Comments: More on the See of Sheffield

Savi Hensman's piece is an absolute must-read.

Posted by Interested Observer at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 4:47pm GMT

The piece from the Sheffield Diocese is, however, much less satisfactory.

The American cartoonist Jules Feiffer was unimpressed by Johnson. After his election victory in 1964, Feiffer drew Johnson, his feet protruding from the clouds, telling the people that he sees small men growing large and closed minds opening wide. He sees a rich harvest of book-learning and the arts. He sees Black and White in final harmony, Rich and poor, old and young. A mandate for happiness, the determined faces of millions crying as one "Onward to the Great Society".

In the final frames, the people ask "And how will all this come about, Mr President-of-all-the-people?"

And Feiffer skewers, once and for all, Johnson's ultimate mediocrity. "I shall wheel and deal".

The time for North's talk of messy ambiguity and finding solutions in adversity is _before_ you become bishop. North does not believe that women priests are true priests (he admits they are legal, but even that appears to be hedged with caveats) and that is a massive problem. Perhaps there is a solution. But it needs to be worked out in advance, not left for wheeling and dealing.

Posted by Interested Observer at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 5:07pm GMT

The parallel that keeps springing to my mind is the failure of Trade Unions to support women bringing equal pay claims - the voices of women bishops saying that North should have been allowed to be Bishop to honour an agreement protects their position, but does nothing for the women of the Sheffield Diocese who would have been made non-persons by his appointment. Thank goodness those voices have now been heard.

Posted by Gordon at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 6:01pm GMT

Adrian Beney's comment (appended below Elaine Storkey's piece) is worth looking at.

Posted by Simon Dawson at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 6:08pm GMT

I think Jeremy Pemberton's final phrase sums the whole affair up to me - the church 'not having done any work to have elucidated the meaning of what those principles did and did not comprise in the intervening two and bit years has done us all no favours.'
Bad laws often need clarifying in the courts - that's what this feels a little like. Not being clear in the first place leads to trouble down the road.

Posted by Jeremy Fagan at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 6:17pm GMT

The February 7th Meeting, reported by the Diocese of Sheffield, demonstrates the commitment Philip had to diversity, to nurturing all people in their ministries, and to a Church of diverse consciences, trying to live out theology in lives and service.

I share his longing for a Church that values breadth, and unity found in diversity and differences.

He acknowledges the uncomfortableness and the messiness - but that is more a reflection of the reality in our Church, and the diverse views held within it.

I still maintain that with grace and goodness on both sides, kindness and love, the diocese of Sheffield could have demonstrated good disagreement and an embrace of diversity that is frankly counter-cultural in the polarised world at the moment.

And I think the challenge fell not just on Bishop Philip but on everyone else in the diocese. It is the challenge we all face at this time, in our Church with its polarised views: the challenge to open to the love and grace of God, and to love one another, and reach out to the needs in the parishes, working together whatever our differences.

Love could have found a way. Opposing consciences could have been respected, in a Church that anyway affirms women priests, but also affirms the faith of those who believe in men-only priesthood. Both positions are mandated in the Church of England. Ours is a Church of many points of view and conscientious convictions.

Above all, love and grace make our differences co-habitable. And that could equally have applied in the Diocese of Sheffield. Anyway, we are where we are. If you think this episode helps us resolve the stand-off in that other matter of human sexuality, I have to say I have my doubts. Maybe good will come of this, but it's hard to see how this episode helps us find ways of good disagreement and unity in our diverse views. If anything it demonstrates polarities, and head-on conflict between opposing views, which is a very strange way to live out Christian life, or to draw towards oneness, and the grace of Christ.

Posted by Susannah Clark at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 6:49pm GMT

The Savi Hensman piece is very insightful.

One needs to keep in mind that female priests are often discriminated against on the basis of who they essentially are. By contrast, the appropriateness of bishop North's appointment is being contested on the basis of his own stated theological opinion regarding who female clergy essentially are.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 7:31pm GMT

As someone who sits in a pew most weeks, and after reading Elaine Storkey's words, I am reminded about what my faith is about. It is about overcoming my world of anxiety, it is about relying less on formal religion, it is about attempting to perceive the "silent sigh", it is about having been hurt by the church, it is about letting go of old answers, it is about being free to ask "what if" and it is about being open to covenant. Who can help me do all that? God. We all sit in church with different questions and pastors who are gifted are what the church needs.

Posted by Pam at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 9:06pm GMT

The Bishop of Maidstone expresses the thought that there was a deal that traditionalists could continue not to recognise the sacramental reality of the ordination of women yet still be appointed as our superiors. Seriously? In the 21st century?

Such a misogynistic view is deeply damaging to the church.

Posted by Kate at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 9:49pm GMT

Much of the comment, on this site and elsewhere on social media, has revolved around the idea that at a given point in time we all signed up to something specific that some of us have now gone back on, breaking our part of the bargain. The reality is not so simple. When is it ever! But there are reasons to be cheerful.

+Philip originally voted against the 5 Guiding Principles, as did almost all the Traditional Catholics in Synod. Or more accurately, they voted against the legislation that enshrines the Principles, which was the only mechanism available to any of us to sign up to/ not sign up to them. The Traditional Catholic contingent was strongly encouraged, including by the Archbishops, to abstain rather than vote against the legislation, precisely in order to signal their acceptance of the Principles, and there was some hope that they might but in the end they didn’t.

One reason for this is that the Principles on their own are not, in the eyes of Traditional Catholics, nearly sufficient to cover all their needs and difficulties. That was achieved subsequently by some very careful crafting of statements eg about communion, impairment, consecration and the like, which SSWSH now relies upon to articulate its position but which are additional to what was agreed on by Synod. Some of those statements are clear and helpful, others are more problematic.

It was always understood, at least by most of us, that the Principles are not and cannot be a set of rules covering all eventualities; the clue is in the words. Guidance needs to be interpreted and principles need to be applied. When the Principles were being composed there were many requests for ‘greater clarity’ on this or that point but it was mostly felt that the balance of advantage lay in keeping them rather general, since the more details were spelt out the greater the risk that one or other group would take fright and walk away.

The period since the adopting of the Principles has therefore been one of interpretation and application, and SSWSH, WATCH and the Archbishops have all played their part in that. It was always going to be an unpredictable process. I remember, for instance, the concern there was around the arrangements for +Philip’s consecration, which actually looked a lot like some of the options that had previously been debated and rejected in Synod. Many people questioned whether they were consistent with the Principles. However, the arrangements for consecrations rest with the relevant Archbishop, the Archbishop of York gave his consent to them as he was entitled to do, and that's where we find ourselves as a result.

So the Principles could be compared to a snowball which, as it rolls on, has picked up more and more material. The problem is that nobody seems to have overall responsibility for scrutinising this material and deciding what should be incorporated and what should not. The House of Bishops in its teaching capacity has not done so, nor have they tasked eg the Faith and Order Commission or another group set up for the purpose to do so. The Independent Reviewer scrutinises process, not theological content. 'Que sera sera' seems to have been the approach. This is the vacuum into which Martyn Percy and others have attempted to speak.

It is, I believe, this penumbra of material additional to the original Principles that is causing a problem now. The disquiet about +Philip’s appointment was not about whether or not he was committed to the Principles - clearly he is. No, the disquiet centred on more recent innovative teaching of SSWSH about communion in particular and the strangely belated realisation that in the context of the appointment of a Diocesan this now poses larger questions about the ministry of the whole Church of England.

What to do? It seems entirely reasonable, as we approach the third birthday of the Principles, to undertake a review of how they are being interpreted and applied – in fact I can’t imagine why that wasn't planned for from the start. The Church of England has given itself a shock which it will take some time to recover from, but all doesn't have to be doom and gloom. Commitment to the concept of mutual flourishing and to the Principles as giving effect to that remains strong. I hear no one saying that these things should now be done away with. A carefully designed review undertaken in a hopeful spirit is what we need - and the sooner the better.

Posted by Jane Charman at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 10:21pm GMT

I can't help but think of the reality of the "uncomfortableness and the messiness" of women who would have had to minister daily under the authority of a bishop who did not believe in their orders and thought their Eucharists were not real. I don't understand how the bishop would have nurtured the ministries of women priests in the diocese.

Posted by June Butler at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 10:35pm GMT

I fail to see why those of an Anglo-Catholic persuasion are so very upset about the Sheffield affair. Surely any Anglo Catholic will just recognize three distinctions in orders - deacons, priests and bishops and just regard the difference between a suffragan and diocesan bishop as one of job title only?

A suffragan bishop can episcopally do anything a diocesan could do and surely the important thing from their point of view must be that Bishop North is a bishop and there are likely to be more of him.

Posted by BlackDog at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 11:08pm GMT

Simon is right: it is worth reading the official report of the meeting between +Philip and and women clergy of the of the Diocese of Sheffield. Note the Real Absence in it: it is almost entirely about what *he* said. Surely the women clergy must have said *something* - indeed it is reported that they were apparently allowed to ask questions but there is no record of what was said. What were those questions; what were the responses? Were the views of the women clergy not considered important enough to form part of the official record of the event?

Posted by Judith Maltby at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 11:13pm GMT

Is that piece from the meeting in Sheffield for real? It seems very strange that a supposedly diocesan publication is unaware of the correct title for a bishop.

Posted by Chris A at Sunday, 12 March 2017 at 11:53pm GMT

@Judith Maltby - Yes, the Sheffield meeting sounds dreadful. All about Philip North and nothing about those whom he was intended to serve. And there's nothing like being the person to open the meeting in prayer to show how much more holy you are than anyone else and make it more difficult for them to question you (the church is *very* good at this sort of thing).

Posted by Chead at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 8:45am GMT

Jeremy speaks with passion, but I'm left wondering if he's even read GS Misc 1076, the 'settlement document' that the different parties agreed, and which Synod voted on. It doesn't just state the 5 Guiding Principles and then leave everyone to guess what they mean- it's a 9 page document that goes into some detail about how things work in practice.

In particular paragraph 12 clearly provides for the possibility of a Diocesan Bishop who doesn't ordain women, but the Vacancy in See committee always have a 'veto' on this - they can insist on a candidate who ordains women. Clearly Sheffield's Vacancy in See committee didn't exercise this right of veto.

I can clearly see why the appointment of a Traditionalist bishop would be troubling to many, but the point is that GS Misc 1076 was what the different parties agreed. I expect Elaine Storkey was in the room as the agreement was made. I doubt she, Christina Rees and others from WATCH were entirely thrilled about it, but probably they felt they had to 'take a view' on this, and in other contentious areas. I imagine, though, that most people envisaged that only the existing traditionalist dioceses would consider appointing a traditionalist Diocesan.

What next? As far as the 5 Guiding Principles go, and always remembering what a crushing experience this must be for +Philip my guess is that 'lessons will be learnt', which means that future CNCs will be very wary of appointing traditionalist diocesan bishops, at least in dioceses where it would be a novelty.

But as far as the discussions about human sexuality go I am not optimistic about a new agreement being reached, for the reasons James Byron noted on the other thread. The sight of +Philip being chewed up and spat out will stick in the minds of conservatives, and I'm sure many liberals of goodwill, for a long time.

Posted by Peter K+ at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 9:56am GMT

In relation to the Doncaster meeting, one of those present has commented elsewhere that the Questions and the Answers to them were documented, but that this part of the meeting record remains confidential.

I can't see the logic of publishing only half of a meeting record.

I'm also slightly puzzled as to why it was published on Tuesday of last week, two days before the announcement on Thursday evening.

Posted by Simon Sarmiento at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 10:15am GMT

Judith Maltby,

You wrote "it is worth reading the official report of the meeting between +Philip and and women clergy of the of the Diocese of Sheffield. Note the Real Absence in it: it is almost entirely about what *he* said. Surely the women clergy must have said *something*.

It struck me a few days earlier that almost exactly the same words could have been written about this document:

http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3610/archbishop-of-york-statement-on-bishop-philip-north

Posted by Simon Dawson at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 10:19am GMT

"I fail to see why those of an Anglo-Catholic persuasion are so very upset about the Sheffield affair. Surely any Anglo Catholic will just recognize three distinctions in orders - deacons, priests and bishops and just regard the difference between a suffragan and diocesan bishop as one of job title only?"

A question. What happens when we need to choose the next Archbishop of Canterbury?

Traditionalists within - and especially outside - the Church of England won't accept a woman, nor a man ordained or consecrated by a woman. As a Church are we willing expressly to narrow the field of acceptable candidates to card-carrying members of the Society? I think doing so overtly would tear the Church asunder.

The best plan for traditionalists, then, is to get as many of their candidates as possible into diocesan appointments in the hope that one is the natural successor to the Archbishop of Canterbury. I don't know that is the plan, but if I can think it through then those steeped in male succession must surely at least have thought that far ahead?

Posted by Kate at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 10:49am GMT

A question which I have had for a long time and which undoubtedly shows my theological ignorance:

Someone who believes that only men really and truly ordained by certain bishops are in fact priests finds himself/herself in a village where the only church is a free-or-reformed-or-Lutheran church and Holy Communion is being celebrated. If that person receives HC, how can it possibly hurt her/him? What harm can it possibly do? And so of course if the celebrant is a C-of-E woman, what does the exclusionist think will happen to him/her?

And further, in the case consecration of bishops. If many bishops necessarily take part, including just one with the characteristics the candidate considers necessary, in what way does the participation of those without those characteristics invalidate the consecration when they lay on hands? I guess I am a bit thick - sorry.

Posted by Sara MacVane at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 10:51am GMT

A story from Kosovo. The Kosovo government is establishing a Truth and Reconciliation Commission,which the Soul of Europe is helping to establish.
This is difficult because the status of Kosovo is not agreed. Serbia says Kosovo is part of Serbia. Kosovo Albanians say 'we are an independent nation -now recognised by 114 countries'.
There is thus a fundamental disagreement. And dialogues about the future of Kosovo always come back to this.
So one way to proceed is to say'ok we recognise this basic difference - put that to one side because there is alot we can do together - problems around missing persons,destruction of cultural heritage,etc..'
People are exhausted and frustrated with always going back to basics. And this frustration shows itself in violence and continuing reports of rising tension.
In a different context altogether, Philip North's life has been pulled apart -he has become a focus for spoilers - and for me at least a deep disappointment that the Bishop felt he had to withdraw.
The pragmatic approach some of us urge for Kosovo is one way of trying to open up some sort of future. This approach may well not work;the spoilers are very active but it is at least an attempt to move out of a strait jacket which prevents any movement.But for Sheffield it is too late.

Posted by Donald Reeves at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 12:36pm GMT

"in a village where the only church is a free-or-reformed-or-Lutheran church and Holy Communion is being celebrated. If that person receives HC, how can it possibly hurt her/him? " @Sara MacVane

From a traditionalist perspective (not my personal one I hasten to add) the issue is not one of 'hurt' or harm that might come from participating in such a communion because whatever was happening in that village chapel, it wouldn't from a traditional catholic perspective actually be a communion /sacrament. The issue for a traditionalist is not that of someone in orders they don't recognise causing harm; more that a non-recognised celebrant would mean that the traditionalist would not receive benefits of the sacrament. From this perspective, a person who was stuck in a village with only, say, a Reformed church would be deprived of communion. The Blessed Sacrament is central to Anglo-Catholic worship: no sacrament, no point.

Posted by Fr Andrew at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 3:00pm GMT

I echo the comments on the excellence of Savi Hensman's piece. She nails it on all fronts with admirable directness and clarity. She writes compassionately that +Philip was "placed into a difficult and painful situation." I would say impossible, as Ms. Hensman identified the problem - if a woman is a diocesan, traditionalist parishes can still have male clergy and bishops tend to them, however, if a traditionalist is a diocesan, there's no recourse for women clergy and girls to flourish. Kudos to Ms. Hensman for bringing up the studies on the psychological damage of exclusion. Worth considering as Jesus told us that we could discern true prophets from false ones by "their fruits."

Ms. Hensman touches lightly upon another element, one that even I've been timid about. She seems to lean towards saying that more weight was given to the traditionalists, who are a small minority. In parenthesis, she adds that these male clergy are "often Oxbridge-educated."

So here's the rub. Much of the WO/WB issue in CoE seems driven by the English class system. That is how it looks to this Yank, one who's circle runs the gamut from American redneck, to the Developing World, through top institutions, including Oxbridge. The demands of the traditionalists have always looked to me like the assertion of continued privilege, combined with outrage that their privilege could even be challenged. Horrors!

While I'm at it (on class issues), I've noticed that the Developing World has its own culture of elites as well. As far as I'm concerned, those homophobic primates are operating more out of a sense of their elite privilege (in their home countries) than theology.

Well done, Ms. Hensman. I hope that I've made it clear where your sensitive writing ends and my opinions begin.

Posted by Cynthia at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 7:48pm GMT

Thanks, Jane Charman. The impact of some of SSWSH's decisions after the principles were agreed is indeed relevant and a review might be a constructive way forward.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Monday, 13 March 2017 at 8:04pm GMT

I am a priest who has worked under a bishop who believed my orders were not valid. Believe me, it was not easy. I took on a challenging parish where it was recognised I would face opposition (not specifically to do with my gender, but with the church's circumstances). At my licensing, the bishop refused to use the word 'priest' at all. My heart sank - I had been promised full support, but this was hardly a good message to be giving the parish. At several subsequent points the bishop either failed to support me or actively undermined me. Eventually I had a breakdown and left, with further damage to the parish and to myself.

In my experience the assurances of 'support' and 'working things out' were utterly hollow.

Perhaps Bp North would have behaved very differently had he been the bishop in this situation. But it's clear (as I have said to Abp Sentamu) that there must be similar provisions for women working with a bishop who doesn't accept their orders, as there are for men who don't accept a female priest or bishop.

The fact that this does not happen, and that the suggestion apparently causes offence, indicates that the underlying issues are indeed about power and privilege.

Posted by Priscilla at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 3:17pm GMT

Priscilla -

Provision the other way round doesn't make any sense, since no one in their right mind doesn't accept the validity of Philip North's orders. That's the point. It's about recognition of orders, not whether someone is liked.

Posted by Jules at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 3:47pm GMT

"Perhaps Bp North would have behaved very differently had he been the bishop in this situation. But it's clear (as I have said to Abp Sentamu) that there must be similar provisions for women working with a bishop who doesn't accept their orders, as there are for men who don't accept a female priest or bishop."

And the Archbishop of York could have defused the Sheffield situation at any time by suggesting that any woman unhappy with the Bishop North could look to him (the Archbishop of York) instead. He chose not to.

Posted by Kate at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 4:19pm GMT

Jules -
With regard to Priscilla's comment. It is about recognition of orders, but it has to be MUTUAL recognition of orders.

Posted by Anthony Birch at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 5:02pm GMT

Savi Hensman, quoted by Cynthia, suggests that 'traditionalist' [misleading shorthand but it will do] clergy are often 'Oxbridge educated.' I doubt if that is any more true of 'traditionalists' than of a large number of C of E male clergy, perhaps especially some of the more vocal 'liberals'.

I have to admit I'm only going on a hunch, and I know few of the former persuasion, and none of them well. But such conservative anglo-catholic parishes tend to proliferate in working-class communities, and while there are and always have been Oxbridge (and privately educated) clergy who are drawn to such places, I would guess they have more than the average proportion of working-class priests without such a background.

I may be quite wrong, and I have no axe to grind for either The Society or Oxbridge. But unless it was shown that the conservative campaigners are disproportionately from a privileged background, I can't quite see the point of the comment.

Posted by David Emmott at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 5:50pm GMT

"And there's nothing like being the person to open the meeting in prayer to show how much more holy you are than anyone else and make it more difficult for them to question you (the church is *very* good at this sort of thing)."

Sad but true.

Along the same lines, there have even seen board meetings that began with Communion.

Posted by Jeremy at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 5:54pm GMT

As an ex pat, now Canadian, and Tiber-crosser, I'll refrain from commenting on Sheffield per se, but I will say I never met an Oxbridge educated "traditionalist" priest in my time in Anglo-Catholic circles in the CofE... indeed one of my favourite memories is of the wonderfully Cockney (and aptly named) Fr. Peter Tabernacle. We were at the National at Walsingham and the arrangements for receiving Communion were somewhat confused. On returning to our seats, he gruffly asked the extremely prim n proper lady next to him, "Did yer get 'em both all right?"

Posted by Clive at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 7:06pm GMT

Clive, some of the SSWSH bishops, and I dare say quite a few of the parish clergy, are Oxbridge-educated.

David Emmott, I do recognise the value of the work done by some 'traditionalist' priests, as well as those who are not, in poorer areas. The contrast I was drawing was not in church leaders' attitudes to male clergy for and against women's ordination - both sets largely educated in 'elite' universities and often from better-off backgrounds - but rather between deep concern about relatively few clergy and apparent indifference to the feelings and future involvement of tens of thousands of ordinary women, often young, dropping out each year. Of course male priests opposed to women's ordination matter but so do other church members or ex-members - nursery teachers, shop assistants, cleaners, full-time carers or whoever they are.

Posted by Savi Hensman at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 9:01pm GMT

It seems to me that the anti-OoW have stolen a march here by claiming a failure to support ‘mutual flourishing’ as only applying to them. How are supporters of OoW to flourish, with a non-ordaining diocesan? Perhaps someone can correct me if I am wrong, but what should an ordinary person in a parish with a female (or ‘tainted’ male) priest understand the position to be if the Diocesan holds ‘SSWSH’ views? A Priest acts under the authority of the Bishop, with whom the Priest shares the cure of souls. It is by the authority of the Ordinary that a Priest administers the sacraments. If the Ordinary does not believe that the ‘Priest’ is, indeed, a Priest, then how can the sacrament be valid? No matter how firmly you believe the person standing at the front to be a Priest, if they do not act as a Priest under the authority of the Ordinary, how can they effect the cure of souls? How can parishioners flourish if denied the sacraments by their own Diocesan?

Posted by Chead at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 9:47pm GMT

I might add that it is worrying if many spiritually sensitive and idealistic young women feel more empowered to display such qualities as courage, self-sacrifice and compassion by Buffy the Vampire Slayer than in church. Perhaps something has gone seriously wrong with our ability to communicate the good news of Christ?

Posted by Savi Hensman at Tuesday, 14 March 2017 at 10:14pm GMT

Anthony Birch -

I fail to understand the point you're making. Philip North's orders are not in any doubt. That is fact. It is nonsensical to go down the road of "you don't believe in women's orders therefore I won't believe in men's orders." It is also fact that the ordination of women is a practice which has, at the very least, a question mark over it in the eyes of the majority of Christian churches. It has always been a strange phenomenon to me that the priesthood of Jesus Christ, which we share with our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters, has been single-handedly changed in character by the smallest, thinnest strand of the apostolic church, namely the Church of England. Such hubris!

Posted by Jules at Wednesday, 15 March 2017 at 1:15am GMT

David Emmott, all men in the Church of England are privileged, by comparison to women and girls. If many in the SSWSH are Oxbridge, then they are even more privileged than most.

No one is debating the validity of the orders of men, as they are of women. That is privilege. And this "debate" sends a message to all women, and girls, that there are still a number of privileged people - mostly men - who see girls and women as less equal in the eyes of God.

That's the point. Who has the power and privilege? And why did this small minority get such a wide berth to "flourish" at the expensive of women and girls in particular dioceses? (Which was the flaw in the "plan").

Christian social justice ALWAYS boils down to privilege. And I'm going to say it again, so no one else has to, unless they feel called. This is so rooted in the English Class System. It matters not if men of the lower classes can get into the upper sphere by agreeing to support the agenda of the truly privileged. Privilege prevails until it is resisted.

Those interested in millennials (I'm Gen X) should listen carefully to Savi Hensman's words about Buffy the Vampire Slayer and where young women can and can't find the Good News.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 15 March 2017 at 5:07am GMT

Jules,
“It has always been a strange phenomenon to me that the priesthood of Jesus Christ, which we share with our Catholic and Orthodox brothers and sisters, has been single-handedly changed in character by the smallest, thinnest strand of the apostolic church, namely the Church of England. Such hubris!”

In the Anglican Communion the following churches have women priests:
South India (1947)
Hong Kong and Macao (1971)
USA (1974)
Canada (1975)
New Zealand (1977)
Kenya (1983)
Uganda (1983)
Ireland (1990)
South Africa (1992)
Scotland (1994)
Australia (1992)
England (1994)
Barbados (1996)
Wales (1997)
Philippines (1997)
Bolivia (2015)
Uruguay (2015)


The following churches have women bishops:
USA (1989)
Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia (1989)
Scotland (approved in 2003, no appointment yet)
Australia (2008)
South Africa (2012)
South India (2013)
Wales (approved by General Synod 2014, no appointment yet)
England (2015)


There are also women priests and bishops in the Anglican extra-provincial churches.
And there are women priests in many non-Anglican denominations all over the world, including apostolic churches.

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 15 March 2017 at 9:39am GMT

Erika: Ireland has had a woman bishop since Pat Storey became Bishop of Meath and Kildare in 2013. Wales has had a woman bishop since Joanna Penberthy became Bishop of St Davids in January this year.

(And the Church in Wales has a "Governing Body" rather than a "General Synod".)

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Wednesday, 15 March 2017 at 9:52am GMT

Thank you Simon!

Posted by Erika Baker at Wednesday, 15 March 2017 at 10:53am GMT

Savi Hensman: I entirely agree with you about the sidelining of women. I am 100% in support of women in all orders of ministry as in all roles in secular life. I just felt rather that 'Oxbridge' was a rather irrelevant comment in this context, since if the church is dominated by powerful privately educated men this is at least as true of pro-OoW men as of the antis.

And Cynthia, while 'privilege' raises its ugly head in all these contexts, I'm mindful of many self-sacrificing humble priests (of both persuasions) who never think of their ministry in those terms at all.

Posted by David Emmott at Wednesday, 15 March 2017 at 4:51pm GMT

Jules -
The point I should have thought evident: In the relationship between Bishop and Priest Mutual Flourishing requires mutual recognition of each others orders, not only recognition of the bishop's orders by the priest.

Posted by Anthony Birch at Wednesday, 15 March 2017 at 7:52pm GMT

I trust that Duncan Forrester eminent theologian of New College, University of Ediburgh wouldn't mind me telling a story which his wife Margaret told me some years ago (and I may have already told here some while ago?). Duncan died last November. When he was teaching at an English University, one of his theology students came up to Duncan after a Holy Communion service at which he had celebrated. The student commented that it had been a nice service, though not to his thinking a sacramental one. Duncan replied that he had been episcopally ordained in the Church of South India. When the student then said that that could hardly count for him, Duncan mentioned the name of the bishop, and the student then gulped "O my God, that was a Eucharist then!!!" In case the student is listening in, Margaret also added that the student had improved a lot since the incident (or perhaps because of it).

Posted by Sara MacVane at Thursday, 16 March 2017 at 9:41am GMT

"And Cynthia, while 'privilege' raises its ugly head in all these contexts, I'm mindful of many self-sacrificing humble priests (of both persuasions) who never think of their ministry in those terms at all."

I wouldn't disagree with that at all. If talking about a narrow topic (in the scheme of things), gives the impression that I've ignored real ministry, I do apologize. It is the arguments and demands that reek of privilege.

There is no getting around the fact that modern sensibilities of equality (whether based on secular ideals or a view of the radical inclusion of the teachings and life of Christ) challenges the status quo, generally of white, male, educated and/or wealthy, dominance. Some of the privileged respond graciously and others hang on, rationalize, and make demands to continue their privilege (based on whatever Biblical proof texting that serves the cause). The "compromise" to have inclusion for women as bishops seems excessively weighted for a small minority view, why? Privilege seems to play a role. No one voting in 2014 could foresee the machinations of the SSWSH, an act of hubris, in my view. The expectation that SSWSH's machinations should be accepted is again a matter of privilege.

Most of us, in the UK and US, move in circles where we have varying degrees of privilege, as white people (the majority + history), as citizens of wealthy and mostly stable countries, as people with access to education, as people who don't have to worry about water and food, etc. A good exercise would be to take a very deep look at that privilege from a global perspective. Even as a gay person, I walk in and out of circles of wild privilege. As do many women. Getting a grip on that could promote empathy. The theological part seems trickier. Those of us who believe that the imperative of the Gospel is compassion and justice are reaching different conclusions from those who see salvation as more about personal piety (where opposing gays and women's equality seems like a salvation issue), let alone the "traditional catholics" who seem to ignore Mary Magdalene, et al. And the crowd that "just wants to get along" has a tendency not to challenge privilege that holds others back, sympathetic as those moderates may be. The political workings out are all about privilege. Otherwise, everyone really would be included and the laity could choose which flavor parish will feed their souls, and that of their families. For better or for worse, that is essentially the TEC model (but because we elect our bishops and call our rectors, our leadership more closely matches the local tendencies).

So we aren't in crazy disagreement, David. It's just that some of us have had to confront our own privilege and/or suffered for others privilege. I live in both positions. We have our own version of class issues in the US, but having lived in the UK, I have a sense of the English version (and there I travel in the privileged English version). We'll all need to confront our privilege to get a grip on climate change and other global issues. WB and SSM is a micro environment for global needs, in my view. And I see it as urgent.

Posted by Cynthia at Thursday, 16 March 2017 at 5:25pm GMT

"There is no getting around the fact that modern sensibilities of equality (whether based on secular ideals or a view of the radical inclusion of the teachings and life of Christ) challenges the status quo, generally of white, male, educated and/or wealthy, dominance. Some of the privileged respond graciously and others hang on, rationalize, and make demands to continue their privilege... "

I agree but women are the same as men in terms of wanting to keep privilege. It is all relative They might be lower on the ladder than men but are miles ahead of a typical family in Saharan Africa yet how many actively campaign for entirely unrestricted immigration?

Posted by Kate at Friday, 17 March 2017 at 5:51pm GMT

A further correction to the list of Anglican Churches that ordain women as bishops. In 1994 Victoria Matthews was ordained to be a Bishop Suffragan for the Diocese of Toronto. She was later translated to become Bishop of Edmonton in Canada, and later still was elected to be the Bishop of Christ Church New Zealand, where I believe she continues to serve. At this time there are several women diocesans in Canada and Toronto has two women suffragans and two men. In Toronto we also have a gay bishop who with his partner has two children.

Posted by Garry Lovatt at Saturday, 18 March 2017 at 12:26am GMT

Way to go, Erika! Listing many of the Anglican provinces that have been ordaining women. Jules, the hubris is thinking that the Church of England stands alone, none of these other Anglican provinces count, and certainly no Protestant denomination matters, despite the fact that Anglicans have one foot in protestantism and one foot in catholicism.

Posted by Cynthia at Saturday, 18 March 2017 at 9:14pm GMT

Cynthia: Anglican-centrism is as bad as anglo-centrism! And of course the experience and wisdom of Protestant communities counts for a great deal. But the majority of them do not see priesthood in the same way as (most) Anglicans, Catholics and Orthodox. I believe (and this might be Anglican hubris) that we are called to be a prophetic voice for Catholic Christendom in this and other matters, But that needs to be balanced by the humble awareness that we might be wrong.

Posted by David Emmott at Sunday, 19 March 2017 at 10:36pm GMT

David, the people excluding women and LGBTQI Christians don't seem very prophetic. The theology of taint? Really? Pedophiles, murderers, scoundrels of all sorts don't invalidate the sacraments, but being female does?

You are right about Anglicans seeing priests differently than many protestants. But we are NOT aligned with the Orthodox (my background) or Rome in a number of ways. We left Rome to pursue our own conscience. But I am also loath to discredit the work of Methodists, Presbyterians, Quakers, etc.

To the Evangelicals, the problem is male headship, and in that case, the protestant denominations are relevant. To the AC's, there's the bit about ontological change. I was changed ontologically by the sacrament of marriage, so how much more for women priests and bishops? It would behoove Anglican churches to keep an open mind about women, we left Rome for a reason.

What Jules said was "in the eyes of the majority of Christian churches." That does appear to exclude our Christian sisters and brothers in a multitude of denominations. And he goes on to say "only in CoE" when quite a few Anglican provinces have been do WO and have WB, some for a long time. And he says there is still a "question mark" over WO, and that is just rude.

So yes, it is hubris to exclude our sisters and brothers in Christ. And to my female ears, the remarks are chauvinistic on 3 levels.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 22 March 2017 at 2:33am GMT
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