Comments: Clifford Longley writes about the General Synod

This should be read bearing in mind what Diarmaid Macculloch wrote recently about the potential for an an upcoming big schism in the Roman Catholic Church.

I read between the lines that Clifford Longley is taking a rather liberal or even radical Anglican position saying that the Act of Synod et al should never have been allowed in the first place because if Rome were ever to ordain women it would definitely be on an equal basis only.

Posted by Concerned Anglican at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 7:33pm BST

While I disagree with his assertion that the ordination of women as presbyters and/or bishops is a "toxic novelty" I do agree that it is always a mistake to accomodate those unwilling to concede the point (in this case that women can be ordained to any of the three orders).

Those who refuse the ordained ministry of women will never change their thinking, especially if they are given the opportunity to avoid anything that might foster such a change.

In the Episcopal Church, as well as some other Anglican Communion members, this has become mostly a non-issue.

The machinations of our Mother Church on this issue have been particularly embarrassing and all those seeking accomodations should be ashamed of how quickly they are willing to sacrifice the credibility of the Church's Orders.

And why should the Romans care anyway? Don't they believe we're just playing "dress-up" and that our our Orders are invalid?

Posted by Deacon Charlie Perrin at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 7:34pm BST

– that the validity of a sacramental ministry is independent of the worthiness of the office-holder.

Quite so. One could ask, what's the problem with women priests or Bishops? Surely God can sort it all out?

Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 7:37pm BST

"If a parish decided to reject the ministry of the local bishop if that bishop was female, it could arguably question her orders. But to reject it because a (male) bishop had, at least once, ordained a woman priest is contrary to the necessary (and Catholic) principle of ex opere operato – that the validity of a sacramental ministry is independent of the worthiness of the office-holder."

As if rejecting a bishop-who-is-female ISN'T a rejection of her as unworthy?? Sophristry.

"The next step forward therefore needs to be a step back, to examine afresh what happened on 11 November 1992. And to be honest about – wherever that may lead."

Why do I suspect he means "...so stop ordaining women as priests"?

With a "candid friend" like Longley, the CofE doesn't need enemies. [Not to mention a Roman Catholic doing anything OTHER than getting their *own* house in order...! :-X]

Posted by JCF at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 9:24pm BST

Deacon Charlie Perrin said, 'I disagree with his assertion that the ordination of women as presbyters and/or bishops is a "toxic novelty"'

Is that what Longley said? I thought the toxic novelty was flying bishops, which is why the following sentence is about a parish excommunicating its bishop.

Posted by MarkP at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 10:39pm BST

- that the validity of a sacramental ministry is independent of the worthiness of the office-holder.

Is it sort of on that basis that the anti-women crowd has been able to live with the Supreme Governor of the Church being a woman?

I'm honestly asking -- always wondered how they managed to square that circle, that the big boss (well, second in command boss) of the shindig is a woman.

Posted by Randal Oulton at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 11:02pm BST

I think Deacon Charlie Perrin has possibly misread Clifford Longley. As I read it Longley says Flying Bishops or the theology of taint (not women bishops) is a "toxic novelty".

Posted by John Sandeman at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 11:03pm BST

"While I disagree with his assertion that the ordination of women as presbyters and/or bishops is a "toxic novelty"..."

Except he didn't assert any such thing, as far as I can tell. It's the idea of the "taint" attached to any male bishop that ordains women to which he was referring, isn't it?

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 11:19pm BST

"As if rejecting a bishop-who-is-female ISN'T a rejection of her as unworthy?? Sophristry."

The sort of unworthiness that Mr. Longley is writing about in regards to male bishops who ordain women is a sort of ecclesiastical cooty they catch by doing (in the eyes of opponents of WO) a Bad Thing.

On the other hand, those same opponents do not (as far as I can tell) think that women are debarred from the priesthood and episcopate because of any such alleged moral failure. Worthiness does not enter into it, any more than believing that you can't confect the Eucharist using bananas and milk means that you somehow believe bananas and milk are somehow unworthy of the dignity, while bread and wine somehow are. Of course, no one does think that bread and wine are somehow naturally worthy of being used in the Eucharist - we use them because Our Lord did and the Church has maintained that practice.

I'm surprised that more than one commenter has interpreted the column as anti-WO. I don't see how it can be read as anything more than an indictment of the flying bishop scheme.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 11:40pm BST

This is an interesting if provocative piece. I agree absolutely with the point that the Church, when and if it decides to ordain women, should ordain them to all three orders. But Longley overlooks a few key factors within the life and polity of the Church of England:

1. By his reasoning the key decision was not taken on 11 November 1992 but in July 1985 when the General Synod approved the Measure for the ordination of women as deacons. What actually happened then?

2. The vote in 1992 did not include provision for flying bishops; these came later at the initiative of the House of Bishops and through an Act of Synod, not a parliamentary Measure.

3. Anglicanism has always had a strong pragmatic dimension, and a focus, however problematic, on the idea of 'reception'. Yes in reality this means Anglicans tend to look for loopholes and 'wriggle room' to the frustration of their ecumenical partners and their own constituencies. The key decision in terms of lived experience of the Church was always going to be the ordination of women as priests, and as reality changes, Anglicans became ready for what ought to be a final and definitive step, the ordination of women as bishops. Twenty years is not that long in the history of the church to live in an in-between time.

I think it's precisely the sense of closure, the end of a process and the beginning of being something new, that has meant Anglicans have invested so much of themselves in the debates around women as bishops. For surely the consecration of a woman within a national church such as the Church of England does mean that 'reception' of women's orders has concluded and become part of the ongoing apostolic life of the church. And it's for this reason that those opposed have fought so hard to preserve a place for themselves, a church within a Church, and those in favour have desired a single-clause measure that says 'we have arrived'.

So the question for me is less, what happened in 1992 (or 1985, or even 1944 or 1861), and what is God calling the Church to be like in 2050?

Posted by Peter Sherlock at Monday, 16 July 2012 at 11:47pm BST

On re-reading Clifford it is reasonable that the "toxic novelty" is in fact the flying bishop or the "taint" theology.

That said, I stand by the rest of my post.

Posted by Deacon Charlie Perrin at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 12:32am BST

"But it is not a doctrine known to the Catholic and apostolic tradition, to which the Church of England has pledged to be faithful. Nor is it biblical. It is a toxic novelty. Nowhere in the tradition is it written that a parish may excommunicate its own bishop and opt for another one, which is what the flying bishops idea amounts to."

- Clifford Longley, in 'The Tablet -

Clifford Longley is surely right here, when he suggests that the idea of a two-tiered episcopate is unknown to classical catholic theology - which is surely something the ultra-montane among the F.I.F. people should be most scared of.

The Church of England, of course, has its own form of 'catholic assurance', that does not necessarily equate to that of the Roman Catholic Church.

Otherwise, why would we be Anglicans and not Roman Catholics? All I know on this issue is that God treats all of us, male and female, as equals in God's service. This is what Paul found out.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 1:04am BST

To sort out this "mess" which is in danger of becoming a "train crash" - can T A ask Clifford Longley exactly what he was referring to when he used the highly descriptive phrase "toxic novelty"?
Having read his piece several times I am not at all sure what he regards the "toxic novelty" to be?
Is it
a) Flying Bishops.
b) The innovation of women's ordination as priests and bishops.
c) The thelogy of "taint"
There seems to be much confusion among your readers, myself included, as to exactly who or what is the "toxic novelty".

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 5:19am BST

IMO Mr Longley has summed it up rather nicely. The C of E needs to jump one way or the other as it is obvious that there is no way that both sides of this argument can be satisfied.
They can't have it both ways.
Either it was correct to give the Orthodox wing pastoral oversight back in the 80's and this should continue, causing all the WATCH supporters to start screaming about "second class bishops".
Or, they should admit that giving this concession was a mistake, it will be revoked and that we should take it or leave it. In the latter case we would be more than happy to pack up our thuribles and go to another church that took the spiritual welfare of its members more seriously.

Posted by Petra at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 6:31am BST

An interesting and incisive comment by Peter Sherlock when he states that the consecration of a woman would mean that the period of reception re. women's ordination has concluded. Would that obversely mean that the failure to pass the Measure in November, thus delaying the innovative consecration, that the period of reception (about which we hear little nowadays) continues?
It seems to me that we have somewhat sidelined the period of reception in favour of what might currently be described (with the vote to adjourn) as a period of reflection.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 9:39am BST

"It is a toxic novelty. Nowhere in the tradition is it written that a parish may excommunicate its own bishop and opt for another one, which is what the flying bishops idea amounts to."

The context makes it quite clear that this is about flying bishops, doesn't it?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 11:04am BST

When in doubt as to what an "it" refers to, one should look back to find the previous noun.

In Mr. Longley's passage:

By voting for the flying-bishop proposal as part of the minimalist package, furthermore, the liberal majority had colluded in this theology of taint, whether they meant to or not.

But it is not a doctrine known to the Catholic and apostolic tradition, to which the Church of England has pledged to be faithful. Nor is it biblical. It is a toxic novelty.

We have here three sentences that use "it." The noun that immediately precedes the first "it" is "theology," which is modified by "of taint."

So I don't see what the interpretive trouble is.

This is not an anti-WO article. It is an anti-flying-bishops article.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 11:38am BST

If Erika Baker is correct in her assumption that Clifford Longley does indeed link the phrase "toxic novelty" to the "flying bishops" then that is grossly offensive to the Provincial Episcopal Visitors who offer a first rate pastoral ministry to the significant minority within the Established Church who, in all conscience, cannot accept recent ministerial innovations as either consonant with Scripture nor consistent with 2000 years of Christian tradition.

Posted by Father David at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 12:04pm BST

Clifford Longley: 'If a parish decided to reject the ministry of the local bishop if that bishop was female, it could arguably question her orders.'

Here's a left-field thought. The legislation to allow persons "born out of lawful wedlock" to be ordained as priests, deacons, and bishops went through all three houses of synod unanimously - I think at the February 1964 session. If anyone has ready access to the minutes of that session, it might be worth investigating whether the same fears about the validity of ordination and consecration were raised and laid to rest then, and whether the same arguments might lay them to rest again now.

Posted by Feria at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 3:24pm BST

Fr David,
the PEVs might offer a sterling service, but it is nevertheless true to say that the creation of flying bishops was somehow inexplicable and that it created a formal split church within a church.

I have still not understood how they ever came about in the first place.
Evangelicals are happy as long as no woman teaches them.
And Anglo-Catholics are worried about the ontological aspect of ordination and are concerned that no ontological change happens to a woman. A bishop therefore has to be a man.

That's where this should have stopped.
There was no credible rationale for flying bishops beyond the desire to have a bishop who happens to agree with you and who will never taint you by having used his hands to ordain a woman. Honest members of FiF have always acknowledged this and have called the current arrangement mysogynistic.

Behind that is the belief that the thought and actions of a bishop have a negative impact on his sacramental activities - donatism, to be precise, which has long been rejected as a heresy.

Where the church should be now is with the acceptance that Anglo Catholics have to be given the assurance that any bishop or priest who serves them has been validly ordained deacon, priest and bishop by another validly ordained male bishop. Fullstop.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 4:02pm BST

We did NOT agree to Flying Bishops in the minimalist legislation. We agreed to a 'male bishop'. We never accepted the Act of Synod and were promised that the Measure would do away with them. By their amendment the House of Bishops allowed 'special male bishops' and not any male bishop and they were the ones who wanted to put the schism into law. That is why we could not accept it.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 5:16pm BST

The Act of Synod was passed to try to hold the CofE together, and helped avoid a more general split - and indeed proper provision for opponents was what persuaded the house of laity to vote for women's ordination in 1992 by just one vote I seem to recall. Can anyone explain why the women who were happy to be ordained priest then (under a system which in some respects admitted them on different terms to their male colleagues), are now unhappy to be ordained Bishop on similar terms? If they insist on a single clause 'winner takes all' theology now, why did they put up with compromise then? Surely, following the arguments now put forward, they should all have refused to have been ordained then under such conditions?

Posted by Neil at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 6:33pm BST

My recollection is that the Act of Synod was dreamt up, proposed, drafted, debated and passed only after the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure had been passed by the General Synod, but before the approval by the parliamentary Ecclesiastical Committee and by the Lords and Commons. It was an addition to the package (the Measure and the financial compensation measure) and IIRC was at least in part designed to get the Measure through Parliament. But it did not influence any votes in the Measure in the Synod because it did not exist at that point.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 8:57pm BST

@Neil: Somewhat (but only somewhat) tongue in cheek I point you to http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Salami_tactics.

There is no doubt in my mind that those who now make up WATCH and GRAS accepted the Act of Synod pragmatically in order to get the 1992 Measure through Parliament, but did not expect the PEVs and their "integrity" to survive this long.

This need to eliminate all opposition to WO from the CofE is, of course, why no legislative provision can be made - because that would prevent further slicing of the salami. The Code of Practice is OK, because it will gradually be eroded over the next 20 years and without legislative protection all opposition will in due course be eliminated.

Posted by Clive at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 9:12pm BST

Neil,
there's a difference between a single Measure and making provisions for something that cannot be theologically justified.

I wish I had had one, just a single one, theologically sound explanation for why people need bishops who believe like they do and who do not ordain women.

It doesn't even have to be an explanation I agree with. I'd just like to see a single one that is grounded in theology.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 9:17pm BST

Further to Erika's point, I would be grateful if those on this thread who are in favour of flying bishops could explain why they believe this is necessary, given that it is an innovation (toxic or otherwise). I understand that those who believe that women cannot be validly ordained might wish to be ministered to only by male priests ordained by men, and by male bishops. The problem in being ministered to by other male bishops who (a) have ordained women, or (b) are in favour of women's ordination, is less clear to me.

For centuries, the C of E has adhered to the notion that 'the Unworthiness of the Ministers... hinders not the effect of the Sacraments', which is why the most Anglo-Catholic can presumably accept the validity of the ministry of ultra-Protestant bishops and vice-versa, however much they disapprove of one another's theology and practice.

Members of the C of E continue to live with profound differences within dioceses. Indeed women priests may have to serve under bishops who do not even recognise the validity of their ordination, which should surely pose a pastoral problem, yet no 'flying bishops' supportive of women's ordination are provided in such circumstances. What, then, is the rationale for flying bishops?

Posted by Savi Hensman at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 11:43pm BST

Thank you SImon - that sounds right to me. However, without the Act of Synod there was a danger that the various Dioceses whose synods and bishops voted against WO would have been 'no-go' areas, and this was avoided.

Posted by Neil at Tuesday, 17 July 2012 at 11:56pm BST

With all this hoohah about the provenance of the Episcopal Line by F.i.F. members; I wonder what they think of the biblical 'Priest of the Order of Melchizedek", who appeared out of nowhere, but after whose provenance even Jesus is pronounced to have appeared - as stated in Psalm 10, verse 4: "A priest for ever, after the Order of Melchizedek"?

Anglo-Catholics, in my days as a member of GSS, used to sing this Psalm at the Guild Office quite frequently. What do F.i.F. members now think it might mean for the Line of The Priesthood? Is God sovereign in the calling of the clergy, or does God rely entirely on the (divided) Church?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 12:05am BST

When I read this it seemed fairly clear that the 'toxic novelty' Clifford Longley mentions is the theology of taint - a novelty because it arose from the creation of PEVs rather than an existing theological position, and toxic because it has increased the separation of the two 'sides' and so made it much harder to find a way ahead.

Whether that gets us any further is unclear.

Posted by Pam Smith at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 12:26am BST

The anglo Catholic position is surely ultimately untenable in terms of their own purported theological catholicity. How can such person in good conscience remain 'in communion' with persons who either (being female) allow themselves to be ordained bishops, or being male ordain women bishops or allow themselves to be ordained by a female ordained or who otherwise support or accept any of the above practices. Either formally or, at very least materially, is not the ordination in question and the subsequent exercise of sacramental ministry of such a person thereafter is necessarily sacriligious? It makes no sense to be or want to remain in communion with persons whose actions you can only view in this way.

Posted by james at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:33am BST

Erica,
a few posts ago you said "Evangelicals are happy as long as no woman teaches them."
I assume you meant "conservative evangelicals".
Does this mean that a bishop has no teaching role in your view?

Posted by John Sandeman at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:34am BST

I speak as a somewhat peripheral member of the Church of England. I think Clifford Longley clarifies how the 1990s arrangement deepened divisions. But I don't think it's a theological issue. I think it's a church order issue, a cultural issue, and a simple 'aggiornamento'. In the past the church simply absorbed the culture of its time in its governance and in its biblical interpretation, failing to follow through on Jesus' radical practice of accepting women, and Paul's more radical thinking (it took millennia for 'neither slave nor free' to take precedence over 'slaves, obey your masters). Cruciform churches are traditional. They're not Tradition.

Posted by Chris Fewings at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 9:53am BST

John,
This is a very interesting question as far as I'm concerned.
I would always have thought that the PEV scheme should have been aimed at conservative evangelicals in particular, because it is clear that they are the ones who have a genuine interest in what someone teaches.

On the other hand, in the traditional CoE evangelical parishes have always had evangelical, Anglo-Catholic or Liberal bishops, there has never been a suggestion that the diocesan system should be changed to one based on theological alignment.
The other thing is that for Anglo-Catholics women priests is the one issue where compromise is not possible, because if you genuinely do not believe that your priest is a validly ordained priest, you cannot just live with that.
But for evangelicals, all “teaching” is important, and that is not limited to women priests. If a right thinking bishop was of such overriding importance to evangelicals, I would expect there to be a whole host of other important teachings that could not be provided by an Anglo-Catholic or a Liberal bishop, and a PEV scheme for conservative evangelicals would then have to include the bishop’s teaching on homosexuality, on the Atonement and on a whole host of other issues where conservative evangelicals have one firm view that is not always the same as those of other groupings within the CoE.

So the question remains:
I would love to hear one single theological reason for why Anglo-Catholics cannot accept any validly ordained and consecrated male bishop, regardless of what he thinks about women’s ordination and of whether he ordains women.
And if this is important to conservative evangelicals too, I would love to hear one single theological reason for why they have been able to accept any diocesan bishop until now, regardless of what they teach on a whole range of topics, but why women’s ordination falls outside this established framework.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 9:55am BST

I've seen this issue debated from the point of view of theology, church history, exegesis, English law, and culture, but not yet in psychological terms. Has anyone studied how our attitudes to this are informed by relationships between males and females in our families of origin, for example?

Posted by Chris Fewings at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 10:01am BST

Neil, you are still not quite right.

The Measure would have been OK on the avoiding of no-go areas but the AofS was an extra - never referred to the dioceses and cobbled together hastily by a panicked HofB. Not like today of course....

The AofS has been abused by some to try to have a church within a church. I don't want that to continue - hence 5c is unacceptable to me.

Any male bishop should do - unless one believes in taint. FinF say they don't so what is the problem?

Posted by Charles Read at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 10:49am BST

I really think that James is right here, when he says that no right-minded Anglo-Catholic (or, for that matter, Evangelical) who really believes that the Church of England is being 'apostate' when seeking to Ordain Women to either the priesthood or the episcopate, would want to remain in a Church that has taken such a step.

Therefore, for (their) integrity's sake alone, such people could no longer remain Anglican - if they thought their immortal soul were in danger?
Or, in fact, is it just 'misogyny', under the cloak of 'sacramental assurance'? After all, Rome has offered them the safety of the Ordinariate.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 11:07am BST

There never was, nor is there, any such thing as a theology of "taint". It is simply a term used to make those unconvinced of the rightness of this development look as though they had a "problem" about women. Their problem - if that's the right word - was about seeking sacramental assurance (ie, "Is this a priest?" not "Is this a woman?") and ecclesiological integrity (eg, when a presybterium is gathered as a college around its bishop, especially at the eucharist, then something is being said about the mutual recognition of the orders of all present). The reason for the PEV system, under the Act of Synod, and the statutory resolutions A & B under the substantive legislation, was that there was a self-conscious provisionality about the decision to ordain women as priests - hence the reliance on the doctrine of reception which undergirded this provisional development (a development which the Bishops of the CofE themselves acknowledged, in their final report before the 1992 Vote, might come to "wither and die").

Posted by Jonathan Redvers Harris at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 12:23pm BST

"Any male bishop should do - unless one believes in taint. FinF say they don't so what is the problem?"

That's only half right.
Any male bishop should have done up to now.
With the advent of female bishops it will be important to ensure that the male bishop serving FiF parishes was validly ordained deacon, priest and bishop by another validly ordained male bishop.

This has nothing to do with taint, because if you genuinely believe that women cannot be validly ordained, then any ordinations they participate in can also not be valid.

Whatever one might think of that argument, it is theologically consistent.

The problem of taint arises when your validly ordained and consecrated bishop also has to be right thinking and acting.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 12:39pm BST

Following Jonathan Redvers Harris above, if the Act of Synod was about provisionality, not taint, the clear logic is that 5c must be removed: consecration of women brings the period of reception to a close.

Posted by Ian Arch at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 1:05pm BST

Jonathan, that's all very well but...

what about not accepting a male bishop who has been consecrated by male bishops but who happens to ordain women? Why is such a bishop not acceptable? I don't want to label this 'taint' but can you not see how it sure looks that way....?

Posted by Charles Read at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 1:54pm BST

Jonathan Redvers Harris,
"ie, "Is this a priest?" not "Is this a woman?")

But that is simply not true!

In that case, any male bishop would have been acceptable to Anglo-Catholics and no flying bishop scheme would ever have to have been created, because every single male bishop in the CoE is validly ordained by other males who have not themselves been ordained by women.
There is not a single bishop in the current CoE who threatens sacramental assurance. And there will not be until the first woman is made bishop.

The fact that the male bishop also has to be right thinking and not ordaining women can have nothing to do with sacramental assurance.

I really do wish someone told me what it does have to do with!

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:06pm BST

I am not at all sure why having women participating in consecrations needs to cause a problem. For many years it was the custom to ask an Old Catholic bishop to participate in English consecrations. If there were doubts about the validity of the orders of bishops in the Church of England, this could be countered by making sure that there was at least one bishop taking part whose orders were beyond doubt. In our present situation, as long as some of the participating bishops have a 'faultless pedigree', why does it matter if others laying on hands (ie women) are also taking part? It only matters if it is thought that their very presence 'taints' the whole process. But why should it? I also think we have not really read what we signed in the Porvoo agreement, which is that Apostolic Succession is not passed on through the laying on of hands, but is held and passed on through the layos (baptised men and women) yet symbolised though the laying on of hands at ordination. If we really believed what we agreed at Porvoo, then ordination flows from the community of the Church, rather than being dependant on the gender of the bishops.

Posted by Nigel LLoyd at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 2:48pm BST

Thanks, Charles. Why is a male bishop who "happens" to ordain women as priests not acceptable? For the reason I was trying to explain: that such a bishop, by his actions, indicates that he sees himself as surrounded by a presbyteral college, both male and female, with Orders recognised with mutual reciprocity by all the college. His non-acceptability for those unconvinced by the development of women priests is not to do with any taint, even if some persist in perceiving it that way, but a matter of ecclesiology.

Posted by Jonathan Redvers Harris at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:06pm BST

"that such a bishop, by his actions, indicates that he sees himself as surrounded by a presbyteral college, both male and female, with Orders recognised with mutual reciprocity by all the college."

So the fact that a bishop sees himself in Communion with every priest in the CoE is such an obstacle that we needed bishops who explicitly do not see themselves in Communion with every priest in the CoE in order for Anglo-Catholics to remain in the CoE?

So it is only possible to be part of the CoE if one is not actually part of it?

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 3:49pm BST

Pro WO people are in full unimpaired sacramental communion with a bishop who ordains women to the priesthood.Anti WO people can only enjoy the same full unimpaired sacramental communion with a bishop who does not ordain women as priests.This is the reason traditionalist bishops have to be provided for parishes that are anti WO. This was all provided for decades ago by the Eames Commission on Women in the Episcopate.

Posted by Geo Noakes at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 5:48pm BST

"he sees himself as surrounded by a presbyteral college"
I wonder how many bishops of the C of E saw things that way between 1559 and relatively recently? I suspect most anglo-catholic bishops in the first half of the 20th c didnt actually think like that..Its rather Vatican 2 and catholic minded anglicans have rather absorbed this since the 1960's.

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 5:50pm BST

Jonathan - I wonder if you could explain how is that compatible with Canon A4?

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 6:05pm BST

Exactly, Jonathan Redvers Harris: it's a matter of the bishop holding what is, in the eyes of those who would reject his ministrations, a heretical view that invalidates him. In other words, it's a form of Donatism and to be condemned.

Do those who insist their bishop agree with them on every point of belief imagine the Tractarians had that luxury?

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 6:19pm BST

Oh! I had thought it was about apostasy.

Some years ago I listened to my old colleague Alan Rabjohns speaking to a FiF gathering and he was saying that there was only one real bishop in Wales and that was the Provincial Assistant who took a role similar to the English Flying Bishops.

Those bishops and priests who taught women could be ordained were teaching a lie that resulted in the sacraments being away from the faithful.


Posted by Martino Reynoldo at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 6:40pm BST

"Pro WO people are in full unimpaired sacramental communion with a bishop who ordains women to the priesthood.Anti WO people can only enjoy the same full unimpaired sacramental communion with a bishop who does not ordain women as priests."

I have to assume you're joking. If what you describe we're true, it would follow that pro-WO people could only be in full communion with pro-WO bishops, and would be entitled to flying bishops of their own, were their ordinary a traditionalist.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 7:26pm BST

As Christians we are all in communion with one another (whether we like it or not) because we are in union with Christ.

Our unity only, ever, comes from that union in Christ.

There is every good reason to remain 'in communion' with one another, because not to do so is to misrepresent the actual, present, and eternal union we all have in Christ and - in consequence - with one another.

You can't opt out of communion with other Christians if you choose to live in union in Christ.

Much of the principle of 'unity in diversity' operates from the reality that - in eternity of which the present is a part - opting out of unity with one another is not an option.

It's not an option because, whatever our differences, there is a unity of love that follows from our covenanted joining with Christ in the eternal community of the Household of God.

God the Holy Trinity is in three persons the eternal communion and community. We're invited to that community as Christians.

Communion resides with and in God, not with the varied and disparate representatives who we may or may not recognise as priests.

Some of us take different views. The community of God, on the other hand, is unshakable and open to all who come to God.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 8:34pm BST

Looking rather gloomily at some of the arguments above, I conclude reluctantly that the schism has already happened, that the FiF constituency will have nothing to do with the rest of us (doesn't matter two hoots whether you call it 'taint' or 'ecclesiology') and that 'our' bishops cannot be recognised by 'their' bishops. Cheerio, all, nice knowing you, time for a single clause measure.

I'm not usually moved to this: we've(=Lincoln SCP) just done a votive mass of the Holy Spirit praying for reconciliation and understanding, but reading this stuff makes me feel it was a total waste of time. Sinful of me, I know. FWIW the principal celebrant was of the female persuasion. Ex-FiF and of impeccable traditionalist credentials....

Posted by david rowett at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 11:04pm BST

Bill:

Judging by the vehement opposition to the continued ordination and appointment of traditionalist bishops that we customarily see displayed on TA threads it would seem that most pro WO contributors do indeed only want to be ministered to by pro WO bishops. Same end , different means.

Posted by Geo Noakes at Wednesday, 18 July 2012 at 11:36pm BST

It's important to return to the original point. Is the allegation of a "theology of taint" seriously sustainable?

Posted by Jonathan Redvers Harris at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 12:37am BST

"It's important to return to the original point. Is the allegation of a "theology of taint" seriously sustainable?"

Yes, I believe so.
I believe that "ecclesiology" is another word for taint. You are in effect saying:
You don't believe in the same ecclesiology we do and if you happen to be our bishop your views taint our purity and make it impossible for us to accept you.

If this is wrong, I would appreciate it if you could tease that ecclesiology argument apart a bit further. It's the first time it's come on on this forum and I may just not understand it yet.

But on the face of it, it's Donatism and it's taint.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 8:09am BST

Something that has puzzled me for some time is the statement on the Forward in Faith website that their directory of English parishes includes parishes which have passed Resolutions A, B or C

"together with many other parishes where the priest himself has declared that women priests will not minister within his care of souls"

http://www.forwardinfaith.com/resources/parishes-uk.html

Is it an accurate reflection of the situation in the Church of England that individual parish priests are declaring their parishes 'no go' areas for ordained women regardless of whether the PCC has passes any resolutions?

Posted by Pam Smith at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 8:52am BST

"....the vehement opposition to the continued ordination and appointment of traditionalist bishops that we customarily see displayed on TA threads ...."

This is not a fair or balanced view. Considerable even-handedness, a little "horror" but mainly thoughtful pleading for fair dealing, here on TA:

http://www.thinkinganglicans.org.uk/archives/005490.html

Posted by Martino Reynoldo at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 11:13am BST

"Judging by the vehement opposition to the continued ordination and appointment of traditionalist bishops that we customarily see displayed on TA threads it would seem that most pro WO contributors do indeed only want to be ministered to by pro WO bishops. Same end , different means."

There is a world of difference between wanting a certain sort of bishop and claiming you can only be in full sacramental communion with a certain sort of bishop. Whether or not you're in communion with your bishop (or anyone else) doesn't have anything to do with your preferences, as far as I can tell.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 11:31am BST

Geo Noakes, whatever supporters of women's ordination think of the theological views and general suitability of particular bishops who are opposed, they are still treated as bishops - it is not generally the case that they are denied entry to churches to carry out confirmations, for instance.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 11:38am BST

Can we take it then from these replies that there will be a broad welcome for further consecrations of traditionalist bishops in the Church of England over the coming decades?

Posted by Geo Noakes at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 1:15pm BST

Geo,
I don't think we can all speak for each other!
But I would be surprised if anyone minded consecrations of traditionalist bishops.

What people do mind is that the inferior status of female bishops is enshrined in church law, and in particular that not any validly consecrated male bishop will do but that he also has to support the right views. That still doesn't make any sense at all - and hasn't for the last 20 years.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 3:08pm BST

You can take from my reply the importance of your representing others accurately. It helps to tell it as it is.

For myself, I welcomed the ACNA pronouncement on behalf of North American traditionalists that WO was a second order matter.

I work alongside priests who think similarly and would be glad to see some of these fine men as bishops. But those who share the views of my erstwhile colleague I mention above, well, I would find great difficulty understanding why they wish to remain!

Posted by Martino Reynoldo at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 4:02pm BST

@Geo Noakes
Not from me.
I don't think that setting up the Act of Synod system of flying bishops was or is or will be sensible or sustainable. We pretend to FiF and anti-WO evangelicals that they can have an honoured place inside the Church of England whilst at the same time the rest of the Church - and the large majority of it - is proceeding in a direction that they say is an ontological impossibility, and which will lead to them regarding as invalid the orders of the vast majority of the Church of England (by the time a few generations of women have been consecrated bishop).

This is folly: it is intellectually convoluted beyond sense, and ethically dubious, and, in my view, typically dishonest in a nice Anglican way. The place they have is not honoured: it is odd, tolerated, protected, ghettoised, and intellectually incompatible with a church that ordains men and women equally.

I think it would be better to have the parting of friends now - while there is any friendship left. The eighteen years since 1994 have strained what there was.

A one clause measure now.

Posted by JeremyP at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 4:22pm BST

Please may I ask that we don't accept 'traditionalist' as a word which means someone who is opposed to women's ordination?
There is nothing traditionalist about the PEV scheme.
There is nothing traditionalist about the institutionalised fragmentation of communion on gender grounds.
There are perfectly good arguments for the belief that women's ordination is congruent with the tradition of the Church.

Posted by toby forward at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 4:44pm BST

Here we go again, the seizing of a word - in this case 'traditionalist' - by an interest group, just like 'orthodox' came to conceal 'anti-gay'. Given that there are 'traditionalist' bishops (ie those who oppose the ordination of women) who introduce such novelties as lay presidency, or whose stance on the gay debate is one of critical (or otherwise) engagement, it's hard to see how the term really cashes out accurately. Has 'tradition' really descended to a single-issue shibboleth?

Setting aside the entertaining ambiguity of 'traditio', wouldn't it be a lot simpler just to talk of those in favour of the ordination of women and those against? Just for the sake of accuracy? Anything else muddies the waters.

Posted by david rowett at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 5:24pm BST

Opponents of women's ordination on grounds of 'sacramental assurance' on this thread, would you question the validity of the sacramental ministry of, say, Peter and Phillip Jensen, who are soundly opposed to women's ordained ministry (making them, in your view, orthodox) but whose approach to the sacraments generally is presumably in your view (and in mine) worryingly unorthodox? Do you feel part of the same church as them in a way that you do not feel towards, say, an Anglo-Catholic bishop ordained by men but who ordains women?

Posted by Savi Hensman at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 11:01pm BST

Erica,
thankyou for your answer above.
You ask what is the theological reason for comservative evangelicals and anglo catholics to insist in like minded Bishops regarding WO when they have not insisted on this in the past. Good point.
I suspect that their real issue is that those of their views might be made unwelcome. See JeremyP above.
How do you make it clear that people with their views will be accepted, and male bishops will be provided for them without a reference to that in the legislation? Why write a code of practice AFTER the legislation is finished? Or your view that provision for them should be temporary?

Posted by John Sandeman at Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 11:03pm BST

John Sandeman: "Or your view that provision for them should be temporary?"

Are you really suggesting that women bishops should be permanently enshrined into law as second-class?

I hope not.

The provision should be a matter of grace, and it should be temporary.

After all, thirty years from now everyone will wonder why any provision was necessary.

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 4:11am BST

Jeremy -

My problem with what you suggest is that any suggestion of temporariness flies absolutely in the face of all the guff we hear about how those opposed to women priests and a fortiori women bishops have an honoured place in the Church of England. Opponents say, and quite fairly in my view, that if that is the case then there must be provision that ensures that that honour is not temporary.

Otherwise it is like a family telling Grannie that she has an honoured place in the family - but that it is temporary and that they may arrange for her euthanasia at some undisclosed point down the road. She won't feel very good about it.

I think the truth is that the two positions are incompatible and that those who want to see a gender-blind policy on consecration and ordination have not been persuaded of the theological integrity of the arguments put forward by the opponents of this development. Opponents show no sign of softening their position as a whole (though there are some notable converts to the side of women's ordination over the years).

While con evo clergy opposed might find congregations able to support them and their families in an analagous style to the C of E, AC opponents know that Rome offers much leaner fare. So one can hardly blame them all for hanging on for as long as they can to what has been their home (in many cases for all their life and all their ministry) and demanding as much guaranteed space as possible.

I just don't think it is wise or honest to give those guarantees. I work with people who are coming to the end of their lives. A lot of care is taken these days in what is called end of life care to work out how to communicate to people who are dying how the truth (as much as they want or can take at that point) can be humanely shared with them. Why? So that they can be supported in making the decisions that they want about the end of their life. Being honest about approaching death doesn't rob people of power and dignity, it gives back to them the possibility of reclaiming them with the help of others in very difficult circumstances.

Pretending that we honour and respect the views of people who are opposed root and branch to women in consecrated and ordained ministry when we don't, and maintaining that there is an honoured place for them while not wanting to put into place guarantees for that (quite properly, because it would make women a second class and separate group of clergy) is like the worst kind of end of life care. It offers false hope, destroys trust, and ruins relationships.

Far from it being unChristian to make a way to end the uncomfortable and unsustainable "two integrities" position, it would be the most honest and loving thing to do for all. I am not saying it wouldn't be hugely painful - but pain cannot be avoided in this situation whatever we do.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 8:45am BST

John,
thank you for your response.

I think we're talking about two separate questions here.
One is: what kind of new development can traditionalists object to, the other one is: what kind of provision can be made to accommodate that objection.

My initial question here had been why it is important that bishops are not only validly consecrated but that they also hold the right opinions and do not themselves ordain women, because this goes way beyond sacramental assurance.

There is a very real issue here about enshrining in law a church system that moves away from our customary diocesan structure, where you make do with the bishop you get whether you like his views or not.
And I still cannot really understand how the PEV system came into being because it is so alien to the diocesan and episcopal structure of the CoE, and it clearly has nothing to do with sacramental assurance.

We can discuss whether a Code of Practice should be written before or after women bishops are officially approved, but that is a different question to asking whether we should enshrine a two tier episcopate in legislation in the way the HoB amendment does.

It is not just a question about women, because every unsuitable male bishop will be in the same position of having to submit to an approved traditionalist when a parish requires it.
Do we really want to enshrine that in law?

If "our views will become unwelcome" was a valid theological criterion we would have safe pockets for a large number of views where the church has changed its mind over the centuries. That is a sure recipe for institutionalised fragmentation and precisely the opposite of the unity the legislation is intended to create.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 9:00am BST

"If "our views will become unwelcome" was a valid theological criterion we would have safe pockets for a large number of views where the church has changed its mind over the centuries. That is a sure recipe for institutionalised fragmentation..."

So, Erika, you (and Jeremy) would rather force "fragmentation now", rather than "fragmentation in the future", when what God explicitly states that he wants is "fragmentation never".

Posted by John Waldsax at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 11:23am BST

Geo
"Anti WO people can only enjoy the same full unimpaired sacramental communion with a bishop who does not ordain women as priests."

Why?
How do you define "sacramental communion" and how is it impaired if a bishop does something you don't approve of?
Why is this not Donatism?

This is a genuine question.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 12:21pm BST

Savi,

I think the answer to your question is that we would have to feel closer to the CON EVO Bishop because his formal sacramental actions, providing he is fully using authorised rites, are acceptable even if his sacramental theology is, to our mind, weak. It would be like the pre-WO days when we accepted whatever flavour of Bishop because his formal sacramental actions were orthodox.

Posted by Geo Noakes at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 12:59pm BST

Erika,
At the risk of revealing my ignorance (which is great in regard to the CofE not least because I live in Australia), what kind of provision for conservative Evangelicals and Anglo catholics do you support (if any)?
Should this be temporary or not? Should those who disagree with women Bishops simply leave like Jeremy Pemberton suggests (somewhat analagous to the TEC situation where some of those opposed to Bishop Robinson's installation left)?

Posted by John Sandeman at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 1:35pm BST

Erika,

As Anglicans we have always claimed that our bishops are bishops of the Church of God. We can be in full communion sacramentally with our Anglican bishops when their sacramental actions are the same as the overwhelming majority of bishops in the worldwide church (ie. including RC and Orthodox bishops)who do not ordain women priests.How is this donatism?

Posted by Geo Noakes at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 3:12pm BST

John,
personally, I have no problems with providing for pastoral oversight by male bishop who were validly ordained deacon, priest and bishop by other validly ordained male bishops.
But I would not allow for any ideas that these bishops must be right thinking and that they must not soil themselves by ordaining women. That has nothing to do with sacramental assurance, which is the only reason I would go along with the "validly consecrated" requirement.
It is not possibly for conservative Anglo-Catholics to compromise there and they should not have to. And of course conservative evangelicals should also be able to insist on a male bishop.

If I could let my imagination fly fancy free, I would make cast iron provisions for everyone who is already in the church, but I would not ordain new people who are unable to cope with the reality of their church. Everyone entering the priesthood now would have to acknowledge that this is a church that ordains women to all levels of ministry.

It really does trouble me that we are legislating for long term schism.

Because, John Waldsax, fragmentation and schism aren't just real once they're expressed in a formal external separation, they're just as real once they're expressed in formal internal seggregation.

This thread is making clear just how far that schism has already progressed. I had no idea that there are people within the CoE who genuinely believe they are not in communion with others and that they insist on an increasingly tight and impenetrable fence around their purity.

How is that not schism?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 3:13pm BST

The thing is this. if you promise that there will ALWAYS be not just a male bishop ordained by a male bishop available, but a male bishop opposed to women priests ordained by a male bishop opposed to women priests available, it is very likely that at some point you will find you have to consecrate a second-rate candidate just because he is one of the said women-opposed male bishops. They will become a wholly different category of male bishops, and any chance of the church coming to one mind will, directly and inevitably, die away. You will have to have them, because you will need them. You will need them because you have to have them.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 3:23pm BST

Geo,
I have been to some evangelical services where the Eucharist was celebrated in a manner that you would not recognise as a sacramental celebration, where the remainder was fed to the birds afterwards and where the priest invited the congregation saying "it's lying over here on the table, if you want to remember the Lord Jesus you can come and help yourself".

If we can have this plus highly stylised services with a very firm liturgy in the same church withour worrying about sacramental communion, then I fail to see why a bishop who simply believes in women's ordination suddenly threatens it.

I can see why you would personally prefer not to have such a bishop, but that's not the same as saying that you're theologically completely unable to compromise here.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 6:10pm BST

@John Waldsax
I am not wanting to "force fragmentation" at all. I just think that a Church that has no doctrinal claim to special revelation has to do its thinking, say its prayers and then do what it thinks is right. Our church has done that time and again over highly controversial matters. I think it should do it one more time over women bishops.

If people who do not approve of this find it so unpalatable that in conscience they cannot stay in this church, then that is their conscientious decision. Let me be crystal clear - my intention is not to force anyone out, but to see done what I believe our church is being called to do.

Not so much a Great Ejection as.... well, we don't know what. A Great Departure? I hope not. But I have not and cannot support anything that looks like enshrining discrimination in selection for consecration or ordination against people on the grounds of their gender (nor on other grounds as well - though that is another story). And my conscience is not simply in hock to liberal fashion as some might claim, but is energised by gospel truths. So my theological principle runs directly counter to someone else's claimed theological principle about the necessity of discriminating against women by restricting access to ordination to men. I just don't think the two can or should pretend that they can respectfully co-exist (and respectfully is the word). As Erika points out, this thread shows how very separated we already are.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 6:39pm BST

Watching from afar, I can't help but frame two questions in my mind - and they follow from Jeremy Pemberton's position, with which I find myself in agreement.

To those opposed: Why not leave now that the Ordinariate offers everything you seek? Is it about the building?

To those in favour: How willing are you to compromise on buildings and property in order that nobody has to compromise on theology and principle?

A generous parting of the ways would seem to be best, and I can't help thinking Synod would better devote its time to creating generous provision for those opposed to help establish them outside the CofE than creating grudging provision inside it.

Posted by Clive at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 9:15pm BST


Three not very closely related points:

1. Geo, you've introduced the idea of "sacramental actions". Could you expand on what you mean by that phrase, please? As I understand it, the Church of England does not consider ordination to be a sacrament.

2. Among Anglicans who live in parishes where the PCC has passed a resolution to require a male priest (or will pass a resolution to require a male, like-minded bishop), there must be many, perhaps a majority [*], who support gender equality in ordination and consecration. I'm rather concerned as to whether those people feel that "those of their views might be made unwelcome", and whether they "can have an honoured place inside the Church of England".

3. Bill, you used the word "ordinary". On a point of pedantry, "ordinary" is not quite synonymous with "bishop": there are several peculiar jurisdictions whose ordinary is not a consecrated bishop. This may have a practical consequence for this debate: if I've understood the constitutional arrangements of King's College, Cambridge correctly, then its associated peculiar jurisdiction has already been led by a female ordinary.

[*] Only around 10% of people who consider themselves members of the Church of England are on church electoral rolls, so there's no strong mechanism to ensure that the majority view of a PCC is the same as the majority view of its parish.

Posted by Feria at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 9:55pm BST

I think I am the Jeremy to whom John Waldsax was referring when he said that I urge fragmentation now, "when what God explicitly states that he wants is 'fragmentation never'."

If we are to presume to tell each other what God wants, John, then my guess is that God wants many, many things.

Including justice. Dignity for every person--not just men. A high-priestly order that can receive the talents and energy of women. And if God must have national churches, God would probably prefer that they not be national laughingstocks.

Is "fragmentation never" to be valued above all of these?

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 11:19pm BST

"I would not ordain new people who are unable to cope with the reality of their church. Everyone entering the priesthood now would have to acknowledge that this is a church that ordains women to all levels of ministry."
Erika,
does this mean
1) that everyone ordained would have to believe that ordaining women bishops is a good thing,
2) that the CofE is a church that does ordain women bishops and that they are validly ordained?
Jeremy,
If you know a course of action will cause some people to leave, how can you say "my intention is not to force anyone out"? It is not your primary motive to be sure, but as it is a consequence that you predict, you cannot claim that you have nothing to do with it, surely. None of us are that pure in this life. We all do things that cause others pain, and it is usually helpful to be open about it. This is not a comment about whether your are right or wrong on women's ordination. If things were the other way around I think the same comment could be made.

Posted by John Sandeman at Friday, 20 July 2012 at 11:48pm BST

Jeremy on Friday, 20 July 2012 at 4:11am BS
(two Jeremies here?)
I am simply asking questions ... I am not a member of the CofE so I would want to be cautious about a situation about which I do have a good enough understanding.. One thing I am sure of: the "solution" on my province of having some dioceses with women bishops and others resolutely opposed is not an ideal way forward.

Posted by John Sandeman at Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 1:49am BST

FYI Archdeacons exercise ordinary jurisdiction (Canon C22.2) - for example visitation "save when inhibited by a superior Ordinary" (Canon C22.5)

Posted by Mark Bennet at Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 8:57am BST

John,
the CoE has its own governance and discernment processes and every ordinand has to vow to be bound by them.
That must mean more than "as long as I agree with them".

The church has discerned that women can be ordained priests. This is the official position of the church.
At the time that discernment translated into the first female ordination the church also accepted that there are some who really cannot live with that and it has declared that they have an honoured place and that their integrity will be respected and accommodated.
That is not the same as saying that the church has two different opinions on whether women can be validly ordained.

Itwas a very kind and sensible thing to have done. New discernment of God's will can be shattering for some people and some can genuinely not go along with it and believe that the discernment is wrong. Not to push these people out is what Christian love is about.

But that does not change the fact that the CoE has discerned that women can be priests and bishops.

To my mind, it is absolutely ludicrous that an arrangement that helped people to stay in the church when it dramatically changed direction should also be applied to newcomers.

This is now a church that ordains female priests and will soon ordain female bishops.

The consequence of accommodation is, in fact, a formal split, as the PEV system has already shown. Is it really sensible to institutionalise that as the way the CoE operates from now until eternity? As two churches, not side by side but one inside the other, yet perfectly sealed off?
And we do this in the name of unity?

That's poor theology and poor ecclesiology. It's Alice in Wonderland trying to make the impossible seem sensible.

The only sensible thing to do (and I know it will not happen - this is just my personal flight of fancy!) would be to continue to extend genuine respect to those who were taken over by the new discernment and who cannot cope with it.
But to say to new ordinands: This IS what the church now believes and does and this IS what it expects all new priests to uphold.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 12:21pm BST

John,
the "forcing out" question is a serious one but one where, I do believe some level headed thinking has to be applied.

If saying: "we are changing tack but we will enable those among us who cannot cope with this to stay with us, yet newcomers have to accept our new direction" is equated with a cruel hearted forcing people out - must we then conclude that no change is ever possible?

Are all our canons and discernment processes good for nothing because, ultimately, we must never apply them but we must always remain static?

Is this really an alternative theology?

To my mind, what I'm suggesting is already a perfect compromise between single minded change and never any change.

Can you think of a different system?
And I don't mean just with regard to the women priest question but to anything else that might be the topic of the day. Because whatever system we come up with now has to be potentially applicable to every other conflict too.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 1:11pm BST

Here in Sydney, as you know the diocese has maintained a tight control over who can be ordained, for example by directing people to one theological college with a few exceptions.
Those in favour of a more open arrangement have pointed sometimes to the CofE as a place where many streams of Anglicanism can work together.
And yet it seems that on women's ordination, those opposed over here have their conviction that you need to keep a high level of "purity" confirmed by the pro-WO people in the UK. Irony!

Posted by John Sandeman at Saturday, 21 July 2012 at 11:50pm BST

Feria, thanks for the correction about peculiar jurisdictions. We don't have them over here (I *think*).

As far as whether or not ordination is a sacrament, it depends on who you ask and what you mean by "sacrament." Here's a paragraph from the CofE website:

"By baptism in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, a person is made one with Christ and received into the fellowship of the Church. This sacrament of initiation is open to children as well as to adults.

"Central to worship for Anglicans is the celebration of the Holy Eucharist, also called the Holy Communion, the Lord's Supper or the Mass. In this offering of prayer and praise, the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ are recalled through the proclamation of the word and the celebration of the sacrament. Other important rites, commonly called sacraments, include confirmation, holy orders, reconciliation, marriage and anointing of the sick."

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Sunday, 22 July 2012 at 1:02pm BST


Dear Bill,

Thanks for the info. I've now confirmed that there definitely has already been a female ordinary in the Church of England: Judith Mayhew-Jonas, between 2003 and 2005. The reason for the doubt in my previous message was that I wasn't sure which officer of King's College Cambridge was ex officio ordinary of the associated peculiar jurisdiction: the Provost or the Dean. I verified that it's the Provost from Roach (ed., 1959, _A History of the County of Cambridge and the Isle of Ely_, vol. 3, Victoria County History).

If "over here" means the US, then I've done a bit of investigating, and discovered that Columbia University was traditionally a peculiar jurisdiction along the same lines as the English ones (Wu, 2006, in Feingold, ed., _History of Universities_, Oxford University Press). It's not clear (to me) whether that status was extinguished by reforms to the university's statutes in 1969.

Posted by Feria at Monday, 23 July 2012 at 5:55pm BST
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