Comments: David Stancliffe writes about women bishops

Well said! And precisely the same comments will lead us to reject the Covenant, as well.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 7:26pm BST

"The priesthood is sign and sacrament of the new creation and not only may but must include both men and women if it is to be truly representative of the whole Christ, not just the Jesus of the Last Supper."

Silly me! Here I was thinking that the Jesus of the Last Supper (and the Garden and the Cross and the Tomb and the Resurrection) *was* "the whole Christ." I'm all for the ordination of women, but his sort of woo-woo leaves me cold.

I

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 8:31pm BST

I've never even HEARD of a "hawser", so if for nothing more than introducing me to a new word&thing, I thank Bishop Stancliffe!

Quoting (RC) Fr Radcliffe: "an ordination that is productive of division would be a contradiction in terms". Well, it's a contradiction of catholic&orthodox theology. It's consistent w/ the heresy of Donatism though. Q.E.D.

But turning to Fr Radcliffe's (provocative? To his bishop, one fears?) words again: "Many Catholics believe that women should not be excluded from ordination, but this will only be possible with the consensus of the communion of the Church." To this, Bp Stancliffe inquires "So how do we get to that point of consensus? Do we all wait for each other?"

I would respond, citing the soon-to-be-beatified JH Newman: doctrine *develops*.

It's not suddenly "proclaimed ex cathedra". Even the most die-hard Popoid would say that, for example, Pius XII re the BVM's Assumption (1950), only "infallibly declared" what was ALREADY the received doctrine---AFTER development---in the (RC) Church.

But how is doctrine to develop in the first place, if there not all those *independent strands*, ala Stancliffe's hawser? Without all those differing & autonomous, yet miraculously comprehensible, voices on Pentecost?

I'm 48, and am no longer confident I will live to see women's ordination in the RCC---but I'm OK w/ that. It may be, that the exclusively XY priesthood IS God's Will . . . IN that part of the Church centered on the Bishop of Rome. While at the SAME time, it is God's Will that women be ordained to ALL orders, in the part of the Church focused on Canterbury. Differing hawser strands, combining to pull forward the Good Ship Oikoumene as her Captain directs, in his time!

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 10:57pm BST

It may be, that the exclusively XY priesthood IS God's Will . . . IN that part of the Church centered on the Bishop of Rome. While at the SAME time, it is God's Will that women be ordained to ALL orders, in the part of the Church focused on Canterbury. -- JCF on Sunday, 22 August 2010 at 10:57pm BST

Or, how I see it, God has given -- and continues to give -- different revelation to different people in different times as they are prepared to receive it. Of course, I apply that much much broader than perhaps JCF does, and not only to women's ordination. the Torah and the rest of the Tanakh or Jewish Scriptures (also called the Old Testament), the Q'uran, and the Gospels and the rest of the Christian Scriptures (also called the New Testament) are all revelation given to different people in different cultures as they were prepared to receive God's vision.

Posted by peterpi at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 12:18am BST

JCF,

I dislike the word 'Popoid'. For the record, I'm not a Roman Catholic, I'm an Anglo-Catholic with strong sympathies towards the RC church on certain specific issues (e.g. Marian dogmas).

I'd agree with you that Pope Pius didn't invent the teaching about the Assumption of Mary; he simply codified what had been generally and overwhelmingly believed (though not universally) within the church at least since the eighth century (when St. John of Damascus wrote his famous sermons on the topic). And you're right- doctrine had to develop on this question, as on other questions.

You raise a good point: it's necessary for dissent and disagreement to exist, in order for doctrine to develop.

I do believe that Rome, Constantinople, and the other apostolic churches will eventually ordain women, but I think it will probably take at least a century or more.

Posted by Hector at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 4:10am BST

Nom de Plume, would you like to unpack that comment about the Covenant a bit?

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 7:52am BST

'his sort of woo-woo leaves me cold'

Scholars have devoted their lives to trying to harmonise the synoptics with John on this one, without much success; since we have difficulties in demonstrating that there really was a Last Supper in the first place, I have no problem with David Stancliffe simply being sensible...

Posted by chenier1 at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 2:34pm BST

Silly me! Here I was thinking that the Jesus of the Last Supper (and the Garden and the Cross and the Tomb and the Resurrection) *was* "the whole Christ."

David's right on this, but it needs unpacking. The anamnesis of the Eucharist is a present reality, not ancient history. We are not repeating the Last Supper in the Eucharist, nor was the Last Supper the first Eucharist (even the very conservative RC Hungarian Bishop who taught me Sacraments was clear on this): we do 'this' in memory of him, we don't do 'that' in memory of him (if that makes sense!). Thus the Eucharist is our participation in the eternal self-offering of the Son to the Father (his not clinging to his life is not something that just happened to him; rather that attitude of non-clinging constitutes his relationship with the Father). And the 'we' who participate in the life of the Trinity is the whole Christ, the same Jesus at the Last Supper, but that same Jesus who unites us all, male and female, to himself. A representative priesthood ought arguably to represent this reality.

I admit David's way of putting it sounds a bit jarring at first....

Posted by Joe at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 4:08pm BST

"Nom de Plume, would you like to unpack that comment about the Covenant a bit?"

Gladly.

Dr Stancliffe has argued against structural uniformity as being the less desirable approach to life as a communion, and for organic diversity. The Covenant is a structural attempt to smother diversity in the Anglican Communion, which will inevitably lead to ossification of the organic, relational elements of the Anglican Communion in a quest for propositional uniformity. This would be as damaging to the Communion as would the approaches to introduction of women bishops whilst maintaining a structurally protected minority, against which Dr Stancliffe argues.

To use his image, the Covenant would be the chain that binds the Communion to the shibboleth of the conservative view of sexuality.

With the Covenant we would inevitably stop working at the relationships and simply use them (or the threat of their withdrawal) as instruments, not of unity but of uniformity.

Diversity is a prerequisite to unity. (One of the Vatican II documents said as much. Sorry I can't quote chapter and verse off hand.) Uniformity is not unity - it is the illusion of unity.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 4:14pm BST

With regard to unity and diversity and Vatican II, none de plume, may have in mind "The Decree on Ecumenism", perhaps especially Chapter Three, The Eastern churches. However, I think nome de plume's rational analysis of the covenant project is somewhat naive. The Covenant project is not theological or reflective, in the sense that Faith and Order papers of the WCC or ARCIC or Anglican Lutheran agreements are theological and reflective.The covenant project is driven by the internal politics of expediency and has all of the hall marks of such a process, top down power politics, creating an urgency of time, not based on a mutually respective dialogue between partners with differing views. Whether or not the covenant flies will depend almost entirely upon political maneuvering. But then, I'm writing from a Canadian context where expediency is a trade mark way of doing business. Ironically, the envoys from Rowan Williams to our house of bishops noted this in their report back to Lambeth H.Q.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 5:15pm BST

@Rod Gillis:

I think that to dignify my brief comments with the title "analysis" is a bit excessive, and thus your statement that this analysis is naive is rather unfair. My point was simply that the argument that Dr Stancliffe put forward with respect to structural versus relational issues and women bishops applies, mutatis mutandi, to the Covenant project. Adopting the Covenant would be a triumph of the structural over the relational, of uniformity over unity.

I agree with you that the covenant process is primarily political and that there has been insufficient attention (if any) paid to questions of theology or pretty much anything other than how we can find a quick fix to hold the structure together in such a way that the loudest and angriest people don't carry out their threat to walk apart. (Which certainly didn't stop the boycott of Lambeth, did it?) There has been very little attention paid to what the structure is, or ought to be, or how it is likely to be affected by the adoption of any Covenant. And thus, there has been very little analysis of whether a Covenant is desirable. That point has simply been assumed from the beginning.

Let us assume for a moment that the Covenant is adopted and thus all discussions about sexuality grind to a halt. What will be the next shibboleth? I vote for interfaith dialogue.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 6:51pm BST

"...even the very conservative RC Hungarian Bishop who taught me..."

Joe, which bishop? Miklósházy?

Posted by PeterK at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 7:19pm BST

Nom de plume wrote "Let us assume for a moment that the Covenant is adopted and thus all discussions about sexuality grind to a halt. What will be the next shibboleth? I vote for interfaith dialogue."

As would I. As for assumptions about desirability, the current process will result in a covenant much like one that seals a shotgun wedding--not much attention to long range planning there.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 8:33pm BST

"The covenant project is driven by the internal politics of expediency and has all of the hall marks of such a process, top down power politics, creating an urgency of time, not based on a mutually respective dialogue between partners with differing views." - Rod Gillis -

Spot on, once again, Rod! - Although I wonder if you meant to include the word 'respectful' rather than 'respective' - in connection with the 'dialogue between partners with different views'? Whatever, what you are saying about the fact that the Covenant is a conservatively-wrought document which actually marginalises those Provinces of the Anglican Communion who have progressed in their theology of inclusivity towards gays and women as valid candidates for the ministry of Christ's Church in their various contexts.

No doubt, the Archbishop of Canterbury will be bombarded with predictably conservative views of this issue from the Global South Bishops at the CAPA Meeting about to take place. Let's pray that the Holy Spirit 'May in all things direct and rule their hearts' towards the possibility of inclusion of all God's Baptized children called by God into ministry.

Let's also hope and pray that Rowan is able to honestly and uncompromisingly offer his own inner convictions about God's acceptance of gays into the world-wide family of Anglicanism.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 10:36pm BST

Earlier I agreed with nom de plume's suggestion that if the sex controversy were to grind to a halt, the next shibboleth would be inter-faith dialogue. I suspect it has all the correct ingredients to attract the displeasure of the xenophobic. Interesting co-incidence, shortly after posting my reply, I noticed the article from Episcopal Cafe posted below. This may open up a very particular can of worms. Here in Canada the (very appropriate in my view) incorporation of native spiritual traditions into Anglican worship here, drumming, sweet grass, dance, and old terms with a distinctive first nations emphasis like "The Creator", have become part of the Canadian psyche. The same can be said, for instance, for The United Church of Canada.

http://www.episcopalcafe.com/lead/anglican_communion/does_it_have_to_do_with_the_pr.html#more

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 23 August 2010 at 10:36pm BST

PeterK: Yes, Attila Miklósházy, SJ. I was a Jesuit for more than a dozen years, and studied with him for a time, though I studied more with Bela Somfai, as I was focused more on ethics in those days. If you know either of them, we may well know each other.... (apologies to Simon for this brief inter-personal interlude in the thread)

Posted by Joe at Tuesday, 24 August 2010 at 12:12am BST

I am sure that 'nom de plume' and Rod Gillis are corect in their prediction/prophecy about the next big controversy being inter-faith dialogue. I think this will be true even if by some extraordinary act of the Spirit's grace we are saved from the covenant, and find a better way to work together through the current hot-button issue of same-sex relationships. In fact, 'shibboleth' may not do justice to the debates that will ensue.

After all, the conservative/evangelical viewpoint has an immensely stronger biblical basis for an exclusivist approach to other faiths. Instead of 7 very debatable passages on same-sex relatinships, there are whole books advocating a 'pure' religion, and a pretty clear agreement between the hebrew scriptures and the New Testament. And the parts of the world that have tended to take a conservative view on sexuality are the very areas that are likely to feel lmost threatened by inter-faith dialogue.

If I(and nom de plume and Rod) are correct, it is another reason, if there weren't enough already, why adopting the covenant would be a disaster. I would be totally incapable of assisting the Communion through a debate on inter-faith issues, and would be much more likely to tear us apart.

Edward Prebble
Auckland, New Zealand

Posted by Edward Prebble at Tuesday, 24 August 2010 at 2:41am BST

It is irrelevant.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Tuesday, 24 August 2010 at 8:49pm BST

@Hector:

Sorry for the delay, I've been out-of-contact for a few days.

I invented the term "Popoid" (among other trial-balloons), in response to the discomfort w/ the term "Papist" (historical memory, as a term of discrimination in majority-Protestant cultures). When my former RC friend heard my neo-logism "Popoid", that passed her muster: it has no more significance than that (so when I write "Popoid", read "Papist", if that term is less problematic to you).

I reserve the right, however, to use some term or other, that refers to a SUBSET of all Roman Catholics, who are "loyal (i.e., submissive) to the Pope in all things". In my admittedly subjective opinion, the most faithful, most compassionate, most Christ-conformed Roman Catholics *aren't* (and they don't deserve to themselves being singled out as "Cafeteria Catholics"---*begging the question* of who is a true Catholic!).

Posted by JCF at Friday, 27 August 2010 at 2:39am BST
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