Comments: women bishops update

"traditionalists. If they believe in the rightness of their position, it will thrive in the C of E whether..."

Aye, there's the rub. They don't so believe---not really.

It's of the very essence of fundamentalist, reactionary religion: the FEAR that God is NOT in God's Heaven. Rather, God has been "falling down on the job", and CONSTANTLY needs The Elect to fix the "liberal mess" or "Dictatorship of Relativism" (etc) that God has misguidely allowed. [NB: in contrast to the Worldly, Violent Power-Over that the God-in-Christ of Scripture, Tradition and Reason has *actually* come to cast down!]

While I by no means always agree w/ Karl Barth, his buzz phrase "Religion = Unbelief", as applied to the paragon of religion, fundamentalism(s), proves its worth again and again. Lord have mercy.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 9 January 2009 at 7:32pm GMT

"Supporters of women bishops, whom nobody disputes are in the majority, are dismayed by the proposed autonomy and permanence of the complementary bishops. Forward in Fatih, prominent among opponents, still will not countenance anything less than a structural provision, and appears to dismiss the manchester proposals in toto." - Church Times, Leader -

Despite the 'bending over backwards' proposal to accommodate F.i.F. and other opponents of the Women Bishops Measure in the Church of England, by affording 'autonomy and permanence' to the suggested 'complementary' male-only bishops to provide special provision for them, this has been rejected by the F.i.F. contingency.

In view of this outright rejection of a proposal made 'in good faith' by the special commission, it would seem that any further attempt to appease those who reject the General Synod's acceptance of women in the episcopate of the C.of E. would be tantamount to compromising the offical stance of the Church vis-a-vis the Ordination of Women.

Whatever proposals were made to accommodate the opponents of women in the Sacred Ministry of the Church, they would surely set up a situation of flawed episcopal integrity in the important matter of jurisdiction. Unless the dissidents can live with the idea of women priests and bishops as legitimate partners in ministry, they ought seriously to consider whether their spiritual home is in the Church of england. After all, they have had ten years to come to terms with the reality that God calls women as well as men into the priesthood of the Church - whose fellowship they have enjoyed for all that time.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 9 January 2009 at 10:12pm GMT

The Church Times leader implies that it is a lack of maturity by women priests and the need to get out more, that is behind our issues with the Draft Legislation. I think the author of this Leader needs to get out more. His/her (?) ecumenical and inter-faith analogies are flawed - how can you have ecumenical relations with members of your own church - and how can the CofE productively have ecumenical relations if it cannot accept its own orders? If one 'got out there' one would find the idea of discriminating against women in this way simply because they are women looks pretty odd to most people. Get out there and ask anyone working for another large public body with strong vocational cultures like education or the NHS. Black clergy know that there are places where their ministry is not welcome. In fact, couldn't one say this is the Church of England's real secret shame - my hunch is that there are more parishes unhappy at the prospect of having a black priest than a (white) female one - we just have so few black clergy it doesn't arise as often (and why could that be?).

Posted by Grumpy High Church Woman at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 9:30am GMT

Father Ron Smith, thank you for your post.

Let me ask you a question; if I build you a bridge to cross a river, and I know that as soon as you step upon it, it will break, have I really built you a bridge?

The problem with a code is that it creates holes in the diocese, because there would be places where the Bishop could not minster as a Bishop. However if we had a new diocese, then there would be no holes because I would no longer be in that particular diocese, but in another non geographical diocese, under a Bishop that I can say 100% is actually a Bishop. The Diocesan Bishop would not have to worry about those who cannot agree that she is a Bishop and we could all simply be the Body of Christ.
Think of it like this; does the Diocese of Lincoln have holes in it, because it has an Army Barracks in it? The Bishop of Lincoln has no authority over the barracks, yet we are not saying that the Bishops Authority is some what undermined in this respect. So why should it be undermined if a Parish chooses to become part of the Diocese of Ebbsfleet?

Posted by Mark Wharton at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 10:58am GMT

FiF are taking the proverbial - they will push as hard as they can, to seehow far they can get others to panic, concede to them.

They are hardly a moderate or eirenic voice.

They are under the misapprehension that they can lay down the law to the other 90 % of the Church.


Call their bluff, say I !

They need not recieve ministry from those who happen to be of the female gender. They need not accept women as their vicars or curates, or colleagues. Just as I need not attend a FiF affiliated,with their aping of Rome, right down to using RC orders of service and not those authorized by & for their own denomination.


I don't demand special protection from them or from them or from anyone who has ever been contact with them. I don't demand to 'protected' from bishops who have taken part in such illegal ,unanglican goings-on !

Should I ?

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 11:31am GMT

I'm with JCF and Rev L Roberts.

Behind so much ultra-orthodox thinking is anxiety. I don't mind that. I do mind when they constantly seek to impose the consequences of their anxiety on everyone else.

I used to be in favour of (continued)separate jurisdiction. I'm not now. Most FiF people don't deserve it. By that I mean that it could only work if there were mutual respect and a recognition of mutual integrity. There isn't. The very idea is incomprehensible to most FiF people (not all, of course, but it's the organisation that drives policy). A code of practice, by contrast, forces people to cooperate - if they want to. If they don't, then they should go. Their current lack of loyalty is offensive to the rest of us (please note that I am not defining loyalty in terms of agreement). Of course, very few RCs actually want them, but they'll have to live with that, and no doubt they'll have fun stirring up rancour and intolerance wherever they are.

Posted by john at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 4:14pm GMT

If you ask me the Church Times leader has got it about right - as has the draft legislation. The number of complementary bishops will depend on the number of petitioning parishes so we hope, in time, will dwindle.

By the way, did anyone see the advert in the Church Times for a priest in charge for the flagship catholic parish of Holy Trinity Reading? Sadly it now has an electoral roll of only 46. If this is repeated across the FiF element then there is no way they could form self-supporting dioceses.

Posted by Wilf at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 5:14pm GMT

"I don't demand special protection from them or from them or from anyone who has ever been contact with them. I don't demand to 'protected' from bishops who have taken part in such illegal ,unanglican goings-on !

"Should I ?"

Not unless you fear male RCwannabe cooties. Then you should be afraid, very afraid!

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 5:16pm GMT

"but in another non geographical diocese, under a Bishop that I can say 100% is actually a Bishop. The Diocesan Bishop would not have to worry about those who cannot agree that she is a Bishop and we could all simply be the Body of Christ."
- Mark Wharton -

And here, Mark, is the nub of your real problem -"(whom) I can say 100% is actually a Bishop".

Is this really about you, Mark, rather than about what the Church believes and says - that women, as bearers of the Divine Image and likeness of God, are equally qualified, with men, to represent Christ at the altar? If so, I think you are being very inward looking and individualistic - a characteristic which, sadly, does not resonate with the Eucharistic claim that "We are all one body, because we all partake of the One Bread,

Your talk of 'bridges', unfortunately, does not fit into this argument. I think that you and your brethren in F.i. F. are not looking for a bridge but rather a one-way street, where you may not be 'contaminated' with 50% of the Body of Christ

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 6:34pm GMT

"a Bishop that I can say 100% is actually a Bishop"

I'm sorry, MarkW, but it is not right for the Body of Christ (and those called to holy orders within it) to be held hostage to your *perceptions*.

Posted by JCF at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 6:46pm GMT

Forward in Faith...no Backward in Logic.

I do hope the Church of England will not give them an apartheid solution, and force them to nail their colours to the mast.

If you love someone ..you tell them the truth.

Posted by Robert Ian Williams at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 6:53pm GMT

John wrote:Most FiF people don't deserve it.

How many of the membership do you know to be able to make that sweeping generalisation?

John also wrote: Their current lack of loyalty is offensive to the rest of us

Loyalty to whom? The Church of England or the Church of God?

Posted by Ian at Saturday, 10 January 2009 at 9:29pm GMT

"Loyalty to whom? The Church of England or the Church of God?"

What, if anything, is the difference between the Church of England and the Church of God?

Posted by kieran crichton at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 5:27am GMT

If people feel there is a difference between loyalty to the C of E and loyalty to the Church of God surely it behoves them to leave the former rather than to seek an arrangement where they can pretend that it is what they feel they need it to be.

I don't want anyone to have to leave the Church of England but I am not prepared to see it create a sort of 'Flat Earth Society' within itself whose members are intent upon disregarding the rest of us so that they can remain pure, spotless and only in contact with those of like mind. I don't think that is Anglican.

Clearly people have had to 'get over' the fantasy of a Third Province. Time now to get over a separate diocese. It is not going to happen.

Posted by Lister Tonge at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 11:44am GMT

"a Bishop that I can say 100% is actually a Bishop"

I'm sorry, MarkW, but it is not right for the Body of Christ (and those called to holy orders within it) to be held hostage to your *perceptions*.

Nor yours JCF! And there is still a whole lotta talking to do until Christendom is reconciled in agreement with the innovation. Or agrees it was an aberration - either course is possible in say 50 years time. Hopefully though the ordination of women will not meanwhile become a dogma people are required to assent to! We don't like 'dogma' do we??!

Posted by Neil at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 1:37pm GMT

Just a general observation about the liberal voices on this website. I am appalled by the degree of illiberalism they actually seem to show. I don't claim to be a liberal, so I'm happy for people to call me "Conservative", "Anglo-Catholic" or "Traditionalist", even if it is occasionally meant in a derogatory way (I've broad shoulders!), but I do now wonder what true Christian liberalism is, because it certainly doesn't seem to allow for opinions that differ from its own, at least, that is, if some of the offerings on this website are any indication of its definition. I am a member of FiF and proud of it, but as usual, the liberal constituency of Thinking Anglicans behaves as if it knows more about the organisation and what it represents than its own members. Thankfully, I have a more positive view about those liberals I serve with as a priest in the Church of England, who have expressed themselves ashamed at the Synod's behaviour in July of last year. And I am pleased to report that the majority of my liberal colleagues are not demanding that I leave the Church of England, but dearly want the Church to do its best to ensure I can stay, even if that means a structural solution. Liberal dogmatists they are not!

Posted by Bromenblue at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 6:21pm GMT

Wilf you say

'By the way, did anyone see the advert in the Church Times for a priest in charge for the flagship catholic parish of Holy Trinity Reading? Sadly it now has an electoral roll of only 46. If this is repeated across the FiF element then there is no way they could form self-supporting dioceses.'

What exactly is your point? I could equally point to a great number of FIF parishes that are flourishing (my own has doubled in last 2 yrs).

Indeed if you want to play the numbers game I can guarantee that the healthiest statistics will back conservative parishes and Dioceses. One only need consider the dreadful loss in ECUSA in recent years compared with the strength of the Church in Africa.

Or the booming mega churches of the Evangelical trad. compared with the leaking congregations of parishes who have embraced a more inclusive model.

Be careful what arguments you pick. As it happens I am not sure bums in seats matters...but your comment is unfair and suggests FIF is in decline. IN fact it is the second largest organisation in the C of E after the Mothers Union.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 7:40pm GMT

"I'm sorry, MarkW, but it is not right for the Body of Christ (and those called to holy orders within it) to be held hostage to your *perceptions*.

Nor yours JCF!"

The difference being that Mark W's perception go against the discerned theology and the adopted policy by his church, whereas JCF's perceptions are in line with it.

If individual perceptions don't count, those arising out of a discernment process of a whole church do.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 7:50pm GMT

It's not dogma. We have women ministers --all we can do is get on with it now.

The 'Do we want em?" has passed I notice.

Next it'll be said that we don't believe in Baptist ministers or that we need a discussion !

Early Quakers used to issue a letter to someone saying "God (seems to) have started using this person in minsitry. Be open to him / her."

Lets go back to that for a decade or two - maybe


Posted by Rev L Roberts at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 8:26pm GMT

But it's NOT just my perception (I've never had any say on anyone's vocation other than my own---and that's a long, ambiguous story for another day).

The affirmation of women called to holy orders, has been through succeeding (representative) democratic-majorities of the General Convention of the Episcopal church for 33 years, plus (just as important) the particular affirmations of each ordained woman's call in every diocese [I speak only of TEC here---other Anglican churches have their own ordination procedures]. In this way, an individual call for each woman has been affirmed ON THE SAME BASIS as has been a man's call.

It is anti-WO persons who posit an irrational insistance of whom God CAN'T be calling to holy orders, in defiance of all evidence (which must be deciding factor, when both sides insist that Scripture, Tradition and Reason support them).

By no means, trust my perceptions: look at the blessed ministry of the bishops/priests/deacons-who are women! :-)

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 9:54pm GMT

By the way, I thought the website was called "Thinking Anglicans", so why does Robert Ian Williams continue to feel it necessary to make so many contributions, when he's a former Anglican Evangelical who's converted to Roman Catholicism? He's an awful lot to say about the Church he's left. Perhaps you're missing us Mr Williams?

Posted by Bromenblue at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 10:10pm GMT

"The difference being that Mark W's perception go against the discerned theology and the adopted policy by his church, whereas JCF's perceptions are in line with it."

This is simply incorrect. The position of the CofE, of which Mark is a member is that is accepts WO AND accepts that one is free to believe that women cannot, sacramentally, be priests or bishops. That is the context in which synod has asked for legislation that enables the consecration of women and makes provision for opponents. That principal is clearly set out in the report of the drafting group and its proposed revision of canon A4. A report which seems to have been welcomed by the advocates of WO.

The task now is to determine the best way to make adequate provision - there are arguments for and against a whole range of options and the HoB is clear that it fully expects those to be discussed further in the revision stage.

Some may, understandably, wish for a different context and wish that the policy of the CofE did not provide for that level of doubt; but the present policy recognises Mark's position as perfectly honourable.

Posted by David Malloch at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 10:20pm GMT

"Next it'll be said that we don't believe in Baptist ministers..."

I, for one, believe strongly in Baptist ministers, having personally met several -- they do, indeed, exist. What that has to do in a discussion about Anglicanism, though, is unclear.

Posted by BillyD at Sunday, 11 January 2009 at 11:51pm GMT

Bromenblue,

I think you misrepresent (at least some) liberals. Take this thread. There seems to be more or less 'liberal' agreement that FiF people can have their beliefs within the C of E and that no one wants to coerce them. But the argument then is that they should do so within the broad structures of the C of E, within a code of practice, but without a Third Province (or whatever). The onus is on FiF people to show why the latter is necessary. We can leave that aside for the moment. The more important point in the present context is there also seems to at least some liberals to be an implicit requirement that 'parity of esteem' (Northern Irish political term) should work both ways. If you consult Jeff Steel's or Ed Tomlinson's blog (and I can't quantify how typical they are of FiF opinion), you will immediately see that in those contexts no such parity of esteem exists. The abuse of liberal Anglicanism (unprincipled, capitulation to secular values, theologically illiterate, etc.) is pretty constant. Two questions arise: (1) why on earth should those in favour of WO (not just liberals, but a large majority) bother to agree a 'parity' stand-off with those who despise them? (2) how can FiF people justify to themselves remaining in a church for which they have such low esteem? Or to put it another way, granted that opposition to WO is compatible with 'loyal Anglicanism', it is obviously not a sufficient condition of it, and many FiF representatives are conspicuously 'disloyal'. This seems to be because they have such huge admiration for the RC church. Why, then, don't they just go? Myself, I think the answer to that for many is that they like the joys and pleasures of sex and procreation and hope to get into the RC church later (via the Blessed Basil dispensation or some future Vatican move). But these inconsistencies cannot fail to promote distrust and bad feeling within the C of E.

Another thing. Although you obviously know far more about FiF parishes than I do, I do know something about a couple, one in Durham, one in Derby. Both contain many parishioners (I can't say the percentage) who aren't actually opposed to WO but like the church on other grounds or (Derby) have been led into FiF because previous priests wanted it. Same on the 'liberal' side. Very few churches are 'liberal' through and through (the one I go to certainly isn't). The lesson I draw from both these phenomena is that both FiF and 'liberal' spokespersons aren't really representative of their respective constituencies and a broadly global solution better reflects that reality.

Best.

Posted by john at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 1:49am GMT

"And I am pleased to report that the majority of my liberal colleagues are not demanding that I leave the Church of England, but dearly want the Church to do its best to ensure I can stay, even if that means a structural solution. Liberal dogmatists they are not!" - Bromenblue -

Then it would seem that your 'liberal colleagues' go along with your need to defend yourself against the ministry of female priests and bishops within the Church of England, which body, however, has already affirmed the fact that women should not be debarred from these ministries in our Church. In this case, I would say that your 'liberal' friends may be more conservative than you are giving us to believe - if they think that you have the 'right' to be allowed to deny the ministry of women in the Church, by refusing to accept ministries that have been endorsed by the Church of England.

The dissenting clergy of TEC and the A.C.of C. were not rejected by their parent Churches. Rather they elected to leave because they disagreed with the polity of the parent bodies. Likewise; we in the wider Anglican Communion don't want to lose you, but if you cannot accept the fact that the most Provinces of the A.C., and no the C.of E. in particular is insistent on promoting the cause of the Gospel by ordaining women as priests and bishops, how can we keep hold of you?

There are plenty of precedents of innovative action within the Roman Catholic Church which, if members of that Church did not accept, they were encouraged to either submit to the new situation or look elsewhere to salve their individual consciences - which many of them have done.

The lesson from Vatican II, and the subsequent decisions made to resile from prophetic renewal inititiatives made at the Council, is that, for instance, the current liturgical ambivalence is causing more trouble than had been foreseen.

Prophetic movements have ever been resisted within the history of the Church, and today's decision to include women in the ministerial ranks of the Church is no different. It may be that in as little as twenty years' time, even the current opponents of women's ministry will be wondering what all the fuss was about.

"In Christ there is neither male nor female" - true or false?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 9:54am GMT

'In Christ there is no male or female' is true. But it is a statement relating to baptism/ And in baptism we are indeed all equal in God's eyes.

Ordination is slighty different as some are called and not others. Hence the call of apostles from within the disciples,

Oh and apologies to the prior poster if he finds no 'parity' in my blog. I would stress that as a traditionalist I do find much liberal theological argument thin and compromised. But disliking the theology does not equate to the people - and I am very good freinds with many whom I disagree with. Indeed, even as a FIF priest, I am in a cell group with two female priests. So careful how you stereotype please, especially when using names.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 1:16pm GMT

Indeed, even as a FIF priest, I am in a cell group with two female priests.

Good for you! And you actually call them 'priests'! You see, I think that kind of thing is the way forward. You disagree most profoundly about their sacramental legitimacy and yet you're actually in a cell group - pretty exposed theological environment - with them. But I still maintain there's a big gulf between that and your (and Jeff's) blog.

Posted by john at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 2:15pm GMT

Yes but then there is a mighty gulf between my beliefs which are in line with Catholic thinking down the ages- and what is emerging from within the liberal tradition of the Anglican church within the last half century.

The cell works in so much as I care for both people involved and thoroughly support them in as much as they have been sanctioned to operate as they do. However in my view neither should be ordained and I would not involve myself in any sacramental activity with them nor formally acknowledge them to be 'priests' by any Catholic understanding of that term.

Both they and I are big enough to live with this

Posted by Father Ed at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 5:26pm GMT

Indeed, even as a FIF priest, I am in a cell group with two female priests.

This is terrific. You couldnt get much closer than that without marrying ! So thats the problem solved then. Great.

Posted by Rev L Roberts at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 6:39pm GMT

"and I am very good friends with many whom I disagree with. Indeed, even as a FIF priest, I am in a cell group with two female priests. So careful how you stereotype please, especially when using names.' - Ed Tomlinson -

Everyone knows that the intimacy of cell groups (cf: the recent Lambeth Conference) can help us all to come to a mutual respect and understanding of one another - to the degree that we may no longer need to be separated out from one another in terms of ecclesial parity in ministry.

My prayer for you, Ed, and others who themselves are not afraid of consorting with women clergy in their cell groups (or whatever other formation)is that you will eventually come to the understanding that their priesthood is no different from yours - it is equally the result of a direct call of God upon their lives into the Sacred Ministry of the Church. My question of your present stance is: "Do you believe that your fellow women clergy in your cell group have an equal vocation to the ministry you bear witness to in the group"? If not, why do you not insist on male only meetings of your group?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 8:40pm GMT

I believe them to be sincere Christians and good friends. However I do not consider their orders to be in any way valid as I do not think the Anglican Church has either the right nor the authority to simply change 2000 years of tradition without serious theological and bibilical evidence in keeping with tradition and under the blessing of Rome and Constantinople. Alas- no one has ever provided such convincing theology (as Kalistos Ware pointed out at the last synod ) All we get is arguments stemming from secular philosophy. The 'rights' of women et al. Turst me I would LOVE it if someone would answer the basic questions which you can find by reading the link on my blog entitled 'theolog. objections to WO' ...it would do wonders for my future preferment!

So yes I am able to love and support women who, wrongly in my opinion, think they are called to be priests. I DO beleive they are called to equal and full time ministry I should add....just not sacramental roles and functions.

Posted by Father Ed at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 9:51pm GMT

Fr Smith, the problem is not with respecting or understanding female clerics , but the fact that in the eyes of the wider church of both the East and the West that these people do not not possess the grace of priestly orders. St Therese of Liseux desperately wanted to be a priest but was unable to be one. Their sense of vocation is genuine, their desire to serve God and his Church beyond doubt, but the Universal Church has yet to affirm the admittance of women into holy orders.

Once they do, I and many other people will be overjoyed. Once upon a time there was talk of 'reception' of women and putting this to the discernment of the wider Church. I'm not sure what's happening here. But I know that consecrating women isn't going to help things. It might please people for whom the OoW is a matter of social justice and gender equality, but for those loyal Anglicans for whom this is a matter of conscience fundamental to our understanding of what the Church is: the validity of her orders and the Apostolic Succession, I beg you (and others) to take us and our concerns seriously

Posted by Adrian Furse at Monday, 12 January 2009 at 11:42pm GMT

"I believe them to be sincere Christians and good friends. However I do not consider their orders to be in any way valid as I do not think the Anglican Church has either the right nor the authority to simply change 2000 years of tradition without serious theological and bibilical evidence in keeping with tradition and under the blessing of Rome and Constantinople."

What? Rome and Constantinople don't even accept the ordination of Anglican MALE priests! Why in the world should we await their blessing on the ordination of women? I think the extreme Anglo-Catholics sometimes forget that we broke with Rome 500 years ago and for good reasons...among them that, sometimes, the Spirit speaks to one people in ways that others have not yet heard.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 12:39am GMT

"These people do not posses the grace of priestly orders."

"But I know that consecrating women isn't going to help things."

"... a matter of conscience fundamental to our understanding of what the Church is; the validity of her orders and the Apostolic Succession..."

Posted by Göran Koch-Swahne at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 5:03am GMT

Adrian
The problem seems to be that you define yourself in terms of what every single church in Christianity does. The church you a are member of, however, is probably one of the churches in the Anglican Communion who does not define itself in those terms.

The descernment process in the CoE has gone on over a period of 35 years and has been made on the basis not of social justice and gender equality but of theology.

The discernment process has gone against your understanding of theology and of church, and I can accept that this is very painful.

But it does not mean the outcome wrong or "impossible".

You can rightly expect the church to make some accommodation for your view, but you cannot expect it to ignore its own discernment.

This issue has actually been settled.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 7:56am GMT

"I do not think the Anglican Church has either the right nor the authority to simply change 2000 years of tradition without serious theological and bibilical evidence in keeping with tradition and under the blessing of Rome and Constantinople."

Father Ed (Tomlinson?), it seems to me that you may be mistaken in your apparent need to defer to the polity and tradtion of 'Constantinople and Rome'. Do you not belong to the historic Church of England, which has long resiled from the jurisdiction of both Rome and Constantinpole? In case you have forgotten the fact, I should remind you that you belong to a Reformed - if not necessarily *Protestant* branch of the Church Universal, which is no longer subject to the authority of either the Ecumunical Patriarch or the Roman Pontiff - both of whom officially regard your own (male) priestly orders to be *invalid*. So there is little benefit to be gained from appealing to either Rome or Constantinople for guidance on the matter of femal (or male) priests or bishops - or, indeed, any matter regarding the validity of Holy Orders within our Church. So why bother to continue arguments on the basis of conformity with Rome and Constantinople? If they do not accept the validity of Anglican Orders, why should the idea of women priests and bishops in the Anglican Communion concern them?

My feeling is, that if it is the polity of either of these two parts of the Church Universal that you wish to emulate, then perhaps you should not waste your time with the C.of E., which has a different polity, and join the Church whose polity youcan subscribe to? The Anglican Communion around the world has stated its case definitively for the ordination of women. Either you agree with this or you do not. If not, then personal integrity demands you leave.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 8:41am GMT

No Erika - not settled yet. The debate in the wider Church will continue and still could go either way over the next 50 years. The majority votes of General Synods and Conventions re women's ministry may yet be seen to be a mistake in the future. Or not. But to say the matter is settled is wishful thinking!

Posted by Neil at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 10:00am GMT

I agree with the commentator about Jane Hedge's lack of theology in her article. You can judge for yourself by looking at her sermons on the Westminster Abbey website. Homely rather than heavyweight thinking (which is fine for a CanonPastor...and she's good on Pram Services as well) but were she be the first woman bishop in the CofE, she wouldn't be the first to be theologically thin.

Posted by Neil at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 10:05am GMT

Father Smith, history tells us that the Church of England is both Catholic AND Reformed. It is not solely REFORMED as you seem to infer. Why else would we be having these debates? It is because our Apostolic Ministry unites us with the great Churches of East and West, however they see or understand our orders. The Anglican Communion has not definitively stated its case about orders. If that were the case, why are there Anglican provinces around the world which still refuse to accept either women priests or bishops? And why, even as the debate is going on within the Church of England, are those who refuse to accept it here still counted as loyal Anglicans? You are skewing the position somewhat.

Posted by Bromenblue at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 11:06am GMT

"the fact that in the eyes of the wider church of both the East and the West that these people do not not possess the grace of priestly orders."

But in the eyes of the wider Church, no Anglican male possesses the grace of priestly orders either. Indeed, in the eyes of the wider Church, we are not part of the wider Church, but at best some "faith community"? I have asked this many times and gotten no answer, so I'll ask you. If we need the approval of "the wider Church" for this, what else do we need that approval for? Breaking with Rome? Translating the liturgy? Allowing a bit too much Calvinism into the liturgy? Rejecting traditional practices around the Communion of Saints and the Mother of God? Allowing married clergy? Dissolving monasteries? I honestly, and none of my usual bile here, don't understand why you seek the approval of Rome and Constantinople for this and not for a myriad of other things, especially given that they do not recognize us as in any way "valid" in the sense that they are, and don't recognize that they have an approval to give us. If the need for the approval of these two particular ancient Patriarchates is so important, and I don't see any conservative giving a cobbler's cuss about the approval of Jerusalem, Antioch, or Alexandria, much less Moscow, that would seem to destroy the "branch theory" of the Catholic Faith, since neither of those ancient patriarchates recognizes that we are a "branch" of anything, nor "approves" our independence from Rome. It seems to me that, unless you have some pretty specific limits as to what it is we need their approval for, you are acknowledging their claim that we are not, actually, part of the Church Catholic at all.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 12:34pm GMT

Neil
of course it is theoretically possible that a future General Synod will discuss women priests again. And it is theoretically possible that a future General Synod will then vote against women priests and get rid of half of the CoEs working priests. Of course.

But that cannot possibly concern us here.

A past General Synod has discussed them and decided in favour of them.
Another past General Synod has decided in favour of women bishops.

So for all practical purposes a decision has been made and the matter is settled.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 2:57pm GMT

Bromenblue,

You didn't reply to me. Sulk.

Ed (don't really do 'Father' - no offence),

I'm not trying to persuade you of the theological rightness of WO, merely that a practical deal requires some sort of mutual acknowledgement of legitimacy, within continuing disagreement. (Rather as, say, a Labour supporter may never vote Conservative but grants others the right to do so.) But I also am bothered when you immediately write that you have never seen any arguments for WO not based on 'secular philosophy'. Whatever 'ye are all one in Jesus Christ' (etc.) is, it is not 'secular philosophy'. Remarks like yours can be explained in a number of ways: (1) stupidity; (2) laziness; (3) misrepresentation. Which is it?

Best,

John.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 3:33pm GMT

John, I did reply, but the moderator may not have allowed it through, though there I don't think there was anything offensive in my remarks. Maybe I'm making too many comments or space is limited. Maybe I went over the allowed number of words. Maybe the comments didn't get to the Moderator in the first place - who knows.

Posted by Bromenlue at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 4:50pm GMT

Ye are all one in Christ Jesus' - that IS the theology???? Please do me the courtesy of actually reading the theological arguments I have put forward - as detailed on my site (click on 'theol. obj' on right hand panel) and answer each of those points theologically.

Secondly the beautiful quote you provide was not uttered in relationship to ordination but discipleship and is therefore not terribly relevant in this debate.

I could say your ignorance of that is laziness, stupidity etc... but that would seem very uncharitable.

Finally comparing the theology of priesthood/sacramental validity with the need for labour and tories to aknowledge one another rather backs my argument not yours. You ask me to accept a secular political principle and apply it to sacred doctrine and church practice. Sorry no can do!

Posted by Father Ed Tomlinson at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 5:22pm GMT

"You ask me to accept a secular political principle and apply it to sacred doctrine and church practice. Sorry no can do!"

There's a whole body of good theology out there, as you well know.
But of course no-one asks you to accept it.
What we do ask of you is to accept that your church has accepted it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 7:02pm GMT

Ed,

You're being very evasive here, and I'm absolutely sure you know it.

'All we get is arguments stemming from secular philosophy. The 'rights' of women et al.'

To which I reply with my quote (used by someone else above, or one of the very similar ones). This is not meant as a total defence of WO. It is meant as a complete refutation of your claim - made, precisely, in relation to WO - 'ALL we get'. You can say the quote is misapplied (of course, I wouldn't agree, for many reasons, including the fact that there were't any 'orders' in Jesus' lifetime): what you CANNOT say is that it represents 'secular philosophy'. But you do. So (once more): that claim is either (1) stupid; (2) lazy; (3) misrepresenting - or, I now add, (4) lying.

As for secular analogy, it is an analogy and taken from a secular context, but it is not PER SE secular.

I am sorry you can't see the very considerable merits of 'agree-to-disagree'/Broad Church/Latitudinarian/ Anglicanism. Or that you can't see them in this context. Because - obviously, in your cell group you do see them.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 7:52pm GMT

Ed,

You're being very evasive here, and I'm absolutely sure you know it.

'All we get is arguments stemming from secular philosophy. The 'rights' of women et al.'

To which I reply with my quote (used by someone else above, or one of the very similar ones). This is not meant as a total defence of WO. It is meant as a complete refutation of your claim - made, precisely, in relation to WO - 'ALL we get'. You can say the quote is misapplied (of course, I wouldn't agree, for many reasons, including the fact that there were't any 'orders' in Jesus' lifetime): what you CANNOT say is that it represents 'secular philosophy'. But you do. So (once more): that claim is either (1) stupid; (2) lazy; (3) misrepresenting - or, I now add, (4) lying.

As for secular analogy, it is an analogy and taken from a secular context, but it is not PER SE secular.

I am sorry you can't see the very considerable merits of 'agree-to-disagree'/Broad Church/Latitudinarian/ Anglicanism. Or that you can't see them in this context. Because - obviously, in your cell group you do see them.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 7:54pm GMT

"Another past General Synod has decided in favour of women bishops."

Well, that is not strictly true. Synod has a range of complicated rules and procedures and after the last vote on this matter the synod's legal team were asked to clarify its status. Their clear reply was that is represented the view of the majority on the day of the vote BUT that it could only be seen as a decision of synod at the final vote, when the legislation would require a 2/3 majority in each house.

The final vote will not be for some years and, at present, there are no idicators that it would gain the required majorities. So at present, synod has not decided on women bishops.

Posted by David Malloch at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 8:36pm GMT

" Why else would we be having these debates? It is because our Apostolic Ministry unites us with the great Churches of East and West, however they see or understand our orders" - Fr. Ed Tomlinson -

Ed, you obviously have not read my previous post, or are, at best, ignoring it. "The Great Churches of East and West" (Rome and Constantinople) do not agree with you, so why should you bend over backwards to assert a theology of your ministry which these parties do not recognise? Beats me!

You and I know that the Anglican Churches of our Communion, by virtue of their historic links with the Early Church, are heirs of the catholicity and apostleship of that Church. We are not 'in communion' with, or under the authority of, either of these other entities, who do not recognise our ministerial Orders any way. So one might ask: Why do both of these entities bother to comment on the situation of our 'Orders', while not reocgnising them. This is nothing less than duplicity.

Similarly, members of F.i.F., like yourself, could be accused of duplicity - in your desire to remain within the Anglican Church while yet denying its catholic and apostolic authority in progressively discerning its own polity of ministerial Order, which it is entitled to do by virtue of it's dependence upon the Holy Spirit, and its place as a member of the Catholic and Apostolic Church.

Neither Rome nor Constantinople would consider asking the advice of the Church of England about any doctrinal matter that it considers itself capable of promulgating. The Doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of the BVM is one such doctrine, which Anglicans are not obliged to accept, although some of them do. Nor is the doctrine of the Assumption of our Blessed Lady 'de rigeur' among Anglicans (although this is one doctrine that I, personally can live with).

What is sauce for the goose, here, is also sauce for the gander, is it not? To base one's theology of ministry on that of either Constantinople or Rome is no guarantee of the sort of 'catholicity' (i.e. Roman) that you are postulating for the C.of E.

Be assured, as a priest of the Anglican Church in Aotearoa/New Zealand, I have no doubt about the catholicity and apostolicity of our ministerial orders - of both men and women. I am also a devotee of Our Lady, and believe that, in her bringing forth of the Infant Christ from her womb, she was performing a 'priestly' action - in the same sense in which a priest brings forth The Christ on the altar.

You may believe that Paul's statement: "In Christ there is neither male nor female" relates only to the nature of our Baptism. I believe it relates also to the nature of the ministry of those called to the ministerial priesthood, from that baptismal state. Priesthood is another separate and distinctive calling, yes, but not solely upon the male of the species - our Lord's humanity being representatively human and not merely male.

Your appeal to Tradition does not trump the continuing discernment of the Church through the work of the Holy Spirit.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 9:52pm GMT

Father Smith, YOU have obviously not read properly MY previous post. If you had you would have realised it's Bromenblue and not Ed who posted it!

Posted by Bromenblue at Tuesday, 13 January 2009 at 11:40pm GMT

Frankly, Bromenblue, I do have difficulty in distinguishing between your 'theology' and that of Fr. Ed. This probably accounts for the fact that I seem to be answering the questions of you both. My answers still relate to both your arguments, which, to my mind, do not quite 'cut the mustard' - re the admissability of women's ministry within the Church of England..

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 7:06am GMT

Father Smith, now that we have sorted out who made the original comment about Apostolic Ministry, I want to add to previous comments made. How you see the current debate in the Church of England depends on whether you have a Protestant outlook like yourself - you stated clearly earlier that you see the Church as just Reformed - or whether you believe that, despite the realignment caused by the Reformation, the Church of England is still inextricably bound together with the Church Catholic through the threefold order of apostolic ministry. Furthermore, despite what you say about our Roman Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters, much progress had been made in ecumenical terms over the years, even in respect of mutual understanding of orders (ARCIC Reports demonstrate this). What we are doing now as a Church is to throw one almighty spanner into the works, so that, although the ideal may not have been attained in respect of full commuion and reciprocity, we are now further away from that goal than we have ever been. And yes, it may not have happened in your lifetime, or mine, but at least we were moving towards it. You seem to claim the Holy Spirit, only when He is moving in your direction.

Posted by Bromenblue at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 8:26am GMT

Father Smith, it doesn't "cut the mustard" in your eyes. Is there any chance at all that you may be wrong in your views? I have said at an earlier point that only time will tell if my own understanding is right, and it may not be on this side of heaven. Are you willing to admit the same?

Posted by Bromenblue at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 11:00am GMT

Bromenblue:

I think that movement toward mutual recognition of orders between Rome and Canterbury is, quite frankly, all in your head. The Vatican would make nice little murmurings about our priests and bishops, and then always came a major "harrumph"--and it was clear that, absent a mass swim across the Tiber for all Anglicans everywhere, it was never going to happen.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 11:35am GMT

"And yes, it may not have happened in your lifetime, or mine, but at least we were moving towards it."

It would be interesting to know how many Anglicans actually support this.
Certainly, if there ever was a reunion with Rome in my lifetime I'd have to find a new church.
If I wanted Rome I'd already be there.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 12:32pm GMT

Erika, maybe now you understand how deeply held are the convictions of those with whom you disagree. We all have our limits, don't we.

Posted by Bromeblue at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 2:40pm GMT

"if there ever was a reunion with Rome"

I think this is an academic point. Both Rome and Constantinople consider the Church to be the holder of Truth. Any departures from that Truth must necessarily be departures from the Church. The tone with which this idea is expressed has changed over the years, but the basic premise remains. "Union" with Rome can only be acceptance of Roman doctrine. The East is similar, but with different emphasis. For them, while our fate is in God's hands and they will not presume to usurp God's prerogative, we are NOT in the Church. They KNOW the Spirit is with them, and do not presume to say where the Spirit isn't. They MIGHT be able to accept our orders if we were orthodox in every other way, but we are not, in their eyes, so there's really no point for them in talking about Anglican orders. Their definitions of what the church is preclude any acceptance of us as is. In order for that to happen, we would have to become as they are, either Roman or Eastern, the idea that we can be part of the Catholic Church while remaining Anglican simply cannot be squared with their understanding of the Church and Her purpose. Nor can the idea that some unified "Catholic Church" will be an amalgam of Anglican/Roman/Eastern beliefs. We can be offended by that if we choose, I don't so choose. What we cannot do is pretend that they will ever see us as another "branch" of the Catholic faith. The faith, for them, has no branches. And, as I have often said here, I don't see why Rome's belief that OOW is a bar to unity is such a problem since there are a huge number of other bars to unity that conservatives don't seem to care about at all. They can pray for "Benedict our Pope" as much as they like, it might even reveal a generosity of spirit on their part that Rome is not willing to show to us, and good on 'em if it does, but that doesn't mean Rome considers us part of the Catholic Church, now or ever, since, for them, the Catholic Church doesn't have parts. It's all one thing.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 2:40pm GMT

Erika:

Ditto. I left Rome for a good many reasons, and its attitude toward the ministry of those of other denominations was a part of them.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 3:50pm GMT

Pat O'Neill, yours is a major presumption on the work of God's Holy Spirit, borne, I think, of prejudice against the Roman Catholic Church, as are many of the comments from those like you. What is your problem with Roman Catholics? And if the Roman Catholics have got it so wrong, why do the number of practising worshippers in that Church now outnumber practising Anglicans in the established Church of England? Is it perhaps because in matters of faith, liturgy and doctrine, they do not feel a constant need to innovate and interfere, but remain faithful to what has been handed down and received? At least Roman Catholics know what the Church teaches. It was once like that in the Church of England until the revisionists came along.

Posted by Bromenblue at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 4:54pm GMT

What is my problem with Roman Catholics? As individuals, none at all. Most of the rest of my family are Roman Catholics, as are a significant number of my friends. My problem is with the Roman Catholic church, as represented by its hierarchy...a hierarchy that talks a good game about ecumenism but never comes through on the field.

The Roman Catholic idea of ecumenism is like the Republican idea of bi-partisanship. It is defined as "doing things our way."

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 7:38pm GMT

Bromenblue
It wouldn't occur to me to hold the church back if it discerned that a return to Rome was where the Spirit was calling it.
I would not question that discernment and that it would be right for the church at that time.

I would simply know that that's not where the Spirit is calling me and I would leave.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 7:52pm GMT

Erika, why would the Holy Spirit pull people in different directions, in the way you suggest, so that the Church goes one way and you go another?

Posted by Bromenblue at Wednesday, 14 January 2009 at 11:32pm GMT

Bromenblue

I have no idea why the Spirit continuously pulls people and churches in different directions. His ways are not my ways.

But I know that there are many different flourishing Christian churches and denominations and I cannot be so arrogant as to say they all but one have got it wrong.

Of course, that might be the answer. Yet I prefer to think that each one has heard a different part of the truth and is living it out as best as it can.

Certainly, not having a direct hotline to God I cannot be sure enough that either I have it right or the church, so having a mega tantrum about it isn't going to help. It only serves to make me terribly self-righteous and definitely not Christ-like.

If a whole church has undergone a careful discernment process and feels called by God in one particular direction, then I can either say that I believe it's wrong but I will go along with it, or that I believe that this is not where the Spirit is calling me, and go somewhere else.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 9:32am GMT

"I have said at an earlier point that only time will tell if my own understanding is right, and it may not be on this side of heaven. Are you willing to admit the same?" - Bromenblue -

Despite the synergy generated through the efforts of Blessed Pope John XXIII and the decisions made at Vatican II to open up the dialogue between Roem and Canterbury - as well as successive ARCIC Meetings ever since, we are now further away from the possibility of 'reunion' than ever. And not just because of Anglican initiatives, but also because of Rome resiling from the Spirit-led initiatives of Good Pope John (who must be turning in his mausoleum at what has happened to the ecumenical movement since his too early departure.)

As for my being a 'Protestant'. In the sense that I do not go along with Papal Infallibility, you are right. But as for the Catholic and Apostolic standing of our Church, I am a priest who, while he was a parish priest said Mass every day. Is that 'Catholic' enough for you? I do believe that welcoming the ordination of women in our Church does not invalidate my membership of the One, Holy Catholick and Apostolick Faith that the Church of England, and most Anglican Churches around the world who feel as I do, also belong to

We can both expect Robert I. Williams, who was once a real Protestant, now turned Roman Catholic to disagree with me on this. But I am resolute!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 9:47am GMT

Erika, there's an implicit inference in what you say in response to me that there's an arrogance about my contribution to the debate. You have also introduced the idea of having a mega tantrum. Who's had one of those, I wonder? And why do you speak of self-righteousness? Are you trying to make a point about those you disagree with? If so, why not simply make the point, instead of couching it in evasive and elusive terms. One of the problems of the current debate is that there's an insipid intolerance from some in the Church of England of those who are trying to ensure that she remains faithful to her Catholic roots, so your own offering could so easily be misunderstood or misinterpreted. By the way, as to the view I actually espouse, I have always tried to be careful to talk about Rome AND Constantinople, whilst also positing that my own view of the Church may be wrong. Nevertheless, in making your reference to other Christian Churches and denominations, there has to be a recognition that many of them were originally schismatic offshoots, and it depends on what you mean by flourishing. We simply can't have it all ways, as you suggest.

Posted by Bromenblue at Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 2:15pm GMT

Bromenblue

I didn't mean to imply that you are throwing a tantrum, but I must admit that there is a certain element of hysteria and self-righteousness from some in FiF.

My understanding is that there are a number of Christian denominations, all of which, regardless of their origin, are valid by the mere fact that they are continuing to have active congregations, a sustainable polity of their own, and a set of beliefs that is centred around Christ.

When I joined the Anglican church I did so deliberately and knowing that it was not Roman Catholic, or Lutheran Protestant, or Baptist.
I am in favour or oecumenism but I do not believe that we all have to unite in one big church. The body of Christ is varied and diverse as the rest of God's creation.

I therefore accept that each church has the right to discern and develop its own theology, and that each has a mechanism for doing so.

Out of that understanding arises my view that were I to disagree with the direction my church takes, I could try to influence the discernment process, but once this process was completed, I would be very self-righteous were I to believe my own opinion to be more relevant for the church than that which it has collectively arrived at.

At that point I can either decide to accept my church's discernment, or I can look for another church that more represents my way of looking at things.

Of course, if you have a different understanding of Church in general, you may come to different conclusions, and they are not necessarily self-righteous because they're born out of a completely different set of parameter.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 5:52pm GMT

Thanks for your response Erika. I can't see the Church of England's process as "completed" unfortunately, not when I am still by current standards still classified as a loyal Anglican, despite my views. The discernment process is not yet over, and I think you may even find that the advent of women bishops isn't in the bag in the Church of England. Remember, were the voting patterns of the last Synod to be repeated at the final legislation stage, it would not have the majority required in the House of Laity and would therefore fall. Additionally, if you read carefully the report from the last House of Bishops meeting, there is in there a much mellower approach to traditionalists and even the suggestion that at the revision committee stage, current proposals could ultimately be radically altered to make sure all stay on board the ship. Rightly so: the Church of England has always represented a diverse range of theological positions and views. Anglo Catholics and Conservative Evangelicals can't just be swept away in the manner that some would prefer. My own Christian view represents that of one constituency in the C of E, just as yours does, so if you really are the pluralist you suggest you are, then there ought not be any suggestion that we conform or leave. The Church is not of one mind on the issue. Letters signed by 10000 women and 1300 clergy can't simply be dismissed as irrelevant.

Posted by Bromenblue at Thursday, 15 January 2009 at 9:18pm GMT

Bromenblue

The question isn't whether people are allowed to hold particular views, the question is whether there does not, in any organisation including the church, come a point where a decision has to be made. It is not practical to talk forever. Issues arise not because they're nice talking points, but because they need to be solved.

In the CoE finding a solution rightly takes a very long time. But when, as with women priests, a decision has been made, then by all means, accommodate those already in the church who feel they really really cannot live with that decision.

But that group of people cannot, in all fairness, try to start the same debate all over again 12 years later.

To read the posts here you would think that the church had come to its conclusions on spurious social and justice grounds and that it was now time to talk theologically.
That is simply disingenuous. And to my mind, it is showing a huge disrespect for the polity of one's own church.

By all means, talk about why women should not be Bishops. But the discussion on this thread has focused much more on why they should not be priests in the first place.

The Church of England can continue to represent a wide range of theological views and positions. Indeed, that is what I find most recommendable about it.

But with respect to women priests, the issue is no longer whether the voices of those for or those against are relevant. Because that conversation is in the past.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 16 January 2009 at 8:31am GMT

With respect Erika, the conversation is not in the past. If that were truly the case, why is there still this uncertainty about the debate pertaining to women bishops. The question of women priests is still open, in the sense that not every parish in the Church of England is willing to receive their sacramental ministry, and that permissible by the Act of Synod. My own parish is one of those, and as unpalatable as it is to those who disagree with us, the fact remains that laity, as well as clergy, are still unwilling to accept either of the innovations, and for what they understand to be sound theological and ecclesiological reasons, many of which have been rehearsed time and time again on this website. Our conscience will not allow us to be coerced into something we see as irregular. All the Church of England will do if it fails to provide structural provision is encourage further division and dissension. There will be those priests and laity who simply refuse to leave, and at the same time will maintain the status quo. As Vicar in my particular parish, and I would be supported by the congregation in this, I would be within my rights to refuse the ministry of any female or male Diocesan and would do so. That is the kind of reaction that can be expected from a lot of FiF and resolution parishes, if nothing is done to accommodate them. That, unfortunately, is the reality of the mess caused by General Synod, in July, which, as the Bishop of Dover argued, turned down every opoprtunity to allow us the space to continue to grow and flourish.

Posted by Bromenblue at Friday, 16 January 2009 at 12:32pm GMT

Bromenblue

"Our conscience will not allow us to be coerced into something we see as irregular"

No-one coerces you into anything.
But you are a member of a church whose General Synod has approved women's ordination and which by now employs a huge number of women priests.

The church has rightly affirmed that you are a loyal member of it despite not agreeing with that decision, and it has made provision for you not to have to employ a women priest in a parish that does not wish to have one.

But women priests are not going to go away.
They really aren't.

What provisions might be appropriate for people who do not accept women bishops I don't know. That debate is still ongoing and I personally have no particularl view on it.

But to pretend that this church is still truly in two minds about women priests is simply not true.

Or do you really believe that the next General Synod will take this issue up again, decide against women's ordination and strip all priests the church has ordained in the last 12 years of their orders and remove them from their parishes?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 16 January 2009 at 2:26pm GMT

Thank you Erika. Without wishing to prolong the debate, the General Synod, yes, has approved it, but thus far with caveats. Surely that does not suggest a single mind. The fact that we traditionalists are still counted as loyal Anglicans also means the Church is allowing for two views. I wouldn't describe that as a single - minded approach. A good old Anglican fudge it may well be, but single-minded it is not.


Posted by Bromenblue at Friday, 16 January 2009 at 5:29pm GMT

Bromenblue

Yes, we probably have come to the end of this particular conversation.
What separates us is probably a matter of emphasis.
You believe that the good old Anglican fudge allows for two minds.
I believe that there is a very firm decision in favour of women priests, but that, rightfully, concessions have been made to those who cannot support that view.

Thank you for this conversation, and in particular for the civil and courteous tone in which we were able to have it!

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 16 January 2009 at 7:18pm GMT

Bromenblue,

I very much hope you will feel able to stay in the Church of England, by hook or by crook.

Best.

Posted by john at Friday, 16 January 2009 at 9:03pm GMT

Just a last word for both Erika and John. Thank you both for your words.
Erika, it's good to be able to have the conversation, despite our differing views, and in the way you say. And John, I'm not sure where you're coming from in respect of your own opinions, but thank you very much for your thoughts too. I just wish the civil and courteous tone was a characteristic of the Synod debates in the Church of England, but sadly it's not always the case. The last one was horrendous. Anyway, maybe we'll "chat" again before too long. Every Blessing.

Posted by Bromenblue at Saturday, 17 January 2009 at 8:18am GMT

"The fact that we traditionalists are still counted as loyal Anglicans also means the Church is allowing for two views. I wouldn't describe that as a single - minded approach. A good old Anglican fudge it may well be, but single-minded it is not."- Bromenblue -

And is this not the whole point of being an Anglican? That different views can be allowed, but not necessarily accommodated structurally?

Neither the R.C. nor the Orthodox Churches (whose rigorous discipline you obviously uphold) could live with such ambiguity. Perhaps this is why you will continue to remain an Anglican. As an Anglo-Catholic priest myself, I hope you can, we need you, but please don't kick too hard against what the majority of Anglicans have already discerned as the will of God for our branch of the Church.


Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 17 January 2009 at 8:38am GMT

Father Smith, you make it sound all too easy. If only that were the case. Conscience will not allow us to work within the Church without structural accommodation. You may well have heard even Archbishop Rowan, when he said it isn't simply a matter of opinion. The convictions are deeply held and can't just lightly be dismissed in the way you suggest. And it isn't about living with ambiguity. My views are no different from what they have always been on this issue and others. Nothing has persuaded me or my like that what we have done in the Church of England is right. Where are all the wonderful shoots of new growth and deepening faith we were all promised at the beginning of the nineties? Where are all those churches we were promised would be stuffed full of new Christians? Instead, we are experiencing rivalry, factionalism and plummeting numbers in the Church as a whole. If it's all so wonderful, and these new innovations are to be regarded so positively, why has the corollary of the last sixteen years been such? I make an annual trip to Walsingham with the young people of our parish: good sound Anglo Catholic teaching, no apologies, sponsored by Forward in Faith, the Society of Mary and Confraternity of the Blessed Sacrament. And every year, the number of participants grows. Now touching seven or eight hundred. Explain that, if what we are about is so ambiguous. I sometimes wonder what it is that liberals like yourself are so afraid of in us? If you believe that we have no hope as a constituency, then what is the problem with structural accommodation? You have your views, we have ours. I am not expecting you to conform to mine, but nor should you expect me to do the same, which is the whole tenor of your argument. That is what you are forcing me and others to do without the accommodation we speak of. I am fed up to the back teeth of people telling us what we need, when they don't really understand at all where we're coming from.

Posted by Bromenblue at Saturday, 17 January 2009 at 11:49am GMT

"That is what you are forcing me and others to do without the accommodation we speak of. I am fed up to the back teeth of people telling us what we need, when they don't really understand at all where we're coming from." - Bromenblue -

Dear Bromenblue, I wonder how you and your brethren would fare if you were situated in the Anglican Dicoese of Sydney, Australia, where at least 2 of the congregations are traditionally Anglo-Catholic, but whose presence in the Diocese is an obvious embarassment to the local Bishop - Abp. Peter Jensen, the Secretary of the GAFCON fraternity? Mr Jensen believes that the Laity should be allowed to preside at the Eucharist - amongst other characteristics which irritate those who claim the title of Anglo-Catholic in his diocese. Imagine what they have to put up with.

This is the situation in some of the former *colonial* Churches of the Communion - where A.C's often have to work with clergy and bishops who would rather they did not exist. One can only admire the tenacity and faithfulness of such catholic souls who have to deal with such un-catholic behaviour on a daily basis. I really cannot drum up too much sympathy for you in the English situation, where you do not suffer the same degree of what you might call 'persecution' as our dear friends in Sydney. These faithful clergy and laity are not demanding alternative oversight despite the discomfort they suffer from their hierarchical overlords. But I guess that requires a degree of servanthood that could be deemed too expensive.

I do wonder at the persistence of the administrators of the Shrine of Our Lady at Walsingham who still insist that only the male of the species may preside at sacramental services at the Shrine. I wonder what Our Blessed Lady might have to say about those who have no time for the ministry of women as priests, when she, herself, presided as chief minister at the Feast of the Incarnation?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 18 January 2009 at 12:12am GMT

Fr Ron
"Dear Bromenblue, I wonder how you and your brethren would fare if you were situated in the Anglican Dicoese of Sydney, Australia, where at least 2 of the congregations are traditionally Anglo-Catholic, but whose presence in the Diocese is an obvious embarassment to the local Bishop - Abp. Peter Jensen, the Secretary of the GAFCON fraternity?"

I happen to agree with you completely, as you know. But I don't really see how this answers Bromenblue's question.

What are the sound theological reasons for not giving FiF the structural provisions they are asking for?

I find their theology as deeply flawed as they find mine. But I don't yet understand why that should mean that one of us "wins" and the other is excluded.

I can see many practical reasons why it would be better to have clear decisions. If they had been decisively from the beginning this whole mess would soon be over because provisions could have been made for existing priests, while the church could have ensured that all new ordinants are happy with its decision in favour of women priests.

But seeing that this hasn't happened, and that the reasons for it not having happened were sound theological reasons, I think you have to argue on the same theological level if you now want to deny FiF a solid continuation of the special arrangements.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 18 January 2009 at 9:22am GMT

Father Smith, you cite Sydney as an example of Anglo-Catholics co-existing with their opponents, despite their persecution. I am not in the Church in Sydney, I am in the Church of England, and here, the situation is completely different, as Erika, in her own way, has rightly pointed out. You cannot compare the two, in the manner that you have tried to. The situation is the difference between chalk and cheese.

Nevertheless, although I am not completely au fait with current manoeuvres in Sydney, am I right in suggesting, that because it is strongly Evangelical, it has a view of the headship of women as not being possible and therefore would not allow the priestly ministry of women in many of its parishes? That is not where I am coming from, as you well know, in my own line of thinking, but if it is the case, Anglo-Catholics can still sit comfortably where there are no women bishops and male priests have been ordained within the continuum.

Furthermore, you have failed to address those original questions I posed to you about Walsingham, the guardians of which, in my view, have rightly decided that there should be at least ONE place in the Church of England, where traditional Anglo-Catholics do not have to be compromised. I would add that many of those who support the Shrine and its works come from some of the poorest and most deprived parishes in the country, all bearing the hallmarks of traditional Anglo-Catholicism. Were the guardians to change the status quo, I think you would find greatly depleted numbers at the Shrine. And then, what of those many faithful and loyal Anglo-Catholics who have been so supportive over so many years? Implicit in your argument is that we should just ride roughshod over their Christian consciences.

Despite the absence of female presidents at the altars of the Shrine, it was voted the most spiritual place in England in a recent national survey. How do you account for that?

I am also surprised at your theological reasoning which suggests that, somehow, Our Lady, in giving birth to Christ, can be viewed as a prototype of the Christian priest. Both the Levitical priesthood and that which has subsequently developed from the New Covenant derive from the sacrificial nature of the priesthood, with Christ Himself as the great High Priest. You make up your theology to suit your arguments, rather than developing your theology from biblical exegesis.

Erika has already replied to your contribution. She and I disagree, but she's not vehemently suggesting I conform or leave. She actually seems to see the point about how the Church of England might try to be an example to Christianity as a whole of how we could live together, with structural arrangements in place, showing that despite our differences, we could still be part of the same Church. The Act of Synod has allowed us to do that for the last fifteen years, and we could well achieve the same again, with the right will. I could speculate that you are not really the best placed person to comment on the Church of England when you live in New Zealand and clearly are not as intimate with our situation as much as you seem to be with Sydney's. I think you read too many press reports.

Posted by Bromenblue at Sunday, 18 January 2009 at 1:29pm GMT

What are the objections to the FiF solution?

It would be the unity of a Church and its decision, that women and men share all levels of ministry.

The FiF solution has a number of effects. One is they have their own bishops, though, because they presumably have the same Archbishops and the latter could be quickly 'tainted', they soon end up becoming their own province. There would be a third Archbishop.

Then there is the landscape where there will be parish churches all of one local bishop and one province (York OR Canterbury) and then there will be a hole where that church relates to a different bishop and potentially a different Archbishop.

The answer therefore is the tough one, the one that says a decision is made and yes the boundaries have shifted: that the traditionalist Anglo-Catholics, if they are confident, will have to form their own Church - to do the whole thing properly. That means leave, rent buildings, priests get jobs or be supported, and do whatever they want to do.

I say this as someone less comfortable to comment on this institution, regarding my own journey and decisions of self-exclusion over the years.

Posted by Pluralist at Sunday, 18 January 2009 at 3:33pm GMT

Bromenblue,

It seems that, to accommodate the theology and ecclesial structure you and your fellow members of F.i.F. are asking for, you would need a structure similar to that of the relationship between the Roman Catholic Church and its various *Oriental Catholic* branches.

Alternatively, as a non-R.C. entity, you just might be content with the Anglican equivalent of the title "Old Catholics (Anglican)".

What each of these sector Churches accept is that the Pope is not directly their Supreme Head, but that they still adhere to their own version of catholicity and apostolicity. Is that what you would like for your constituency?

The only problem I see with any of this is that F.i.F. is saying that many of the clergy already ministering in the Church of England (and certain in other parts of the Anglican Communion) are doing so in an impaired manner, maybe even in a defective manner - owing to their female gender.
How then can you, in all conscience, pretend to *belong* to a Church which has declared such (female) clergy to be validly ordained, when you yourselves declare their sacramental ministry invalid? Complementarity of ministry would surely be a requirement for solidarity with the Church you claim to want to belong to?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 18 January 2009 at 11:49pm GMT

Fr Ron
that's an interesting answer to why you think it should be impossible for Bromenblue to want to remain in the CoE. And, indeed, he will need to think of a valid response for himself.

But it does not answer the question why you think that the broad CoE cannot accommodate Bromenblue. We think his ministry is valid, so from our point of view, there's no problem. Or have I missed something?

Pluralist,
I agree with your comment on the unity of the church. But that horse bolted when they first made accommodation for FIF 12 years ago.
The problem with such accommodation is always that is seems to make sense at the time, is often perceived to be temporary only, yet ends up instituionalised.
You only need to look at the astonishing muddle this country still lives with with regard to distances, weights and measures!

But I ask you the same question as I ask Fr Ron. If the church believes Bromenblue's ministry to be valid and that of women priests to be valid, then from the church's point of view, there is no problem. The ones with the theological and ethical difficulty here are FIF.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 7:59am GMT

"The ones with the theological and ethical difficulty here are FIF." - Erika Baker -

In answer to your question about my answer to Bromenblue's question, Erica, I have not (or I don't think I have) said that the C.of E. could not accommodate F.i.F. Rather, the boot is on the other foot. It seems that F.i.F. cannot live with the C.of E.'s decision to ordain women - while yet wanting to still remain part of the Church that does ordain women. Purely and Simply! The ministry of F.i.F. clergy has never been in doubt. What I am challenging is their opposition to the decision of the Church to ordain women, which is now the established practice of the Church of England which employs them.

As you, yourself, here state: the ones with the theological and ethical difficulty here are F.i.F. - who seem to want to change the structure of their Mother Church to accommodate their opposition to a fundamental principle of ministerial integrity re the ordination of women. It seems to me that, though the Church can accept the ministry of the F.i.F. clergy, within the duality of the situation where women clergy are also welcomed; this is not good enough for F.i.F., they want the Church to provide for a double-standard code of practice (within the Church) to accommodate their stated rejection of women clergy.

I'm sorry, Erika. I can't put it any plainer than that. I believe that to accommodate F.I.F. at this point with their desire for a separate jurisdiction to enshrine a culture of ministry which intentionally excludes female participation in the leadership of the Church of England would be to elevate tradition cver praxis in the service of the Gospel.

As Brumenblue has stated, I now live and minister in New Zealand, but my grounding is in the Church of England. I have relations who are clergy within the C.of E. who keep me well informed on Church matters there. Besides which, I still feel intimately involved with 'Mother Church' on more than just an intellectual basis. I care for her future welfare and continuing relevance to the core values of the Gospel.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 10:43am GMT

"If the church believes Bromenblue's ministry to be valid and that of women priests to be valid, then from the church's point of view, there is no problem. The ones with the theological and ethical difficulty here are FIF."

I don't think this is entirely true. Can the church continue to tolerate that a significant number of its ministers refuse to accept the validity of other of its ministers? To the point that they refuse to celebrate with them? Or accept communion from them? Or--should they be elevated to episcopal status--refuse to accept that they are under their authority and discipline?

Can such a house divided long stand?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 11:30am GMT

The Act of Synod allows for me to belong to the Church because it created the old chestnut of "two integrities", as imperfect as that may seem. In other words, I can continue to believe as I have always believed about the Church, and at the same time not be forced, against my conscience, into accepting the sacramental ministry of women priests or indeed those bishops who ordain them. For me, that is about remaining within a Catholic continuum, so it's immaterial as to the particular wing of the Church to which I belong, as long as it holds true to Catholic teaching, faith and doctrine. It also enables me to see women priests as having an "authentic" Christian ministry in the same way that I view Methodist ministers, though, of course, it is not, according to the same understanding, sacramental Catholic priesthood.

If I believe God has called me to this particular branch of the Church Catholic, the Church of England, I can remain there, so long as it remains consonant with, and provides for, those teachings I and other Anglo-Catholics have always embraced. As Vicar of a Resolution Parish, I currently have no problems with being a member of the Church of England, and the Church of England currently has no problems with me, or at least I thought that, until last July's General Synod.

The problem with the introduction of women bishops as proposed is that none of the above can obtain any longer. If I see a woman's episcope as somehow irregular or invalid, then any priest ordained by her, male or female, or bishop in whose consecration she has shared, will be seen in the same light. The continuum will have been irreparably broken. She is no longer a focus of unity and the College of Bishops is fractured. That is, unless, accommodation is structural, thus providing for a similar situation to that which has been in place for the last fifteen years. Life can go on, we can continue to evangelise and provide a place for those whose conscience prevents them from accepting women's priestly or episcopal ministry. And note here please, Father Ron, that I am not against "women's ministry" which is a phrase you have used. The nub of the problem is priestly and episcopal ministry.

Posted by Bromenblue at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 12:01pm GMT

Well the Church believes his ministry and belief to be valid if he believes the Church's ministry and belief to be valid.

The Church of England is making a change - it is deciding that it will not be as it was and will be different. This means that those who don't agree that the Church's ministry and belief to be valid have to decide whether to exist on the margins or leave. If they can't exist on the margins - with a code of conduct - then they leave.

Look, I'm a person with, basically, non-realist western religious views that are of an evolutionary Unitarian character. In the end, that's where I am. Now that fact and realisation, no matter how postmodern I can be about liturgies and pathways, is why I am where I am. The Church of England has a generosity towards people like me as lay people, but not in approaching ministry, but in the end those like me have to decide whether to put up with what we don't like or do something else. The FiF Catholics have obviously decided that they will have to be somewhere else. Then that's it; off they go.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 2:29pm GMT

Pat O'Neill, I'm sorry, but the Church of England has always been able to hold together in creative tension different constituencies, practices and beliefs. That's the nature of the beast. What's fundamentally changed now is that we Anglo Catholics are being expected all the way down the line to conform to what the other constituencies are telling us is appropriate and right for us. Of course, all that will do in the long term is to create more bitterness, division and tension.

I can actually envisage a situation arising where church doors will be locked to female Diocesans attempting to assert their authority in the same kind of way that Katharine Jefferts Schori has done in America. I say this because there will no doubt be Anglo-Catholics who do decide to stay in the Church. Don't expect an easy ride from them or indeed from Conservative Evangelicals who do the same. What a sorry example all of that would be to those secularists who argue consistently that all the Church is about is infighting and intolerance.

There need be none of this at all, were structural accommodation to be provided. We, as well as proponents of the ordination of women, would simply be able to get on with proclaiming the Gospel, without the kind of division that is rearing its head at the moment.

And you are are absolutely right, we can't and never have been able, in all conscience, over the last fifteen years, to accept the sacramental ministry of women priests. The goalposts haven't moved in our constituency, for we've always believed the same. However, they most definitely have moved for those who, not that long ago, promised us we would always have an honoured and respected place in the C of E. How can anyone expect trust in a Code of Practice on that basis, when earlier promises are being so readily and easily breached?

And by the way, Father Smith, you have still not answered my earlier points about Walsingham. Are you simply being evasive or finding it difficult to offer a coherent response?

Posted by Bromenblue at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 5:50pm GMT

Pat, Fr Ron, Pluralist

I agree with you that the whole thing is a structural nightmare.

Looking at past Anglican muddles I should think even such a divided house could stand, though. Once the immediate focus on the differences is over, everyone will just settle back into their own routines, just as they did after the first women's ordinations.

Does Bromenblue not have a point when he says that the church has in the past acknowledged the integrity of those who oppose women's ordination, and has made provision for them to remain in the CoE?

Granted, women bishops make this very very complicated. But has the principle changed? Has the theology behind granting two integrities changed?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 6:01pm GMT

"If I see a woman's episcope as somehow irregular or invalid, then any priest ordained by her, male or female, or bishop in whose consecration she has shared, will be seen in the same light."

Bromenblue, I apologize for the antagonism with which I came out swinging at you in the beginning. It was knee jerk and clouded discussion, and underserved to boot. In speaking in defense of the those who oppose OOW, or women bishops, I have made exactly the above argument, though being a supporter of OOW, I do not agree that there is any breach in Apostolic Succession in OOW. Unfortunately, my past behaviour pretty much precludes me getting an answer to the questions I DO have about your position. Again, I apologize for past antagonism.

Posted by Ford Elms at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 6:04pm GMT

Bromenblue is fighting a good fight!

If all FiF were like him, I think 'separate structural provision' would have been maintained. But it's now - it seems - off the table. And part of the reason, I still think (see somewhere above) is that too many FiF people/churches have been too separate from the rest of the C of E and too many still keep prating about the marvelous excellences of the RC Church, especially its current Pope: not a view I've ever encountered among actual RCs.

As for numbers, bums on seats: I think this is all very difficult. It's obviously true that 'conservative'/ 'traditional' churches often do well. What is not at all obvious is that they have the capacity to grow the church as a whole. Rather, it seems that they form a sort of magnet for people from different locations. So I think that what makes numbers grow is constant hard work in as many areas as possible - and that seems not to be very evident anywhere in our church.

I find Bromenblue's thinking and attitudes (which seem to include real love of Anglicanism and the C of E) very different from (e.g.) Jeff Steele's, and I'm troubled. But I also think women priests, women bishops, women popes, women patriarchs, and a female (as well as a male and an asexual) God are right.

Impasse.

Posted by john at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 7:14pm GMT

Has the principle changed? Depends how the code of practice is viewed. What is different is headship and women ordaining men and women. The decision for this is a decision against traditionalist Anglo-Catholicism. So they have to decide. Those who stay may engage in pockets of guerilla warfare but the decision made will be over and done (it is zero-sum), and no one else will be ordained who reject complete female ministry so they will dwindle.

Posted by Pluralist at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 7:29pm GMT

"For me, that is about remaining within a Catholic continuum, so it's immaterial as to the particular wing of the Church to which I belong, as long as it holds true to Catholic teaching, faith and doctrine." - Bromenblue -

"For me" - I think, Bromenblue, that this is the clue to your belief: that the Church of England has somehow renounced it's Catholic integrity by ordaining women. Unfortunately for you, the Church has decided that women should rank among its sacramental ministers, and if you cannot agree to abide by its formularies on this matter (that seems to you to be vital), then how could you possibly accommodate your 'thinking' and your membership, (albeit in some structurally separative way) of such a Church? This would surely compromise your rigid catholicity!

Regarding my feeling about Walsingham, I believe that the administrators are theologically and spiritually blind to the opportunity to welcome women as co-equal members of the human race, and therefore, as disciples of Christ, equipped to become ministers of the Word and Sacraments of our Church. Note, I are not talking about the Roman Catholic Church, or the Orthodox Church, I am speaking of the Catholic and Reformed Church of England, which did not consider the rule of either of these latter-mentioned Church to be of paramount importance. Either the C.of E. is what it set out to be - both Catholic AND Reformed, or it might as well have stayed within the provenance of Rome.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 8:48pm GMT

Can I get an answer to one part of this issue that I have never understood? Why is it that a male bishop who chooses to ordain a female priest or, now, consecrate a female bishop, becomes invalid and irregular (to use Bromenblue's words from above)? It reads to me like "female cooties"..."oooo--he ordained a woman, he's infected."

If he was regular and valid before that action, if he was validly in the line of apostolic succession, how does ordaining or consecrating a woman break the chain, at least up to his link in it?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 19 January 2009 at 10:04pm GMT

Pat O'Neill, you've missed the point completely. At no juncture in my dialogue with you and others have I ever said that a male Bishop ordaining women priests becomes irregular or invalid himself. If you read my contribution with greater care, you will see that what I actually suggested is that the Church of England, through the Act of Synod, currently allows me and others, legitimately, to refuse to accept the sacramental ministry of such bishops. The reason I choose to do so has nothing at all to do with them being invalid or irregular, or indeed infected, as you so dramatically put it. It is one of the few ways in which we can articulate our difficulty and disagreement with what those Bishops have done.

Again, this is another case of our position being wholly misrepresented by someone who has not listened to, or understood, what we are saying.

You are confusing the above argument with my later interjection about the future prospect of women bishops and those who share in their consecration or are ordained by them. At that time, there will be uncertainty as to the regularity or validity of male and female bishops and priests alike.

Sometimes, I think those opposed to our position hear only what their own voices are telling them!

Father Smith, you opine that the guardians of the Shrine are theologically and spiritually blind, but you still haven't answered my original questions!

Posted by Bromenblue at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 12:18am GMT

"Bromenblue is fighting a good fight!

If all FiF were like him, I think 'separate structural provision' would have been maintained. "

'All' is a big call - but most are. FiF is a membership organisation working to achieve a structural solution. The vast majority of its members are actively involved in diocesan and deanery life and enjoy good relationships with those with whom they disagree. They seek a structural solution because the believe that will give them what they need to enable them to continue in this ministry.

Bromenblue is fighting a good fight!

"But it's now - it seems - off the table."
No, it isn't, yet. It can be revived at the revision stage and the bishops are clear that is the case. Remember last July the majority of synod supported such a solution, although it did not gain a majority in the House of Clergy. Many who voted for the final motion have since explained that they did so to keep the WB legislation alive, not because they will support inadequate provision at the final vote.

So, there is much still to play for. If this thread has shown that many FiF folk are worth having (don't forget that includes many thousands of laity - many, possibly the majority, women)then it may offer hope that there are conversations yet to be had and a way forward yet to be discerned.

The present reality is that no option yet has the necessary support to gain the required majorities. Either a way forward will emerge or the legislation will at some point fall and we are back to the beginning again.

Posted by David Malloch at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 12:42am GMT

"If he was regular and valid before that action, if he was validly in the line of apostolic succession, how does ordaining or consecrating a woman break the chain, at least up to his link in it?" - Pat O'Neill -

Pat, my take on that particular conundrum is that F.i.F. are emphasizing the mechanical process of the apostolic succession of the catholic ministry of the Church - rather than the spiritual. The mechanical theory demands that the instrument remains unblemished by any suspected deficiency in putative 'catholic' Order. Whereas the spiritual take on the Apostolic Succession defers to the action of the Holy Spirit - not dependence merely upon the whim of the Mechanicals. The Holy Spirit has ever been known to upset the 'theology' of the theoreticians (cf: Pope John XXIII & Vatican II)

The same sort of problem happened in St. Paul's day, when the Holy Spirit inspired him to say that circumcision was no longer a necessary requirement for membership of 'The People of God'.
New revelation in the Church is often resisted by those most fearful of 'breaking the chain'

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 5:53am GMT

Pluralist
"and no one else will be ordained who reject complete female ministry so they will dwindle."

If that were true it would make perfect sense. You accommodate those who were around when the rules changed, but you ensure that only those who agree with the new rules join.

But that's not what has happened. Not so long ago a liberal priest told us on TA that he had supported someone who opposes women priests to go forward for ordination. And I'm sure there were very good reasons for doing that, not least the number of FiF parishes which should not be precluded from sending their own prospective ordinants forward.

So really, listening to what you have to say and what Fr Ron isn't saying, it's really just a case of "we've tolerated you long enough, we didn't really mean two integrities, now it's time you got over it".

I'm not sure I find that a very convincing argument.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 8:18am GMT

"Fif are emphasising the mechanical process of the apostolic succession . . ."

Where did that little gem come from Father Smith? Not from FiF members. Catholic Order has little to do with the "mechanical", as you suggest, and everything to do with our conception of the Holy Spirit and His work. But yes, the chain is fractured, when an innovation is introduced that alters Catholic order so dramatically.

I am astonished at the levels you will descend to in order to make your points, Father Smith. You just do not seem to be able to accept that there are those out there who hold a different view to yours, so you seek to undermine their understandings in any way you can. And you still have not answered my questions about Walsingham!

Posted by Bromenblue at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 8:25am GMT

"Despite the absence of female presidents at the altars of the Shrine, it was voted the most spiritual place in England in a recent national survey. How do you account for that?"
- Bromenblue -

Bromenblue,
Forgive me for having not specifically answered your original question (above). Here goes;
As most of the people who visit the Anglican Shrine of Our Lady of Walsingham are Catholic in spirituality, it has become a natural place of pigrimage for Anglo-Catholics - regardless of their opinion on whether women have a legitimate role in the Church as priests or bishops.

The fact that the Management team of the Shrine are mostly anti-OOW would account for the fact that women are not invited to conduct sacramental worship at the Shrine. This does not, though, necessarily mean that the number of people who visit the Shrine would be reduced if this particular discrimination were removed - and that is one of the unknowns within the Anglo-Catholic community. A lot depends on how many Anglo-Catholics have come to accept the place of women in the ordained ministry of the Church. You, perhaps naturally, have only been concerned with those Anglo-Catholics who have professed their opposition to OOW. What is not known, and may surprise the membership of F.i.F. Churches, is how many Anglo-Catholics on the ground are not opposed to OOW, and might be encouraged to make a visit to the Shrine if women were invited to share in the Eucharistic services that take place within the Shrine Church.

I, for instance, have a great love for Our Lady and her place in the Church (we even have a replica of the statue of O.L.W. in my parish church) but it seems a little discourteous to Our Lady that women are debarred from celebrating the Sacraments at Walsingham. God chose a woman (Our Blessed Lady) to bring Christ into being, by the agency of the Holy Spirit, incarnationally, at his birth. Could not God choose a woman to bring Christ into being, sacramentally, through the same Holy Spirit, at the altar? Or is God waiting for F.i.F. to approve?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 8:28am GMT

Bromenblue:

Apologies...I misread your line "bishop in whose consecration she has shared" as "bishop who shared in her consecration".

OTOH, I have read objections from anti-OOW Anglicans to being under the authority of a male bishop who has ordained and will ordain women priests. Whence this objection? Can we not be under the authority of those we disagree with when those disagreements do not directly affect us?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 11:40am GMT

Presumably it meant two integrities but then it cannot when females are bishops.

I think the point made that the decision could stall anyway in every direction is reasonable. We'll see. It's yet another turf war, like the one being conducted at Fulcrum about false teachers.

Personally I think it is all a form of spiritual death and I've rather had enough.

Posted by Pluralist at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 1:27pm GMT

"might be encouraged to make a visit to the Shrine if women were invited to share in the Eucharistic services that take place within the Shrine Church."

This seems like a pretty poor reason for not visiting the Shrine.

Posted by Ford Elms at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 1:58pm GMT

Dear Erika, from my readings of your contributions to the debate, I think you may be what we call a "true" liberal ie. there's enough room for all of us in the Church of England, despite the demarcation lines. Can I just say thank you. It's refreshing to dialogue with someone who isn't calling at every turn for our banishment from the Church some of us have been members of for many years.

And Father Smith, I think our definition of Anglo Catholic differs. Ritual and devotion to Our Lady are not the only hallmarks of Catholicism in the Church of England. Doctrinal dogma and Church Order constitute very important hallmarks too. Bromenblue.

Posted by Bromenblue at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 2:54pm GMT

Bromenblue

I don’t know how long you’ve been reading TA. I’ve spent the last 2 years here arguing for lgbt rights. I have been frustrated again and again by the sarcasm I’ve been met with, the determination not to listen to what I say but to repeat preconceived ideas, the refusal to enter into a real dialogue and the insistence that only a pure church is worth having.

I am now appalled that some of those who were on “my” side in the gay rights debate appear to be employing the same methods our opponents used, in their conversation with you.

My greatest inspiration over the last few years has been a member of my own congregation, a very literalist evangelical who is viscerally opposed to everything I represent. Yet, he invariably shakes hands with me at the Peace, he kneels side my side with me at the altar, and when my daughter was ill for 2 years he prayed for us every day and phoned regularly to see how the family was getting on.

THAT is a church worth belonging to.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 6:26pm GMT

Bromenblue and Erika,

How sad it is when any of us strives to stifle the passion we each have (misguided though it might be) for the promotion of the Good News of Our Lord's defence of the poor and marginalised in the Gospel. If we were all to defer to others to 'make the going' in our struggle for justice in the outworkings of the ministry of the Church then there would be no debate at all - civilised or otherwise. The fact that each of us is quite concerned - in our own inadequate ways - to make our points (short of the vitriol that seems to be the tactic of Virtue-on-line, for instance) in argument on this site, is surely a good thing, and surely not just an ego trip.

Most of us, I believe, have been given some sort of incentive to argue our case - whether pro or anti - in matters dear to our hearts, so that the opportunity to do so on "Thinking Anglicans" is surely an opportunity we should not shirk. Each of us is passionate about our point of view, and this sometimes leads to sharp and maybe even hurtful responses to someone else's comments. But this should not deter us from making our point.

The fact that Bromenblue and I have differences in emphasis in our common allegiance to the Catholic Faith should not prevent us from airing those differences on this site - which, after all is called 'Thinking Anglicans' not necessarily *thinking-alike* Anglicans.

If I have actually offended anyone with my confrontation of this site, I apologise. But please don't ask me to deny the luxury of being, at times, provocative. I love God, I love the Church, and I love those with whom I am in any constructive argument - especially on matters of faith. Please do not misintepret my passion as a sign of hatred. Regard it rather as a challenge, not to you personally, but to the arguments you may be representing.

I do tremember a remark made (I think in sheer desperation) by one of my clergy colleagues when he found himself in a new parish - about the meetings of Vestry: "They sometimes just sit there like a row of plum puddings" - seemingly unable, or unwilling, to contribute to any of the arguments at issue. I have been challenged by you two, and by others on this site, to examine my own pre-suppositions. Surely this is good, not bad?

Mea culpa! and Agape,

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 20 January 2009 at 10:30pm GMT

Fr Ron
I'm sorry, I did not want to upset you.
And of course the luxury of challenging people is one of the things I so love about TA.

My difficulty in this conversation developed because, instinctively, I disagree with Bromenblue. I have no problem with women priests and I cannot understand how anyone can feel drawn to remain in a church that clearly is moving in a direction that is intolerable for him.

When I asked the questions to understand the argument better (15 years ago I was not an Anglican and had not followed the arguments for and against WO, so I genuinely wanted to know), Bromenblue answered respectfully but firmly.

He made two points that struck me as valid: He wants to remain in the CoE which ordained him and which he loves.
And he understands that the Act of Synod granted him that right and fully recognised his integrity.
Because of that, he has up to now rightly felt to be a full and valued member of this church.

Now the debate becomes complicated because, by nature, women Bishops make it complicated.

To understand why so many are opposed to structural provisions for those they have granted them to until now, I have asked those of you arguing pro-women priests and bishops to explain what has changed.

And I have to say that you have argued very passionately about your emotional view on women priests and that you have passionately questioned Bromenblue's integrity and his focus on Rome and Constantinople.
But what no-one has done so far, and only Pluralist has even attempted, is to give me genuine theological reasons why an accommodation that was made in faith 15 years ago should now be overturned.

And in the absence of any genuine arguments on the side of the supporters of women Bishops here, other than the observation that it would be a structural and organisational nightmare, I have to conclude that there are no valid reasons for opposing FiF’s claim for continued separate treatment.

If they exist I would love to hear them. Until then, I’m with Bromenblue who seems to have a coherent theology (albeit one I disagree with), and who wishes to remain a loyal Anglican priest in the broad Church of England we all claim to love.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 8:09am GMT

Erika:

You wanted a theological argument for women bishops and why a separate structure to accommodate those who cannot accept them is wrong.

To refuse episcopal consecration to women is to say that the charism of priestly leadership is effective in women only at the parish level; that they are called to minister only in relatively small groups; that once you reach the diocesan level, a woman's call to serve God is no longer strong enough or valid enough for the church to confirm it. To me, this is theological claptrap, and once again puts the Spirit's call to women on a lower level of validity than the Spirit's call to men.

As for the structural accommodation--like most ecclesial matters, there is no theological argument for or against it, only an ecclesiological one. Such a structural change, to me, creates a separate church, one in which women continue to hold a lower status than men. And for those who might say, "Well, it's only temporary, until the priests who currently cannot accept women in the episcopate retire or pass on," I say these things have a way of becoming self-perpetuating, as parishes that have always had a priest from the "refusenik" structure insist on always having one...

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 11:21am GMT

Pat

Thank you.

Both arguments you make were already valid at the time women priests were being discussed.
In effect, FiF and the provisions made for it (flying bishop) have already created a separate church in which women continue to hold a different status from men.

I quite agree that these things have a habit of self perpetuating until they become unwritten constitution. And as I said before, it seems to me that the best solution 15 years ago would have been to accommodate existing priests but to prevent the ordination of new priests who cannot accept the new mind of the church.

But fact is that comprehensive provisions have been made and have already lasted for over 15 years and that even now priest who oppose women priests are being ordained.

Apart from saying "we didn't really mean it at the time", "we thought you'd all have given up the battle by now", or "we really don't like this any longer"... why should the ecclesiological argument change now?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 3:38pm GMT

"one in which women continue to hold a lower status than men."

If I may, it is this point that I find bothersome. Even if we assume that we have discerned a new call from God, or even if we think that call is not at all new, but we are only now able to hear it, is ordination about status? Whether or not we are standing for right is not the issue, but rather the way we define the rightness we are stading for. Can the desire for "status" even be considered Christian? You clearly see it as hierarchical, since you use the phrase "lower status".

But for me, it is not about power, because despite how things have evolved, ordained ministry is not about power and control, and we would do better to address the reasons why we have come to believe it is than to claim that women are disempowered by being excluded from it. The issue is our understanding of God's call to women. If we're just concerned here about status and power, there are better ways to empower women, surely. If God is NOT calling women, then making them priests to correct an ancient imbalance of power is highly inappropriate. If He is, then we are still only incidentally addressing an ancient power imbalance, because priesthood isn't about power. And we can dress it up in whatever pure sounding words we like about justice and all, but if we insist on seeing this as something to rectify an imbalance of power, we do not understand the first principles of the discussion, so how can we be confident we have come up with the right answer? I'm not arguing about OOW or women bishops here, but about what I see as an institutional inability to define issues outside of our own cultural framework, whether that be liberal West or Conservative South and East.

Posted by Ford Elms at Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 4:15pm GMT

Pat O'Neill, what a telling demonstration of Christian intolerance to us you show in your latest contribution. Claptrap our theological standpoint may well be in your eyes, but I could say the same about your view. I won't, because I believe you have the right to hold it, as much as I may disagree with it.

Structural change would not, as you claim, create a separate church. If that were true, then the Anglican Communion, of which the Church of England is a member, consists of nothing but separate churches, given that provinces across the world still refuse to ordain women, either as priests or bishops. The creation of another province for traditionalists in England would mean nothing different to that.

Furthermore, I am left speechless at how swiftly you feel able to say "there is no theological argument for or against it". Reflect on those words and consider the arrogance of them. No, you make such statements, simply because you can't accept the fact that there are others out there whose theology comes from a different perspective, my own included. On many occasions on this site, I have outlined the theology I and other Anglo-Catholics embrace. What gives you the right to imply we are "refuseniks" because of it. I will say it again, as I have said on several occasions: I am still counted as a loyal Anglican, despite my tradition, theology and ecclesiology. Comments like yours are both disingenuous and unwelcome.

Posted by Bromenblue at Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 5:43pm GMT

"Apart from saying "we didn't really mean it at the time", "we thought you'd all have given up the battle by now", or "we really don't like this any longer"... why should the ecclesiological argument change now?"

Because circumstances change. Ecclesiology is not doctrine or dogma. It is subject to re-evaluation. Clearly, the thought process that brought the CoE to its current dilemma over OOW and women's consecration is faulty. Time to rethink.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 7:56pm GMT

Ford:

The difference between being a priest and a bishop is clearly one of status. Both are called to God's service as ministers of the Gospel and the Eucharist, but the first serves only a limited area and people and has no authority over other ministers. The second serves a much wider area and a much larger people, and does exert authority over other ministers. If such is not the case, why have bishops at all?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 8:00pm GMT

Bromenblue:

I'm sorry if the term "claptrap" offends you, but I calls 'em as I sees 'em, to use a phrase from American baseball parlance. I have no doubt you have a theological argument for your stance on women, the priesthood, and the episcopate. I'd be delighted to hear it (as yet, I haven't heard anything that sounded theological from you). I also doubt I'd be convinced by it.

You also wrote:

"If that were true, then the Anglican Communion, of which the Church of England is a member, consists of nothing but separate churches..."

Guess what--it does. We have a common history, and agree to share in certain things, but we are as separate as my brother and sister are from me. And I think the creation of another province within England WOULD, indeed, be a different thing...as it would create a new national church within England, making it the only country in the Communion with two such entities (assuming the GAFCON attempt to create a new province in the US and Canada fails, as it should).

One more thing: I think a church that winds up with two such wildly different theologies on something as basic as the calling of its ministers is probably far better off splitting in two now amicably, as eventually the difference will create a less than amicable departure in the future.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Wednesday, 21 January 2009 at 8:10pm GMT

Pat O'Neill, the fact that you have to revert to being offensive shows the paucity of your own arguments. You obviously think you have a monopoly on theology, especially since I have outlined on a number of occasions why my own stance is as it is, and not, I hope, in as reactionary a way as yours. Your arrogance and intolerance is not just offensive, it also does little to further the cause you embrace. It's simply not worth pursuing the debate with you any further. Don't bother responding. There are far more reasonable people on this site with your perspective, who articulate it in a much less provocative way. Those people are worth listening to and conversing with. You are not.

Posted by Bromenblue at Thursday, 22 January 2009 at 1:14am GMT

Bromenblue, sometimes arguments about the nature of the Church can benefit from comparison with other arguments about the nature of the Church - especially when they concern the complementarity of male and female, as bearers of the Image and Likeness of God. One such an argument may be the matter of whether or not the Church of England should be more truly like the Church of Rome (whose ecclesiology and polity you and fellow members of F.i.F. seem to prefer - but elect not to be bound by) on the issue of married priests.

The question here is, ought the Church you belong to (C.of E.) be considered out of catholic order because she allows her priests to be married? This point may seem trivial to you, but for the Church of Rome it is certainly not trivial, and in fact touches upon what the RCC considers to be a matter vital to the validity of Orders with the Sacred Ministry, (which, I think, is your problem vis-a-vis the ministry of women priests)

Why is the question of the validity of women's Orders more important to you than the equally important matter of the validity of married priests, when both, in the Roman Catholic Church (whom you cite as your measure of catholicity) are considered invalid? Why do you insist on the invalidity of women's Orders, when you do not have the same view about the invalidity of male maried priests? There seems to be a glaring inconsistency here - that is, if you want to compare your 'catholicity' with that of Rome, from whom you take your idea of sacred tradition

One has to ask, is it more important to prevent women from exercising sacramental priesthood, than it would be to prevent any priest from engaging in a sexual relationship? This might be a question for F.i.F. members as well as for members of R.C.C. Both of these important matters touch upon the suitability of respective persons (based upon either their gender or sexuality) to exercise sacramental ministry in the Christian Church. The theological relevance of both these situations touches upon our common humanity (male/female)- and its ability to represent Christ at the altar - especially if Christ at his incarnation was representatively human, and not just male.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 22 January 2009 at 10:51am GMT

"The difference between being a priest and a bishop is clearly one of status."

Is it so clear? The office of bishop is that of shepherd, of teacher, of one who "rightly divides the word of God's truth". The priest is a delegate, so I suppose could be considered "inferior", of the bishop. At the Pedalavium on Maundy Thursday, the priest, at least in the Canadian liturgy, invites members of the laity to come forward for the rite, "that I may be reminded whose servant I am". Ordained ministry, whether bishop, priest, or deacon is consistently seen in terms of servanthood, not control, power, or status. My point is that it is a characteristic of the Imperial Church that we see the ordained ministry as power positions. It amazes me how blatant this is in the Orthodox Church, that perhaps most Imperial of Churches. It may be inevitable that, given the administrative role that has become attached to the ordained ministry in the Imperial Church, we should come to see ordained ministry as being about status and rank, but it might also be that we need to face this, that it might actually be a left over from the Imperial Church model that has little to actually do with priesthood, or episcopate. That status and rank are part of the ordained ministry is not in question. The questions are why is this so, is it really what ministry is about, and, given that in the last half of the 20th century we embarked on a course of questioning all our old ideas about what it is to be Church, ought we not also to re-examine this particular set of long held assumptions? They certainly seem to reflect a particularly worldly way of looking at how groups of people are led and directed.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 22 January 2009 at 2:29pm GMT

Father Smith, if the Roman Catholic Church considers celibacy so vital, as you put it, to the validity of her orders, why has she welcomed so many Anglican married priests into the fold? They surely don't become celibate once they become Roman Catholic priests!

Posted by Bromenblue at Thursday, 29 January 2009 at 5:03pm GMT
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