Comments: Welcoming women's ministry?

Thanks lots, Savi H - banning women is just (plain) raggedy, lousy witness. Period.

Posted by drdanfee at Monday, 28 June 2010 at 6:06pm BST

Another great article from Savi H.

Posted by Suem at Monday, 28 June 2010 at 10:27pm BST

Countdown till someone opines here that denying ordination to priesthood/episcopate to women who *believe themselves called* (and are affirmed by appropriate ecclesial bodies) is NOT to "treat some [female] people as second-class", much less "to dishonour a Creator who made all humankind in the divine image"... (Sigh)

Posted by JCF at Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 1:40am BST

Savi Hensman - another prophetic voice within the Anglican Communion - will this be heard in the Church of England? Or must all thinking women of the Church remain captive to the role of Martha? Jesus did hint at 'some better' vocation.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 3:39am BST

JCF
It doesn't help to talk about equal rights, though, if opponents of women priests genuinely believe that they are not treating women as second class but that God actually does not enable women priests.

If someone is absolutely convinced that women can no more be priests than men have babies, it's not constructive to talk about equal rights and justice.
That's talking cross purposes, might make us feel better, but won't help to change hearts and minds because it's not addressing those minds and is, as far as they're concerned, completely missing the point.

It would be better to argue on the level the debate is at rather than at the level we would like it to be at.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 10:22am BST

Women don't have to remain captive to the paradigms of men or churches.

Eve was created whilst Adam slept; without Adam's knowledge, consent or contrivance was Eve created.

God only took a part of Adam, who had already written off a planet with Lilith.

Adam might resent this planet and long to be free of the encumbrance of this "unclean" planet. He and Lilith can shuffle off to their "perfect" existence.

Eve does not mind seeing the backs of either Adam nor Lilith, and rejoices in life in this planet.

This planet is not a mistake nor a failure. It's continuing existence day in and day out for millenia is testiment to God's absolute authority and that Gaia, Eve and others work to preserve life at this level of existence. Irregardless of the insults, abuse, and machinations of more "perfect" or "powerful" beings.

Posted by Cheryl Va. at Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 12:06pm BST

Erika, I have to disagree with you on the matter of not pushing the perspective of equality. It is a strategic mistake not to do so. There are two reasons for this. (1) Arguing on more user friendly "pure" theological grounds, from a pragmatic point of view, gets us nowhere. It simply strengthens the hand of patriarchy, which creates a stalemate using different theological fundamentals, and then feels even more justified in demanding "special provisions" on the grounds of "conscience". This is especially true since sexist theology has the benefit of being entrenched. The possibility of changing hearts and minds is therefore zip. (2) Change on the basis of sexual equality is important for the long view, important for developing the nascent sense of human rights in churches that are dominated by patriarchal thinking. Canada is an example of how these two perspectives merge. We have had long had women priests and bishops whose ministry is widely accepted. We have yet to achieve full equality of women as persons within the Anglican Church of Canada because of our commitment to conventional patriarchal thinking. Instance, next year we will celebrate 35 years of women's ordination, but we will do so in in a church where everyone knows that there are some parishes where female priests & bishops are not allowed to express their full ordination functions--officialdom either looks the other way or is complicit in fostering this state of affairs here. If we had gender equality, like the United Church of Canada, for example, this would not be the case.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 2:37pm BST

Erika - I really appreciated reading your post - it was good to see how you understand the difficulty faced by many Anglicans.

Posted by Fr James at Tuesday, 29 June 2010 at 8:36pm BST

Rod Gills is right when he opines that - to keep the status quo in England, on the matter of special provisions for a minority of dissenters to women's ordination - would only serve to entrench the mistaken theology of 'Two Integrities in Ministry'. The very idea of a bifurcation of Integrity is not catholic, and could never bear scrutiny as anything like a permanent solution to the problems we face.

For Christians to believe that being female should prevent women from hearing God's call to ministry and leadership roles in the Church, is as silly as to believe that God ordained some to be slaves and some masters. As Christians, all have been called to serve God in whatever way God chooses to call us. On this premise, the Church of England has already ordained women into the sacred ministry. This sacerdotal role - in males - allows them, upon the call of God and the Church, to become bishops. In such circumstances - as other Provinces of the Church have already discerned, there is no logical reason why women (who bear the image and likeness of God) cannot be thus called.

"By their fruits ye shall know them" - Scripture!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 2:50am BST

Erika, I find your response to me a little mystifying. I never mentioned "equal rights", and only used the language Dr Hensman used (re to "treat some people as second-class...to dishonour a Creator who made all humankind in the divine image").

I *understand* the ontological argument (women as wrong matter for the ontological change into a priest/bishop of Christ).

However, I feel that those opposed to the ordination of women pay far too little attention to the REALITY of their position, that they place themselves OVER a woman who perceives a Call from God TO the priesthood (that she discerns she IS Right Matter!). Behind much polite talk, the Reality of the situation is that Male-Only Priesthood proponents believe that such women are *deceived* (presumably by the Father of Lies) or *insane*.

Let me be clear: undoubtedly there are those, female AND male, who perceive such a call and ARE deceived/insane. [I leave out those who discern a Call and then, after more discernment, discern differently. That's part of the ordination process, to create challenges that will TEST a Call.]

But the anti-WO cohort believe that EVERY woman discerning a Call is deceived and/or insane! Despite EVERY step of the discernment process---identical to that of a male candidate---that indicates otherwise.

The gate to the altar is to be slammed in such women's faces, and with NO possibility of a second hearing (not while they have that second X chromosome!).

This is a Very Ugly Reality---and I rarely, if EVER, hear opponents of the ordination of (any) woman own up to it. Women apparently not only have inappropriate matter, but a propensity ("like Eve"?) to deception. DID God make a Second Class, less than fully Imago Dei human, the female?

The answer is EITHER Yes or No. I'm just sick of the lukewarm spin, and ergo, I spit it out!

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 5:12am BST

Erika is absolutely correct. This is the fundamental failure of the liberal side of the debate - the old Anglican failure of believing that all men of good will and good sense will come to see reason and sense.

It is the reason that special arrangements for bishops and such won't work. Not only are they two different churches, but two entirely different expressions of faith. In the end, a broad tent cannot contain that which is entirely it's own opposite and demands what is anathema to it. That is the reality of what is being called a debate.

Where two entirely separate denominations might eventually work toward mutual tolerance, such an internal struggle, misrepresented as robust debate, will only lead to further division and eventual self-destruction.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 6:45am BST

Rod
It depends on what you want. If this is a strategic battle that you have to win, then yes, pointing to equality and justice will be helpful.
But if you want to understand what motivates FiF and how to speak to them, you need to engage with where they are.

You have decided that no further hearts and minds can be changed, that only the die-hards are left. OK, in that case, the conversation is over and realpolitik will win the day.

But if there still is a conversation to be had, and if only so we stop demonising those who hold views that are different to ours and criticise them for what they are not, in fact saying, then we should at least do them the favour of engaging with what they're saying.

In the lgbt debate it drives me mad that people paint a picture of me that is as far from the reality of my life as possible and that they seem to be dancing around with fingers in their ears going "I'm not listening, nah nah nah nah nah" when I try to talk.
I don't see how this strategy can ever achieve anything other than draw battle lines, harden hearts and turn the whole debate into a power battle in which each side builds up the "opposition" as inhuman, heartless, power grabbing, self interested – and therefore oh so easily dismissed as irrelevant.

I hate it when it happens to me, I certainly don’t want to do it to others.
I'm not advocating that we give up our position in favour of a cosy love-in. But as always, it's the tone and the quality of the debate I find hard to take.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 8:25am BST

We do need to accept the reality that we are working from two opposing bases of faith - both sincerely held - which preclude the *ability* to share a common ecclesial structure.

For us in the progressive spectrum to maintain the sort of rosy attitude that the relentless togetherness works is based in a fallacy - a rather arrogant one - that the conservative side are all just slow on the uptake and need time to come around to "right thinking." They have their rationale, and, for it's basis, it is sound.

It is better to talk over a distance, than force ourselves together and do nothing but fight for dominance.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 9:18am BST

JCF
"Erika, I find your response to me a little mystifying. I never mentioned "equal rights", and only used the language Dr Hensman used (re to "treat some people as second-class...to dishonour a Creator who made all humankind in the divine image")."

In your original post said “Countdown till someone opines here that denying ordination to priesthood/episcopate to women who *believe themselves called* (and are affirmed by appropriate ecclesial bodies) is NOT to "treat some [female] people as second-class”…. (Sigh)”.

I may be misreading you, but that did not strike me as a post that was carefully considering the views of other people and allowing them any validity.

When in fact, if anyone did make that apparently yawn inducing comment, they would actually be stating what they genuinely believe. To them it is not about treating some people as second class, no more than men could be considered to be treated as second class citizens because we keep refusing to allow them to get pregnant, thereby dishonouring a Creator who made all humankind in the divine image.

Of course there are valid counter arguments to be made here – and in fact, in this latest post you’re making them. And, when not reducing what she says to isolated quotes, Savi Hensman does it too. Naturally, I don’t have a problem with that, it’s what we should be doing loud and clear!

Whether that translates into special provisions or not is a completely different conversation!

I just can’t be doing with all this lack of respect for others that is so deeply entrenched in all our church debates. If anything will finally succeed to drive me out of church it’s that (and apologies if I misunderstood you!).

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 10:20am BST

By the way, JCF, it is plain Ms not Dr Hensman, or Savi for short!

Posted by Savi H at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 11:08am BST

"I just can’t be doing with all this lack of respect for others that is so deeply entrenched in all our church debates." - Erika baker, on Wednesday -

Dear Erika, the context of this debate is one of theological importance - something that both sides of the argument have to deal with. At the heart of it all is whether, or not, women can be called by God into the ministry of the Church. It is not about whether you are on one side of the argument or the other - it is purely about the theological perception of the validity of women's order in the Church.

Either women can be called by God into priesthood and episcopal oversight, or they cannot. Some of the Provinces of the Anglican Communion - with which the C.of E. is presently in fellowship, have already determined that women may be - and indeed have been, in their Provinces - called by God into both priesthood and the episcopate. That has already happened. It is a fait accompli.

In the Church of England, women have been called into the ministry of the priesthood - but that has not been acceptable to a small group of clergy and people who cannot believe that God would call women into either priesthood or the episcopate. A temporary measure was put in place allowing such dissenters from having to receive ministry from female priests, and from bishops who ordained women into the priesthood.

The anomaly here being that: while their parent Church allowed women to minister legally, these dissenters were given their own indemnity from discerning or receiving such ministry. This has only happened elsewhere in Canada, where the Anglican Church is still licking its wounds over the outcome.

For the Church of England to continue to perpetuate, and put into practice the idea that the ministry of women bishops is acceptable to only a part of the Church Body, is to make a mockery of the Liturgical Rite of the Eucharist which has us all say: "We are one bread, one body, for we all partake of the one bread" - (except when the presiding priest or bishop is a woman).

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 11:27am BST

"I just can’t be doing with all this lack of respect for others that is so deeply entrenched in all our church debates."

Erika. The lack of respect is something that deeply affects whoever is the recipient. What one finds real difficulty with is the sort of double-mindedness that allows someone to write-off the possibility that the sacerdotal ministry of a women is heretical, while at the same time, staying in a Church Body which has already ruled the opposite.

Either women are legitimately called by God into ministry in a particular Church Body - or they are not. For some to remain as a paid employee of the Church which permits the ordination of women, while continuing to denigrate and refuse to countenance the sacerdotal ministry of women, is surely hypocritical, and not in the interests of that part of the Body of Christ involved?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 11:39am BST

Erika, Thank you for your reply. I find the first two sentences of your post the easier part to grasp, "Rod, It depends on what you want ..." Reading posts, I am reminded of how much one's context impact's one's opinion. For example, I'm completely unfamiliar with FiF--completely. My responses come out of (1) the tension (indeed the disconnect) here between the Canadian civil and ecclesiastical situations and (2) nearly four decades of living with entrenched dogmatic opposition by a conservative theological group to everything progressive that has gone down in the Canadian Church. Do I make the choice you suggest? I've already made it. I'm no longer interested in "understanding" conservative traditionalists. In Canada they have worked tirelessly to make their views understood.They have a position and you listen to it. I get it. I am in radical disagreement with them. I'm in advocacy for a Christian community that is committed to bridging a Christian social ethic with the secular notion of human and civil rights. Here I stand, I can do no other, as the guy wrote.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 12:58pm BST

JCF wrote "To them it is not about treating some people as second class, no more than men could be considered to be treated as second class citizens because we keep refusing to allow them to get pregnant, thereby dishonoring a Creator who made all humankind in the divine image." A sound principle in inter-faith dialogue, applicable to debates within the church, is starting with how people define themselves rather than starting with how I might choose to define them. So, we live in hope of constructive conversation. However, there are other dynamics involved. I admire, I truly admire, the tenacity of liberal voices who rise each day with hope eternal that trying to "understand" dogmatic and doctrinaire voices will result in some sort of breakthrough. However, please don't ask me to dialogue with a guy in a purple dress who thinks that having a uterus means that god has decreed you ineligible be a priest. The starting point is hysterical--if you get my drift.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 3:36pm BST

Fr Ron
Of course women are either called to the sacerdotal ministry or not. And you know that I firmly believe they are and that I do find the arguments of those who do not believe so to be quite weak.
On the other hand, neither you nor I can ever conclusive prove God’s will, and in true Christian humility we could allow others to hold a different view.

What that means for how the church governs itself is, as I said, a different issue and my views on special provisions are hopelessly mixed.
If there is any fault at all, it is that of a church that has ordained women priests for a fair number of years now while still ordaining male priests who believe that this is an impossibility. If the church has given these men the impression that their views are valid and supported within it, how can it now turn round and roundly condemn them for holding those views?

The mess is not of the making of those who suddenly find that their church may no longer be willing to make special provisions, and our anger should be reserved for those who have created this situation not for those who have genuinely believed this could be a church that can contain both views.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 5:15pm BST

Rod
You are, of course, in the enviable position of being in a church where you no longer have to “understand” the traditionalists’ views. But they are part of my church in England, they were part of the church when I joined it, and although I don’t agree with their thinking, wishing them away isn’t going to get me anywhere. I find them a lot friendlier than the anti-gay brigade (of course, many are both, I know that!), because they are happy to live in a segregated ghetto in the church and let the rest of us get on with where the Spirit calls us.

Must we deny them that?
That is a serious and genuine question and you can legitimately have different opinions.

And no, I think Mark and you misunderstand me if you think that I believe there will be a breakthrough of the liberal view and that all will suddenly smilingly agree.
These people will never agree.

Can we not live with that? Must we win at all cost to the point where dissent is not tolerated? Why?

But should we misrepresent them and their views just because we find them dated and intolerant? Should we ridicule them and jeer them out of the church? Does that not conflict with even more Christian principles than their views may do?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 5:16pm BST

Erika, again thank you. I can't comment on the particulars of your context, or how you propose to respond to it, because I really don't know much about it. Again, my posts are largely cast against the context in Canada. From the context here, I can tell you that conservatives are a mixed bag, but they certainly continue to have influence. Anyone who thinks that conservatives in Canada are a rump about to fade away is mistaken. However, that is not my main concern. I'm more concerned about the about the chasm that exists between the notion of human and civil rights on the one hand, and the way in which equality rights are being addressed, or not, in and by the churches on the other. Any ethical system requires congruence. Lack of congruence between theoria and praxis results in a loss of credibility. So, we have women bishops. A male rector does not want the female diocesan to celebrate or ordain in "his" parish because it would be "confusing" or "upsetting." What should happen is that the female diocesan should come to the parish under the banner of " this charge that is mine and thine" (in this case his and hers) and celebrate with the people of God in the parish who are happy to receive her. The rector can stay home. The church should be clear and committed to gender equality. None of this results in "demonizing" or "jeering" at those opposed to the ordination of women--it merely requires them to live with the courage of their own convictions. If churches were not such systemically dysfunctional societies when it comes to decision making and policy setting, that is what would transpire. Instead, we have sexism playing the role of victim. One additional observation from Canada. On more than one occasion I have listened to young men, new Anglicans of late, bewailing and bemoaning the ordination of women, catholicity, their conscience etc. Ironic isn't it, that a young chap who has just taken his biretta out of the hat box should disparage the holy orders of a middle aged cradle Anglican female who has been ordained after years of waiting. Time to proceed on the basis that in any just society, including the Commonwealth of God, men and women are equal. This is not where the conversation needs to go, its where the conversation needs to start.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 8:38pm BST

Rod
"Any ethical system requires congruence. Lack of congruence between theoria and praxis results in a loss of credibility. So, we have women bishops. A male rector does not want the female diocesan to celebrate or ordain in "his" parish because it would be "confusing" or "upsetting."

I think you are still only looking at the human rights framework. In that context, you are absolutely 100% right.
But if this is not about human rights, and for a sizeable number of people it isn't, then your argument is.... incomplete? Not quite hitting the mark? And repeating that it is a human rights issue will simply not make it one for people who genuinely think differently.
People who genuinely believe that women priests are a physical impossibility are not saying, as you claim, that they would "upset" the parish. They are saying that God does not enable them and that they are therefore in a very real way simply not ordained. For these people, being asked to accept a woman priest is like being asked to accept lay presidency, lay confirmations, lay everything.

And, to be fair, they are far more generous to us than we are to them, because they don't insist that their view prevails in the church. They don't share our view that this is (also) an equality issue, but they accept it.
All they're asking for is a space in which they can continue to worship according to their own beliefs without forcing anyone else to share in or to be diminished by it.

I wish we could show that same understanding and generosity in turn, at least in our debate with and about them.

And I do think that you are not being exactly polite and understanding. What else is this sentence from an earlier post supposed to be about: "However, please don't ask me to dialogue with a guy in a purple dress who thinks that having a uterus means that god has decreed you ineligible be a priest. The starting point is hysterical--if you get my drift."

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 10:36pm BST

Erika, again an engaging rejoinder. Every values system (emphasis on "every") requires congruence in order to have integrity. The parallel existence in the same organization of two policies, one that piously purports to uphold gender equality by ordaining women and one that creates gender segregation with no go zones, is incongruous.You are correct when you re-state the obvious i.e., that there is a bifurcation between the premises of traditionalist Anglo-catholic theology and human and civil rights frameworks. The fact is, there is a bifurcation. It cannot be resolved. One has to choose. I choose the ground of human and civil rights as a starting point, analyzing the gender and sexuality questions in the church through that lens. I'm not seeking to convince or get agreement from say, traditional Anglo-Catholics or religious fundamentalists because none is to be had. My goal is to be a voice for a "theology of human rights" perspective, which at present is a marginal and nascent cause. Having said all that, I was sincere when I said I admired the hopeful posture of folks who strive to be generous to doctrinaire opponents. I disagree with some of the strategies used to placate conservatives, but I have a lot of respect for the pastoral sensitivity and diplomatic skills that female priests, archdeacons, and bishops demonstrate on these issues "on the ground"--at least in my small corner. The conservatives are in fact recipients of a great deal of generosity, and hardly victims at all. As for the question of polite conversation, its really a myth that Canadians are polite. When we are, it is often a form of passive aggressive behavior. Don't think of the line from my post that you quoted as "impolite", think of it rather as political sardonicism. Besides, insouciance is a gift of the Spirit. (Gal.3:1).

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 30 June 2010 at 11:52pm BST

"They are saying that God does not enable them and that they are therefore in a very real way simply not ordained. For these people, being asked to accept a woman priest is like being asked to accept lay presidency, lay confirmations, lay everything."
- Erika, on Wednesday -

But, Erika, should we stand by and accept their theory - that women already ordained by the Church are not (validly and institutionally) ordained. To do that would be to say that. It would be, for us at least, saying that 'black is white' simply because it would be convenient for me to say that. Integrity requires more than that.

And if dissidents from this practical reality see things differently, the Church they put their trust in has failed them, and they need, for the sake of their own sanity, need to be elsewhere.

This is not just a matter of 'Being Nice' - for which we Anglicans have long been compromised - it really is a matter of '?Faith and Order', which the opponents of women clergy themselves believe.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 12:06am BST

"And no, I think Mark and you misunderstand me if you think that I believe there will be a breakthrough of the liberal view and that all will suddenly smilingly agree.
These people will never agree.

Can we not live with that? Must we win at all cost to the point where dissent is not tolerated? Why?"

No. That's not what I think you think. You misunderstand me if you thought that's what I was saying.

Of course we can live with dissent. We've done it for centuries. Rome doesn't agree with us. The various EO churches don't agree with us. Lutherans *have not* and now do, agree with us. We're politely reserved on the Methodism.

That is dissent. We're all in Church.

You're absolutely right that there's no need to ridicule or demonize, but there is a need to actually to do and be. That cannot happen when what the organization is trying to do is blocked by an internal fight that could be avoided and eventually worked through by completely separating out the group that is the source of the problem.

Dissent is different from open civil war.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 5:21am BST

In the end, given the depressing news out of Mexico, Williams - and Anglicanism's - utter failure to be true to conviction, the rise of a Christian fundamentalism with all the marks of a Taliban, and the incredible, dull-witted, dazed regurgitating of the same issues, I can only assume that the religion has become committed only to serving and protecting itself in its numerous little tribes - Roman, EO, Anglican - and my *best* advice is now this - run. Run from Christianity and cling to Christ. Find your own way and make your own communities and never - NEVER - make it a professionally-paid priesthood and choose as bishops people who can never command and rule only by the affection and respect of those they serve.

Run. Save your souls.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 5:32am BST

Fr Ron and Rod

So what you're really saying is that, although there are several possible views on this, we have to insist that only our own has any standing at all in the church and this although until about 5 minutes ago we (as a church) have given those who think differently the impression that we were able to make room for them, to the extent that we are even now still ordaining those who who hold those views.

I have to accept your view on this.
I don't share it.
I believe that unless opposing views are actually harmful (like the opposition to recognising lgbt people as equal is), any liberal person should be willing and able to make room for them.

In the lgbt debate we're asking for those churches and parishes who support full inclusion to be allowed to do that, without forcing anyone else to do it too.
I don't really see why we can't do the same here, when the number of people opposing women priests and bishops is so small that accommodating them creates a lot of theoretical hot air but very little practical inconvenience.
Already, there are more women being ordained than men - not exactly a sign for discrimmination and a rejection of women's human rights. Women bishops will go the same way.
We can afford to be generous.

I think there are many other reasons why special provisions may not be the right thing to do. But "human rights" are not one of them.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 9:22am BST

Erika, We have different priorities. My priority is the theoretical basis for gender equality. How traditionalists are accommodated is secondary. Let me throw out an analogy. I embrace God as creator. I appreciate how First Nations Christians refer to the Creator with a sense of intimacy. However,I accept the theory of evolution as the best explanation for all the data. I read Genesis as a myth. I reject creationism as mistaken. So, in reflecting theologically, my task is take seriously the mythology of Genesis, John's Prologue, St. John the Divine in Revelation. But,I have to accept The theory of Evolution as a starting point in understanding our origins.The scripture gives me some values to discern the meaning of human being in a moral context. Analogously, there is an emergent social consensus on human rights, one that has an uphill climb against both governments and organized religion. Human rights is an attempt to discern some fundamental grounds, a sine qua non for ethical behavior by individuals, but especially organizations and governments. Reflecting theologically,I want to take seriously " image of God" and " the glory of God is humanity fully alive " notions, and the demand to "respect the dignity of every human being". However, my starting point is a commitment to the principle of human rights. The history of Christian involvement in the Civil rights movements in the U.S. and Canada has shaped and developed the thinking of many here. The Canadian General Synod has just repudiated the "Doctrine of Discovery" for example. Human rights is a tough sell as a criterion in churches which evaluate human rights as suspiciously secular. You seem to be typical when you put "human rights" in quotation marks in your post.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 3:18pm BST

"And if dissidents from this practical reality see things differently, the Church they put their trust in has failed them, and they need, for the sake of their own sanity, need to be elsewhere.

This is not just a matter of 'Being Nice' - for which we Anglicans have long been compromised - it really is a matter of '?Faith and Order', which the opponents of women clergy themselves believe."


Then, Father, give them the means of getting out with honour and integrity. With buildings, congregations and legacies to form a new province, or swim the Tiber.

Except that view doesn't seem to be popular. We've let these people down but we want to strip the shirt from their back as they walk out the door.

I can understand the viewpoint that we've moved on and opposition to OoW is outdated and no longer tenable. But that is not the (official) position of the CofE. It's this halfway house I just don't get the internal logic of.

Posted by tommiaquinas at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 5:03pm BST

Rod
I think you still misunderstand me when you question why I put "human rights" in quotation marks.
I'll say it again - while it is (also) a human rights issue for me, it is not one for FiF.
You can repeat that it is one for you and for Canada and for whoever else you like until you're blue in the face. It will not make it a human rights issue for FiF.

I really don’t understand why you find that so hard to comprehend. If I jumped up and down and insisted that men not getting pregnant is a human rights issue, you’d look at me as if I’d lost the plot. Rightly so.
This is precisely how FiF feel about female ordination.

I don’t like it. I don’t agree with it. But I have to accept it as fact.

Now we have a number of choices.
We can simply say “sod anyone else’s theology, only mine counts and if I say it’s a human rights issue that trumps all else, then that’s what it is”. And if there are enough of us, we can push our view through.

Or we can say “you really do have some odd views and we don’t share them. But we can also see that you don’t want us to change our minds. You’re happy for the church to have female priests and bishops. In fact, it already ordains more women than men, so in practice, there is no human rights violation. All you want is a tiny little corner where you can stick in your all-male club”.

I just don’t understand this desperate need to jump up and down on a small group of essentially harmless people just so we can feel perfectly at ease with our lofty principles.
Show me a woman who wasn’t ordained because FiF sabotaged her vocation. Show me a woman who didn’t find a parish because FiF plotted against her employment anywhere in the CoE. Show me just one single incident of actual human rights violation. Until then, I’d quite like some other Christian values come into play too. Like tolerance, like accepting difference, like unity but not uniformity.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 5:07pm BST

Erika wrote "Rod...You can repeat that .....until you're blue in the face. It will not make it a human rights issue for FiF. I really don’t understand why you find that so hard to comprehend."

But, Erika, I do comprehend it. I understand perfectly that these guys you are talking about don't see it as a human rights/civil rights issue. I get it. Dig? What you fail to comprehend is that I--don't-- care! I'm not interested in accommodating them as a prerequisite to the church developing a gender policy. I'm focused on the underpinnings of a human rights theology that has some relevance to the world beyond our hallowed cloisters. I'm willing to tackle their point of view only to the degree that it is a theological perspective that needs to be critiqued as inadequate. Remember, being human is logically and actually prior to being a Christian. While you and I are batting around the relative merits of provisions for patriarchs, the big world outside the church tends to see organized religion as an obstacle to peace, justice and equality in the world. For those out there in blog land, who may be interested in the subject matter in the bigger picture, I'll pass along some titles that I have found helpful. (1) An old book by Canadian theologian D.G. Hall "The Reality of the Gospel and the Unreality of the Churches." The Westminster Press, Philadelphia 1975. (2)A more recent book by David Hollenbach S.J. "The Global Face of Public Faith" George Town University Press: Washington D.C. 2003 (3) a more recent book still "Reconstructing Old Testament Theology (After the collapse of History)" by Leo G. Purdue. Fortress Press, Minneapolis, 2005. Please note that I’m not linking the ideas of these fine authors to the sins of my posts.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 8:30pm BST

Erika, the provision for those objecting to women's ordination - whether because they are a certain kind of Anglo-Catholic or they believe in male headship - is quite generous under the Revision Committee's proposals. In contrast, for most of my life there was no provision at all for women in the Church of England called to the priesthood or worshippers who felt that an all-male priesthood was not in line with their Christian beliefs.

However, attempts to go to great lengths to accommodate those opposed to women's ordination, as at Blackburn Cathedral, when worshippers were offered separate 'untainted' bread when a woman was celebrating communion, can raise a range of theological problems. If women bishops may not perceived as 'real' bishops - which some fear would be the consequence of the archbishops' proposal - the consequences would have to be considered.

Posted by Savi H at Thursday, 1 July 2010 at 10:31pm BST

"Remember,(Erika,) being human is logically and actually prior to being a Christian. While you and I are batting around the relative merits of provisions for patriarchs, the big world outside the church tends to see organized religion as an obstacle to peace, justice and equality in the world."
- Rod Gillis, on Thursday -

This is precisely what I feel about the necessity of a defence of the 'liberal position' re the ordination of women on this blog. - That, while we argue the 'nicety' of accommodating the anti-women faction in the Church, the World is aghast at the idea of a God who would prefer the ministry of men over that of women, in the Sanctuary or elsewhere.

What sort of message does this patriarchal ethos give to the World - of both believers and others who might struggle for a faith ethic? Is the God we preach a God of gender or genetic preferences, or is God a God of Inclusion basic to the Gospel?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 2 July 2010 at 1:23am BST

Savi
I absolutely agree that the provision is generous.

And, to be honest, I have a number of objections to any special provisions and am hopelessly torn on the issue, and the bizarre idea of untainted bread is one of them.

But I can't just dismiss people the way they're being dismissed here and simply shout "me and I my view only".

Maybe it's because I live in a country that teaches children about kilometres in school but still signposts in miles, where you buy petrol by the litre but your cars travel miles per gallon. There's a willingness to accommodate people who struggle with the new. And yes, it leads to terrible muddles. And one of the worst consequences is that nothing is ever settled, every old idea festers on and on and on, that a group of people always seems to live in the past.
But there is also something pleasant about living and letting live, something that makes daily life – in the secular world and in the parish – more enjoyable than in other countries I’ve lived in. It’s one of the big attractions of Anglicanism for me, that we can hold a huge variety of people together under a big tent. This kind of Anglicanism is fading, I know. But I still love its principles. And “me and my views first”, whether from the right or the supposedly liberal wing of the church, is not where I feel at home.

Rod - with an "I-don't-care" view about anything that might not agree with your ideas, why do you bother talking to others at all?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 2 July 2010 at 7:35am BST

Erika:

It is possible...though perhaps difficult...to convert Km to miles and liters to gallons. I think it is impossible, however, to convert duly consecrated bishops into something less than that.

And I have to wonder just who in this discussion is not willing to live and let live. After all, it's not the majority who support women's ordination and consecration who are asking for special consideration, who are saying--in American parlance--"my way or the highway". It is one thing to say "I will never accept a woman as my priest or bishop"...fine, there are many excellent male priests and bishops under whose authority you may worship. It is quite another, I think, to say "I will never accept a male bishop who thinks a woman can be a priest or bishop..."

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 2 July 2010 at 11:50am BST

"I believe that unless opposing views are actually harmful (like the opposition to recognising lgbt people as equal is), any liberal person should be willing and able to make room for them."
- Erika Baker, on Thursday -

Erika, I honestly do wonder why you have a special concern for those who identify with the rights of Gay people, while yet denying the same concern for the cause of Women in Ministry? Both causes are profoundly ontological and also theological, and both demand the integrity of the Church to recognise them as factors present in creation. One of these causes is not more theologically potent than the other - both are questions of God-given and authentic personhood. Both categories of human being are created by God, and if we can quote Saint Paul on the equality of female and male 'en Christo', this really denies anyone the right to debar women from representing Christ at the altar.

Purely from a rational standpoint: For anyone to seek to minister in a Church (e.g the Church of England( which allows women to be Sacramental Ministers - while yet denying this possibility - as a matter of Faith & Order - is to be gravely at odds with the ethos of such a Church. One has to wonder why they would want to remain in this particular Church, when the sort of Church that fulfils their doctrinal requirements is already in flourishing elsewhere.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 2 July 2010 at 12:33pm BST

Pat

"It is possible...though perhaps difficult...to convert Km to miles and liters to gallons. I think it is impossible, however, to convert duly consecrated bishops into something less than that."

Love that comment! Thanks for the smile!

And I absolutely agree with your comments. Accommodation is only possible when there is a will to compromise on both sides, and this "I will never accept a male bishop who thinks a woman can be a priest" is one of those complete pieces of nonsense that cannot be accomodated.

To be fair, when I asked on TA recently who actually does believe it, a number of our regular conservatives immediately said that they didn't.

There's a conservative spectrum just as there is a liberal one, and while we cannot please everyone, we might be able to please some.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 2 July 2010 at 12:42pm BST

Fr Ron
“Erika, I honestly do wonder why you have a special concern for those who identify with the rights of Gay people, while yet denying the same concern for the cause of Women in Ministry?”

Because in practice, gay people are not being treated as equal in any part of the church. We are considered to be immoral, of lesser value and intrinsically unacceptable to God. We are not officially allowed to fulfil any functions in the church and many parishes would be happy if we didn’t exist at all. Our relationships are not blessed unless in secret.

Also in practice, women are openly present in all churches and take on valuable and valued roles in all of them (it is at this point that it is vital to understand that this is not about equality and that FiF people are, on the whole, not misogynists. The women who attend FiF churches are, on the whole, not in the closet or in hiding or oppressed wallflowers).

More women are now being ordained in the CoE than men. There is, to my knowledge, not a single instance of a woman being denied ordination in the CoE because FiF don’t like it. There is, to my knowledge, not a single woman priest who has been refused employment as a priest in the CoE because FiF don’t accept women priests.

No female teenagers are bullied at school because of FiF’s attitude to women priests, no women are driven to suicide because they cannot cope with the fact that they could not be a priest in a small minority of CoE parishes.

Are you sure you’re comparing like with like?

As for: “Purely from a rational standpoint: For anyone to seek to minister in a Church (e.g the Church of England( which allows women to be Sacramental Ministers - while yet denying this possibility - as a matter of Faith & Order - is to be gravely at odds with the ethos of such a Church.”

That’s precisely it, they are not.
They are seeking to minister in a church which has always accepted the integrity of priests who oppose women priests, that has made special provisions for them and has give no indication that these might come to an end at some time, and that even today still ordains men who do not believe in women priests.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 2 July 2010 at 1:54pm BST

"They are seeking to minister in a church which has always accepted the integrity of priests who oppose women priests, that has made special provisions for them and has give no indication that these might come to an end at some time, and that even today still ordains men who do not believe in women priests."

This last is perhaps the biggest sticking point--how do you honestly seek to be ordained into an order of priests when you refuse to believe that a significant percentage of your fellow ordinands are really priests? This is where the church (and I count my own TEC in this, as it continues to do the same thing) has erred, I believe--if a prospective priest cannot vow that he will accept all those ordained by the church as priests just like himself, he should not be acceptable to receive orders.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 2 July 2010 at 3:46pm BST

"They are seeking to minister in a church which has always accepted the integrity of priests who oppose women priests, that has made special provisions for them and has give no indication that these might come to an end at some time, and that even today still ordains men who do not believe in women priests."

- Erika Baker on Friday -

One of the problems I find with your argument here, Erika, is that some of the most vociferous of the anti-women clergy are people who were ordained after the provision was made for the Ordination of Women in the Church of England.

The fact remains that, whatever provision may have been made at the time (to my mind, mistakenly) for clergy who believe that women cannot receive the grace of Holy Orders, women have become integral to the ministry of the Church.

Logic tells us that this double-mindedness on the part of the Church of England - which brought about the incidence of a new style of Episcopi Vagantes into it's structures - was un-catholic to say the very least. Now that the Church is proposing to ordain women as Episcopal Leaders in the Church, the Church of England has made a definite movement towards the full inclusion of women as equal to men in ministry and authority - a movement which, if I were a person of the sort of catholicity that denies women this right, would have caused me to remove myself from the Church that compromised my theological integrity as a priest or member.

Thirty years ago, I might have been of this under-standing about the non-admissability of women as sacerdotal ministers. However, since the Holy Spirit's gracious enlightenment, I have come to a place where anthropology, ontology, theology and common sense, have convinced me - and many others in the world-wide Anglican Communion - that there is no barrier in Christ against the calling to women in the Sacred Ministry of Christ's Body, the Church.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 2 July 2010 at 11:55pm BST

Re, Pat O'Neill, sticking point post of 3:46 pm,
Bravo, well said! Applicable in Canada too in some quarters.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 2:13am BST

Pat
"--if a prospective priest cannot vow that he will accept all those ordained by the church as priests just like himself, he should not be acceptable to receive orders."

Yes, those special provisions should only ever have applied to people who were already priests at the time the first woman was ordained and they should have been time limited until the last of those priests had retired.

I am still astonished that this didn't happen and I still don't understand why it's not being discussed again now.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 7:07am BST

Erika wrote " Rod - with an "I-don't-care" view about anything that might not agree with your ideas, why do you bother talking to others at all?"

Erika, I don't think logic is your strong suit. To repeat and reiterate, I "do not care" that sexists don't understand the ordination of women as a gender equality issue.You cannot conclude from that that I do not care about "anything that might not agree with my ideas". Participants to a debate can arrive at an impasse and reach a deadlock. There is an impasse between the position I'm advocating and the position of traditionalists.The impasse is grounded on wide ranging disagreement over fundamentals. I had to be blunt when you accused me of failing to comprehend that these chappies you are so concerned about don't see the gender issue in terms of human/civil rights . As I said, I get it. Your position seems to be that I should stop building a case for gender equality, or at least accept their premise. I find that a rather strange way to build a case. "I do not care" in the sense that accommodating these lads is your cross to carry. So, carry it; but I ain't no Simon of Cyrene. I find it rather galling that the same Archbishops who are demanding "special provisions" are leading the charge for the Anglican Covenant. We'll see what kind of special provisions and what level generosity will be extended to those of us who are not going to support the Covenant. Indeed, we've seen some already. The Covenant and special provisions, sexism and homophobia, are part of a single strategy. I must say I admire your tenacity, even though your rejoinders tend to somewhat circuitous.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 2:13pm BST

Erika Baker wrote:

"Yes, those special provisions should only ever have applied to people who were already priests at the time the first woman was ordained and they should have been time limited until the last of those priests had retired.

I am still astonished that this didn't happen and I still don't understand why it's not being discussed again now."

Is it really so surprising? If any such thing has been attempted than, the WO measure WOULD NOT HAVE PASSED. It's as simple as that: the "entryist" proponents, or a sufficient number of them, were willing to "promise anything" in order to get their ends and "deal with the treactionaries later," as indeed they are doing now.

Rod Gillis's subsequent (most recent) posting is a pretty good example of what i'm writing about: essentially, he refuses to argue on recognizably Christian terms and insists on the priority of a "human rights hermeneutic" that is, put bluntly, alien to Christianity as a historical religion. It is as though some Fourth-Century Emperor were to argue that "my starting-point in any discussion of the 'homoousios' question is that whatever outcome supports the upholding of imperial authority is the one to be preferred" or as though a Sixteenth-Century monarch were to say "My choice between Catholicism and Protestantism will be based on whichever position best upholds the 'divine right of kings'." Put a bit differently, Mr. Gillis' view is simply a contemporary form of what I term "social Erastianism," the idea that the nostrums or notions of bien-pensant public opinion are to trump the accepted teachings of traditional (in this instance Anglican) Christianity on any and all mattersd of public interest. From my own perspective, anyone espousing his views ought to have no say in the determination of doctrine and practice in any Christian denomination, and that he does strikes me as simply witnessing to the suicidal impulse of so much of contemporary Anglican bodies.

Posted by William Tighe at Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 8:06pm BST

Rod
Maybe I just come from a different place than you. Once I understand what those I disagree with truly mean, and once I konw that it's not actually harmful, I tend to want to respect their position and accommodate it as far as possible without given up my own.
To me, that's kind of what life is about.

It has nothing to do with logic, it has more to do with how you respond to others once you understand them.

We have to agree to differ regarding appropriate responses.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 8:34pm BST

Fr Ron
"Logic tells us that this double-mindedness on the part of the Church of England - which brought about the incidence of a new style of Episcopi Vagantes into it's structures - was un-catholic to say the very least."

Yes, I agree. But again, the question now is one of interpretation. FiF would have agreed with your assessment but they so wanted to remain part of the CoE that they were able to compromise as long as they did not have to do so within their own parishes.
You could, if you were so minded, see it as a graceful act.

I'm glad that you were enlightened by the Holy Spirit. But that doesn't mean that we can expect everyone to have the same faith journey, much as we would like it. We have to take others where they are, not where we would like them to be, and if they are where you were 30 years ago, then that's where they are and there's no use condemning them for it.

Where I completely agree with you is that the church should not have made those provisions for new priests and without a time limit. But then - we ought to reserve our anger for those who made the decisions at the time, not for those who believed them and lived faithfully accordingly until now.

If the church had said: "We recognise the integrity of your views just as we recognise that the Holy Spirit calls us to something new, so we make special provisions for all of you who are part of the priesthood now, but new rules apply to everyone to be ordained from now on", there would have been a lot more clarity.
I still don't understand why that didn't happen.
Do you?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 8:58pm BST

William

Yes, thank you. I can see that it was utilitarian to make provisions appear permanent.
Sadly, that also contained the seeds for the current malaise.

If a church truly believes that the Spirit is calling it into a new direction it should simply follow that call. Doing what it can not to alienate existing priests is one thing, but saying that there are 2 differnt ways of looking at the issue is almost denying the perceived call.

The real problem is that the split ministry was already un-catholic and not traditional. Codifying it even more now will not restore any kind of unity in the CoE, and as Pat says somewhere else, the huge problem of the interchangeability of ministers, which is a criterion for a church, is no longer given, so to that extent the CoE is already no longer one church.

The real question is not how un-catholic this church is becoming, because it's changing beyond recognition, whichever solution we find.

What would you suggest?

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 9:57pm BST

Erika Baker,

To amplify what I wrote previously, the FIF/UK folks in England (as, earlier, the ECM-ESA-FIF/NA in the United States until 1989) probably accepted the honeyed assurances, false tho' they have proven to be, that WO was in "a process of reception" in the "wider Church" that might just as well end in its rejection as in its acceptance. Of course, if they really did so, than they were remarkably blind to how such "assurances" were actually playing out amongst American and Canadian Anglicans by 1992/3, as well as among Swedish Lutherans -- but who can really blame Christian Englishmen for believing that their "honourable opponents" actually meant what they promised? More cynically, it may be that some of them knew that their opponents were not so honourable as they affected to believe -- but felt obliged to remain in the Church of England until their suspicions in that respect were conformed in the event, as they have been.

I presume that you are aware that the Women's Ordination Bill of 1992 would have failed to attain the requisite majority in the House of Laity in the General Synod, if only 2 or 3 synodsmen had voted the other way, just as WO would not have been approved by the General Convention of the Episcopal Church in 1976 if it had been introduced as a "constitutional change" requiring a two-thirds majority, rather than as a "canonical change" requiring a bare majority. No doubt it would have been a good thing if the proponents of WO in both cases would have been willing to suffer defeat rather than, as in the Church of England after 1992, have introduced a "two tier" structure of Orders -- but the proponents of WO wittingly and willingly accepted such an incoherent "solution" -- and one that would put a Lady Macbeth-like "taint" upon their Orders for the indefinite future -- in order to get their way as quickly and unscrupulously as possible. And since its proponents have made their bed in such a fashion, it is only just that they should be forced to lie in it indefinitely.

Posted by William Tighe at Saturday, 3 July 2010 at 10:47pm BST

W. Tighe's verbose obsession with antiquarianism is laughable. Your word salad isn't fooling anybody Tighe. I have two questions for you. (1) What part of the Anglican communion do you belong to? and (2) What is your evaluation of views of Dr. King "I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: "We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men [sic]are created equal." ?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 12:10am BST

Erika, we do, restfully, have to disagree.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 12:38am BST

"Is it really so surprising? If any such thing has been attempted than, the WO measure WOULD NOT HAVE PASSED. It's as simple as that: the "entryist" proponents, or a sufficient number of them, were willing to "promise anything" in order to get their ends and "deal with the reactionaries later" - as indeed they are doing now."

- William Tighe, on Saturday -

William, I am supposing - because of your insistence that "If..the WO measure would not have passed" - that you are a member of the Church of England, who was probably engaged in the Synodical debating on the issue, and that you were perhaps OK at the time about provisions made for people who were dissenters on the issue (even though you obviously would rather women were not ordained.

My question (as one who was baptized and confirmed in the Church of England but am now an ex-colonial Anglican) is this: Was there a canonical provision made for the 'special provisions' that would guarantee their perpetual endurance? And were anti-women-priest people unaware that General Synod is the ruling entity in the Church, which has the power to rescind previous statutes?

It is indeed very dangerous to think that any one body of a Church Synod (especially in the Anglican context) can promise perpetual life for any one of its regulatory statutes. If this were the rule, then there would have been no progressive movement in the Church from the time of the Apostles.

'Semper Reformanda' was the cry of Vatican II, but the R.C. Church is now resiling from that ethos - in order to preserve the sort of Church that F.i.F is seemingly wanting also to preserve. We shall see whether this tactic will actually preserve the R.C. Church, or be the slippery slope to its fall.

This is the very principle on which the Roman Catholic Church changed its policy on ordaining married clergy - to forbidding the ordination of married clergy - to accepting dissident Anglican married clergy - and, perhaps in time, it will again allow married clergy - in order to recruit sufficient people into the priestly ministry.

Unlike the Ten Commandments, Synodical Statutes are not carved in stone!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 7:26am BST

Interesting story about Queen Elizabeth, Canada, human rights. More later on this matter when I get back from mass.
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/story/2010/07/03/queen-winnipeg.html

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 12:01pm BST

It may be better to say that none us are priests and settle for ministry instead-- I think that rose will smell as sweet and its rainbow of colours be even more delighting to the eyes.

Posted by Pantycelyn at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 1:40pm BST

Fr. Ron wrote "William [Tighe], I am supposing - because of your insistence that "If..the WO measure would not have passed" - that you are a member of the Church of England..." Fr. Ron, I make Mr. Tighe for an non-Anglican. But to be sure, I've put the question. If he is prepared to acknowledge the denomination he belongs to, then his views on Women and Ministry can be contextualized. In the same post I've put a question to him about Martin Luther King, to see if he really wants to stick with the superficial understanding of human rights he posted earlier.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 4:19pm BST

William Tighe wrote "...but who can really blame Christian Englishmen for believing that their "honourable opponents" actually meant what they promised?" When the Anglican church of Canada first began to ordain women, there was a conscience clause provision. However, it was grandfathered by General Synod in 1986. All person subsequently ordained were required to accept women as priests. The reason it was grand-fathered was (a) Male clergy were using it as cover to continue to denigrate in public the priestly orders of women in the church and (2) Some Newly ordained male priests, some of them very young and very new to Anglicanism, were refusing to acknowledge collegial relationships of female colleagues in the college of presbyters. So, the boys really did this to themselves. Interestingly, the conscience of conservatives in the Canadian church, including that of men opposed to female clergy, still gets treated with generosity notwithstanding the action of General Synod. I think you have rather reversed the issue of honor on this issue.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 4:31pm BST

I am an orthodox Catholic, and an enthusiastic supporter of Benedict XVI. I think that "women's ordination" (WO for short) is just as much an absurdity and impossibility as what I term SS (or "homosexual'marriage'" -- let the reader understand the abbreviation) and that the Church of England is merely an Erastian institution, the religious branch of the civil service. And yet at the same time I do all in my power to support, and encourage my Anglican friends in their resistance to these "detestable enormities."

If you wish to learn more about me, you can peruse my various articles here:

http://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/author.php?id=123

Posted by William Tighe at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 5:34pm BST

Interesting comment from an old article
" [The] boundless love of God establishes equality among all human beings where it does not exist by creation....As a conclusion to this theological reflection it might be important to underlie that the significance of the question of the ordination of women reaches out beyond the fact of human oppression in the church to which women bear witness. This fact is of course not to be minimized. But the implications of this fact extend further to the very credibility of the church in its mission to the modern world. Unfortunately the context or horizon of this discussion is often limited to the narrow confines of the church, or even a particular church, so that a full appreciation of what is at stake in it is not taken into account. Yet outside the church...people are deeply aware of sexism as well as other forms of discrimination and oppression, and see no transcendence of culture, no prophetic word of the church to itself that might serve as an example to the world. This leads them to spontaneously question the transcendence of the power on which the church's institutions rest."
Author: Roger Haight S.J. in " Women in the Church:A Reflection". Toronto Journal of Theology Spring 1986 2/1 pp. 105-117.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 6:24pm BST

And Fr. Haight (whose views have recently been censured by the Vatican) is significant -- why?

Posted by William Tighe at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 7:43pm BST

William Tighe wrote, "I am an orthodox Catholic, and an enthusiastic supporter of Benedict XVI. ...The Church of England is merely an Erastian institution, the religious branch of the civil service."

Looks like I'm in good company. In labeling, as you did earlier, an a piori commitment to the principles of human rights as "social Erastianism" you are of course making an analogy. It has fatal flaws. Formal statements about human/civil rights are (usually) in the first instance reflective, based on hard won gains by people who have been oppressed in some way, the product of struggle, a victory for self-identification over identification or limitation by vested interests. Describing the openness of the church to such as some form of Erastianism, social or otherwise, is anachronistic and grounded in a bias to minimize gains and defend classical culture. I think there is common ground between, on the one hand, human rights and civil rights as they are articulated in the wider society and the notion of human dignity that is articulated, on the other hand, in The Catechism of the Catholic Church (Equality and Differences Among Men #s 1934 through 1938). Bernard Lonergan wrote "Besides continuity and development there is also revision. ... So at the present time theological development is fundamentally a long delayed response to the development of modern science, modern scholarship, modern philosophy." [Method in Theology. Darton, Longman, Todd. 1973 p. 353]. Now revision, of course, can be either critical or authenticating depending on the issues. Notwithstanding, modern theology is just beginning to work out the implications of responding to the human rights revolution. The early article I quoted above by Jesuit theologian Roger Haight is interesting and engaging in that regard. Over -simplification is not. The Catholic Church is a victim of not following its own arguments to their conclusion. The current retrenchment papacy holds out little hope such will happen anytime soon.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 10:25pm BST

William Tighe wrote " ...a 'human rights hermeneutic' that is, put bluntly, alien to Christianity as a historical religion". Whatever may be meant by Christianity as an "historical" religion, I don't think it means we are stuck with the Household Code in Ephesians as 21st century social policy.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 4 July 2010 at 10:51pm BST

And I would add, that although not an Anglican I am as well qualified to speak and opine on these matters as any other bloviator on this thread, and probably more than most, having taken my doctorate in 1984 at Cambridge (Clare College) on Elizabethan English history under the supervision of the late Sir Geoffrey Elton.

Posted by William Tighe at Monday, 5 July 2010 at 1:49am BST

"I am an orthodox Catholic, and an enthusiastic supporter of Benedict XVI. - William Tighe -

As I thought - not necessarily a Roman Catholic then? Members of The Holy Orthodox (Catholic and Apostolic) Church, though, as far as I am aware, are not ALL 'enthusiastic supporters of Benedict XVI', so that does set you apart.

Now that we all know your provenance, William, we can better understand where you are coming from - and it is definitely not the ethos of Thinking Anglicans. It is better to be honest about our Church affiliation when we presume to enter the conversation. It helps us to sieve the content.

I do realize that Hell may freeze over before you Orthodox will recognize God's call to women as fit representatives of 'Personae Christi' at the altar. So I will not engage you further here.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 5 July 2010 at 1:04pm BST

W. Tighe wrote "I am as well qualified to speak and opine on these matters as any other bloviator on this thread, and probably more than most, having taken my doctorate in 1984 at Cambridge (Clare College) on Elizabethan English history under the supervision of the late Sir Geoffrey Elton."

Doc Tighe, I think one can make a distinction between an individual's credentials and the soundness of her/his argument on any given issue. Einstein was a clerk. Besides, we live in an inter-disciplinary world. You are an historian, not a New Testament scholar (like Raymond Brown) or a systematic theologian (like Rahner). Your insights on these matters must be placed along side those from other disciplines. Pretensions to omni-competence died with neo-scholasticism. If we are name dropping, I had the great pleasure to study theology under a chap who taught with Joe Ratzinger during their time together in Germany. I learned a deeper appreciation of the wide diversity within Catholic thought, and a grasp of Catholic social teaching. This is one Anglican who will be happy to tackle your arguments on social issues and New Testament theology any day. Thanks for sharing!

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 5 July 2010 at 2:07pm BST

Q. "And Fr. Haight (whose views have recently been censured by the Vatican) is significant -- why?"

A. Ooops, almost missed this one line zinger. Haight is significant because of the cogent argument he makes, the rigorous scholarship with which he makes it, its relevance to contemporary issues that interest many within and without the church, his grasp of the nuances of Catholic social teaching, and as a bonus, just because he has been censured by the patriarchal leadership in the Vatican--their judgment on things, considering the state of internal Catholic affairs, being so sound in the first place.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 5 July 2010 at 2:15pm BST

Fr. Ron replied to W. Tighe "not necessarily a Roman Catholic then?" Fr. Ron, We have a Ukrainian Catholic Parish in the community I hail from. When I was in high school there was big controversy when Rome put a stop to an Eastern Rite ordination. Rome objected to Eastern Rite married clergy living in a Latin Rite "jurisdiction". I'm not sure, and don't have the inclination to ferret it out, but I think Mr. Tighe belongs to the uniate Eastern Catholic Rite, in communion with Rome. He can correct me if I'm wrong. If that is the case, he might spend less energy obsessing over Anglican Erastianism, and devote all his energy to the controversial beginnings of the Eastern Rite and the ongoing tension that surrounds Easter Rite Catholic Churches in relationship to The Eastern Orthodox. I gather the problems are far from solved, though not for lack of trying. Just for example, if you have time, look over the "Decree on the Eastern Churches" from Vatican II. The footnotes alone are worth the read. Read also the response to the Decree (in the Abbott English edition anyway) by Alexander Schmemann. But again, its been a long time since I read up on this. I know there was a flurry of activity during the papacy of Pope John Paul. But my information is dated. I have not kept up on developments. Now, back to the main event, the struggle for unqualified gender equality within the Church and dialogue with "people of goodwill" beyond the church who are interested in " the dignity of every human being." We had a baptism here yesterday, in the Octave of St. Peter and St. Paul. The Baptismal covenant always re-energizes me on these matters.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 5 July 2010 at 3:25pm BST
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