pray up, and shut up" really doesn't work any more, especially given that recent scandals show that priests are NOT due the kind of unquestioning obedience they once received. "Father said so" is no longer enough. So, if we have female bishops, it gets harder for them to enforce an all male episcopate on a laity not nearly as compliant with authority as their parents were. That's why the chill. Orthodoxy is, as always, different, but their embrace of the Imperial model leads me to suspect there is something of this in their camp as well.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 6 October 2008 at 6:37pm BST

> And if you have any evidence whatsoever that
> I have ever supported "gender apartheid", please
> produce it, or else withdraw the remark.

I have never had a reason to associate you with what I called theological apartheid. I said that the processes to keep clergy in the church, those who have been ordained since the Church of England concluded that there were no theological objections to women's ordination, is wrong-headed.

Posted by simple country vicar at Tuesday, 7 October 2008 at 9:50pm BST

'Twas Polly Tupper who thus described me. Sorry you got caught in the cross-fire.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Wednesday, 8 October 2008 at 6:08pm BST

That's Poppy, Pete. At least try to pretend we are real people.

Posted by poppy tupper at Thursday, 9 October 2008 at 2:24pm BST
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