Comments: Women Bishops: more news and comment

Excellent Tablet editorial which chimes with the real politik of Frank Field's view. All those who now say 'poor Rowan' after the recent vote should perhaps have supported his original summer compromise. But the liberals rejected it and now face the consequences of inept political misjudgment. Same with the covenant, when the Bishops again got it wrong. Poor Rowan indeed...he now seems to have called it about right re women bishops and the sooner people like the Biahop of Gloucester realize this, this better!

Posted by Neil at Sunday, 25 November 2012 at 3:49pm GMT

Hard to know what planet John Milbank is residing in.

Posted by John at Sunday, 25 November 2012 at 4:10pm GMT

This afternoon, to the enthronement of the new Bishop of Chichester, one of the three diocesan Bishops who voted against the measure at the recent Synod. He was placed in his cathedra by the Archdeacon of Canterbury, the Venerable Sheila Anne Watson. I was not the only one to observe that God moves in mysterious ways.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Sunday, 25 November 2012 at 6:37pm GMT

"basis of the Anglican Settlement is a tacit agreement that no one part of it should ever push its case so far as to drive another part out into the cold."
The Tablet editorial has it wrong when it comes to the Elizabethian Settlement. The Settlement did not set up mess of little legal enclaves where Romans could worship in their way and another bunch for Protestants to do it their way. It was one Church using one Prayer Book led by one body of clergy. Each person was welcome to understand the words of worship in their own way, but they worshipped together.
That being said, human nature being what it is, individuals tend to group with like-minded individuals forming little ghettos of one persuasion or another and think this is the way it has always been or should always be. This is simply hubis, leave the Settlement out of it.

Posted by Tom Downs at Sunday, 25 November 2012 at 7:33pm GMT

Near the close of The Tablet article " but both the Anglo-Catholics and the Evangelicals anchor their doctrine elsewhere than in the shifting sands of public opinion or the secular equality agenda:"

This sentiment speaks volumes about the lack of understanding in churches of basic human rights. The term "secular" is being used here as a code word in the attempt to keep alive a phoney distinction between the church and wider social order on the issue of equality. This argument will carry sway in Catholic (and "catholic") circles where even the mere suggestion that women are the full equal of aging celibate men meets the definition of "radical feminism". However, judging by the outpouring of opinion in the wider editorial world, such a distinction carries little weight.

Interesting though, despite the patronizing contempt with which notions of female equality are dismissed, the fossilized theological right still manages to use the vocabulary of rights when describing themselves as a "minority" who must have "guarantees". Their doing so trivializes those who experience real oppression.

The vocabulary of equality and human rights are not part of liberal or secular discourse; they are part of civilized discourse.

What has been learned in the North American situation is that buying into the notion that conservatives are a "minority" who must have guarantees, usually results in giving the long standing voices of sexism a continuing, officially recognized,bully pulpit.

Christian society should accept gender equality and let opponents to women's ordination wrestle their own peace from the situation. What do they think will happen to them? Do they honestly believe that a reversal of roles will see them treated as dismissively and glibly as they have treated women?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 25 November 2012 at 8:50pm GMT

I'm bemused by the Tablet article. The author does not declare his/her own position in regard to the current Roman Catholic doctrine (dubbed "infallible" by the CDF under Ratzinger) that it is impossible for women to be ordained priests much less bishops. I think we RCs have nothing to say about these Anglican dilemmas.

Posted by Spirit of Vatican II at Sunday, 25 November 2012 at 9:40pm GMT

@Richard Ashby -- The Times has a picture of the enthronement. It looks as though much was communicated, shall we say, without words.

Posted by Jeremy at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 1:20am GMT

Am I alone in finding all this hullabaloo over the failure of the Women in the Episcopate vote to be truly astonishing? We were warned beforehand that the result was on a knife edge and that it could go one way or another; it just so happened that it failed to receive the requisite majority vote in the House of Laity. Since then it's been Hellzapoppin' with uncharitable comments flying back and forth; which just goes to shew what a sham any pretence at the much vaunted "respect" would have been - as hollow, in fact, as the promise of a continuing honoured place within the CofE for those who hold a traditionalist point of view on this highly divisive issue.
The current seething turmoil has led to a move to bring back this proposal as a single clause motion during the lifetime of the current Synod. Yet, it seems to me that if a motion that included limited provision for those opposed to the initiative failed - then wouldn't a motion which contained NO provision for those who hold orthodoxy dear to their hearts have even less chance of achieving the required and necessary majorities?
The "respect" amendment failed to convince and bitter words have ensued. I forget who said it but couldn't we now try and see if this works:-"Love your enemies and pray for those who perscute you"?

Posted by Father David at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 5:14am GMT

Geez, do we really need a link, here, to the Guardian article by Catherine Bennett, when it's basically just a full length version of every letter to the Guardian, ever? {*} "Religion is craziness for crazy people: celebrate its passing!" There's quite enough of that one-note symphony already.

{*} Excepting the odd "The CofE should stay patriarchal as God intended!" letter. Seriously, I think in all the comments I've ever read on Guardian religious articles, I could count those which amount to a "Thinking Anglicans" position on the fingers of one hand! O_o

Posted by JCF at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:02am GMT

Article on the Chichester enthronement follows shortly....

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 7:41am GMT

I don't normally buy the Times but have done today, to read:-

Even one of the two Bishops to vote against women bishops (I thought that it was three?) seemed to be having regrets. The new Bishop of Chichester...said in his sermon at his consecration yesterday (actually it was his enthronement/installation) that the Church of England's self confidence and reputation had been affected. 'We now have to face some very uncomfortable facts that will implicate us all in a review of our decision making processes as a Church.' he said.

One might well retort that he should have thought about this before the vote. His changing his vote would have made no difference to the outcome, what he could have done is warn, as other did, that a no vote would precipatate such a crisis as we now have and urge others to accept the legislation as the best possible compromise obtainable. Now that compromise isn't obtainable I, for one, hope that pressure for a one clause measure will become un-stoppable.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 1:23pm GMT

@Rod Gillis,

Of course they believe they will be treated as badly or worse-the name calling and descriptions that say that conservatives aren't Christian at all are already flying, in some cases the implication is that they aren't even human. We don't even know for sure that the vote failed because of honest conservatves voting no or if delegates who are pro-women voted no in order to cause this backlash and see their enemies out(at least 1 delegate admitted doing so). If the current legislation getting defeated was so bad, why were so many people who are pro-women bishops arguing against for months? Now they blame the real conservatives?

Posted by Chris H at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 2:00pm GMT

@ Chris H. Hi Chris, my question was intended to be somewhat tongue in cheek. It's based on the conjecture that the conservatives who are looking for what seems to be extraordinary guarantees are engaging in some projection of their own behaviour on their opponents.

I'm just not up on the ecclesiastical nuances of the C of E, so there are some things I can't comment upon. My interest in this issue is on the larger social, psychological and theological themes in play.

Clearly one should not dismiss one's opponents as being something less than human, or not being Christian. On the latter point,for example, I would argue that religion tends to be primarily a conservative social phenomena, that Christian theology often functions as form of special pleading, and so one might add it is precisely because conservatives are Christian that they are constructing what might be described as social and theological Masada for themselves.

There are two things that I find very interesting in this whole debate (1) There is a reluctance on the part of both opponents and supporters of women's ordination to frame the question in anything but primarily theological terms. This offers a very interesting segue into (2) There is a real lag in the church with respect to dialogue between Christian social theology and the advancement of human rights.

Its an interesting debate to be having at this time of year, near the date of "The Reign of Christ" ( or Christ the King on some calendars), --an observance with an ambiguous genesis and interesting problem for Christian praxis.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 5:19pm GMT

Follow-up question, are there available any interviews with or statements by women who voted "no", outlining the rationale for doing so?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 6:08pm GMT

Father David,

No, you're not alone. Among traditionalists, Benedict and Original Observer (who they? I'd like to know). Among notorious liberals, rjb (who he? virtuous chap, anyway) and my modest self have registered our puny protests. Also some other guy who didn't like (any more than me) Giles Fraser's bullying uncharitable posturings. Myself, I am a great fan of Father Trevor Jones, even as I fervently support women priests, women bishops, and gay marriage. But I hope there remains what might be described as 'cross-party' integrity. John =

Posted by john at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 8:37pm GMT

An excellent article by Professor Andrew McGowan - from an Australian perspective - and especially in the light of the fact of Swaziland's recent ordination of it own female Bishop.

Whether the African Provinces are as illiberal as Gafcon or as liberal as Swaziland and Southern Africa - it would seem that the Church of England is out of step with both tendencies in the Communion. It surely has to make its mind up whether to champion a modern perspective on human rights and justice, or to remain in the enclosed ethos of the 39 Articled 16rh century church. The idea of '2 Integrities' is simply not working.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 26 November 2012 at 8:38pm GMT

I agree that the Tablet exhibits a misunderstanding
of the Elizabethan settlement. While Elizabeth
said "I will not make windows into men's souls",
signalling a degree of inward latitude, lack of
outward conformity to the rites and ceremonies
of the Church of England was punished by fines
and much worse. Catholics and the budding Puritan
movement could expect severe retribution. It was
not the big umbrella the Tablet suggests.

Posted by Rupert Davis at Tuesday, 27 November 2012 at 1:37am GMT

Bingham's article on Martin Warner is excellent - and accompanied by a photo truly eloquent of the awkwardnesses and compromises inherent in co-existence between pro- and anti- WO people (and their respective priests). Not that I don't think such compromises and awkwardnesses virtuous. But Warner seems far more aligned with the David Houlding view than with the FiF word-book on such matters.

Posted by John at Tuesday, 27 November 2012 at 7:20pm GMT

Father David - You are clearly not alone in finding some of the reaction to last week's vote over the top, but I don't think you should be as astonished by it as you profess to be. As the established church in an increasingly secular society, we can't expect to retain any credibility or privileges if we get too far out of line with society at large. Whilst we in the church understand that dissenters do have deeply held beliefs about this matter, most of the society we are there to serve views last week's decision with incredulity and contempt, which can only obstruct any attempts at mission.
You suggest that we should try loving our enemies and praying for those that persecute us but, after we've done that, what then? Although I don't regard you as an enemy, but only as a fellow Christian with differing views, I sense that you would be happy for the current situation to continue indefinitely, with the final step in the threefold ministry denied to women. I think that Parliament has already made clear that that situation would not be tolerated for long.

Posted by Malcolm Dixon at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 12:45am GMT

Malcolm, thank you for such a temperate and measured response but if, as you claim, we are living in "an increasingly secular society" then the Church of God must - if it is to be true to the Gospel - be increasingly "out of line with society at large"?
As I have stated before - Parliament is going to do absolutely nothing to interfere in the mess created by the General Synod. The Church of England has made its own bed and now it must lie in it.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 1 December 2012 at 9:11pm GMT
Post a comment

Remember personal info?

Please note that comments are limited to 400 words. Comments that are longer than 400 words will not be approved.

Cookies are used to remember your personal information between visits to the site. This information is stored on your computer and used to refill the text boxes on your next visit. Any cookie is deleted if you select 'No'. By ticking 'Yes' you agree to this use of a cookie by this site. No third-party cookies are used, and cookies are not used for analytical, advertising, or other purposes.