Comments: problem in Chichester?

Maybe Bishop Hind will seek safe haven for his diocese in the province of the Southern Cone?

Posted by Lapinbizarre at Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 10:42pm GMT

'Kevin Carey, who is General Synod Member for the Chichester Diocese, said that people had been baffled by such a provocative action - (Bishop Hind's declaration that he will not appoint a woman Suffragan Bishop for his Diocese)'

"I don't see the point of having an advisory group if you've already decided what is going to happen." he (Kevin Carey) said. "It makes nonsense of the process. I deeply regret that we'll be the only diocese in the Church that doesn't have a bishop who ordains women".

I suppose the real problem here is whether the ordaining rights in a diocese of the C.of E. are solely at the discretion of it's Ordinary, the Bishop. If they are, and the majority of the Diocese is pro-Women's Ordination, then how on earth did this Bishop get appointed to Chichester?

There seems to be a bit of a problem with Bishop Hinds' apparent inconsistency; in that he is willing for a retired Bishop in his Diocese to continue ordaining women to trhe priesthood, while he will not allow a Suffragan Bishop to do the same.

This whole matter seems to be of concern in a Church which is committed to the Ordination of women, per se: allowing a Bishop who does not approve of (nor allow, in his own Diocese) the Ordination of Women, to become a Diocesan Bishop.

Should not some legislation be enacted within the Canons of the C.of E. that would forbid the appointment of such a non-conformist Bishop to a Diocesan appointment within the Church?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 14 December 2008 at 11:44pm GMT

The letter from +Chichester is available here:

http://www.massinformation.org/2008/11/bishop-john-hind-clarifications-on.html

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 12:25am GMT

Would someone please enlighten us as to why women are deemed so unfit to serve in holy orders? One would get the impression it's especially so in the CofE from reading about the goings on in the UK. I know the American church has had them for over thirty years and my first exposure to Episcopal clergy was in fact a couple of female priests and they appeared to be just as able at presiding over the Eucharist and administering the sacraments as any man I've ever seen do it. Is it such an old boys club that they can't stand the idea of someone of the opposite gender being allowed to join? Are women only fit to cook, clean, give birth to and raise children, and service the sexual needs of men?

Posted by Richard Warren at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 1:58am GMT

Why this witch hunt on a bishop who believes what the Church has maintained for two thousand years? What is wrong with a safehaven for anglo catholics and evangelical conservatives? Life has become pretty nigh impossible for them elsewhere. Live and let live.

Posted by John Knox at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 4:43am GMT

More evidence that the Church of England would be unwise to keep the present status quo, and that buying off opponents in the long run causes worse problems. If there was a third province the Diocese of Chichester would be decimated.

Posted by Robert Ian williams at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 6:13am GMT

Huff huff, puff puff! People should remember the simple fact that the Women Priests Ordination Measure in the CofE was permissive and not obligatory and this remains the case. It is possible for women to be ordained, but not required. Those who wish to allow this innovation have done so, but no bishop is obliged to do so. That is why there are two integrities - and this man deserves a little more respect from commentators here.

Posted by Neil at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 10:01am GMT

Might I refer readers to these comments made by the Chairman of the Chichester House of Laity?

"It is a fact that the dioceses of Chelmsford, Lichfield, Manchester, Oxford, and Southwark all have three suffragan sees, and, of those 15 bishops, not one is a non-ordainer of women.

This is a flagrant disregard of the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993, which provides that “no person or body shall discriminate against candidates . . . for appointment to senior office in the Church of England on the grounds of their views or positions about the ordination of women to the priesthood.”

Loyal members of the Church of England who are labelled “traditionalists” are also “disturbed” by the fact that there has been no level playing field in the matter of appointments since 1992."

The complete letter is available here: http://www.massinformation.org/2008/12/chichester-horsham-fairness.html

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 11:03am GMT

"It is possible for women to be ordained, but not required"

But if the Diocesan forbids it, it is no longer possible for women to be ordained. Isn't that precisely the problem?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 11:12am GMT

Neil:
There are not in fact two integrities. There is the recognition of the integrity of those who do not agree with the ordination of women, but the notion of two (equal) integrities is a Forward in Faith invention.

The Church of England's position is that women can be ordained in the same way as men can. Likewise, the official position on women bishops is 'yes'.

Posted by Frozenchristian at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 12:00pm GMT

"But if the Diocesan forbids it, it is no longer possible for women to be ordained. Isn't that precisely the problem?"

Wouldn't that mean that the bishop is *obligated* to ordain women? Either it's mandatory, or it isn't.

Posted by BillyD at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 12:41pm GMT

"Are women only fit to cook, clean, give birth to and raise children, and service the sexual needs of men?"

Not at all, Richard Warren. There are several arguments. First, the Church has never done this until this century. While it is certainly not impossible for God to call us in new directions, you have to use great caution is saying that is suddenly happening after 2000 years. Second is the nature of priesthood. The priesthood of the priest is a sharing in the priesthood of Christ. The priest represents Christ in the Mass. How can a woman represent a man? For me, the answer is that the Incarnation was God becoming a human being, not specifically a man, thus it is the humanity of Christ, not His manhood, represented by the priest. It seems to me that to say otherwise is to imply that the Incarnation is only salvific for slightly less than half the population. I am a supporter of OOW, but I don't think anything is served by casting the debate in the fashion you do. Sure there is sexism involved, just like there's homophobia involved in the "gay debate", but that doesn't make the theological issues any less real.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 12:54pm GMT

"Wouldn't that mean that the bishop is *obligated* to ordain women? Either it's mandatory, or it isn't."

No, he doesn't have to ordain women himself, but he should not be able to forbid Suffragans who are willing to ordain women. You could almost argue that there should be an obligation to have a Suffragan who is willing to ordain women.

It is surely down to individual parishes to decide whether they can cope with a woman priest or not. It is not up to the Bishop to prevent them from making that choice.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 1:21pm GMT

Well, on the bright side, I don't imagine there is any need for parishes in Chichester to avail themselves of a flying bishop.

Perhaps this points to an important inequality that needs to be addressed by General Synod. Parishes can vote not to accept the ministrations of their woman-ordaining diocesan, preferring instead to have a flying bishop who is untainted, as it were, by the laying of his hands on women. But there is no reciprocal arrangement, in which a parish could request a flying bishop who does ordain women when their diocesan refuses. Is it not time for the introduction of a Resolution D?

Posted by Nom de Plume at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 1:31pm GMT

Erika Baker: "But if the Diocesan forbids it, it is no longer possible for women to be ordained. Isn't that precisely the problem?"

That and an institution that is exempt from the law of the land. The Church seems to have become a "safe haven" for bigots.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 1:37pm GMT

Let's be clear. There are women clergy in the diocese of Chichester. Women are ordained to the clergy in the diocese of Chichester. Just not by the diocesan bishop or his suffragans. The diocesan bishop allows / authorizes / commissions (whatever) a retired bishop resident in Chichester diocese to ordain women to the priesthood in the diocese of Chichester.

The Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1992 allowed a diocesan bishop in office when the Measure came into force to declare that no women priests should be ordained or licensed or instituted in his [sic] diocese, in other words to declare his diocese a no-go area for priests who are female. However, the House of Bishops at the time agreed that no bishop would do this, and that instead they would bring in the Episcopal Minisry Act of Synod. It is this Act of Synod which provides for alternate ministry to parishes -- either the ministry of a bishop who does not ordain women clergy to parishes that are opposed to the change, but equally the assurance that no bishop would forbid the ordination or appointment of women priests in his diocese.

Diocesan bishops appointed subsequent to the Measure may not declare their diocese to be a no-go area. However, I believe that the respective archbishop requires them to agree to abide by the Act of Synod before agreeing to consecrate them (which in practice means before their nomination to the See is made public).

The Bishop of Chichester is acting in accordance with this system. We may not like the system, we may want it to change, but he is acting within his rights, within the terms agreed by the bishops, and he is not preventing the ordination of women or their appointment to parishes in the diocese of Chichester.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 2:23pm GMT

"an institution that is exempt from the law of the land".

The Church is not exempt from the law of the land. This is England: Church law *is* the law of the land.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 2:26pm GMT

Simon K - you say

"the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod... provides for alternate ministry to parishes -- either the ministry of a bishop who does not ordain women clergy to parishes that are opposed to the change, but equally the assurance that no bishop would forbid the ordination or appointment of women priests in his diocese."

but then say

"The Bishop of Chichester is acting in accordance with this system"

Apparently he is not - by forbidding (through not appointing a suffragan who will ordain women) the ordination of women in his diocese. You can't make both statements above true on the basis of +Chichester's proposed actions.

PS the comment about the CofE not being subject to the 'law of the land' refers to equality legislation, which would forbid this situation occurring in (almost) any non-religious organisation. Canon Law is at odds with Statute Law over this, a system which only English law could consider with equanimity!

Posted by Richard at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 2:49pm GMT

"No, he doesn't have to ordain women himself, but he should not be able to forbid Suffragans who are willing to ordain women. "

The Bishop argues that Suffragans act specifically on behalf of the Ordinary, as his agent. Whether or not that is true I have no idea, but if it is true then the Bishop is well within his rights not to allow his Suffragans to ordain women.

"It is surely down to individual parishes to decide whether they can cope with a woman priest or not. It is not up to the Bishop to prevent them from making that choice."

This argument would be valid if the Bishop did not license women clergy. As it seems that he does license women clergy, then you can't argue that he's depriving parishes of that choice, can you?

Posted by BillyD at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 3:13pm GMT

Richard

I am not Simon K but I am able to answer your PS. There is no conflict with the Statute Law here. The Statute Law contains express exemption clauses for religious organisations, in relation to discrimination on grounds of gender, religion, and sexual orientation. In each case the exemption is slightly differently worded, but it is there.

Whether that is a good thing in terms of public policy is another matter.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 3:15pm GMT

Here is the civil law as it relates to discrimination on grounds of gender by religious organisations:

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/001462.html

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 3:19pm GMT

While I am at it, I see that the government moved the Church Measures files since March 1995.

The Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure 1993 can now be found at
http://www.opsi.gov.uk/uk-church-measures/1993/Ukcm_19930002_en_1.htm

and the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 can be found at
http://www.ebbsfleet.org.uk/actofsynod93.htm

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 3:28pm GMT

In law a diocesan bishop may delegate to his suffragans whatever subset of his episcopal authority that he chooses and sees fit to do so. He does this via a formal deed, and IIRC, he does this with the consent of his Council, i.e. the Bishop's Council of the diocese. The diocesan synod is informed of the execution of this deed.

So the bishop is entitled to delegate to one or more of his suffragans the authority to ordain men to the priesthood and not to delegate the authority to ordain women. Equally he may choose (as some diocesan bishops do) to delegate to one of his suffragans the authority to ordain women, but to the others only the authority to ordain men.

Similarly he may license or commission other bishops (e.g. bishops or suffragans of other dioceses, or retired bishops resident or not in his diocese) to ordain a woman. Or he may choose not to do so, but to allow a qualified woman to be ordained or instituted by a commissary of the archbishop acting on the archbishop's metropolitan authority.

However he does it, he will have been required to give an undertaking to allow women to be ordained and instituted within his diocese. Of course, this is not a legally binding undertaking, it is a moral one. But it is a morally-binding undertaking tha has been observed by all through the last 14 or so years.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 3:53pm GMT

Erika Baker and Richard:

As I understand it, the Bishop of Chichester licenses women clergy in his Diocese and allows them to be ordained within the Diocese but by an Assistant or visiting Bishop - not by one of the Suffragans.

This is where traditionalists become confused - how can a bishop who denies the validity of the women's orders essentially 'deny' parishes and people of the sacraments? Not one I can answer.

Nom de Plume:
A similar system was, believe it or not, suggested at the July Synod and was defeated. In that instance it suggested having flying bishops who were women for those parishes that wish to have a woman as their bishop - of course the problem here is that nobody is denying that any of the current bishops are bishops so even in a diocese like Chichester, the most liberal affirmer of women's ordination cannot deny that Bishop Hind is a bishop - that would not be true in 'reverse'.

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 3:58pm GMT

Thank you, Simon K for that helpful explanation of the current "order" of things. If we cannot in good faith allow for differences in this and other matters in the practice of religion, we may as well call it quits.

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 4:04pm GMT

Richard, what I wrote was entirely consistent. The Bishop of Chichester and his suffragans do not ordain women. But the bishop makes provision for women to be ordained and instituted in the diocese of Chichester by bishops other than him or his suffragans (called area bishops in Chichester diocese). Therefore he is acting accordance with the Measure.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 4:09pm GMT

Simon K
Could you please explain how this works? A bishop has to approve a selection committee’s recommendations, so even if retired bishops carry out the actual ordinations, the bishop of Chichester or his suffragans will have had to approve women going forward for training.

If they don’t, how can women identified by more liberal parishes within the diocese as being called to the priesthood ever become priests in their diocese?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 4:10pm GMT

I think the comments confuse two separate issues: (a) the ordination of women and (b) the thread topic of a specific decision by a diocesan bishop to discriminate in his appointment of a suffragan against men who support the ordination of women.

On (b), it seems, surely, absolutely clear (unless I'm missing something) from the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 that what the Bishop of Chichester is doing is illegal.

"Ordinations and Appointments
1. There will be no discrimination 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."

This provision cuts both ways - it was designed to protect people who oppose the ordination of women, but it equally protects those who do not. Chichester seems to be in clear breach of it.

Posted by badman at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 5:37pm GMT

Exemption for Parliament's State Church, but no exemption for Catholic Adoption agencies and Catholic schools to choose their staff.

Anti-Catholicism a la liberals!

Also another interesting thought is that Westminster is the only Legislature in the western world where women are excluded from sitting, and that is in the seats reserved for Church of England bishops in the Lords. Now if I were Christina Rees this is were I would be turning the screw..allow equality or give up the state link and membership of the Lords. That would bring the bishops into line pretty quick, and the measure to allow women would not be allowed to fail.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 5:41pm GMT

Fr Pinnock has made an important contribution to this discussion on his blog here:

http://onetimothyfour.blogspot.com/2008/12/friends-like-these.html

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 6:39pm GMT

Badman

I think it may be more subtle than you suggest - the argument seems to go that a Bishop in favour of ordaining women may be appointed, but they will not be permitted actually to ordain any.

This becomes problematic when we examine the Ordinal - in the Consecration of Bishops the question is asked "Will you be faithful in ordaining, sending or laying hands upon others?" to which the answer is "I will so be, so help me God." The new Common Worship rite has "Will you be faithful in ordaining and commissioning ministers of the Gospel?" with the answer "By the help of God, I will."

There may be some people who are prepared to give the requisite answers to these questions even though they are in favour of the ordination of women as priests. Others will not, because they may be placed in a position where if the candidate to be ordained were a man, they would do it, but they would be unable to do so because the candidate is a woman. In a Church which does ordain women to the priesthood they will question whether this can properly be described as being faithful in ordaining ...

So, I would say, some people may be excluded from consideration because of their views on the ordination of women.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 7:20pm GMT

The contorted goings-on of "Mother Church" give me a headache. }}:-/

Posted by JCF at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 7:31pm GMT

Badman wrote: ... a specific decision by a diocesan bishop to discriminate in his appointment of a suffragan against men who support the ordination of women.

Bishop Hind has done no such thing. Any bishop suffragan appointed to the diocese of Chichester may support the ordination of women (to any of the three orders). They will be able to assist in the discernment of vocations of people of either gender (as does Bishop Hind). What the diocesan bishop will *not* do is allow them (and they need his authority) to ordain women. Their personal views on OOW simply do not come into the equation at any point.

Posted by RPNewark at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 8:33pm GMT

"Exemption for Parliament's State Church, but no exemption for Catholic Adoption agencies and Catholic schools to choose their staff."

Robert, this complaint would only seem to be justified if CofE adoption agencies and schools are given an exemption whereas RC ones are not. Is that in fact the case? Otherwise, you're comparing apples and oranges - unless the Crown is forcing RC bishops to ordain women somewhere, and the news hasn't reached here.

Posted by BillyD at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 8:40pm GMT

I think Brian Hanson makes a good point. Those overly vexed about +Chichester maintaining at least a gesture towards suffragan bishop opponents of women priests should take note that traditionalists are severely and unfairly under represented. That is why it took so long for the appointment at Kensington to be sorted. The two strongest candidates - Martin Warner and Simon Evans (both trads)would not have been acceptable despite being generous towards those with whom they cannot in conscience agree. And so a lesser, 'acceptable' candidate has been appointed.

Posted by Neil at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 10:17pm GMT

Whatever the legal status of what the Bishop has decreed he has made a mockery of the consultation process and confirmed his own illogicality in allowing a retired bishop to ordain women while forbidding his suffragans. My reading of the situation, as a member of the Cathedral congregation and from what I hear around me, is that Chichester does not want to be a no go area for women priests, that the Bishop is acting without the support of the vast majority of his clergy and people and that his actions bring the church further into disrepute. It's now all over the local paper web site. Those I spoke to yesterday morning after the Cathedral Eucharist are angry and upset. Respect for ones position on this and other controversial issues works both ways and the Bishop is making no adequate provision for those with whom he disagrees. By taking this intolerant stand he only undermines his own standing in the Diocese.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 10:23pm GMT

The point is BillyD , that the Church of England is subject to Parliament and the Catholic Church paid with its blood not to be.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 10:51pm GMT

I thought that CoE bishops were in some way appointed by the Crown. How did a Labour government appoint this man?

Posted by Andrew at Monday, 15 December 2008 at 11:55pm GMT

"Whatever the legal status of what the Bishop has decreed he has made a mockery of the consultation process..."

Actually, I think we need to be fair to Bishop Hind here. I do not believe he has made a mockery of anything. I think he is exercising his rights and his responsibilities and his ministry as best he can. I think that he and the whole Church of England have been put into an impossible situation with the creation of the no-go areas and flying bishops. This has introduced a seriously flawed ecclesiological innovation into the DNA of Anglicanism (without adequate consultation with or buy-in from other provinces, incidentally). It is this which has given rise to demands for "alternative" episcopal oversight, various schemes to provide something that looks like it but which generally are panned by those making the demands, and cross-border incursions from other Provinces. Not to mention the cockamamie proposal for a new Province in North America.

The Church in Wales has decided that the flying bishop scheme has outlived its usefulness, and very wisely brought it to a conclusion. But the C of E continues to try to go down that road by negotiating some kind of deal with respect to women bishops, now that the women priests are so universally accepted. Somebody needs to sit down and think about where deals with dissidents get us. Protection of conscience is one thing; setting up whole new structures that fundamentally undermine the catholicity of the Church is quite another. Once resolution D is approved, what about resolutions E, F, G, H and so on? And how will they be combined? The alphabet soup is the problem.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 4:14am GMT

Neil wrote; "would not have been acceptable despite being generous towards those with whom they cannot in conscience agree."

I earnestly do not understand this.

How can one not?
How can one not w a n t to?
How can one not strive to?

Isn't that what "generous" is about?

Isn't that what "Christian" is about?

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 6:17am GMT

"The Bishop of Chichester and his suffragans do not ordain women. But the bishop makes provision for women to be ordained and instituted in the diocese of Chichester by bishops other than him or his suffragans"


Sounds like straining at gnats and swallowing camels to me.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 6:32am GMT

RPNewark

"Any bishop suffragan appointed to the diocese of Chichester may support the ordination of women (to any of the three orders). They will be able to assist in the discernment of vocations of people of either gender (as does Bishop Hind)"

So you're saying the bishop is part of a process in which the will of God for a particular prospective ordinant is being discerned, but should that person be approved, he will then ignore the same will of God he has just discerned and refuse to ordinate the person if she happens to be a woman?

Explain please.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 7:40am GMT

The Bishop has not said that he will not sponsor, or support the women who feel themselves called to the sacred priesthood; He simply cannot ordain them himself, so as a gesture of kindness, the Bishop allows another Bishop to do so. Before Bishop John become Bishop, Bishop Kemp had not allowed any women to be ordained in the diocese at all. The Bishop has the authority to decide what the suffragans do, because after all, all they do is done with his authority as the Diocesan Bishop.
I would like to reverse the situation and ask, when was the last time a Bishop was appointed who was opposed to the ordination of women?
Talent and Calling – the report on senior appointments in the church made it abundantly clear that there is a distinct lack of senior posts filled by traditional Catholics and evangelicals.

Posted by Mark Wharton at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 9:23am GMT

Nom de Plume
Please would you clarify what you mean by "no-go areas". It seems to me that this is precisely what the CofE does NOT have. There is no diocese in the CofE where women priests do not minister.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 9:37am GMT

Mark Wharton says that there is a lack of senior posts filled by what he calls traditional Catholics and evangelicals.

However, the top jobs are Canterbury, York, London, Durham and Winchester. The Archbishop of Canterbury is an Anglo Catholic who has stuck to Lambeth 1.10 through thick and thin and who opposed a one-clause measure for women bishops. The Archbishop of York is an evangelical who opposed (one of very few English diocesans to do this) the Cambridge Accord, which sought to affirm at least the human rights of homosexuals. The Bishop of London is on the Catholic wing and was appointed when he was known to oppose the ordination of women to the priesthood: he has still never ordained a single woman to the priesthood. The Bishop of Durham, N T Wright, is a leading evangelical who has been outspoken in his criticism of liberal Anglicanism in North America. The Bishop of Winchester is deeply conservative on matters of human sexuality, and recently used his episcopal seat and voice in the House of Lords vigorously to oppose laws prohibiting discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation.

Looking further down, there are diocesans such as Michael Nazir-Ali at Rochester, and other bishops such as Wallace Benn at Lewes, and Pete Broadbent at Willesden, as well as the Bishop of Chichester himself, all of whom are on the conservative side.

Posted by badman at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:02am GMT

Goran - of course yes. But the fact is there are some opponent bishops (and priests) of women priests who are not so generous or kind or helpful as others with a similiar conscience.

Just as there are numbers of proponent bishops (and priests Area Deans etc.) who do all they can not to appoint trad priests, and are less than generous or kind. The point about Martin Warner or Simon Evans is that both are very strong candidates who, in my view would be totally trustworthy for all constituencies, but whom proponents would not accept! And the same people (inc Jane Hedges and Lucy Winkett) say 'trust women' when they are bishops to be fair to their opponents. Their argument should have worked in reverse in the Kensington appointment.

Posted by Neil at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:07am GMT

It is at parish level, not diocesan level where there are no-go areas. When my goddaughter, who is a priest, goes away for a break, in one parish she will go to church on Sunday with the family she stays with and will be offered an altar or invited to concelebrate, in the parish next door, if she goes with the family she is staying with she will not even feel comfortable turning up in clerical collar and will be offered no sacerdotal hospitality at all. This the Church of England as the Church Catholic in this land? The size of the no-go area is not as important as the fact that it exists at all.

Posted by madeline at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:09am GMT

I can't believe I'm saying this, but Bishop John Hind deserves a bit more credit. It is perfectly within his powers, as per his letter to the Church Times, to decide that women will be ordained in his diocese by assistant but not by suffragan bishops, and that he will appoint a suffragan on the basis of talent not on the basis of whether that bishop approves of the ordination of women. I don't agree, but I do respect his authority, provided that a) women can discern and pursue the church's calling in Chichester and b) women can be duly ordained, licensed and supported. Is it possible to see a grace in this: that even in a diocese where the bishop's conviction is that women ought not to be ordained, they are and are supported? The real issue here is whether or not the women and men of Chichester are nurtured into priesthood, not the beliefs of the bishops who ordain and license them.

Posted by MrsBarlow at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:15am GMT

"I thought that CoE bishops were in some way appointed by the Crown. How did a Labour government appoint this man?"

Andrew, bishops are indeed nominated by the Crown, on the advice of the Prime Minister. Since about 1977, the PM will only offer the Crown names proposed to him by the Crown Appointments Commission (now the Crown Nominations Commission, IIRC).

Until recently the Commission would propose two names to the PM, but as of this year the Commission only proposes one name. Nomination of diocesan bishops is therefore entirely in the hands of a Church Commission that includes representatives of the diocese and the province.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:36am GMT

"I don't agree, but I do respect his authority, provided that a) women can discern and pursue the church's calling in Chichester and b) women can be duly ordained, licensed and supported."

I really think some of you need to realize the level to which the Bishop is going against his own instincts here. He would be entirely within his rights to refuse to sponsor women for ordination and to refuse to have them licensed, ordained or officiating in his diocese - this would be absolutely legitimate.

Do liberals not see that this reaction as the natural result of the disgraceful behaviour of some bishops, clergy and laity over the past 15 years - especially at Synod in the summer - toward those who STILL (no matter what some might think or are trying to do) hold a view that is recognized by the Church of England as legal, valid and acceptable?

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:51am GMT

Simon (S)

I realise that the debate has continued since, but for clarity I did not say that Canon Law and Statute Law in England were 'conflicting', because of the exemptions for ecclesiastical bodies. However, they are 'at odds' in their aims and objectives because Statute Law aims to remove discrimination on grounds of gender whilst allowing Canon Law to protect it.

Sorry, as a civil servant pedantry is part of the job!

Posted by Richard at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 11:42am GMT

"I really think some of you need to realize the level to which the Bishop is going against his own instincts here. He would be entirely within his rights to refuse to sponsor women for ordination and to refuse to have them licensed, ordained or officiating in his diocese"

I would really like to understand this better.

How can it be that someone who believes that it is not possible/against God's will to ordain women, can agree to sponsor women for ordination, or even give them a fair hearing on a selection committee?

Either it is God's will that some women are ordained, in which case a bishop should ordain them. Or it is against God's will that women are ordained priest, then it's impossible to go along with it out of "kindness". Certainly, you cannot discern in a selection process that God is calling an individual to the priesthood, but later say you will not ordain that person.

I'm not being critical here - I really am trying to understand this.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 12:44pm GMT

Simon Sarmiento asks:

"Nom de Plume
Please would you clarify what you mean by "no-go areas". It seems to me that this is precisely what the CofE does NOT have. There is no diocese in the CofE where women priests do not minister."

As Madeline notes, there are parochial no-go areas, which are created pursuant to Measure and Act of General Synod through the device of Resolutions A, B and C. To be fair and honest, there are de facto parochial no-go areas in North America, too. There are indeed parishes where it is well known that women priests need not apply. But these exist informally, and do not have the power of legislation and parochial resolution to establish and protect their status.

Yes, it is true that there is no diocese without women clergy. As to the question of whether there are dioceses where it is easier or more difficult for women to advance, I would have to defer to the women clergy of the C of E to inform me.

Mrs Barlow asks us to find some grace in Bishop Hind finding a place and a mechanism for the ordination and licensing of women priests in his diocese notwithstanding his own opposition, and that is indeed a good point. Fair is fair.

Some years ago I observed to someone that the women clergy in one diocese tended, on average, to be the best and the brightest. It was obvious that it was possible for a mediocre male postulant to be ordained, but it was not possible for a mediocre female postulant to be ordained. When the latter became possible, I noted, that would be a measure of equality. Not, I hasten to add, that I would like to see any mediocre priests, and on later reflection perhaps it would be best to achieve equality by raising the bar for male postulants rather than lowering it for women.

My point is that it is difficult enough for women priests, who in many cases have to fight for credibility and acceptance every step along the way in a way that male clergy never do, and the legislation protecting parishes from the ministrations of women or of bishops who ordain women stands as an added barrier to the full acceptance of women priests in the Church of England. Worse, the famous Act of Synod has created a model for division and for the undermining of catholicity in the Anglican Communion, the fruits of which we are only just beginning to taste.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 1:03pm GMT

Erika - now that is a question. I refer you to the post I mentioned above by Fr Giles Pinnock at TimothyOneFour. Interesting discussion point.

oh...and thank you for trying to understand the situation and not just being accusatory and unthinking! Clearly the title of this blog is still applicable to some!

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 1:35pm GMT

Nom de Plume - could you please suggest how the Act of Synod has undermined catholicity more than either the local alteration of the three fold order (recognized as such by Rome and the East even if the orders themselves are considered invalid), the role of Suffragan Bishops or the role of Visitors to Religious Communities, Royal Peculiars or the 'non-geographical' Diocese of the Armed Forces?

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 1:43pm GMT

"Either it is God's will that some women are ordained, in which case a bishop should ordain them. Or it is against God's will that women are ordained priest, then it's impossible to go along with it out of "kindness"."

Isn't this exactly what we are asking conservatives to with WRT gay people? Either our lifelong monogamous relationships are sinful or they are not. If they are not, then there is no reason not to ordain a partnered gay person. If they are sinful, it's impossible to go along out of kindness. This is the conservative point: that homosexuality is sinful, regardless of monogamy or commitment or support or anything else, and it is not kndness to just go along. Gay people, for the sake of their eternal souls, have to be made to see how sinful their relationships are so they can repent and be saved. For them, then, going along with SSBs and the ordination of non-celebate gay people is not kindness, it is relegating us to Hell for all eternity. They are expected to accept that TEC is doing something it feels called by God to do, but that THEY think is the blessing of sin. If they can be expected to do that, why shouldn't the Bishop also try to find ways to coexist with people who he believes are doing something that endangers the sacramental life?

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 2:46pm GMT

Erika Baker: So you're saying the bishop is part of a process in which the will of God for a particular prospective ordinant is being discerned, but should that person be approved, he will then ignore the same will of God he has just discerned and refuse to ordinate the person if she happens to be a woman?

Explain please.

Erika, I can't explain how +John Cicestr: justifies his position. I simply stated the facts. I'm baffled too.

Posted by RPNewark at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 3:09pm GMT

>>>The Bishop of Winchester is deeply conservative on matters of human sexuality

Except when it comes to remarriage after divorce, which he considers the merest faux pas, not quite as serious as, say, eating the shrimp cocktail with one's fingers.

It's funny how even the most formidably "orthodox" can always find loopholes for sins to which they might be subject.

Posted by JPM at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 4:19pm GMT

I'd suggest the problem is we won't allow others to have their failings. WE, whoever we are, don't have any blind spots or failings... (sarcasm off...)

Posted by Davis d'Ambly at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 4:34pm GMT

Ford
We're not asking an anti gay person to be directly involved in the celebration of gay relationships or the ordination of a gay partnered priest. We're simply asking them to live and let live. I am not asking anyone to go against their personal integrity, all I'm asking is that they allow others theirs.

With respect to women priests this means that a bishop who does not want to be involved in ordinations because he believes them to be a theological impossibility, cannot be involved at any stage in the process.
And because women's ordination is CoE policy, it also mean that he allows others be involved in his place.

Now +Chichester either has no personal integrity, or a huge amount of it if he can go against something he feels strongly about for the sake of "kindness" as someone said here. From what I hear, I rather assume it's the latter!

But it's the theology of "I can be involved in the process of discerning whether someone has a calling from God, but I cannot be involved in their ordination after I've discerned their calling" that I find strange.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 4:34pm GMT

I notice the diocesan website makes no reference to the suffragan's departure...

Posted by dodgey_vicar at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 4:58pm GMT

The Bishop of Chichester and his suffragans do ordain women and go against Catholic tradition. They ordain women deacons...which was considered heretical by the Anglican church fifty years ago.
The same is true of Biahops Schofield, Iker and Ackerman.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 6:26pm GMT

Erika: well said. It is not just at the level of ordaining that there is a problem: how on earth can a man be the senior manager of the priests in his diocese, when he does not believe a good percentage of them are priests at all?

Why would someone feel they are qualified to manage a particular diocese as its bishop if they don't even recognise the orders of a large number of their clergy? The "trads" are often telling the rest of us that ordination is not a right. Well, I think that being a diocesan bishop is no-one's right either: if you cannot as a bishop recognise all of your priests, you should not think you are an appropriate person for the job.

Posted by Fr Mark at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 7:58pm GMT

"the Church of England is subject to Parliament and the Catholic Church paid with its blood not to be." - Robert Ian Williams -

Robert, here you go again, submitting pericope which have not much to do with the subject under discussion but serving to denigrate Anglicanism.

Regarding what you are saying here: it might well be observed that your Roman Catholic Church was long under the domination of various Emperors and Monarchs - Roman, French and Spanish. When will you get it into your head that the Church of England is precisely what this title implies - the Catholic and Apostolic Church of the English?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:02pm GMT

"He would be entirely within his rights to refuse to sponsor women for ordination and to refuse to have them licensed, ordained or officiating in his diocese - this would be absolutely legitimate."

And then face a goatish time on Judgment Day---but that's his right! ;-/

*****

"Isn't this exactly what we are asking conservatives to with WRT gay people? ..." Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 2:46pm GMT

I think I agree, Ford . . . but at what point in all the moral-equivalizing, do we "lose the plot", so to speak?

If God made us all, then doesn't it seem self-evident that uplifting the Imago Dei (made female, made LGBT) is a GOOD in itself?

This isn't some abstract "x" on the one hand, and an equally abstract "not x" on the other. "Traditionalists" (so-called, but who merely replicate WORLDLY structures-of-domination) DENY the Imago Dei of some---and real people suffer because of it. I just don't see the equivalence.

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 16 December 2008 at 10:59pm GMT

Gregory of Langres asks:

"Nom de Plume - could you please suggest how the Act of Synod has undermined catholicity more than either the local alteration of the three fold order (recognized as such by Rome and the East even if the orders themselves are considered invalid), the role of Suffragan Bishops or the role of Visitors to Religious Communities, Royal Peculiars or the 'non-geographical' Diocese of the Armed Forces?"

The three fold order has not been altered locally, unless you suggest that including the other 51% of humanity in it is in some way a fundamental change. I do not see it as a change at all, merely a correction by expanding eligibility. Women's orders are no different from men's, and so the orders have not been changed.

Peculiar jurisdictions do exist, but they are nevertheless integral jurisdictions. But the introduction of flying bishops has tampered with catholicity. As I understand it, catholicity implies that all in a single jurisdiction are part of an integral whole. The parishes in a diocese may have a great deal of diversity from one to the next, but they are all subject to the same Ordinary, and they are all inextricably linked together in the diocesan entity, with the bishop as guardian of unity.

Now I know you will object that flying bishops do not alter jurisdiction, and that is true, but they do allow for a parish to elect to reject the pastoral and liturgical ministry of their bishop on purely ideological grounds, and to opt for the ministrations of another. It is not quite, I agree, a game of "pick a bishop", as Bishop Alan noted in a Lambeth blog post, but it begins to open the door to that game.

An Anglo-Catholic bishop can visit an Evangelical parish in his diocese and perform a confirmation, and that is fine. And the parish cannot simply demand that their bishop stay away and send someone else. But if that same bishop has once ordained a woman, then the parish can demand a flying bishop, if they so choose. No, I understand that they can't escape the jurisdiction of their bishop, but they can prevent him from ministering in their midst. The guardian of unity is prevented from acting as such in his own diocese.

And what if every parish in a diocese opted for a flying bishop? Would this not in effect nullify the appointment of the diocesan? Sure he would still be the Ordinary, but he would have nowhere to go on a Sunday. The usual vehicle for his contact with the faithful in the diocese would be completely removed. And even if it is removed only for a single parish, this still erodes his ministry to the diocese.

This has evolved elsewhere into demands for alternative oversight, which involve demands for alternative jurisdiction - a step beyond the flying bishop scheme, yes, but along the same trajectory. The integrity of the jurisdiction has been chipped away and, with these new demands, is being severed.

We can close the door now that the horse has escaped, I suppose, and that still wouldn't be a bad thing to do. But catholicity has been eroded.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 2:34am GMT

Fr Mark
"Erika: well said. It is not just at the level of ordaining that there is a problem: how on earth can a man be the senior manager of the priests in his diocese, when he does not believe a good percentage of them are priests at all?"

Thank you for the compliment, but this is not my question. He can accept that other believe them to be priests and he can, with integrity, honour that.

The selection process for prospective ordinants is about discerning God's will for an individual. It's not about whether that person wants to be a priest or whether they have the ability to be a good priest. It's about discerning whether they truly have a vocation from God.

If someone does not believe that it is possible for women to have a vocation to the priesthood from God, then how can he participate in a discernment process that, for him, can have no meaning?

But if he does believe that God might be calling women to the priesthood, and if he is therefore genuine in his participation in the discernment process, then he cannot afterwards go against this will of God he has just discerned and refuse to ordinate the women.

Or is the selection process nothing more than any other job application?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 7:47am GMT

Nom de Plume:

You say all these things but seemingly fail to recognise that the role you describe is the role of a suffragan bishop - except that a suffragan is not requested in the same way as a PEV.

The PEV operates under the permission of the Diocesan and any failings in the understanding of jurisdiction would, of course, be remedied by the creation of new dioceses!

'Traditionalists' did not create the structure, we merely work with it - there are things we would change (and are trying to) - like the right of PEVs to sponsor ordination candidates.

Whilst the Diocesan is still a man he can be recognized as Ordinary by a 'C' parish and the relationship is more or less like that in the Diocese of London, Oxford or anywhere else that operates Area Bishops rather than Diocesan and Suffragans.

As per your argument that the threefold order has been altered - it has. Whatever you think about the difference between men and women, you have to admit that there is one! The admission of women into the threefold order has drastically altered the traditional understanding of ordained ministry and the sacrament of ordination.

I would argue that the 'new demands' that you allude to are, in fact, a much more catholic model than the current structures in place under the Act of Synod. Under your own reasoning, new dioceses should have been in place within days of the vote in 1992, not being fought for now...

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 9:52am GMT

jpm points out that the Bishop of Winchester is liberal 'Except when it comes to remarriage after divorce, which he considers the merest faux pas, not quite as serious as, say, eating the shrimp cocktail with one's fingers.'
Thomas Wolfe said 'a liberal is a conservative who has been arrested'.
Jonathan Aitken is a good example of the truth of this maxim. George Carey is another example of someone who is liberal on divorce, because it has touched his own family life.
Why is it that some people are able to shift their perspective only on the issues that concern them directly, yet remain intransigent on matters that do not touch their own lives? As well as the examples given above I feel I should mention the many Anglican clergy who feel that it is all right for them to interpret Scripture in a way that allows them to be practising homosexuals, but not in a way that allows them to recognise the priestly calling of women.
I'd also like to ask if we have been wise in ordaining men, especially bishops, who are easily persuaded to liberal ideas when their own lives are involved, but who lack the abilty to enter into the experience and wisdom of others?

Posted by madeline at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 10:48am GMT

"I feel I should mention the many Anglican clergy who feel that it is all right for them to interpret Scripture in a way that allows them to be practising homosexuals, but not in a way that allows them to recognise the priestly calling of women."

And as well the many female clergy who claim the process of "reassessing" Scripture to allow for inclusion of gay people is improper and leads to blessing of sin, thereby denying to others the exact process that not so long ago enabled these same women to have a collar on their neck in the first place.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 11:46am GMT

Gregory of Langres:

Yes the PEV operates under the Ordinary authority of the diocesan. I have already conceded that point. But that is still a very different arrangement than the area bishop relationship. For one thing, the area bishop functions on behalf of, not instead of, the diocesan. Where there is a non-C relationship with an area bishop, there is nothing preventing the diocesan from performing sacramental / liturgical / pastoral acts in the parish. As I understand resolution C, this part of the bishop's relationship with the parish, the most visible part, is interrupted. Do I misunderstand the terms of resolution C?

I do not argue that there ought to have been new dioceses in 1992, for if such a thing were to begin it would not end before every parish became its own diocese and every parish priest a bishop. It would ultimately lead, in other words, to congregationalism, and the complete elimination of anything resembling catholic order.

In what way are the new demands catholic? In my view they amount to a parish, usually egged on by the parish priest, deciding to overturn the episcopal election / appointment. It is absurd. Can you decide that you don't like Gordon Brown's views on this or that issue and that you will declare yourself instead under the Prime Ministerial authority of, say, Nicholas Sarkozy or Angela Merkel?

Sorry for the haste this is written in....

Posted by Nom de Plume at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 1:32pm GMT

So S. Kershaw, so the same bunch you've got (appointed, I believe) in the upper house of the national assembly help enact rules aimed at just hiring practices, then lets one of their own ignore or obviate implementation in their own diocese. Correct?

What kind of "law of the land" is this?

Although Bush has eroded this principle with his "Faith Based Initiatives", if you use public money for your merry little claque of believers in the U.S.A., then you'd better follow Federal Law and Statutes, or you're getting cut off. Period.

As much as I hate to say it, this is one of the very rare times I'm proud to be an American.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 3:11pm GMT

Ron .. I always find your postings amusing..happy christmas.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 6:44pm GMT

Maybe as 'our woman in Rome' I should make a comment here. Neither my Diocesan bishop nor his Suffragan ordain women to the priesthood, as they recently clarified in a letter to the Church Times. The Diocesan bishop is unsure that women can be priests, though of course he licences us, while his Suffragan is in favour of women priests but does not ordain them, according to the letter in question, for the good of ecumenical relations. Well, every day on my way home from the Anglican Centre (the 'other' part of my curacy) I see the dome of St Peter's. At the top echelons of the RC hierarchy of course, none of us, bishops, priests, or deacons are in valid orders - men and women are equal in this. For the great number of RC clergy and those in the pews there are two different positions. Some people follow the rules of the RC Church and do not receive at an Anglican Eucharist, no matter who is celebrating, even the Archbishop of Canterbury; another group receive at an Anglican Eucharist, irrespective of who is celebrating, against the rules of their own church. I have NEVER met a RC in Rome (or elsewhere) who received from an Anglican male priest and not from an Anglican female priest (only Anglicans do that). That is of course a more Catholic position then behaving differently towards two priests both ordained by our church, again, only Anglicans seem to take that rather un-Catholic position. In fact, to the Catholics who have discussed the question with me, it is difficult to understand a bishop who refuses to adhere to his (ahime, fino a quando?) church's position.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 7:44pm GMT

This is dire.

It is not un-Catholic to refuse to accept women's orders. It isn't even un-Anglican, thank you!

The Church - by which I mean the one holy, catholic and apostolic one - does not ordain women to the threefold order. The Church of England and the Anglican Communion does. This is un-Catholic and, some would argue, un-Anglican.

Posted by Gregory of Langres at Wednesday, 17 December 2008 at 11:36pm GMT

I rejoice in 'the invalidity of my orders' !

I do hope an Old Catholic strain via one of my ordaining bishops won't have undermined my invalidity !

When I become aware of my breathing or approach another as a Thou I know none of that churchy stuff matters on iota. (I know I am not alone in this either -- most of the parishoners of England know nothing of these arcane matters --and are too down to earth* to let it worry them ,if they did.

* down-to-earthness could that be incarnational ?!

Posted by The Rev'd Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 10:15am GMT

"It is not un-Catholic to refuse to accept women's orders. It isn't even un-Anglican, thank you!"

I would also argue it is not, on its face, sexist. It does suggest a certain insecurity, though. We are unCatholic in doing it? Why? Because Rome doesn't do it? Rome doesn't think our clregy are priests or bishops either. Up until the early 60s, Rome did a lot of things we don't, and vice versa. It might well be catholic to want for all "branches" of the catholic Church to act together, but let's get real, we're the only "catholics" who believe the Church Catholic can be split up into branches. You're trying to assert an Anglican definition of catholicity, one that not even all Anglicans agree with, and use it to stop any form of change. According to the other "catholics", we're not catholic, Hell they even claim each other aren't really catholic. So, politically, the "three branch" idea of catholicism is an Anglican invention, intended to soothe the scruples of those fearful that 500 years ago we did something dreadfully wrong, and perhaps, just perhaps, because we're not in communion with Rome, we might not actually have grace after all. Theologically, what is the problem with the idea that God leads church in different direction so that the Gospel can be effectively spread?

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 11:44am GMT

Greg de Langres: it is not "un-Catholic" to believe that women can be priests. The majority of the RC faithful (the people you evidently think of as the "real" Catholics) are all in favour of it. Ergo, the sensus fidelium is not that it is unCatholic.

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 12:20pm GMT

Of course the real tragedy is the Vatican still claiming that there is a possibility of corporate re-union if the Church of Engalnd does not ordain women bishops. What shameful self deception...and of course personal opinions like this are not subject to the charism of infallibility.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 5:40pm GMT

"a possibility of corporate re-union"

With Rome? This gets trotted out every so often, usually when Rome feels a bit uncomfortable that the Anglican Church is doing something for which it is receiving criticism for not doing. Let's be honest, corporate reunion with Rome will only happen when we put aside this Anglican nonsense and accept the teachings of Holy Mother Church. You don't seriously think Rome will become more "Anglican" in an effort to meet us half way?

"personal opinions like this are not subject to the charism of infallibility."

There is no such thing. Just because the Bishop of Rome wants to underscore his claim to being King of the Bishops doesn't mean he's actually infallible, no matter if he's ex cathedra or otherwise. All the same, the fearful must take great comfort in convincing themselves of this. It's the same with the Anglicans. The funny thing is that the very Anglicans who want this kind of authority centred in one or a few individuals are the very ones who make the loudest claim to being Protestant. So they want someone, anyone, to have near absolute power and tell everyone else what to do, they just don't want him to be called Pope, I guess.

Posted by Ford ELms at Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 7:47pm GMT

Robt Ian W: is the role you are playing that of disinterested observer of another church's discussions here, or that of partisan propagandist for a particular view within Roman Catholicism? If it is the latter, there is a huge amount of suppressed dissent over the issue of women's ordination within the RC Church, which can only surface in massive discord and fractures before long, one imagines. So, if one is RC, one should best turn one's attentions to the internal debate (which isn't allowed even to happen) within one's own church, perhaps...?

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 8:07pm GMT

"George Carey is another example of someone who is liberal on divorce, because it has touched his own family life. Why is it that some people are able to shift their perspective only on the issues that concern them directly, yet remain intransigent on matters that do not touch their own lives?" - Madeline - (posting above) -

Madeline, how right you are! It is only when a particular moral 'crisis' occurs in the life of someone near and near to them that the 'religious right' contenders relax their approbrium. Why is that, I wonder? And will it ever change?

"Ron .. I always find your postings amusing happy christmas" - R.I.W. -

Robert, I'm sorry, but I am not sure I can give the same assurance about your postings. In fact, they often make me sad, and I wonder whether you're really happy in your new ecclesial community.
Nevertheless, Blessings for Christmas.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 18 December 2008 at 10:20pm GMT

"Just because the Bishop of Rome wants to underscore his claim to being King of the Bishops doesn't mean he's actually infallible, no matter if he's ex cathedra or otherwise."

Of course, for the Pope to speak _ex cathedra_ he has to be _in cathedra_, so when he's ex cathedra he's definitely not infallible.

(Note to editors: new e-mail address.)

Posted by Nom de Plume at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 1:46pm GMT

Nom de Plume,

Is that a tongue in cheek comment on the Roman position or on my poor Latin? I thought it was the correct term. In any event, I appreciate the linguistic humour, it's right up my alley:-)

Posted by Ford Elms at Friday, 19 December 2008 at 4:22pm GMT

Ford,

Just a comment on logic. The Pope is said to speak infallibly when he speaks "ex cathedra", i.e. from his throne. But if he _is_ "ex cathedra" (out of his throne) he cannot speak "ex cathedra". To do so he would have to be in his throne, "in cathedra". Not really a comment on your Latin, English nor logic, just a little word play.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Saturday, 20 December 2008 at 4:31am GMT

"Of course the real tragedy is the Vatican still claiming that there is a possibility of corporate re-union if the Church of Engalnd (sic) does not ordain women bishops.
What shameful self deception...and of course personal opinions like this are not subject to the charism of infallibility."
- Robert I. Williams - 5.40pm 18 December -

Thankyou for this Robert. You've actually made me laugh with one of your postings - especially the very last bit. However, don't let your local bishop get hold of a copy of this! It could mean trouble for you.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 21 December 2008 at 11:31pm GMT

Nom de Plume, sorry to have taken so long. I figured it had something to do with 'in' vs 'ex' since speaking 'ex' a chair calls up images of some sort of fusion of human and furniture. It's actually my kind of humour. I guess I was just being "t'ick as two shart planks".

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 23 December 2008 at 11:19pm GMT
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