Comments: even more on Episcopal Resignations

'The Catholic Group remains determined to do all it can to ensure that the promises made by the Church of England to traditionalists at the time of the passing of legislation to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood are honoured by the General Synod as it now considers draft legislation to permit the consecration of women as bishops; significant amendment of the current draft will be required to enable this to happen.'

Please could someone quote for me, giving proper references, the actual words of these promises, as enacted in the legislation? I think we need some clarity here.

Posted by junius at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 7:44am GMT

What relationship do such 'promises' (as may have been made by the G.S. at the time of the passing of legislation permitting their ordination) have with the fact that it was generally understood that any arrangements - including that of the provision of 'flying bishops' - were subject to an ongoing discernment process? This presumably meant that such 'promises' were only good until the ongoing discernment process was finished. There have been women clergy in the Church for some time now. How long will the discernment take.

For 'promises' to be made by any sitting of any Synod which would guarantee an unchanging polity in the Church would surely prohibit the work of the Holy Spirit in discerning the need for change on any matter. This is not what I understand of the call of the Church. If the work of one Synod can preempt the ongoing discernment of future Synod meetings, then we are talking Dead Church!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 9:03am GMT

Junius, if you go to the website of Forward in Faith and listen to Bishop Broadhurst's speech at the Conference this year, the words of those promises are all clearly conveyed and quoted. Maybe that will help you. It seems both Synod and indeed Parliament are suffering from collective amnesia.

Posted by Benedict at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 9:47am GMT

PROPOSED to be passed by the General Synod to make provision for the continuing diversity of opinion in the Church of England as to the ordination and ministry of women as priests, and for related matters. Whereas:
The Church of England through its synodical processes has given final approval to a Measure to make provision for the ordination of women to the priesthood.
The bishop of each diocese continues as the ordinary of his diocese;
The General Synod regards it as desirable that
(a) all concerned should endeavour to ensure that

(i) discernment of the rightness or otherwise of the decision to ordain women to the priesthood should be as open a process as possible;
(ii) the highest possible degree of communion should be maintained within each diocese; and
(iii) the integrity of differing beliefs and positions concerning the ordination of women to the priesthood should be mutually recognised and respected;

(b) the practical pastoral arrangements contained in this Act of Synod should have effect in each diocese.

Continuing diversity of opinion has not changed - if anything opponents' numbers have swollen despite defections to Rome.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 10:11am GMT

@ junius - the promises are not included within the legislation. That simply legislates that that women may become priests, and lays down the process by which a parish or cathedral my refuse a woman celebrant (resolution A) or the appointment of a woman as parish priest (resolution B). However, traditionalists point to statements made during the committee stages of the legislation, specifically that Synod representatives explained that the Synod had removed time limits in earlier drafts so that ‘protection for incumbents and in particular parishes, should remain in perpetuity for as long as anyone wanted it.’ Archbishop Carey stated ‘it is our intention for this to be permanent and we are not thinking of rescinding it'. It's clear that such statements are not legally enforceable, I think it's also clear that whatever the mood of synod in 1993, we are now in a very different place.

Posted by Graham Ward at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 11:14am GMT

Thank you for your responses.
It is only Graham who has the correct answer. 'the promises are not included within the legislation. That simply legislates that that women may become priests, and lays down the process by which a parish or cathedral my refuse a woman celebrant (resolution A) or the appointment of a woman as parish priest (resolution B).'

The rest is fluff.

Posted by junius at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 2:45pm GMT

oh George 'Carey promised' it. I see. Well that settles it.

He said (and says) so many wonderful things.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 6:46pm GMT

"the promises are not included within the legislation"

A response which ought to receive the Stalin Prize for breaking eggs to make omlettes.

Posted by William Tighe at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 7:56pm GMT

I thought this rather lovely from Andrew Burnham's site. Splendid prayer and back-ground to it, I think.


'I am going to end with a prayer. It is from After the Third Collect, a Mowbrays anthology of fifty years ago. That kind of anthology, for that kind of praying - extra prayers at the end of the Prayer Book Office - is part of our Anglican Patrimony. As is the author of this prayer, Lancelot Andrewes, 1555-1626, one of the Caroline Divines and a great favourite of the present pope. The prayer itself, I hope, is not inappropriate:

O God, most glorious, most bountiful, accept, we humbly beseech thee, our praises and thanksgivings for thy holy Catholic Church, the mother of us all who bear the name of Christ; for the faith which it hath conveyed in safety to our time, and the mercies by which it hath enlarged and comforted the souls of Men; for the virtues which it hath established upon earth, and the holy lives by which it glorifieth both the world and thee; to whom, O blessed Trinity, be ascribed all honour, might, majesty and dominion, now and for ever.

Andrew Burnham
Dry Sandford
St Leonard
6th November 2010

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 9:52pm GMT

Junius suggests that, apart from the legislation 'The rest is fluff'.

Hmmm. No. The rest includes charity, tolerance, broad-mindedness, love towards those who disagree with you. In short, a whole host of Christian virtues.

Those who support the ordination of women have a right, perhaps even a duty, to state their belief, their support, their case. They may well consider that others are wrong, wrong, wrong on theological grounds, on social justice grounds, on whatever grounds. They may well want to argue about the way in which accommodation will be made for the minority (remembering that at least in part it was the assurance of that accommodation for the minority that may have enabled the legislation to pass in the first place).

But. Those with whom we disagree are still our brothers and sisters in Christ. We owe them, through him, respect and charity. Even when -- no, most especially when -- we think they don't deserve it.

Take a deep breath, and re-read the very first post made on Thinking Anglicans. You'll find it here http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/000065.html . Posted by me, it was and remains our manifesto for this blog.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 9:59pm GMT

The fact remains: Can any act of Synod be rendered incapable of being overturned by a successive Synod meeting? Has the Church of England already bowed to the technique of Roman Infallibility? If so, I'm in the worng Church.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 10:04pm GMT

Simon K - I like the spirit of your comments, and the vision of the sort of Church we have been in the past, and which (despite the 'fluff') it would be a disaster to kill.

Posted by Neil at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 10:31pm GMT

Simon Kershaw reminded us of the original stated intent of Thinking Anglicans, in words which he authored in 2003:

"Thinking Anglicans proclaims a tolerant, progressive and compassionate Christian spirituality, in which justice is central to the proclamation of the good news of the kingdom of God. Our spirituality must engage with the world, and be consistent with the scientific and philosophical understanding on which our modern world is based. It must address the changes which science and technology have brought into our lives."

I think, Simon, that you are asking us to rise above the taunts, and misinformation, and distortions, and vile words (a bishop calling the CofE fascist????), of the self-proclaimed ultra orthodox.

I think that you are asking us to treat those who would demean us, and revile us, on their own extreme right wing websites, with more charity than they would employ.

I think, therefore, that you are asking us to be more Christ-like than those ultra orthodox would be.

As a career military officer I have always found it very difficult to treat those who proclaim themselves the enemy of civilization as we know it as Jesus might have done, and very difficult to ignore whatever they might do to hurt us, physically or mentally.

But, I realize that you are speaking to us in the mode of a Christian ideal, and in that spirit I will try to exercise restraint. Yet, I will be ready to defend my faith, as well as I would my life, and that of my family and brothers and sisters, whenever it should come under assault.

Posted by Jerry Hannon at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 11:29pm GMT

The "promise" that was made and the different memories of what was said, is, I think, a result of words being used to mean what the hearers (on all sides) wanted them to hear, and perhaps a bit of naievety on both sides of the debate back in 1993. What Carey said when introducing the legislation included the words:
"The arrangements the House envisages are designed to ensure that appropriate pastoral episcopal care is provided for those in favour and those opposed to the legislation, without undermining the authority of the diocesan bishop"
Anglicans without a strongly developed theology of sacramental assurance might well understand this as meaning "pastoral" - ie caring individually for priests and congregations, and not taking over at confirmations, ordinations, chrism masses etc. I know many of us were amazed when we discovered some clergy refusing to take communion if our diocesan bishop was the celebrant. We had thought that PEVs were to provide extra support to those who could not cope with women priests and had no concept that they would see their role as to preserve and develop a totally separate mini-denomination within the C of E. Reading the pastoral letters from the retiring PEVs makes it clear that they did not see their role as enabling Anglicans who found women priests a difficult change to live in the "new dispensation", but rather to re-unite the C of E with Rome.... And as the bishops were having so much pressure put on them (by themselves?) the Act of Synod went through without a revision committee or any of these questons being asked in detail - and was voted for by quite a lot of Synod members who did not like it, but felt they should be as generous as they could be, and more genrous than they really thought necessary...The full ramifications did not appear for several years.
So words were said that were taken as a promise by those who wanted to hear this - other words were said that led those with other views to come to feel that the PEVs had taken far more than they were given - and women clergy are still are treated, by the institution , as a problem to be solved; and the implicit promise made in Nov 1992, that women priests would be accepted and welcomed as part of the ministry of the Church of England stil has to be kept in full.

Posted by Lindlady at Wednesday, 10 November 2010 at 11:52pm GMT

Simon, I appreciate your point but the original point was about promises given at the time of the legislation, not about charity. Laurence is right here. The sort of platitudes that were spoken were said out of a misplaced charity.
It is, for instance, no kindness to say to slave-owners, 'we appreciate your feelings of loss at emancipation, and we respect your point of view, so you can keep your slaves'.
In the same way, if we believe, as I and many others do, that it is wrong to refuse ordination to women in a Church of England which is united as one body in the eucharist, then there simnply is no room for another position. Just as there can be no two-integrities with slave owning.
A far, far greater failure of compassion and charity is committed by making women suffer the humiliation and degredation of licensing a 'no gurls alowed heer' shed within the church, with its own parishes, its own bishops, its own chrism masses.

Posted by junius at Thursday, 11 November 2010 at 6:58am GMT

What I find spurious is the assertion that, somehow, it is charitable to make little pockets, like cysts, around those whose values no longer reflect the ecclesial society around them, while it is *un*charitable to hold the door open for them to go to a preexisting and wholly-established institution which holds the same values as they.

I find it odd that it is charitable to tell a majority, ready to move into a new chapter, that they have to wait and tiptoe and pretend, while it is *un*charitable to tell those - who already have and venerate a separate ecclesial institution with the same values - that this is the direction the CofE is officially going and we require they either submit to the discipline of that organization or move into a different ecclesial organization.

The complaints of loss of ordained ministry or "property" seem to me to be wholly ego-driven. Either you believe what you say you do, or you don't. If the loss of these things, an inconvenience which is a commonplace in modern life for every other aspect of society, loom that big to you, then you really aren't that committed to what you've been claiming.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 11 November 2010 at 11:43am GMT

I found it very liberating, this morning (12 Nov. in New Zealand) to commemorate the life and work of an Anglican priest of profoundly Evangelical provenance in the 18th century Church of England - Charles Simeon. In our Anglo-Catholic setting at St. Michael and all Angels, Christ-church, it was good to remember the saintly life of someone who was a product of Eton and Cambridge, Vicar of Holy Trinity, Cambridge for most of his life and ministry - who had a real love of souls. His preaching was exemplary, and truly 'evangelical' - in that it brought people to Christ in a loving and non-judgemental way.

This is the sort of evangelicalism that I can readily and thankfully subscribe to - in a very Anglican tradition of inclusivity that has marked out the Anglican path hitherto. Let's not lose our sense of proportion in trying to claim that our own particular church 'party' is more in line with the Gospel than another. What, I am sure, God wants of us, is to follow the pattern of Jesus - in calling all into a community of love and acceptance, without reserve.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 11 November 2010 at 11:56pm GMT
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