Comments: Moving forward on women bishops

Oh for heaven's sake! Just damn all DO IT! Oh gosh, that's the brash [former] colonial speaking. If you have women deacons and women priests, your not having women bishops makes NO SENSE.

Posted by Cynthia Gilliatt at Monday, 14 June 2010 at 3:19am BST

Cynthia Gilliat wrote, "Oh for heaven's sake! Just damn all DO IT!"

Cynthia, be grateful for the separation of church and state in the US of A. There are many in the C of E who would be delighted if we could "just damn all do it" but we can't. The rules which govern how the C of E makes such changes are part of UK law and we are obliged to work within them no matter how frustrating that is. We'll get there, oh yes we'll get there, but it has to be done within the rule of law.

Pray for us.

Posted by RPNewark at Monday, 14 June 2010 at 10:13am BST

"Cynthia, be grateful for the separation of church and state in the US of A. There are many in the C of E who would be delighted if we could "just damn all do it" but we can't. The rules which govern how the C of E makes such changes are part of UK law and we are obliged to work within them no matter how frustrating that is. We'll get there, oh yes we'll get there, but it has to be done within the rule of law.

"Pray for us."

I, for one, shall -- and shall also add a prayer for the swift and complete disestablishment of the CoE, since being tethered to the state (the ongoing Erastian condition, traceable back to the Emperor Constantine) clearly only hinders and does not help the CoE (or any other "state" church) when it comes to following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus...

Posted by David da Silva Cornell at Monday, 14 June 2010 at 3:05pm BST

Re Cynthia's comments, from an American perspective, if the CofE is linked so closely to the state, then it seems all the more unsupportable to exclude members of the church who are otherwise qualified solely based on their sex.

Posted by David C at Monday, 14 June 2010 at 5:01pm BST

, for one, shall -- and shall also add a prayer for the swift and complete disestablishment of the CoE, since being tethered to the state (the ongoing Erastian condition, traceable back to the Emperor Constantine) clearly only hinders and does not help the CoE (or any other "state" church) when it comes to following the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Veni, Sancte Spiritus...
Posted by: David da Silva Cornell on Monday, 14 June 2010 at 3:05


Not so sure really. The Church would behave much dafter with out the constraints of the State.

Posted by Pantycelyn at Monday, 14 June 2010 at 6:32pm BST

RPNewarK: Is it really the C of E's relationship to the state that makes it so tardy at dealing with justice issues?

I think it is merely the fact that the C of E is run as a male gerontocracy whose episcopal leaders were intellectually formed in a world of boys-only schools and men-only colleges, where women were invisible except as matrons, and youknowwhatuality was swept under the carpet. I don't think theology or high matters of state polity have anything to do with it at all: it is a question of being stuck in a 1950s groove. Could one honestly say that the tone of the C of E is in any respect set by its younger members?

Posted by Fr Mark at Monday, 14 June 2010 at 8:18pm BST

From the American Colonies,

It all seems rather odd, this issue with women in authority, even in the C of E, given the legacy of Elizabeth I, and the current reign of Elizabeth II, as Queens regnant, and Supreme Governors of the established C of E.

Are there, and has there always been, special arrangements for those with conscientious difficulties by way of delegation from the Queen, as the case may be?

If not, it just doesn't compute to me really, sorry. Perhaps someone could explain these subtleties to the Yank.

Many thanks.

Posted by brimcmike at Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 12:19am BST

It is very generous of WATCH to agree to a double standard to accommodate the opponents of Women as Bishops in the Church of England. However, other Provinces of the Communion which have accepted women as bearers of the image and likeness of God - together with every other human being - cannot but be puzzled by this meek acceptance of a dilution of episcopal oversight for women. Any accommodation now would surely be-devil the question of gender equality in the Church for evermore. If the Church of England really believes that women are called by God to be Bishops in The Church, why deny them the oversight that a Bishop in The Church has traditionally exercised, and ought still to be exercising? A Bishop is a Bishop

Double standards for sacerdotal/episcopal ministry is one of the marks of a divided Church. Do we want to perpetuate that heretical idea within our own Anglican Communion? The opponents of women in ministry have other outlets for their theological stance - Rome or Constantinople. We Anglicans are a little more inclusive - of all the Baptized who are called into ministry. Let's not introduce a fourth Order.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 3:37am BST

Panycelyn --
You could well be right.
More than a few people were quite surprised to discover that the Russian Orthodox Church was much nicer when it was run by the KGB ...

Posted by Prior Aelred at Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 11:25am BST

WATCH has sold itself short! All the concessions in the draft measure are sexist. Only female bishops are required to delegate. Also it is clericalist: the provision in the existing legislation for laity to insist on male priests celebrating in their parish is withdrawn - the parish priest therefore decides.

Of course, very few will take advantage of this provision and it may be that it will be easier to get the thing through synod if there is a perceived compromise, even if no traditionalists will make use of it because it does not meet their needs??

But, whatever the politics, this legislation is sexist, whilst not making acceptable provision for opponents. I take comfort in the fact that it is at least a single clause by the back door because what it provides will not be used. However, in the name of justice & equality, someone should propose an amendment deleting this sham, sexist, clericalist provision!

Posted by Rose Gaudete at Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 11:28am BST

Pantycelyn --
You could well be right.
More than a few people were quite surprised to discover that the Russian Orthodox Church was much nicer when it was run by the KGB ...

Posted by: Prior Aelred on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 11:25am BST

I hadn't known that-- just shows you ! Not surprised. I do think that without the Establishment the Church would tend to fragment at least 3 ways; and the nuttier fundie notions both Evo and Anglo would have nothing to mitigate them -or at least reign them in.

I never thought I'd ever say anything pro establishment ! (Though my name sake fell foul of the Establishment in his day ! But it didn't hold him back from his mission or his many hymns in English as well as Welsh!).

Pant y celyn (WW)

Posted by Pantycelyn at Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 5:36pm BST

There is no need for any special provision for those who wish the Church had not changed by entering the 21st century and ordaining women to all ministries.

No special provisions have ever been made for those desiring the ministries of women, in the many years before the introduction of WO. People just had to get on with it, as best they may. Now those against WO will have the chance to learn and grow at first hand. No-one will die because they haven't got their own way on this -- on the contrary.

In fact, it's hard to imagine a greater test of one's faith that that.

FiF and others need to dust off their copies of L'abandon (Caussade); and Pere Grou, and get on their knees !

Posted by Pantycelyn at Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 5:56pm BST

Let's really think like Anglicans and NOT ordain women for any priestly office. It has never been the mind of the church to ordain women. C.S. Lewis argues very persuasively against female ordination in his now-timely essay "Priestesses in the church?". Let's listen to God. Women are meant to be mothers, not fathers. The distinction of the sexes is beautiful. We're not smarter than God. Let's respect Him by respecting His intentions and design.

Posted by orthodoxdj at Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 7:02pm BST

"Let's really think like Anglicans and NOT ordain women for any priestly office. It has never been the mind of the church to ordain women."
- 'orthodoxdj' on Tuesday -

The appellation attached to this post gives us a clue as to her/his thoughts about the ordination of women. However, he/she cannot presume to speak for all 'Anglicans'. Some of us really do believe that God really is calling women to a vocation of sacerdotal and espicopal ministries within our world-wide Communion. At the time of the formation of the Church, leadership ministry for women would not have been culturally acceptable, However, in the world of today, women are leaders in many fields - Queens, Prime Ministers, Judges, surgeons etc. - In other words, women's leadership is no longer culturally unacceptable to most of us. Why should the Church be any different?

As 'orthodoxdj' rightly suggest: "We're not smarter than God. Lets respect (God) by respecting 'God's) intentions". This might be a good time to refer to the Gamaliel principle: If this is not of God, then it will just go away. I, for one, do not expect the ministry of women to just 'go away'.

Rome, eventually, will realize this fact - that women are co-equal with men as bearers of God's image and likeness. They are baptized into the same possibility of vocation for ministry - whether as clergy or laity. "In Christ, there is neither male nor female" - the Pauline principle.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 16 June 2010 at 12:24am BST

This is what happens when you allow your faith to become so backwards the past looks like the future!

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 16 June 2010 at 5:36am BST

Loverly spoof !

'Let's really think like Anglicans and NOT ordain women for any priestly office. It has never been the mind of the church to ordain women. C.S. Lewis
argues very persuasively against female ordination in his now-timely essay "Priestesses in the church?". Let's listen to God. Women are meant to be mothers, not fathers. The distinction of the sexes is beautiful. We're not smarter than God. Let's respect Him by respecting His intentions and design.

Posted by: orthodoxdj on Tuesday, 15 June 2010 at 7:02pm BST

Thanks - be reading Terry Pratchett next ! ;- )

Posted by Pantycelyn at Wednesday, 16 June 2010 at 9:17am BST

This is what happens when you allow your faith to become so backwards the past looks like the future!

Posted by: MarkBrunson on Wednesday, 16 June 2010 at 5:36am BST

Yes: 'Backwards in Doubt' would be a much better name for a certain organisation we all know and er love!!

Posted by Pantycelyn at Wednesday, 16 June 2010 at 9:20am BST

Actually Pantycelyn, I was thinking "Backwards in Bigotry".

So let me guess about your name, someplace north of Llandovery?

Posted by evensongjunkie at Wednesday, 16 June 2010 at 2:45pm BST

Oh, I do love them Pant y Celyn. They're my favorite comedy act.

Following from evensongjunkie:

I don't know about "Pant," though I believe "Celyn" is holly, so (something) of the Holly?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 17 June 2010 at 5:53am BST

Men and women are equal in worth and dignity before God. I could never imagine thinking otherwise. Intelligence, ability, and worth are not the issue here. The issue is God's design for the sexes and Hid design for the Church. Anglicanism is not the sole subsistence of the Faith. There is a larger history to the Christian Church of which Anglicanism is a part. The Church is not a democracy, and past, present, and future are irrelevant when it comes to truth. If God had wanted women to be priests, cultural norms would not have stopped Him. Jesus cared little for people's opinion of Him, and the Apostles were the same way. Only a man can be a father and only a woman can be a mother. Equality does not change this incontrovertible fact. God has revealed Himself as "He", not "she". Yes, God is ultimately beyond male and female distinctions, but the Scriptures never call God a "she", a mother, a sister, etc. The Church is the Bride of Christ, not the groom. Priests are a sacramental reminder of this reality. Votes cannot change truth. It has never been the mind of the Church to ordain women as priests-and by extension bishops.

Someone commented that looking to the past is a bad idea. I disagree. The past can teach us a lot, not the least of which is how God has operated in time and space. If people want to a religion other than Christianity they are free to make one. if we want to be Christians, let us heed the wisdom and convictions of the giants of the faith who have come before us.

Posted by orthodoxdj at Thursday, 17 June 2010 at 6:39am BST

Fine orthodoxdj, keep preaching that the church is not a democracy and all you'll have filling those pews will be bigots with despots to lead them and little else.

There isn't enough lightning in Southern Ohio to melt down plastic "touchdown Jesuses" to make that point. You want to live in a museum, fine, just don't go calling it the church. Christianity is not a dead religion.

If you want dogma, go to Rome. There are lots of dead cathedrals on the continent to make that self-evident.

Posted by evensongjunkie at Thursday, 17 June 2010 at 9:05am BST

Orthodoxdj
also for you the question that no anti woman believer has yet given me an answer to:
Bearing in mind that God could only be incarnated as either male or female, and that if Jesus had been a woman, we would now probably be arguing that men were never supposed to be priests, what do you think he would have had to do to convince people that both men and women are called to the priesthood. Be born as male and female twins?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 17 June 2010 at 9:09am BST

"If God had wanted women to be priests, cultural norms would not have stopped Him." - orthodoxdj -

Not so orthodox, then, eh? God is not the divine puppet master, pulling strings to make us do what God wants. Where, 'orthodoxdj', is your higher understanding of the principle of free-will for all God's children? Do you not believe that human beings - even in the Church - can make mistakes. The defence of slavery was just one of them - even at the time of Jesus, but He had something to say about that. Furthermore, Jesus' emancipation of women runs right through the Gospels. Just think about that! And what of Mary Magdalene, who has been called 'The Apostle to the apostles'?

Even the Patriarch Peter had to be corrected by his eminent colleague Saint Paul about some things. For instance, the ritual of circumcision was no longer required by God for enrollment into the Kingdom. Neither did one have to abide by the Jewish dietary laws. Jesus turned the religious establishment upside-down, substituting the Law of Love for the Jewish Law - for this he was put to death. God did not put him to death!!!

Change, which is so often feared by the traditional conservatives among us, is inevitable - especially when you understand the meaning of Jesus telling his disciples that "When the Spirit comes, (he) will lead you into all the Truth". The Spirit did not stop 'coming' on the first Day of Pentecost. We are living in the age of Pentecost. The Spirit is alive and active today. As society changes - so must the Church. Even good Pope John XXIII believed in the spiritual wisdom of 'Semper Reformanda' - a strategy which has been abandoned by Rome since Vatican II. But we are Anglicans!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 17 June 2010 at 11:46am BST

Erika,

I think you answered the question yourself. Jesus was incarnated as a man. God refers to Himself as "He". Priests represent God in that sacramental role. Male and female are not accidents; male and female are not incidental to our existence.

evensongjunkie,

Do you really believe that unless the Church chooses doctrines by voting, then all there will be are bigots? And what defines a bigot? Someone who disagress with you? If you beleve in a Church democracy, then what happens if your position is defeated by vote? Do you concede and give up? Is this really the way God runs His Church, His Bride, by votes? Votes seem to imply factions, something our Faith is opposed to.

Father Ron,

I agree with you. God has given us free will. I believe that to my core. It is therefore all the more important that we listen to Him because WE, NOT GOD, are responsible for this issue. Peter was corrected by Paul. No question. Correction is often needed, and in this instance there are many who need to be corrected for wanting women priests. You say that Mary Magdalene was called "Apostle to the Apostles." Amazing, isn't it, that are spiritual forefathers while against female ordination were obviously not against it because they were all a bunch of male sexists. Only people who believe in the inherent dignity of women can lavish such a title on a woman.

A man could never have been the Mother of God. Is God sexist?

Posted by orthodoxdj at Friday, 18 June 2010 at 1:57am BST

orthodoxdj,

I understand that you have what might be called an "orthodox" view - however, that, like any view of God's Will, is merely a guess.

In the end, it is neither compelling nor helpful, and presents no true benefit to those involved if applied in a general manner. Whether you wish it or no, your defense sounds merely like superstition, and has no basis that can be made firm in light of reality. It is not truly even internally coherent, as Christ Himself said to call no man father, and did not mention establishing a priesthood, other than that of all His followers. Your best appeal is to tradition, and that is a shaky claim, at best, when examined in the light of a greater understanding of the physical world around us.

You are welcome to your view, and I appreciate your trying to make an apologetic for it, but it is simply not convincing.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Friday, 18 June 2010 at 5:20am BST

Orthodoxdj
You have not answered my question.
What you're saying is that there is absolutely no way that God could have called men and women to the priesthood even if he wanted to because he was restricted by the laws of human biology.
That's a truly astonishing view.


Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 18 June 2010 at 9:38am BST

"Only people who believe in the inherent dignity of women can lavish such a title on a woman".

- orthodoxdj, on Friday -

On this statement of yours (referring to St.Mary Magdalene as 'Apostle to the apostles') :
- I rest my case!

On your final challenge: "Is God sexist"?
The answer is "NO, only certain human beings"

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 18 June 2010 at 12:54pm BST

Perhaps he should change his nom de keyboard to heterodoxdj since he clearly believes that the second Person of the Trinity assumed only male humanity. Athanasius assures us that that which is not assumed is not redeemed. This poster then, is arguing that women are not redeemed.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Friday, 18 June 2010 at 3:45pm BST

Malcolm,

Are you saying that Athanasius believed in having female priests? Are you saying that Jesus was a female? Or are you saying he was androgynous? In appealling to Athanasius, are you appealing to Tradition? If you are appealing to Tradition, then I appeal to you to appeal to it further. If not, then quoting Athanaisus really gets you nowhere. Are males human? Yes. Did Christ become a male? Yes. Did Jesus therefore become Man? Yes. Are you saying Jesus needs to be both male and female to assume true humanity? You might believe that, but the Bible never says that, Tradition never says that, and I have never heard anyone make that claim. It's odd that my position ought to be labeled "heterodox" since I'm sure you would agree that the call for female ordination is both new and in the minority. It's not only new to the Church proper, it's also new to Anglicanism. Maybe the Orthodox churches (Greek, Russian, Coptic, etc.-none of which have female priests) need to be renamed and from now on be called names such as Russian Heterodox Church. A handful of Anglicans can't be wrong.

Mark,

Thank you for the respect you have shown me. It's rare on forums like these. I must say, though, that I don't understand why this issues matters to you. After all, you don't believe in a priesthood since you don't believe Jesus established one. Why you even have a dog in this fight is beyond me since you believe that both sides are talking nonsense.

Ron,

You rest your case about what, exactly? Are you saying that believing in the equality of men and women is the same as believing that females ought to be ordained? That obviously isn't true because I believe in the fully equality, dignity, and worth of males and females (born and pre-born, by the way). I could be swayed to your side, though, if you provided evidence that those who lavished that title on Mary also believed in having female priests and bishops.

As for tradition, when did that become a dirty word?

Posted by orthodoxdj at Saturday, 19 June 2010 at 7:15am BST

I can't respond to what you've written back to me, orthodoxdj, as it is in no way reflective of what I wrote on the subject. I am a member of TEC and an Anglican and you wrote to make a blanket statement of what God intends - a rather bold move that could only expect to be challenged in a public forum.

My response did not show my belief in the invalidity of the priesthood, rather the inconsistency and lack of internal integrity in your own argument to reserve the priesthood to males.

Since your original post, you've added more that undermines, rather than established your claim.

For instance, if the myrrh-bearing women were the Apostles to the apostles, and Mary was the God-Bearer, women should be accorded a place much higher than that of a mere male priest. This is the logical extension of your evidencing these titles and honors bestowed. On the contrary, what your position does is to take a few passages that refer to individual men and apply it to all men to justify a priesthood, while using the same sort of traditional and scriptural evidence to limit women's honor to specific individuals. While you are welcome to do that in your own denomination and among minds sharing the same biases, you can hardly expect it to be accepted by another on the strength of an "evidence" that lacks any degree of internal integrity.

Look, for instance, at the very essence of the story of the Immaculate Conception. What it says, in effect, is that only a woman is necessary to God in bringing Himself into the world, in expressing God. Now, given that early institutional Christianity was heavily influenced by Hellenic thinking, populated heavily with gods who appeared as showers and mists and animals to ravish and impregnate various women, the syncretic tendency would ascribe God the "Zeus" role as a virile man. This is not applicable to a universal God, however, from Whom and In Whom all things spring and flow forth, male and female.

Indeed, the traditional understanding of male/female pairing as image of God because of procreation is based on a shaky foundation. God brings forth from The Void all things, whereas a male and female must have one another and bring together pre-existing components, which still may fail in bearing fruit. God makes the baby, not man and woman, so procreation can't be evidence of Humanity's *imago dei* - it still sets a basic difference between Creator and creature.

Again, I have no problem with your believing this and belonging to a community of like minds, but, if you will post it in public, expect to be challenged on your inconsistencies.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Saturday, 19 June 2010 at 9:45am BST

"God refers to Himself as "He"."

Actually, God refers to himself as "I"...as in "I am that I am..."

That we refer to God as "he" is a consequence of the paltryness of human language, especially English, in that it has no pronoun suitable for a genderless person. Using gender in language to argue for gender in God is ridiculous.

"If God had wanted women to be priests, cultural norms would not have stopped Him. Jesus cared little for people's opinion of Him, and the Apostles were the same way."

Who says he didn't want them to be priests? Actually, who says he wanted there to be priests at all? (I find no evidence in the Gospels of Jesus actually creating a priesthood.) At any rate, it is not Jesus' cultural norms we have to deal with, it is those of the Gospel writers of two generations or more later, and of the translators of a millennium later.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 19 June 2010 at 12:14pm BST

HeterodoxDJ, there are coherent arguments against the ordination of women. The argument from "Jesus as Male" is not one of them.

The argument from "Jesus is Male" presumes that Jesus only assumed male humanity in the Incarnation. That is blatant heresy.

The argument from complementarity (for example) does not fall into that heresy. I may not agree with the argument from complementarity, but at least it isn';t heretical like your argument is.

I rather suspeect that Athanasius didn't believe in the ordination of women, if for no other reason than it never would have occurred to him to believe otherwise. Had he actually felt the need to argue against it, he certainly would not have used the heretical train of thought you have used.

Posted by Malcolm+ at Saturday, 19 June 2010 at 3:09pm BST

"I could be swayed to your side, though, if you provided evidence that those who lavished that title on Mary also believed in having female priests and bishops".
- orthodoxdj, on Saturday -

What you seem not to have understood, orthodoxdj, is that in Mary having given birth to Jesus, who is 'fully God', she was performing what might be considered to have been a 'priestly' action.

If the primary activity of a priest is to 'bring forth' (through the Holy Spirit's working) the Body and Blood of Christ on the altar; this is precisely the action of Blessed Mary who 'brought forth' the physical reality of the Incarnate Son of God in her womb - by the action of the same Holy Spirit. This is an even more intimate way of 'bringing forth' the Christ than any male priest could ever emulate.

I do sometimes wonder whether the action of the Church Fathers in according Mary the official title of 'Mother of God', were doing so in order to remove her from the purely human realm of ministry. This would certainly remove her (in the minds of her male admirers) from becoming a model of priestly ministry for females.

I believe that if Our Lady were alive in this world today, she would encourage the priestly ministry and devotion of women at her Shrine in Walsingham. "Ave Maria, gratia plena.."

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 20 June 2010 at 12:22pm BST
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