Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 28 June 2023

Martine Oborne ViaMedia.News Thirty Years of Women Priests in the Church of England and Still Two Thirds of Paid Posts Are Held by Men

Mike Higton kai euthus Disagreement, Conscience, and Harm

Charlie Bell ViaMedia.News Trust and Transparency – it’s Time for Change

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Peter
Peter
10 months ago

Charlie Bell is, in my view, theologically wrong.

However, to his credit, he never leaves you in any doubt as to what he wants to say.

I am therefore puzzled by his piece. I got to the end of it and still had no idea what he was talking about.

I am not trying to sneer at him, so please do not have a go at me. I am genuinely unclear as to what he is trying to say.

Mark Bennet
Mark Bennet
Reply to  Peter
10 months ago

Perhaps you could identify the theological error to which you refer.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Mark Bennet
10 months ago

Mark,

I have done so to the point of exhaustion on this site. I am weary of doing it and I am absolutely certain nobody needs or wants to hear me say it all again – least of all the moderators.

I follow and occasionally comment on some influencers, including Bell.

He is, if nothing else, a pungent and tough-minded commentator. (In case you are wondering, I am very much in favour of pungent and tough-minded comment).

Last edited 10 months ago by Peter
Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Peter
10 months ago

So to be clear, you have not found a specific (new) theological error in Bell’s latest article. Your criticism of him is limited to the previous specific theological point. Which if I recall is about blessing same-sex relationships. Or possibly about blessing any kind of intimate relationship outside of heterosexual marriage.
I think Susannah has already explained the context in which most of us believe he has written this article. In which context, I found his argument quite clear.

Peter
Peter
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
10 months ago

Simon, I opened my comment with a statement that has proved to be confusing ! All I was doing was showing my true colours. That’s all.

I am interested in Bell’s general commentary. He is no respecter of bishops which I have in common with him.

I could not see what he was getting at in his piece. Perhaps it was too inconsequential a point to make as a first comment on the thread

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Peter
10 months ago

I thought it was a wee bit vague, abstract and woffly myself (pot/kettle I admit)… but the issue he was raising is incredibly important if we believe as Christians in truth and accountability: TRANSPARENCY. I don’t think anyone believes that aspects of General Synod aren’t stage-managed, or that media techniques aren’t used to control information and agenda. Any corporation would do the same, but as Christians we ought to have systems that enable rigorous questioning and challenge. Instead it feels more like somewhere up the hierarchy, the art of obfuscation and filtering of information has been developed into a fine… Read more »

Kieran
Kieran
Reply to  Peter
10 months ago

That’s a curious response. The domain of theology Charlie Bell seems to be addressing is ecclesiology. In this he’s making a fundamental point. In recent days the Archbishops of York and Canterbury have been found badly wanting in their handling of safeguarding matters, and Justin Welby particularly has a history of making bad errors and being unwilling or unable to correct. Regulars here will recall the “dark cloud” said by Welby to be hanging over the memory of Bishop Bell. The issue is the good governance of the Church of England, and in this Charlie Bell is highlighting something important.… Read more »

Rev Colin C Coward
10 months ago

Charlie’s blog is being criticised as being theologically wrong and unclear, a wee bit vague and woffly by some and defended by others – well, the magisterium in the person of Simon! Charlie’s article provoked me early this morning to write a blog on Unadulterated Love – http://www.unadulteratedlove.net/blog/2023/6/28/a-spiritual-health-check-for-the-church-of-england. I’m really grateful to Charlie for having provided a spring board for my own ideas – I am still impelled to campaign for a far more reaching change in attitude. Today’s blog follows one posted yesterday commenting on the safeguarding crisis provoked by the sacking of the members of the Independent Safeguarding… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
10 months ago

As one who has left the CofE and has no real horse in the race, I note with heavy heart Martine Oborne’s usual insistence that the traditional Catholic theological objections to OW must be utterly extirpated from the Established Church. I also know that many of the commentators here agree that to object to OW is discriminatory and yet others like the esteemed Susannah seek a live and let live approach. One possibility that always presented itself to me in my CofE days was that, once the number of female bishops was viable, the CofE should make it a rule… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

You are correct. I believe the faith and conscience of those who believe that priesthood is male only should definitely be protected. The ‘traditionalist’ view of male-only priesthood has a place in the Church of England, and people’s sincere consciences should be honoured. Of course, I also believe that all parties should conduct themselves with grace, kindness, goodness.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Susannah Clark
10 months ago

The stated intention was for ‘mutual flourishing’. From 25 years experience in ministry development and ddo work journeying with women and men in ministry I have never been clear about precisely how women are supposed to flourish in an institution that allows them to be legally discriminated against on grounds of gender alone and where, among other things, even their diocesan bishop may not choose to ordain them. I have sat with women ordinands on their ordination retreats as they weep in pain and anger over the fact that the next day their bishop will not be ordaining them. Will… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Presumably the weeping women will be ordained by another bishop who doesn’t mind “touching” them . I wouldn’t dream of bursting into tears because I couldn’t choose who lays hands on me.

Rob
Rob
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

I think this is in danger of trivialising things. 1) ‘touching’ – ordaining – is obviously about much more than that, it’s about affirming the validity of someone’s sense of calling, of who they are, of who God is calling them to be. That is deep and serious stuff. 2) I might not ‘dream of bursting into tears’ – like referring to ‘weeping women’ a potentially trivialising use of language – but that’s because I’m a bit repressed when it comes to emotional expression. I respect deeply those who are less so. To have a bishop who won’t ordain you… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Rob
10 months ago

If a priest won’t bless a same-sex couple they should hasten to one who will. Similarly, women should not feel inferior when there are bishops happy to ordain them.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

They have not tried to choose who ordains them. Their diocesan bishop has chosen not to. But you (and I) won’t ever have to weep – still less dream about it. It won’t ever happen to you. You are a man.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Is ordination by a suffragan bishop somehow inferior and discriminatory?

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

No. That is not what we are discussing here.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Yes it is. If a docesan bishop refuses to ordain women, presumably someone else in his diocese will. What’s the problem?

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

Perhaps if it requires the ordinand to spend time and money traveling to be ordained, rather than having it happen in her own diocese.

Tim Chesterton
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

‘the weeping women’.

Wow. You’re a sensitive soul, aren’t you?

Peter S
Peter S
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Are there other possibilities? What would it look like at the ordination of a woman whose diocesan bishop could not lay hands on her, if he instead embraced or even kissed her as a sign Christian fellowship? What would it look like if a male bishop were ordained who could not in conscience receive the laying on of hands of bishops who were female or who had ordained women, to be embraced or even kissed by them as a sign of Christian fellowship? Mutual flourishing needs powerful, challenging symbols that point to our destiny of unity in Christ and mean… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Peter S
10 months ago

We do that already. It is called the peace.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Peter S
10 months ago

Come now, it’s not about “touching a woman”; it’s all about not wanted to confirm that a woman is the equal of a man when it comes to serving God…which is, IMO, blasphemous.

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Susannah Clark
10 months ago

Male only priesthood brigade are already very well protected – particularly here in Chi diocese. They are not under threat, except in their own minds. The idea of male bishops only ordaining men as priests & women ordaining women falls at first fence, because our bishop will not ordain men as priests who accept that women can be priests. Indeed in this dio a male priest, trained at St Stephens, & ordained by FiF bishop, runs into problems if he says that he accepts female priests.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

It looks as if you are leaping towards any opportunity to portray yourself as a victim.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

Please, we’re all victims here. Martine presents the case for her theological position being victimised constantly. In many cases that is justifiable. But there are also those who are victimised for holding the Catholic position and are as really hounded for their beliefs as Ms Oborne is for hers. I lost my parish, my vocation, my friends and my sense of belonging because of a female Rural Dean who was determined to extirpate the traditional Anglo-Catholic point of view. If Ms Oborne can be angry about the treatment of her theological sort, then so can I! Susannah’s right, if you… Read more »

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

Given that the power of any rural dean is distinctly limited, I find it hard to understand how they could force you out, or try to make you to abjure your High-Anglican beliefs & style of worship. In recent years even a diocesan bishop has proved unable to deal with a raving alcoholic Satan-worshipping priest – only the secular authorities were up to that job! Some male-only priests play the victim card, while others of their ilk pontificate about ‘weeping women’, but neither seem able to put up with anything like the aggro that has been directed at female priests. For… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Francis James
10 months ago

Ah you make the assumption that I was ordained when I left the CofE. At the time of my departure, I was a Reader in a parish which had fallen into interregnum and had been vigorously persuaded by the Rural Dean not to hold the Resolutions. I was told by the Rural Dean who knew of my then membership of FiF that not only had I to be licensed to her but I also had to swear canonical oaths to her. I had not heard of the latter and, out of a spirit of obedience, was prepared to swear (on… Read more »

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

You have obviously been treated abominably.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

Boo hoo

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

I agree. It’s a crying shame

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
10 months ago

Your Christian charity is appreciated.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

I’m glad to have been of help.

Charles Read
Charles Read
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

Readers do not swear oaths to priests – only to the bishop. What oaths are you referring to?

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Charles Read
10 months ago

That is my point. I think she wanted me to repeat the words of commitment I spoke at my admission and licensing only directed to her. This was over ten years ago now so I don’t know whether things have changed in that time.

Last edited 10 months ago by Warwickensis
Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Charles Read
10 months ago

Quite so. It is also not possible to pass or lift a resolution during an Interregnum. Only the incumbent can put that on the agenda, or take it off.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Francis James
10 months ago

On the contrary, a “resolution” (that arrangements be made for the parish) may be passed or rescinded at any time, and provision is specifically made for this to be considered at a Section 11 meeting of the PCC during a vacancy. Any PCC member may request that this be put on the agenda. There are requirement for a qualified majority and for the incumbent’s assent if the parish is not in a vacancy.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
10 months ago

This Rural Dean had done the same thing with Parishes which had firmly passed the Resolutions. As soon as they went into interregnum, those Resolutions were rescinded. Whether or not that is possible, I don’t know though I am sure Mr Kershaw is right.

I am presenting the historical facts here. Am I on trial? Would there be this level of disbelief if I were a clergywoman?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

Obviously you have encountered someone with delusions of grandeur. Perhaps she thought she was the Pope.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

In our face-to-face interactions, I got more of the impression of one on a very specific mission, one which I also perceive to a more rational extent in Ms Oborne.

Last edited 10 months ago by Warwickensis
David Smith
David Smith
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
10 months ago

Simon, you are of course correct that a “resolution” may be passed at any time. However, there is no requirement for the incumbent’s assent, nor are there any longer any protections or restrictions in passing a “resolution” if there are already female clergy licensed to the benefice, who would be adversely affected by any such resolution. Indeed, these were the first two salient points made by FiF in their ‘Advice to Parishes’ published immediately after the Measure and Declaration came into force: “In two respects, the arrangements under the Declaration are more favourable than those the under the 1993 Measure… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Charles Read
10 months ago

Well this is rather my point. The “oaths” she was referring to were probably the “Renewal of Commitment” that I made at my admission and licensing and which asks specifically, “will you give obedience to those who are set in authority over you and will you work willingly and collaboratively with all who are your fellow-workers in the gospel?”

It was just unheard of. No other Reader was asked to do this during an interregnum, FiF and the College of Readers had never heard of such a thing. I guess I was just a turbulent Reader!

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

I made no such assumption, indeed you have made your position clear on another thread on this site.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Francis James
10 months ago

Then why talk about the limitation of the capacity of Rural Deans with regard to the ordained ministry which becomes significantly less limited with lay ministry? I don’t understand why you brought that up.

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
10 months ago

“The National Safeguarding director personally told me that I was too survivor focused.” (Jasvinder Sanghera) “We seem to be an institution quite heavily invested in contemporary theories of management and leadership, yet it seems fascinating that we don’t – at least publicly – invest in the quite simple forms of self-critical review that would really help us in our mission and ministry.” (Charlie Bell) Archbishop Welby is imposing his “theories of management and leadership” on the Church of England and his top down leadership threatens the long term future of our church. “Safeguarding” illustrates the problem very well. Every Diocese… Read more »

#churchtoo
#churchtoo
Reply to  David Hawkins
10 months ago

Re safeguarding training: I think it’s likely it IS successful at preventing some abuse in the area of safeguarding children. Nowhere near enough has been done to safeguard vulnerable adults. From my training (different denomination) and in the workplace – we know that abusers will try to abuse whatever we do. The more obstacles they face the better, we may be able to prevent harm in our corners of the world. So if several humans within a church are trained, are aware of how to keep children safe, willing to follow safeguarding rules around everything from DBS checks to a… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
10 months ago

This is all too predictable. The occasional, factually based, review from WATCH on the progress (or lack) of ordained women’s ministry in the church seems to press a button for some on TA. The details are hardly discussed. Instead the tone, on this wholly male thread, becomes nasty, sexist and mocking. Meanwhile (and always) a victim story is shared of how men are treated badly too (and by women!)and is received with sympathy and support. It is really quite disturbing behaviour. The article itself awaits a thoughtful and respectful response. And it urgently needs one.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

To be honest, I’m still waiting for a response to my original question.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

OK. I stress I support provision for those unable to accept OW. But I find your claim that the article urges that ‘traditional Catholic theological objections to OW must be utterly extirpated from the Established Church’ to be a complete misreporting that has no basis in fact. I think a Bishop is a Bishop and gender is/should be irrelevant in ministry. The idea of separating ministry and episcopacy on gender lines I can make no sense of. The scripture calls us together not apart. The Church of England has a historic tendency, when making a move forwards, to stall, look… Read more »

Alwyn Hall
Alwyn Hall
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

I believe Warwickensis was referring to his Rural Dean wanting to ‘extirpate traditional Catholic theological objections to the ordination of women’, rather than claiming that Martine Oborne’s article did so.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Thank you for your considered response.

One further question. Ms Oborne argues that the provisions for dissenters to OW to be removed and that dissenters like Bishop North should never be appointed to Diocesan level. What does the CofE look like if she gets what she wants?

Last edited 10 months ago by Warwickensis
David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

Thank you for your question, Let me try and respond, Nowhere does she say those you call ‘dissenters’ should be removed. Please read more carefully. What she wants removed is ‘ institutionalised discrimination’. So do I. I also agree that it is not possible for someone who will not ordain women to be a diocesan bishop. They cannot fully embody what the CofE believes about the full, equal ministry of women and men together in ministry. What does she want? Not the removing of anyone. The fuller inclusion of women – who are currently too easily marginalised. To that end… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

My problem is that, as a Catholic, I do not subscribe to an “equality of outcome” theology. I believe very much that the outcome is determined by Almighty God and not based on human metrics or human ideas of social justice. To have a quota idea of what the CofE looks like according to what this world thinks seems, to my mind, make the CofE a thing of the world. To put this in perspective, I am in full support of equality in the workplace. In my marriage, I am the principal caregiver to my children while my wife works… Read more »

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

Thank you for engaging. I actually think the Almighty God of Christian faith believes in social justice and his character is revealed where that is found in the world and church. In practice every organisation needs some way of intentionally planning and moving towards the convictions it holds. Good intentions are not enough. That also requires some practical means of measuring progress. So I rather think Almighty God would see quotas, along with other approaches, as good and faithful planning towards becoming the church and world he desires. Thanks again

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Can you explain the difference between not having dissenters removed, and removing “institutionalised discrimination”? Surely if there is no legal framework for dissent , you have removed the dissenters.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

First, I do not find the word ‘dissenters’ very helpful when the church is trying to use the language of ‘mutual flourishing’. When women were ordained the church went down the route of putting in place actual legal discrimination against their ministry on grounds of gender. That is what needs to be removed. There are other ways of honouring difference and conscience in the church.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Warwickensis
10 months ago

What was it?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Someone above refers to a woman being spat at before an ordination by a male candidate. That is horrendous behaviour and is quite intolerable. As in all organisations, abuse of women by men should result in sanction and discipline. Mrs Oborne is entitled to express her grievances and should be listened to. I was ordained into a Church which didn’t allow women clergy. Mrs Oborne was ordained into one which legally permits dissent and mutual flourishing. Both views should be equally respected.

Francis James
Francis James
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

Worth a reminder that the only action taken against the male ordinand who spat at the female ordinand was a CofE telling off (mild by any other standard). Quite how such a person could be considered a suitable candidate for holy orders after that assault is beyond me, but he continued on track.

David Runcorn
David Runcorn
Reply to  FrDavid H
10 months ago

Thank you for making this statement.

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Thank- you David Runcorn for sticking with this thread and challenging some of the ‘us poor men’ statements. A lot of the discussion is in sadly marked and unpleasant contrast to the agreement over the AC’s sacking of the ISB and treatment of survivors of abuse, and it is not very inviting to become involved . I began to follow this site not so long ago trying to understand why on earth the Church of England should want to promote anyone holding the anti- female- priests views of Phillip North when non religious organisations would have to obey the law… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Tim Chesterton
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

I agree, David. To respond by describing people as ‘the weeping women’ sounds so dismissive – ‘those girls, they’re so emotional, you know!’ In fact, the response has been a smackdown. Which is ironic, given that so many women clergy tell stories of being on the receiving ends of smackdowns.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  David Runcorn
10 months ago

Sorry, I did mean to have made an end of this, but now that I’ve had time to think over this, the more I realised how I’ve been distracted from my point, for which I apologize. To be honest, the fact that Mr Runcorn sees much support and kindness expressed towards me in the above exchange while I see very little makes me wonder about how little the medium of the blog reflects the nuances of the emotional dimension of this issue. I shared my story at Mr Tomlinson’s instigation, not for the eliciting of sympathy but rather to demonstrate… Read more »

Peter
Peter
10 months ago

I regret my comment about Bell’s article which I now withdraw.

I entirely misunderstood it as a piece concerned with LLF.

Bell is to be applauded for his piece in regard to his call for change.

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