Comments: more about Reform etc. and women bishops

Why would any young ordinand want to offer themselves to serve in a church when they disagree with its orders of priesthood and episcopate? Surely they need to find a church denomination which they can fully support, and offer themselves there. Sadly this might mean they need to help establish a new denomination which will accept only male clergy.

Posted by Keith Johnson at Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 11:59am BST

Cranmer's Curate wrote 'There is a real danger that good local churches could be dragged down by an institution fast spiralling into TEC-scale wickedness'.

Hooray for TEC scale wickedness I say. Let's have lots more of it.

Honestly do these people expect us to take them seiously. Last week it was the fascist Church of England, now this. One can't help feeling that there is a serious disconnection with the real world somewhere.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 12:52pm BST

"our churches" seems to be a refrain in Rod Thomas's remarks. "Our churches" You would hardly believe he was talking about a national parochially ordered church whose clergy exist to serve a parish and whose parishioners might legitimately expect to find something resembling C of E "norms" when they worship there.

It seems the National Church is expected to pick up the bill for the theological training of clergy who will be difficult to deploy outside the "Reformed network" or "church within a church" and whose loyalty beyond that particular network is questionable. A recipe for trouble if you ask me.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 5:28pm BST

May I mention that the John Richardson piece was 'unobtainable' the times I tried it ? Thanks.

ED NOTE: you may, and I apologise, the error was mine, not his. Now fixed.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 5:58pm BST

Of course it's Hippo, not Canterbury - the favourite non-scriptural source of proof-texts for mad reformation doctrines.

More telling is the strap-line, "Establishing anew the ancient faith". That is radical protestantism through and through. The Church has failed (which is to say, Jesus didn't know what he was doing when he founded it), so we need to start it again. And, as said above, why anyone who believes that would want to be part of the Church of England - historical, continuous and catholic as it is - I really don't know.

Posted by Matthew Duckett at Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 6:07pm BST

John Richardson says that episcopal opposition to the ordination of women has been halted because since 1993 no diocesan or suffragan bishops of that flavour have been appointed - the Bishop in Europe was appointed in 2001 when his predecessor (also agin' the ordination of women) went to Chichester, so there's two right there.......

Posted by Sara MacVane at Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 6:54pm BST

"TEC-style wickedness"

These "Reform" people HAVE their reward. (Though I wish the Rev Mann would leave holy martyr Thomas Cranmer's name out of it)

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 9:29pm BST

Thanks for that ED.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 20 October 2010 at 10:08pm BST

Sara - I read John Richardson's point as being that, aside from such posts in dioceses where the issue of women priests is live at an episcopal level, all other senior appointments seem to have gone the other way. If the Act of Synod originally envisaged or expected a pattern of random or proportional distribution within senior appointments, or that someone's views would not ultimately prove relevant, then it has to that extent been frustrated.

But I think John fails to take account of the idea that a process of reception (about which there was much talk at the time) might just include the possibility of the idea of the priestly ministry of women becoming fast and holding, and rapidly ceasing to have any conditional quality about it altogether. Even if this came to entail the general (if accidental) exclusion of other views, the shape of the church we have now is formed by the experience of one generation of women who were pioneers being succeeded by those who do not need to fight the same battles in quite the same ways. It would not be surprising if those opposed to the ordination of women could not easily develop their leadership potential in a context where the bulk of those around them did not share their views.

I'd want a great deal more evidence before concluding that the Act of Synod had been deliberately frustrated in this respect; I don't discount the possibility but I don't see anything other than a process of the successful establishment of women's ministry over a period of time having natural and predictable effects.

For this reason, I think it would be right to go for statutory protection of minorities rather than a code of practice; it isn't going to matter a great deal in the longer term and by the time that our women priests take episcopal office there will be far more pressing challenges than the internal churchmanship makeup of the higher ecclesial structures.

Posted by Jonathan Jennings at Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 11:38am BST

Could I just thank Jonathan Jennings for observing that I was not saying "no bishops opposed to women's ordination were ever appointed after 1993" - Wallace Benn would be another obvious example to add to the two given - but that "not appointing such bishops to diocesan and suffragan posts" has been the general rule (or in my view, policy), resulting in the gradual elimination of bishops opposed to the ordination of women?

I admit a lack of clarity and hope this rectifies the confusion.

As to whether this was or was not actually a deliberate policy, I think Sara's comment, rather than proving me wrong, rather supports what I am saying. I find it hard to believe that in seventeen years only a handful of Traditionalists could have been made bishops apart from just four or five in the wider church and yet, lo and behold, it has been possible to find several suitable as PEVs! Would they have been intolerable as ordinary suffragans, or were such bishops just thought unnecessary or unhelpful (which would, however, run foul of the wording of the first clause of the Act of Synod, and confirm my suspicions)?

Anecdotally, I have heard of a candidate for the episcopate who was told on the highest authority he would not be appointed if he did not support the ordination of women - but it is just an anecdote and, I would be the first to admit, not evidence that would stand up in court (though I know who it was, and would be quite happy to ask him if push came sufficiently to shove).

Posted by John Richardson at Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 6:56pm BST

It's only my opinion, but in answer to John Richardson's point about the quality of the men appointed to be PEVs, I think that they are not men of the calibre even to become suffragan bishops. Further, I think that the way they have conducted themselves, in trying establish para-administrations, and now in taking themselves off for 'study leave' at this crucial time, reveals that they are not of the highest grade. I doubt if any of them would have become bishops through any other route. May I disarm criticism of this point by admitting that many suffragans at present are of very low quality as well and I have taken this into consideration in forming my opinion.

Posted by junius at Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 7:26pm BST

I really cannot see what kind of sense it would have made, to be appointing as bishops, people opposed in principle, to the ordination of women --in a denomination which er-- ordains women.

That has become more the case as the years have passed. It has now become indefensible.

We cannot both ordain and not ordain (women). The residual misogyny in the C of E is shocking-- and apparently can sink to almost any depths, morally or intellectually.

Now they are threatening an unholy alliance of ultra-high and ultra-low church, to see off those who wish for women's ministry--just as they saw off the Methodists and Michael Ramsey.

They have yet to unite to make something positive happen together. ~Maybe they should be walled up in an Ultra-High Church-Ultra-Low Church enclave --see how they get on then

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 9:40pm BST

John R: "Anecdotally, I have heard of a candidate for the episcopate who was told on the highest authority he would not be appointed if he did not support the ordination of women..."

Sara's is a case in point, though: she works in a diocese where her bishop does not believe she is a priest. How can anyone really think they have a right to be a bishop if they cannot recognise that a good number of the clergy whom they aspire to manage and be a figure of unity for are actually priests at all? (Some of the objections to Jeffrey John's Reading appointment from Con Evos in Oxford diocese were on the basis that he could not be a figure of unity in the diocese - is that not much more the case here?) It's crazy, John, and could not happen in any other work context, could it? It really is time some churchpeople started to get a bit more real before we all die waiting.

When I was younger, Evangelicals used to pride themselves on being more in the "real world" than the rarefied officer-class hierarchs whom they then derided for their old-fashioned attitudes. How bizarre it is that nowadays many Evangelicals are clinging to just the traditions of men which they always used to claim to be liberated from! It is almost as sad as watching liberal-minded beards'n'sandals 1970s liberal intellectuals like Rowan Williams transformed into apologists for institutional injustice in their Establishment old age...

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 21 October 2010 at 9:57pm BST

Thanks, Junius. At the age of 62 I am enjoying the first sabbatical of my working life. It was planned a year ago, though, because of a broken wrist, I have had to abandon plans to travel.

The last time I planned a sabbatical, ten years ago, it had to be dropped because of the call to the episcopate. The one I was contemplating seven years before that fell foul to a move from the parish to teach in Oxford. One of the difficulties, as any priest will tell you, is that there is never a good time to take a sabbatical. There is always stuff happening.

As for 'para-administrations', not sure what that means: most pastors try to bring some shape to the pastoral task. I have done that, in full consultation with successive archbishops and with other bishops in the West and South West. I plead guilty to trying to explore the ecclesiological possibilities of what is not in itself a very promising ecclesioloical development, the PEV mechanism. If you're interested, I have written on the implications of this for the much broader context of the Church in the current issue of Church Observer. There is a style of bishoping here that the Church ought to hang on to and develop, beyond the Faith and Order debates.

Where I do agree with you is that I shouldn't have been at all suited to being a mainstream suffragan bishop. Fortunately the apostles too were simple men. Most of them would have been a disaster in the committee structures and culture of consultation we have evolved. I have been content to pastor, preach, encourage, celebrate, evangelize and catechize and leave the licences, CRB checks, appraisals, committees, and town hall stuff to others.

Prayers and best wishes

Andrew Ebbsfleet

Posted by Bishop Andrew Burnham at Friday, 22 October 2010 at 7:10am BST
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