Comments: women bishops: a new website

'Unjust treatment of significant minorities'. Breathtaking arrogance and wilful rewriting of history.

Posted by Miranda at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 at 9:41pm BST

As opposed to unjust treatment of the majority ...

Posted by Mark Bennet at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 at 10:19pm BST

"Until this injustice is remedied, no-one should vote for a Measure which serves only part of the Church of England, and excludes the other."

This statement, from the article which questions Fulcrum's advice to the General Synod for those who oppose the Draft Measure to simply 'abstain', I believe, overstates the case for voting 'No'.

The injustice to Women in the Church, if they are not allowed to move forward to episcopal sharing of responsibility, far outweighs the perceived injustice to those parties in the Church who do not believe that Women should have a voice in leadership - whether because of their perceived sacerdotal ineligibility or their disqualification on out-dated ideas of 'Headship'.

When even Saint Paul had to state, eventually, that "In Christ, there is neither male nor female"; one needs to decide whether - or not - excluding Women from the role of Bishop in the Church is now credible - or, indeed, theologically sustainable.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 at 10:31pm BST

Anyone know who's behind this?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 at 10:38pm BST

Who are these anonymous people who are so concerned for fairness? I think we should be told. Then we would be better able to judge for ourselves just how fair any fairer Measure that they might support would be.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 at 10:44pm BST

The promoters of this website are acting like prisoners on death row, trying every last trick with their lawyers as they realise that they have reached the end of the road. However, in their panic, they are ignoring the simple fact that there can be a stay of execution and that it is in their hands to obtain it: just abstain on Final Approval. They should be in no doubt that if they are seen to be party to Final Approval being lost, then they will have voted for their own execution. The Church of England will not forgive them, the nation will not understand them and no Synod will ever want them to be part of their councils again. The sad irony of that is that the Church, having bent over backwards to accomodate these apparently 'significant minorities' and ensure they continue to have an 'honoured place', will be unable to deliver on that generous promise, with the result that the exact opposite will result.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Wednesday, 24 October 2012 at 10:52pm BST

"In Christ, there is neither male nor female"; one needs to decide whether - or not - excluding Women from the role of Bishop in the Church is now credible - or, indeed, theologically sustainable.

The CofE will have women bishops, so the whole issue of excluding women from the role of Bishop is not relevant as they will get there but their are many more hurdles left to jump through before we as a church can get their.

The church has now embraced the ministry of women and we should continue to do that in good faith but within the right way. We should embrace women ministry, the ministry of men in support of the OoW and the ministry of men against it.

We are better together than apart, we've survived 20 years in good faith working together and we can survive the foreseeable future together just as long as we get it right when we have the opportunity too

Be assured of my prayers regardless of our views and integrity, we are still brethren in Christ

Posted by Chuchu Nwagu at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 12:24am BST

I simply cannot give any credence to a website such as this where the owners/backers/supporters are not identified. This lack of information is deeply unChristian where we are called to be open to one another and it means that there cannot be honest debate. I thought after the notorious Crockford's Preface of 1987 we had moved on from this kind of anonymity.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 2:24am BST

Like Jeremy, I am most disquieted by the total lack of any identification of those behind this blog. If, as it suggests, some of them are General Synod members then it seems to me that it is particularly incumbent on them to come clean about their identities, so that members of the Dioceses they represent can contact them. We need to know where we stand with those who will be voting on this issue in our name.

Posted by Anne Le Bas at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 7:59am BST

If you look at the links on the front page, you get back to the Anglican Mainstream page, where you will find them in the left hand column, implying that 'fairmeasure2012' comes from this particular stable.

Shame they were not prepared to say so.

Posted by Anne at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 8:09am BST

Mr Archer's comment that "The Church of England will not forgive them," if true, is hardly Christian and lays the blame at the feet of the wrong people. Traditional Catholics and Evangelicals have consistently argued that they be allowed a "permanent and honoured place" within the Church of their Baptism, and that this be secured by its inclusion within the Proposed Measure.

A Code of Practice has no guarantee of permanence, and this is clearly evidenced by the fact that "The Act of Synod 1993" (which is a Code of Practice) will be removed as part of the process of passing the Proposed Measure.

The tone of the debate in the GS has, at times, been less than Christian, never mind charitable, towards traditionalists. Mr Archer seems to think that the CofE has bent over backwards to provide for traditionalists - this is patently untrue. What has happened is that every conceivable, workable alternative that would have secured that "permanent and honoured place" has been voted against until we have got to a point where only a form of terminal care is on offer.

There are those who are in favour of the proposal to ordain women as bishops who are more than disquieted about the lack of provision for traditionalists. The campaign to urge them to abstain smacks of desperation by those who know that the truth of the inadequacies of this proposed legislation has become all too apparent.

If the proposed legislation to ordain women as bishops fails, apportioning blame to traditionalists will no doubt follow. However, in reality, there ought to be much soul searching on the part of those who have ditched every opportunity at delivering a "permanent and honoured place" in a determination simply to provide terminal care.

Be careful what you wish for....

Posted by Ross Northing at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 8:25am BST

Let these people who hide behind a web site do one of two things. Do the decent thing, come out into the open, name themselves and speak up.
Or remain hidden and shut up.

This no way for genuine Christians to behave, and if members of the synod;should be revealed, named and shamed

Posted by Fr John E. Harris-White at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 8:29am BST

Just what we need, another lobby group. As this rate we'll have more pressure groups than members.

Posted by David Keen at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 9:00am BST

If the women bishops measure I is voted down in General Synod, pray, what will be offered to those who wanted women bishops to meet their needs and preserve integrity ?

OR, will the provision be the same as was given after the votes for women priests failed ?

that is - ABSOLUTELY zilch !

Posted by Laurence Roberts at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 9:58am BST

"there ought to be much soul searching on the part of those who have ditched every opportunity at delivering a "permanent and honoured place" in a determination simply to provide terminal care.
- Ross Northing -

PRECISELY, Fr Northing. This has been the situation regarding the reluctance to accept women in the church on a basis equal to men. This is the much larger inequality of opportunity - for women to be whom God has created them to be equal partners in the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 10:48am BST

Anthony Archer - your post sounds like a threat to me. However, what you say in your post is probably more like wishful thinking.

If the Measure fails the issue will have to be set aside until the next Synod at the earliest. A new 'single clause' Measure would likely fail too in the face the same intractable reality - while there is support for having women bishops, there is not support for having them in a manner which denies those opposed a position which is secure ecclesiologically and theologically.

Numbers are not the be all and end all - the church is NOT a democracy. The inadequacy - indeed absurdity - of the present Measure is becoming all the more apparent. It seems to have started with the pretext that "we must have women bishops" and then progressed through the cobbling together of any old waffle to try to side-step the objections. Not good enough, I'm afraid.

What is surely required is the presentation of an intellectually sound case of how the church can have women bishops and at the same time accommodate fully those who will not recognise them. A true consensus, a meeting of minds, not an arbitrary majority, is what is needed yet which is presently so clearly absent.

Posted by Original Observer at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 10:51am BST

"Traditional Catholics and Evangelicals have consistently argued that they be allowed a "permanent and honoured place" within the Church of their Baptism, and that this be secured by its inclusion within the Proposed Measure. "

Try replacing "traditional Catholics and Evangelicals" with "those who believe non-whites should not be ordained". Anyone think that measure should have been passed some 150 years ago when THAT was the issue at hand?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 11:26am BST

Not only is the Fair Measure 2012 blog anonymous it has disabled comments. I find this secrecy and lack of openness to debate a strange way for Christians (who value truth) to behave. What are they afraid of?

Posted by Nancy Wallace at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 12:21pm BST

When I first saw this TA post, I visited the new Web site and left the following comment: “Who is behind this site? Why is there no information about sponsors here?” Now (and perhaps a result of that comment), there is that vague notice about the backers of the site, as well as this notice: “[Comments have been disabled]”

The advent of Replace The Measure is in stark contrast to the introduction of the No Anglican Covenant site two years ago. A list of the members of the No Anglican Covenant Coalition appeared on the site on day one.

Posted by Lionel Deimel at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 12:40pm BST

For 2000 years it was regarded as 'best' to exclude women from the priesthood and episcopacy (as Pat O'Neill says above, imagine people were excluded because of their race - is gender any less integral than race?).

During those long centuries, was any compromise promoted to allow dissident women to have their own mechanisms for women priests and bishops? No.

So to portray the dominant patriarchy of 2000 years as an 'oppressed minority' is a bit rum.

Personally, I think in a Church that has both male and female priests, and where 50% of churches will therefore have a male celebrant, there is sufficient choice for people who don't want a female priest, while affording access to women priests to the majority who do.

The issue of bishops hardly impacts on day to day life in the parish church.

If, for 2000 years, women had to accept male bishops, why then is it suddenly oppressive for men to have to accept a mixture of female *and* male bishops?

Looked at in the context of history, it is really hard to argue that the dominant patriarchal views of Bronze Age Israel or 1st Century middle-east society - which have been used as mandate for perpetuating male authority and headship - deserve recognition as some kind of oppressed minority perspective.

Rather, over millennia, it is women who have faced institutional subordination because (allegedly) "Eve sinned first". But really, because the empowerment of women is sexually threatening, and needs to be contained.

It is the old, old patriarchy. It is not, in historical terms, the oppression of a minority - but the adoption of what it really means for there to be no male and female, and to be made, women and men alike, in the image of God.

For that, there is no opt out.

Posted by Susannah at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 2:29pm BST

David Ould, in one of the links from that blog, writes:

"Evangelicals have found this whole process very difficult. Those that oppose the principle of women bishops fear they will be increasingly marginalised."

Those two statements set me thinking.

Firstly, I have attended evangelical churches for the past 33 years. In the evangelical circles I know, there is a near-universal acceptance of women priests, and a majority who - having seen the blessing and efficacy of women priests - feel that female bishops would also be a welcome blessing.

Secondly, women have been marginalised in all kinds of ways, both inside and outside the church, for 2000 years.

It is not that those who want to preserve patriarchy in church authority structures are actually the marginalised ones in all this. The imminent reception of female bishops is - in fact - addressing the far greater marginalisation that has gone on, and will continue to go on, all around our planet, where the subordination of women is asserted as justifiable.

(contd...)

Posted by Susannah at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 3:13pm BST

Sometimes we marginalise ourselves by not buying into changes in circumstances. So yes, there is a small minority that is saying 'We won't buy into these changes.' They can still find male priests in most parishes. They can still pray, serve God, love their neighbours, and if the rest of the Church moves on to accommodate women (made in the image of God) in positions of authority in the Church, then dissenters can make choices, but a time has to come when women are no longer marginalised.

In reality, priesthood is being enlarged and blessed, by embracing more of the image of God... by recognising the 'male and female' in God... and accepting the common humanity of both male and female priests and bishops.

It is very hard for people who advocate the subordination of 50% of this humanity, and count as 'not real' the pastoral authority of women, simply because they are women, to complain - when the greater wrong of the centuries is righted - that the liberation and empowerment of women in ministry is their own marginalisation.

There is a challenge to change. And there is a choice based on wanting to preserve subordination. There are even male priests to serve communion. Men do not lose their right to be priests, a right denied to women for so long.

(contd...)

Posted by Susannah at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 3:15pm BST

(concluding...)

Most evangelical anglicans in England *want* female priests and bishops. Those who don't, are in a sense finding themselves on the margins of history here, but the subordination they propose has left women on the margins of church authority for twenty centuries, and it is clearly time to embrace the *whole* of the image of God, as much mother as father, in which image men and women (according to Genesis) are both made. It is reasonable to seek a male priest if you still hold to the old subordination. But the church should not institutionally embrace the marginalisation of women all over again, in the full exercise of authority they, just as much as men, may carry out - in common humanity - as daughters, as sons of God.

The balkanisation of the Church of England into parts where women are still subordinate, and parts where they are not, is merely a perpetuation of the true marginalisation of the past. It still says, "Women cannot hold full authority like men."

That is where the issue of marginalisation is still being argued for. A person who doesn't want a woman priest may travel to a neighbouring parish. It is a choice. They can determine the extent to which they are marginalised. A woman, on the other hand, can't *choose* whether to be a woman. Women have no choice if patriarchy chooses to relegate them to the margins of its authority structures.

Let's reflect on the *real* marginalisation that has gone on for so long - let's reflect on the example the Church sets to women who continue to be marginalised all over the world.

Posted by Susannah at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 3:16pm BST

Fr Smith: I understand fully the desire to embrace equality, but where traditional Evangelicals and Catholics would disagree with you is that this does not mean that difference disappears. I can understand that for some the arguments against the ordination of women are problematic, and I don't have an issue with people disagreeing with them; but similarly, I would hope that those who do disagree with traditionalists' arguments would understand that the arguments in favour can be seen as essentially being driven by the spirit of the age rather than by Scripture or The Tradition. What we have not properly grasped, as a Church, is how to truly live with this difference...and why we have reached a point where all that is on offer to traditionalists is a form of terminal care.

In response to Pat O'Neill: I find it a matter of considerable regret that this appalling juxtaposition is continually made at present. It could be said that this is a seemingly cheap shot of the sort that is resorted to by those who are seemingly desperate. As a wise man once said, "The easiest way to get rid of a devil is to pass it on to someone else." It is somewhat remarkable that certain elements resort to such tactics when in reality traditional Catholics within the Church of England are often to be found working in some of the most deprived and multi-cultural areas of the country. At times this accusation is makes the accuser look ridiculous; for example: a traditional Catholic priest of my acquaintance was accused of being racist by a supporter of the proposed legislation - unfortunately his accuser was unaware that this priest's wife was Chinese. Also, there are many traditionalists who have priest colleagues of differing ethnic and cultural backgrounds, and it should not be assumed that such colleagues are in favour of the proposed legislation either.

You may not agree with us, but does it really have to come down to name calling, labelling and a desire to remove us from the Church of our baptism?

Posted by Ross Northing at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 3:37pm BST

Father Northing- we women clergy really wanted a single clause measure. We heard your protest and have ceased to fight for that.We have made huge concessions to you. You do have an honoured place and you have pushed us further than we wanted to go. We have accepted this.Please accept us and go on in faith and trust.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 5:19pm BST

Many of the individual pages indicate on them the author of that particular pages.

Posted by Randal Oulton at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 5:57pm BST

Interesting. There is an invitation to "Be the first to like this." Evidently no-one has accepted the invitation yet.

Posted by Alan T Perry at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 6:47pm BST

Father Northing:

You completely misread my intent. I am not calling the traditionalists racist. I am merely noting that a similar stance on another, equally controversial, issue in the past would be considered appalling today.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 8:34pm BST

I don't think anyone here is calling people who hold to a "traditional" position racist. They are asking how people would feel if a segment of the Church of England were requesting (with theological justification) to be given a safe and honoured space within the Church where they would not be ministered to by priests and bishops of ethnicity other than white British.

I don't actually think it is entirely unreasonable to ask this question. Christians in the past have openly supported segregation and opposed mixed marriage, particularly in the USA.

Christians also played a pivotal role opposing segregation in the civil rights movement. But the influence of "Zeitgeist" in this "novelty" surely can't be denied either can it?

Posted by Alastair Newman at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 9:13pm BST

Mother Jean Mayland - You have not made any concessions for us, instead of giving you are rather taking something away from us.

We accepted women clergy in 1992 and we have worked with you in faithfulness. We've been put in the effort and have given up so much in order to keep peace in the Church of England

It should not be "further than we wanted to go" but what the church should give us. For the legislation to succeed we must make sure that those opposed are fully catered for regardless of what we want but out of Christian charity and love.

This debate has gone on too long and it should be ended but sadly it can't because we didn't get it correct when we needed too. So now the General Synod have to suffer at the hands of their own stinginess.

Posted by Chuchu Nwagu at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 9:39pm BST

"I would hope that those who do disagree with traditionalists' arguments would understand that the arguments in favour can be seen as essentially being driven by the spirit of the age rather than by Scripture or The Tradition."

Anglican discernment has been been defined, since Hooker, as "Scripture, Tradition and Reason".

"Traditionalist" catholics seem to want to dismiss Reason---the only means by which we are even capable of understanding Scripture and Tradition---as "the spirit of the age".

If they would prefer to DROP Reason in favor of, say, a single voice with um, "magisterial" authority, there's a Church for that.

It's just not Anglican.

Posted by JCF at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 9:58pm BST

Ummm, I'm a traditionalist catholic, and so's my curate. It's just that both she and I believe that it's right to ordain women to the episcopate. Any chance of the 'anti-' brigade coming clean and acknowledging that they're simply 'anti-'? Or is the issue of the ordination of women the only thing which connotes 'traditional catholic', and not (say) belief in the Real Presence, the use of the Seven Sacraments, the historic threefold ministry, the sacrifice of the Mass and the acceptance of Our Lady as one's personal co-redemptrix:-)

It's like the Evangelical thing where 'orthodox' actually means not much more than 'straight', which seems a great impoverishment of the Reformed tradition, even though I don't pretend to understand it. (My knowledge of Church history ends with the death of Leo the Great, but I've been assured there was once something called 'the Reformation'.)

Posted by david rowett at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 10:20pm BST

Numbers are not the be all and end all - the church is NOT a democracy
- Original Observer

The Church of England is episcopally led and synodically governed. The House of Bishops has given the clearest possible lead on this and now it it up to the General Synod, where actually numbers do matter because the only way to determine the outcome of the legislative process is by voting (in this case with the requirement for a two-thirds majority in each House - the resultant Measure becoming the law of the land). As to whether my post was a threat, it clearly was, but not in terms of any intention to harm anyone or any group (that would hardly be Christian), but clearly in terms of the damage or danger to the Church of England. I suggest you turn your attention to the later TA post on the attitude of Parliament to this. As the Church by law established, it is sometimes worthwhile asking who is serving who, as Jesus made clear in Mark 10:45.

Posted by Anthony Archer at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 10:52pm BST

The latest post is signed Chris Sugden. So this new website appears be linked to Anglican Mainstream (and perhaps Reform and Church Society as well?), and is them being all concerned for minorities.

I love the way he plays the "you can tell what kind of a church we are by how we treat our minorities" card. I'll tell you how the church has treated its LGBT minority; disgracefully. And AM are the homophobic worst of the lot.

They have a right nerve to stand there and tell us that people who aren't even going to have to deal day to day with a real live flesh and blood woman bishop need even greater protection than all the protections built in. It makes me puke.

Posted by Jeremy Pemberton at Thursday, 25 October 2012 at 11:04pm BST

"Mother Jean Mayland - You have not made any concessions for us"

You don't get to decide when someone else has made a concession, Chuchu.

Posted by JCF at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 2:38am BST

Chugu
"We've been put in the effort and have given up so much in order to keep peace in the Church of England"

Maybe you can explain to me what other traditionalists have not explained yet although I did ask on several occasions.

As far as I can see, you have accepted that the Church of England can have women priests, provided it has absolutely no impact on you.
And so provisions for traditionalists have included a Flying Bishop scheme that has changed the traditional and orthodox definition of the Episcopate and separated bishops into those parishes will accept and those parishes will not accept.
And you have not had to tolerate a single women celebrating at your altars.

So as far as I can see, the people who have actually given up anything are the women who have accepted that they cannot officiate in your churches and the bishops who have accepted that they cannot serve you.

What have you given up? Where have you compromised?

You see, I accept your position. If you believe in male headship or if you do not believe that a woman can ontologically be a priest, then you have to isolate yourself from her. That is the nature of the thing, it cannot be different.
And, as Jean Mayland points out, women have accepted this, as has the large majority of the Church of England.

But I really do not see what effort you have made and what you had to give up.
I would really like to understand this.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 6:36am BST

Anthony Archer - numbers are of course important in a strict technical sense. My point is that where there the issue at stake is one which could lead some Anglicans to feel that the fundamental order of their church had been disrupted, simply pushing through a Measure on the basis of a headcount is unsatisfactory. The search for a way forward which will enact women bishops without unchurching some people needs to continue because the solution has clearly not yet been found.

As to whether the 'threat' referred to in your earlier post is aimed at particular groups or merely reflects a concern for the CofE as a whole, please consider these extracts:

like prisoners on death row;
stay of execution;
will have voted for their own execution;
the Church of England will not forgive them;
the nation will not understand them;
no Synod will ever want them to be part of their councils again.

Posted by Original Observer at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 10:14am BST

"We accepted women clergy in 1992 and we have worked with you in faithfulness" - Chuchu Nwagu -

One Question, Chuchu: did your 'acceptance" include receiving Sacraments from a women priest? Because this would signify your real 'acceptance' of Women's priesthood in the Church.

On the question of Women Bishops, the main objectors would not be willing to 'accept' them - in terms of their willingness to receive the Sacraments at the hands of a Women Bishop - thus dividing the Church into a 2-tiered episcopate. This certainly would not be 'catholic'.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 12:06pm BST

Erika,

I'll have a go, although I'm not really qualified to argue this in any way, but I'm a Res ABC parishioner and I can tell you what I feel.

I'd like the assembled masses to not shoot me down please as I'm not special pleading, or claiming any privilege for my opinions, just my gut feeling.

I am broadly supportive of the ordination of women bishops in the CofE, so long as they don't affect me or other traditionalists. Supportive because it is clearly the mind of the majority.

However, ontologically I don't know if women can be priests, so "at best not proven, at worst no" to quote a late bishop. But I'm an Anglican, so feel that what we've given up is the mainstream. Flying Bishops are not Catholic, but they are arguably a better response to women bishops than women priests - so the cart has been before the horse for the last 20 years. I don't believe in taint, so have no problem with male bishops ordaining women priests

Posted by primroseleague at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 12:24pm BST

cont..
however I don't believe that a man ordained by a woman is necessarily a priest, so need the male bishop.

As an anglo catholic, I suppose what we have given up implicitly is:
- the catholicity of the diocese (and given how much weight I suppose we put on succession that is painful)
- the reconversion of England; we have had to accept our ghettoisation and our place as a minority
- that the Church of England should not have women priests, regardless of whether it affects us or not (I've already said I think the mind of the Church as expressed through democracy has burned that bridge so support women bishops).

However, I'm 31, and somewhere in discernment. I'm not RC, but what hope is there for me as a putative CofE priest with hopefully most of my life in front of me, if the pit props that have sheltered us for 20 years are to be taken away?

Just my thoughts anyway.

Posted by primroseleague at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 12:30pm BST

Primroseleague
thank you!
This makes perfect sense and I can at least begin to understand where you feel you have compromised.
I really appreciate your reply.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 6:25pm BST

Primroseleague,
may I ask you another question I have asked here before and that I really don't quite understand yet?
If the concern of traditionalists is the ontological status of their bishops (and of the priests those bishops consecrate), then why were Flying Bishops ever necessary?
Every single current bishop has been validly ordained deacon, priest and bishop by other validly ordained male bishops.

What was the Catholic rationale behind the Flying Bishop scheme?

I find that a really interesting question because to chose your own bishop according to his theology is a real break with episcopal tradition and the practices of the Catholic churches and I would have expected traditionalists to reject that strongly until the first woman was ordained bishop and they no longer had a choice.

Thank you.

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 6:43pm BST

"However, ontologically I don't know if women can be priests, so "at best not proven, at worst no" to quote a late bishop...."

And how, exactly, could this supposition be proven to your satisfaction?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Friday, 26 October 2012 at 6:57pm BST

"Episcopal tradition and the practice of the Catholic churches" require the choice of bishops who will teach and administer the Catholic faith and Catholic order.

When bishops in the Church of England began to ordain women it was no longer clear that they were maintaining Catholic or Evangelical faith and order.

Provincial Episcopal Visitors were created so that those with doubts about the orthodoxy of their diocesan bishop could receive the ministry of another bishop about whom no such doubts existed.

Posted by Al Marsh at Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 12:33pm BST

Pat,

I don't know, as I said. At least I'm honest enough to admit that openly rather than settling for an easy life. My local vicar is a woman, and I go regularly to her services, hoping that something will change, and I will feel able to receive. I accept that inability may well say more about me than her, but I am open minded. Prayerfully, sadly, it hasn't happened yet.

She is a deeply good woman, I would almost go so far as to say holy. I want to support her fervently. But to date the small voice of my conscience denies her priesthood.

Posted by primroseleague at Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 3:55pm BST

'"Episcopal tradition and the practice of the Catholic churches" require the choice of bishops who will teach and administer the Catholic faith and Catholic order."'

I can see that it would be preferable. But "requires"? Isn't that Donatism?

I understood the concern of Anglo-Catholic traditionalists to be about the efficacy of the sacraments and about needing to be sure that consecrated bread and wine are truly consecrated, for example.
That, at least, I can understand.

But this does not require a right thinking priest or bishop.
If it did, how could Catholic parishes possibly cope with Evangelical bishops who do not share their thelogy of Catholic faith and Catholic order?
And yet, that is precisely how the CoE has been organised without anyone requiring protection.

I'm not criticising, I genuinely do not understand this.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 27 October 2012 at 5:07pm BST

The Catholic churches (RC and Orthodox) most certainly DO require of their bishops that they hold to, teach and practise Catholic faith and order. This is not "Donatism": this is Catholicism.

The notion of appointing bishops who do not would be incomprehensible - especially since one of the functions of a bishop (as it is also stated in the CofE ordinal) is "to banish and drive away all erroneous and strange doctrine."

The fact that the CofE has tolerated the appointment of those who embody erroneous and strange doctrines does not mean that this constitutes Catholic faith or order in the CofE, let alone anywhere else.

It has however required of all its bishops, whether "Catholic" OR "Evangelical" that they maintain the orders of the Church of England as it has received them - until recently, when its General Synod produced the innovation of women in holy orders.

The vast majority of the world's Catholic and Orthodox Christians adhere to the teaching of the Church throughout the ages that only men, after the example of the Apostles, can be admitted to holy orders. Pope John Paul II issued a formal statement that he as pope did not have authority, even if he wished, to innovate in this way.

When the CofE not only ordains women, but proposes to admit them also into the episcopate, it is therefore hardly surprising that those of its members who look for teaching authority and Catholic order to the Catholic church of East and West entertain doubts as to the competence of a local Synod to authorise such a step.

If doubts exist as to the authority of the CofE to admit women to the priesthood, those doubts are magnified greatly when what is proposed is a new episcopate which expressly does not conform to the pattern of faith and order of Catholic christendom from the very beginning.


Posted by Al Marsh at Sunday, 28 October 2012 at 9:37pm GMT

Al Marsh
thank you. This is really helping.
But I'm still not sure I understand, please bear with me, if you don't mind.

"The Catholic churches (RC and Orthodox) most certainly DO require of their bishops that they hold to, teach and practise Catholic faith and order. This is not "Donatism": this is Catholicism."

Yes, that is completely true, and you rightly do not mention the CoE in that list. More than half of the bishops serving in the CoE would not be bishops in catholic churches, precisely because they do not hold to, teach or practice all aspects of Catholic faith and order.
RC priests swear an oath of allegiance to the Pope that Anglicans do not swear, so at the time of ordination, there is already a difference in how the Catholic order is formally interpreted and lived. And an Anglican priests accepts the polity and the discernment processes of his own church when he is ordained. He does not swear an oath with his fingers crossed on his back thinking “I don’t really mean this, I do believe that I must follow the Pope”. At least one hopes not.

But once someone IS ordained into either church, whatever he teaches, believes or does not diminish the validity of the sacraments he administers.
And that is precisely what I understood to be the real concern of Anglo-Catholics.

If Anglo-Catholics were genuinely concerned with teaching, preaching and practice that mirrors Rome, they would already not be able to survive in a church with an evangelical bishop who, in Rome's eyes, is not even a valid priest.

So how is this approach not pick and mix? How is it not simply "we accept some deviations from Catholic teaching and practice because we accept them, but not others just because we don't"?

The only 2 arguments against women priests I have every understood (although not shared),are the evangelical difficulties arising from their belief in male headship and the Anglo-Catholic concerns that the sacraments might not be valid.

The evangelical one does, in theory, require a right thinking and preaching bishop, although conservative evangelicals appear to be happy with any male bishop.
The Anglo-Catholic one requires a male bishop who was validly ordained deacon, priest and bishop in his own church (not in Rome), by other validly ordained male bishops. Acceptable theology would be preferable but cannot be a requirement.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 October 2012 at 8:00am GMT

"When the CofE not only ordains women, but proposes to admit them also into the episcopate, it is therefore hardly surprising that those of its members who look for teaching authority and Catholic order to the Catholic church of East and West entertain doubts as to the competence of a local Synod to authorise such a step. "

The next question, obviously (to me, anyway), is why are their members of the CofE (or of any Anglican Communion church) who "who look for teaching authority and Catholic order to the Catholic church of East and West"? If they sincerely believe that those churches--which do not even admit of the proper ordination of MEN in the Anglican tradition--are the proper teaching authorities, why not leave the CofE and join the Roman or Eastern church?

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Monday, 29 October 2012 at 10:04am GMT

Al Marsh says: "The vast majority of the world's Catholic and Orthodox Christians adhere to the teaching of the Church throughout the ages that only men, after the example of the Apostles, can be admitted to holy orders."

1. Jesus didn't admit anyone to "holy orders" in the sense that we understand it now, neither men nor women.
2. St Paul himself refers to at least one woman, Junia, as an apostle - Romans 16.7(and no serious commentator would now suggest that this was actually "Junias" which never appears as a male name in antiquity).In the same chapter, as in other letters, Paul describes the ministry of women in the same sort of terms as men. They were plainly exercising considerable authority, leading churches and travelling with the message of the Gospel (like Phoebe, who takes Paul's letter to Rome and is clearly a woman of great influence).
3. There was no agreed list of apostles in the early church, nor apparently any requirement that the number of the apostles be limited to twelve, . The gospels do not agree on who was on that list, so either there were more than twelve or some of the Gospel writers got their lists wrong - either way it seems a little neglectful of them to be so vague if they really intended to limit apostleship to "The Twelve", which seems to be what those who argue against the ordination of women are relying on. Paul insists repeatedly that he is an apostle, and he was not one of "The Twelve", and, as I have said, he also describes at least one woman as an apostle.If those who wrote the New Testament didn't agree on who the apostles were, then it is very dangerous for us to build up an entire doctrinal framework which excludes half the human race from ordained ministry on such a shaky foundation.
No matter what the Pope or the Orthodox Churches may proclaim, neither history nor the Bible support the view that women were excluded either from apostleship or from any other ministry.

Posted by Anne at Monday, 29 October 2012 at 10:08am GMT

Hitherto the Church of England has maintained the outward form of the threefold order as it appeared in "the Apostles'time" (see the Preface to the Ordinal). Whatever the private opinions of a bishop in the CofE, he was required to conform to that pattern, including the requirement that a bishop be male, as the Twelve undoubtedly were. The CofE now proposes to change the structure itself, so that it no longer share this apostolic tradition with the great churches of East and west, to whom it has been saying that "we are just like you"!

There has been plenty of feminist revisionism in recent years, attempting to prove that the New Testament means the very opposite of what its authors intended it to mean. But it is both clear that there were Twelve apostles, one for each of the tribes of Israel; and that the Church restricted the office of bishop to male successors to the original apostles. To argue otherwise is to clutch at speculative straws, none of which stand up to the historical record of a male only threefold ministry.

The CofE has chosen not to enforce theological orthodoxy on the part of its bishops and teachers, which is partly why it has so seriously lost its way both ecumenically, and now internally, as it prepares to jettison the elements within which hold fast to those elements of Catholic order and teaching which the CofE has retained from its past prior to the Reformation.

It is a matter of great sadness to Orthodox and Catholic observers, who hoped that the Anglican Communion might form part of a reunited Church, but who now see that it will always choose its own way, whatever the scriptures say, whatever the Councils of the Church say, and whatever its ecumenical partners might say.


Posted by Al Marsh at Monday, 29 October 2012 at 11:41am GMT

Al,
I agree that the introduction of female priests has been a real change in the outward form of the threefold order.

I still maintain that it is not the first major change that Rome would strongly resist, yet all other changes have been acommodated by traditionalists without requiring the special protection of right thinking Bishops.

I ask again - why have traditionalists been able to tolerate "the appointment of those who embody erroneous and strange doctrines" in all other aspects of church life and doctrine, yet when it come to women priests they need not only sacramental assurance but also, suddenly, someone whose understanding of all things follow the Roman pattern.

I do not doubt that it would be preferable. I seriously question that it should be an absolute requirement.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 October 2012 at 1:50pm GMT

"The CofE now proposes to change the structure itself, so that it no longer share this apostolic tradition with the great churches of East and west, to whom it has been saying that "we are just like you"!

Hm... but they have always replied: "No, you're not". Does that count for nothing?

And all the while we have married priests and divorced priests and remarried priests, all equally impossible in the Roman Catholic church.

Please - I'm not criticising your view! I really struggle to understand it and I'm grateful that you engage in this conversation.


Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 October 2012 at 2:04pm GMT

Erika, the Church has had married priests from the very beginning, although Rome has largely excluded them since the 13th century, most Orthodox clergy are married. Divorced and remarried priests are another barrier which the CofE has recently put in the way of church unity.

Posted by Al Marsh at Monday, 29 October 2012 at 10:18pm GMT

Al,
yes, that's my point. There are so many barriers to institutional unity that I genuinely do not understand why this one should be one where Anglo-Catholics require not only sacramental assurance but also, suddenly, right thinking Bishops.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 9:04am GMT

Excuse me for butting in, but doesn't this argument about staying in step with other churches completely ignore the fact that other churches - indeed, other Anglican provinces - already ordain women to the highest levels?!

Posted by Serena at Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 2:43pm GMT

Serena,

yes it does, and without getting too far down into the weeds of branch theory that's because the history of Anglo-Catholicism has always been about working towards corporate reunion of the CofE with the RCC, and never about reunion with the Methodists or anyone else.... Just not on the radar.

Posted by primroseleague at Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 3:08pm GMT

Primroseleague,
but while the CoE is not part of Rome, the CoE IS part of the Anglican Communion, so it should matter what our friends in the Provinces do.

After all, when the Covenant was being debated we were told it mattered so much that we all had to develop joint policies on key issues and that we should no longer hold to the principle that each church ministers in its local context.
The Covenant failed, fortunately, but I think it has shown that we are very much part of a wider Communion of Anglican churches and most of those are not Rome-focused.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 5:19pm GMT

...and why don't the Methodists (and the Baptists, URC, etc ) matter?

Posted by Anne at Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 5:56pm GMT
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