Comments: Forward in Faith Director calls for mutual generosity

I think this well reflects where FiF and similar groupings are now. It's surely not bad.

Posted by John at Monday, 1 July 2013 at 10:01pm BST

"...we now need to identify a way forward" - well, yes. What does Mr Podmore suggest?

It is not very promising that he says that the ordination of women even as priests remains "provisional" and may yet be "rejected".

He is honest in acknowledging that "The ministry of the Provincial Episcopal Visitors (“flying bishops”) has seen downs as well as ups".

But he does not mention the most striking recent fact about them: namely, that every single PEV in the Province of Canterbury defected to the Roman Catholic Church: Edwin Barnes and Keith Newton (Bishops of Richborough), Andrew Burnham (Bishop of Ebbsfleet) and their London equivalent, John Broadhurst (Bishop of Fulham). They all joined the Ordinariate set up by the Roman Catholic Church, specifically, to take Anglicans out of the Church of England in groups. This was a poor return on the generous 1993 settlement now said by Mr Podmore to have been so exemplary.

Posted by badman at Monday, 1 July 2013 at 10:08pm BST

The problem with the 1993 legislation on the Ordination of Women was that it resulted in a 2-tier raking of priesthood in the Church of England. Only a re-establishment of a single (undifferentiated) episcopal order will save the C. Of E. from further descent into non-catholic confusion.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Monday, 1 July 2013 at 11:07pm BST

"Back in England we have looked with amazement and dismay at a once great church [he means TEC] tearing itself apart."

Say-Wha-Huh? O_o

I'm a cradle Episcopalian, age 51, and it seems to me that TEC is *more united* NOW than it has been in my entire adult life. I realize that the subject of TEC's unity is rather off-topic for this thread, but I'm afraid I'm not inclined to take Dr Podmore's prescriptions seriously, subsequent to this fundamental misreading of what "to live together with confidence and integrity" looks like.

Posted by JCF at Monday, 1 July 2013 at 11:13pm BST

JCF has it right. And it IS pertinent to Dr. Podmore's new positioning of FiF.

He talks about compromise as being costly, but what exactly are the costs? This is precisely the area that needs fleshing out to truly understand what is at stake, and the implications of the moral position/s. And who is to bear the costs?

CoE conservatives love to trot out the "horrors" from TEC. I have news for them. The schisms and lawsuits are the costs of taking the moral high road. TEC tried to appease traditionalists, but finally were in the impossible position; you can't immorally discriminate and morally not discriminate simultaneously. We bore the costs, and now we are more united and robust than ever.

What are the costs for CoE to continue down the road of discrimination? One must look at who is impacted. Inequality has costs - depression, addiction, economic deprivation, vulnerability to violence, including rape and murder.

Girls and women have born the costs of inequality for quite a long time.

What are the costs of liberation? Who bears the heavy burden of ... um, um, um, I'm not exactly seeing the heavy burden of liberation.

I hope that folks will truly reflect on the costs of intolerance. In England, and in places like Africa. There are indeed costs, and the same people have carried them for far too long.

If you believe that church should be the healing Body of Christ, then what you say about God's children matters. And placing any in inferior positions has an impact, in England, Africa, the world. What's the cost? The real cost?

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 12:50am BST

It seems like when Dr. Podmore speaks of the broader church, he only seems to mean Rome and the Orthodox. It doesn't seem as if he is including the huge number of Protestant denominations that have clergy equality.

It's nice that he is calling for a broader and more tolerant church. Rowan poisoned that for me when he tried to arm twist TEC into throwing me and my LGBT sisters and brothers AND my beloved female and LGBT clergy under a bus. To be in unity with human rights abusers.

I don't know how to get that poison out of my veins. It is an awful thing to be told that you don't belong, or that you are utterly unequal in the eyes of God, and you are definitely of lesser account ... etc. That was the message, we all heard it loudly and clearly.

I don't want one more person to hear that awful message. And I don't see how Dr. Podmore can get what he wants without sending that awful message to every girl in England and beyond. Growing up in the Greek Orthodox Church, I knew what it meant that girls couldn't be acolytes, nor women priests. If it is an awful, hurtful message, how can it be God's will?

I'll be praying for the CoE this weekend. It will be the most loving prayers I can conjure up for all concerned. Prayers from Colorado's Rocky Mountains are especially potent, we're closer to God and do pagan things like ask the eagles to send them higher still.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 1:29am BST

What Mr. Podmore calls for, a gracious giving of mutual generosity that is costly to both sides, was and is the law of the land in The Episcopal Church that he describes as "tearing itself apart".

Bishops are free to ban same-sex blessings within their diocseses and preach that same sex relations are sinful. My local TEC parish did so just recently.

Conservative evangelical and catholic Episcopalians are still free to attend Nashotah House and receive a conservative evagelical or catholic education to ensure their perceived purity of apostolic succession and membership in that particular sect of Anglicanism.

Bishops and priests and lay members are still free to refuse baptism, communion, marriage, and burial from a female or lgbt priest; there are several members of my local church that do so at every opportunity.

No one was asked to leave or walk apart. That decision was made always in secret, behind closed doors, and with much fury by a handful of dioceses -- hardly a church tearing itself apart.

I found this sermon to be ironic myself. If one substitutes "lgbt" for traditional or "conservative evangelical" or "catholic" then you have a fine argument for the mutual generosity with great cost that we have lived in TEC.

Do Mr. Podmore and his followers have a conception of this -- this need and desire to remain in the church, not only tolerated but to thrive as God's children that lgbt Anglicans have lived and suffered for generations?

One would hope that this will some day be seen as a hopeful outcome of Mr. Podmore's level of introspection and admonition for what we, as a church, need to do and should do.

We can dwell together in mutual respect if both sides are willing; when one side walks away entirely then that chance is lost as has been the case with the former dioceses in TEC.

I call on Mr. Podmore to advocate beyond the issue of women bishops and extend his call for gracious generosity to extend to lgbt Anglicans in addition to traditionalists who can't receive the ministration of women.

Posted by Priscilla Cardinale at Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 1:32am BST

I think the bit that bothers me most is where Colin writes:
"And when I hear Christian priests using derogatory language of other ministers of the Gospel, my lay heart grieves."
The 'derogatory language' that Colin seems to pass over is the idea, used over and over again by FiF priests, that women can't actually be ordained to this ministry! Despite his word trickery around the 'doctrine' of reception - which I don't think was ever intended to mean provisionality - he forgets that the Church of Enlgand has made a decision on this matter. Women are Priests. We have institutionally permitted a tiny proportion of people to not like that fact very much, but fact it is. Canonically they are priests. To pretend otherwsie, as Colin does, is just derogatory.
What I believe we need to campaign now for is protection in law against this kind of double speak. We need an Act of Synod to protect us from the Act of Synod. As interpreted by Colin's piece it is offensive to humanity. If we were granted such protection then maybe we'd actually see what compromise meant. As it is, I haven't noticed any member of FiF or Reform, or any other C of E pressure group that wants to deny basic facts, compromising on anything.

Posted by Andrew Godsall at Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:27am BST

> It seems like when Dr. Podmore speaks of the broader church, he only seems to mean Rome and the Orthodox. It doesn't seem as if he is including the huge number of Protestant denominations that have clergy equality.

Current estimates are of 1.2 billion RCs worldwide, 230 million Eastern Orthodox and 82 million Oriental orthodox, giving around 1.5 billion in total compared to 600-800 million Protestants and 85 million Anglicans.

Even if one assumes that every Protestant Church has clergy equality, twice as many Christians belong to Churches which don't. For better or for worse, the norm or default position for Christian churches is to have a male-only clergy; and given that the 1994 Apostolic Letter 'Ordinatio Sacerdotalis' of John Paul II declares that "the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women" and that in 1995 it was declared that "this teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium", it seems impossible that this will change, even if (which seems highly unlikely) the Orthodox Churches decided to ordain women as bishops and priests.

Posted by Veuster at Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 2:46pm BST

Colin Podmore could never understand who I was so opposed to the Act of Synod and at the time wrote an angry paper for the magazine of the Board for Mission ands Unity. In time the supporters of women priests came to realise how destructive the Act is and how it has entrenched opposition and torn the church apart with the extreme edges refusing to accept women as the broad centre have done.

We offered very generous terms in the recent Measure and his 'flock' never needed to experience a woman priest or bishop. That was not enough for them and their representatives in General Synod combined with the opposite extreme to vote the Measure down to the horror of Parliament and Nation.If Mr Podmore cannot accept the advice of the Bishops the only reasonable opening for him and F if F is to be honest, join the Roman Catholic Church and leave the church of England in peace. This is not a matter of generosity but one of the order and well being of the Church of England and its mission.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 4:00pm BST

"And when I hear Christian priests using derogatory language of other ministers of the Gospel, my lay heart grieves."

But I thought Dr Podmore had been listening to past speeches (often followed by prolonged applause) where the authenticity of episcopal and priestly orders was denied to those who were women or who ordained women, or ordained by someone who ordained women. These speeches were/are the stock on trade of FinF gatherings.

Is this to be a thing of the past?

Posted by Fr Alan-Bury at Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:06pm BST

"For better or for worse, the norm or default position for Christian churches is to have a male-only clergy;"

It's really important to know that the Orthodox situations are more cultural than theological. The folks such as those at FiF seem to be lifting up horrifically sexist cultures over the example of Jesus Christ, and cherry picking Paul's anti women language over his inclusive language.

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 2 July 2013 at 10:35pm BST

"For better or for worse, the norm or default position for Christian churches is to have a male-only clergy;"

For me this raises questions as to the validity, or otherwise, of Christianity.

Posted by Laurence at Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 10:38am BST

"And when I hear Christian priests using derogatory language of other ministers of the Gospel, my lay heart grieves."

Which is real sophistry. The way it works, presumably, is that he's a Christian priest and therefore not deserving of derogatory language (because he's a man). But as in his eyes women are not priests, they are not worthy of the same respect and can be spoken of in a derogatory fashion without breaking the above restriction.

Posted by Interested Observer at Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 12:12pm BST

Only when one lacks generosity can one say "this is not a matter of generosity", cf Jean Mayland's comment.

Posted by Benedict at Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 12:41pm BST

Dear Interested Observer,
The Director of Forward in Faith, Dr Colin Podmore, is a member of the laity. So perhaps it is not as you suggest.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 3:10pm BST

> For me this raises questions as to the validity, or otherwise, of Christianity.

> It's really important to know that the Orthodox situations are more cultural than theological.

Agreed, in both cases. But it's no use pretending that most of the world's Christians are middle-of-the-road liberal Anglicans. In a world context, both FiF and Reform are probably closer to the mainstream than GRAS and WATCH.

Posted by Veuster at Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 3:11pm BST

You're probably right, Veuster. However, I like to think about being in fellowship with the Quakers. A tiny minority with a powerful moral impact.

They don't believe in the tyranny of the majority, they pray until they come to consensus. Yet they still concluded early on that slavery was wrong and that marriage equality is moral and just.

I think I would rather have Quaker friends than all of Rome and the Eastern Churches. Speaking as a Greek-American.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 3 July 2013 at 5:43pm BST

Seriously, I'm not thrilled with this numbers game. I'm not thrilled when we in TEC use it against the con-evos there, any more than I am when con-evos use it against us in the wider world. Muslims outnumber us. If it's a matter of numbers, we should convert to Islam, immediately. As for ancient traditions, etc., Hindu, Buddhist, Judaic, and Shamanistic practices are older. We should adopt them immediately.

Now, as Veuster states, we must acknowledge that the right-wing pietistic view is the wider view in Christianity - or at least the wider official party stance - but that isn't the same as approbation. I acknowledge that ignorance and fear are prevalent amongst my fellow U. S. citizens, but I fight it. It's wrong, and I don't hesitate to say so. How much more should we be willing to pull against the pressure to conform in our faith?

Posted by MarkBrunson at Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 5:16am BST

"Only when one lacks generosity..."

I spend my days being generous to a lot of people. Students, colleagues, and the homeless people our parish serves. After long days, I don't have much generosity left toward people who insist on telling me that I and my sisters are inferior and in some cases delusional (i.e. women who've been called by God to ordained ministry).

I can be compassionate towards those who simply fess up and say "I struggle with this change, regardless of its merits, I request pastoral provision for this human condition." But it is really a stretch when these folks DEMAND inferior positioning of women.

Plus, as others have pointed out, Dr. Podmore actually seems to hold the belief that women's ordination may some day be rejected. So he gives every perception of using political posturing to position the CoE for this apocalypse. I find that quite unattractive. As unattractive as his unwillingness to reflect on the cost of discrimination and humiliation. I'm not hearing generosity or compassion from FiF. Only an entrenched sense of personal entitlement with no responsibility to anyone but their club members.

We must think more broadly. We must consider whether our messages are uplifting or oppressive. It matters very much. More so in the our global environment. That's macro generosity, Benedict.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 5:18am BST

Dr. Podmore evokes, for me, the unwillingness of some of the learned Laity to try to understand the situation of those women who have already received the call of God and the Church of England into sacerdotal ministry. Presumably, the discernment process in this matter was overseen by the Holy Spirit of God, invoked bythe C. of E. during the course of synodical process?

However, the double-entendre that emerged from that process resulted in the current confusion in the Church, that has left ordained women with distinct impression that their ordination process may have been flawed - simply because a minority in their Church has campaigned against their priestly validity. This is the real problem that, seemingly, will not go away until previous legislation is rescinded that allowed this horrendous situation to come into being.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 8:50am BST

> Presumably, the discernment process in this matter was overseen by the Holy Spirit of God, invoked by the C. of E. during the course of synodical process?

The trouble with this is that FiF could say exactly the same thing about last November's vote . . .

Posted by Veuster at Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 11:51am BST

There's no trouble with that, Veuster.
The vote last November said very clearly "we want women bishops but we are not happy with the provisions offered". That's what speech after speech from all opponents made clear.

So let's accept that as a sign of the Holy Spirit. The CoE clearly did - it went back to the drawing board.

Yes, it might have come up with proposals the opponents weren't expecting. But that's part of the gamble those voting against the draft measure played.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 2:01pm BST

It is worth noting that, in his address, Colin Podmore has misquoted from Reports by the Ecclesiastical Committee upon the Priests (Ordination of Women) Measure and the Ordination of Women (Financial Provisions) Measure (HMSO, 1993), p. 21, which is one of the sources he cites. He says he quotes, "We believe that the Anglican ethos and tradition, which has been developed under God through our experience and history, gives us particular resources for living through our present disagreements and uncertainties, and doing so together. … Although we have different interpretations, views and practices, we maintain a shared commitment to belong together and to serve God together…" He has put the word ‘DIFFERENT’ (DIFFERENT interpretations), whereas the source actually has ‘DIFFERING’ (DIFFERING interpretations), which has a subtle but significantly different meaning.

Posted by Anne at Thursday, 4 July 2013 at 9:22pm BST

> The vote last November said very clearly "we want women bishops but we are not happy with the provisions offered". That's what speech after speech from all opponents made clear.

Erika, you know and I know that there were those voting in the November Synod who not only didn't want women bishops but also (in some cases) thought that women ontologically can't be bishops.

OK, if that was what they thought, they shouldn't have said - untruthfully - in their speeches that they wanted women bishops in the Church of England, albeit on condition that provisions were made for those opposed. I'm not a fan of provisions. It seems to me that either you stay and embrace women bishops wholeheartedly, or (if you find this impossible) you go.

But there are two facts I can't overlook, however much I might want to:

1) The majority of the world's Christians are Roman Catholics - on present estimates, around 1.2 billion out of 2.2 billion.

2) Women will never be able to receive priestly or episcopal orders in the Roman Catholic Church except in the unlikely (inconceivable?) event that the RC Church abandons the doctrine of Infallibility. As I wrote above, the 1994 Apostolic Letter 'Ordinatio Sacerdotalis' of John Paul II declares that "the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women" and in 1995 it was declared that "this teaching requires definitive assent, since, founded on the written Word of God, and from the beginning constantly preserved and applied in the Tradition of the Church, it has been set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium".

Is the Spirit calling Anglicans, and those in other churches who embrace the priesthood and episcopate of women, to take a prophetic stand which sets us apart from the majority of the world's Christians for the foreseeable future? I suppose I must think so, because I am still here; but I can't get rid of a sense of unease about being isolated from the majority of the world's Christians on this.

Posted by Veuster at Friday, 5 July 2013 at 1:06pm BST

Veuster,
the ones who voted in November of course believed that women could not or should not be bishops. But they also knew that the only point of discussions was what protection they would get - because they are members of a church that has had women priests for 20 years and that was discussing HOW women could be bishops, not whether.

It is irrelevant what the Roman Catholics do or any other church in the world does. We are members of the Church of England, a church that is precisely NOT the Roman Catholic church and that has is own polity.
If you really really believe that it has to look to Rome you are in the wrong church. It has never done that, it was born out of NOT looking to Rome. This fantasy really has to stop.

I grew up in the Lutheran Protestant church in Germany that has had its first woman priest when I was one year old.
I am finding it astonishing and incredible that any non-Catholic church is still considering this issue. People have a clear choice - if they want what Rome does just because Rome does it, they should go to Rome and feel virtuous.

Seriously, unless you can argue from within the CoE you have lost your argument. Look at the Canons of this church, look at its polity, at its decision making processes and at the fact that is has had women priests for 20 years. THAT is the reality.

I have sympathy for your difficulty with this change. And I believe that there should be provisions to help people like you to remain in the CoE. But please be clear about what church it is you will be remaining in!

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 5 July 2013 at 10:20pm BST

"Is the Spirit calling Anglicans, and those in other churches who embrace the priesthood and episcopate of women, to take a prophetic stand which sets us apart from the majority of the world's Christians for the foreseeable future?"

Yes, Veuster! Yes, that is exactly what she is doing. As Anglicans we are guided by Tradition, Scripture, and Reason. We have a tradition of getting it wrong, like burning uppity women as witches, or supporting slavery, anti-semitism, and racism. We have a Scripture that can be highly contradictory, but we do have the example and teaching of Jesus Christ, who was definitely NOT status quo. And we have Reason.

We left Rome. There was a Reformation because buying indulgences and the inquisition were STUPID, amongst other reasons. God gave us minds and hearts. It is our obligation to use them to uplift people, not trod on them.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 6 July 2013 at 6:44pm BST

I am always unhappy when I hear assumptions about "the world's Christians' " views on women and the priesthood. We actually have no idea, since they have no voice. The comparatively tiny group of male clerics which leads them should not be assumed to speak for them.

Posted by Helen at Monday, 8 July 2013 at 12:26am BST
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