Thinking Anglicans

First report from Independent Reviewer: Chrism Masses

The first report of the Independent Reviewer in relation to resolving disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration is now available and can be read here.

First report from Independent Reviewer
31 July 2015

As part of the settlement by which the Church of England agreed to the ordination of women as bishops in 2014, it agreed to an ombudsman-style procedure by which those with concerns about the operation of the new arrangements could appeal to an Independent Reviewer.

In October last year the Archbishops of Canterbury and York appointed Sir Philip Mawer as the Independent Reviewer in relation to resolving disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishops’ Declaration.

Sir Philip’s first Report is published today and can be read here.


Further details on the work of the Independent Reviewer can be found here.


  • Bishop Tony has issued a response to this report which you can see here

  • robert ian williams says:

    There was no Chrism mass in the Church of England after the Elizabethan settlement of 1559. Oil was not used until a few maverick Anglo catholics illegally reintroduced it in the nineteenth century. Diocesan Chrism Masses only developed after the second world war. To this day in the C of E there is no official priestly rite to use the oil for the anointing of the sick.

    I wish some die hard Anglo catholic would point to the independent reviewer that these so called purist bishops have ordained women deacons and they broke with tradition. Is there provision for some one who wants a bishop who accepts the polity of the C Of E before 1985, when deacons were voted for?

  • JCF says:

    Anti-OOW bishops: “Any pain the masses cause to clergy women and others is “a cause of concern” but the underlying pain results from “the decision to ordain women as bishops and priests while recognising that their ministry cannot be received by all in our church””

    In short, “Don’t blame us, you did it to yourselves!” Nice (not). Kyrie eleison!

  • Father David says:

    Robert, I presume that all post Reformation monarchs were anointed with holy oil at their coronations in Westminster Abbey, certainly the Second Elizabeth was so anointed by Archbishop Fisher in June 1953. So when was the holy oil used at coronations consecrated and by whom? So, it would seem, that the practice of using oil in the Anglican Liturgy wasn’t completely abandoned after the great upheaval.

  • robert ian williams says:

    Maybe as a one off at a coronation but not as a sacrament for the sick or dying.

  • Neil Patterson says:

    David, the Coronation does indeed represent the continuous Anglican use of oil, and has often been acclaimed as such. But as far as I am aware the only sanctifying of the oil on most occasions was by a prayer in the service itself shortly before the oil was used, and which like almost all such prayers in Anglican liturgy, prayed for the effects (on the monarch) rather than for the oil to become blessed.

  • Fr William says:

    Playground gangs come to mind. The C of E of the future,

  • Anonymous says:

    From the website of the British Monarchy, at the page concerning the Crown Jewels, “The oldest piece of the Regalia is the 12th century gold Anointing Spoon, used to anoint the Sovereign with holy oil.”

  • The use of oil in anointing the sick can be found in Common Worship ‘Pastoral Services’:

  • peter kettle says:

    At the coronations in 1937 and 1953 the following words are used in this prayer said by the Archbishop of Canterbury in the section ‘The Anointing’:

    ….Bless and sanctify thy chosen servant [N] who by our office and ministry is now to be anointed with this Oil [here the Archbishop is to lay his hand upon the Ampulla] and consecrated King / Queen…

    Note the capital letter on Oil – does this imply the oil has already been consecrated? The rest of the wording does not explicitly do anything to the contents of the Ampulla, though the term ‘holy Oil’ is used later on this section during the actual anointing.

    One for the liturgical experts, I think, or any historian who knows where the oil came from and what happened to the remains afterwards!

  • Father David says:

    If the C of E wishes to learn a thing or two about the blessing of holy oil then we need look no further than the Armenian Church. A great cauldron of oil is blessed with the right arm of St. Gregory the Illuminator by the Catholicos of All Armenians in his cathedral church at Etchmiadzin. However, I think such a ceremony might just be a step too far for some of our more Evangelical brothers and sisters.

  • I’m away from all my books and references right now, but my recollection is that the prayer associated with the Oil at the Corronation, has been variously modified over the years. Originally a prayer that specifically blessed the oil it eventually became a prayer to bless the person who was to be anointed. Maybe it was Compton (Bishop of London) at the Coronation of William III and Mary II who made that change — he certainly made a number of changes to the service.

  • Father David says:

    Whenever we see clips of Elizabeth II coronation, the scene that is most often seen is the moment when Geoffrey Fisher placed the crown upon the monarch’s head. Of course, the most sacred moment ( as in the Old Testament when Zadok the priest and Nathan the prophet anointed Solomon king ) was the anointing. There was much debate at the time as to whether or not the coronation should be televised. A positive decision was made and the sale of televisions rocketed. However, I believe that the anointing was considered to be too sacred a moment to be shewn to the British public and so our present monarch received the holy oil on her head, her hands and her breast unseen by those watching at home.

  • Peter Mullins says:

    This isn’t anything to do with oil. It is about WATCH and The Society taking radically different views about what ‘mutual flourishing’ means in terms of the specific situations in which priests ‘gather around their Bishop’. The former appear to see hints of taint and disregard for the authority of the diocesan Bishop. The latter appear to see sacramental assurance and regard for the role of the Bishops of The Society. For what it is worth, the Independent Reviewer appears to be saying that WATCH hasn’t chosen strong enough ground (“Chrism masses are by no means the only occasion when the canonical unity of the clergy
    of a diocese with their bishop can be demonstrated”).

  • Unction of the sick was in 1549, dropped in 52; provided for provisionally in 1935. In TEC, we’ve had unction of the sick since at least 1928. We use Chrism at Baptism since 1979, and some bishops used it in Confirmation prior to that time. Do the English now use Chrism at Baptism?

  • Father David says:

    Tobias, tomorrow I shall have great joy in baptising Abi and prior to the waters being poured I shall anoint her with the sign of the cross using holy oil, blessed by the bishop at the Chrism Mass.

  • Malcolm Dixon says:

    This is all rather disappointing, if not entirely surprising. Peter Mullins has it right – this is not about oils, but rather a dispute between WATCH and SSWSH. I had always assumed that the Adjudicator had been put there to defend the oppressed minority against the predations of the rapacious majority, so it is a surprise that the first referral has come from the majority side. Sir Philip seems to be of the same opinion, for he has taken care to come down on the side of the minority.
    But it is a pity that he has accepted so many of the statements from SSWSH at face value. Let’s be clear – it is not, and never was, ‘alternative episcopal oversight’. What the Act of Synod provided for was ‘extended episcopal care’, which is a very different thing, leaving oversight and authority firmly in the hands of the Diocesan. The statement claiming that many of the separate Chrism masses under the auspices of FiF/SSWSH have been attended by the relevant Diocesan(s) is at best grossly misleading and dangerously close to dissembling. There may have been a very few occasions when this has happened, but at the vast majority of such occasions, the Diocesan was not present and would not have been welcomed if he had turned up. These occasions have become little more than dissenting jamborees, at which dissenters from several dioceses can come together and thumb their noses at their several Diocesans, whilst showing their allegiance to another bishop who has no authority over them whatsoever.
    But, in truth, this is yesterday’s issue. Separate Chrism masses were the worst thing to come out of the Act of Synod twenty years ago, and they should have been nipped in the bud at the time. The fact that they have been allowed to continue for 20 years has been quoted by Sir Philip as one reason why he is now minded to allow them to continue.
    The equivalent issue in our present time of women’s ordination to the episcopate is separate consecrations, and that battle was shamefully lost ‘without a shot being fired’ when the ABY exercised his powers to declare that Philip North would be consecrated separately (and not by the ABY). Perhaps someone brave should refer this to the Adjudicator, in the hope of preventing any repetition of this shameful and divisive practice?

  • Anne says:

    Malcolm Dixon: “The statement claiming that many of the separate Chrism masses under the auspices of FiF/SSWSH have been attended by the relevant Diocesan(s) is at best grossly misleading and dangerously close to dissembling. There may have been a very few occasions when this has happened, but at the vast majority of such occasions, the Diocesan was not present and would not have been welcomed if he had turned up.”

    It would be very helpful if the Bishop of Wakefield could substantiate his statement. If his statement is shown to be less than accurate, it should be brought out into the open.

  • ExRevd says:

    This isn’t terribly edifying. Both sides have more in common as pressure groups than they probably care to admit. Both seem to be adopting a “my way or the highway” position that is the hallmark of fundamentalists everywhere, religious or otherwise. And to pick as the battleground the one service in the liturgical year that is most clergy focused, and probably furthest removed from the experience of churchgoers, let alone the wider public, makes this look a tempest in a teapot, not only unedifying but laughable.

  • Anthony Archer says:

    Masterly judgement by the Independent Reviewer. I would expect nothing less. He does however seem to have let his guard drop at one crucial point in saying:

    “I do not imply any criticism of those who organise and preside at [these Chrism Masses], or of what has gone before, when I say that it will be essential that they continue to be advertised and conducted wholly within the spirit of the House of Bishops’ Declaration, not that is as narrow gatherings of one embattled section within the Church but as outward-looking celebrations of what those present have to bring to the wider Church of England as well as to the Church catholic of which the Church of England is part.”

    Reading between the lines, there is a sense that the former analysis (narrow gatherings of one embattled section within the Church) seems to trump the latter (outward-looking celebrations of what those present have to bring to the wider Church of England).

    The Church will just have to live with this for some time more. It is unedifying, but was not unexpected. What surprised me was the direct involvement by diocesans (other then +Chichester). +Durham preached at one, and ++Ebor was present at one or two. What kind of signal was that supposed to give?

  • Father David says:

    We must not forget that another aspect of the Chrism Masses is that they offer the opportunity to renew Episcopal, Priestly and Deaconal vows.

  • Cynthia says:

    I can’t imagine why women would be excluded from a Chrism Mass, short of the heresy of “taint”. Of course, CoE seems to have embraced that heresy.

    I think that every diocese in TEC does these Masses during Holy Week, and of course, none exclude women. This has been going on my entire adult life. CoE has come to tolerate exclusion as an entitlement, rather than evidence of the brokenness of humanity.

    I suppose it’s of little account in very “low church” settings…

  • robert ian williams says:

    Read carefully, Christina and you will see that the anointing is for any authorised minister, lay person or deacon.

  • Matt says:

    Anne/Malcolm – see the annexures to the report. The Bishop of Wakefield provided a full table of this year’s Chrism Masses and the various responses of the Diocesan Bishops. The allegation that the information provided might be misleading is utterly groundless.

  • James Byron says:

    If the reviewer had ruled against the separate masses, what good would it have done? Trad Anglo-Catholics would’ve been PO’d at WATCH, and out for some tit-for-tat retribution down the line. It would’ve done nothing whatsoever to bring together two groups who, as the reviewer says, hold irreconcilable theologies.

    So long as the Church of England continues down this path, a path I disagree with, it’s probably best that both groups keep as far away from each other as reasonably possible. “Mutual flourishing” is most likely when they’re out each other’s hair.

  • Julia Redfern says:

    Picking up on Anthony Archer’s post, a signal of generosity perhaps? Loved ++ Justin’s happy tweet quoted in + Tony’s 7 July letter (Appendix C), ‘Now off to Chrism mass for traditional Catholics in this area, grateful for their ministry, privilege to be there, #5principles’. (To be fair to the organisers of the Fulham Chrism Mass, the 2015 invitation was carefully worded, ‘The Mass will be offered in the presence of the Bishop of London, and Bishop Robert Ladds and Bishop Peter Wheatley will be present and will concelebrate’)*. Returning to the judgement, masterful indeed but a shame that the document wasn’t constructed with an Opening Summary, made up of paragraph 42 plus the middle section of paragraph 40 which AA highlights. Such a Summary could have appeared on the CoE Media Centre’s posting above the link. The judgement (and the concern raised) is after all rather more nuanced than suggested by the Forward in Faith comment on its website, ‘The Independent Reviewer, Sir Philip Mawer, has published his first report, in response to a complaint by WATCH (Women and the Church) against the bishops of The Society for celebrating Chrism Masses. The complaint was not upheld’. I would have preferred there to have been a full stop after ‘… within itself’ in the final sentence of paragraph 39, avoiding the words ‘whilst this development is tested and received within the Church’.
    * perhaps another example of the masterful balancing acts of the Bishop of London. I wonder whether the Bishop wondered why the London clergy renewing their vows to +Jonathan at St Augustine’s Kilburn wouldn’t be renewing them to him a few days later at St Paul’s Cathedral? Relying on the explanation in +Tony’s 7 July letter, ‘If a priest cannot receive communion from someone whom a bishop ordains to the priesthood, his communion with that bishop – though by no means broken – is less the ‘full’, surely all London clergy are in full communion with the current Bishop of London? If they think they are not, then surely +Richard might just as well ordain women priests and have joined in fully at Canterbury on 22 July? I am open to people laughing at me for asking the question but what is the answer?

  • Christina Beardsley says:

    Well, Robert Ian Williams, we have – probably rightly – been accused above of straying from the main topic here by discussing the oils. As a point of accuracy I was simply pointing out that the Church of England does have an authorised form of priestly anointing of the sick, in Patoral Services (Communion Worship) and in my edition (2000) it repeatedly refers to Canon B37 ‘Of the ministry to the sick’, Section 3 of which reads:
    ‘If any such person so desires, the priest may lay hands upon him (sic)and may anoint him (sic)with oil on the forehead with the sign of the Cross using a form of service authorized by Canon B1 and using pure olive oil consecrated by the bishop of the diocese or otherwise by the priest himself (sic) in accordance with such form of service.’
    So sorry that’s full of sic.

  • Peter Bostock says:

    For the record, my parish of S. Aidan Grangetown hosted a Chrism Mass celebrated by The Bishop of Beverley. The Bishop of Durham preached and he was warmly received by me and everyone else both in church and in the hall afterwards. He was applauded. I have photographs to prove his presence. Last year I attended the Chrism Mass celebrated by the Bishop of Beverley in the Diocese of York. The Archbishop preached. I dissemble not.

  • Malcolm Dixon says:

    Profuse apologies for impugning people erroneously in my earlier post. Being away from home and normal computing facilities, I had read the report but not been able to open the attachments. I now accept, in the light of information provided here, that some ordaining Diocesans, and even the Archbishops, have graced some dissenting Chrism masses with their presence.
    But this is totally at variance with my personal experience during 27 years in a Res C parish, ending in 2012 when I left in despair. During that time, I always made sure to attend my diocesan Chrism mass, so that at least someone from my parish was present, so dismayed was I at the damage to diocesan unity caused by the alternative Fulham mass. And I never saw any representative from any of the other Res C parishes in the diocese, nor did I ever hear of any ordaining Diocesan attending the Fulham Chrism mass.
    Perhaps it is a recent development only that some ordaining bishops have attended some dissenting Chrism masses, and is indicative of an attempt to show the 5 principles in action? If so, I thank God for it, but I would still prefer that these alternative Chrism masses did not take place, for all the reasons eloquently given by Hilary Cotton in her referral.

  • Benedict says:

    Let’s just stop for one minute and remember who instigated all this: WATCH! Its members will simply not be satisfied until they have driven out of the Church every traditionalist who happens to disagree with them! It’s their way, or the highway! Some commentators on this thread conveniently forget who wrote the original complaint.

  • robert ian williams says:

    This rite is a recent development and missing from the Church of England liturgy for 400 years.It is even in th canon not described as a sacrament.However I take your point, and please accept my apologies.

  • jeremy says:

    Such are the gymnastics to which the CofE has sentenced itself.

    Oh for a single-clause measure.

    Oh for a better Synod!

  • JCF says:

    “Let’s just stop for one minute and remember who instigated all this: WATCH!”

    So, Benedict, you wanna go a schoolyard round of “You started it! No, you started it!” Where does that get us? [See re Israel/Palestine]

    If we don’t agree on what the “this” is (in your statement above), we can never agree who started “this”. [Each of us will keep working backwards, to a previously-aggrieved “this”]

    The question is, how do we move forward (in faith…and Spirit-led progress!), breaking that cycle of aggrievement? Of exclusion? Of fear?

  • Rob says:

    The more I read about WATCH, the more they come across as liberal fundamentalists, ideologies, and fanatics. Well done Sir Phil for sorting them out! I suspect there will be more of this cantankerous naughtiness in the future though!

  • Malcolm says:

    I agree with Benedict.
    Look I attended a ABC FinF Church yesterday.
    It was 3/4 Full Church good liturgy and preaching.
    3 retired Priests in attendance(would have been four but hes on holiday)
    Happy faithful people
    We like Crismm Masses its part of who we are
    LEAVE US ALONE to praise the Lord in word and sacrament.
    We are only few dont force any more away WATCH!!!!

  • James Byron says:

    “The question is, how do we move forward (in faith…and Spirit-led progress!), breaking that cycle of aggrievement? Of exclusion? Of fear?”

    By not trying to coerce our opponents into unity? Why didn’t WATCH try to *persuade* everyone to join in the same chrism mass?

    I agree that there should’ve been a single-clause measure, but two integrities is the path chosen in England, and if it’s to work, people need to be given space.

  • Charles Read says:

    Just some random thoughts here from the WATCH member who wrote the theological – liturgical note which forms the background to our submission.
    1. Contra Benedict et al we are not in the business of forcing people to leave the CofE . We want a one church approach to mutual flourishing not a two church approach and so it is entirely appropriate to ask whether certain practices militate against being one church and lean u towards being two. We think the development of alternative ‘chrism masses’ does just that.
    2. We need to separate out the renewal of ordination vows from the blessing of oils. As my note makes clear and as the Examiner’s response concurs, the former is pretty recent (from Paul VI) while the latter – well it is hard to say when it originates and it opens up much other theology – e.g. must the oil be episcopally blessed? When might it be blessed?
    3. Mutual flourishing does not mean everyone can have everything they want. We failed to define mutual flourishing in the GS debates etc. and this is why we are now seeing developments like the ordination and consecration arrangements that seem poorly thought out.

  • Paul Bryce says:

    Storm in teacup, I and many evangelicals have never attended such a service and it has never been an issue. To make this service the focus of unity in a diocese is a mistake by WATCH and the jamboree for SWSH grows smaller each year from what I hear, accept it and let history decide.

  • There can be many integrities, but just one commandment to love.

    We are *ALL* in communion with each other, whether we like it or not, because our communion comes from being ‘in Christ’ and by no other means.

    I believe in respecting people’s space to their own conscience and belief.

    The same applies to people and churches who as a point of conscience believe we should affirm and celebrate gay and lesbian relationships and marriage. That too is a matter of “integrities” and should be respected as strongly as those whose conscience cannot accept female bishops.

    You believe the Eucharist is simply bread and wine to commemorate. I believe in transubstantiation.

    None of these matters of conscience should stop us simply getting on with *LOVE* and following Jesus Christ.

  • Benedict says:

    Charles Read or any of his fellow members of WATCH can attend any of the chrism masses provided by SSWSH. There is no expectation or coercion. Please allow us traditionalists the same space and not seek to force people who don’t agree with you into a corner. That is exactly what your submission to Sir Philip Mawer smacks of, although clothed in the language of mutual flourishing.

  • Paul Bryce says:

    Yes Susannah it is respect, but as I cannot agree with what someone who believes in transubstantion does I would not attend a eucharistic service as the words and understanding are wrong. So whilst identity in Christ is central, making what appears by all attempts a confusion of various reformation and explicitly Roman Catholic elements in a service the focus of unity as WATCH have done is wrong.

  • ‘Storm in teacup, I and many evangelicals have never attended such a service and it has never been an issue. To make this service the focus of unity in a diocese is a mistake’

    Thank you, Paul Bryce! This is my view too.

  • It is obvious that neither Tim nor Robert I Williams have ever been present at a ‘Chrism Mass’ in their various settings of the Anglican Communion. RIW’s experience (before his swim across the Tiber) was of an Evangelical community in the NZ Diocese of Nelson. New Zealand. Certainly there would have been no such ‘popish’ celebration in that place.

    However, I would have thought that Tim, in Canada, might have experienced a Chrism Mass – at the hands of Bishop Victoria Matthews – a good Anglo-Catholic and now my diocesan bishop here in ACANZP. However, he may have absented himself for reasons of private conscience.

    I really don’t know what all the fuss is about. The Sacrament of Anointing is certainly a feature of pastoral provision in Aotearoa/NZ.

  • Father David says:

    I cannot for the life of me think why Evangelicals seem to have such an aversion towards the use of holy oil for anointing when its use is quite prominent in Holy Scripture. There are a score of references in the Bible advocating its utilisation. Monarchs and High Priests were anointed in the Old Testament and James in the New specifically requests that the sick be anointed with oil by the Elders of the Church. Like Father Ron, I really cannot see what the problem is and what all the fuss is about.

  • Robin Ward says:

    It is certainly ironic to see how Chrism Masses, which until the early 1990s were treated by most diocesan bishops as a bit of a faddish Anglo-Catholic embarrassment to be celebrated in a hole-in-the-corner way and often with some sort of unreasonable stipulation about only blessing one oil, have now in some minds become a shibboleth and roll call, the touchstone of communion and loyalty.

  • Father David says:

    Good point, well made Robin. The Counsel of Gamaliel seems to apply here with regard to the proliferation of Chrism Masses.
    For those who have difficulty with the wrong kind of bishop presiding, maybe a solution comes to us from across the Pond? The late, considerable Liturgiologist – Dr. Kenneth Stevenson recommended that I purchase the 1976 American Book of Common Prayer, a volume that I have found to have proved to have been invaluable throughout my ministry.
    When it comes to the Laying on of Hands and Anointing the rubric states:-

    “If oil for the Anointing of the Sick is to be blessed, the PRIEST says” the following prayer

    “O Lord, holy Father, giver of health and salvation: Send your Holy Spirit to sanctify this oil; that, as your holy apostles anointed many that were sick and healed them, so may those who in Faith and repentance receive this holy unction be made whole; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.”

    Problem solved!

  • Again, I’m surprised that there isn’t more consideration and comment about the reaffirmation of ordination vows that is concomitant with the service. For the purposes of liturgical theology, a bishop is a bishop is a bishop. Having worked out the Donatist and Novationist controversies, we can trust the oil is as blessed as the Lord requires, regardless of the personal characteristics of the bishop blessing them.

    The reaffirmation of ordination vows ought to be the same, in that the vows are made to a particular bishop as symbol of the episcopate. In the rite for TEC (from the “Book of Occasional Services”) uses the invitation, “Do you, in the presence of Christ and his Church, renew your commitment to your ministry, under the pastoral direction of your bishop?” This is followed by the bishop’s own renewal: “And now, as your bishop, I, too, before God and you, re-dedicate myself and reaffirm the promises and vows that I made when I was ordained.”

    If we understand this as reaffirming our place in the whole church, well and good. To understand it as reaffirming a place within a particular tradition within the whole church leans markedly toward the “two church” image – and does it, apparently, quite intentionally. That seems a significantly more important issue: how one understands the vows being renewed, and the church for which they are reaffirmed.

  • A question about the Five Guiding Principles agreed by the General Synod. These Principles are now held up as of extreme importance by the Church, to the extent that you will not be ordained if you do not assent to them.

    For me, as a member of WATCH, adhering to Principles #4 (the Church of England remains committed to enabling those who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests to flourish within its life and structures) and #5 (Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of England will be made without specifying a limit of time) looks something like this:

    – recognising that even though it would not be my personal preference separate Chrism masses are inevitable and likely to continue
    – recognising that even though it would not be my personal preference separate ordinations, consecrations and confirmations are inevitable and likely to continue
    – hoping that no incumbents are forced on Society parishes in an attempt to change them from within – parishes should be free to make up their own minds
    – recognising that however much I may want to, I should not force my views on those who disagree with me on this – individuals should be free to make up their own minds

    I’m interested to know what adherence to Principles #1 (the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender, and holds that those whom it has duly ordained and appointed to office are true and lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and canonical obedience) and #2 (Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter) looks like in practical terms from the perspective of someone in the Society.

  • Ron, you would be incorrect. I have attended the service you refer to as a Chrism mass, although it was not called that when I attended. I do not, however, attend it any more.

    Father David, I have no objection to the use of oil in anointing the sick, which I agree is very biblical. I do not, however, see anywhere in scripture that it needs to be ‘blessed’ by anyone in order to be effective (observation would seem to indicate that Pentecostals do just as well with it as Anglicans, and their oil certainly is not episcopally blessed!).

    Nor do I feel any need to reaffirm my ordination vows; I meant them the first time I made them, and I don’t see anywhere in the ordinal that they are like a driver’s licence, in need of annual renewal. Also, the so-called ‘Chrism mass’ is held at the worst possible time, taking up the entire morning of Maundy Thursday, right in the middle of the busiest week of the year, when I have at least three sermons to prepare for, as well as extra services, often including baptisms.

    It’s probably also true that my attitude toward these events has been coloured by the fact that in the first twenty-one years of my ministry I never lived closer than ninety miles from my cathedral.

  • Paul says:

    Agree with Tim and his reasons, I have no problem with others gathering for such an event but the point in this discussion is whether having two events in a Diocese marks disunity. I say it cannot when there is no a) clear agreement on its theological function and b) no requirement to attend for all clergy and many do not through either choice or its poor timing.

  • Benedict says:

    Alastair Newman, as a member of the Society, I can surely acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter, but that is not the same as saying I agree with it or that I have to accept the sacramental validity of it. I acknowledge that the Conservative party is in government but it doesn’t follow I voted for it or have to become a member.

    Legally, women bishops are the true and lawful holders of their office. I don’t dispute that, but legally doesn’t equal sacramentally. Furthermore, none of this need lead to a lack of either respect or obedience within the terms of the FIVE guiding principles.

  • Alastair Newman says:

    So, how would a member of the Society who is an incumbent in a diocese with a female diocesan (which is just about to happen) view canonical obedience to her? I understand sacramental and pastoral provision is made for that incumbent with another bishop (and agree that that must be right sacramentally), but what canonical obedience can be owed to a bishop if they are not believed to be a bishop? Does it actually mean anything?

  • re Alastair’s question; the Church of England seems to be continuing is sacramental casuistry by allowing some of its members to deny the validity of some of its bishops (Female). One can only wonder what outsiders think of this oddity, and how that affects the ‘Unity’ of the Church.

  • Benedict says:

    Canonical obedience does not involve treating the will of the superior as the will of Christ.

  • James says:

    When is a bishop not a bishop? Rachel Treweek has been Bishop of Gloucester since 15 June 2015, when her election was confirmed. This meant that, even though she was a priest and not a bishop (as her episcopal ordination was 22 July), she was still Bishop of Gloucester. In the order of service for the Ordination of Deacons in the Diocese of London she was cited as “The Venerable Rachel Treweek, Bishop of Gloucester”; recognition that she was a bishop but also not a bishop.

  • “Canonical obedience does not involve treating the will of the superior as the will of Christ.”

    I’m not saying that. Not at all.

    What I’m asking is what canonical obedience actually means, particularly if it is in relation to someone you do not believe validly holds the order of ministry to which they have been ordained/consecrated (and yet simultaneously acknowledge that they do hold the office in which they are ministering).

    How does a priest of the Society in, say, Chichester diocese live his canonical obedience to +Martin? How will a priest of the Society in Gloucester diocese live his canonical obedience to +Rachel?

    Or is “canonical obedience” simply something we talk about, but don’t really mean anything by?

  • Charles Read says:

    I don’t think the 5 principles really are meant to allow people to say a person (a woman, lets be honest) is legally ordained but not really ordained.
    Colin Podmore spun it that way in New Directions but that is not the intention of principles 1 and 2 surely? You can say that we should not have ordained women, that is is wrong to do so etc but you cannot say we have not ordained women.

  • Benedict says:

    Charles Read, you have put a spin on my comment. This is not just about women being ordained,it also concerns the validity of orders of those male priests they ordain

    As to the Five principles, there is most certainly wiggle room for interpretation, even of the first two, which, however, we are reminded should be held in tension with the other three. Numbers 3 to 5 seem conveniently to be forgotten by WATCH.

    As to the point about canonical obedience, it is in all things LAWFUL and honest. I don’t recall sacramental being in that commission.

  • Cynthia says:

    “This is not just about women being ordained,it also concerns the validity of orders of those male priests they ordain”

    How is this not the heretical theology of “taint?”

  • Benedict says:

    Here we go again, with the regurgitation of that dreaded word taint Cynthia. It has nothing whatsoever to do with taint, as indeed the Five Guiding Principles have recognised in the provision that has been made. It concerns the positive fact that Anglo Catholics remain within a Catholic continuum and unbroken succession of bishops and priests. How, after all that has been decided, can one dare to level the accusation of taint? Why, Cynthia, is there now the agreed provision that there is for traditionalists in the Church of England, if such an accusation holds true? And why has the independent reviewer’s first report found against WATCH on the issue of supplementary Chrism Masses?

  • “As to the point about canonical obedience, it is in all things LAWFUL and honest. I don’t recall sacramental being in that commission.”

    Again, I have not said that and I would not deny sacramental assurance to those who require it. What am I asking is “What does canonical obedience look like?” and how is that affected for a Society priest in, say, Gloucester Diocese?

    Let us take an example, if +Martin in Chichester Diocese asked a Society priest in that diocese to cease using the Roman Missal, would it be required by canonical obedience that the parish ceased using the Roman Missal. Would that be considered an act of canonical obedience if the same request were made of a Society priest in Gloucester Diocese by +Rachel? (I personally have no issue with the Roman Missal, but I know that some do)

    What about requests/suggestions/directions for pastoral reorganisation? If +Martin posed this to a Society parish in Chichester Diocese would this be treated any differently from if +Rachel posed this to a Society parish in Gloucester Diocese?

    Seriously, I think these sorts of questions need to be thought about, because if the answer is “Yes, we owe canonical obedience, but in practice we ignore the diocesan bishop and look to the PEV for guidance in absolutely everything” then what do Guiding Principles #1 and #2 actually mean?

  • Charles Read says:

    well Benedict I was going to mentioin men ordained by women bishops as well but decided not to. Thanks for naming the other elephant in the room for me.

    I can see that congregation X may wish to have only male clergy because they do not think we should have ordained women. We have made provision for that. But if they don’t want bishop Fred, their diocesan, to preside in their church because he ordains women (or has not but agrees with the practice), then that is a different matter. That looks like taint to many people. We’d like to use another word but what other word is there?

    And if the bishop is Freda, why should they reject Steve, a priest she has ordained, since the 5 Principles say we have to accept she is truly a bishop?

    We never sorted all this out before we passed the legislation.

    As to apostolic succession, that is historically untenable in its literal form (who laid hands on whom), but still has legs in a more general form. But apostolicity is as much about Bible as bishops!

  • Anne says:

    Benedict, If you object to the word taint, what word would you prefer to be used? I see from the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda’s website:

    “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.

    The Declaration contains no rule of life and nothing about priestly fellowship or mission. ….. It is a way of identifying deacons and priests who can minister in parishes ….. without the need for research about the nature of their Orders.”

    If a male priest is unacceptable because he has been ordained by a male bishop who has ordained a woman, what other word than taint would you want to be used?

  • ” It concerns the positive fact that Anglo Catholics remain within a Catholic continuum and unbroken succession of bishops and priests.”
    – Benedict –

    Precisely! As does the Anglo-Catholic Bishop of Christchurch, ACANZP, who is a woman – not the only female Anglo-Catholic Bishop, I suspect, within the world-wide Anglican Communion.

    The fact that, seemingly, most Women Bishops in the Church of England are of an Evangelical provenance, should not blind anyone to the fact that some of our Women Bishops in other parts of the Anglican Communion are actually Anglo-Catholics.

  • Benedict says:

    Alistair Newman, the examples you give highlight simply the idea of obedience in matters lawful, but incumbents, especially those with freehold can, and sometimes do, stand against whichever bishop,whatever his/her hue if, for example, the kind of pastoral reorganization suggested is not going to be helpful to the local parish or community. As to use of liturgies, when other parishes obey the instruction not to make up their liturgy, there might be a greater degree of willingness to refrain from use of the Roman Missal. In short, in both of the cases you cite a Society priest could well be very fair in refusing to accepting the instructions from either party. That’s the reality on the ground. Perhaps you can think of a different scenario?

    As to this word taint that is so often wheeled out, the minute a male bishop ordains outwith the continuum, he has stepped outside the received tradition and allied himself to another strand of the Church.

    Just as Charles Read believes a literal understanding of male apostolicity to be untenable, so it is with the idea that female bishops can be traced back through the historic succession.
    On this point we will simply have to agree to disagree.

  • Geo Nokes says:

    Putting aside the issue of sacramental assurance, a further reason Traditionalist parishes would be distanced from the ministry of those who ordain women or are ordained by them is that otherwise they would appear to be tacitly supporting the ordination of women. Traditionalist parishes lament the damage done to the hopes of reunion with the Roman Catholic Church and would not wish to be seen to be approving of or commending something which has deepened division rather then eased it.

  • Cynthia says:

    It’s not taint because the CoE has enshrined taint? Somewhat circular.

    Where in history of apostolic succession are there women? Thank you for asking, Benedict. It wouldn’t hurt to comb the NT a bit more closely. Have a look at Romans 16, here’s an excerpt from an article: “All told, Paul’s passage mentions 10 women (Phoebe, Prisca, Mary, Junia, Tryphena, Tryphosa, Persis, Rufus’ mother, Julia, the sister of Nerus) and 17 men.”

    Here’s the link to that article.

    Even Augustine recognized Mary Magdalene as “an apostle to the apostles.” Have a look at Luke 8, where it is’ clear that Mary, Joanna, Susanna and others provided for Jesus “provided for them out of their resources.” Bankrolling a movement is leadership.

    The question is why have women leaders been ignored? Traditionally, women have a prominent role in Scripture.

    Ministering to those who cling to patriarchal culture over the word and example of the Gospels makes sense. But catering to heresies of taint and whatnot? Hm.

  • Benedict says:

    “Bankrolling a movement is leadership”. Is it? So the laity of the Church of England, for example, who bankroll it, lead it? Do they?
    I thought it was episcopally led. That’s just one example Cynthia. And no one denies women have an important role in the NT. Again, that is simply a spin on the contribution I made.

  • Jeremy says:

    “How, after all that has been decided, can one dare to level the accusation of taint?”

    Very easily. Because the Church of England decided to make women second-class bishops, and has limited their authority over those who choose to reject it, whilst not limiting the authority of male bishops in that way.

    Many of us called for a single-clause measure. I described the compromise measure as a bad one, and urged that it be voted down.

    Obviously that didn’t happen. But that’s no reason for anyone to accept, even terminologically, the ludicrosities to which the CofE will soon descend, in order to promote the “flourishing” of discrimination.

  • Benedict says:

    Jeremy is wrong about the C of E not limiting the authority of male bishops as well, since those male diocesans who ordain women delegate, in exactly the same way as will women bishops, pastoral and sacramental oversight to their traditionalist colleagues. There is an equal playing field. Conversely, the flying bishops have limited jurisdiction.

  • People are dying from distressing illnesses. Families collapse and children’s lives get shattered. Many people have no homes. Half the world is hungry. Old people live in loneliness because no-one visits them. Poverty stalks the land.

    The imperatives of love necessitate truce, generosity, and a unity made from diversity. We will never all agree on everything. But the gospel of Jesus Christ demands we keep on loving those who need, including one another.

    Taint is an emotive word. It doesn’t feed a single person.

    I am a catholic Anglican. I believe in *one* church, not countless divided sects. We are one in Christ. Even if we disagree over things.

    The absolute imperative is the primary commandment to love. Everything else is subordinate to that context.

  • Papa Luna says:

    I have noticed that on a couple of occasions now Benedict has asserted on this thread, without anyone obviously contradicting him, that the principles in the House of Bishops’ Declaration provide for alternative oversight for “traditionalists” to be sought and granted when the bishop who would normally be in authority (the diocesan), even if he is a male, ordained by a male, happens to support women’s ordination.
    This sounds very much like a ‘theology of taint’ to me. But it also sounds wrong.
    The relevant part of the Principles provides only for alternative sacramental and pastoral provision for those “who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests”.
    I had understood that to mean that alternative oversight is only available where the ‘normal’ bishop actually is a woman.
    Or am I wrong?

  • Cynthia says:

    “Taint is an emotive word. It doesn’t feed a single person.”

    Your words are true and good, Susannah. However, the insult of exclusion, especially when theologically unnecessary, actively inflicts pain. Exclusion is not a matter of not being fed. Exclusion is exceedingly painful and it is not limited to women clergy, it afflicts lay women, girls, and inclusive oriented men and boys.

    This exclusive Chrism Mass is unnecessary. There’s no reason women can’t participate in it. This goes far beyond generous pastoral oversight for some parishes. I suspect that no one thought “flourishing” meant total freedom to insult half your membership and the vast majority of your countrymen.

    The commandment is to love. But what do you do when a vocal faction is inflicting pain on your girls and women? Girls are the innocents here.

    Again, this is an example of a CoE that never, ever, seems to lift the needs of the most vulnerable above the ego needs of a privileged few who demand to remain privileged at all costs. The costs are dear.

  • Geo Nokes seems to infer that women clergy are a major reason for Rome not being ready for ‘union’ with Anglicans. However, he seems to have forgotten that Rome still officially refuses to accept any Anglican Orders as ‘valid’.

    They even ‘re-ordain’ ex-Anglican clergy before accepting them as priests in the Roman Catholic Church Ordinariate.

  • Malcolm Dixon says:

    I fear that you are wrong, Papa Luna. The bishops’ declaration and associated legislation, in that respect, merely extends the provisions that traditionalists have enjoyed for the past 21 years, since women were first ordained as priests, and during which time there were no women bishops (now happily changed).
    Traditionalists do find themselves unable to be in full communion with a male bishop who has ordained women. I agree with you that it sounds very much like a ‘theology of taint’, but many traditionalists have tied themselves in theological knots trying to prove otherwise (see some earlier posts in this thread). It doesn’t convince me, but others are happy with it.

  • Papa Luna says:

    Thank you to Malcolm Dixon for his clarification on this. But I remain puzzled, and in fact very concerned on this point.

    At the time of the discussions on the consecration of women Bishops, and the publication of the Declaration and the Guiding Principles, I had clearly understood that the intention was to move away from the ‘ghettoisation’ aspect of the previous ‘Flying Bishop’ PEV system, where dissenting parishes ended up having very little involvement and engagement with ‘normal’ diocesan structures, fellowship and administration.

    Hence the guiding principles only talk of alternative provision for those unable to receive the ministry of women (bishops or priests), not of being able to avoid all contact with anyone whose views they diverge from; indeed the principles go on to require that any arrangements should maintain the ‘highest possible degree of communion’, and contribute to ‘mutual flourishing’.

    How can that possibly be consistent with the idea that dissenting parishes should be enabled/encouraged to have nothing to do with even male bishops and suffragans, just because those bishops hold to the clear and settled position of the Church of England on the women’s ordination/consecration issue?

    Such an interpretation seems to me to fly in the face of the actual wording of the five principles – indeed it represents a situation where the dissenting parishes can scarcely be said to be in communion with the Church of England at all, let alone the ‘highest possible degree’ of it.

    I personally would not have made Chrism Masses the number one issue of concern here – but actually following the five principles, maximising mutual flourishing and intercommunion, and keeping alternative provision limited to the circumstances for which it is specifically provided, properly are issues of major concern.

  • Benedict says:

    Papa Luna, we are where we are, and this constant revisiting of old territory is very unhelpful. In the parish I’m part of which has passed the resolution we are involved fully with the Diocese and Deanery, we pay our share, we engage with the Diocesan. It seems to me proponents of women bishops cannot continue to push the boundaries as you suggest they should, otherwise there will be enforced ghettoisation. We need now to move on, getting on with the mission of the Church.

  • Malcolm Dixon says:

    Your points are well made, Papa Luna, and I agree with them. Nothing illustrates the concern and the puzzlement more clearly than the arrangements that were imposed by the Archbishop of York for the consecration of Philip North as +Burnley, which were discussed at length in these pages at the time. There was no discernible logic in them, and yet they appear to have established a precedent from which it will be very hard to retreat, despite them showing very little degree of communion at all, and being worryingly close to a de facto ‘third province’.

  • Papa Luna says:

    Benedict says I am ‘revisiting old territory’ in an unhelpful way. I do not believe I am; I believe I am exploring a new point, arising from the (deliberate) difference between the new House of Bishops Declaration, and the now abolished 1993 Act of Synod.

    This new point has not yet been properly explored, largely because of the transitional provisions of the HB Declaration (paras. 41-43), which treat the old ‘Resolution Parishes’ for two years as having made a valid resolution under the new provisions (para.43).

    But when that transitional period is up, the new provisions in the Guiding Principles are quite clear, in my view, that alternative pastoral and sacramental provision is only envisaged as being provided where the other alternative actually is the ministry of a woman Bishop (or priest).
    In other words the ‘theology of taint’ is no longer provided for – the view that ‘I am out of communion with (even) my male bishop, because he personally assents to the ‘normal’, now settled C of E position on women’s ministry’.

    I do not raise this in a spirit of unhelpfulness, but because of my great concern that the rift within the catholic wing of the Church should be kept as low key as practicable, rather than formalised into a de facto schism.

    I genuinely cannot see how anyone who regards himself as ‘out of communion’ with even his male bishop and archbishop(s) is really in communion with the Church of England at all, let alone trying to maintain ‘the highest possible degree of communion’, or to contribute to ‘mutual’ flourishing.

    This is why the Archbishop of York’s stance at the Burnley consecration was so concerning (and in my view at odds with the 5 Principles); similarly Sir Philip Mawer in his Chrism Masses Report (whose actual decision I do not especially disagree with in the present transitional state of affairs) seems simply to have assumed in passing that the ‘theology of taint’ approach to alternative provision will continue to apply under the new arrangements (but then the WATCH arguments in that instance had not really been directed at this particular point).

    But this particular (and new) point will need to be addressed, if the risk of formal schism and separation is to be avoided – as is clearly the underlying intention of the ‘Principles’.

  • Malcolm Dixon says:

    I agree, Papa Luna, that your interpretation of the HoB declaration would make for greater unity and would better reflect the new ‘settled view’ of the CofE. But it is not, I fear, a widely held interpretation, and I do not think that traditionalist catholics would have accepted it if they thought that their existing provisions were to be limited in the way you have inferred.
    Para 20 of the declaration states that parishes may wish to pass a resolution on the grounds of theological conviction, without specifying what those theological convictions might be. Para 22 goes on to recognise that a range of theological convictions would be involved. Amongst them, I fear, would be the conviction that they cannot be in full communion with a bishop who has ordained women. You, I and others would regard that as a theology of taint and against the spirit of the five principles, but they are adamant (see their response to Sir Philip) that it is about communion and not taint, and Sir Philip seems to have gone along with their view.
    Regarding the transitional arrangements, it was my interpretation that they were intended to allow the new arrangements to apply immediately, without requiring dissenting parishes to rush to pass the new resolution, and not to allow the old arrangements to continue for a further two years, after which the new arrangements would apply.
    I fear that, if we go on as we are, the best we can hope for is separate, rather than mutual, flourishing. We must hope and pray that the commitment to working together in other ways to resolve disputes, commended by Sir Philip at the end of his adjudication, will result in something better.

  • Perry Butler says:

    I wonder how many traditional Catholics there are…or indeed how we would ever know. There are parishes that are ABC overwhelmingly Catholic but the congregations of these churches are not monochrome.. In my experience far from it.Attachment is largely built around style of worship.Again there are a few people who worship in parishes that are not ABC or even AB who don’t accept women priests and absent themselves wen one presides…tho in my experience they are few. How many trad Catholics are being ordained? I suspect far fewer than are retiring each year.It woulsd ve good to gave a few figures and ideas about asa and financial viability.The statistical unit seems to be rather coy about such matters….as with the number of clergy in civil partnership.Do we know? Does anyone? Statistics arwnt everything..

  • Perry Butler says:

    It jumped before I could finish…yes statistics aren’t everything but it would be helpful to know some of these things to get a better grasp of the reality of the C of E now…and what its future is likely to be.

  • Malcolm Dixon says:

    Quite right, Perry – traditionalist catholic parishes are not monochrome, although in my experience those not conforming to the colour chosen by ‘the powers that be’ can be made to feel rather isolated.
    A good example can be seen in the parish concerned in the Independent Reviewer’s second report (see a later thread) where the PCC only voted by 11 votes to 7 to pass the new resolution. Enough for their purposes in this case, but it would not have been enough for an important GS vote.

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