Thinking Anglicans

SSWSH: 12 bishops issue pastoral letter

MEDIA INFORMATION
THE SOCIETY OF ST HILDA & ST WILFRID (sic)
FOR IMMEDIATE USE
Monday 24 January 2011

Provision to Remain
Anglican Bishops issue Pastoral Letter

Twelve Church of England bishops who seek to both maintain and promote its Catholic heritage have written a Pastoral Letter to clergy and laity suggesting that despite recent decisions by the General Synod concerning provision for those opposed to the ordination of women bishops and priests “even at this late hour we are seeking a way forward that would enable us with integrity to retain membership of the Church of England”.

Referring to those who have already left the Church of England the bishops write: “We genuinely wish them Godspeed as, heeding the call of conscience, they embark on a new episode in their Christian discipleship. We, too, in similar obedience to conscience, seek, if at all possible, to remain faithful members of the Church of England and undertake to support all who seek to do likewise.”

The bishops state: “We are passionate in our commitment to the mission of the Church of England and urgently seek a settlement through which we would be free to play our part to the fullest measure.”

One of the ways of achieving this, they believe, is through the setting up of a new Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and St Hilda.

The bishops write: “We believe this could be done by the formation of a society within the Church of England, overseen by bishops committed to our viewpoint. Such bishops would need, of course, the necessary ordinary jurisdiction that would enable them to be the true pastors of their people and to be guarantors of the sacramental assurance on which we all depend for our authentic sharing within the Body of Christ. Given that our parishes are also constituent parts of local dioceses we also understand that some way would have to be identified for sharing jurisdiction with the diocesan bishop.

They add: “We understand it to be something of this nature that our archbishops were trying to achieve in their ill-fated amendment at the July meeting of the General Synod. That amendment, though narrowly defeated in the House of Clergy, was widely supported elsewhere in the Synod and, indeed, a majority of members supported it. It might well be that a revisiting of the archbishops’ proposals, with some further development of them, could still help our Church to find a way forward that enabled us all to remain faithful members of it.”

The bishops are continuing to meet regularly and to listen to the views of many different people as they add substance to a draft constitution for The Society.

Many have already enrolled as prospective members of The Society and the bishops have encouraged others to do so.

In an appeal to the wider church to listen to their concerns the bishops write:
“We do not want to build up false hopes. Every attempt we have made so far to persuade the Church of England to make the kind of provision that would enable us in good conscience to remain within its fellowship has been thwarted. We feel, nevertheless, duty bound, once again to seek a way out of the impasse that otherwise would make it impossible for many of us to remain faithful members of our Church. We recognise the huge change of heart that would need to happen for us to succeed.”

+ Nicholas Blackburn
+ John Cicestr
+ Geoffrey Gibraltar
+Martyn Beverley
+John Burnley
+Peter Edmonton
+Mark Horsham
+John Plymouth
+Anthony Pontefract
+Martin Whitby
+Lindsay Urwin
+Robert Ladds

The full text of the Pastoral Letter appears below the fold.

PASTORAL LETTER

We write as bishops within the Church of England, who seek both to maintain and promote its Catholic heritage, believing that this demands maintaining the ministry of bishops, priests and deacons in a manner consistent with the tradition of the Church, East and West. We address all those, ordained and lay, who look to us at this time for pastoral guidance.

In July 2010 the General Synod of the Church of England took yet another decisive step in the direction of enacting legislation that would make it possible for women to be admitted to the episcopate. At the same time General Synod declined to make any appropriate provision that would satisfy the consciences of those of us who cannot accept that such ordinations would be a legitimate development in the life of the Church. Some have already decided that they can no longer remain within the Church of England. We genuinely wish them Godspeed as, heeding the call of conscience, they embark on a new episode in their Christian discipleship. We, too, in similar obedience to conscience, seek, if at all possible, to remain faithful members of the Church of England and undertake to support all who seek to do likewise.

Even at this late hour we are seeking a way forward that would enable us with integrity to retain such membership. We are passionate in our commitment to the mission of the Church of England and urgently seek a settlement through which we would be free to play our part to the fullest measure. We believe this could be done by the formation of a society within the Church of England, overseen by bishops committed to our viewpoint. Such bishops would need, of course, the necessary ordinary jurisdiction that would enable them to be the true pastors of their people and to be guarantors of the sacramental assurance on which we all depend for our authentic sharing within the Body of Christ. Given that our parishes are also constituent parts of local dioceses we also understand that some way would have to be identified for sharing jurisdiction with the diocesan bishop. We understand it to be something of this nature that our archbishops were trying to achieve in their ill-fated amendment at the July meeting of the General Synod. That amendment, though narrowly defeated in the House of Clergy, was widely supported elsewhere in the Synod and, indeed, a majority of members supported it. It might well be that a revisiting of the archbishops’ proposals, with some further development of them, could still help our Church to find a way forward that enabled us all to remain faithful members of it.

To this end we have set about forming ‘The Society’. It is under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda. Two of our number, the Bishops of Blackburn and of Gibraltar in Europe, have agreed to serve as episcopal protectors of The Society. The Bishop of Beverley will be the co-ordinating bishop. We are still in the process of giving more substance to its constitution. It may well be that the latter cannot be finally resolved until we know whether or not the House of Bishops and then the General Synod will be prepared to build further on our initiative. You can find more details as to our thinking by visiting The Society’s website. Many have already enrolled as prospective members of The Society and we now encourage all who support us to do so. We need to discover whether such a way forward commands the support of those who look to us for guidance. If that were to be so then it would be good to demonstrate to the wider Church just how many of its members need such provision in order to remain faithful members of it.

We do not want to build up false hopes. Every attempt we have made so far to persuade the Church of England to make the kind of provision that would enable us in good conscience to remain within its fellowship has been thwarted. We feel, nevertheless, duty bound, once again to seek a way out of the impasse that otherwise would make it impossible for many of us to remain faithful members of our Church. We recognise the huge change of heart that would need to happen for us to succeed. We ask you to pray fervently that such a change of heart might take place and encourage you to support us by enrolling in The Society.

+ Nicholas Blackburn
+ John Cicestr
+ Geoffrey Gibraltar
+Martyn Beverley
+John Burnley
+Peter Edmonton
+Mark Horsham
+John Plymouth
+Anthony Pontefract
+Martin Whitby
+Lindsay Urwin
+Robert Ladds

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Simon Sarmiento
Guest

There seems to be confusion on the part of the press release writer about the name of the society: is it Hilda and Wilfred or the other way round?

Ecclesia Anglicana
Guest

I do hope that some agreeable way may be found to keep this particular constituency within the Church of England. Whatever one may think of their (sincerely held, by most) objections to the ordination of women, the majority are loyal to the CofE and to the Anglican expression of Catholicism. Unlike those who always owed a tacit allegience to Rome, many of whom have jumped/are jumping to the Ordinariate, the CofE would be much poorer without them. However, these bishops must make it crystal clear to their constituency, particularly their priests, that they are members of the Church of England… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

@ Simon S: I suspect the name (order) doesn’t matter, as long as the Society’s “Hildas” know they are to be FOREVER subordinate to their “Wilfrids”! ;-/

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

Sounds to me like a re-run of the flying bishops. Do we really want more of the same? And beneath it all is the implication that if they don’t get what they want they will go to Rome too.

Rev Sidney Jensen
Guest

I believe it’s Brackett and Hinge, Simon.

Rosalind
Guest
Rosalind

There are a few simple questions I would like to hear posed to those who wish to set up such a society: Do you consider that your ordained colleagues in ministry who are women are truly priests? Are you willing to accept the sacramental ministry of bishops who have ordained women to the priesthood? Are you willing to renew your ordination vows at chrism masses together with women priests? If the answer to all these is yes, then I see no need for a separate Society – the provisions already in the legislation should be enough. If the answer to… Read more »

Randal Oulton
Guest
Randal Oulton

Why Wilfrid and Hilda?

Why not Winifred and Hilde?

Or, is the goal to make sure that a man appears in charge?

Father David
Guest
Father David

It’s Wilfrid and Hilda – and Wilfrid is spelt with an “i” not an “e”

Simon Sarmiento
Guest

Whoops my bad. WilfrId. WilfrId. WilfrId. Got it now.

Wilf
Guest
Wilf

I can’t quite understand what the alternative is. Does it have to be the jurisdiction they crave otherwise they’ll leave? This is a genuine question.

If the legislation is passed as framed I can see no reason why, in a letter of request, a PCC can request the ministrations of a Swish priest and Bishop without any difference to the legislation.

Language such as used which suggests that unless this group get what they want they’ll leave cannot remain unchallenged.

Fr Michael
Guest
Fr Michael

Some degree of tolerance is needed on both sides. Women clergy need to accept that there are those who have doctrinal problems, and be willing to give way (cf St Paul and meat offered to idols) and those who do object to women should continue to play their full part in the diocese and not become a church within a church as happened with PEVs.

Antony
Guest
Antony

This will be the final test on how inclusive the CofE really is – and I am sure it will fail.
Scratch a liberal and you will find a fascist!

Ecclesia Anglicana
Guest

2,000 years of unquestioned tradition is difficult to change ‘overnight’. Some compassion and understanding should prevail. The Church of England musn’t enact a scorched earth policy – they’re better than that. A place must, if possible, be secured for those traditionalists loyal to the Church of England. But goodwill is required from both ‘sides’. Staying in the Church of England should not be out of ‘convenience’, but should entail a genuine involvement in and commitment to its life and well-being – no more creating of ‘ghettos’ and sniping from the sidelines, for anyone.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Scratch a liberal and you will find a fascist!”
– Antony –

Not of Padua, obviously. Seriously, though, do we have to descend to such a level?

I would have thought that, given the provocation from Rome, the Church of England is not doing too badly. If it were the other way round, goodness knows what might happen.

MarkBrunson
Guest

“This will be the final test on how inclusive the CofE really is – and I am sure it will fail. Scratch a liberal and you will find a fascist!” See! We *are* brothers-under-the-skin! Seriously . . . You can’t close down conversation for generations, exclude, on increasingly shaky grounds, a whole range of developing thought, call names (heretic, apostate, etc.), *then*, when you’ve finally crossed the line, even for the most tolerant, cry and scream that those opposing you are intolerant. Simply put, whatever is happening to “conservatives” (reactionaries is a better term) in Anglicanism is merely the product,… Read more »

John
Guest
John

I think it is a good, even noble, letter. I support it. I think many, of many different shades of opinion within our beloved Church, will do so too. I do not think it should be regarded as defeatist. There is a fight – one can hardly deny that – and these people are still fighting. The manner of their doing so is greatly to their credit. How different it is from the seemingly endless malignity and sycophancy one finds in some other places. However (but it’s not a strong adversative, because I think many FiF people now think this… Read more »

Adam Armstrong
Guest
Adam Armstrong

Antony must be a regular watcher of Fox News. Calling liberals fascists (Nazis, socialists, whatever) is a favourite pastime there. But seriously, name-calling is always odious. By the way, if you understood the meaning of fascism, liberal attitudes are the last thing you would find. Calling someone a fascist has serious implications and not appropriate to this or any debate among Christians.

Jenny
Guest
Jenny

“Every attempt we have made so far to persuade the Church of England to make the kind of provision that would enable us in good conscience to remain within its fellowship has been thwarted. We feel, nevertheless, duty bound, once again to seek a way out of the impasse that otherwise would make it impossible for many of us to remain faithful members of our Church. We recognise the huge change of heart that would need to happen for us to succeed”. The insurmountable problem here is that the kind of provision requested would continually and permanently undermine the episcopal… Read more »

JCF
Guest
JCF

“Women clergy need to accept that there are those who have doctrinal problems, and be willing to give way (cf St Paul and meat offered to idols)”

Did you read what you just wrote, Fr Michael?

I understand that you’re TRYING to be eirenic, but you’ve just compared someone’s ***calling by God*** (confirmed by the Church) to a suspect shish-kabob! When the scale is so vastly different, I can only call your above analogy a reductio ad absurdum.

Pensamento Positivo
Guest
Pensamento Positivo

100% with you John! At least all of us know that conservatives have a minority block on your Lay House of GS… And perhaps, another in Bishops House… A deal has to be made and liberals have to understand one thing. If this vote fails, you’ll have 2 or 3 generations more without women Bishops and liberals could even loose places and influence in next GS’s because people should think that conservatives are more “open” or less stressed… Or simply better governors of your Church… Humbly, for me this is your last chance!… More, reading these Bishops letter it seems… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest

The creation of “flying” bishops had led to the uniqiely modern heresy that one is entitled as of right to have a bishop that agrees with you. That has got to be one of the daftest things ever to come out of the Church of England, and the sooner it is done away with, the better.

Peter Edwards
Guest
Peter Edwards

Pensamiento Positivo – thank you: you have unlocked my brain, more on SSW&SH than on the new Personal Ordinariate in England & Wales – though both have still to show that they are a real home for travellers. It has to be possible, surely, for those terminally opposed to women in a variety of Orders in the C of E to exist, live, thrive within the context of a designated and ring-fenced Society as long as they are able still to be in nominal but declared communion with whoever is the ABC – until she is a woman, which, let’s… Read more »

MarkBrunson
Guest

“There are no perfect systems… Societies are not a perfect one… But it would be better an unperfect system than nothing!… “

That’s why Jesus and his Apostles chose to make a deal with the government, with the prevailing prejudices, rather than face death. You know, always better to live to fight another day.

“We’re only human!” is a cry that would have us still living in caves and hoping to live to 35.

Robert Ian Williams
Guest
Robert Ian Williams

This double name is so tiresome. Why not just call themselves , the Society of the Vicar of Bray?

Father David
Guest
Father David

“Why not Winifred and Hilde?”
Maybe because Winifred or Gwenfrewi is Welsh and Wales is a seperate province from the two English provinces.
But why “Wilfrid and Hilda”? Both northern saints. Is that why the two southern PEVs (Ebbsfleet and Richborough)have poped and the sole northern PEV (Beverley) has remained loyal to the CofE?

Fr Mark
Guest
Fr Mark

Peter Edwards “…the ABC – until she is a woman, which, let’s face it, is a very long way off.” I wonder if it need be all long a way off. My Lord Carey was a bishop (of Bath & Wells) for only three years before his exceptional talents were recognised by the then incumbent of Downing Street as worthy of being shared with the whole Church and he continued his meteoric rise to the glory of the archiepiscopate. One can barely imagine it, I suppose, but it may prove to be the case that there is somewhere an ordained… Read more »

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“Have you ever heard about the Jesuits, lead by mitred Abbots who ordain their Priests independently of the area Bishops for centuries? Or the worldwide special Diocese for the Opus Dei which is a Personal Ordinariate? Or even Dioceses for the Army in most of the RC countries?” – Pensimento Positivo – Yes, have heard of the Jesuits and Opus Dei, and the Roman Catholic system of Ordinariates, and that is one of the most persuasive reason for many of us Anglicans not wanting to be part of it. We are not Roman Catholic, and what most of us are… Read more »

Laurence Roberts
Guest
Laurence Roberts

‘One can barely imagine it, I suppose, but it may prove to be the case that there is somewhere an ordained woman with nearly as great gifts as His Lordship…’

Posted by: Fr Mark on Wednesday, 26 January 2011 at 8:49am

I’m sorry, Mark, but I just cannot imagine that anyone might come any where near to George Carey.

However, I agree it is quite possible that Rowan’s successor may come from the current body of serving women ministers.

david rowett
Guest

“Wilfrid and Hilda”? Both northern saints

Bede’s HE IV:13 records Wilfrid’s activity around Selsey and among the South Saxons, if that helps?

Perry Butler
Guest
Perry Butler

It is a pity we cannot really gauge how large their constituency is..in many FIF parishes there are people who support womens ordination and, for example, in my fairly catholic parish where a retired woman priest celebrates from time to time there are a few who do not make their communion.Again, if the legislation is passed in its present form some will find it impossible to stay..others esp most laity will simply shrug and carry on..It might be helpful if we knew what will happen if the signatories themselves find it impossible to remain as faithful members of the C… Read more »

Rosalind
Guest
Rosalind

The key point of this letter is the phrase: “the necessary ordinary jurisdiction that would enable them to be the true pastors of their people and to be guarantors of the sacramental assurance on which we all depend for our authentic sharing within the Body of Christ. “ The legislation that has been sent on to diocese already includes provision for parishes to request a male incumbent, and the oversight of a male bishop. The sticking point for the signatories to this letter is that these bishops must be “normal” suffragans – ie not made bishops only in order to… Read more »

Malcolm French+
Guest

“One can barely imagine it, I suppose, but it may prove to be the case that there is somewhere an ordained woman with nearly as great gifts as His Lordship…”

There are footstools, unmatched socks and kitchen utensils with gifts easily as great as his Lordship.

john
Guest
john

Father Ron, The whole point of PP’s comment was that there is de facto pluralism within the RC Church, just as (according to him and me) there may be legitimate pluralism within the C of E. Therefore, invocation of ‘the central Roman magisterium’ completely misses the point. PB, The things you say are true – realities are messy. My ‘weak’, ‘live-and-let live’ position (by which I myself receive much charity from ‘conservatives’) notes that these people really, really don’t want to ‘pope’, and we should help them. Very few of them are actually bigots. Some of them are not very… Read more »

Pensamento Positivo
Guest
Pensamento Positivo

Perharps I have been misunderstood in some comments. My intention was not to compare different views on leadership between RC and Anglican Churches. It was the opposite: To demonstrate that it seems that there are things that for the Catholics are not polemic!… Special Dioceses or Mitred Abbeys? No problem!… So it would be a help for the Anglicans. My appologies if not!… More: RCC is a communion of 23 sub juris Churches, named Rites, all of them independent. For example, only in the Latin Rite celibacy is mandatory. 95% of the atherents? Of course, but the other 5% have… Read more »

Anglican voice
Guest
Anglican voice

Rosalind, we have lived with this situation precisely because General Synod and Parliament made promises in the form of legislation and statements at the time which were designed to give a permanent place to those who, in conscience, could not accept the Ordination of Women. No one said it was “terminal care” and indeed statements to Parliament and to the Ecclesiastical Committee said that these were permanent provisions. 20 years on, the General Synod has voted to remove the provisions and they have the audacity to ask us to believe that a “Code of Practice” (which cannot be approved before… Read more »

Father David
Guest
Father David

I’m surprised that Wilfrid found time to visit Selsey as more often than not he was flitting off to Rome.

mark wharton
Guest
mark wharton

Rev’d Ron Smith:

I know that I shall regret asking this and I also know what sort of answers I am going to get- but could you please tell me what you find so terrible in the Catholic Church.

MarkBrunson
Guest

Mr. Wharton,

You’ve aked Ron Smith something, but I would ask you – why would you ask questions if you believe you already know the answers and the form they would take?

Locus Iste
Guest
Locus Iste

An Anglo Catholic “priest” friend of mine insists that no matter how long an Anglican Bishop lays his hands on a female ordinand, it doesn’t take. Then some people think that all Anglo Catholics are just protestants in fancy dress.
Thank goodness those “priests” joining the Ordinariate are being re-done.
Lady Bracknell springs to mind…mmm:

“Never speak disrespectfully of Society, Algernon. Only people who can’t get into it do that.”

Bill Dilworth
Guest
Bill Dilworth

“”Have you ever heard about the Jesuits, lead by mitred Abbots who ordain their Priests independently of the area Bishops for centuries? “

Source, please.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

SW&SH does sound rather fetching for a male-only religious institution. One can just imagine the processions of new vestments with St. Peter’s Keys crossed with the 39 Antique Art Objects – even though St. Hilda was far more important in the cause of the Church Catholic in her day than the merely-male St. Wilfrid.

BUT! Where will these magnificent processions take place? I know of a few respectable Masonic Lodges around the place. They may be available.

Rose
Guest
Rose

Where is Forward in Faith in all of this? There seems to have been no public statement since Christmas. Since then, its former chairman has been ordained as a catholic priest, as have other former bishops. We hear more council members are making the same journey. SWISH has sent out its letter. But not a word from FiF. Has it reached the end of its shelf life? Members now attached to SWISH or the Ordinariate?

Rose
Guest
Rose

“Some have already decided that they can no longer remain within the Church of England. We genuinely wish them Godspeed as, heeding the call of conscience, they embark on a new episode in their Christian discipleship.”
Is the +Edmonton who signed this the same prelate who, at a clergy meeting earlier this week, openly condemned those joining the Ordinariate?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

“A CODE OF PRACTICE WILL NOT DO! Partly because it is unknown and does not meet the theological objections but also because we do not believe General Synod will keep their word and we therefore need a legal framework in which to continue to operate.” – Anglican Voice – The same old argument from the F.i.F. style Anglo-Catholics, who obviously have not yet come to terms with the fact that women have been emancipated – in the world, if not yet happily or universally by the Church. To remain an Anglican is to believe that our ongoing mission and ministry… Read more »