Comments: 'untainted' bread redux

Thank God for the return to sanity. A gracious and necessary apology for what turned out to be a very short-sighted decision on someone's part.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 11:43am BST

common sense at last!

Posted by Sheila Wright at Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 11:53am BST

“ …. and at the St Anselm Chapel there will be communion consecrated by The Revd Gareth Clutterbuck, married, rugby player with six children and not a gay bone in his body – while members of the Sea of Faith can receive the bread and wine as prepared by the Revd Mike Jones, who doesn't really believe it does any good anyway, at the St Thomas Chapel.......”

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 3:21pm BST

Personally, I'm sorry about this change of mind. The previous dispensation would have been - and, presumably, sometimes was - a wonderful demonstration that pro- and anti-WO Anglicans could still cooperate at the highest level, in shared worship.

Talk of 4th century 'heresy' is nonsense.

Similarly, the accusation of WATCH and Christina Rees that the previous dispensation 'discriminated' against women priests. Supporters of WO (of whom I am one) have to recognise that there are good Anglicans who do not agree.

I hate this 'me, me, me' 100% triumphantalism which seems so stupidly intent on destroying Anglicanism.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 15 September 2009 at 7:46pm BST

John - those who do not agree that God calls women to the priesthood can surely just turn up at a different service when a man presides? Seems sensible to me.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 12:29am BST

Though I am support women as much as men who are called to ordination (not women's ordination, just ordination), and do so on the grounds of Chalcedon and the gifts I have observed in many ministries of women, I do think some modicum of generosity toward those who cannot should be retained. And all in a spirit of generosity. This does not bode well for our ethos and has its own dangers of liberal authoritarianism.

Posted by Christopher at Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 2:21pm BST

I agree, Christopher.

We 'liberals' (elastic term) claim and exercise freedom of conscience - rightly. We should extend it also to our 'opponents' (those that is, who act and think in good conscience). Reciprocity is the key here.

Neil. I do not object to the new policy as such. I just think the previous one was better, for the reasons given.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 4:56pm BST

"This does not bode well for our ethos and has its own dangers of liberal authoritarianism. "

I don't think so, Christopher. I can't imagine someone who doesn't believe women are capable of being ordained priests showing up for a Mass celebrated by a woman - a Mass that would be, from the anti-WO point of view, a terrible mistake at best and a blasphemous parody at worse. Having the "untainted Bread" option at a Eucharist presided over by a woman seems like having a kosher option at the annual Klan banquet (you should pardon the expression).

I can't see that this will impact things negatively.

Posted by BillyD at Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 7:02pm BST

"The previous dispensation would have been - and, presumably, sometimes was - a wonderful demonstration that pro- and anti-WO Anglicans could still cooperate at the highest level, in shared worship." - John on Tuesday -

Joint worship, yes, but on what odd theological grounds - except that Jesus Christ is our common Lord and Saviour! The artificial differentiation of having to employ 2 separate Celebrants to provide the Body and Blood of Christ to suit two divergent ministerial theologies would seem to be ignorant of and most damaging to the theological precept expressed in the Mass: "we are all one bread, one body, for we all partake of the One Bread" - (except, of course, when it has to be consecrated by two separate clergy-persons to suit local divisions in the Body of Christ).

How awful is that?

The closest I have ever got to such a division at the Eucharist was when, in an Anglican church, we had the prospect of two separate but simultaneous celebrations - one by a Roman Catholic priest - to serve R.C.s in the congregation, and another by an Anglican, to cater for Anglicans. On that occasion, as I remember, the Holy Spirit seemed to prompt some sort of confusion, where members of the double congregation chose to cross the boundaries. What a wonderful celebration of Unity for all of us! And that was R.C.s worshipping with Anglicans - not Anglicans worshipping together in the same congregation - where, presumably, the Holy Spirit may not get a look in.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 16 September 2009 at 11:12pm BST

Four cheers for Blackburn Cathedral Dean & Chapter for a gracious apology and a change of practice. I was stunned when I first read of the former practice, reported in the Church Times. It harked back to the Winkett-Halliburton days (a good and decent man, God rest his soul) in St Paul's Cathedral, London.
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1472766/Canon-John-Halliburton.html

Within the C of E, the 'tainted' position is a far worse expression of not being in communion with each other, than the RC / C of E duplex tabernacles & aumbreys in airport and hospital chapels. And the more so in a cathedral where the bishop's chair is the visible sign of unity.

I really don't know how long the period of 'reception' re women priests is supposed to go on; I was told in 1992-94 that it was 10 years. I thought we were now beginning the period of reception of women bishops. Reception cannot wait for every single last person to receive it. Time, surely, now, reluctantly or otherwise, to move on or move out, at least on Phase One - in all charity and integrity.

Posted by Peter Edwards at Thursday, 17 September 2009 at 1:04am BST

I believe Peter Edwards that the reception was in no way related to the two integrities, both of which the Anglican church promised to honour in 1992. At that time, and to this day, those of us opposed to women's ordination on theological grounds are NOT miserable wretches who are refusing to catch up with the rest within 10 years or otherwise. We are hold an honourable and recognised theological position, consistent with the churches teaching accross the world and down throughout the ages.

We are not just going to go away, and unless I see some better THEOLOGICAL reasoning we will not be changing our minds. So making honourable space for us and honouring the promises made to us in 1992 becomes vitally important.

I too deplored the ludicrous tainted nonsence employted by Blackburn Diocese- we need something much better. But please either learn the official Anglican position on traditionalists and promote that or, else, make it very clear that your desire that we 'moe out' is just your own thinking.

Finally why should I move on or move out? This is my church as much as yours and I am only living out the faith as the C of E herself taught me....your post lacks any charity whatsoever. Thank goodness that most women priests I know are much more gracious, loving and understanding.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Thursday, 17 September 2009 at 4:02pm BST

Dear objectors,

I think you are wrong:

(a) it cannot have escaped your notice that our churches, within the C of E and (most of) international Anglicanism, are ... empty;

(b) while, on one level, 'liberals' all have the same views (women priests are right, there should be full inclusion of gays, including practising gays);

(c) on another level - the most basic religious level - they don't. Example: 'Pluralist' doesn't believe in God; Fr Ron Smith does;

(d) of course, the case for WO is won (in the sense that most C of E members and that most Anglicans internationally accept it, and that 'history is on our side' (I do believe it);

(e) nevertheless, there are virtuous C of E members and priests who do not accept this;

(f) because they are virtuous (and, in some cases, run obviously successful churches), we should give them 'slack'; this has nothing at all to do with capitulation to so-called 'postmodernism', as the ignorant and stupid Tom Wright would have it; it is simply a practical recognition that in this imperfect, sublunary world (etc. etc.) we cannot persuade even good-hearted people of the correctness of our views (correct though they are);

(g) their non-recognition of WO is relatively marginal, so women priests (whom I personally strongly support) should not huff and puff about 'hurt' and 'discrimination' (even though - and I know this is hard - there has historically been the most dreadful discrimination against women);

(h) 'parallel jurisdictions' within the same church, at the same service, may seem ridiculous -but they are not half so ridiculous as rigidly demarcated separations as between churches, which strike the outside world, whom we are ALL (irrespective of differences) trying to convert to Christianity, as farcical;

(i) we ALL (irrespective of differences) accept services where wine and bread have been pre-consecrated but where, for whatever reason, a fully qualified 'priest' is absent.

Time to get real, fellow Christians.

Posted by john at Thursday, 17 September 2009 at 8:03pm BST

'Reception' is an open process which theoretically can go either way...and we are nowhere near the last person believing the ordinaton of women to be the mind of Christ!

Posted by Neil at Thursday, 17 September 2009 at 9:37pm BST

"'Reception' is an open process which theoretically can go either way..."

That's how I understood the concept, as well, Nell. I didn't think that it was a time period for everyone to get on board the WO bandwagon or get out.

I support women's ordination to the priesthood and their consecration as bishops. I live in a diocese headed by a female bishop. My rector, on the other hand - the priest I most trust, my spiritual father, if you will - does not accept women's ordination to the priesthood. If he were somehow hounded out of the Church over the issue, I honestly don't know what my course of action would be.

"(c) on another level - the most basic religious level - they don't. Example: 'Pluralist' doesn't believe in God; Fr Ron Smith does;"

John, no offense intended to "Pluralist," but he's written several times that he rejects the Anglican label. There are people who post here who used to be Anglicans at one point or another, but who have changed religious affiliations by swimming the Tiber or whatever river one swims to become an atheist. I really think that trying to paint the "liberal" camp as representing everything from atheism to Affirming Catholicism is wrong.

I notice that you ignore the question of what someone who doesn't accept women's ordination to the priesthood would be doing at a Eucharist presided over by a woman in the first place.

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 18 September 2009 at 12:25am BST

There are already "parallel jurisdictions" - for instance, there is an Episcopal Bishop of Georgia and a Roman Catholic Bishop of Savannah. There's also a melange of Orthodox whatevers out there - not to mention the Baptists and Pentecostals which really seem to suit the orthodites right down to the ground.

No one but them is limiting their options.

BTW, our current bishop discourages communion from reserved sacrament.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 18 September 2009 at 5:05am BST

John
Isn't the real depth of this problem shown by the debate about women bishops, where traditionalists will not accept a male priest if he has been consecrated by a woman, thus creating a much more complex administrative and practical nightmare than women priests did?

At the moment, traditionalists can attend a Eucharist at which a male priest presides, knowing that this Eucharist is valid in their eyes.
But once women bishops are accepted (and this whole discussion has only arisen again because of the recent discussion about women bishops), the situation is far less clear, and to make adequate provision would, in effect, be to create a church within a church.

While I have some sympathy with traditionalists, I do think there's a time where people have to recognise that they are part of a living church that develops and has established structures for this kind of discernment.
Ultimately, it's a matter of polity. You either accept the polity of your church and go along with it, or you believe that your own discernment is more important or correct than that of the church at large, and then you have to make a personal decision about your position. You cannot expect the church to accommodate you after it has gone through a discernment process and arrived at a new insight.

Live and let live works when you talk about national churches within an Anglican Communion and where what one church does, does not materially affect the others.
Live and let live does not work when it descends to the level of the personal, because it then creates just the kind of “me and my views” individualism that traditionalists so rightly criticise their extreme liberals colleagues for.

It's the reverse situation of what is happening in the lgbt debate, where those of us on the liberal spectrum have to accept that the church is not where we would like it to be, but that we can only accept to remain in the church as it is, trying to influence it through its own established channels, or we have to leave and find a spiritual home somewhere else.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 18 September 2009 at 9:00am BST

I am always amazed when somebody doesn't comprehend my astonishment when I am asked to tolerate somebody else's intolerance. Unbelievable.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Friday, 18 September 2009 at 11:55am BST

"BTW, our current bishop discourages communion from reserved sacrament." - Mark Brunson -

Now here's another question - about the use of the Reserved Sacrament. Rome seems to have no problem about allowing licensed lay-people to administer the Reserved Sacrament from the aumbry or tabernacle as part of a 'liturgy' of the Eucharist, when no priest is able to be present.

This leads me to ask, Mark, whether your bishop does not encourage reception of the Eucharist from the Reserved Sacrament for fear it might have been consecrated by a woman? If so, this would indicate a determination on his part to reject the priesthood of a woman.

If, on the other hand, he is insistent on not favouring dispensation of the Blessed Sacrament in any situation other than a Celebration of the Eucharist, he is certainly out of kilter with the practice of the R.C. Church, which could probably not survive without Administration from the Reserved Sacrament - not only for the sick and housebound, but also in cases where there is no resident priest in a parish. It is interesting to note, that Female Religious are considered useful to Rome in this case.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 18 September 2009 at 11:56pm BST

Father Ron Smith:

A prevailing attitude in a few dioceses in the states dates back to the old "don't worship idols" mindset, and this includes storing Christ in some box. It's a low church thing and there are still parishes uncomfortable (and apparently bishops) with the idea of having something to visually distract during worship.

We had for years bishops in my diocese that forbade any missals, and the idea of incense, chasubles, sanctus bells are still rare in the one I live. It was a battle to get weekly communion (which regretfully ended much of the sung morning prayer services in many parishes) into the mindset of the laity.

They just put an aumbry in my old hometown parish a couple of years ago, and people there still don't know what to make of it (!!)

But you are certainly correct in this could be a problem with a shortage of clerics and distributing communion to the sick and infirm.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Saturday, 19 September 2009 at 12:00pm BST

"You cannot expect the church to accommodate you after it has gone through a discernment process and arrived at a new insight."

So, you'd force people out of the Church if they can't accept OOW? I don't see how this attitude fits with the discussions we've had recently about the Church having no authority to deprive people of membership in the ecclesia because they are somehow not "pure enough". You earlier said that even an unrepentant pedophile, while needing our compassion, prayer, help, and support, and being prevented from damaging any children, should not be excommunicated, since we can't judge him (and I agree with your basic premises on judgement) but you have no problem forcing poeple away from the ecclesia because they can't support OOW now that "everyone" has made up their minds that it is right? We DO have the right to deprive certain people of membership in the ecclesia, but not others? And I don't accept the argument of "If you don't agree with us, you are choosing to walk apart", neither from the Left nor from the Right. That's just a high sounding passive-aggressive way of saying "We're not to blame because we have decided that our issues are more important than yours. Too bad if that upsets you." So those who don't accept OOW, a minority, can be forced out of the Church while those who accept homosexual inclusion, also a minority, cannot be forced out? Why? It seems to me the quote above would fit just as comfortably in the mouth of a conservative telling you why supporters of gay marriage cannot be part of the ecclesia.

Posted by Ford Elms at Saturday, 19 September 2009 at 4:21pm BST

Ford
I'd force no-one out of the church. Ever.
Please read again what I said.

If you are a member of a church you have to accept its way of arriving at new discernment.
In the CoE this discernment process has gone on for years and has been validated by all the necessary bodies.

Previously you have insisted that it is the church that discerns, not individuals.
Well, in this case, the CoE has discerned.

And just as you are expecting me to abide by the discernment of my church and not have a same sex blessing until it officially allows them, so the opposite must be true: when it has discerned that women priests are accepted, then this discernment has to be valid for all members.

If I leave the church because I cannot cope with its view on same sex relationships, I cannot claim that it forced me to leave.
No-one has forced me into this church, no-one is forcing me out.
But depending on where discernment is taking this church, I may have to make personal decisions about my place in it.
What I may not do is hold the church to ransom and expect that it accommodates my own views just because I hold them strongly.

The point is not what people believe and whether anyone is physically showing them the door. The point is that the church cannot continue to make actual separate arrangements for everyone.
A new discernment is, for good or for ill, something the church has decided is right. And so there are no enclaves where people who don’t like usury can give their money to the church in the knowledge that it will not be banked or invested.
There are no enclaves where people who don’t like divorce can be sure that their priest has never remarried a divorced person or that he was not consecrated by a bishop who remarried a divorced couple.
Those in the church who hold those opinions firmly are allowed not to use interest bearing bank accounts themselves and not to divorce. No-one forces them out of the church because of their beliefs.
But that is not the same as saying that in order for them to remain with us, we have to make all those provisions for ever and ever and ever.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 20 September 2009 at 8:23am BST

But Erika, by my theology I am a member of the CHurch...FULL STOP. And whilst the C of E has a majority desiring for women in holy orders, the church universal does not. Indeed there you become a tiny minority.

It also seems to me that many of you did not take your own advice - when you believed in WO but the church did not instead of leaving by personal conscience you lobbied from within and have marginalised those who disagree with you once consensus is gained.

THis is the church not a political club...I think you need to show far MORE attention to what scripture, tradition and our Roman and Orthodox friends are saying....

If only it was as neat and simple as you imply. Furthermore the church has not yet claimed I may not be a member and hold the views that I do...thus I am just as valid and as much a member as you, however much you deplore my theology and views.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Sunday, 20 September 2009 at 3:20pm BST

BillyD,

I wasn't attacking 'Pluralist'; I was suggesting that 'liberalism' of whatever hue is not the only defining thing about church people, and used an extreme example to make the point. I could have used others, e.g. the fact (it certainly is a fact) that many Christian 'liberals' are liberal only about sex, though many are also doctrinally liberal (no virgin birth, no physical resurrection, etc.).

As to why people who don't accept WO would be attending such a church anyway, that was exactly what was/is happening in Blackburn Cathedral. So there was a problem, and I still think the original solution was better. Objections that they wouldn't then be participating in the same service/partaking of the same body seem to me to belong to the higher mumbo-jumbo. There are also cases where FiF people arrive at a church and don't know in advance that it is a woman priest: I think that then too they should be accommodated. I really do not think there is a big deal here.

Erika,

I agree entirely that the appointment of women bishops (can't be soon enough for me) will create male priests unacceptable to FiF. I wasn't talking about that: I was talking in the first instance about the little Blackburn situation. I did then make the move of suggesting that all these quarrels speak awfully badly of Christianity when it is in such deep decline. I'm unenthusiastic about continued 'separate episcopacy' for Fif people, but if it's the only way (for them), I'd accept it. If it goes through, though, there will have to be more cooperation and shared worship - including such messiness as the original Blackburn scheme.

I like Fr Ed. I think he has spunk. I also think he is benevolent. We had this debate a while back (about the gay issue and how far he could be pastorally responsive against the background of his own orthodoxy). When he says: it's my church, too, I like him. By contrast, I greatly dislike 'Papalist Anglicans': I think they should get out.

Posted by john at Sunday, 20 September 2009 at 8:27pm BST

"But Erika, by my theology I am a member of the CHurch...FULL STOP. And whilst the C of E has a majority desiring for women in holy orders, the church universal does not. Indeed there you become a tiny minority." - Ed Tomlinson -

Dear Fr. Ed.,

From what I discern in your posts, when you speak here of being "a member of the Church .FULL Stop" you are theologising on the basis of the total 'One Holy Catholick and Apostolick Church', iof which every catholic Christian is a member - including Roman and Orthodox Christians. There is a diversity here which still allows of a corporeal separation. For instance, Anglicans are not bound by the Roman Catholic Magisterium, nor any edict issuing from the Pope. Nor are R.c.s bound by anything promulgated by the Archbishop of Canterbury. In these instances, the different theological viewpoints are attitudes which still maintain a necessary separation. Each to their own particular ideology. I think this is what Erika may be getting at here.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 20 September 2009 at 8:43pm BST

"Furthermore the church has not yet claimed I may not be a member and hold the views that I do..."

Who said anything about you not being a member?

Things change Ed, as Scripture & Tradition without Reason is certainly not what the Anglican Communion is about.

You know, the high church vs. low church fun banter we have on this site should be an example of what the future of our denomination should be. Something that what once taken seriously, is now a good-natured running joke amongst us here. It has been reduced to personal preferences in how we best relate to God, and I think the mutual respect we have for one another over it is something we should look to build on.

I can certainly say that my preferences stylistically and ascetically (and evident in my singing in a men and boy's choir) would be an all-boys club as well. But I know in my heart that such an exclusive existence is far from the vision of Christ, and Ed, you likewise have yet to offer tangible proof yourself otherwise.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Sunday, 20 September 2009 at 10:18pm BST

Ed
You are a member of the church, I don't deny that.
But you are a member of the CoE, aren't you? And there must be a reason that you are a member of the CoE, not the Baptists or the Methodists or the Roman Catholics.
And having made the choice to become a member of that church, do you not then have to abide by the discernment processes of that church?

You seem to be saying that nothing new is ever allowed to be discerned, at least that's how I read your comment that those who wanted WO should have left rather than participated in the process of working out a new theology.
But I don’t think that you would agree that the Spirit can never tell us anything new, or the church would never have changed in the past.
The only question is how the change happens, is it not?

As it happens, I personally did not lobby for women's ordination from within, I was not a member of the church at the time that debate was held.
But had I been, I would indeed have participated in the debate.

A better comparison is that of same sex blessings, because I am indeed lobbying very hard for the church to allow those. But like it or not, I have to accept that, at the moment, my church is not of the same mind as I am, although a sizeable minority is.

That’s how it is. With every new church position, there are those like me who are on the extreme liberal end and probably dissatisfied that it hasn’t gone far enough. And there are those like you who are dissatisfied that it has gone too far.
We both have no choice but to keep lobbying for our views, while accepting the discerned position of our church.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 20 September 2009 at 11:08pm BST

John
I'm with you and I'm not.
For a long time I have supported FiF parishes who wish to have male priests only.

But in some respects, that only avoids the real issue. At what state of disintegration and separate provision is it still meaningful to speak about being in one church (assuming we speak about the denomination the individual has joined).
There's no doubt that we're all members of the one body of Christ.
But there are different denominations, and we have chosen to be part of one. Talk about an all encompassing church membership that includes us all is generally avoiding that question.

With women priests, it was relatively easy to accommodate FiF.
But when we get to women bishops and more and more male priests being consecrated by women, this gets awfully messy.
And what I hear FiF saying is that, in order to continue to be One Church (but ignoring what the part that we have actually joined is doing), we have to create a kind of church within a church that can be kept as pure as we would like it to be.

Now, my own logic would say:
If you feel part of one holy catholic body of Christ – then there are enough churches who don’t welcome women’s priests, as Ed correctly pointed out.
If you feel part of the Church of England – then you have to accept the lines along which this church and its discernment processes are organised.
To insist that a changing church continues to make provisions for you, which in effect will change that church beyond recognition and result in internal fragmentation and a definite refusal to be “one”, is somehow contradicting your own assertions of being part of that one.

I would never say get out. Anyone who wants to be in is in. But I genuinely do not understand why you would want to be a member of one denomination or national church, if you cannot accept where that church is going, and if there are valid alternatives available.

Are you not saying: I have joined this church and accepted its institutions and structures while they suited me, but now that I don’t agree with its discernment any longer, I no longer feel I have to be obedient to it but I can force it to remain where it has previously remained because it suits me?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 21 September 2009 at 9:25am BST

john,

"I wasn't attacking 'Pluralist'"

I didn't think you were.

"As to why people who don't accept WO would be attending such a church anyway, that was exactly what was/is happening in Blackburn Cathedral."

Do we in fact know this? I haven't read about anybody actually depending on this arrangement, only that the authorities in Blackburn set it up. I interpreted it as an excess of caution in responding to the possibility that someone might want to take advantage of it.

Posted by BillyD at Monday, 21 September 2009 at 12:35pm BST

So Erika... let me get this straight:

When liberals are unhappy with the rules of the Anglican church it is perfectly acceptable to

1) ILLEGALLY ordain women in the USA in 1970's

2) BREAK rules by allowing an active and gay bishop in 1990's

BUT when you DO agree with the Anglican church and an opponent does not then to that person you say: you have to accept the lines along which this church and its discernment processes are organised

OH OK I GET IT. One rule for the liberals and another for me. Or will all those with same sex partners and a dog collar be tending their resignation as of today?

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Monday, 21 September 2009 at 5:33pm BST

Dear Erika,

I agree and I disagree. I agree in the sense that we agree about what OUGHT to happen.

But I think 'liberals' are very selective in our application of the notion of 'authority'. Because the C of E as a majority has agreed on women priests and (now) women bishops, we (= you) invoke a notion of majority 'discernment'.

BUT, (a) you are living with - and having sex with - a woman, while you also have children by a previous heterosexual relationship (forgive me, if I've got this wrong); (b) I too having had a previous heterosexual relationship which resulted in a child am now living with a woman by whom I have had a child, and we're not married.

I have no problem at all with this morally or theologically and I presume the same is true with you. We (both of us) are fortunate in finding ourselves in churches of the great and glorious C of E where this is not a big deal. Not a big deal - it is some deal, I personally know of some members of our congregation who love me/us but are uncomfortable with this situation. I should be very surprised if the same did not apply to you.

In practice, ,in these situations, both sides 'cut slack'.

Apply this principle to FiF people who don't want to 'pope'. They run beautiful churches. These churches are also deeply, deeply Anglican. I defy any Anglican to go into these churches - 19th century red-brick edifices often in poor parts of towns/cities all looking much the same - and not feel: these are part of the great and glorious Anglican heritage.

The result is mess. Furthermore, it is a mess that includes those (like Father Ed) who allegedly and formally reject mess. Such is the human condition. Such is inevitable. Anglicanism embodies it. It is more honest, more realistic.

Posted by john at Monday, 21 September 2009 at 7:45pm BST

Ed,
which part of my saying that I feel I personally have to accept my churches discernment although I do not agree with it did you not hear?

Having said that, there is no Anglican church, there is an Anglican Communion made up of independend national churches.
The congregation of Gene Robinson was perfectly legal and it broke none of the rules that govern TEC.
That many agree it might have been better not do go ahead is a completely different issue.

And even further - you are asking if I condone people breaking the rules of their church and you seem to imply that if I did indeed condone liberals breaking rules, I should also condone conservatives doing the same.

So are you suggesting that FiF are deliberately going against the discernment of their own church?

Instead of mud-slinging at each other, can we please get back to the question I posed?

You are a member of a national church that has its own discernment process. Indeed, you are a priest of that church and therefore fully integrated in the structures of that church.
Is it then not appropriate that you should abide by what this church has discerned through its Synods and all other decision making organs?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 21 September 2009 at 7:58pm BST

And yes, it's perfectly O.K. for "conservatives" to break away from their dioceses (or take the diocese anyhow) and drag it out in the civil courts when they know their case is weak due to canon law, but realize it's an attempt to break the denomination..yeah, WE GET IT!

I was there (albeit a young chorister) when my liberal bishop tried a more liberal minister in my diocese for allowing one of the "Philadelphia Eleven" (those were the "irregularly ordained" females by the way). He was so liberal that the ecclesiastical trial bloodied the diocese with his gracious appeasement towards the diocesian "conservatives" in his attempt to keep some order in the heady days of the late 1970's. YEAH, WE GET IT!

And now Ed, you feel backed into a corner and have to resort to YELLING on this site to make your point. Perhaps now you feel like one of the many, MANY closeted gay priests who felt not just their faith questioned, but their livelihood as well, and welcome the LEGAL ELECTION and RATIFICATION OF +ROBINSON per OUR canon law.

YEAH!!!!! WE GET IT!!!!!!!!

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Monday, 21 September 2009 at 10:06pm BST

"2) BREAK rules by allowing an active and gay bishop in 1990's"

Exactly what rules were those, Father? I've looked all through the Constitution and Canons of the Episcopal Church, and I can't find the matter addressed at all. Your help would be appreciated.


Posted by BillyD at Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 2:25am BST

"This leads me to ask, Mark, whether your bishop does not encourage reception of the Eucharist from the Reserved Sacrament for fear it might have been consecrated by a woman? If so, this would indicate a determination on his part to reject the priesthood of a woman. "

No. He has given women diocesan sponsorship and approved their entry into seminary with the specific purpose of becoming priests.

The reasoning, actually, was along pragmatic lines - in a widely-spread diocese, it's easy for parishes in transition between priests to become inbred, controlled by certain parish members who become the de facto rectors while "some outsider" is only required to come in and consecrate bread and wine, occasionally. Along more theological lines, I suspect that he was a bit wary of divorcing the eucharistic celebration from the actual communion.

I don't believe that our bishop has a difficulty

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 4:52am BST

Choirboy and Erika,

Ed's position can be dismissed because of this section:

"When liberals are unhappy with the rules of the Anglican church it is perfectly acceptable to

1) ILLEGALLY ordain women in the USA in 1970's

2) BREAK rules by allowing an active and gay bishop in 1990's"

There is no Anglican "church" to apply "rules" to TEC or any other entity. The only rules that apply are those of the individual churches themselves. He is CofE, so the Anglican Church's rules apply to him, not to Bp. Robinson or any member of TEC.

The Anglican Communion - not church - has never had the legislative authority that destroyers and usurpers from the depths of alleged-conservatism claim. Cut it off. Let it die. That will be the greatest thing we could do for the Body of Christ and the well-being of Humanity.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 5:04am BST

Mark
"Ed's position can be dismissed because of this section:"

I agree that Ed is getting a little heated and that people aren't always at their most logical when they feel under attack.

But I don't want to simply dismiss his position.
I would dearly like to understand how he deals with the conflict of having a strong personal conviction about something, while the church he belongs to has moved in another direction.

There must be a genuine theological or logical way of dealing with this dilemma that he has merely not yet told us about.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 9:25am BST

1/2

John
I’m sorry, I missed your comment when I read the thread last night.

I agree, there is a fundamental difference between me and Ed.
I am liberal through and through, and I believe very very strongly in my own personal responsibility before God.
I am willing to do things the church does not condone, because I do not give the discernment process of the church the same weight as many others do.

I don’t try to force the church to accommodate my views. I am quite happy to hold them on my own and to live accordingly. I am trying to influence the church by wading into the conversation about same sex relationships. But that has to be legitimate, especially in an ongoing discernment process.

I do not hold any pastoral or teaching office in the church, I have promised no-one any obedience, I am merely a bum-on-seats.
I did have a blessing of my relationship, but I did not expect to be able to deck my local church out with flowers and invite friends and family there. Instead, we found a neutral, non-consecrated place as far removed from my church as you can get.
So I am indeed willing to go my own way and walk with God according to my own understanding. I hope the church will eventually see things my way, but if it doesn’t, I shall loose no sleep. I shall certainly not try to force it to accommodate me. I might eventually leave if I feel it all gets too childish.

That’s the liberal side of it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 1:33pm BST

2/2

The conservative side is that of people who have told me for years and years that I am now allowed to make my own discernment but that I should be subject to church discipline. Indeed, even national churches should not be allowed to make their own discernment, but should defer to a mythical Anglican Church, or even a Universal Church.

And if someone who is a priest in a church, who has a very official role in it, who is answerable to his bishop, and who expects me to keep my love life out of his pure church until the whole church should sanction it – if such a person suddenly seems to be doing what I am doing, and if he does not merely follow his own conscience but expects everyone else to accommodate it with more and more convoluted official structures and provisions, then I think I am justified in asking him to explain.

I am not attacking Ed. All along, I have tried to understand him. And I ask again – what is the theological justification for demanding that others adhere to what the denomination one has joined judges to be right, while reserving the right not to accept the same judgement of that church when it doesn’t suit.

In practice, Ed would not cut me any slack if he could, he has said as much in a recent thread when we did discuss same sex relationships. Yet, he asks the church not only to accept his beliefs (which of course it must!), but to continue to make special provisions for them, however messy and complicated this gets, and however that eventually undermines the claim to the church being “one”.

There may well be a very good explanation for this. I simply don’t understand it yet and I would like to.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 1:33pm BST

Dear Erika and Ed (and anyone else who is interested),

Here is another story - you might call it a parable concerning the current state of the C of E.

My partner comes from Derby. Her mother and father are devoted Anglicans. Her mother was a Reader, now retired. Both belong to two churches, one 'high' (St Anne's), the other 'middle', St John's. The former was FiF, the latter not. The former is an achingly beautiful church, with (now) a very small congregation, no more than 8 souls. It keeps going - by a thread. The latter is relatively flourishing - say 60 plus. Recent 'reorganisation' brought the two churches together. The previous full-time priest was also anti-WO. Result: both are now FiF. A consequence is that both are now poorly treated by the Bishop of Derby, who is emphatically anti-FiF. Consequently, all priests concerned are (a) non-stipendiary; (b) FiF. They are very good priests, as was the previous full-time priest. Nonetheless, at the last Mass celebrated by said priest, my partner's mother, hitherto anti-woman priest, was so fed up by the plethora of anti-women priest con-celebrants that she changed her mind and now supports women priests.

Nonetheless also, the retired FiF priest is a very humane and kindly man who seems to have no problem with my partner's 'illegitimate' status. Nonetheless also, we (my partner and I) have attended the Midnight Eucharist and Easter Vigil at St Anne's - and they were wonderful services. The latter was also attended by the local Greek Orthodox priest and his family, and, although they did not take communion (which of course I should have preferred), they did attend and they did go up to receive a blessing.

I think the morals of this 'parable' are pretty obvious.

Posted by john at Tuesday, 22 September 2009 at 9:43pm BST

Okay, Erika.

Knock yourself out. A lot of work for nothing, but you have to make your own decisions and I respect you for that.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 4:58am BST

John

I'm not saying that these things don't work out at a local level.
At a local level, my own church is very supportive of me and my partner too.

Your and my view are clouded. I used to argue just like you do based on my own positive experience of being same sex partnered in a CoE church.
It leaves out the many many instances where people have appalling experiences with intolerance.

If Ed cut me the same slack as he's expecting his church to cut him, we'd at least both be reading the same parable. But that's not how it is.

Parables work in the ears of those who will hear them.
Theology and the way a church organises itself has to work on different principles, does it not?

I mean - if Ed doesn't do it, can you tell me how one would solve the principal problem of believing that the church is responsible for discernment, not the individuals, yet of not being willing to accept that decision when it has finally been reached?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 8:06am BST

Erika,

Two answers.

(1) You and I and pretty well everyone else can do what we like and no one can force us: they can't afford to. That answer breaches your premise and would be unacceptable (on a theological level) to Ed. (though in practice, he, like pretty well everybody else, grants it considerable force).

(2) Ed and many others, not just FiF people, would say that 'the Church' as in the C of E is a constituent of the Church Catholic and therefore there are limits to the freedom it can exercise in its discernment, particularly in cases of radical rupture with tradition, non-compliance with scripture, and direct opposition to the RC and Orthodox churches. This argument cuts no ice with me (or with you) but considerable ice with people like Ed. You can see why. The arguments are perfectly reputable. They are not theoretically resolvable.

So I still say: deal.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 12:10pm BST

Ed Tomlinson,

Your point about the fact that the Episcopal Church in the USA went ahead before the rest of the Anglican Communion with the ordination of women describes an action consonant with its authority and polity as ECUSA, and not as part of the Church of England, That fact needs to be stressed and properly understood. The same applies to TEC's action on the ordination of Bishop Gene Robinson. In both instances, the Canons and Constitution of TEC allowed this.

What needs to be understood also, in this context, is that TEC is an autonomous Church, which also happens to be allied by ties of love and affection with the See of Canterbury and with other Churches of the Anglican Communion which also accept the primary importance of the C of E in their founding ethos.

However, each Church of the Communion has its own polity and legal institutional governance, which cannot be over-ruled by any other Province or body corporate within the Communion. The ABC, though Primus-inter-pares, has no jurisdictional power over any of the Provincial partners of the Communion, and this is why any form of Covenant relationship between the Provinces has to be on the basis of mutual agreement. This goes for each of the 'Instruments of Unity' within the Anglican Family; they are constituted in an advisory role and, presumably, cannot exercise any compulsory influence over member Churches.

One wonders what might happen if, as seems possible from the actions of certain Global South Prelates, they were to high-jack authority as the new Anglican Communion, and request the Church of England to kowtow to their demands of her?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 12:35pm BST

"Your point about the fact that the Episcopal Church in the USA went ahead before the rest of the Anglican Communion with the ordination of women describes an action consonant with its authority and polity as ECUSA, and not as part of the Church of England..."

Father Ron, I read his comments as alluding to the fact that the first American ordinations of women to the priesthood were done contrary to our Canons (the Philadelphia 11).

http://www.episcopalchurch.org/41685_3311_ENG_HTM.htm

Posted by BillyD at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 1:47pm BST

John

1. I can do pretty much what I like because I live in a supportive parish. But many like me are not even “out” because their church would not accept them.
Why is it ok for FiF to request special treatment when something cuts no ice with them, whereas we cannot do the same when it doesn't cut ice with us?

2. I am aware that Ed will never accept women priests. I was merely trying to work out how he stands on the decision making process of the church in which he is a priest. Whatever he says, he was not ordained into a Universal Church, but into the Church of England, and he promised obedience not to Methodist or Roman Catholic rules, but to the Canons of the CoE and to his bishop. That he is, theologically, also a member of the all encompassing universal body of Christ is a different issue.

Is it really ok to say "the governing bodies of my church have together made a decision, yet I am free to disregard it because it cuts no ice with me"?

If I could understand the reasoning behind this, I might feel much more willing to cut FiF further slack, messy though it would be.
But so far, I have not really been given any explanation as to why some decisions of the church should be binding for all, while others can be rejected by the same people who normally place such great emphasis on church authority, yet who insist that their view is given special protection.

And to be honest, when the person who asks me to cut him some slack is the first one who would not cut me any at all, I don’t feel terribly positive towards their request.
Live and let live really only works if it applies to everyone, if it as given as liberally as it is being requested.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 2:05pm BST

Uh, excuse me, but wasn't the first female ordination in the AC done in Hong Kong, and well predated the "Philadelphia Eleven"?

I might be wrong, New Zealand might have had the first female bishop in the the AC as well. Oh well, like the Lutherans, who have had females in the clerical ranks for years, they don't count. Only Holy Rome and Mystical East mind you.

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 2:42pm BST

Erika,

Father Ed is only 'exempli gratia': it feels odd - and perhaps disrespectful - to be discussing this individual's position when he's off stage. When I speak of him, I think I speak of many. I also frame things in my terms, which many people - not just people like him - might think cynical. I nevertheless do strongly think that many, many people could in practice accept these principles - or lack of them - and already also often in practice do accept them.

I do realise that people such as you and me have been relatively lucky and I do not for a moment discount all the miserable bilge - and worse - that gay people have had to endure for so long, not least - indeed, the shameful reverse - in many/most church contexts. But here my cynicism (or, from another point of view, my belief in decency) does come into play. I think many, many of the orthodox fall short of their own orthodoxy, by - alternatively - (a) for practical purposes ignoring it in cases of sexual behaviour (unless gravely irresponsible or damaging); (b) not actually believing it in such cases; this latter seems to me a very widespread phenomenon; (c) just wishing the whole thing would go away, because they have come to realise it's not worth the candle. But, as I have said before many times, it is extraordinarily difficult/impossible for them to admit this (because they're afraid of the slippery slope, because they feel bound to uphold orthodoxy for political reasons, because they think truth is constituted in Catholic perceptions, etc. etc.). But I do think they (some of them) want to 'do deals'. I also strongly believe that many of them are very virtuous people who in other respects are a tremendous asset to the C of E. On balance, taking as many factors as possible into account, etc., I too think 'dealing' is the better course, messy, imperfect as it is.

Best.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 2:55pm BST

John

so, leaving my questions aside and being practical - what is the "deal" here, bearing in mind that deals usually mean compromises both sides are happy with?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 4:20pm BST

"Whatever he says, he was not ordained into a Universal Church, but into the Church of England..."

The two aren't really mutually exclusive, but I think I know what you mean.

"Is it really ok to say "the governing bodies of my church have together made a decision, yet I am free to disregard it because it cuts no ice with me"?""

Are you claiming here that the decision to ordain women carries some sort of obligation on the part of church members? Exactly what, I wonder?

At any rate, Erika, I think that sometimes the answer to your question is, "Yes." Certainly the decisions of various Anglican organizations over the years regarding homosexuality were disregarded by many gay Chrisitans, and didn't keep us from owning our identity, coming to the Sacraments, or even having our relationships blessed in the Church. The voice of General Synod isn't the Voice of God, after all.

Posted by BillyD at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 5:13pm BST

Sorry back again!

Erika I cannot answer your question because it is based on a false premise.

I am well aware that I made promises to follow the rules of the Church of England. And indeed I do. To my knowledge that very church continues to stipulate that an objection to women's ordination on theological grounds is an honoured and recognised position. It is for this reason that the church created flying Bishops and is now spending much energy in a synodically set up committee to find a way forward for me whilst keeping me within the fold.

You might wish the C of E had reached a consensus but it has not and the period of reception is still open. As and when my ecclesial family decide I am no longer tolerable, and say choose orthodoxy or go, then I shall have no other option but to uproot my nuclear family, lose my house and income and move on...sadly I think that day is coming. But let us wait and see, perhaps a solution will be found that keeps me in the church of my birth whilst also allowing those who support of female Episcopate to flourish.

As Owen Chadwick wisely remarked, the real tragedy for the church will not come when hundreds leave over the ordination of women but rather when they stay! I know some think we love Rome more than Canterbury but that simply is not true...the issue is that much more thorny for that very reason.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 5:27pm BST

"Uh, excuse me, but wasn't the first female ordination in the AC done in Hong Kong, and well predated the "Philadelphia Eleven"?"

Right, Florence Li Tim-Oi, ordained in 1944. She had to surrender her license after the end of WWII because of all the brouhaha over her ordination.

Posted by BillyD at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 6:56pm BST

Erika,

The 'deal' is:

(a) FiF people get to maintain their (to some extent) separate jurisdiction;

(b) they stop crude criticism of 'liberals' as unprincipled time-servers;

(c) we stop crude criticism of the 'orthodox' as, necessarily, misogynist or homophobe (where they are actually so - it's very easy to distinguish - we keep up the attack);

(d) women priests - and women bishops - have to recognise that priests or churches which do not recognise their priesthood theologically - as opposed to recognition of an empirical fact or even recognition of a valid 'separate', even majority, 'integrity' - are not per se discriminatory;

(e) in the event of the above 'deal' being accepted, there has to be more shared activity - over and above both sides both formally being members of the C of E. Say this 'deal' went through at Synod, wouldn't it be wonderful if both sides could be seen together publicly sharing the Eucharist, with women priests present, but either, not actually celebrating, or, if celebrating, allowing 'opponents' to receive the sacraments from male consecrants? Here I know I am treading on FiF sensitivities, as on 'liberal' ones, but I think both sides really have to do this: there just needs to be more shared 'cement'.

Ed Tomlinson (above) doesn't want to 'pope'. That has long been obvious. There are lots of FiF priests (and still more FiF laity) who think like that. You and I can go into their churches and have profound Christian experiences (I sometimes do) and they can do the same.

Posted by john at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 8:05pm BST

Thank you, Ed!

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 23 September 2009 at 9:52pm BST

John, Erika and Ed:

I went through this struggle twenty, twenty-five years ago. A few years ago I had the honor of being invited to sing at the parish church (in West Croydon, just north of Gatwick) of the noted composer George Oldroyd, whose music is very dear to me. Although surprising to learn that it was a high church parish, it was disconcerting to me to learn that they were a part of FiF and despite it all, the experience was indeed very deeply profound.

In my undergrad years I had made friends with the local rector of a western Ohio church, (that was oddly also high church, an abnormality in my diocese) who taught me what little I know today of the Oxford movement. Although he was incredibly articulate, his ranting and railings against WO (complete with the "b" word interspersed liberally), I got turned off to his cause early on.

It led me to this conclusion: All the theological arguments aside, and against my ascestic fondness of an all male club, I had to ask myself, if somebody has indeed heard the Call, who the h--- am I to deny them otherwise?

Posted by choirboyfromhell at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 4:53am BST

For balance John I am sure you are happy to add the (where they are actually so - its very easy to distinguish- we keep up the attack) on those unprincipled time keepers too?

But thank you for a helpful post. As ever it is when we deal with people as a 'they' that demonising and dehumanising becomes easy. I think people would find our local meetings of FIF chapter very interesting. We NEVER talk about women priests just about devotional matters. And of the many priests I know only a very tiny minority have ever struck me as sexist....and they are certainly blanced out by some of the utterly mad, man hating feminist loons I encountered at college, who even took offence at the 'Our Father' and wore their victimhood as a badge of honour.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 7:44am BST

John
If we could approach every contentious issue like that, I'd be with you. We'd be back at "live and let live".
Let's have that assurance from conservatives and I'm fully with them, although I personally still cannot see the creation of a separate space for FiF once we have women bishops as anything other than a practical and theological nightmare.

It's a bit like labelling gay priests so that anti-gay people can avoid them, and then finding a structure that labels priests consecrated by gay priests so they can be avoided too..... transfer the concept to other groups of people and it doesn't begin to be seen so benign.

But if there's genuine giving on both sides at all times and in all disputes, I shall be with you.

If it's just a one way street without any reciprocity, I should be less happy!

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 8:32am BST

Of course, Ed.

Keep the faith, Erika mou. I am with you.

We seem to have reached ... something. Best wishes to all.

John.

Posted by john at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 9:49am BST

But that is not a fair analogy Erika.

It might suit you to lump gender and sexuality differences into one category but that is not in fact a reasonable thing to do.

Men and women are clearly created differently with different skills, strengths and weaknesses.

A gay man and a straight man are, phsyiologically, one and the same.

Now we live in a society who believes, in sympathy with you no doubt, that gender is largely an irrelevance and that man and woman must be treated the same.

I personally stand by a more ancient, I would argue biblical, view that man and woman were created equal but different for a reason and that God adores both for their complimentarity not their sameness.

As ludicrous as I would look standing in the place of the Virgin Mary, a most inspiring figure whose womanhood has been adored throughout the ages for her perfect embodiment of faith...so women standing in persona Christi at the reliving of the Last Supper marrs the message of faith.

Whilst we are all one, men and women, slave and free, etc in baptism. Christ called only men to the 12, thus setting priesthood aside for men alone.

Now offer me the chance to create an order of Deaconesses, or a new movement that formally and powerfully recognises the ministry of women (which we once had with Abbotesses etc) and I will fight alongside you.

I am for equality. I am not for sameness. Childbirth is a gift which I cannot share in according to God's design. Priesthood is one that scripture, reason and tradition sugggest, women cannot share in. We each have different things to bring to the altar

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 9:59am BST

Ed
The analogy is perfectly fair.
It has nothing to do with gender or sexuality differences, but much more widely, with how we deal with theological differences of any kind.

In both cases, we have a hot button issue where good theology exists on both sides.
Each side choses to disgregard the other's theology or find it not persuasive, but if we're honest, we have to admit it exists and it persuades a large number of people.

There is therefore, and this is crucial, the distinct possibility that the other side has a point.
And both views are represented in our church at all levels. And, as you pointed out earlier, neither has yet been conclusively settled by the church but both are still being discussed, or discerned, if you like.

If all you're doing is saying "my view, because I'm right, but not yours because you're wrong", we're not going to get anywhere.
If you want me to say "your view, although I believe you're wrong", then I expect you to do the same.
Until our church has spoken a final word and we both have to go along with whatever that may be.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 10:34am BST

"I am well aware that I made promises to follow the rules of the Church of England. And indeed I do. To my knowledge that very church continues to stipulate that an objection to women's ordination on theological grounds is an honoured and recognised position." - Ed Tomlinson (to Erika) -

So, Ed. Let's get this clear. Are you saying here that, if the Church of England decides to go ahoead with the episcopal ordination of women - without providing 'special arrangements' for 'alternative oversight', you could no longer remain a priest in the Church of England?

Sorry to be so stark about this, but that seems to be what you are indicating here - that, as long as what is called 'The Two Integrities' is still upheld in the C.of E., you and others from the F.i.F. sodality will remain in the Church.

The problem for some of us is that the whole theory of 'The Two Integrities' has a fatal flaw. To have to accept that one branch of the Church Catholic has a dual theology on who might/not be authentically called by God to the priesthood seems to attack the very theology of universal humanity in Christ ("In Christ, there is neither male nor female" - S.Paul).

It will be interesting when the world-wide Anglican/Orthodox Scholars meet next to tackle the issue of what the term 'humanity' is really all about. This may help to erase the current log-jam of gender discussion in the Church.

At this point in time, both Roman Catholic and the Orthodox Churches are united in their theological opposition to women's ordination.
For any priest who is adamant that women cannot be ordained, surely they have to re-align their ministry with either the R.C. or Orthodox Church?
However one looks at it; the Church of England is officially in favour of women's ordination.

Each of the 'Catholic' and 'Orthodox' Churches has just one *single integrity* on the issue of male-only ministry. However, one does not know what the future holds - especially in the R.C. Church, which has already let it's guard down over married priests (ex-Anglicans who have left the Anglican Church over the ordination of women). What other changes might not happen, when there are not enough priests to go round? And where will the anti-W.O. faction of the Anglican Communion flee to if/when that happens?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 10:59am BST

Yes Ron I would leave, and please do not be flippant about this. When the life of your wife, children and parishioners would be hugely affected it is no small matter and would cause me profound pain and hurt. I do not WANT to leave, I may be FORCED to. Liberals need to accept they have less to lose in the current climate. It also does you little credit to attempt to predict what may or may not happen within RC church, you may think there is a progression, I very much doubt it and, as it is impossible to prove, adds very little to the debate, save making an inference that my views are archaic and liable to be outgrown.

Erika, for once, I am loving what you write and am happy to agree to disagree whilst accepting that both sides of the debate bring something worthy of reflection to the table.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 12:36pm BST

"What other changes might not happen, when there are not enough priests to go round?"

After the sex scandals of the late 80s/early 90s, the Church here had this problem. They'd had barely enough clergy, I guess, and when several priests went to jail, there was little they could do. In some instances, they had nuns who would celebrate a Mass of the Presanctified (that's the Eastern name, the only other thing I've heard it called is a "Deacon's Mass"). I suspect the same will happen on the wider Roman stage.

Posted by Ford Elms at Thursday, 24 September 2009 at 7:30pm BST

"In some instances, they had nuns who would celebrate a Mass of the Presanctified (that's the Eastern name, the only other thing I've heard it called is a "Deacon's Mass")."

The RCC calls this a Communion Service - distinct, of course, from a Mass.

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 1:08am BST

Ed, please be assured that I would not want to treat this matter lightly. I am fully aware of what would happen if Anglican clergy felt the need to abandon their ministry as Anglicans because of any change in the status quo - regarding the 'Two Integrities'. What I am trying to de here is to tease out the intellectual and spiritual validity of entertaining two very different understandings of whom God may call into sacerdotal ministry - based on the personal preference of participating clergy occupying positions in the same ecclesial establishment.

I believe this question involves more than just what has been seen as Anglican broad-mindedness. I feel it has more to do with theological integrity - not saying that either W.O. or Anti-W.O. is the right path; but that the C.of E. has now accepted the W.O. provision as an authentic path of ministerial vocation. Surely you casn understand my reckoning here: that the Church is either pro- or against the ordination of women. To believe both things at the same time is not conducive to a coherent theology of ministry.

I want you to know, Ed, that I personally struggled with the whole idea of women's ordination - until I met and had to work with women who had been ordained. This enabled my conversion to the idea that what Paul was saying in his statement, that: "In Christ, there is neither male nor female", was a far broader and more comprehensive paradigm than has hitherto been understood by scriptural interpreters.

This has led me to understand that the humanity of Jesus was not just representative of the male, but, more broadly, of the fullness of humanity - including the full range of sexuality and gender. This understanding, for me, has allowed me to question the patriarchal nature of authority in the Church - to the point where I now believe that God calls women as well as men to represent Christ at the altar.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 1:36am BST

This is not my point of view but someone Anglo-Catholic and pro female ordination said he persuaded a FiF Anglo-Catholic to his viewpoint by telling them that Mary held, nurtured, celebrated, blessed and raised the body of Christ and then so can any woman acting in faith and bringing her gifts.

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 4:42am BST

Ed
"I do not WANT to leave, I may be FORCED to."

If people in a GAFCON church are refusing to allow me to worship with them, I am being forced to leave.

If I decide that I do not like the anti-gay theology of the church and prefer to go somewhere else, I am making my own personal decision.
I may "feel" victimised, but, actually, I have to accept that my church isn't where I'd like it to be and respond to that in a way that retains my integrity and my faith.
I am not actually being forced to do anything.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 9:36am BST

"If people in a GAFCON church are refusing to allow me to worship with them, I am being forced to leave."

So two wrongs make a right?

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 11:40am BST

Actually there is a difference.

You and the Gafcon believer have a profound difference in theology but can still look to, and be united by, the same Bishop.

I would be FORCED out because I would be left without a valid Bishop - and thus congregational at best. My very Catholicity would be pulled from under me. My objection, remember, is not that I oppose a Bishop who is a woman but because I cannot accept that the woman is a bishop. It makes a profound difference

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 12:59pm BST

Sorry, Erika, I misread your posting. Ignore my last comment.

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 1:36pm BST

Ed

This is true while the church is discerning my place within it.
But if it should ever come to the end of its deliberations and decide once and for all that it cannot fully accept me while I live openly in a same sex relationship, and if it cannot accept my civil partnership as valid and full of God's grace, then would in effect be saying that I have no place in it.

Just like you, I would feel I had no option but to leave.

And it's not really black and white for you either - unless your diocese ended up having a woman bishop women bishops in other dioceses would not impact on you at all.
It's pretty unlikely that all English dioceses would have women bishops in the near future, so your position would not really be different than it is now.


Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 5:53pm BST

"And it's not really black and white for you either - unless your diocese ended up having a woman bishop women bishops in other dioceses would not impact on you at all."

Not quite true, since if women bishops are not really bishops, then even the men they ordain are not really priests. As priests ordained by women become more common even in dioceses headed by men, the problem for anti-WO people grows. Eventually you'll end up with male bishops who were ordained priests at the hands of female bishops.

It's really sort of like the problem faced by Jewish groups whose answers to the question "Who is a Jew?" vary.

Posted by BillyD at Friday, 25 September 2009 at 7:15pm BST

I suppose that, in this whole argument - about the validity of the sacerdotal ministry of women within the Church of England - is that it is now both: de facto, and, if you happen to be in a parish where there is actually a woman priest, de jure.

The problem in the past, with the acceptance by the Church of England of the Ordination of Women as Priests, has been that that Church has allowed certain of it's clergy to reject the validity of this reality. This had led to what might be called a culture of theological double-mindedness on the part of the Church - something which both Tradition and the Scriptures would seem hardly to condone.

Now that the prospect of the ordination of women has reached the stage where they are eligible (under the same criteria as that which allowed them to become priests) for preferment to episcopal ministry; the situation has exacerbated, and not in any way diminished, the ongoing problems, prompting the need for clarification of the Church's attitude towards women's ordination, and their participation in the sacerdotal ministry of the C.of E. The question is; how long can such double standards be entertained, without serious harm being done to the Church's pastoral ministry?

It has already been seen to be almost impossible to maintain on a practical level. For this stance to be continued when/if women are ordained to the role of bishops will prove even more difficult. As more women are ordained, the problems of so-called 'defective orders' for F.i.F. clergy will increase exponentially. What then is the answer?

One way forward might be for the C.of E to do what other Churches of the Communion have already done: accept that Christ's humanity represented the fullness of our common humanity - that is, of both women and men - thus rendering the integrity of both as representing Christ at the Altar.

The old understanding of Jesus only calling men to be leaders in the Church (Apostles) has surely been put to rest by the argument that, in his particular era, no-one would have accepted the leadership of a woman; therefore, for Jesus to have appointed women to lead would have undermined to whole enterprise at the outset. In today's world, things are very different. Women have been accorded their true place and dignity in the community. For instance, there is a woman as Supreme Head of the Church of England. What then should prevent the ordination of one of her female subjects to the epsicopate of the Church she heads - espcially if God is discerned by the Church as calling her to this office and ministry?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 1:35am BST

"One way forward might be for the C.of E to do what other Churches of the Communion have already done: accept that Christ's humanity represented the fullness of our common humanity - that is, of both women and men - thus rendering the integrity of both as representing Christ at the Altar."

Well, we didn't exactly do that in ECUSA. We did allow three dioceses not to ordain or license women. It didn't satisfy those who thought that the national church was allowing these dioceses to skirt the law, and of course these dioceses eventually tried to secede because of the gay, and were reorganized.

Posted by BillyD at Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 2:36pm BST

BillyD

"It's really sort of like the problem faced by Jewish groups whose answers to the question "Who is a Jew?" vary."

I hear what you're saying.... but to me, that is still a horizontal argument, it's all about who we think is in and out, who we think is right and wrong.
I'd like to see a little more humility in the whole conversation, a little more God focus, a kind of vertical thinking where we as a group are all trying to get an understanding of God.
We would argue so much less if we didn't have to fight for our own personal view, but if we could trust in God to put right what we get wrong - and relax!

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 26 September 2009 at 8:19pm BST

Erika it has nothing to do with who is in and out. For me everyone is in, welcomed and loved by baptism and equally valid, powerful etc...

What is at stake is the nature of priesthood. Basically there are some who think

1) that it is an ontological gift from God, which was conferred to the 12 and that it is male in essence for several reasons. (as ever go to my page linked on the right of my blog the arguments are all there)

2) a more protestant view is that priesthood is ministerial not ontological. It is what you do not what you are. It is a gift which man may evolve for the good of the church. This clearly paves the way for women and men to be ordained, as in things we DO, there must be no difference.

THe problem boils down to the question of 'what IS a priest?' and 'What has God intended for men and women and how does this equate to ontological priesthood' We must also accept that feminism and the 20th Century clamour for 'rights' is also firing people's thinking. Many now automatically equate 'women have not been called to this' with 'men are better' ...even though that may not be true. Feminism is a philosophy of empowerment of the self which is radically at odds with the Gospel - but few are willing to admit this.

You ask for God focus. I yearn for that too, but when I then say let us be faithful to his Word and Tradition I am betting I will be told- let us be more people focused! What does obedience mean?

THe last pope basically said, regarding WO, that because we have no biblical model or strong argument from tradition, then - even if we feel it good and proper- we must obey that which we have. We have no authority to decide alone. THAT is God focused obedience, not just going ahead anyway as happened in America without caring a hang about the consequences on the church.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Sunday, 27 September 2009 at 7:46am BST

"THAT is God focused obedience, not just going ahead anyway as happened in America without caring a hang about the consequences on the church."

I disagree with your definition of obedience, Father; it sounds far too much like the "But we've ALWAYS done it this way" justification for the status quo. Compliance with the status quo doesn't sound too much like the sort of obedience to God that Christianity is about.

And you seem to be ignoring the consequences on the Church of not ordaining women, when so many inside and outside see the rationale for not doing so as nothing more than an excuse for misogyny. For better or worse, most Episcopalians simply do not accept the theological reasoning behind an all-male priesthood. What do you imagine the "consequences on the Church" would have been if somehow General Convention had insisted on maintaining it in the face of overwhelming rejection?

Posted by BillyD at Sunday, 27 September 2009 at 8:53pm BST

Ed
We're still talking cross purposes.
I am not interested in the women's ordination debate or in its arguments.
I am interested in how we deal with vastly different theologies within our church.

If what you hold to be true about the gay issue became fixed church policy at the end of the current discernment process, I would feel I have no place in this church.
That's exactly how you feel if women bishops are allowed.

But in both cases, no-one is forcing anyone out. You and I will simply find ourselves on the wrong side of what our living and changing church will have judged to be true adn from God, and we will have to either live with it, or follow our own convictions.

Victim mentality isn't going to help either of us.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 27 September 2009 at 9:00pm BST
Post a comment









Remember personal info?






Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.