Comments: Women bishops latest

Hats off (or should that be mitres?) to James Langstaff for steering his committee thus far. I'm not too bothered about the 'male headship' spat: no one on Planet Earth is going to take that too seriously any more. A Single Clause Measure is quite obviously the way forward (let the dissenters have their Ombudfuscatorman!) I am still a bit concerned by the behaviour of The Famous Five? At least Paul Benfield and Susie Leafe have the honesty to nail their colours to the mast. What are the other three up to? And please don't suggest they or their followers are going to meekly sign up to Option One! Oh, and there will be no 'national rejoicing' when this Measure is finally (thankfully) passed. Get real! The CofE will have finally dragged itself over the line into the late twentieth-century, almost last among many. A disgrace and a continuing insult to women, lay or ordained.

Posted by stephen Morgan at Friday, 1 November 2013 at 11:02am GMT

The discussion about what each committee, splinter group, faction, blogger or whatever said is irrelevant. The CofE faces a stark choice. It either passes a simple, straightforward measure which can be clearly understood to put sexism back into the past, or it will find itself shunned by almost all of its historic allies. That will include the UK government and any charity which has a diversity and equality policy which excludes working with discriminatory organisations. Anywhere with a "no platform for sexists" policy could and probably would also refuse to permit the CofE to speak.

There's only so long you can claim that you care deeply about the problem but are attempting to find a way to resolve it.

If the CofE refuses to put sexist discrimination behind it for a second time, it will not be able to claim it's working on the problem, it will have to admit that it advocate discrimination as a matter of policy. That might impress a few conservative headbangers who care more about links with Nairobi then links with Norfolk, but it will have far reaching consequences for everyone else. Justin Welby will be leading an organisation which is institutionally and determinedly discriminatory. That is unlikely to be a consequence-free decision.

Posted by Interested Observer at Friday, 1 November 2013 at 5:36pm GMT

"care more about links with Nairobi then links with Norfolk"
Hey Interested Observer. Norfolk - isn't that where Walsingham is that beacon of inclusivity or were you talking about Norfolk VA? :-)

Posted by Fr Paul at Friday, 1 November 2013 at 6:33pm GMT

Shouldn't Mrs Leafe, believing as she does, defer to her *husband* serving on this august Steering Committee? Methinks she's exerting far too much "headship" over the CofE, in her position!


Posted by JCF at Saturday, 2 November 2013 at 6:32am GMT

"Just conforming to culture?" Erastianism Rules O. K.

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 2 November 2013 at 7:56am GMT

I find the idea of reserving a spot in the College of Bishops for a person who holds theological views that are not accepted in the larger church highly problematic.

"Male headship" is not accepted doctrine. Reserving a position for one who holds that bizarre and unaccepted view just seems odd. It of course enshrines a discriminatory practice from a church leader, albeit limited to one. Somehow, it seems like there ought to be a way to make provisions that don't enshrine discrimination. Also, I'm not seeing what the plan is for this problematic bishop. Will he have authority over female clergy? One would hope not.

Suppose people from another theological orientation want a bishop spot reserve to represent their views? This seems problematic in ways beyond gender discrimination.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 2 November 2013 at 3:25pm GMT

" I'm not too bothered about the 'male headship' spat: no one on Planet Earth is going to take that too seriously any more." - Stephen Morgan -

Don't you believe that, Stephen. There are Anglicans even in little old New Zealand - and even women - who still hold to the antiquated quasi-religious understanding that a woman's place is only in the home, the kitchen, the laundry, and - when the male of the house requires it, in the bedroom!

When will the Male Headship bubble ever be busted? God knows, women - even in the Bible - have been known to deserve better.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Sunday, 3 November 2013 at 10:32pm GMT

The predictable diatribes on this particular thread suggest to me that those offering them still think they will not have got it all their own way if the latest proposals go through. Good! It means the proposals have struck the right balance. Very cheap and nasty shot concerning Walsingham though. Seriously unfunny!

Posted by Benedict at Monday, 4 November 2013 at 8:30am GMT

I don't often find myself agreeing with Benedict, but I think he makes a fair point. This isn't about everyone's individual wish list but this is about a specific proposal and whether it constitutes an acceptable compromise for all.

I am greatly encouraged that those official groups who have spoken about it so far all seem to think it's workable.

Posted by Erika Baker at Monday, 4 November 2013 at 9:47am GMT

'They will not have got it all their own way if the latest proposals go through.'
Benedict, I think it is more a concern that the 'proposals' go through at all! If you read my 'predictable diatribe' you should note that I think the Steering Committee have done a good job! I just find it hard to bring myself to believe that certain members of that Committee will meekly accept anything resembling Option One? (They do have 'form' in this area!) I will be delighted to be proved wrong! Some of us are concerned that women should be made bishops on exactly the same basis as men and should not be made to feel that position could be compromised by concessions to those minorities who have lost all the arguments - theologically and numerically. Oh, and at least you have not accused me of being someone else this time!

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Monday, 4 November 2013 at 11:22am GMT

"minorities who have lost the arguments - theologically and numerically" Stephen Morgan.I think you'll find that with respect to the ordination of women to both priesthood and the episcopate the theolgical arguments have not been lost cf millions upon millions of Roman Catholics and orthodox compared to how many Anglicans??? Since when did that constitute a minority Breathtaking arrogance.

Posted by Benedict at Monday, 4 November 2013 at 6:46pm GMT

Glad you're still with us, Benedict. I personally am still with you.

Posted by John at Monday, 4 November 2013 at 8:50pm GMT

"I think you'll find that with respect to the ordination of women to both priesthood and the episcopate the theolgical arguments have not been lost ... "

But Rome has been able to maintain the male priesthood only by giving up any pretense of theological argumentation and simply declaring the subject verboten. As Tobias Haller has cogently pointed out, if a Mass celebrated by a woman is invalid then (assuming a Chalcedonian christology) so is the institution on Maundy Thursday (since Christ's human nature is entirely derived from his Blessed Mother). There's no way around that, and Rome is no longer trying.

Posted by Geoff at Tuesday, 5 November 2013 at 1:04am GMT

"Since when did that constitute a minority Breathtaking arrogance.?

I find it breathtaking that folks so readily ignore ALL of the Protestant denominations. Also, when it comes to the Orthodox, lay people really don't feel empowered to follow conscience to change the church, so they leave. Or stay for cultural reasons. It is really false to use "the Orthodox don't do it" as an argument against ordination of women. And Rome? Listen to Francis. Very interesting. Many, many Catholics yearn for women in ordained ministry. Just because the hierarchy rules with an iron fist does not mean that misogynistic theology rules the hearts of all Catholics.

God created male and female in God's image. Both. Our unwillingness to tolerate difference and the other is part of our collective sin. Women have been called to ministry. The failure to accept that is part of our brokenness, not God's will, for crying out loud!

Posted by Cynthia at Tuesday, 5 November 2013 at 5:12am GMT

'Since when did that constitute a minority?' The General Synod of the CofE voted years ago that there was no theological objection to women's ordination, and that has always been reflected in majority votes that increase every time they are made - as you well know, Benedict. The Roman Catholic and Orthodox churches have not even been allowed to have the argument yet, so claiming that 'millions upon millions' of them are against the ordination of women is a spurious claim at best. And I will take no lectures on arrogance from one who has accused me publicly on another thread of plotting to try and displace Dr. Giddings, and has offered no word of retraction or apology for his error?

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Tuesday, 5 November 2013 at 6:19am GMT

I think that, with the Vatican's new initiative, to consult with bishops, clergy and laity around the world; Benedict may find attitudes changing in the Roman Catholic Church - when they get the opinion of the clergy and lay majority on file. And not only on women's ordination, but on other important matters too, like contraception and homosexuality.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 5 November 2013 at 10:19am GMT

My hands are up, yes, regretfully I made the mistake of mixing Stephen Morgan with a n other, but it still seems from Mr Morgan's offerings on this thread that he might by and large have concurred with the sentiments of those wishing to displace Dr Giddings. Would that be an incorrect assumption as well?

Posted by Benedict at Tuesday, 5 November 2013 at 12:58pm GMT

Benedict, thank you for the (almost) apology. I disagree profoundly with Dr Giddings over the ordination of women and his views on the LGBT community, but he is the democratically elected Lay Chairman of General Synod. I never have, and never would try and remove anyone elected on that basis during their term of office, just because I disagreed with them. (After all, I lived under Mrs Thatcher for eighteen years!!) So your assumption is only partially correct. It should come as no great surprise to anyone (even you) that a regular contributor to this site should not see eye to eye with Dr Giddings?

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Tuesday, 5 November 2013 at 3:49pm GMT

Listen Stephen, I don't think it's helpful to tear chunks out of each other. You and I will probably never agree on the fundamentals of the ordination of women, but it remains my sincere hope and prayer that the C of E will remain sufficiently commodious to accommodate such difference of understanding. We have to see each other as more than the views we hold.

Posted by Benedict at Tuesday, 5 November 2013 at 11:20pm GMT

Rome has also maintained the male Priesthood by abandoning the Mass as a regular part of worship in many churches. Not in England where ex-CofE Priests keep the numbers up, but in parts of the continent where there are simply too few male celibate Priests to sustain the Mass as a frequent feature on worship in many parishes.

Dutch RC Ordinands I have met saw sustaining the Mass as far more important than sustaining an exclusively male celibate Priesthood.

Posted by Peter at Wednesday, 6 November 2013 at 5:05pm GMT

But you can't sustain the Mass WITHOUT a male priesthood! This is what always makes me laugh (or cry sometimes). This is NOT a matter of taste, it's not a question of simply preferring a male priest to a female priest. That would be misogyny. It's that women CAN'T be priests however much we subject them to the ceremony of ordination, however much they go through the motions of celebrating Mass, however much they give sacramental absolution. It doesn't work. It's testament to the lamentable quality of Roman Catholic ordination training if they are talking as you describe in the Netherlands.

Posted by Barrie at Thursday, 7 November 2013 at 9:10am GMT

Barrie "women CAN'T be priests".

Well that's a view. But it is not supported by any actual evidence. Rather there is plenty of evidence to the contrary -- where women have been priests over the last 20 or 30 years. Is it possible to notice a difference (other than the sex of the priest)? No, I don't think so.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Thursday, 7 November 2013 at 10:24am GMT

Benedict: I'm more than happy to agree to differ!

Barrie: 'women can't be priests.'

I suppose it depends where Barrie is coming from? I was a priest for over twenty years and I now receive the sacrament from a woman. I have not noticed any difference! Of course, if Barrie is a Roman Catholic then he would not recognise my ordination as valid thus there must be hundreds/thousands of people who have not received the proper sacrament through me! At what point will God make clear to them/us the error of our ways?
Barrie seems very convinced - but where is the evidence?

Posted by Stephen Morgan at Thursday, 7 November 2013 at 1:45pm GMT

The Benfield and Leafe votes are probably slightly different in kind. Fr Benfield is unable, on the basis of his principles, to vote *in favour* of anything that entails women priests/bishops. But that does not mean that he or the Catholic Group are necessarily against this new legislation as the way forward. It's highly likely that the Catholic Group will go down the line of principled abstention. They know that this is the best deal that they are going to get - and that it can be made to work for them. Conservative evangelicals are probably a stage further back than this. They are still fighting jurisdiction wars. And whereas most of the catholic opponents have looked at the Ordinariate alternative and found it unattractive and unAnglican, the evangelicals have had their heads turned by GAFCON and some are quite excited at the possibility of overseas bishops looking after them. We need to disabuse them of the idea that this is going to help them flourish and remind them of the reasons why evangelicals have always taught and believed that the CofE is the proper expression of a Reformed Catholic church and is their natural home. So the Leafe abstention may be on different grounds from the Benfield abstention - wanting more than they are going to get and (mistakenly in my view) believing that they might get it.

Posted by Pete Broadbent at Thursday, 7 November 2013 at 5:47pm GMT

Well if Pete's analysis is correct, and lets hope it is, there is every chance that General Synod, and the House of Laity in particular,will achieve the necessary votes to pass the legislation and then we will be able to demonstrate to those in difficulty over this how they can flourish not by law but good will - or is that just a little naive?

Posted by Stephen B at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 6:48am GMT

With the Church Times Editorial this week, it seems that the idea of an 'ombudsman', charged with the authority to deal with possible complaints by the minority who wish to have the episcopal ministry of a Male Bishop, seems, at first glance, to provide a necessary tool for negotiation with the Diocesan Bishop - if Female - to secure a suitable arrangement for people who will not accept her episcopal ministry, but who still recognise her right to delegate that to a Male Bishop of her choice.

At least, that is my perception of how the ombudsman system could be made to work.

This system - short of a straight out insistence on the same diocesan authority to carry out episcopal ministry in their own diocese, for both Male and Female Bishops - would seem to hold out the best possible hope of maintaining the traditional role of a Diocesan Bishop being in charge of episcopal ministry undertaken in her/his own diocese.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 8:19am GMT

"This is NOT a matter of taste ... That would be misogyny."

Uh-huh ...

"It's that women CAN'T be priests however much we subject them to the ceremony of ordination, however much they go through the motions of celebrating Mass, however much they give sacramental absolution. It doesn't work."

Well, thank goodness you cleared that up. However could anyone mistake that for misogyny?

Posted by Geoff at Friday, 8 November 2013 at 12:19pm GMT

'And they all lived happily ever after.'

That - more or less - seems to be what is emerging here. Were all the fights and squabbles necessary? Perhaps they were - if only to show people of whatever hue where their true hearts lay. Considerable credit due to PB, who has steered a very honourable course.

Posted by John at Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 8:23pm GMT
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