Comments: women bishops: some responses to the revised clause

Interesting difference between FiF and Reform. Seems to me that "respect" is quite a strong word - it implies more than just tolerating someone's viewpoint, more like acting on someone's viewpoint ("respect without works is dead" as the Good Book almost says).
I suspect WATCH may come out against this new Clause 5(1)c. But I hope not.

Posted by Bernard Randall at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 12:53pm BST

Bernard,
If the new clause 5.1.c is accepted on an understanding of respect that includes acting on someone's viewpoint in addition to merely tolerating it, my question is will that cut both ways? In addition to respecting the view of those opposed to Women's ordained and episcopal ministry, will the view that women are indeed legitimately ordained to both episcopal and priestly ministry be accorded respect that involves acting according to that viewpoint rather than merely tolerating it? And how might that change the dynamic. It seems to me that all three positions have been hoping for that kind of respect.

Posted by Lindsay Southern at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 1:16pm BST

REFORM's comments strike me as particularly disingenuous. Regarding the previous amendment Paul Dawson is quoted as saying “Although we weren’t entirely happy with that, there was a sense in which we could probably have lived with it.” That seems to contradict their public stance to the previous amendment.

REFORM's statement in response to the original amendment implied that they could not live with it and would have voted against the legislation. I think it's quite clear that REFORM will not willingly vote for the Women Bishops legislation, regardless of what wording was proposed.

http://reform.org.uk/news/src/archive/06-2012/title/media-statement-reform-members-on-gs-encouraged-to-vote-against-women-s-measure-reform-says-furore-over-women-bishops-shows-need-for-better-provision

Reform Chairman Rev'd Rod Thomas said today that "Reform deeply regrets that we have reached such an impasse on women bishops" with the current House of Bishops' amendments not satisfying the conservative evangelical network's concerns over their future in the Church of England.

Speaking at a prayer meeting attended by almost 200 Reform members in central London, Mr Thomas said: "We thank the House of Bishops for their work. They have tried to find a way through. But their amendments have not succeeded in persuading our members that there is a secure future for those who cannot in conscience accept the oversight of women as bishops. In light of that we will be encouraging our members on General Synod to vote against the legislation as it stands."

It seems apparent that REFORM will not willingly vote for the Women Bishops legislation, regardless of what wording is proposed.

Posted by Lindsay Southern at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 1:29pm BST

I fail to see why the Church of England should "respect" any theological position that does not respect women.

Does the Church of England "respect" sin?

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 1:30pm BST

The House of Bishops has stretched everyone to the furthest limits of our tolerances. As a WATCH member, I would prefer a simpler Measure. As a member of General Synod, I am certain that if we tore the current measure up and started again, with the current of House of Bishops we would end up again in the same place. The House of Bishops badly needs some new perspectives to dig itself out of some of the holes that it has got itself into. I shall support the measure and hope that some of our sisters and brothers who find the development difficult will feel able to abstain.

Posted by susan cooper at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 2:10pm BST

I really dislike the House of Bishops bashing that has gone on over this whole thing. They made the original amendment because they wanted the Measure to pass, and they believed, justifiably based on the evidence available, that it wouldn't pass the House of Laity in General Synod unamended.

So if anyone is to blame, blame the laity; or blame the clergy for blocking the Archbishops' 2010 amendment - but that patently won't do.

Apparently, being all men, the Bishops can do no right. I just wish we could move on. Sigh. Let's hope the Measure passes.

Posted by Bernard Randall at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 2:40pm BST

When I queried this somewhere else I was told that "respect" has a particular legal meaning which enabled those who wanted good protection for traditionalists to support the wording.

Is there anyone here who can clarify what "respect" means in this context?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 2:46pm BST

It was always the case that this measure was highly divisive, trying to reconcile people of conviction who are plainly irreconcilable. Against the continued opposition of REFORM, whatever words are used, WATCH will now need to show some real leadership and vision to carry all its members along enthusiastically with the amended measure and to vote for it with passion and glee, rather than continuing a begrudging "best we can get" attitude. The Measure is not what anyone wants but with a split church how could it be?

Posted by TBPilgrim at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 2:50pm BST

Will the Code of Practice be subject to synodical or parliamentary approval?

Posted by Lapinbizarre/Roger Mortimer at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 3:43pm BST

All this toing and froing just makes me think that whoever has the biggest dictionary and most clever thesaurus will win the vote. Given the dog's dinner which is this piece of legislation, regardless of one's views on the issue, my reaction is to put it out of our misery and start again. However I know how popular that would be! I just can't see what is good or even acceptable about voting for something or abstaining, on the view that "ho hum what else is there, what can you do, it is the least worst there is.
For everyone's sake we should work together to produce the best legislation, not the least worst, may be, that can be "got through" Synod.

Graeme Buttery

Posted by Graeme Buttery at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 4:37pm BST

The code of Practice will require synodical but not parliamentary approval.

Posted by Peter Owen at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 6:27pm BST

I am just so glad I am not a member of the C of E. I really would struggle in a church where it is hard to get the laity to recognise that women are human and not some kind of other species. If I was in England - I'd be out the door.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 7:13pm BST

Glad to see the intelligent and nuanced response from FiF. Gives good hope that a charitable 'live-and-let-live' accommodation remains within reach.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 7:21pm BST

There is nothing intellectually or emotionally that prevents women from being every bit as pastoral, insightful and faithful as men in leading and guiding the church.

All there is that is different is the sexual organs, and you don't think or lead or serve with your sexual organs so they are entirely irrelevant.

All there is - in the case of both men and women - is personhood, humanity, and brains that function equally well in women as in men.

We accept these days that parts of the bible were written in social contexts (...how many people these days believe that humans had no primate ancestors...) and it seems extraordinary to bar women from church leadersip simply because of their chromosomes.

And I have to say that it sends a terrible message to society at large, to whom it appears as blatant discrimination and seeming misogyny.

Really it is way past the time for delay. Women bishops have to come. 'Young men' questioning their calling in a female-priested church (as cited above) are merely experiencing aspects of exclusion that has been imposed on women for ages, except the young men are not even excluded.

But they are unhappy because they have dicks and they think they should be in charge.

Which I'm afraid I find rather pitiable and unimpressive. In fact, in this day and age, it is extraordinary.

Posted by Susannah at Tuesday, 18 September 2012 at 9:47pm BST

I have to agree with those who say lets live with the amendement and work hard to get a CoP that works.

If Reform cannot live with this then so be it - I find the statment that "there are young men from evangelical parishes who were considering entering the clergy who are unsure whether there would be a welcome for them in the Church" simply to stupid to take seriously.

Posted by Confused Sussex at Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 3:50pm BST

@ Confused Sussex - completely agree. "Already young men from evangelical parishes who were considering entering the clergy were unsure whether there would be a welcome for them in the Church". Typical of REFORM to continue to believe that they speak for "evangelical parishes". I know of absolutely no-one in this position, and by the way what of the women from evangelical parishes who are discerning a vocation to priesthood? These young men (whoever they are) presumably believe that 'considering entering the clergy' is a one-way process. How starkly different now the response of FiF and REFORM.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 6:21pm BST

I'm with Susannah on this one.

As for this: "there are young men from evangelical parishes who were considering entering the clergy who are unsure whether there would be a welcome for them in the Church"

Is this really a sympathy call for a small handful who would ban a bunch of other people from full participating in church, were they given half a chance?

And I still don't get how people of this mindset reconcile themselves with a woman being the Supreme Governor. Whenever I ask, people of that mindset tell me "it's irrelevant."

And if a congregation says "we cannot accept a black priest", and it does happen, what role does the escape word "respect" play in that?

Posted by Randal Oulton at Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 8:10pm BST

It seems that, while the word RESPECT has been somewhat elevated to try to meet the circumstances of both sides of the argument - for or against Women Bishops - what really seems to be lacking is respect for Women as part and parcel of the Church, and therefore worthy to be represented in Leadership.

Respect, on its own, will never - in the precise circumstances of the amendment 5.1.c. - give future Women Bishops freedom from discrimination by those who oppose their ministry in the Church. The real question may be whether the Church should be satisfied with continuing discrimination?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 4:41am BST

Father Smith is entirely wrong in his implicit assumptions about respect for women by traditionalists, and with regard to his argument about discrimination. He is being very judgemental in his attitude towards those whose views are different to his own. The Church of England is simply seeking to respect the Lambeth view that those who dissent to the ordination of women, as well as those in favour of it, have an equally honoured place in the Church. Such an undertaking recognises the validity of theological and ecclesiological objection to the ordination of women. It is thus neither misogyny or discrimination.

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 10:16am BST

What I find most extraordinary that anyone thought that members of Reform or FiF could ever be induced to support a measure so alien to their theological position. To succeed through Synod on the numbers it was always clear that the draft Measure in whatever form needed the united support of all in favour of Women in the episcopate. If any are still minded to hold back in support thinking they can still force for something better they are deluded - the Bishops will walk away from the issue in sheer exasperation with the opposite sex.

Posted by TBPilgrim at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 12:02pm BST

"the Bishops will walk away from the issue in sheer exasperation with the opposite sex"

Eh?

Last time I looked there were women in FiF and men in WATCH. Support of/opposition to women in the episcopate does not divide along gender lines.

Posted by Pam Smith at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 2:35pm BST

"Father Smith is entirely wrong in his implicit assumptions about respect for women by traditionalists" - I'm not sure whether or not Father Smith implied anything here about traditionalists' attitudes towards women in general.

Any implications he was making, however, about the respect (or rather lack of it) for women PRIESTS and women BISHOPS by traditionalists seem entirely accurate to me.

On a different point, given it now looks as if WATCH will put their support behind the amended draft measure, has anyone looked at the numbers to see whether this is likely to pass or not? Assume, for the sake of argument (and we all enjoy an argument) that FiF and Reform will vote against the measure as currently amended.

Posted by Alastair Newman at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 3:08pm BST

'Those interested in the doctrinal position of those implacably opposed to the ordination of women should read the link':

http://www.forwardinfaith.com/about/uk_code_of_pract.html

Original Observer usefully gave this link in the thread below, the other day.

From this it is very clear, that on this theological basis, the Church of England ceased to have valid Ministry and Sacraments years ago.

There can be no 'pockets of validity' under these circumstances. Not under PEVs at present, nor under a Code of Practice (whatever it will turn out to be) in future.

The Church of England has lost it and the only remaining question must be, how the authors of this paper can possibly imagine otherwise. Why have they not already left twenty years ago ? Their own sacraments must be equally suspect in the context outlined - as by this paper's reckoning the C of E is no longer the Church.

The only other thing that beggars belief is the highly irresponsible and chaotic step taken twenty years ago, without the support of rank and file clergy and people; and with no true Authority behind it.

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 3:57pm BST

Alastair Newman, could you please substantiate how you believe traditionalists lack respect for women priests and bishops. I would be grateful to know in what sense we are being disrespectful in simply holding a view that has already been recognised by the Church as honourable. And please don't forget that provinces of the Anglican Communion which do not ordain women to the episcopate are in the majority.

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 8:10pm BST

"Assume, for the sake of argument (and we all enjoy an argument) that FiF and Reform will vote against the measure as currently amended".

This is now the only question left that matters. The noises from Reform suggest that they will vote against, but whether that will be the case when they insert their cards, fingers trembling, into the voting machine remains to be seen. My sense is that FiF (of which there is probably a preponderance of clergy) might abstain in some numbers. From the ranks of Reform, there is a preponderance of laity on the General Synod. They can probably muster 55 votes (at the very most), being people who are members of the rather secretive '1990 Group', and even some of them are supporters of the Measure. However, that is not enough to defeat Final Approval. There are some 210 members of the House of Laity, so more than 70 need to vote against. I don't see it. It was always going to be the case that the vote would be closest in the House of Laity, as it was in 1992. This time the voting will be transparent and it might be a brave person who votes against in the face of what are likely to be some very compelling speeches pointing out that the level of generosity extended to those who in all conscience etc., has been extraordinarily high. Certainly if they want to be re-elected to the 2015-20 Synod, voting against the Measure having come so far is not sensible: turkeys voting for Christmas really. The unity option is preferable and more biblical and how much better for the Church if the voting is overwhelming.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 8:21pm BST

Benedict, somebody says that women are not fitted for leadership, when they say a woman is so unlike Christ she cannot conduct the Eucharist, they are NOT making a neutral statement. They are saying something deeply offensive to many women. They are saying something deeply offensive to me. It is an inherently discriminatory statement. No they are not saying women are more wicked then men. Yes, they are saying they are less like Christ.

If they have to say it, you have to say it. But at least let them be aware that for most women, hearing somebody thinks this of you, and then forgiving them, and then keeping on regarding them as a brother or sister, and then, then, to make provision for them to put their objectionable views into action, and then, as if all that was not already enough, to make provision for them to be ensure their views are never even edged out a bit ... this is a big big ask.

Posted by Rosemary Hannah at Thursday, 20 September 2012 at 9:21pm BST

"The Church of England is simply seeking to respect the Lambeth view that those who dissent to the ordination of women, as well as those in favour of it, have an equally honoured place in the Church." - Benedict-

As both sides of the argument already know - the Lambeth view may well be that each side has an 'honoured place in the Church'. But that does not necessarily mean that both views are 'honourable'.

The mediaeval view of Women's place in society and in the Church may no longer be an 'honourable view' - certainly not where Women are concerned.
No wonder Jesus got so frustrated with the Scribes and Pharisees in their dismissive treatment of women in His own day and age!

Some of His followers today seem determined to 'keep women in their place' - which is in the congregation, and not in Holy Orders.

I really do wonder what the great female Saints would have to say, in today's world, about women being considered less 'holy' than men, in their suitability for ordination? Hilda, Julia, Brigid, Hildegarde - pray for us (male) sinners!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 1:23am BST

On Wednesdays we have a Eucharist usually attended by four or five regulars and an occasional visitor or two. We assemble in the choir, so it is quite an intimate setting. Day before yesterday as I entered and reverenced the altar two youngish men I had never seen before stood up and walked out. This unexpected action upset the four regular parishioners who felt it was rude to me and to our Lord (their words, not mine). As the visitors were persons of a certain ilk, they will surely have taken time to note the large sign in the church entrance which names the incumbent (a man) and myself and so will have known there was only a 50/50 chance that the celebrant would be male. As they were in place before I entered they could of course have inquired of the regulars who was going to celebrate, or remained through the service of the word, or remained for the whole service and simply stayed in their places at prayer while the others received, or come up for a blessing. I am quite sure that some people who dis-believe in my ordination have done that at Sunday services when everyone is more anonymous and to my mind it would have been much less hurtful not to me but to the assembled faithful, had these two young men done that on Wednesday, but they chose not to do unto others....... Did it feel like misogyny - well, yes it did, at least in that intimate setting, but far worse was the hurt it caused to those present who interpreted the very visible leave-taking as offense against our sacramental fellowship.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 6:02am BST

I have also had walk outs in previous parishes in the past, like Sara above, though my present parish is wonderfully supportive. I once had an entire mid-week communion congregation - a small but vociferous group - walk out.They were already settled in the chapel when I came through to go to the vestry to robe, and I was aware of them looking daggers at me as I walked through. When I emerged from the vestry to begin the service the chapel was empty... Not a sound had been heard, not a word spoken - they didn't have the courage to talk to me about it, let alone to stay to see what a communion service celebrated by a woman might be like (pretty much the same as one celebrated by a man...). Instead they stormed over to the church office to complain to the secretary that they hadn't known I would be celebrating, though I was on a staff of three, so there was a good chance I would be. I remember standing there, looking around and literally shaking.
I have had people very obviously refuse to come up for Communion or a blessing on Christmas Day when I celebrated, sitting with arms crossed and with faces like thunder while I preached, which they believed I did not, as a woman, have the authority to do when men were present, (Merry Christmas to you too...), and was once looked up and down at a funeral by a distant relative of the deceased, an ardent churchgoer from another parish, as if I was something the cat had dragged in, who pronounced loudly "X, (the deceased) wouldn't have liked THAT". (Actually X would have had no problem at all.)

Many of those who are opposed are polite and thoughtful, of course, but the hurtful, and quite open and unapologetic, behaviour of those who aren't is enabled and encouraged by the fact that the Church proclaims in its legislation that it is quite ok, indeed honourable, to regard women priests as not truly ordained, and something which people need protecting against. Those I have encountered who treat women priests in this way seem to think it is quite all right to behave like this because that "protection" is enshrined in legislation. While I am in support of the new wording of the amendment - I think it is probably the best we can do under the circumstances - I think it is important that the Church sees what it is doing to ordained women in making them live with this sort of double-think (which is what "two integrities" really is - a phrase which I think came from Eric Kemp originally). We cannot go on forever with this sort of approach, however much we want to hold together. Eventually, as in older disputes in the C of E, we need to say "this is the decision we have made - women are priests, and can be bishops." It seems to me that Canon A4 otherwise becomes meaningless, and the whole basis for ministry in the Church of England is fatally undermined. ("that priests or deacons...are lawfully made, ordained or consecrated, and ought to be accounted, both by themselves and others, to be truly bishops, priests or deacons.")

Posted by Anne Le Bas at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 8:38am BST

Benedict, on issues such as "respect", "discrimination" etc we have to defer to the eye of the beholder. It is no good, frankly, if you or I feel we are respecting someone or not discriminating against them, if they feel that actually they are being discriminated against and treated with a lack of respect.

So, I'm going to turn the question round - can you find me a single woman priest or bishop who feels that they ARE respected by traditionalists?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 10:24am BST

Anne, I am so sorry to hear of your experiences - I have heard of similar before, particularly from Chichester diocese, but it does not improve with repetition. Makes all talk of "conscience" and "respect" and so on seem a bit hollow to my mind - those asking for respect so often fail to show it. If the Measure fails - as it might - then I suspect we will in time come to a much simpler provision removing all bars to women's ministry, and those who don't like it may simply have to find a more congenial home. May God bless your ministry.

Posted by Simon at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 10:32am BST

I do not think that those who do not accept female orders are saying that a woman is so unChrist-like she is not fit to celebrate the Eucharist. What they are saying is that they believe that the Church should only do what the Church has always done and teach what the Church has always taught. And this implies an all-male priesthood.

There is of course no defence to the uncouth behaviour towards women clergy described by and experienced by two commentators on this thread. Such behaviour is really more the problem of those who exhibit it rather than of those it targets.

Laurence Roberts rightly points out that the FiF position appears to imply that more or less everything about the CofE is invalid! The sacramental assurance supposedly provided by the PEVs is a chimera as their authority as suffragans derives from the Archbishops, whose respective presbyteral colleges contain women. It is fortunate that FiF is not the sole or the most authentic voice of Anglo-Catholics.

Posted by Original Observer at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 3:59pm BST

"What they are saying is that they believe that the Church should only do what the Church has always done and teach what the Church has always taught. "

OK--let's all go back to condemning lending money at interest, then.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 21 September 2012 at 11:28pm BST

The single clause measure that would have inspired the Church of England to reflect modern understanding of humanity is now two removes away, having been superseded first by a compromise draft Measure that would at least have had the support of 42/44 dioceses and then by an embroidered quilt that even now does not proclaim above all the principle of human equality as the fundamental tenet of twentyfirst century Christianity. O for an Open church for all.

Posted by Paul Edelin at Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 9:38am BST

Pat O'Neill - you must distinguish between matters which relate to fundamental order and doctrine and those which do not. What is crucial too - as priests in the CofE are in fact ordained into the Church of God, not the Church of England - is the consensus of the Universal Church. The ordination of women is a matter of fundamental order and doctrine and is also one which does not command the support of the Universal Church.

Posted by Original Observer at Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 2:09pm BST

Original Observer,
since Rome has already declared Anglican ordinations not to be valid yet Anglicans still believe themselves to be part of the church of God, I think we can safely leave the discernment about women priests and bishops to the various bodies in the various Anglican churches charged with making that discernment.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 7:09pm BST

"The ordination of women is a matter of fundamental order and doctrine and is also one which does not command the support of the Universal Church."

The ordination of married men does not command the support of the Universal Church either. The CoE has been doing THAT for over four centuries.

The Roman Church says the doctrine of Mary's eternal virginity and her assumption to heaven is fundamental. We in the CoE (and many other churches) disagree. Are we forced to accept their view in support of a Universal Church? Or should the Romans change their view?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 8:00pm BST

"The ordination of women is a matter of fundamental order and doctrine and is also one which does not command the support of the Universal Church."

Well, neither does Marian devotion, the sacrifice of the Mass, continuation of the spiritual gifts, salvation by faith alone or the inerrancy of the Bible. So the point is?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Saturday, 22 September 2012 at 8:15pm BST

@original observer: but surely the church universal is made up of disparate parts. And in the C-of-E, as indeed in any and all of those parts, we have to rely on that part where we choose to worship for sacramental assurance. Otherwise, of course, even the ABC is a self-deluded layman according to one layer of what you call the universal church, and indeed we in the C-of-E (all of us) are not members of the church at all, but of an 'ecclesial community' - whatever that might be. But, again to my mind, if that small segment of the church universal where I worship affirms my calling to the priesthood, then those who worship therein should be 'assured'. In the body of Christ the eye cannot say to the hand 'I don't need you', nor can the head say to the feet 'I don't need you'........ as a better Christian than me once said.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 12:40pm BST

The ordination of women as priests in the Catholic Church will come one day. Already you can see the yearnings of women to be taken seriously in their mature participation, and the pressures that build up on the male-dominated hierarchy. Just observe the way 'The Imperium' is trying to control independent thought and expression in the case of nuns in the US. Women and men have equal intellectual, moral and emotional capacity - what is needed for priesthood or leadership is 'personhood'. When you consider that men and women were BOTH made in the image of God, there should be no problem at all with women 'representing the image' of God - in whatever role. Not least because God is neither exclusively male nor exclusively female, but fully comprehends and feels and expresses through creation, both male and female, as in God's formation of humanity in the divine image. It is way past time for certain men to get over their assumed right of leadership, just because they have male sex organs and male hormones, neither of which are necessary in order to exercise pastoral love, spiritual discernment, or leadership. We share 'personhood' in the image of the divine personhood, and we exercise mental faculties through our brains, given to male and female alike.

Posted by Susannah at Sunday, 23 September 2012 at 3:17pm BST

"What is crucial too - as priests in the CofE are in fact ordained into the Church of God, not the Church of England - is the consensus of the Universal Church." - Original Observer -

Not so original, really - especially as neither Rome nor Constantinople would agree with you. If, indeed, that were truly the case, then why was it deemed necessary for Male clergy transferring to the Roman Ordinariate to be 're-ordained'?

Speaking untruth on these issues is not at all helpful, and detract from all your arguments against Women - as defective bearers of Imago Dei - rendering them ineligible for the Church of England's specific Orders of Ministry.

Jesus was not just a representative male; Jesus represented ALL human beings - including Women!
"In Christ, there is neither male nor female".

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 25 September 2012 at 12:18pm BST
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