Comments: Opinion - 11 October 2017

Good to see Rachel Neaum refute the bad arguments and worse rhetoric put forward by Mawer and by CofE Communications. Well done!

Posted by Jeremy at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 12:13pm BST

I have read Rachel Neaum's piece and frankly I find myself perplexed. In her view,here is an undoubted minority that cannot even call themselves what they are. Why?To what purpose?What does she want to happen to those 450 parishes, their priests and people, that happen to have theological objections to the sacramental ministry of women? I held that view myself for very many years and eventually came to a different one although my own parish is under the alternative episcopal oversight of the Bishop of Beverley.If you want to bring people to hold a different point of view you have to win hearts and minds and the events of this year has made that very difficult.Many from traditional parishes will not change in conscience their views and new priests of the catholic integrity are being ordained each year.Do WATCH want traditional anglo-catholics to leave? Do they want them drummed out and excommunicated?Do they want no-one holding a traditional position to be given any preferment whatsoever? Act with Grace and acceptance of another's point of view even if it impinges of your own self worth and you may over time bring many people with traditional views to change their position on this

Posted by Michael at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 1:09pm BST

The phrase I struggle with is 'given preferment.' I don't think the episcopacy is anyone's to give. It is up to each diocese whether they are content to receive a non ordaining bishop.The crown thro' the Prime Minister's office can 'nominate.' but what they can't and shouldn't be able to do is 'give.' The final choice should always rest with the recipients; the diocese. A diocese either will be or won't be content to receive. The episcopacy shouldn't be dolled out on a tit for tat political basis to appease various factions within the church. Let the dioceses decide.

Posted by Andrew Lightbown at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 3:53pm BST

Well said Andrew Lightbrown. What is really sad is the exclusion of male priests, validly ordained by bishops who happen to be women, from many Anglo-Catholic altars, including Walsingham.

Posted by not flourishing anglo-catholic woman at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 5:05pm BST

"There is a confusion about language that has ended up making those opposed to women’s ordination a minority in a way that co-opts the language of minority rights. This is a fundamental misunderstanding of how minority rights and power relations work and the Church will not be able to flourish if it protects those who have benefitted from two millennia of tradition and opinion at the expense of those who have had their vocation to the episcopate recognised for less than five years."

Rachel Neaum is absolutely spot on. In her piece, she made it crystal clear that the Mawer Report makes horrifically false equivalencies. Mawer needed serious unpacking, and Ms. Neaum did a great job. Of course, she also exposed the underlying problem of the 5 Guiding Principles, it lifts up continuing male hegemony and does not work out how women and girls are to thrive.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 5:18pm BST

Michael, no one wants people holding the traditional view drummed out or excommunicated. The problem is limited to the point of power - i.e. a diocesan bishop (and likely an ABC or ABY). CoE needs to figure out how women and girls are to "flourish" under a non-ordaining diocesan. The answer is, they can't. But, there is alternate episcopal oversight for traditional parishes. And if CoE gets creative, perhaps there could be something like a co-diocesan, where a non-ordaining male bishop and a female bishop share power, something like that.

If you and many could understand this in a new way, I'm confident that there are solutions. Getting there involves reframing to include the actual harm done to women and girls. Reframing to understand that there is an enormous difference between "holding a view" and ***being*** a woman or girl. Reframing to understand that power is at the heart of injustice and hurtful exclusion. Reframing to understand that until there's real equality, 50-50, protecting the status of the oppressors to hold positions where they can still oppress is kind of offensive. Women are less than one-third of the stipendiary clergy, less than 20 percent of senior clergy, and less than 10 percent of bishops. THAT is what a minority looks like.

Ms. Neaum lays it out really well. The conclusion does not have to be a shutout of traditionalists. But the church is obligated to lift up the vulnerable, the mistreated - and that would be women and girls. Without lifting up women and girls to an equal place and giving us equal voice and power, then women and girls can't flourish.

Working this out from the viewpoint of women, for once, would be a breath of fresh air. Right now, it's just guys saying "we can accommodate excluders by limiting the damage to a few dioceses here and there" without any concern for how those women are to flourish. How male and status quo. Getting creative would really be the new thing.

The Mawer report needed to have a female co-author who understands the issues as Ms. Neaum does.

Posted by Cynthia at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 5:42pm BST

Direct elections, sometimes with a vetting committee structure, works for a wide variety of anglicans from TEC to Sydney. And it might surprise some here that Sydney has perhaps the most transparent electoral system possible.

Posted by john sandeman at Wednesday, 11 October 2017 at 10:57pm BST

The report's using "minority" in its social science meaning, Michael, which is a lot more specific than its common meaning; just as "racism" is defined in the social sciences not as racial bigotry, but as "power + prejudice." I don't run with the underlying theory, but many others do.

If I understand it right, Cynthia's previously suggested that those taking the traditional position be excluded from diocesan bishoprics until there's parity between the sexes (which, judging by other professions, may well never come). An alternative that'd achieve a similar effect without overt discrimination on the basis of belief would be to introduce episcopal elections to England. As John notes, they work throughout the rest of the Anglican Communion. What makes England special?

If there'd been a fair and open election in Sheffield, all the controversy that followed North's selection would've preceeded it: if he'd been defeated, so be it; and if he'd been elected, at least there'd be no sense of a traditionalist being imposed against the will of his flock.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 12:05am BST

James Byron, that's a good suggestion. In countries where bishops are elected, how is the electorate composed? Who has the right to vote? Are your electors taken from deanery or diocesan synods, perhaps plus clergy, or is there some other system?

Posted by Janet Fife at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 9:17am BST

I read Rachel Neaum's piece and then Jeremy Morris's in succession. The latter was a telling commentary on the former. For years, many of us have argued against the traditionalist catholic tendency to resort to a kind of theological purity in respect of womens' ministry. I think many of them have grown up, and women are being given a prominent role at Walsingham and Glastonbury, as well as the significant strides forward in Chichester. I may be reading things that others are not, but I could not avoid the conclusion that Rachel Neaum is arguing for a 'safe space' where those who hold an opposing theological view are, somehow, kept in their place. I find that difficult to reconcile with the classical Anglicanism of the Elizabethan settlement, Hooker, Gore, Habgood & co.

After reading these two pieces on TA, I chanced upon Michael Sadgrove's wise and measured piece about the liberal secularistas of the Baliol JCR attempting to exclude another traditionalist/conservative Christian group from the freshers fair at the college. What are we afraid of? Let those with ears... northernwoolgatherer.blogspot.com

Posted by Will Richards at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 9:53am BST

With regard to the exclusion of the CU at Baliol, I imagine the fear is them going round telling other students that they're going to hell - that was the issue with the CU when I was at university (some bright spark put the CU next to the Pagan Society as freshers' fair).

Posted by Jo at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 12:17pm BST

Now that we have a practising Anglican as Prime Minister (who knows for how long?) - let Theresa choose the bishops, it will make a nice change from having to deal with the horrors of Brexit with Hammond pulling her in one direction and Johnson in the other. Think back to all the splendid bishops Macmillan chose - head and shoulders above the current crop.

Posted by Father David at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 2:07pm BST

James, the difficulty with an election system is how the CoE would ensure that there are bishops for Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic traditionalists if (when?) Diocese after Diocese doesn't elect any.

Posted by Erika Baker at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 2:19pm BST

In TEC, bishops are elected by diocesan conventions (synods) which consist of the clergy (in some dioceses only active clergy) and lay representatives of all parishes. The details vary from diocese to diocese, but normally a majority in both the clergy and laity is required for election.

Once elected, there is a consent process by which the standing committees of all dioceses of the church (consisting again of lay and clergy elected by the diocesan convention) and the diocesan bishops are polled. A majority of consents from the standing committees and bishops is required for the consecration to go forward.

These two measures are intended to assure both that the bishop will be acceptable to the majority in the diocese, and to the leadership of the church as a whole. It doesn't always work out that way.

Posted by Tobias Haller at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 3:28pm BST

Thanks Tobias, beat me to it. :-)

If England introduced elected bishops, she could implement an internet voting system, giving everyone on the books the opportunity to have their say.

As for trad bishops, Erika, if they're not elected to diocesan posts, so be it. Traditional parishes could, of course, opt out and elect their own bishops.

Posted by James Byron at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 5:42pm BST

Re: bishops for Evangelical and Anglo-Catholic traditionalists

In comparison, the difficulty with an election system is that there are no UKIP or Socialist Worker Party or for that matter Monster Raving Looney MPs....

It's the way 'democracy' works in this country - first past the post.

Posted by Rev Paul at Thursday, 12 October 2017 at 6:32pm BST

Tobias points out a key difference between the Australian and TEC diocesan elections. In Australia there is no central system vetting the diocesan elections. But arguably both in the TEC and Australian systems there is more diversity (at least up til now) in the range of diocesan bishops than in England.
The Bishops of Dallas or Central Florida are different to the Bishops of New York or Chicago, reflecting their dioceses, in the same way the Archbishops of Perth and Sydney are different, reflecting the people who elect them.
If England had had some version of more direct election of bishops I could imagine there would have been variation coming out of the history of the various dioceses. But that is just a guess.

Posted by john sandeman at Friday, 13 October 2017 at 12:39am BST

"I imagine the fear is them going round telling other students that they're going to hell."

There are two questions here, apart from just enjoying saying it.

How likely is this?

and

More importantly, do students need protection from what they may hear in university? Scary.

Posted by crs at Friday, 13 October 2017 at 8:51am BST

Presumably the system in respect of Bishops inheres in the governing logic of a catholic anglicanism. Monarch is anointed and given a role the Pope had had. Bishops flow from this.

The problematic is when, in the course of time, this logic is forgotten or has been so altered by intervening years--Crown committees, role of Parliament vis-a-vis Crown and Church, Monarch as "Defender of Faiths"?--that no one knows what it is or how it has got to be what it now is. By simple expedience one says, bring in internet voting or do what Americans have done.

But the CofE does not have diocesan conventions or diocesan property arrangements (see the blow up in LA) and things like General Convention, because this was not how the CofE came into existence as a Catholic Church in the British Isles.

One wonders if this conception really holds any longer? In "The Crown" the Queen herself was fairly stunned to have had explained to her what the coronation was about. But high seriousness and not Monte Python marked the occasion as true to the original claims. Has this all leeched out now?

Posted by crs at Friday, 13 October 2017 at 1:01pm BST

'If England introduced elected bishops, she could implement an internet voting system, giving everyone on the books the opportunity to have their say.'

I'm not sure that would work in England, where you don't actually have to attend church at all to be a member of the Church of England. It's an advantage if the electorate have some idea of the issues at stake when they vote - as we found out with the EU referendum. Internet voting would also mean that those without internet access, or those who aren't comfortable with the internet, wouldn't have a vote - and that includes quite a lot of elderly and rural churchgoers.

Posted by Janet Fife at Friday, 13 October 2017 at 2:18pm BST

In Aotearoa, New Zealand, and Polynesia, bishops are elected by diocesan synods, as in TEC, but with a few differences.
By custom, but not by statute, the process is confidential until the final result is announced by the Primates. In recent years some dioceses have experimented with making the list of nominees public, but the debate and voting are still confidential. For diocesan bishops, successful nominees must gain a majority of both houses, clergy and laity. For assistant bishops, where the diocesan is in the chair, the nomination must also pass in the house of bishops; in other words, the diocesan bishop has a veto.
The approval process is a 2-stage one. Any serving bishop may raise an objection on one of four restricted grounds: doctrine, morality and manner of life, health, and physical ability to do the job. If that occurs, then a majority of bishops must vote to override the objection. Then the nomination goes to members of General synod, who must vote yes, or no, or abstain. Again, the nomination must be approved by a majority of clergy and laity. that whole approval process is confidential, so there can be a delay of some weeks before the result is known, with members of the electoral synod bound to confidentiality in the meantime.

Posted by Edward Prebble at Friday, 13 October 2017 at 9:46pm BST

Re crs, "...the Queen herself was fairly stunned to have had explained to her what the coronation was about." Sort of a puddle of consciousness with an allusion to Netflix as quasi-historical source.

"The ceremonies you have seen today are ancient, and some of their origins are veiled in the mists of the past. But their spirit and their meaning shine through the ages never, perhaps, more brightly than now. I have in sincerity pledged myself to your service, as so many of you are pledged to mine. Throughout all my life and with all my heart I shall strive to be worthy of your trust."

Elizabeth II, Coronation Speech 1953

God save the Queen.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 1:25am BST

@crs: very likely - I've seen CU types in action and what I described happened at Freshers' Fair, albeit at a different university. And freshers are just starting at university, on the "on ramp" and away from home for the first time. Freshers' Fair is supposed to be welcoming and about helping them find their feet. They'll get plenty of time to argue and discuss over their 3+ years. Having to deal with what is effectively a threat from a group condoned by their college is not on.

Posted by Jo at Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 7:20am BST

John S. Your 'up til now' in respect of TEC is correct.

Posted by crs at Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 7:24am BST

To clarify on introducing episcopal elections to England: paper ballots should of course be provided where necessary; and votes should only be given to people on the parish rolls (around six months' attendance etc).

Since the current system is of massive benefit to the English elite, this may well remain hypothetical: but determined campaigning always leaves open the possibility for change.

Alternatively, just allow the British prime minister to select bishops again: they couldn't do much worse!

Posted by James Byron at Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 8:25am BST

Ah, the dear Queen will not be laying the wreath on behalf on the nation at the Cenotaph this year on Remembrance Sunday - that role will be taken by her eldest son and heir. Let us hope and pray that Her Majesty lives as long as her mother, long to reign over us. As incumbent of one of the decreasing number of churches that offer a regular Sunday Choral Evensong I would find it a most peculiar and unnerving experience to have to change the versicle "O Lord, save the Queen" to "O Lord, save the King". Hopefully retirement will come for me before I have to make that painful transition?

Posted by Father David at Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 8:31am BST

The Balliol JCR got it right.

If the Church of England thinks that gay sex is a sin--a question that the Archbishop of Canterbury still refuses to answer--then there will be negative repercussions in the wider culture. Because, by perpetuating prejudice against LGBTQ people, the Church actively harms them.

I don't see why any religious sect intent on harming certain undergraduates should be welcome at any freshers' fair.

Posted by Jeremy at Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 1:31pm BST

crs: I don't understand what you mean by this: 'Presumably the system in respect of Bishops inheres in the governing logic of a catholic anglicanism. Monarch is anointed and given a role the Pope had had. Bishops flow from this.'

Unless you mean that to be a 'catholic anglican' (a term capable of many meanings) you have to accept the need for a Pope-figure, and if not the Bishop of Rome then the Monarch of England. This is not something which has ever occurred to me, and since many, probably most, 'catholic anglicans' have no allegiance or connection to the Queen of England because they are in Africa or America or even Scotland, it makes no sense at all.

But maybe you mean something completely different and much more simple, and I'm just thick.

Posted by David Emmott at Saturday, 14 October 2017 at 11:32pm BST

Father D, yes the "veiled mists of the past" get increasingly more so.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/10/11/neil-macgregor-britain-stands-alone-comes-religi1on/

Posted by crs at Sunday, 15 October 2017 at 7:40am BST

I take the term catholic anglicanism to entail apostolic succession. This was achieved in England via a claim to the maintenance of catholic Bishops, in a See of the Church Catholic, under the authority of the Crown.

If there is no historical rootage in this claim functiong at present, then there is little sense in flying Primates to Canterbury or holding conferences called Lambeth or seeing arise a specific authority for the ABC.

The question isn't a "Pope-figure" but rather the character of taking oaths before God, as the Church of England saw it when it separated from Rome.

The Telegraph essay speaks of hardly anyone understanding this anymore in England. I think that this is accurate, but it also pertains to how the communion gathers and why.

Posted by crs at Sunday, 15 October 2017 at 10:02am BST

James Byron, in England anyone living in the parish can be on the electoral roll and vote in parish elections, they don't have to attend church. And not all clergy are on diocesan synod, just elected representatives. But that could be tweaked for episcopal elections, I'm sure.

'Alternatively, just allow the British prime minister to select bishops again: they couldn't do much worse!' Um, have you seen who Theresa May appointed Foreign Secretary?! I hate to think who she might appoint as a bishop!

Posted by Janet Fife at Sunday, 15 October 2017 at 11:52am BST

The monarchy is a constitutional monarchy, evolved and evolving. As the monarchy evolves, no reason the monarchical episcopate cannot evolve. No reason the C of E could not institute a mechanism for the election of its bishops.Although, we elect our bishops in Canada where results vary. It remains a patriarchal shtick.

The "torygraph" has a narrative of its own of course, as do all media outlets. I read The Guardian most mornings. I find its narrative "agreeable".

Interesting thread. God Save the Queen.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Sunday, 15 October 2017 at 1:13pm BST

I think your interpretation of catholicity is a little... idiosyncratic, crs. I've never heard it suggested, either in England or Scotland, that the catholicity of Anglicanism depends on the Crown. That would be rather strange, given the history of the SEC. Apostolic succession depends on Bishops, the successors of the Apostles, not on secular rulers or on Patriarchs.

Posted by Jo at Sunday, 15 October 2017 at 3:12pm BST

Thanks for the correction, Janet: having checked the CoE regs again, I see that the six month criterion's for out-of-parish worshipers. Those criteria would, presumably, carry over to any model of episcopal elections.

As for Al "Boris" Johnson donning the purple: well, grim as the prospect is, it'd give him much less opportunity for mischief than his current post, and it'd be one way of breaking the suffocating collegiality!

Posted by James Byron at Sunday, 15 October 2017 at 10:49pm BST

Jo, better tell it to Henry 8th or Elizabeth -- the latter a very fine theologian.

Depend on the Crown? Well certainly Crown as modus vivendi! The history of the Church Catholic during the middle ages always had this tension -- compare the states of France and the Holy Roman Empire.

The Church of England could not consecrate new Bishops in American because they could not take an oath to the Crown.

The Church of England could of course disestablish, but that is another question. Over the course of time the Crown role has been thinned out considerably, perhaps to the point of no return. That is the point of the Telegraph piece. There is a disconnect between the originating logic and the reality, now in a church with only a very tiny proportion of the total population of England as worshippers.

Posted by crs at Monday, 16 October 2017 at 7:22am BST

The restriction on the CofE was a matter of secular law, not of theology or polity. That is why the SEC was able to carry out that consecration.

Posted by Jo at Monday, 16 October 2017 at 10:23am BST

As for Al "Boris" Johnson donning the purple: well, grim as the prospect is, it'd give him much less opportunity for mischief than his current post, and it'd be one way of breaking the suffocating collegiality!

James Byron, you made me smile with that thought. You're right, he might be good for the House of Bishops. I'd hate to be in his diocese though. Still, come to think of it - can he be much worse than some of those we already have?

Posted by Janet Fife at Monday, 16 October 2017 at 12:33pm BST

Jo, nonsense: it was law and theology and polity all three. It is anachronistic to think otherwise. The oath made to the crown enabled consecrations, absent this, one would have to find non-juring bishops. Hence SEC.

But we are not speaking of the SEC but of the CofE. You are making my point.

Posted by crs at Monday, 16 October 2017 at 3:32pm BST

Janet "in England anyone living in the parish can be on the electoral roll and vote in parish elections, they don't have to attend church"

I'm sure I'll be corrected if I'm wrong, but in order to be on the Church electoral roll you are supposed to be a communicant and regular attender, where the precise meaning of "regular" is not, I think, defined.

It is true that any lay person resident in the geographical parish and aged 16 or over may attend and vote at the (annual or other) Meeting of Parishioners, and that meeting elects the churchwardens for the coming year. But all other elections, including those to the PCC and to the Deanery Synod, take place at the Annual Parochial Church Meeting, and attendance at that is restricted to those on the electoral roll, see above. (Clergy licensed to the parish may also attend and vote, and retired clergy too; but they may not vote in elections to the PCC or for Deanery Synod representatives.)

So the Synodical process is in the hands of regular communicants only.

Posted by Simon Kershaw at Monday, 16 October 2017 at 4:49pm BST

Simon

This is the rule for joining the electoral roll.

Church Representation Rule 1(2) A lay person shall be entitled to have his name entered on the roll of a parish if he is baptised, of sixteen years or upwards, has signed an application form for enrolment set out in Appendix I of these rules and declares himself either -

(a) to be a member of the Church of England or of a Church in communion therewith resident in the parish; or

(b) to be such a member and, not being resident in the parish, to have habitually attended public worship in the parish during a period of six months prior to enrolment; or

(c) to be a member in good standing of a Church which subscribes to the doctrine of the Holy Trinity (not being a Church in communion with the Church of England) and also prepared to declare himself to be a member of the Church of England having habitually attended public worship in the parish during a period of six months prior to enrolment.

Provided that where a lay person will have his sixteenth birthday after the intended revision of the electoral roll or the preparation of a new roll but on or before the date of the annual parochial church meeting, he may complete a form of application for enrolment and his name shall be enrolled but with effect from the date of his birthday.

The form in Appendix I simply requires the applicant to give name and address, and state which of the three categories he/she is in.

So a resident in a parish is not required to attend or to be a communicant.

Posted by Peter Owen at Monday, 16 October 2017 at 5:27pm BST

crs: I thought we were speaking of catholicity, as it is expressed within the Anglican tradition. The existence of the non-jurors as a recognised part of that puts the lie to the idea that it is somehow dependent on the Crown. Unless you're trying to claim that Episcopal orders absent the Crown are somehow not catholic?

Posted by Jo at Monday, 16 October 2017 at 7:58pm BST

"Unless you're trying to claim that Episcopal orders absent the Crown are somehow not catholic"

Dear Jo, it is a bit unclear to me how much you know about the SEC. The Church of Scotland split from Rome in 1560. This was the sole non-Roman church in Scotland at the time. In 1583 Bishops were consecrated and the Church of Scotland (what we would now call) Presbyterians objected. This happened because the monarch was James VI and he passed the act that enabled their consecration. This would be James VI who became James I, king of England and Scotland, in the ensuing century.


Posted by crs at Tuesday, 17 October 2017 at 7:55am BST

'The Balliol JCR got it right.

If the Church of England thinks that gay sex is a sin--a question that the Archbishop of Canterbury still refuses to answer--then there will be negative repercussions in the wider culture. Because, by perpetuating prejudice against LGBTQ people, the Church actively harms them.'

Er - I don't think the CU is an official part of the Church of England, is it?

Posted by Tim Chesterton at Tuesday, 17 October 2017 at 9:18am BST


One of our bishops here once remarked that Anglicans can rummage around in the attic of history and find a precedent for just about anything.


"Streets that follow like a tedious argument..."
T. S. Elliot (Prufrock).

Posted by Rod Gillis at Tuesday, 17 October 2017 at 1:43pm BST

As a postscript to Peter Owen's reply to Simon Kershaw at 5.27 pm yesterday, it is to be noted that one Suffolk vicar in the 1930s who sought, unlawfully, to remove from the roll those parishioners who did not attend church and to prevent them from attending the APCM, ended up on the losing side of a case in the Court of Appeal: see Stuart v Haughley Parochial Church Council [1935] Ch 352 (Bennett J) and [1936] Ch 32 (CA). The vicar and the PCC were ordered to pay the plaintiff's costs (with QCs on both sides, no doubt not insubstantial!) Despite losing the case, the vicar remained unrepentant and, 20 years later, he was still arguing in the parish newsletter that the bishop had acted 'dishonestly', and that 'perjury had deceived the judge.'

Currently, a revision committee of the General Synod is considering a draft Measure, the main part of which is a complete rewrite of the Church Representation Rules. One of the matters for the committee to consider is whether there should be any change in the qualifications for enrolment on the church electoral roll. At present there is no definition of membership of the Church of England - a person applying for enrolment simply has to declare that he or she is a member of the C of E or of a church in communion with the C of E. As for what constitutes 'regular' attendance at church (though the word in the CRR is 'habitual), Lady Hale recognised three possible meanings of 'regularly' in the course of giving her Supreme Court judgment earlier this year in the 'school attendance' case of Isle of Wight Council v Platt [2017] 1 WLR 1441: see para 1 at page 1443A-C.

Posted by David Lamming at Tuesday, 17 October 2017 at 8:55pm BST

One has to be careful about throwing around terms. Anglicans routinely speak about “catholicity” and mean by this several possibilities: a) not nasty evangelical, b) love of liturgy, eucharist, adoration of sacrament c) anti-women’s ordination, d) concern for relations with Rome, e) fill in the blank. There was and is a church in which the term “Catholic” is definitional.

The effort to create an alternative, without the Pope, yet retaining the term catholic in any meaningful sense (a move that did not animate Luther or Calvin or Knox) took a specific historical form: it traded on monarchial oaths in discrete territories/sees of the then Catholic Church. Not Pope but Realm (versions of this struggle can be seen in Europe in the Middle Ages). Anglicanism was “the Catholic Church” in the British Isles in consequence of this claim and this warrant. It would be illegal to be a different kind of (Roman) catholic.

Whatever transpires in time in Scotland or elsewhere, the situation whereby attention is paid to Canterbury by the Anglican Communion and the CofE remains, and trades in due measure on this originating historical reality. One could conclude that Henry V, James I or Elizabeth were all wrong in how they claimed to be the Catholic Church in England/Scotland, but it was the claim they in fact made, in the face of the alternative Roman/Papal understanding of Catholicity.

If one wants to claim a different kind of catholicity, the central role of the Church of England and the originating logic of Catholic Anglicanism will be affected/displaced in favour of something more general. Perhaps this is a good idea, but there does not seem to be any effort to pursue it formally in respect of the present Instruments of Communion – except of course by Gafcon (“we do not need to get to Jesus via Canterbury”), or those in the CofE who would prefer the ABC to stay focused on that role principally. This latter desire is of a piece with changing perceptions of just what the CofE is or should be, today, given modifications in the form introduced in time of: Parliament, Queen, Crown commissions, ways of appointing bishops, synodical governance, serving the entire English people as church by law established etc.
The preeminent role of the See of Canterbury has to do with an originating logic, and not simply antiquity qua antiquity, so far as it and the wider Communion are concerned. The See retained its claim to catholicity via the monarch, be it Henry, Elizabeth, or James. Apostolic succession would have been happily rejected in Scotland were it not for the crown. And of course in time it was. Hence today’s Kirk.

Posted by crs at Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 7:36am BST

"...the situation whereby attention is paid to Canterbury by the Anglican Communion and the CofE remains, and trades in due measure on this originating historical reality. " This is a political narrative agreeable to those who want to stay in charge of the interpretation of history.

We trade on several historical and
geopolitical realities including the legacy of British colonialism in a post colonial Communion.

The decline into authoritarianism by the Primates can be attributed to a variety of factors: patriarchal theology; attempts to shut out a range of critical insights advanced by various contemporary studies; the slick attempts to stick handle around synodical forums by church bureaucrats.

One may also include, if one is to take recent comments made the Communion Secretary at face value, the very authoritarian leadership style in places like Africa. Ironically, he seems to think that a covenant without the C of E is plausible.

Anglicanism is evolving. It may advance or decline.The in camera meetings of Primates with the obligatory press conference afterwards, in which the boys' club attempts to remain its own sole interpreter, is not a hopeful sign. However, fault lines are showing in a group that clearly knows it is on shaky ground.

For a very different view of Anglican Camelot see/hear the interview in the Church of Ireland Gazette, especially minutes 10 to 15.

https://gazette.ireland.anglican.org/interview-67-archbishop-josiah-idowu-fearon/

Posted by Rod Gillis at Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 12:35pm BST

crs: you fail to recall that for a fair time it pretty much was illegal to be an Episcopalian in Scotland, and for a long time after that existed under legal restriction. That history as a persecuted church is just as much a part of Anglicanism, and its form of catholicity retained through its College of Bishops just as important to modern Anglican polity, as is formal Establishment. The continuing existence of the Scottish Episcopal Church as part of the Church Catholic makes it clear that neither Pope nor monarch is required. Unless you're claiming that the SEC, and by extension TEC, have no claim to catholicity?

Posted by Jo at Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 1:47pm BST

Dear Jo, I do not fail to recall anything as touches on the claims of catholicity as grounded in Scotland, in respect of James VI. You stated otherwise. You confected a catholicism in Scotland that had no monarchial role. That is incorrect.

What "modern Anglican polity" may or may not believe it is, here and there, was not the point of my comment: which had of course to do with the self-understanding of the See of Canterbury in the CofE and, in recent times, vis-a-vis the Anglican Communion.

Posted by crs at Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 4:03pm BST

It is a bit unclear to me if the position of RG is that the boy's club authoritarianism is the consequence of the Primates or the See of Canterbury or what? He makes it sound like the Primates and the African "mentality" are to blame. Well surely this could be batted away by the ABC. He is the one declaring via his office when the Primates meet, whether and when Lambeth Conferences take place, etc.

As for the Covenant, well of course it was designed in respect of Provinces. So the RG statement, "he seems to think that a covenant without the C of E is plausible," is simply a consequence of thinking about AC like on its own terms. One wonders whether the ABC might even be relieved to find the present historical reality of the CofE accepted for what it is. "Evolving" can also be simply devolving.

Posted by crs at Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 4:26pm BST

At this point you seem to be playing at Humpty Dumpty and having words means exactly what you mean them to mean and nothing else so I think I'll leave it there.

Posted by Jo at Wednesday, 18 October 2017 at 9:05pm BST

Dear Jo, The claim that the SEC originated independently of catholic claims by monarchs has been shown to be false.

Humpty Dumpty fell off your own wall.

Posted by crs at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 7:14am BST

"It is a bit unclear to me if the position of RG is that the boy's club authoritarianism is the consequence of the Primates or the See of Canterbury or what?" Clear communication requires a clear transmission and a receiver tuned to the correct frequency. I think the problem may be on your end.

There are the comments made by the Communion Secretary to the Church of Ireland Gazette ( see link above). There is my comment on that included in my post at 12:35 pm October 18th. These are two different things.

Likewise, there is my post on October 18th. There is your comment on my post. These are two different things. I am happy to have readers of the thread make their own judgements on the correlation of the two in both instances.

Good luck with your quest for Anglican Camelot. (:

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 2:43pm BST

"Good luck with your quest for Anglican Camelot."

How odd. Maybe it is Lonergan!

I have no search at all for an Anglican Camelot.

Indeed quite the opposite. My thoughts have to do with whether anglicanism as a catholic church and mission has lost its logic, and whether a church established by law in England, attracting 7% of the population there, is in a role disproportionate to the life of the AC as a whole.

What worries me is precisely the retention of just such a camelot view well after its sell-by day.

A covenant amongst provinces--which you dislike-- is just such a non-camelot expression of anglicanism on catholic terms.

Posted by crs at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 4:27pm BST

Quick follow up, I just noticed that in your comment on my post you used the phrase " African 'mentality' ", with "mentality" in quotation marks. I did not use that phrase. Whom were you quoting?

I referred explicitly to authoritarian leadership as described by Archbishop Idowu Fearon in his interview, for which I provided a link.

At part three of the interview beginning at about 7:00 minutes in, he addresses leadership and goes on to say, " The African leader sees himself ... in the light of the traditional rulers,those with absolute authority, there is no consultation, terribly despotic."

Since you were not quoting me, I'm left to guess these are scare quotes. You seem to doubt the analysis offered by The Communion secretary, no?

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 5:17pm BST

Dear Jo, If you will reread my comments, starting at the beginning , you will see that my consistent point has had to do with the catholic claims of the Church of England ; whether these are recognizable on original terms ; how a church that is established by law can function in a place of privilege vis-a-vis other churches of the Communion; how the arrangement is a tricky combination of ‘I won’t say no’ and ‘others asked it of me’ and so forth.

You then intercalated an objection based upon the SEC, which was further inaccurate (James VI was responsible for Bishops in Scotland having passed the ‘Black Acts’ in the late 16th century) and of course not to the point to boot.

Humpty Dumpty is almost as relevant, so in the end that is where you ended up!

I gather from recent polling that there are only 390,000 people worshipping on Sunday in Scotland. 7% of the population. Most worrying is that 42% of this figure is over 65. The situation isn’t much different in England, where soon Roman Catholics will outnumber those in the Established Church.

I lived and worked in the SEC context for a decade. It is not clear to me if Jo is in the SEC.

Off to a Reformation event in NA for the 500th anniversary of the Wittenberg theses, where I am keynoter.

Bon chance à TA!

Posted by crs at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 5:57pm BST

cos: I still don't understand. Is catholicity some sort of certificate handed over by the monarch (or originally the Pope) to a national church. And does this still remain effective even when that church ceases to be 'national' (as in the case of the disestablished SEC or Church in Wales), or ceases to recognise the Monarch (as in the case of TEC)? Rather like the monarch as 'Defender of the Faith', even though the faith monarchs since Elizabeth 1 pledge to defend is rather different from the one Henry VIII was acclaimed for upholding.

If catholicity means anything it surely means following the tradition of the apostles, celebrating the sacraments and recognising our continuity with the saints throughout the ages. Are you suggesting that (small r) republicans like me can't be Catholic?

Posted by David Emmott at Thursday, 19 October 2017 at 7:49pm BST

DE, briefly: I believe catholicity *could* be maintained through a conciliar polity for the AC. One that tethers the AC to specific See of Canterbury roots trades on the original logic of that. That logic was based on the view that the Catholick Religion in England was possible and desirable as an alternative to the papacy, via the Monarch, with the former See of Canterbury now functioning on behalf of the English Catholick Religion. CRS

Posted by crs at Friday, 20 October 2017 at 11:20am BST

Re: crs, "My thoughts have to do with whether Anglicanism as a catholic church and mission has lost its logic...." 'logic", a word you use a lot, I think you tend to use it as a surrogate for historical chronicle; but the rehearsing of chronology does not have to lead to past history as future destiny. ( See Lonergan and new generation of Lonerganians on history (: )

"...a church established by law in England, attracting 7% of the population there, is in a role disproportionate to the life of the AC as a whole." Ah yes, "Don't let it be forgot
That once there was a spot
For one brief shining moment that was known
As Camelot." (A. J. Lerner)

Good luck with the paper. Sounds interesting. and remember, semper idem et semper reformanda est.


Posted by Rod Gillis at Friday, 20 October 2017 at 2:43pm BST

"A covenant amongst provinces--which you dislike-- is just such a non-camelot expression of anglicanism on catholic terms."

A covenant among provinces which goes beyond the content of the Nicene Creed is the issue. A covenant which seeks to impose one province's views on matters such as sexuality or women's ordination on all is the issue. A covenant which supposes that a fundamentalist interpretation of scripture is the only "true" interpretation is the issue.

Posted by Pat O'Neill at Saturday, 21 October 2017 at 4:12am BST

PO : best to avoid confusing terms of use. You are describing a confession/declaration (delimited group draw up content and rally around it). Conciliarism is a commitment to a demeanor: seeking the mind of the gathered. See Acts 15. Touchstones are invoked (‘with this the prophets agree’) and then must gain assent. All may, some will, none must. Those who disagree walk away on those grounds. For an account of conciliarism vis-à-vis the Papacy, non-technical, see Carlos Eire, Reformations (Yale Press). The covenant has no content in the form of confession/declaration: it is a conciliar modus vivendi. That is why people can say "no thank you," and others can say: we will gather together and seek a mind that is common/catholic.

The idea may die in our present season, but the term "conciliar" has a genuine meaning distinct from confessionalism (to which you appear to refer; see Gafon, etc).

Posted by crs at Saturday, 21 October 2017 at 1:11pm BST
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