Comments: Women Bishops

"My heart is inditing of a Good Matter. Alleluia!"

Very sensible not to pander to the 'special needs' of those who fear the oversight of godly women.

"The Angel of The Lord brought tidings to Mary!"

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 11:56am BST

Whatever our view of an issue such as godly women in holy orders, I think it would improve the tenor of debate and indeed the nature of our relationships as followers of Christ o avoid potentially perjorative language such as "pander" and "special needs". But then again this the blogoshere so...

Posted by Fr Graeme Buttery at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 4:21pm BST

Two more dioceses where the following motion got little support. I wonder if this trend will continue and whether it will influence the House of Laity where ( I suspect)the legislation is most likely to be defeated. A General Synod H of L significantly out of step with lay opinion in the dioceses ( and Deanery Synods) raises it own problems for the future of synodical government as currently practiced.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 6:03pm BST

The point about 'Thinking Anglicans', presumably, is that such Anglicans are supposed to think. That means, among many other things, weighing up arguments and counter-arguments and trying to find a balance of the Good.

In England, as in the rest of the UK, as in New Zealand and many other places, the C of E (and its equivalents) isn't doing very well. The C of E is proceeding with women bishops. Excellent. Personally, I wholeheartedly agree. There are those who do not accept this development. Some of them are outright bigots. Forget them. Some of them are not. Of this latter group, some think WO generically is/are absolutely excluded. Others think the case 'not proven' and in any event subject to the assent of the universal Christian Church. In both groups, there are many who run virtuous and 'successful' churches. In both groups, the majority really, really do not want to 'pope'. (This is still truer of their congregations.) Both in charity and in calculation (trying to find a balance of the Good, trying to keep our struggling churches going), we should allow them space. Why is this difficult, O Father Ron?

Purely as an example of such people, I commend to you Father Trevor Jones (Google St Peter's Wapping). He's an Anglican through and through. He's straight, he's true. Why cut him off?

Posted by john at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 8:19pm BST

Are these results expected?

I am surprised by the high numbers in favour and very poor showing of the second motion. Are the great metropolitan diocese going to present a different picture?

Does anyone consider the Ordinariate has had any effect on the way people see things?

Humour a Welsh lad SVP.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 8:35pm BST

As a footnote, I note that Fr Graeme Buttery (whose integrity is certainly not mine) is a non-residentiary Canon of Durham Cathedral. There he will celebrate mass at altars where women priests have celebrated mass and he will do it maybe not without a qualm but in good conscience. He will be welcomed by the largely WO-supporting and Aff Cath establishment of that Cathedral. He will presumably also welcome them and feel welcome, not just because of the benign personalities involved but because that church is also his church.

That is the Church of England today. I think it is a magnificent ideal. But it isn't just ('just') an ideal: it is also reality. The reality is that Christians have to compromise with one another. There is nothing shameful or lowgrade about this. On the absolute contrary. And it is because the C of E best recognises and implements that ideal/reality that many of us are so devoted to it. Including FiF people!

Posted by john at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 8:39pm BST

Father Smith's comments are indeed unhelpful and pejorative, as we've come to expect from him on this blog, and he makes them after only three or four dioceses have voted. Those who have done so thus far are hardly great bastions of Anglo-Catholicism. The vote in the Diocese of Europe was certainly not that resounding, and we have yet to see the declarations of the remaining 40 or so dioceses in England. Remember, the final vote in Synod will be by houses, and the legislation must secure over two thirds in each. Be careful with your premature and condescending remarks, Father Smith. I do not count myself as having 'special needs' simply because I believe what the Church has believed for generations. Furthermore, it is ridiculous to make the claim that this is about fearing the oversight of godly women. You do not, and I fear never will, understand those whose theological viewpoints differ from those you embrace, so entrenched are your own opinions.

Posted by Benedict at Wednesday, 15 June 2011 at 11:14pm BST

"You do not, and I fear never will, understand those whose theological viewpoints differ from those you embrace, so entrenched are your own opinions."

- Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday -

You're not quite right there, Benedict. I used to hold the very same views myself. I moved on from that after experiencing the ministry and integrity of some deeply spiritual female colleagues in the Faith. I really do believe that, in the present climate of the Church, God is doing a New Thing.

I'm sorry that I have obviously offended those of you who treasure the catholic inheritance of the Church in England. That was my cradle, and I am still enamoured of the traditions it espouses. I have just moved on, spiritually and theologically.
However, I need to be more careful of my overt tendency to exuberance at what I have grown to believe is progress in the Church.

As a catholic, of the Anglican persuasion and provenance, I believe Our Blessed Lady to be a worthy proponent of women in ministry.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 12:11am BST

The concern trolling on this thread is becoming tedious.

The CofE and its dioceses isn't having this debate in a vacuum---AS IF the ordination of women to ALL holy orders hasn't been tried. It has been. It's been great. It's almost laughable to call the anti-WO bias an "integrity." For example: "what the Church has believed for generations." What, the "generations" since the ordination of (HOLY!) Florence Lee Tim-Oi in 1944? This, and the similar "generations" "2000 years" "from time immemorial" etc (ad nauseum) anti-gay claims, are patently RIDICULOUS. We all KNOW that world culture, for 5000 years at least, has been overwhelmingly male- and hetero-supremacist---such that having women in positions of authority over men (and homosexual relations normalized) weren't even CONSIDERED. That is NOT the same as finding a Biblical and/or Christian MANDATE for this kind of Power-Over.

Please, if you have a prejudice, just come out and SAY SO already? And stop hiding behind euphemisms like "integrity" and "what the Church has believed for generations"? This spin is abundantly *unconvincing*!

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 3:46am BST

" You do not, and I fear never will, understand those whose theological viewpoints differ from those you embrace, so entrenched are your own opinions."

That's the tragedy of *both* sides, Benedict, and why "staying together for the kids" - even in an idealised ecclesial setting - is a bad idea that brings only damage to all, including the kids. You are hurt by Ron's words, so you come to hurt him back with your words. Is there any clearer evidence that the two views cannot share one denomination and still do God's work as envisioned by *either* view? Any clearer evidence that there is nothing of God, or at the least good health, in the compromise, outside of whatever you may think of either individual position?

John's ideals (the poster, not the saint) are beautiful, and entirely too good for this world.

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 5:42am BST

JCF why do you state with great authority that for 5000 years nobody even considered women in the role of priest when the pagan world was simply awash with priestesses? So actually the one thing we CAN say is that this was a consideration. You might then explain why the early church ex-communicated some groups for ordaining women given that they hadnt even thought of it!

And what do you make of Cleopatra? Aristophane's 'Women of thebes' which clearly deals with notions of women's leadership.

See this is NOT an issue of women's lib but of the role of women. It is 'same and equal' versus 'equal but different'. And that is more subtle but interesting discussion. Were we created -male and female -as complimentary or interchangeable.

After 20 years debate perhaps it really is time for those in favour to stop the cheap trick of wrapping this up in the language of feminist liberation and begin to deal with it as adults. The arguments are all there in 'Women and the church' - do your opponents the courtesy of reading it and not simply misintepreting their position.

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 8:23am BST

I am not sure any diocese could be called a "bastion of anglo-catholicism". London diocese has a significant proportion of women clergy now.Blackburn is a conservative diocese but not renown for its anglo-catholicism. Chichester is I suppose a pretty anglo-catholic diocese but with a growing number of women priests.I believe there is a significant body of opinion within the diocese that wishes at least one bishop should be appointed who ordains women. The legislation will be passed in all dioceses I am sure...the issue now is the fate of the following motion...and I am interested ( and a bit surprised ) that it has not been doing at all well. Yes I think the Ordinariate may have influenced things especially the way two of the PEV's acted in the last couple of years.How many dioceses have in fact voted? I think it is more than three or four... and Europe is rather sui generis as a diocese .

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 9:10am BST

Ed Tomlinson. You've already left the established Church - for another, less women-friendly environment. One wonders why you are still fighting a battle you've already won - for yourself? You are not now in a position to influence the C.of E.'s position on women's ministry, so why bother?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 10:28am BST

Perry, if I am not mistaken, only Edmundsbury and Ipswich, Birmingham, Canterbury, Gloucester, Chelmsford and (Europe) have voted thus far. Still almost forty to go, and none of the more "middle ground" or catholic dioceses have voted. I'm not saying at all that there will not be a majority of dioceses in favour of the legislation, but it is the voting patterns that matter. Remember that a two thirds benchmark is needed at the ultimate vote in General Synod, not as easily attainable as fifty one per cent.

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 11:19am BST

Ed Tomlinson, are you not happily in Another Place, and therefore leaving us Anglicans to our own internal debates now? I thought the advantage of the existence of the Ordinariate was that you could all go off and be jolly together there without worrying about such things in the C of E any longer...

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 12:19pm BST

Note this comment by Ed Tomlinson: "See this is NOT an issue of women's lib but of the role of women. It is 'same and equal' versus 'equal but different'....After 20 years debate perhaps it really is time for those in favor to stop the cheap trick of wrapping this up in the language of feminist liberation and begin to deal with it as adults."

I think I know what Ed intends, but I'm not sure why Ed thinks there is bifurcation between feminism and adult insight. Churches in democratic western countries have all been influenced by both the sexual revolution and feminism--thankfully. I don't think that contemporary clergy, both men and women, appreciate how much the ordination of women owes to feminist insight. The notion that the ordination of women is based solely on theological development, or on a rediscovery of biblical principles that were there all the time, is a myth.

The fact that feminism is still suspect in the institutional church says a lot about the church. The term "women's lib" by the way is both dated and somewhat derogatory.

Similarly, the advancement of full inclusion for GLBT people in the churches owes much more to the sexual revolution and the advancement of human and civil rights that we care care to admit.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 12:55pm BST

6 dioceses have voted, leaving 38 out of the 44 total still to do so. It's right though to note Europe in brackets as formally, due to its constitution, the vote recently taken has to be confirmed at the later meeting of the Bishop's Council.

Nevertheless, it is true that every vote so far has been in favour and the attempt to get a following motion passed has failed in every case (including Europe).

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 1:04pm BST

Ed Tomlinson -It is 'same and equal' versus 'equal but different'. And that is more subtle but interesting discussion. Were we created -male and female -as complimentary or interchangeable.

I am getting rather fed up with these sorts of distinctions, we have exactly the same in the nature/nurture and practising/celibate debate about GLTB people in the church. In fact these weasel words are used to salve the consciences and provide cover for those who really wish to justify discrimination. And as for 'the faith once delivered to the saints' What on earth is that? As if the Church hasn't been defining, modifying, changing, and developing the faith over the past 2000 years. To assert otherwise is to deny the role of the Holy Spirit in the world and the life of the church.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 1:16pm BST

Benedict, all dioceses are pretty mixed these days it seems to me. Which are the "catholic" dioceses? Chichester and Exeter perhaps..London, Im less sure now. Possibly Chester but that is more conservative than anglo-catholic. I would have thought the dioceses that have voted so Europe are pretty "middle ground".Leicester / Worcester / Southwark /Rochester /Portsmouth /St Albans / Lincoln /Newcastle /Oxford /B and W etc, I could go on..... are all pretty "liberal" I would think. Yes two thirds is a barrier but I was pondering the implications of the General Synod defeating the legislation ( perhaps by a small margin in one House) IF it is overwhelmingly passed by the Diocesan Synods.The interesting thing is that despite much talk of wanting to honour the concerns of the dissidents the following legislation ( so far) is not gaining much traction. Why is that I wonder? any comments. In any case those opposed to women in the episcopate began by saying only a Third province would do. No alterations to the legislation or indeed the following motion comes remotely near that.And if IS defeated it will surely be back within 5 years...and with so many ( male) retirements in the next 5 years and the number of women priests moving to 30% or more.......

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 2:31pm BST

Perhaps it should be made clear on this blog that it is not inclusive and that those not in the CHurch of England have nothing to contribute to debate. I had not grasped that point thinking that this might be an issue for all Christians to consider

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 7:31pm BST

I didn't think there was anything for Roman Catholics, thinking or otherwise, to "consider"on this issue?

You are, of course, free to pop up every now and then and lecture us on the Catholic position. But that's unlikely to cut much ice on a blog where people do, indeed, still think about it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 9:47pm BST

Ed T: it's not so much whether you may as why you would still want to argue against the liberal tendencies of Anglicans that interests me. If your experience of the C of E prior to your joining the Ordinariate was a period of great anguish, as you kept saying on your blog, I would imagine you would be feeling glad to be shot of it (and the likes of us) now, and to have moved on to pastures new.

Posted by Fr Mark at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 10:45pm BST

Fr Ed you repudiated Anglican orders by being re-confirmed and ordained.

Why use this line of know we don't believe Anglican men are priests in apostolic succession either.

Criticising the Church of England for its inherent Protestantism is as cruel as criticising a man born blind for lack of foresight!

Posted by Robert ian williams at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 11:18pm BST

Ah, what's this bright flash of women loving wisdom fresh from Mgr Guido Pozzo, Secretary of Ecclesia Dei who says only last week (entirely in the spirit of equal but different) “permitting female altar servers does not apply to the Extraordinary Form”.

So this "significant" ruling means women are even more different if the priest is speaking Latin.

So wise.

Posted by Martin Reynolds at Thursday, 16 June 2011 at 11:48pm BST

Before we start making sweeping statements about timeless and unchanging traditions, here is a 15th century painting of the Virgin Mary acting as Priest at the Mass.

Apparently previous generations were not quite as settled on the priestly role of women as we might assume.

Posted by Counterlight at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 1:33am BST

"Fr Ed you repudiated Anglican orders by being re-confirmed and ordained"

No he didn't. He repudiated Anglican orders by being CONFIRMED. No 're-' about it, RIW. Watch your language or the Temple Police will be on to you for suggesting some validity in Anglican episcopal orders;-)

And am I not right in saying that re-confirmation would be sacrilege? I DO hope you don't get TOO heavily disciplined for your grave theological error against the teaching of the Magisterium;-))

Posted by david rowett at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 11:01am BST

Thamk you, Counterlight, for this lovely picture of the theme of 'Mary as priest'. Obviously a visionary concept, but helpful in the discussion.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 12:55pm BST

@ Counterlgiht: and I seem to remember from art history class of long ago that a pope (or some such authority) forbade any more paintings of the BVM dressed in sacramental vestments, presumeably lest those descendents of Adam's rib should get the idea that women can ....... any church historian who can verify this for me? Thanks.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 4:02pm BST

Those who comment on this site on the issue at hand, both Anglican and Roman Catholic alike, may be interested to know that the debate over the ordination of women remains a feisty debate within Roman Catholicism. No last word yet--not even an infallible one some Roman Catholics contend.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 7:59pm BST

The Blessed Virgin Mary is represented in the ceremonial dress of the Jewish high priest, with the breast plate studded with precious stones representing the 12 tribes. Mary represents the fulfillment of Jewish prophecy.

She gives birth to the new priesthood of Melchisedek.

Posted by Robert ian Williams at Friday, 17 June 2011 at 9:58pm BST

Does anyone have the voting figures (by houses) for the vote in Chelmsford?

Posted by David Malloch at Saturday, 18 June 2011 at 9:29am BST

Will more Diocesan Synods vote before the summer holidays?

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 18 June 2011 at 12:10pm BST

@ Counterlight. She's not wearing a maniple, so it is not a mass.

Posted by Matthew Tomlinson at Sunday, 19 June 2011 at 3:14pm BST

Voting, according to my notes made at the Chelmsford Synod was:

Bishops 2 for, 0 against, 0 abstentions
Clergy 44 for, 11 against, 5 abstentions
Laity 44 for, 16 against, 1 abstention

See for a note of dates for Diocesan Synod debates, and results when they are known.

June votes are Sodor & Man (news awaited from 17 June?), Guildford, Salisbury and Southwell & Nottingham.
July votes in Hereford and Bristol.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Sunday, 19 June 2011 at 3:49pm BST


Missed your comment on my 'ideals'. Since, for various reasons, I'm currently feeling sulphurous, it's nice to have my highly selective ideals characterised as too beautiful for this world. Many in the know would not recognise the description!

Posted by John at Sunday, 19 June 2011 at 5:31pm BST

In Chelmsford, we were clearly pro women bishops though the majorities were smaller than in the other dioceses. Our figures:

Main Motion For Against Abstentions

Bishops 2 - 0 - 0

Clergy 44 - 11 - 5

Laity 44 - 16 - 1

Following Motion For Against Abstentions

Bishops 0 - 2 - 0

Clergy 20 - 42 - 0

Laity 24 - 37 - 2

Posted by Alastair Bone at Sunday, 19 June 2011 at 9:07pm BST

The BVM is certainly wearing a stole, though (see it peeping under the vestment). In modern times, the lack of a maniple does not make the Mass invalid - even to a retired Anglo-Catholic like Ed.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 20 June 2011 at 3:41am BST

Our Lady seems to be wearing her girdle on the outside of her chasuble. I also note that an angel is carrying a papal triple tiara - I wonder whose head it is intended to go on?

Posted by Father David at Monday, 20 June 2011 at 11:01am BST

At first glance, I thought the above artwork of the BVM might be that of Junia.

Posted by Doug at Monday, 20 June 2011 at 3:35pm BST
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