Comments: Women bishops and the laity vote - voting records of the eight

If these proposals contained any theology it would be possible to have debate. But they contain none at all. This is applied pragmatism. We can't agree. I'll have my corner and you can have yours. OK - but don't pretend it is the church of Christ.
It reminds me of the story of Solomon offering to carve up a baby between two women to solve their dispute. One woman pleads for a living baby even if it means giving it away into the hands of the other. The other is happy to divide it up.

Posted by David Runcorn at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 2:00pm GMT

Bishop Lindsay Urwin talked on Youtube about the possibility of there being two 'rights' rather than a right and a wrong on this issue. Can we make space for those two rights? This is a Jewish concept and difficult for Western minds to accept.

Posted by Jonathan Edwards II at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 4:36pm GMT

I agree with David Runcorn's comments in this thread. Second Class status for women who wish to become bishops in the CofE is not a fair or balanced playing field. All bishops must be equal and that includes those who ordain women. No bishop should be permitted the position that excludes women from ordaining other women. Shameful that the fundamentalist elements continue to push what always appears to be a misogynistic undertone to their point of view.

Posted by Chris Smith at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 4:37pm GMT

I'm all in favour of 'applied pragmatism', which is merely a functional - and pejorative - way of describing the greatest of all virtues - compassion - for which there is superabundant theology.

Posted by John at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 6:34pm GMT

This is all about a Third Province, isn't it? So the answer must ne no.

Posted by Richard Ashby at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 6:44pm GMT

David, that analogy would be appropriate if anyone outside the CoE weren't Christians, but that argument doesn't seem fit anymore. Perhaps it is time to admit that the big tent can't stretch any more. Liberals won't wait for the "weaker brother" and the conservatives won't give up their scruples.

Posted by Chris H. at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 7:42pm GMT

Sadly, these voters are asking for legislation that would enshrine in law a continuing divided Church of England. How can it exist, permanently, with two very different understanding of the qualifications of the Church's bishops - based on a sexist ethos?

Unless, of course, the role of bishops in the Church of England is relegated to adiaphoral status! The present (male) bishops seem unable to live into an understanding of co-responsibility, in Christ, with the female of the species. Or is this just an issue for a small minority of Lay Anglicans in the U.K.?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 8:12pm GMT

David, particularly in the light of some fairly horrid articles over the past week (Fraser etc.) your Solomon analogy can be read in a number of ways.

Posted by Tom Lilley at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 9:21pm GMT

I am awaiting a response from anyone who is opposed to women being ordained bishops which does not simply "unchurch" me as a male priest ordained to priestly orders in the Church of God through the Church of England at the hands of a male bishop. I have asked on this forum several times, and have been studiously ignored.

I do not wish to unchurch" them, but no Church can consistently legislate a two church solution. Perhaps someone out there can tell me whether they think I am a priest or not? And on what basis? Then we might have something to talk about - otherwise we are just being asked to indulge the fantasies of would be rescuers. We do not need to be rescued from conflict, but saved by God - and the fact the God acts in spite of human will - evident powerfully at Christmas - is what gives us confidence in the sacraments. Reducing sacraments to human action is the penultimate heresy.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 9:45pm GMT

Mark, yes, if you have been ordained by a Church England bishop, you are a priest in the Church of God and no-one would deny that.

Posted by Richard at Thursday, 29 November 2012 at 11:42pm GMT

Mark Bennet - your status as a priest is beyond question, so long as that is what you intended at your ordination. Your support for the ordination of women may be an error in the eyes of some, but there is no theology I know of which holds that those in holy orders who fall into error should have their orders invalidated. Why would anyone wish to 'unchurch' you?

Posted by Original Observer at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 12:06am GMT

Original Observer,
The whole PEV system was set up on the basis that male bishops who support women's ordination are not acceptable to Anglo-Catholic traditionalists. And that before there was a single one who was ever himself not validly consecrated in Anglo-Catholic eyes.

In the eyes of traditionalists Mark Bennett is as unacceptable as a woman priest, and that although there is no question of sacramental assurance being at stake.

If his status as a priest is beyond question, what was the whole PEV scheme about? On what basis was it decided that he was second class for Anglo-Catholics and would, if he had been a bishop, not be allowed to serve them?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 7:56am GMT

Erika - I think the idea is that you gather as a college of priests and people around a Bishop who is faithful to traditional Catholic order. I don't think such people would claim invalidity of orders as much as irregularity (being in error) in the faith and practise of Bishops who ordain women contrary to tradition. So it seems to be a question of wanting to hold together as a body who disagree with majority on where truth lies.

Posted by Neil at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 8:53am GMT

Erika Baker

No Anglican should regard any Anglican bishop as not validly consecrated. And I do not believe that even FiF takes that line.

The relationship of those bishops, clergy and laity who do not accept female orders with those who do is conditioned not so much by 'taint' (a red herring) as by communion and collegiality. I do not understand it very well myself, but this link attempts to deal with the subject.

Personally I would not regard Mark Bennett's ministry as in any way unacceptable. The FiF demand for PEVs seems to me not to hold water as the PEVs are but suffragans of either Canterbury, York or London, whose diocesan bishops have a presbyteral college which contains women. Even if those diocesan bishops do not ordain women they licence others to do it for them in their name.

It seems to me (and correct me if I am wrong) that even Res C parishes must have a link - albeit an indirect one - of full communion with women priests.

Posted by Original Observer at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 9:19am GMT

Original Observer, I struggle to understand why, though opponents of women's ordination who are Anglo-Catholic and evangelical have long considered each other profoundly in error over the sacraments and other key issues, they managed to co-exist in dioceses when I was a child; yet now, some seem to want to keep themselves 'pure' from priests like Mark, let alone women clergy.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 2:00pm GMT

Savi H - You don't seem to get the point. It is not a question of being kept 'pure' at all. Rather being permitted to exist (and hopefully flourish in mission when all the arguments are over and proponents are prepared to co-exist) by a majority who seek to annihilate them. Opponents of women's ordination have always been prepared to co-exist with those in favour whom they recognise to be in a majority. But the contrary is not now true. Women who were prepared to be ordained priest in a church which allowed dissent are not now prepared to be ordained bishop on the same terms, and want all or nothing - this is what has been said. And the historic vote of General Synod delivered its verdict, however unpalatable that might be.

Posted by Neil at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 5:43pm GMT

Neil - it rather depnds on your definition of "co-existence". Quoting from the FiF Code of Practice from the link in Original Observer's comment. A priest "would find it impossible to celebrate the eucharist in any place where a woman was a regular and accepted minister of the eucharist."

Furthermore, "Priests...should act in such a way as never, by association or participation, to mislead others into assuming that they accept or countenance the priestly ministry of those ordained under the 1993 Measure.

Also: "We believe that layfolk have a duty, wherever possible to re-align themselves with parishes which have sought alternative episcopal care."

That seems to me co-existence only in the sense of building a high wall around one bit of the church and expecting your neighbour never ever to come near you.

Posted by magistra at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 7:11pm GMT

Savi H

I think the issue for some AC priests is that they cannot belong to a bishop's presbyteral college if it contains women. Accepting the sacraments from such a bishop involves a defacto recognition of a communion with everyone in his presbyteral college, something they will not countenance. It does not mean that they regard the bishop himself as tainted or invalid.

I do to some extent share your bemusement about the need for PEVs because it is debatable whether they really do allow a college and a communion which is ultimately all male.

PEVs undoubtably provide sympathetic teaching and pastoral care to Res C parishes and can act to ensure that a parish is not moved 'down the candle' during a vacancy. For more clarification we really need an explanation from an expert theologian.

Posted by Original Observer at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 7:15pm GMT

Magistra - Well yes, of course I agree that some FiF advice is utter nonsense, although I guess it will improve as the post Broadhurst team get their feet under the table. Colin Podmore is rather more sensible for a start. Their rhetoric and practise (I actually wasn't aware it was quite as strict as you outline) is perhaps not as harsh in practise as it appears (rather worryingly) in the quotes you give. I don't agree with their position, but still wish to retain sensible Catholics within the CofE (people like the new Bishop of Chichester who I imagine retains a friendship with his erstwhile colleague Lucy Winkeett). The sooner we permit the ordination of female Bishops, and come up with a formula to retain (sensible) Catholics, the better.

Posted by Neil at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 11:33pm GMT

Neil, do you not think it hyperbolic to claim that the majority 'seek to annihilate' opponents of women's ordination? During the Reformation, some Protestants and Catholics sought to annihilate one another. Some Ugandan Christians have been seeking to annihilate their LGBT brothers and sisters by pushing for capital punishment. In contrast, the majority have allowed a small minority the freedom to discriminate against women (including laywomen) in their own churches in ways that would be unlawful in non-religious institutions, and this is likely to continue. However, having two or three diocesan bishops with authority in the same geographical diocese would be a major break with tradition.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Friday, 30 November 2012 at 11:38pm GMT

Question: The fundies don't actually believe in co-existence or compromise. They cannot, whatever they say; their belief set doesn't allow them to. But rather than splitting off and joining splinter sect groups such as ACNA or whatever, as happened in North America, they genuinely seem willing to stay in C of E if they can carve out their own separate, protected church within it.

Okay so my question to myself is, what's different in England from North America, why are they fighting tooth and nail to get their own church within a church, rather than fighting tooth and nail over what family silver they can take with them? Is it because they don't want to give up the "authority" of being the established church and the "prestige" of being associated with the Crown?

Posted by Randal Oulton at Saturday, 1 December 2012 at 3:31am GMT

Dear Randal haven't you heard the phrase "best boat to fish from"? Parish churches provide a lot of opportunities and a place in the community. Also socially..where cons evangelical churches are in nice areas or gathered churches attracting young professionals etc...they know few of these people would defect to an Evangelical Free Church of England worshipping in the local school hall. England just doesnt ( even now,,,tho it has changed a lot in the last 50 yrs) got that "free market in religion" that characterises the US...and there isn't the money about to start new churches so easily.

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 1 December 2012 at 9:16am GMT

Original Observer,
I've been away for a few days so apologies for not having replied to you answer to my question.

I am trying to understand what you are saying about trying to hold the church together and I respect that.
I also understand that what is happening must seem like annihilation to you.

But I genuinely do not see how a real side by side can be possible. The level of isolation you need from women priests and bishops is so comprehensive that giving you this level of isolation will destroy the unity of the church as comprehensively as having women bishops will do.

The nature of the episcopate would change, we would be in a church where various groups would not even be in communion with each other!
I have never heard it say that Anglo-Catholics are not "in communion" with our sister churches in the Anglican Communion, yet suddenly we need a system that will mean we're not even in communion with each other.

We would introduce a level of novelty that is so un-catholic that it is almost astonishing to think that it is Anglo-Catholics with their emphasis on orthodoxy who are asking for it.

And when we have sealed the 2 parts of the church off from each other and are no longer in Communion with each other, we have somehow saved church unity?

I genuinely do not understand any of this, why you want it, what you think you would gain from it.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 2 December 2012 at 7:17pm GMT

On Christmas Day this year, the FiF website call for their supporters to pray for "All traditionalist Christians as they rejoice in the Incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ". Not all Christians, not all of humanity, but the people they agree with. I'm a liberal, but I don't want to force people out of the church who disagree with me. Whenever individual Anglo-Catholic opponents of WO talk about how they do co-operate with ordained women whenever it doesn't clash with their need for sacramental assurance then I feel encouraged to go the extra mile to keep them in the church. But FiF as a whole does seem to want a honoured place while refusing to give any honour or even respect to their opponents.

Posted by magistra at Monday, 3 December 2012 at 7:25am GMT

Original Observer,
can I ask a question, please?
This church unity you are seeking, would it include any genuine recognition of each other's actions? Would a new member in your parish have to be re-confirmed if he had been confirmed by a woman bishop? Or by a male bishop who has participated in the ordination of women?

Would the parish system as it stands still be valid and possible?
Would people have to indicate whether they are CoE or CoE/orthodox?

I mean... what level of unity would we actually have?
Or would we be two churches as remote from each other as the CoE and the Roman Catholics, who just happen to share a name?

What would all of this look like in practice?

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 3 December 2012 at 8:13am GMT
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