Thinking Anglicans

The Society announces a process for priests to register

The Society under the patronage of St Wilfred and St Hilda has announced a process whereby priests in sympathy with the society can register. This is explained by Colin Podmore in this article, which also appears in the Advent newsletter. The following is taken from the website of the Bishop of Beverley:

Priests of The Society
Colin Podmore encourages priests to sign up and make the Society Declaration.

Catholics believe that both women and men are called to different ministries in the Church. But for theological reasons, we are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women as priests (presiding at the Eucharist) or bishops (ordaining priests to preside at the Eucharist).

So when the Church of England has women bishops, how can we know that a priest has been ordained by a bishop whose sacramental ministry of ordination we do recognise? How can we be confident that when he celebrates the Eucharist, we really do receive the sacrament of Our Lord’s Body and Blood?

The need to offer an easy answer to that question of ‘sacramental assurance’ is one of the reasons why our bishops have formed The Society. As it says on the Society website, the Society provides ‘ministry, sacraments and oversight which we can receive with confidence’.

Priests are now invited to make a Declaration which says that they:

  • believe and teach the catholic faith
  • are currently entitled to minister as a priest in the Church of England*
  • have been ordained by a male bishop in the apostolic succession of bishops at whose ordination male bishops presided
  • will themselves not receive or join in the sacramental ministry of women priests and bishops or those whom they have ordained
  • will place themselves personally under the oversight of a Bishop of The Society (although they will remain under the legal jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop).

When the relevant Bishop of the Society receives a Declaration from a priest, he will welcome him as a Priest of The Society. The Welcome Letter will serve as proof that the priest is someone whose sacramental ministry we can receive with confidence.

Of course, there will still be validly ordained priests who are not Priests of The Society. Clergy (and, during vacancies, churchwardens) will need to ask some delicate questions about their orders before inviting them to say mass. With Priests of The Society, that research will not be necessary.

Catholic parishes naturally want as their priest someone who is in full communion not only with his bishop, but with all the priests whom that bishop has ordained, and who will support the resolutions passed by the PCC. When advertising for, or interviewing, potential new parish priests, asking them whether they are Priests of The Society will be an easy way of finding out where they stand.

Being a Priest of The Society costs nothing, although the bishops hope that priests and people of The Society will join Forward in Faith, because it is the membership organization which administers The Society on their behalf, and helps to pay for it. Being a priest of The Society involves only the basic obligations of relating to one of our bishops, and looking to him for sacramental ministry we can no longer find elsewhere.

So if a priest has not made the Declaration and become a Priest of The Society, why not?

There is further information on this page, which is copied below the fold.

Priests of The Society

One of the most important purposes of The Society is to guarantee a ministry in the historic apostolic succession in which our people can have confidence – in other words, to offer ‘sacramental assurance’. Registering priests as Priests of The Society is the mechanism for doing this.

Priests are not being registered as ‘members of The Society’ (The Society is not a membership organization), but as priests whose ministry can be commended because they are male priests ordained by a bishop in the male historic succession. Registration is about sacramental assurance – not membership.

The ministry of priests who are not entitled to minister in the Church of England (because they hold no office and have no licence or permission to officiate) cannot be commended to or received by our parishes, so they cannot be registered as Priests of The Society. If a Priest of The Society ceases to be entitled to minister in the Church of England, the Declaration that he has signed obliges him to inform the relevant member of the Council of Bishops of The Society immediately.

In order to become a Priest of The Society, a priest makes a Declaration and sends it to the relevant member of the Council of Bishops. In response, the bishop sends him a Welcome Letter. In the letter, the bishop tells the priest to retain the letter and show it to anyone who wants confirmation of his status as a Priest of The Society. (This might be an incumbent or priest in charge who needs priestly assistance, a churchwarden during a vacancy, or someone involved in making a parochial appointment.)

The Declaration contains no rule of life and nothing about priestly fellowship or mission. The Society is not a priestly society, and it does not fulfil the functions of societies like the Society of the Holy Cross or the Company of Mission Priests. Registration as a Priest of The Society is not about membership, fellowship, holiness or mission. It is simply a way of identifying priests who can minister in parishes that are affiliated to The Society without the need for research about the nature of the priest’s Orders.

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Martin Reynolds
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Martin Reynolds

One wonders if the more recognised SSC will endorse this?

They surely have the prior claim and have supported the catholic and more recently anti-women constituency since the mid 19th century. This new Society seems unnecessary as all they claim for themselves in terms of easy recognition is already so for SSC, and the core spirituality of SSC is so much more to be encouraged. The other lot seem just about giving some status to a few men.

Turbulent priest
Guest
Turbulent priest

Suppose I were ordained by a bishop who doesn’t fulfil the requirements of the Society and then I changed my view. I would have to be re-ordained by a “Society” bishop. But it surely is not within the rules for one Anglican bishop to ordain someone already legally ordained by another? Has this been thought about?

Tim Chesterton
Guest

Oy vey!

As an evangelical Anglican, I find it hard to recognize ANY aspect of my theology of ordination in this statement – even without the things it has to say about the ordination of women.

rjb
Guest
rjb

“How can we be confident that when he celebrates the Eucharist, we really do receive the sacrament of Our Lord’s Body and Blood?”

This seems overly-scrupulous to me. Surely Augustine established that the validity of the sacraments is not dependent upon the piety, or even the orthodoxy, of the priest who administers them? Surely this was the whole point of the Donatist controversy?

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Martin: there are priests who are members of the SSC who would not qualify under the Society’s rules.

Judith Maltby
Guest
Judith Maltby

‘Will place themselves personally under the oversight of a Bishop of The Society (although they will remain under the legal jurisdiction of their diocesan bishop)’. I think I know what ‘legal jurisdiction’ means but what does ‘personally under the oversight of a Bishop’ mean? What would examples of that be? And can any priest in the Church of England decide to place him/herself personally under the oversight of a bishop other than their diocesan bishop?

Martin Reynolds
Guest
Martin Reynolds

Oh, I didn’t realise that.
I am grateful to you Simon.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

rjb,
much as I detest the theology, it is not Donatism. The sacraments may not depend on the piety or orthodoxy of a priest but they do depend on the priest being ordained. And if you believe that women cannot be ordained, then this appalling theology makes sense.

Cassandra
Guest
Cassandra

This seems to be yet another symptom of a rapidly Balkanising church. Who will be left when these folks go off into their encapsulated space and the extreme Evangelicals do likewise? Perhaps, DV, people more attentive to the Gospel and the needs of this broken world than their own fixation with ritual purity!

Richard Ashby
Guest
Richard Ashby

What about those priests and bishops, ordained and consecrated by men who also ordain and consecrate women? Are they also tainted?

Father Ron Smith
Guest

What sort of parallel universe does this priestly society inhabit? Surely the Church of England can do better than this! ‘Sacramental Assurance’ seems to have discounted the Wind of The Spirit in its need of gender-based ministry. One wonders how the B.V.M. would have managed to bring forth the Saviour under such conditions.

JCF
Guest
JCF

“And if you believe that women cannot be ordained”

Erika, I believe that kind of gender essentialism is, itself, heterodoxy (though not sacramentally-invalidating, obviously!).

God calls ***persons*** (Imago Dei, male&female) to ordination, in the same way God calls ***two persons*** to marriage. Imposing divisive terms like “gay marriage” or “ordained women”, designed to segregate (and subjugate), is nothing less than blasphemy against God’s Imago Dei.

St Wilfred and St Hilda must be rolling in their sainted graves over this atrocious misrepresentation of their names by this outfit. Kyrie eleison!

Savi Hensman
Guest
Savi Hensman

I did not know it was traditional or catholic for priests personally to choose the bishops under whose oversight they work. Perhaps those who drew up this declaration could give examples of precedents.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

Richard Ashby,
if I understand correctly the sacramental assurance of male bishops who ordain women is not in doubt, so theoretically, conservative Anglo-Catholics can accept them.
Conservative Evangelicals won’t…..

Peter Mullins
Guest
Peter Mullins

There are two things mixed up here. One is a register of those priests who wish to have an easy unambiguous way of demonstrating to any to whom this matters that his ordination was by a male Bishop who was ordained and consecrated by male Bishops. Most TA readers’ jaws drop at this idea but nevertheless it is an approach which the C of E has holds legitimate. The other is declaring himself catholic, undertaking never to receive Communion from a woman priest and putting himself under the oversight of a particular Bishop who shares his own views. It isn’t… Read more »

Katherine
Guest
Katherine

Perhaps this has a use: avoiding such priests would be a crucial part of my continuing in the C of E.

Mark
Guest
Mark

To answer Judith’s question, I think it means primarily to attend the Chrism Mass of one of the Society’s bishops (rather than the diocesan)and to present all candidates for confirmation to a Bishop of the Society. If other bishops are invited to preach, we recently had the suffragan Bishop of St Germans to preach, they do not preside at the Holy Eucharist … so we regard + Jonathan, the Bishop of Ebbsfleet, as our bishop for sacramental purposes, but remain under the legal jurisdiction of the Bishop of Truro.

Simon Kershaw
Admin

The implication of Peter Mullins comment would seem to be that this is partly about remaining untainted by anyone who thinks that women can be priests. That does seem to go beyond the CofE’s own line on this.

Laurie
Guest
Laurie

The younger members of that society might well give their eye-teeth for ‘my’ Ordination to priesthood, as it was long before OW and, included an Old Catholic line ! (It used to make me delirious back in the day !).

He and the other bishops are now, of course, ‘safely’ dead.

yours slightly smugly

(not really that smug)

paul richardson
Guest
paul richardson

Again the twisted and unfounded “logic” of taint. This was supposed to have been done away with by the recent synod legislation. The bishops of the society need to be put to task by their colleagues on the House of Bishops bench.
All that is required under our new dispensation to allow this sector of the church to flourish are male priests and bishops ordained by male bishops. Full stop.

Benedict
Guest
Benedict

Looking at these comments, the expression angels dancing on the head of a pin comes to mind.The Society is offering no more than has been permitted by the recent legislation and accompanying Bishop’s Declaration. All the debate in the world is not going to change that. The Society provides what is needed for traditionalist clergy and laity to remain loyal members of the Church of England, so we shall happily look to its Bishops for pastoral and sacramental oversight.

Malcolm Dixon
Guest
Malcolm Dixon

‘Catholic parishes naturally want as their priest someone who is in full communion not only with his bishop…’. O the irony! In my experience, what traditionalist catholic parishes want is precisely the opposite – someone who is NOT in full communion with his bishop, i.e. his Ordinary, the diocesan, but rather wishes to avail himself of the sacramental ministrations of a different bishop. Let’s be clear – what was generously granted is not, and was never, ‘alternative episcopal oversight’ but is rather ‘extended episcopal care’, graciously provided by permission of the diocesan. I had thought that the new management of… Read more »

Dominic
Guest
Dominic

Presumably the Society anticipates that, in the coming years, their Priests’ Declaration will be amended to read “… ordained by a male bishop at whose ordination male bishops presided at whose ordinations male bishops presided… &c”?

CharlieS
Guest
CharlieS

“if I understand correctly the sacramental assurance of male bishops who ordain women is not in doubt, so theoretically, conservative Anglo-Catholics can accept them.
Conservative Evangelicals won’t…..”

Erika – why wouldn’t conservative evangelicals accept both sacraments and oversight from a male bishop who ordains women? They have done for decades; sacramental assurance, or validity of ordination aren’t the issues for them.

Judith Maltby
Guest
Judith Maltby

In reply to Mark: I thought that was probably what it meant but wouldn’t a parish have to pass Resolution C to do things like present confirmation candidates to the PEV, etc? Is this Resolution C in essence but the decision is down to the parish priest and not the PCC?

Mark Bennet
Guest
Mark Bennet

To answer the question at the end, just so that the Society knows that there is an answer to “why not?” – I want to share in and receive the sacramental ministry of women, including my colleagues in the team here.

John Bunyan
Guest
John Bunyan

I wonder what the layman Jesus would think of all this – including the (to me, sad and silly) idea that only those in the C.of E. who are ordained in the way that this Society prescribes truly deliver the Sacrament of “Christ’s body and blood” ! (Long ago, Dean Stanley helpfully explored what that phrase might mean.) My Roman Catholic hospital chaplaincy colleague and Roman Catholic staff and Orthodox patients are among those happy to receive Communion from me. I myself receive Communion regularly in the Uniting Church that I attend (in the absence of any moderate C.of E.church… Read more »

Jeremy
Guest
Jeremy

Well, Church of England, you now know the devil you bargained with at General Synod.

As I recall I was one of very few voices on this board saying this was a bad bargain and should be rejected.

I take little pleasure in saying this, but I told you so.

Father Ron Smith
Guest

” The Society provides what is needed for traditionalist clergy and laity to remain loyal members of the Church of England, so we shall happily look to its Bishops for pastoral and sacramental oversight.”

Posted by: Benedict on Wednesday, 17 December

Surely this is only a divided – not a total – loyalty, in a situation where the Church has decreed that woman shall be bishops in the Church.

Where only certain bishops are considered to be real ‘bishops’, there seems to be a two-tier division of loyalty. Schizophrenic, really.

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

CharlieS,
“why wouldn’t conservative evangelicals accept both sacraments and oversight from a male bishop who ordains women?”

I spent quite some time trying to get to the bottom of that here on TA over the years and conservative evangelicals have consistently told me that they need a bishop who does not promote “false teachings”. So if he ordains women, he is not acceptable to them.

Don’t ask me what I think of that! But it seems to be one of the things the CoE has now officially signed up to.
Otherwise we would not need “headship” bishops.

John
Guest
John

Can’t say the tone of the Society’s appeal makes my heart soar. But it’s part of the deal. I welcome what seems the relaxed ease of Benedict’s tone these days. I think he and many other FinF people have now ‘got it’ and are doing their best to be part of the church. I welcome also the more generous expressions towards ‘traditionalists’ expressed these days by other liberals besides myself. I also greatly welcome the testimony of John Bunyan, though I fear attendance at his communions would drop off if he were a woman.

Matt
Guest
Matt

Not a big fan of the tone of this either. That said, A brief comment Paul Richardson’s point that “All that is required under our new dispensation to allow this sector of the church to flourish are male priests and bishops ordained by male bishops. Full stop.”: Had Resolution A (suitably adapted) survived the new legislation, I would be inclined to agree with this. But it has not. Were I a member of FiF in an Anglo-Catholic parish, simply knowing that my Vicar was a male priest ordained by a male bishop in the historic succession would not assist if… Read more »

Simon Kershaw
Admin

Re SSC … are there any members of the SSC who regard their diocesan bishop (and not any flying bishop or other bishop) as their spiritual and legal Father in God and where that diocesan bishop has and does ordain women to his college of presbyters? Are there any members of the SSC who are happy to have women clergy preside at the eucharist and to receive the sacrament from them? The answer to those questions is without doubt ‘yes’. Maybe not very many; but it only requires one such priest for it to be the case. I know of… Read more »

Dexter Bracey
Guest
Dexter Bracey

In reply to Judith Maltby, Resolution C is now to be replaced by the option for a parish to submit a letter of request to the diocesan bishop asking to receive ministry from a bishop and priests who share the theological convictions of the parish. That is part of the ‘deal’ that was agreed in the legislation that allowed women to be consecrated as bishops. That decision is one for the PCC, and, unlike Resolution C, is not subject to a veto by the incumbent. The Society, by creating a register of bishops and priests who hold to traditional Catholic… Read more »

Cynthia
Guest
Cynthia

OMG. Is this really what CoE signed up for? Or are they undertaking a “shadow church” on their own?

The aggressiveness of this effort is breathtaking. The whole “taint” bit is a heresy, by the way.

I suspect that signing on to this will be professional suicide for priests middle aged and younger. Of course, the justice question is that a lot of women clergy will have to deal with publicly avowed misogynists and the example to girls is dreadful.

People in the pews are supporting this with their charitable gifts? Really?

CharlieS
Guest
CharlieS

“conservative evangelicals have consistently told me that they need a bishop who does not promote “false teachings”. So if he ordains women, he is not acceptable to them. Don’t ask me what I think of that! But it seems to be one of the things the CoE has now officially signed up to. Otherwise we would not need “headship” bishops.” Hi Erika, Thank for taking the time to get to the bottom of the views of others. I can’t speak for anyone else obviously, but I wonder if you’re still conflating two issues. 1. most Christians (including here -see threads… Read more »

Tristan
Guest
Tristan

Cynthia, et al.

Traditionalists (of which, admittedly, I am not one) have never believed in taint.

http://trushare.com/16SEP96/SE96PARK.htm

http://trushare.com/44JAN99/ja99comm.htm

It does nothing for the liberal cause to accuse them of things which they do not believe (and vice versa.)

Tristan

Erika Baker
Guest
Erika Baker

CharlieS, I can only say what others have told me. You see, if you look at it at face value, conservative Anglo-Catholics only need a male bishop who has been ordained and consecrated by someone in an unbroken male line. Conservative evangelicals only need any male bishop because they’re not worried about sacramental assurance but only about women not teaching men. So in theory, one Anglo-Catholic traditionalist could serve both. But the new arrangements have introduced the concept of needing someone who shares your theological conviction, and so evangelicals can now demand a right teaching headship bishop and, if Fr.… Read more »

Ian Hendry
Guest
Ian Hendry

I worship in a church whose services are presided over by a female.
Being of High Anglican persuasion and refusing to accept the sacraments from this lady how should I handle being asked to stand as Churchwarden? I receive the sacraments from visiting male priests and from other churches having a male priest.
Please help.We have our APCM on Monday next week.I have many friends at our Church.

Anne
Guest
Anne

You don’t say in your post whether you want to be churchwarden, and if so what draws you to that. Nor do you say what your relationship with the woman priest (is she the vicar?) is like. I think these would be important questions for you to consider. Who is asking you to stand, and why? How does the vicar feel about it? You don’t need her approval, but if you are going to work together for the good of the whole church, then you need to be able to get along, otherwise this will just be an exercise in… Read more »