Comments: WATCH responds to Steering Committee membership

WATCH appears to be wilfully blind to the arithmetic of the various votes at the last synod. The last of these was about process, not about strength of support for Option 1. I urge members of WATCH who remain so entrenched in their position to scrutinise the figures carefully and realise that without provision of some kind for traditionalists we will in 2014/15 perhaps be where we were in November 2012. However, the more reasonably minded membership of the Church, and a balanced steering committee, will hopefully adopt a fairer approach than the stance WATCH consistently occupies.

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 11:24am BST

I don't think that's correct, Benedict.

The final motion "instructs" the Steering Committee "to prepare the draft legislation on the basis described in paragraphs 79-88 of the annex to GS 1886 as ‘option one’ with the addition of a mandatory grievance procedure"

So it's a vote for option one.

Posted by badman at Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 4:11pm BST

Benedict - everyone has to respect the process, but the whole point of the General Synod votes was to come to a point where the direction of travel would be clear - a definite place on the spectrum to carry forward - there were four options canvassed, and something between Option 1 and Option 2 emerged. Other concerns were expressed - I think some of those votes were "lost" mainly on technicalities i.e. we want to do this, but the suggested means are not quite right.

The remit of the steering committee is not to revisit the Synod debate but to make the current way forward work as best it can. As the new Archbishop of Canterbury made clear, this isn't an option of "no provision", but rather an option where provision is differently conceived.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 5:44pm BST

WATCH are hardly the only people to be entrenched in their position...

Posted by Alastair Newman at Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 7:43pm BST

Am I missing something? Is Benedict implying that unless the traditionalists get the provision they want they will work to block the legislation again? Whilst accusing members of WATCH of being entrenched in their position? Benedict, please could you outline what is unfair about WATCH's position? There is nothing in the statement that suggests WATCH are opposing all provision...

Posted by Lindsay Southern at Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:27pm BST

It is not WATCH who are 'wilfully blind.' Over the last twenty tortuous years we have done 'process,' we have done 'fair,' we have done 'reasonably minded' and we have done 'balanced.' None of it has made the slightest bit of difference to those traditionalists who are opposed to the idea of women priests and bishops, and remain 'so entrenched' that they fail to see that the world, the CofE and (even) the government have moved on.

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:28pm BST

Er, Benedict, wake up and smell the coffee. The final vote does not have to be in the currency of this Synod - it could be in November 2015, after the elections. That is where it will be pushed to if it looks doomed in this Synod. And if the con evos and trads again get sufficient laity seats to block it, then Parliament will step in, and it won't just be gender equality imposed on the church. Reform et al have already won one battle and now got a worse position than before their 'victory'. It looks to me as though they are bent on repeating the exercise.

Posted by Simon Taylor at Thursday, 25 July 2013 at 9:51pm BST

Perhaps Benedict ought takr the advice of Simon Taylor her, to relax and smell the coffe. Hhas done his best on this site to scuttle the expressed mind of the Diocesan Synods, and more recently of the majority of the members of the Church of England, to go forward with the Ordination of Women as Bishps in his Church. Short of transferring to the ark of his R.C. or Orthodox co-believers in male supremacy in ministry, he may just have to accept that the C. of E. in common with the non-GAFCON provinces of the Anglican Communion, welcomes Women as co-leaders in the mission of their Churches.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 26 July 2013 at 8:51am BST

Too bad that we can't just burn those uppity women as witches, like we did in the good old days.

I wish the best of luck to the steering committee. Even I think it's better to kick the can to 2015 rather than enshrine discrimination into law.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 26 July 2013 at 5:24pm BST

Lindsay Southern knows full well that Option 1 which WATCH is so supportive of is nothing short of a single clause measure which is consistently what WATCH have argued for, so there can be no pretence that somehow WATCH is suddenly all in favour of provision for traditionalists. And I must correct some of the contributors on this site who claim that it is the traditionalists who scuppered the vote in November. That is not the case. It was scuppered because of fair minded laity, who although in favour of women bishops, could see that the then proposed Measure was insufficient in respect of the provision it offered. It is simply not good enough to keep laying blame at the door of traditionalists, and it is is disingenuous. So yes, what about some others "waking up and smelling the coffee!"

Posted by Benedict at Friday, 26 July 2013 at 7:03pm BST

Someone on another thread pointed out that WATCH is the only organization that actually represents the mainstream view. It is the only one that represents the mind of 42 out of 44 dioceses that voted for WB's. It is the only one that represents the moral view of the broader public, that is disgusted with CoE right now.

My maths says that 42 out of 44 is 95.45 percent of the CoE dioceses, therefore, perhaps WATCH should have 95 percent representation on the Steering Committee.

It is really important to keep firmly in mind that the anti-woman crowd is the intransigent and tiny minority, even if they grabbed seats in Synod. Every time anyone calls for gender equality, it is painted as "radical," "innovative," and the associated language with it is designed to isolate and conquer, even when equality is the majority view.

It's time for that rhetoric to go the way of the dinosaur.

Posted by Cynthia at Friday, 26 July 2013 at 8:08pm BST

Disgusted? How about ashamed?

Yes, ashamed to be in the Anglican tradition, when the Church of England cannot bring itself to ordain women bishops.

Two more years? What a travesty. What an embarrassment.

Bring on the parliamentary bills!

Posted by Jeremy at Friday, 26 July 2013 at 11:34pm BST

It's time for that rhetoric to go the way of the dinosaur.

Posted by: Cynthia on Friday, 26 July 2013 at 8:08pm BST

Another really good post Cynthia.

Spot on !

Is the C of E totally devoid of ethical sense and integrity ?

On another matter related in terms of ethics and witness, we hear tonight that our Church is itself an investor in pay day loans companies !

Posted by Laurence at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 12:08am BST

I need clarity here if someone has the answers.

I get that some of the Evangelicals have difficulty with WB's because of "male headship." This absolutely gobsmacks me, but it seems to be the position.

The traditional Anglo-Catholics simply don't believe in either WO or WB, it says as much on the FiF website. But do they have a problem with male line priests if the male bishop who ordained them also ordains women?

It was in the Middle Ages, or so, when Rome came up with the doctrine that the sacrament is valid regardless of the character of the priest. So if the priest was a womanizer, murder, thief, pedophile, etc., the sacraments are still valid. Thus, I'm not seeing the problem of keeping a male line, as long as the bishops are supportive of women's ministry - and ordaining them would be a crucial aspect of support.

Do I have this wrong? To me it seems that preserving the male only line is fine, I'd fight for that. Exclusivity amongst the bishops is a more challenging order, and one that's unnecessary, doctrinally.

Right? Clarity, please.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 12:14am BST

Benedict,
you know you are not speaking the truth.
WATCH would always have liked a Single Measure, they never pushed for one, and even within a Single Measure they have always supported provisions - just not provisions enshrined in law.

It does you no credit to misrepresent those you disagree with.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 7:46am BST

Being retired on Thursday afternoon I watched part of the debate in the House of Lords on the position of humanists and agnostics. The humanist mover of the motion, very politely, was rejoicing in the fact that, according to a recent survey, so many people under 25 do not believe in any kind of God. He even expressed the view that by the time baby Prince George became King the Church would and should have no influence at all.Some other peers of all ages, who spoke, had some vague kind of belief in some kind of supreme being but not in God as presented by the Churches. This is our huge challenge - not pandering to a minority who have 'hang ups' about women or gay people but witnessing in a meaningful way to a God of inclusivity, and fair love. The Church is failing completely to reach out and is tangled up in trying to make rules for minorities who would trap us further into irrelevance and failure.

Posted by Jean Mayland at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 11:32am BST

Erika, please do not imply that I am a liar. WATCH did consistently call for a single clause measure. Dress it up how you will, but that is the truth of the matter. Cynthia, 25% of dioceses also passed following motions requesting proper provision, but you conveniently omit that in your post, and as to the commentator who makes mention of dinosaurs, we are in good company, given millions of orthodox and roman catholics who remain faithful to the teaching of over two thousand years.

Posted by Benedict at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 12:41pm BST

I think it is a bit rich of Benedict to call WATCH entrenched when it is clear to me that the opponents of WO are completely entrenched, as a reading of their publications confirms. Moreover, Miranda Threlfall-Holmes points out* that in 2006, FiF wanted a single-clause measure because it was the only theological way forward. Where is the consistency now? Alan Edwards in FiF's 'New Directions'(January 2013) speaks of the pressure being off 'to think up new arguments' against WB. As an observer of these discussions, it seems to me that those in favour of WO have constantly modified their position to meet the opponents' position whereas the latter have moved not at all. At bottom, the opponents want to entrench discrimination in law and this has to be quite unacceptable. I keep asking myself why it is that other Anglican churches have been able to introduce WO with a single clause measure when this is not possible in the CofE. I am quite sure that the opponents of WO will go on filibustering to try to ensure that the consecration of women bishops will not happen and in so doing will do great damage to the church they claim to love.
* 'Modern Believing' July 2013 pp215 -216

Daniel Lamont

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 2:54pm BST

The article by Miranda Threlfall-Holmes is available online.

http://mirandathrelfallholmes.blogspot.co.uk/2013/07/an-equal-episcopate-theological.html

Posted by Peter Owen at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 5:43pm BST

Benedict,
a Single Measure but with provisions.
And WATCH supported the Draft Measure that was voted down in November and that was no single measure at all.
I'm not implying anything, I'm stating very clearly that you are misrepresenting them.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 6:11pm BST

"given millions of orthodox and roman catholics who remain faithful to the teaching of over two thousand years."

You are conveniently leaving out the vast numbers of Protestant Christians who have female leadership.

I was raised Greek Orthodox, the patriarchy has much more to do with culture than theology or Jesus.

Faithful teachings such as the burning of heretics, support for slavery, anti-semitism, and racism, let alone the indulgences and abuses that drove the Reformation?

The history and "faithful teaching" depicted in this thread seem to be seen exclusively through rose colored glasses. The church has erred and sinned mightily. Misogyny and homophobia are part of the great tradition and faithful teaching. It is the history of human failing.

The sacraments are valid when administered by female clergy. Crucially, the sacraments are valid when administered by male line priests even if their bishop also ordains women. So I am not seeing the problem. I am not seeing that significant provisions are required for AC's to get what they "need." And Evangelical "male headship" is pretty much negated by the Queen. So why this tortuous process? The only purpose I see is to keep fighting WO, and to keep fighting the Catholic/Protestant struggles. Fights that have become irrelevant to most...

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 6:53pm BST

Actually Benedict none of us knows the views of the millions of orthodox and RCs since they're not allowed to discuss even the ordination of women. We know the views of the old men in power all right, but don't assume that everyone else feels the same way.

Posted by Helen at Saturday, 27 July 2013 at 9:22pm BST

"This is our huge challenge - not pandering to a minority who have 'hang ups'..."

Very well-said, Jean.

Posted by JCF at Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 2:20am BST

Cynthia,
evangelical male headship problems are not negated by the Queen. She does not "teach" anything within the CoE and conservative evangelicals do not mind women in leading roles, provided it's not within the family or in a teaching role in church.

It's completely barmy but it is what it is. Mentioning the Queen does not address their concern.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 6:26am BST

The suggestion was made to WATCH after the November vote that since it was now clear that the majority of the church at large backed the position they have been supporting that this was the time for WATCH to cease to exist - honourably so after a long, faithful and surely lonely campaign that has too often lacked support even among those who shared their position. It would now be for the main stream church to take responsibility for its own convictions and seeing this through at last. But it would also mean that those opposed to the majority church position would no longer be able to pretend that this conviction was simply the position of a strident, self seeking group of women. It's an interesting thought - and a lot of recent threads on TA would have had to find a different target had it happened.

Posted by David at Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 3:43pm BST

David - when was this suggestion made? I'm a Vice Chair of WATCH and don't recall anyone saying such to me.

Plus, although WATCH has recently focussed on the WB campaign, it is not our only concern. We have other concerns too - we are about equality generally, not just this issue. We are not going anywhere just yet....

Posted by Charles Read at Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 9:38pm BST

That is an interesting thought, David. It doesn't seem realistic, however. It has the feeling that if WATCH wasn't present, the conservatives would have pulled things more their way.

I love what you are saying, it's beautiful. It just doesn't jive with any justice experience I've ever witnessed, especially for women. It would be new territory, welcomed, but new and untested.

It looks like the conservatives are fighting WO, not just WB. That's a really, really, tough nut.

Posted by Cynthia at Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 10:05pm BST

Erika, the so called provisions in November were not worth the paper they were written on and WATCH knew that, hence the outpouring of invective after the measure fell. Please do not pretend that what was on offer was sufficient. Had WATCH and their supporters gone with coordinate jurisdiction, which would have been a major compromise for traditionalists, we would not be in the mess we are in. I have not misrepresented WATCH, which has only ever compromised on their terms alone. Cynthia, you are confident the sacraments are valid. I cannot be confident that they are. In terms of your argument about numbers of protestants, it is irrelevant, since we are considering episcopal ministry which is a unifying factor between the great churches of East and West.

Posted by Benedict at Sunday, 28 July 2013 at 10:32pm BST

Benedict:
1. the coordinate jurisdiction as you term it would have rendered WB second clas bishops. That is why GS rejected it - WATCH did so yes, but the vote was in GS and was taken by people who were, by and large, not WATCH members.
2. It is Jesus who guarantees the validity of the sacraments not the priest - read the 39 Articles.
3. The Cof E is Catholic and Reformed. We cannot ignore the Protestant churches - and our closest ecumenical partners are the Methodists - Covenant, remember?

Posted by Charles Read at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 3:50am BST

Benedict, surely there is no doubt about the sacraments amongst male line clergy, right? And there will likely always be male bishops, at least 50 percent of them are likely to be male at any given time.

I don't see a problem with AC parishes getting male line priests. I see no barrier what-so-ever. In TEC we call our rectors and I'm sure our traditional AC parishes call male line clergy. There's no need for a fuss to have that.

Further, the sacraments are valid from male bishops who also ordain women. Long, long, ago it was determined that God in God's grace made the sacraments valid even if the priest was a total schumck - i.e. if he was married, whoremongering, fathering children, even if he was a thief, murderer, or pedophile. The grace of the sacrament was not tainted by the character of the priest. Given that, there really is no problem with male bishops who also ordain women. If it counts for murderers and pedophiles, it counts.

You talk about the liberals making up doctrine. To believe that the the sacraments aren't valid from a male bishop who also ordains women is to believe in a brand new, absolutely made up "cootie doctrine." The doctrine being that the male bishops pick up cooties from the women that invalidate the sacrament when ordaining men.

For all our head knocking, Benedict, we are brothers and sisters in sharing in the body and blood of our Lord Jesus Christ. I am not flippant about the sacraments, I believe in God's Grace via the sacraments with every fibre of my being. It is true that I believe our God is more generous and that the sacraments are valid from women. But think about the cootie doctrine. That is a modern invention if ever there was one. It is an unnecessary impediment and unnecessarily divisive.

If that one could be put to rest, then everyone gets what they want. Well, except the Evangelicals, but I just don't see an accommodation for "male headship" that isn't awfully problematic.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 4:23am BST

Benedict,
you are conflating two issues.
You say that WATCH are extremist and not willing to give anything at all.
That is patently false.

You also say that they are not giving enough and that they are therefore solely to blame for the failure of the Draft Measure.
That rather suggests a lack of willingness to compromise by other parties in the process.

But whether you believe the compromise offer to have been sincere or not, or sufficient or not - it was made, the vast majority of members of WATCH supported the Draft Measure.

To say anything else is a misrepresentation.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 8:31am BST

Charles
The suggestion to WATCH to consider disbanding was made in a personal letter to one of the WATCH leadership. It was acknowledged but obviously not considered an idea for wider debate. I make no comment on that. I can see arguments either way. Meanwhile thank you for what WATCH continues to contribute - and endure - as this rolls slowly on.

Posted by David at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 8:31am BST

Cynthia,
I am astonished that you still do not see the problem. You don't have to agree with it, but is it really so hard to see it?

This is not about women priests. We've had those for 20 years and we have a structure that helps ACs to remain within the CoE without having to have a woman priest.

The problem arises because of women bishops because if you do not believe that women can be bishops, then you cannot cope with a female bishop.
So your very first woman bishop is going to cause a problem for traditional ACs in that Diocese.

So there have to be some provision about that.
And that is all we are talking about.
Should these provisions be enshrined in law, in a Code of Practice or should they be completely informal.
And regardless of the propaganda Benedict puts out here, there is no group anywhere that opposes provisions.

Yes, the argument that male line bishops should not ordain women is sometimes being made. It is a red herring for Anglo Catholics but it is an issue for Evangelicals, so if you do make provisions you might as well make one set of them that helps both of those groups.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 8:37am BST

Charles Read, you refer to the vote in GS concerning coordinate jurisdiction. You are happy to accept as the will of the GS. Do you do the same for November's vote? By citing the 39 Articles you are on difficult ground as unworthiness of the minister has nothing to do with gender, and rightly so.Yes, the C of E is indeed Catholic and Reformed. Since when did we deem her Protestant? They are not interchangeable terms.

Posted by Benedict at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 9:04am BST

Benedict
"In terms of your argument about numbers of protestants, it is irrelevant, since we are considering episcopal ministry which is a unifying factor between the great churches of East and West."

Only that the reason the Draft Measure was defeated was because of the conservative Evangelical lay vote against it, and the campaign by well known non-Catholics like Susie Leafe.

In that context, you might be able to dismiss the Protestant churches, the CoE that has to find a compromise that pleases you and Evangelicals cannot.
A bit of realism, please!

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 9:59am BST

Erika,

I understand the problem. I am AC and have a rich understanding of the sacraments. I'm saying that the view that traditional AC's "need" a bishop who doesn't ordain women is simply not supported by any traditional doctrine.

You are on a slippery slope if new superstitions take precedence over established sacramental doctrine. Traditional AC's will want male line clergy and visits from male bishops. The visits are the worst of the problems.

As primroseleague pointed out, AC's do not have the "male headship" issue. They can accept female leadership, they just want their sacraments administered by male line clergy.

Other understandings of the sacraments, especially this newfangled cootie doctrine don't make any sense in sacramental theology.

You say: "This is not about women priests. We've had those for 20 years..."

This is naive, in my view. I say so because FiF's website proclaims their opposition to WO and says they will work against it. I believe that much of the wrangling is to be positioned to roll back WO, if given the opportunity.

I get the problem as you express it Erika, but your expression of it does not match my understanding of the sacraments, writing as a liberal AC who lives with a scholar.

As for the Evangelicals, male headship is apparently not even mainstream amongst them. That is unworkable, WB's will be making policies and leading their dioceses, but there shouldn't be a problem for those parishes to have male priests.

I am very keen that CoE send the moral, just, and uplifting message of liberation, even as it cares for its members. If CoE shoots itself in the foot again, and comes out with legal provisions that compromise the integrity of the uplifting message to women and girls, their credibility to the world will be seriously compromised and CoE will be even more irrelevant.

I am praying for a CoE that projects a prophetic voice of the Good News of Love poured out freely for ALL. Not just a group that muddled through and compromised for a few.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 5:00pm BST

Speaking of Anglo Catholicism... Desmond Tutu is Anglo Catholic. He supports WO (his daughter is a priest) and WB, as well as full LGBT equality and inclusion.

His theology, faith, and courage is certainly inspiring. He loves to talk about the Incarnation and how all of us are created equally and loved by God, and that to love God requires loving our neighbor, black/white, male/female, gay/straight.

Clearly, it is not automatic in Anglo Catholicism to exclude women at all. The male line clergy would be an assurance for those with less faith and conviction than beloved Desmond.

Given that there is a range of views and beliefs within Anglo Catholicism, Erika, I can't see the sense in providing special legal provision for the most extreme, and fearful, of the views.

So here you go, an example that isn't American.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 6:11pm BST

I think , Benedict, last november's vote has in a sense been superseded by the GS's own decisions in July. It's no use hanging on to the past as though the Nov vote were somehow definitive.

Posted by Helen at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 6:17pm BST

Cynthia,
we really are talking cross purposes.
We also have liberal ACs, the vast majority of them. But they are not the ones who have voted down the Draft Measure in November, they are not the one we need to sit down with to find a solution for the current crisis.

And as for Evangelicals struggling with male headship not being mainstream - of course not! But the November vote was lost largely by the small but vociferous and well organised group of Lay Evangelicals who do have problems with it.

Telling them all to just listen to our enlightened ideas and uplifting messages will not help to get the next Draft Measure through in 2015. And whether we like it or not, we are not in a position to dictate terms.

The CoE has expressed very clearly that it wants provisions. We are only talking about which ones.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 8:28pm BST

Cynthia wrote:

"... WB's will be making policies and leading their dioceses, ...."

Cynthia, my understanding is that it is exactly that which will cause problems for Evangelicals who hold to "male headship". I don't know how it works in TEC but in the CofE all priests are required to swear an oath of canonical obedience to their diocesan bishop. Some (possibly many) clergy on the Evangelical wing of the church will find it, in conscience, impossible to swear that oath and will feel obliged to leave the church. That will make it very difficult for, in your words, "those [Evangelical] parishes to have male priests" or at least male priests of a similar understanding as the laity of those parishes.

I don't know how we deal with that without creating two classes of bishop - which to me is unthinkable.

Posted by RPNewark at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 9:11pm BST

I hope and pray that a Measure can be given Final Approval in this Group of Sessions, but I have yet to see any evidence that this is likely, unless there is a major change of heart in the House of Laity. And it is simply untrue to say that it was scuppered by 'fair-minded laity' who, while in favour of women bishops, wanted better provision. Some of the ConEvos have been on synod a very long time, in a handful of cases (which is all it took) since the last very divisive election in 1990. They have never supported women as either priests or bishops, although one hopes that having seen women minister as priests some may have changed their minds. No, this will only be sorted as a result of the 2015 elections. There are seven 'swing dioceses' (which have been well commented on already), where more than 50% of the lay representatives voted against in November 2012. These are Blackburn, Chelmsford, Chichester, Guildford, London, Rochester and, the blackest sheep of all, Winchester, with fully six out of seven voting against. The electoral college needs to smell the coffee and (a) get out and vote; (b) ensure they give no preferences to those who were against in November 2012 (regardless of what their election address says); and (c) play safe and no give a preference to any new candidates unless they are 100% sure of how they will vote on the new package. This is what episcopally led and synodically governed is all about. I used to pray that those opposed would 'get over it', but I am not sure that is a very useful prayer these days!

Posted by Anthony Archer at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 10:07pm BST

"I don't know how we deal with that without creating two classes of bishop - which to me is unthinkable."

Exactly. I am a very creative person and I can't see a way to accommodate the "male headship" minority without sending the message to all of the world's women and girls that we are inferior in the eyes of God; a devastating message that leaves women vulnerable to myriad kinds of abuse.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 11:31pm BST

"Telling them all to just listen to our enlightened ideas and uplifting messages will not help to get the next Draft Measure through in 2015. And whether we like it or not, we are not in a position to dictate terms.

The CoE has expressed very clearly that it wants provisions. We are only talking about which ones."

I would love to see this Steering Committee raise the dialogue to the level of moral and theological issues, and be well aware of the messages they are sending to women and girls the world over. I support provisions, just not enshrined institutional discrimination.

I also would hate to see discriminatory provisions enshrined in law based on theological rubbish. The cootie doctrine is theological rubbish, for example.

If CoE enshrines discrimination in law at the institutional level, it's credibility on social justice in the world is practically null, precisely because gender equality is part of the equation of poverty and abuse.

You guys can argue about how many angels can stand on the head of a pin, and how to square the circle on male headship until the cows come home. But without the moral component, what is it all for?

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 29 July 2013 at 11:39pm BST

Cynthia,
"I also would hate to see discriminatory provisions enshrined in law based on theological rubbish."

Where did that come from? Discrimination provisions will not be enshrined in law, regardless of what theology underpins them.
That is precisely one of the immovables in this debate.
Not only would no pro-women representative in the Synods ever agree to it, Parliament wouldn't allow it either.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 9:24am BST

I'm looking at the .75 portion of Option 1.75. There is the wiggle room and I'm wondering how it's going to go.

It is problematic to have bishops who won't ordain women. Apparently, right now there's a whole system in place for that, yes? This is a problem. That system is institutional discrimination. What is the plan for that? It isn't theologically necessary for the sacraments to be valid, and it doesn't solve the "male headship" problem. What's going to happen there?

I'll be eager to see the nature of provisions, pastoral and local, or a national system that continues to exclude and undermine female clergy - and by extension continues to send the unequal message to the world.


Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 5:16pm BST

Cynthia,
At the moment I'm trying to stay positive. Realistic but positive.

I keep thinking about the system you describe for TEC, where women bishops provide voluntary support for their clergy.
It seems there are successful examples and less successful ones.

Could you see any problem with enshrining the successful ones as guidelines in a Code of Practice to make sure that only those happen across the whole church?

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 8:34pm BST

And I agree that the system in place to have bishops who won't ordain women is a problem.
I've never understood it.
It's an Anglo-Catholic invention, yet as you say, they did not need it for the last 20 years because every current bishop guarantees sacramental assurance.

For Evangelicals it's a bit more of a problem. Not directly because of male headship but because the big problem for conservative Evangelicals is Scriptural Authority and not disobeying that. So if Scripture mandates male headship, then you cannot have a bishop who disobeys Scripture and ordains women.
And yet, Evangelicals have, to my knowledge, never dissociated themselves from their Diocesan and decamped to Alternative Episcopal Oversight.

That never did make sense and it would be good if that nonsense could be stopped now.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 30 July 2013 at 8:49pm BST

Erika,

I welcome the CoE learning from our "mistakes." And Canada's and New Zealand's, etc.

I don't think CoE is suddenly going to turn to elections of bishops and calling rectors in the same way as TEC. But it doesn't have to be the same. The concept is that people just need to feel really confident about their parish.

Male headship doesn't have a solution. I wish it did. But there will be a female ABC some day. There will be numerous female bishops in the nearer future. I don't see a solution that doesn't insult women. I hope that people will be happy within their parishes (which is an Evangelical thing).

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 12:03am BST

Cynthia,

One of the problems with too strong an attempt at sending "a moral message" is that the Church of England may also inadvertently end up sending an immoral one as well: "See how these Christians hate one another". Schism and legal attempts to claim/reclaim church property send a very negative message to the outside world about the church. In particular, in England there is always a lot of incoherent public support both for "tradition" and for "the underdog" in any conflict. I don't think that's an issue if ConEvos left the C of E en masse, because there's not a lot of general public sympathy for their theology and they also tend to be less attached to specific church buildings. But if whole Anglo-Catholic congregations end up feeling they need to leave because of the way they're treated over women bishops, they are extremely attached to their buildings and there might be quite a lot of public support for them if "new" bishops were seen to impose unreasonable changes on them.

Posted by magistra at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 8:11am BST

Erika, I see that you are trying to claim that WATCH is not opposed to provisions. But you know as well as I do, and so do members of that organisation, that it is provision only on their terms. The giver of the gift saying how generous is the gift. I am not misrepresenting anything or a propagandist as you suggest. Look at the outcry when the bishops brought their amendment before the adjournment. Many of the senior women signing up to the letter were WATCH members. I stand by my original comments.

Posted by Benedict at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 8:15am BST

Magistra
'I don't think that's an issue if ConEvos left the C of E en masse, because there's not a lot of general public sympathy for their theology and they also tend to be less attached to specific church buildings.'
What has 'general public sympathy' got to do with the life, mission and flourishing of the church? Or buildings come to that? This is less than generous and actually underestimates the strength, resources and the actual and potential gift of this wing of the evangelical tradition to the CofE. 'They won't be missed' is neither helpful, realistic nor very Christian. Furthermore they will be. I realise that on certain current issues con-evos are experienced as a total stumbling block or worse. But their churches grow. They are committed to mission. They are partners in the gospel with the rest of us. So I think St Paul's words extraordinary words in the midst of church division are a challenge here - Phil 1.15ff ' It is true that some preach Christ out of envy and rivalry, but others out of goodwill ... out of love ... out of selfish ambition. But what does it matter? The important thing is that in every way, whether from false motives or true, Christ is preached. And because of this I rejoice.'

Posted by David at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 9:51am BST

Benedict: the archbishops were told in advance that bringing an amendment at this late stage which would make women bishops second class bishops would undermine the whole legislation and supporters of WB would be unable in conscience to vote for the package. This is what happened. The HofB had never intervened at this stage in legislation before so the territory was somewhat uncharted. Had the Archbishops proposed their amendment to the Revision Committee, there would have been a process to test it other than the all or nothing of a final vote in Synod.

What WATCH wants is a way forward which is a one church solution. The amendments / provision of which you warmly speak would create two churches. We will not vote for schism or discrimination.

Posted by Charles Read at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 10:55am BST

David,

I'm sorry if I didn't make my position clear: I'll try and explain my comment further. Like other liberals, I consider ConEvos to believe in and teach about a sexist God. (They probably believe in return that I'm a disobedient woman, so we're fair and square). Cynthia considers that sexism shouldn't be tolerated within the church, because it affects the church's public image negatively, and that therefore we should make no more than minimal provision for those against WO and not care if they leave. I was arguing that even at the tactical level that attitude doesn't make sense, because it might bring the church into public disrepute in other ways. (That was my practical point about which church groups might or might not be able to gain public sympathy, which I don't equate with moral correctness).

As for the moral issue, I'm in favour of keeping those who are anti-WO in the church if we can do it without compromising principles of equality too much. And I'm aware of the positive things that ConEvos can bring to churches. But if preaching Christ also involves preaching that women must be subordinate, that's not a message that I'm enthusiastic about supporting, and it is a message that will alienate the vast majority of those outside the church.  

Posted by magistra at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 12:16pm BST

Benedict" .Yes, the C of E is indeed Catholic and Reformed. Since when did we deem her Protestant? They are not interchangeable terms." well yes......but lets be true to Anglican history since the Reformation...members of the C of E would have seen themselves as Protestant until the rise of the Oxford Movement and well beyond that...many still do.Think of the 18c and C of E support for the "Protestant Constitution" particularly honed post 1688.......think of the whole history of Anti-Catholicism where the rhetoric was definitely Protestant. The division of the Christian world into Catholic,Protestant and Anglican is fairly recent....I suspect most non churchgoing members of the C of E ( and many churchgoers) if asked would say they were protestants rather than catholics. The C of E is in formal communion with hybrid bodies ( C of S and N India)made up of Methodists/Presbyterians even Baptists in N India...and with Lutherans through Poorvoo. Yet with the RC churches our orders are still "null and void" and we are in no sense in communion with any Orthodox body....I cant see the traditionalist AC branch theory carrying much weight in this debate....

Posted by Perry Butler at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 1:28pm BST

Perry Butler,

"I cant see the traditionalist AC branch theory carrying much weight in this debate...."

In all honesty probably not, but some of us will cling to it still as we slip below the waves of history.

Posted by primroseleague at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 4:35pm BST

Magistra
Sorry if I misunderstood you. Thank you for clarifying. A bit off thread but con-evos gain their understanding of God from scripture. That is not the same as 'believing in a sexist God'. They are not interested in whether the general public finds their teaching agreeable. The issues is faithfulness. Jesus himself warned us we would not be popular for following him. Whilst I do not agree with their reading of scripture at this point I aspire to their seriousness.

Posted by David at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 5:01pm BST

"Cynthia considers that sexism shouldn't be tolerated within the church, because it affects the church's public image negatively, and that therefore we should make no more than minimal provision for those against WO and not care if they leave."

Whoa, Pilgrim! This is a significant misrepresentation of my position. I'm sure that I was not clear enough, so I'll try to be crystal clear here.

Sexism and discrimination create suffering. That's precisely why it is a moral issue. When the institutional church supports this moral failing, it affirms all those who abuse their superior position. Those of us who have worked even a little in social justice, or gone to the Third World, can easily see these fruits. In Africa, women leaders cite the church as contributing to the culture of abuse, such as rape and impoverishment. In our cultures, women suffer more from depression and medicate and whatnot. Poorer women, of course, are more adversely impacted.

If the CoE is in the un-affirming camp, they can hardly be the prophetic voice of healing in the world. Cultures with more gender equality are more prosperous. How can CoE address a major cause of oppression and economic deprivation if can't have a voice in a root cause? I think this concept is quite different than the more superficial PR perception version that you characterized.

Jesus came to bring the Good News to the downtrodden. I have news for you, women are downtrodden!!! The message to girls is particularly insidious. The life of Jesus gives ample evidence of breaking taboos to include, heal, teach, and generally hang out with women.

Yes, I would love to hear the CoE affirm and uplift women and girls who have suffered for so long. Is that not the role of the church? To lift suffering or to inflict it?

I see in all of the discussions, a far greater concern for uplifting and protecting the discriminators. So yes, I write particularly passionately on behalf of the downtrodden. I'm one of them, but it is also our responsibility as Christians to look after one another. The conflict here is a nut to crack, because people want to look after all, people on both sides. But the balance is out-of-whack and the language is all wrong.

I actually support provisions. I don't know what you mean by "minimal provisions." Regardless of what you've heard, usually the bad news travels and the good news never makes it across the pond, TEC is very diverse. I'm pretty sure that what keeps our moderate conservatives in the church (be they AC or Evangelical) is the fact they call their own rectors and therefore have a great deal of control in how their parishes are run. We are still unequal, we have many more male rectors than female at this point.

Is there bad news from TEC? Yes, and it is well funded by a powerful minority, meddling in all of our affairs. However, the Good News had been preached, women, girls, and LGBT persons have been affirmed. We are growing in an age of decline. We are on mission to look after the poor.

Personally, I am female and gay. I have been through 2 major depressions that were absolutely related to the awful treatment I've received for who I am. I'm upper middle class with impressive degrees. What happens to women and gays without the resources for healing??? I can tell you that the affirming, loving message of TEC has been a powerful healing force for me and others.

Can you think of a national church provision that doesn't treat women unequally and send the un-affirming message to women and girls?

What are the fruits of discrimination? What are the fruits of liberation? This is Jesus's question. Whether or not CoE deals with it, is another question.

I am for local provisions. If I could think of a national solution, I'd share it. I just don't think there is one that doesn't say awful things to your women and your girls, and the world over.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 5:11pm BST

Over a second cup of coffee... Another view.

If you look at the problem as one of minimizing suffering, then the balance of the suffering of women and girls needs to carry significant weight. The suffering of traditionalists losing the argument and having to accept some degree of change is suffering too. What weight does it carry in relation to the suffering of women and girls? What would be the churches role here? What's the discernment process? What are the factors? Who most needs affirmation? Or can you affirm both equally?

It alarms me that the vast majority of the language is legalistic. I understand that process is crucial, but what factors are going into the process?

Specifically, what is the suffering of traditional AC's?
I live with a scholar and I'm liberal AC. It concerns me to see apparently invented theology as a basis to continue to humiliate women and girls. If the character of the priest (and his sinful behavior) doesn't impact the grace of the sacrament, then the sacrament is certainly valid when administered by bishops who also ordain women. The only opposing argument is Rome doesn't do it - we left Rome, and Anglican orders aren't even accepted by Rome.

I see no bar to provisions that make theological sense, i.e. male line clergy. We have them without any fuss.

Specifically, what is the suffering of the Evo's who believe in male headship?
The Evangelicals tend to be on the far Protestant side and the episcopacy doesn't carry as much weight for them as the AC's. Other than having male priests, I just don't see a good solution.

The suffering of the Evos has to be seen in relation to the suffering of women, and the weight they put on the episcopacy.

There's another way of looking at it that is highly moral. One can argue the particulars, but the weight of the suffering is hard to deny.

The situation absolutely begs the question of the identity and role of the church. If it isn't about spreading the Good News to all, including women and girls, a la Jesus, what is the role?

I'm sorry to say this, but if CoE acts more in the role of private club, trying to appease all members at the expense of moral justice, what does that mean to be the established church? What does it mean to virtually silence it's own voice on one of the crucial moral issues of our day? (Hint, it is equality, economic as well as gender, etc.).

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 5:55pm BST

Benedict, I think that my earlier comment on your posts still holds. You say that: 'But you know as well as I do, and so do members of that organisation [WATCH], that it is provision only on their terms'. I belong to no pressure group, neither WATCH, FiF, Anglican Mainstream or what ever, though I am in favour of WO and WB. From my reading of various position papers, it seems to be that the very accusation that you lay at WATCH's door, can be laid with equal justice at the doors of all the other groups. There comes a point when, if a group is to retain its integrity, it has to say 'Thus far and no further'. It seem to me that all groups have reached this point. I note too that here is an assumption in some quarters that it is only those opposed to WO and WB who are acting out of theological convictions. This, is of course, not true. My own support for WB and WB is based on theological conviction in my turn. I sincerely hope that a way forward can be found but I think we may be almost at the point when a parting of the ways is inevitable. If the price of WO and WB is that women bishops and priests are to be treated as second class, there can be no compromise. As Charles Read points out, the House of Bishops was warned of the consequences of their amendment and chose to ignore it, thereby doing themselves great damage as a body as well as to the church as a whole.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 7:44pm BST

Re Protestantism. For several hundred years (since 1689 I suspect) each sovereign (save only Edward VIII) has taken an oath at their Coronation, authorized by Act of Parliament and administered by the Abp of Canterbury, in which they promise to maintain the 'Protestant Reformed religion established by law'.

I suggest that pretty conclusively can be regarded as a sustained and official self-description of the Church of England as 'Protestant'.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 8:17pm BST

Daniel Lamont,

I hope the parting of the ways isn't inevitable. Quite apart from anything else it's a judgment that would find both sides wanting and culpable.

Posted by Primroseleague at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 8:39pm BST

Benedict,
of course there are "some" members in any organisation who hold views that are not supported by most within that organisation.

WATCH were very conflicted about the Draft Measure and initially recommended that each one of their members make up their own minds.
In the end, the group as a whole recommended to support the Draft Measure.

And it's really important to recognise that WATCH were upset about the extent of compromise expected of them, not about the principal idea of provisions.

You really are doing yourself no favours by continuously misrepresenting WATCH.

Unless BOTH sides in this dispute show respect for each other and an awareness of just what they are asking of the others, public church opinion will slowly drift away from the truly intransigent ones.
You should do what you can to make sure that you will not be seen in that light. For your own sake, if not for anything else.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 10:20pm BST

"I hope the parting of the ways isn't inevitable."

For the record, I hope not too. It just seems like things can work out for the vast majority of AC's and Evangelicals, even if the most extremes struggle.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 31 July 2013 at 10:29pm BST

I forgot the Coronation Oath Simon....thanks for that. I have always liked John Cosin ( Caroline Divine) " Protestant and Reformed,according to the Ancient Catholic Church"

The understanding of Anglican catholicity is sensitively ( but critically) explored ( from a sympathetic RC point of view) in George Tavard's "Catholicity"and an early work by Adrian Hastings "One and Holy" ( I think..gave my copy away on retirement!)

Posted by Perry Butler at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 7:16am BST

Erika, intransigeance??? From the ideal of a third province we have had to make compromises at every step along the way. Your last comment really sounded rather patronising, I have to say, reflecting on the history of this since 2008 onwards. Proponents of the measure in November tasted just a little bit of what we have experienced after being knocked back time and again. And now, we are basically back to a single clause measure with frills. Show respect as well please!

Posted by Benedict at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 7:38am BST

Of course, I hope the parting of the ways isn't inevitable and that the Steering Committee can find a way of squaring the circle and can find provisions which satisfy all parties. However, I disagree with Primeroseleague's characterisation of this as 'a judgement that would find both sides wanting and culpable'. I don't think that an orderly parting of the ways is a judgement but an acceptance of a truth. My point is that all the various parties to this debate have an irreducible minimum of principles which constitute their purpose. Thus the home page of FiF states unequivocally that 'we are unable in conscience to accept the ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate'. For FiF members to compromise on this would clearly negate one of their founding principles. My reading of the various positions adopted to date is that we may be close to the point where the provisions put forward would require some groups to sacrifice their integrity by agreeing to such provisions. Understandably, they would be unwilling to do that and we could be in the position once again when a small group of people could block progress in Synod. I am a scholar as well as a Christian and I firmly believe that truth trumps unity and not the other way round. It is possible that the price of accepting any provisions for those opposed to WO and WB is too high - if we end up with second class women priests and women bishops or a church within a church. If it came to that, I would have to reconsider my membership of the Church of England.

I greatly hope that we do not reach this position. However, for the past 20 years the Church of England has torn itself apart over this issue. It has shown itself to the wider public as misogynistic and compromised. I have heard anti-women clergy, almost always anglo-catholic speak to and of women priests in terms which are shockingly offensive and deeply unchristian. This whole issue has dominated the church and obstructed the full living out and manifestation of the Gospel. The Church's mission has been hugely damaged. We are now in a position where Parliament may well intervene in the organisation of the church.

I am sorry if I sound extreme but as someone out in the world, I am saddened to contemplate the wreckage of my church. I worship often in Anglican churches in Scotland and Canada and rejoice that they are not divided on the role of women. My point is that, if we cannot resolve this matter within the next two years, it would be better to courteously agree to disagree and negotiate a parting of the ways rather than continue as we are and see the Church of England reduced to total irrelevance and unable to credibly live out its mission.

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 9:19am BST

Benedict,
the Third Province was never on offer, just as a straight forward Single Measure was never on offer.

And "frills" are precisely the provisions we are talking about.
And I repeat again that, contrary to your initial assertion, WATCH have never objected to provisions and never will. Your first comment on this thread, the one I have taken exception to, suggests that you see WATCH as extremists who do not support provisions.

That is the misrepresentation that has to be challenged.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 9:39am BST

Daniel,
from a purely practical point of view, how would that parting happen?
All I see happen is, at worst, yet another failed Draft Measure going through General Synod.
At that point, the traditionalists would have what they want - a further round of continuation of the status quo, and women and their supporters would re-group and try again.

At what point would there be any possibility of a genuine parting with integrity?

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 1:29pm BST

Erika, I agree that a parting would be difficult and I would need to think about how it might happen (not that I am really qualified to do so). However, I do think that your worst case scenario would be a disaster for the church. The status quo which treats women as second class priests would continue, the Church would be divided and wrangling as the traditionalists and the proponents of WO and WB fight for an advantage would continue. Parliament could well step in which would mean that the Church would sacrifice its autonomy. It would have lost its integrity and would be held in even greater contempt. A second failure of a draft measure to consecrate women would be a calamity of epic proportions. 'A house divided against itself cannot stand.' One can see the tensions on this board in some of the posts with accusations of 'lack of respect' and 'intransigence'. They would be magnified a hundred-fold if a second draft measure were to fall. Let us hope and pray that it doesn't happen but I am not holding my breath. It seems sensible to consider a plan B.

Daniel Lamont

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 4:56pm BST

"I don't know how we deal with that without creating two classes of bishop - which to me is unthinkable."

RPNewark, I don't know how one would do it either. When I state the reality, the pushback is that I'm intolerant and don't care if people leave.

The reason I support local provision is because people can choose their parishes.

So when I think about the weight of suffering of women and girls vs. those who are struggling with change, I'm wondering if this national vs. local path is a best possible way to honor the weight of the suffering. (There is likely no perfect way).

The national church would be able to affirm women and girls. Liberal and moderate families (the vast majority) would have a national church and local parishes that affirm ALL members of their families. Conservatives would have parishes that operated pretty much as they always have, in terms of male line priests. While the national polity may be problematic for some, their day-to-day life in the church would not look much different.

I don't think there is a perfect solution. There's a reason no other province has provisions. Those churches wanted to affirm women and girls and to benefit from the totality of God's diverse creation. (Those that chose their own rectors and elect their bishops can actually provide for themselves, which is a big difference).


Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 5:50pm BST

Oops - choose, not chose...

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 6:40pm BST

Benedict - you write "we have had to make compromises all the way" - could you unpack "we" a little? Most of us here are posting as individuals. I am a member of WATCH - indeed on the committee, and I deliberately try to avoid posting here when what I say might be mistaken for a WATCH view of the world or an official position. Close colleagues will know that I refrained from posting at some sensitive times last year. I think your posting in the name of "we" and the way you address WATCH rather than individuals, colours the tone of conversation on this topic, and bears some reflection. You seem to be confident in your knowledge of who "I" am, but I don't know who your "we" are.

Compromise in voting has not borne heavily on me, as I am not a member of General Synod, and have only had limited opportunity to express my view in Deanery and Diocese. That limited contribution seems to have borne little weight in the scheme of things. But I can say that for many of us in favour, all the proposals realistically canvassed, including that supported by friends and colleagues in November, have represented a compromise on fundamental principle. "We" have been asked to compromise at every turn too.

But I have had to live with something more than compromise - exercising ministry which I believe to be incomplete in a church which does not receive in its fulness the ordained ministry of women. You have had to live with an acceptable status quo.

Now the tone of the conversation is changing. It is not impersonal "we" groups who are seen as important, but individuals as baptised children of God (which is the fundamental identity we receive as a gift). That will be harder than we realise for all of us, but at least it is theologically grounded conversation.

Posted by Mark Bennet at Thursday, 1 August 2013 at 10:25pm BST

A Question for Benedict:

How can a catholic who does not believe that women can bear the charism of priesthood, continue to remain in a Church that categorically states that women can be priests? Whatever provisions might be made for 'alternative oversight' or avoidance of ministry by a woman, the fact remains that you are part of a Church that rejoices in the priestly ministry of Women.

How can you square your delicate conscience on this important issue. Well, it must be important to you, because you're staking your sacramental life upon it.

It is my experience that many Anglican-Catholics, myself included, have long since been able to accept that women and men, both created in the divine Image and Likeness, may be called, by God's grace, into the sacred ministry of God's Church. We are no longer faced with the paradox that you appear to be threatened with.

The real question might be; is the individual conscience of more importance than the evidence of the effectiveness of women's ministry already being administered in your Church? Besides, the Church of England could now barely exist without the faithful ministry of its women clergy.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 2 August 2013 at 5:12am BST

"The real question might be; is the individual conscience of more importance than the evidence of the effectiveness of women's ministry already being administered in your Church? Besides, the Church of England could now barely exist without the faithful ministry of its women clergy."

Hmmm, the over intellectualised answer is of course that the individual conscience MUST be of more importance - and that regardless of which side of the fence you come down on..

ConEVOs, arguing from the pov of inerrancy, won't be swayed by this, trad ACs are much more caught up with doubt. On the effectiveness of women's ministry, well, up to a point Lord Copper. I've said before that it was personally very painful to me not to be able to accept the ministry of my local female priest in a previous parish - despite the overwhelming evidence that she was a good and indeed holy person. (Not, I might add, that I ever did anything which would have identified me as a refusenik other than not go to her church - i wasn't out to cause her pain so effectively unchurched myself except for when I could get to the nearest male vicar - 17 miles, one service a month only, Res ABC, seriously, there was no male priested church, of any churchmanship, closer).

Her parish was administered, to adopt your word, in an exemplary fashion. As a trad AC it was the *administration* of the sacraments that I had my doubts about - and believe me I agonised most Saturday nights about whether I could go to her service in the morning, on a few occasions actually went, and once received communion at her hand - whilst feeling desperately unhappy about the whole thing. My mind and heart isn't closed to it, but it does doubt it - powerfully.

Posted by primroseleague at Friday, 2 August 2013 at 10:50am BST

Primroseleague,
what would happen if the Sacrament was not real? Would the Service be any less worshipful? Would God strike you for not having communicated properly?
What are people who require that level of sacramental assurance afraid of?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 2 August 2013 at 4:27pm BST

Erika,

I don't know - it's an old and tired argument in so many ways but we can't help what we believe - well, obviously I can, and do, think deeply about it, and pray about it, but it hasn't changed anything so far. However, since you ask:

what would happen if the Sacrament was not real?

It wouldn't be the sacrament.

Would the Service be any less worshipful?

Not at all - it just wouldn't be sacramental. I'm perfectly happy to take part in non-eucharistic services presided over by a woman - it's the element of transubstantiation in the consecration of the elements that's the issue.


Would God strike you for not having communicated properly?

No, but I/we genuinely believe that we wouldn't have received the sacrament.

What are people who require that level of sacramental assurance afraid of?

Not receiving the sacrament. Basically, in that reading the sacrament is the centrality of the mass, and the mass is the centrality of the faith. Before anyone says why not run away to Rome, there's things like Marian dogma, purgatory, indulgences, infallibility etc ad nauseam which get in the way. Until now it's been possible to do all this without being a Roman - what is difficult is either going to Rome without assenting to all her doctrines, which would be a scandal, or climbing back down the candle a bit.

For a thinking Anglican - and I hope I demonstrate from time to time that I am one (I refuse to let it become a synonym for liberal), both are tricky paths to follow!

Posted by primroseleague at Friday, 2 August 2013 at 5:07pm BST

Primroseleague,
thank you for your answers.
I would never say go to Rome, I am quite aware that not everyone can swallow all of Roman theology, and I dare say those who can easily have already joined the Ordinariate.
I am very aware that for the remaining traditional Anglo-Catholics this is desperately serious precisely because there is nowhere else to go.

I am genuinely trying to understand you better. And I was intrigued because you did not say that women "cannot" be ordained but that there is doubt.
And I wonder whether doubt also leaves open to the door to a "maybe this IS valid", and whether someone could say "I shall hope that it could be valid and I trust in God that for me, it will be the sacrament I need".

There is a grain of hope in doubt, is there not?

Posted by Erika Baker at Friday, 2 August 2013 at 7:33pm BST

but primroseleague...it does mean that you are part of a Church which,in your terms, is allowing more and more parishes to practice lay celebration and deny significant numbers of devoted C of E laity sacramental grace...I would have thought swallowing the Marian dogmas (which many AC's believe...as in the form of the Divine Praises usually used) and Papal Infallibility (which can be legitimately glossed in a cis-alpine way) is a price worth paying for the pastoral anguish this would cause.

Posted by Perry Butler at Friday, 2 August 2013 at 8:29pm BST

I think that could be rephrased as the CofE is part of a church. I was rather under the impression, detached as we are in the PEV ghettos, that lay celebration was still rather against what the CofE is encouraging, whatever is happening elsewhere in the Anglican communion. And I'm not sure that trad ACs would be alone in pushing against that..

Putting WO aside for a moment, whilst it could be argued that some Anglicans would be happier in the RC church, others may equally thrive rather better in the nonconformist churches.

Posted by primroseleague at Friday, 2 August 2013 at 10:20pm BST

Hm, Perry Butler raises a whole new thing...

I thought the issue was having the sacraments administered by male priests to traditional AC's because of the doubt some have about women priests.

Is Perry saying that it is "lay celebration" if performed by women priests, or is he saying that actual lay celebration of the Eucharist is happening? I'm not clear.

In any case, I believe in the sacraments, I just believe they are perfectly valid when administered by women priests. I would not be comfortable with lay celebration. I am OK with occasional "Deacon's Masses" taking from the Reserve Sacrament...

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 2:07am BST

Primrose League,

The situation you're in sounds painful for you, and I think supporters of WOs should acknowledge that. I don't think it's helpful to tell you that you are wrong to feel as you do, even if we may not agree with your theology. What any of us believe is not always under our conscious control. The problem is that I don't see any structural way that the legislation on WB could possibly be changed to improve matters for Anglo-Catholics in a similar situation to yours. There will continue to be a substantial number of "male-line clergy" in the C of E for the foreseeable future, but they're not spread evenly throughout the country. And in particular, given that women may be more likely to end up in rural parishes (if they're more able/willing to take NSM or house for duty posts, for example), I don't see any easy solution to preventing some areas becoming relative "deserts" for traditionalist Anglo-Catholics.

The most plausible model for the continued co-existence of all strands of C of E churchmanship involves people in congregations swapping round to find a church that they are theologically comfortable in, but that only really works in larger towns and cities. Unless we put some general duty on all bishops to try and encourage a mix of churchmanship within their dioceses?  

Posted by magistra at Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 7:37am BST

Erika,

Absolutely there's hope In doubt - which is what makes the situation even worse!

The issue is one between certainty, or as certain as you can be in faith, when receiving from a male priest in apostolic succession because that's the way it has always been done, vs receiving from a woman in an innovation of the last few decades of human history.

I'm eminently persuadable, but if you know one is valid, why would you chance it if you've got the choice?

I'm powerfully influenced by, of all people, John Betjeman. His argument for rejecting Rome was that it would be denying the presence of Christ at the Anglican altar in his village church. That is what is still keeping me in the CofE. But, at the same time, I dwell, in the darker hours of the night, on the possibility that in terms of the sacraments that might actually now be true for some CofE altars. It's haunting.

But I'm open to the idea of WO. I would just feel an awful lot happier about it (as a good little supporter of trad AC branch theory) if Rome and the Orthodox were doing it as well otherwise there are once again 2 choices:
1 we're being prophetic (which is very much good and an amazing sign of the out working of grace) and lighting the way
2 we're wrong

I trust that 1 is right, genuinely, because the implications of 2 don't bear thinking about.

Posted by Primroseleague at Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 9:26am BST

Cynthia...I was saying ( given primroseleagues sacramental understanding, which are not mine) he must believe that what is happening when a woman priest celebrates is lay celebration since the women priests celebrating are not priests and are presumably simply doing edifying things with bread and wine.A significant proportion of C of E parishoners are therefore being denied sacramental grace. If I held that view I would be deeply shaken that the Church of which I was a member could have done such a thing,and for that reason would probably leave.Some of course have done so.Others have not, but are inevitably rather semi-detached form the C of E of which they are members.

I would hope lay celebration ( in the sense of lay people celebrating)does not take place in the Church of England...but I fear that in a few places it might as some evangelicals in the C of E sit far lighter to sacramental order and liturgical worship than low church /evangelicals do in TEC.I gather it does happen in the diocese of Sydney...though it is not yet official.

Posted by Perry Butler at Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 9:29am BST

Perry Butler,

No. A layman is a layman is a layman, and should not be presiding. An ordained woman has been ordained accordingly to the formularies of the CofE and therefore I'm prepared to go down the road of not knowing what's happening - she could well be a priest. It's doubt, not dismissal. Many of the spiky ones have gone. What you're left with is the honest dissenters, by and large. If I thought the game was up I would leave. What's keeping me in is that I'm intellectually undecided about what "victory" would look like (ie which side I actually want to win). I *really* want to assent to WO but I (currently) can't. Yet.

Posted by primroseleague at Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 11:31am BST

I don't think we have lay Eucharists in TEC... Or at least, it isn't sanctioned. I just wanted clarity, so thank you Perry.

I really appreciate primroseleague's honesty, and openness even within doubt.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 6:53pm BST

"I trust that 1 is right, genuinely, because the implications of 2 don't bear thinking about."

I believe that Spirit is moving amongst the Anglicans because we're not as fossilized. I was raised Greek Orthodox and they don't believe in any new revelation what-so-ever. Or so it was explained to me. Revelation stopped 2000 years ago.

Faith is a journey. For what it's worth, there are a lot of us Anglo Catholics who totally believe in the validity of the sacraments administered by women. The God who loves us created a diverse world and has called a diverse assortment of servants. The Body of Christ is made up of all of us, with differing gifts. But the gifts aren't divided up by race, gender, class, etc.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 7:00pm BST

Primroseleague,
you know as well as I do that there is no one killer argument. You have heard all the arguments and they don't convince you. Who knows, one of them may convince you in the future or you may approach one of them in a different light.

For me, tradition is no argument at all. Everything is tradition until it no longer is and a new tradition is started. I suppose for me, tradition only works if it ties in with what we know of God.
And I think that is where you and I have a fundamentally different understanding.

You can envisage taking the sacrament from a woman and God refusing to honour it and to turn it into nothing.
To me, that is the view of a God who, knowing that his children need bread gives them stones.
It is not a God I could ever believe in.

Posted by Erika Baker at Saturday, 3 August 2013 at 10:34pm BST

I would like to say how grateful and admiring I am that Primroseleague has been so open and honest with us. I don't share his position but I greatly respect the way he has presented his viewpoint and reminded us all that faith and doubt may go together. In effect, he has responded to Mark Bennett's earlier post asking Benedict to unpack the 'we' to whom he refers in his posts. It greatly helps understanding on this board if we have have some idea of where the poster is coming from. Very often some exegesis is necessary to work this out!

Daniel Lamont

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Sunday, 4 August 2013 at 10:50am BST

I second Daniel Lamont. I have learned a lot from Primroseleague here over the last few months and I really appreciate the way he engages with everyone.

Posted by Erika Baker at Sunday, 4 August 2013 at 11:39am BST

I also appreciate Primroseleagues honesty and openness. I can see he is clearly in difficulties because he appears to be an english catholic churchman rather than an anglo-catholic papalist.
I suppose my posts were to highlight the ecclesial theme rather than an individuals doubts and reservation. I was also deeply worried about the ordination of women in the early 90's. I changed my mind partly because of my experiences as a DDO and of womens ministry more generally but also because of a conversation in Beirut of all places with the Catholicos of the Armenian Church who was soon to visit England and wanted to hear what a C of E parish priest thought about various things. He said he believed the ordination of women was a theologumenon ( have I spelt that right) and if a national branch of the church had prayerfully decided on this change, did not believe it was unbiblical and was the result of due synodical process then it should be accepted. He felt the PEV arrangements were in his view profoundly uncatholic. OK he is one view..and an Eastern view..and he is not the Pope. But then...the C of E understanding of ministerial priesthood ,while sharing much with the RC theology, is not identical with it.
Looking at England in the 16c I am sure I would have been with Fr Trickey in Morebath remaining with his people throughout the upheavals despite personal doubts and anxieties..my feeling is, if you believe there is a standard of catholicity outside the Church to which you institutionally belong then perhaps you should go elsewhere, if not it is better to accept your church as it is.

Posted by Perry Butler at Sunday, 4 August 2013 at 2:59pm BST

I have only just noticed the argument presented by 'primroseleague' in the following statement, about his experience of the ministry of a woman priest:

"Her parish was administered, to adopt your word, in an exemplary fashion. As a trad AC it was the *administration* of the sacraments that I had my doubts about - and believe me I agonised most Saturday nights about whether I could go to her service in the morning, on a few occasions actually went, and once received communion at her hand - whilst feeling desperately unhappy about the whole thing. My mind and heart isn't closed to it, but it does doubt it - powerfully."

One of the 'catholic' arguments about the validity of the Holy Communion is that the character (gender?) of the presider does not invalidate the Sacrament received. Of course, if you happen to be a Roman Catholic, no Anglican Celebration of the Eucharist is valid. However, in many Anglican Churches (including your own - the C.of E.) the ministry of a woman priest has been validated by canon law. That should be enough for a member.

If, indeed, you do not consider women to be in any way gifted for sacramental ministry in your Church (C. of E.), how can you possibly, in all honest conscience, remain within its fold? Surely, the Ordinariate (which is sanctioned by Rome) is your only alternative?

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 1:24am BST

Er, because, as dealt with at exhaustive length above, I don't believe the claims of Rome on very many things. There are quite a few of us in the CofE, and there are going to be provisions. You can keep trotting out the arguments that we should all go away if we don't agree with you but that is just not reflective of reality, or the mind of the Synod, or even of Watch's position.

And which bit of my repeated use of the word "doubt," across multiple posts, which everyone else seems to have grasped (have you read the thread in full???) got you to

"If, indeed, you do not consider women to be in any way gifted for sacramental ministry in your Church"

you can't just fight the strawman you'd like to fight because you've got a pat answer for it. If that was the case, if it was that black and white, then you *might* have a point, but it clearly isn't. The whole point is I don't know, I'm prepared to believe they are but I don't know (which is certainly not the Roman Ordinariate's position). Faith and doubt, hand in hand....


Posted by primroseleague at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 8:49am BST

Fr Ron,
Primroseleague has already very thoughtfully answered your question earlier on this thread:

"Before anyone says why not run away to Rome, there's things like Marian dogma, purgatory, indulgences, infallibility etc ad nauseam which get in the way. Until now it's been possible to do all this without being a Roman - what is difficult is either going to Rome without assenting to all her doctrines, which would be a scandal, or climbing back down the candle a bit.

For a thinking Anglican - and I hope I demonstrate from time to time that I am one (I refuse to let it become a synonym for liberal), both are tricky paths to follow!"

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 8:58am BST

Erika, This may well not be the place to raise a discussion of liberalism and I may well have misunderstood you. However, I am saddened by the implication in your last sentence that the label 'liberal' is something to distance yourself from. I am happy to nail my colours to the mast and say that I am proud to call myself a liberal, not in the sense that 'anything goes' but in the more thoughtful and articulated sense as admirably set out in Ian Bradley's book 'Grace, Order, Openness and Diversity: Reclaiming Liberal Theology'. Too often these days the word 'liberal' is used as a portmanteau 'boo-word' - but I may be being ultra-sensitive.

Daniel Lamont

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 1:46pm BST

Daniel,

Erika's still quoting me at that point!

Posted by primroseleague at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 2:52pm BST

My apologies to both of you. I hadn't noticed the final set of quotation marks. Clearly I need new glasses. However, I do remain concerned at the way the word 'liberal' is often used as a way of pigeon-holing people.

Daniel Lamont

Posted by Daniel Lamont at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 3:36pm BST

Daniel,

while we're all in this outbreak of tolerance I have to say I'm minded to agree with you - I feel the same about "liberal," "traditionalist," "conservative," "catholic"and many other words which have become identifiers one way or the other (or, in the case of catholic, a hotly contested both!)

However, rightly or wrongly I think most people do know what we mean when we use them - so the trick becomes to try and define the extent to which the individual is being offensive, or pejorative in their shorthand I suppose. Not sure what the way around it is...

Posted by primroseleague at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 4:03pm BST

Daniel,
I think you make a very valid point.
But I also think that the word liberal now has two meanings. One is closer to "left wing politics", whether in society or in the church.
But the other is the traditional "I will hold to my views but will fully accept you and yours, provided they do not hurt anyone".

On this forum, there are people who are politically liberal but quite determined that anyone else can take a running jump.
Then there are those, on all sides of the church political spectrum, who will go a long way to ensure that we can all find a compromise to today's challenges that keep us together.

Interestingly, the political "liberal" label changes depending on what topic is being discussed, whereas people who seek to be as inclusive and accepting as possible tend to try to live that whatever the political buzzword of the day may be.

Posted by Erika Baker at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 4:14pm BST

Liberal has come to be used quite pejoratively. Traditionalists and conservatives have used it extensively to discredit the people and the principles. It's "innovation," or worse, following secular and cultural modes rather than the Christ /sarcasm on/ who so clearly drew lines in the sand against the wrong sort /sarcasm off/.

There's a big problem in coming up with alternatives such as the crowd who are tolerant, inclusive, anti-bigotry, anti-discrimination, supporters of social justice, literal followers of the radical love of Jesus... I guess the word "generous" might do. Because liberals tend to believe in a very generous and loving God, and see that as a model for us. Maybe compassionate.

Labels are just difficult, they are rarely the truth, they seem to just point to a big fuzzy, general area...

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 6 August 2013 at 11:50pm BST

Cynthia,

it is tricky I agree - however it strikes me that both "generous" and "compassionate" would be even worse, as they're even more value judgments. While most people might be happy to let the liberals *have* liberal, the number of human beings, let alone Christians, who don't self-identify as either generous or compassionate (at least within their own lights) must be miniscule. It's rather like those Atheists (in the UK at least) who call themselves brights - the obvious implication being that everyone else is stupid...

Posted by primroseleague at Wednesday, 7 August 2013 at 8:19am BST

Dear Primrose League; I am not unaware of your difficulties in trying to find the right path through the present uncertainties in the Church about the validity of women's ministry. I had to tackle the very same issue myself - until the issue of whether or not the Church should accept gay people as fellow bearers of God's Image, and therefore possibly called into ministry, openly, rather than clandestinely as has often been the case.

Patriarchy in the Church has long been the norm - certainly where the Church's ministry is concerned. However, in today's world, where Women and LGBT people are valued as fellow members of the human race; capable of footing it with men in most aspects of leadership roles; one needs to experience their friendship and their many gifts in order to appreciate their capacity for living out the calling to the spiritual leadership required of today's religious communities.

As with gay clergy, some of whom have proved themselves capable of expressing the love of God in their particular and inclusive ministry; so I have found women whose ministry - as both priest and bishop - has been exemplary in its openness to all people, especially to people on the margins of society. These factors have allowed me to take that step in faith, wherein I now believe that God is calling both women and LGBT people to share in the mission of the Church in leadership roles, thus giving us all an example of God's great love.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 7 August 2013 at 10:34am BST

"however it strikes me that both "generous" and "compassionate" would be even worse"

I agree. The point I was making was that it was hard to find a label that isn't problematic. Liberal is reasonably tame, except that some have made it a dirty word... Progressive could work too. But neither of those labels connect well with the theology of radical love poured out for all in Jesus Christ. It gives an opening for those who say we're spinelessly moving with secular culture...

I agree with you. Maybe we liberals need to clearly define ourselves, rather than letting ourselves be defined. I'm working on it!

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 7 August 2013 at 6:04pm BST
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