Comments: women bishops: Parliamentary questions

It's good that these two questions came from a Labour MP and a Tory MP.

Perhaps more MPs -- including MPs from other parties, in and out of government -- can ask similar questions over the next two weeks.

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 12:44pm BST

I wonder when the ¨Honorables¨ will bring up the unfortunate topic of Rowan Williams elevation, of himself, to Anglican Pope? Has anyone at Parliament noticed he has assumed a papal throne or isn´t it considered ¨sensible¨ to speak of such things?

Posted by Leonardo Ricardo at Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 3:34pm BST

IIRC, the Church of Sweden HAD to open the ordained ministry to women because it was (at that time) "established" & had to conform to civil law. Could the same thing be (or become) true in England?

Posted by Prior Aelred at Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 7:55pm BST

Perhaps jurisdiction in the Church of England does not consist solely of the 'ordinary jurisdiction' exercised by bishops.

eg Canon A7 Of the Royal Supremacy

We acknowledge that the Queen’s excellent Majesty, acting according to the laws of the realm, is the highest power under God in this kingdom, and has supreme authority over all persons in all causes, as well ecclesiastical as civil.

It seems to me that jurisdiction is a curious issue to take into this debate, not least because ultimate (human) jurisdiction does seem to be exercised by a woman ... ?

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 10:06pm BST

It will be very interesting to see what Parliament will make of any ensuing legislation put forward from the C.of E. General Synod on the issue of women bishops. Perhaps Her Majesty The Queen may even put in a word for the authority of women as pertinent to her own position as Supreme Head of the Church of England?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 11:23pm BST

'It seems to me that jurisdiction is a curious issue to take into this debate, not least because ultimate (human) jurisdiction does seem to be exercised by a woman ... ?'

Posted by: Mark Bennet on Wednesday, 23 June 2010 at 10:06pm

Excellent point

Posted by Pantycelyn at Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 12:14am BST

Note that the monarch is supreme Governor, not Head. There's a difference! Also note that she doesn't have spiritual authority, only ecclesiastical and civil, according to Canon. I think that's a pretty big difference, and a good reason to avoid bringing the monarchy into this debate at all.

Posted by Fr James at Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 12:55pm BST

Fr James

The reason for bringing the Queen into this is that the Queen has supreme authority (according to the Canon) in ecclesiastical causes - which equates, in my simplistic reading to jurisdiction. Our Parliament is the Queen's Parliament and exercises its role in relation to church legislation because of the authority the Queen has in the Church. The Canon fills out what the role as 'head' (interesting word in the context of conservative evangelical headship arguments), or 'Supreme Governor' (preface to the 39 Articles) actually involves - see also Article XXXVII.

If the Archbishops had been concerned about spiritual authority they might well have referred to the ministry of word and sacrament rather than jurisdiction - which was my other point - jurisdiction is simply the wrong concept.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 24 June 2010 at 7:15pm BST

"Also note that she doesn't have spiritual authority, only ecclesiastical and civil, according to Canon." - Fr.James, on Thursday -

As one privileged to witness the BBC TV broadcast of the Queen's Coronation, I do remember that the Queen received a special Anointing, bestowed by the Archbishop of Canterbury, as Monarch of the Realm, and presumably as Supreme Governor of the Church of England. This was considered to be so deeply spiritual that the TV cameras were prevented from recording the ceremony.

Now what, I wonder, did that special anointing signify - if not some grace given by God for the Queen to act as God's Regent in State and Church?

Just asking?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 25 June 2010 at 1:49am BST

Have a look at this, Fr Ron:

http://www.oremus.org/liturgy/coronation/cor1953b.html

I'm sure that the Queen's anointing was a deeply spiritual moment. As the liturgy testifies, we recall how Solomon was anointed King. Elizabeth was anointed as Queen.

You claim that the Queen received this anointing "presumably as Supreme Governor of the Church of England" - your use of the word 'presumably' highlights this rather thin argument. Nowhere is it implied that monarchs are anointed to serve as spiritual authorities for the Church.

This is why I think it's silly to bring the monarch's role into this argument in the first place. The Archbishops are specifically talking about the ordinary jurisdiction possessed by bishops. I for one hope that their amendment will work.

Posted by Fr James at Friday, 25 June 2010 at 1:30pm BST

She is Governor of a Protestant national Church. The authority and legitimacy of our Church (such as it is) comes from the State via the Elizabethan Settlement. This includes the authority of bishops. You may wish it were otherwise, I'm sure, as there is nothing specially Catholic or even godly about it. But you have chosen to belong to and to minister in such a Protestant national Church -- there's no denying that.

It leaves women bishops in the shade as a cause of concern from the Anglo-Catholic viewpoint. Is that position valid at all ? Sounds like a blend of special pleading and wish fulfilment to me.

Posted by Pantycelyn at Friday, 25 June 2010 at 5:06pm BST

"This is why I think it's silly to bring the monarch's role into this argument in the first place." - Fr. James, on Friday -

You, dear Father, may think it silly, but take note of the fact that the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Bishops were the first of her subjects to swear their allegiance to Her Majesty The Queen. We are speaking, here of the fact that her male bishops are her subjects, owing their fealty to a female queen.

One is speaking of the relative degrees of authority, and it would appear that, even in his own Cathedral Church, the Male Archbishop pays homage (is subservient) to the (female) Queen - who just happens to be Defender of The Faith, of which the Archbishop is merely a Minister.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Saturday, 26 June 2010 at 3:42am BST
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