Thinking Anglicans

Opinion – 5 August 2023

Helen King ViaMedia.News Missing, Between Synods

Theo Hobson ViaMedia.News Holy Discomfort: Time to Restore the Unity of the Church?

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Susannah Clark
9 months ago

I’m not really understanding what Theo is advocating. If ‘rights’ are to be subordinated to a drive for ‘unity’… well how does that work? Do gay people have to be content with ‘Prayers’ but not marriage, because Church unity is more important than their personal conscience and dignity? Do traditionalist opponents of women’s priesthood (I’m not one) have to submit to a unified episcopate in the interests of unity? I apologise to Theo but I simply can’t get a handle on the specifics of what he is proposing. If – in the interests of unity – there has to be… Read more »

Graham Holmes
Graham Holmes
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Perhaps we are not meant to understand what he is saying? Perhaps he is not actually advocating anything? Perhaps he is merely throwing words at a wall to see what sticks, what provokes a response, so that the response becomes the story? Perhaps I am being grossly unfair to Mr Hobson, but I had to Google him. The impression I get from that is that he was hired by Boris Johnson when Editor of the Spectator to write worthy pieces of vaguely religious prose for consumption by the very particular readership of that magazine. As you (and others elsewhere) have… Read more »

rural liberal
rural liberal
Reply to  Graham Holmes
9 months ago

Hmmm – I was nodding in agreement all the way through until I got to point 2. To be honest, that is very dangerous thinking indeed – isn’t it? Although I have to admit a certain seduction where those people with the supreme clarity on the ‘progressive’ side that they no longer want to engage with ‘traditionalists’ and vice versa would at least have painted themselves very clearly as such – so that both camps can be roundly ignored by everyone else! I’ve found it a good rule in life that people so certain of their righteousness that they think… Read more »

Malcolm Dixon
Malcolm Dixon
Reply to  Graham Holmes
9 months ago

I think that you are being unkind to Theo Hobson. Although I too had some difficulty in working out what he was advocating in this piece, his basic tenet, that the current ‘settlement’ on women priests and bishops is not working and needs replacing, was strongly supported by the Bishop of Dover in her recent speech to GS. I am sorry to hear that he was appointed to write for the Spectator by Boris Johnson, which is usually the kiss of death for any career. But he has also written for The Tablet and a recent article there about the… Read more »

David Hawkins
David Hawkins
9 months ago

Unity and diversity are not mutually exclusive. The Church of England has contained sharp theological differences since the reign of Elizabeth I. That is not a weakness it is our greatest strength. Bishop Cherry Vann has spoken movingly about her initiative to bring priests opposed to female ordination together with newly ordained women priests. They didn’t agree about ordination but they did develop mutual respect and a sense of their fundamental unity as brothers and sisters in Christ. Living in a big tent we can still talk to each other even though we may have sharp theological differences. And I’m… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  David Hawkins
9 months ago

‘Women clergy are not an impediment to unity with our Orthodox and Roman Catholic it is a chance to encourage them to empower women.’

Of course it’s an impediment to unity with them. They don’t have female priests.

Graham Holmes
Graham Holmes
Reply to  William
9 months ago

Alas, they do not have female priests and the ministry of those Churches becomes more and more irrelevant to the world they try to serve, as time marches on.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Graham Holmes
9 months ago

Not sure there is a great deal of evidence that they are any more irrelevant than the Cof E ministry which has women priests. All are seeming more irrelevant to the secular world, regardless of denomination.

Graham Holmes
Graham Holmes
Reply to  Ian
9 months ago

Surely by now it is self-evident that Christian leadership that excludes women has a narrowness of perspective that the world despises.

William
William
Reply to  Graham Holmes
9 months ago

Any concrete evidence for this? What are the statistics when we compare churches with and without female clergy? Traditional forms of Christianity seem to me to be thriving globally.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  William
9 months ago

They don’t have female priests YET, but watch this space.

There’s a lot of interesting and quite progressive stuff happening in the Roman Catholic church, much of it focussed around Pope Francis’ Synodality programme.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

That may be, but conservative elements of the RCC are absolutely horrified by Pope Francis, and after Pope Francis goes to his eternal resting place, those elements will seek another Pope John Paul II.
As a top-down organization, with all power focused in one individual, doors that one pope opens can be slammed shut by his successor.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

There may be some truth in what you say, but I think the RCC deserves a more nuanced analysis, and there are fascinating things going on there. Yes, there is strong and vocal conservative element, but it may be that those vocal conservative elements are clustered in Europe and (especially) the USA. And although those church leaders may be vocal, their actual churches are struggling with falling rolls and empty seminaries, and have congregations that are often actively pushing for change on women priests, married priests and LGBTQ issues. Whereas Pope Francis (himself from Argentina) has been reinforcing his legacy… Read more »

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

Thank you for that insight. I can be parochial (pardon the pun) at times.
Also, the US Roman Catholic lay population is not lock-step with the hierarchy. They mostly are on abortion, but on contraception, they listen politely to their local priest and then go to the doctor to get their contraception prescription refilled.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

Peter, I don’t claim any great insight into the RCC. It’s just that I do subscribe to The Tablet magazine.

I really enjoy its coverage on general spirituality, and arts and culture. But because its news and current affairs coverage has a world-wide focus it provides a really useful wider vision, to set alongside the much more parochial Church Times.

With best wishes

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

Right on.The Tablet and Commonweal are two really good thoughtful sources. America Magazine by the Jesuits is good, as is National Catholic Reporter ( USA)..Church Times does seem rather parochial to an outsider like me. Mind you all we have in Canada is Anglican Journal which has now become a corporate P.R. vehicle.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

I”m not even sure the US RC laity is “mostly” in lock-step with the hierarchy on abortion. Yes, the loudest voices are–but aren’t those always at the extremes of any position. I suspect that US Catholics, like most of the US population, favors a position that abortion should be “safe, legal, and rare”.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

But it goes so much deeper, not just for Rome, but for any form of institutional Christianity. ‘Updating’ policy is not enough. What is required is honest confrontation with the dark side. What Sinead O’Connor did was more prophetic and honest than anything done by any pope or gaggle of hierarchs. Like all prophets, she consistently engaged in an acting out that was more complex than suggested at first glance. Several good pieces have been written about her post-mortem; but none less so than the current article by Brian Morton in The Tablet. (Link) She incarnated the often unresolvable tension… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Thanks Rod, I liked that article too. But what I find fascinating about the RCC at present is that in the past (as with Sinead O’Connor) it was a story of the Pope as the bastion of conservatism, ranged against progressive movements and prophetic individuals who were based at the ground roots. But now, with Pope Francis, it is the Pope himself who is that progressive, almost prophetic, voice, trying to reach out to and inspire those same ground roots movements, reaching past the middle level functionaries who are opposed to change. It is that honest prophetic voice which the… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

There was similar hope and dreamig with John 23 and Vatican II. However even as the Council closed there was entrenchment with Paul VI and Mysterium Fidei in 1965 followed by Humanae Vitae in 1968. Later the novelty of a Polish Pope waned under John Paul II’ s repressive papacy. It produced Dominus Iesus in 2000 of which Joe Ratzinger was a driver. As for Anglicanism, here in Canada we have a conservative fundamentalist cohort that is keen to block all change. Then there is the international scene. So prophetic attendance to the darker side of patriarchal authoritarianism is warranted.

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Agreed about the Groundhog Day nature of the cycle of progress and retrenchment. Such is human nature. But what fascinates me is the synodality programme, almost as if Pope Francis is reaching out over the heads of the conservative hierarchy to the ground-roots and daring/inspiring them to get involved and push for change.

Is that what’s different this time? But will the ground roots respond, or have they been conditioned to obedience for too long?

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

Simon, the project will unfold variously depending on the global region.and country. The various Conferences of Catholic Bishops ( CCC) have a lot of clout. There are a lot of progressive voices including among Catholic religious. But the hierarchy are a bottle neck.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

And there’s no bigger bottleneck (IMO) than the US Conference of Catholic Bishops, thanks to the many hide-bound conservatives appointed by John Paul II and Benedict. It has resulted (again, IMO) with a liberal RC laity controlled (and spoken for) by a conservative episcopate.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Pat ONeill
9 months ago

I would not disagree with that assessment. The Conferences of Catholic Bishops vary from country to country. The USCCB has dynamics that relate to the wider cultural polarisation in the States. The Catholic Bishops in England got themselves a controversy by promoting a more conservative translation of the bible for mass. (link). A similar, though less acute problem surfaced decades ago when Rome wanted to use the New Jerusalem Bible instead of the NRSV. Also, I think that the focusing on ‘narrative’ biblical theology, and away from the problematic of history, is an issue both for Anglicans and the RC… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

Simon, here is a report from the Canadian Conference of Catholic Bishops (CCCB) on synodality. For what it’s worth. -Rod

https://www.cccb.ca/wp-content/uploads/2022/09/Synod-on-Synodality-EN-2022-08-31.pdf

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  William
9 months ago

They don’t recognise the orders of our male priests either. That’s a huge bar to unity.

William
William
Reply to  Janet Fife
9 months ago

‘They don’t recognise the orders of our male priests either. That’s a huge bar to unity’.

Presumably that’s a consequence of the Church of England breaking from Rome. You might as well say that disunity is a huge bar to unity.

peterpi - Peter Gross
peterpi - Peter Gross
Reply to  William
9 months ago

Sometimes, for a relationship to improve, people and institutions have to get over their past grievances. As far as I’m concerned, from very early on in the 2,000-year history of Christianity (Note to Diarmaid MacCulloch, Christianity is NOT 3,000 years old. Supercessionism and religious appropriation are not nice.), different groups have claimed for themselves being the “True Church”, while everyone else is castigated as heretics, schismatics, cults, demonic, etc., with often fatal results. And both the RCC and the CofE have engaged in the deadly food fight. In fact, to this outsider, the RCC’s approach to unity is for everyone… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

Nothing to get over in terms of grievance… I’m just trying to argue logically about the reality of schism. Those who break away from a particular body can hardly complain about the lack of unity.

John N Wall
John N Wall
Reply to  peterpi - Peter Gross
9 months ago

Diarmaid MacCulloch’s point was that the cognitive frameworks and tools of understanding used by writers of the early church to record and interpret the teachings of Jesus, the events of his life, and the beliefs of the early church about him were inherited by them from the classical and biblical past. It is a valid point, one we urgently need to take seriously. One only needs to notice links between descriptions in Exodus of the appearance of Moses bringing the 10 Commandments down from Mt Sinai and Luke’s description of the appearance of Jesus on the Mount of Transfiguration, as… Read more »

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  William
9 months ago

Not at all. Anglicans fully recognize the orders of Roman Catholic and Orthodox priests. And here in Canada, there’s also mutual recognition of orders between the Anglican, Evangelical Lutheran and (this just in) Moravian churches.

William
William
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

Yes but what about Anglicans who have separated from Anglicans? This is what we are talking about really isn’t it. Would you recognise an Anglican break-away movement?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  William
9 months ago

There is a difference between recognising a group or movement and recognising that bishops have been consecrated and priests ordained in apostolic succession. Generally speaking, if an ACNA-ordained priest wanted to join TEC it would not be necessary for them to be re-ordained. Likewise the RCC has considered ordinations by breakaway groups like the Old Catholics to be “valid but not licit”, at least until the latter began to ordain women. The declaration that Anglican orders are “utterly null and void” goes beyond this, maintaining that apostolic succession was broken when Matthew Parker was consecrated (based on what is known… Read more »

William
William
Reply to  Jo B
9 months ago

No, I’m sorry, the repudiation of Anglican orders was due to the defective nature of the Edward VI ordinal. There was no intention to ordain priests as Rome understood that term. In fact there was a deliberate intention to do something different.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  William
9 months ago

Claimed defective nature, and on spurious grounds, contradicted by Rome’s own acceptance once Mary took the throne of priests ordained using it. In any case it was not the Henrician separation itself that led to Rome rejecting Anglican orders but perceived or contrived shortcomings in form and intent (and, latterly, matter).

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  William
9 months ago

In which case, why did you think earlier that the ordination of women might be an impediment to unity? If Anglican bishops and priests are only pretend bishops and priests, it can hardly really matter who is doing the pretending, can it?

William
William
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

I’m not saying that they are ‘pretend’. They are just not priests in the sense that Rome understands that term.
With male clergy that can be rectified but there is no possibility of women being ordained as Orthodox or Catholic priests.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  William
9 months ago

‘Rectified’ means ‘ordained’. In other words Anglican clergy received into the Roman Catholic Church are treated as laymen. Much as some would wish it, there is no automatic passage from Anglican ministry to ordination in the Roman church, as not a few entrants to Pope Benedict’s ordinariate found to their great disappointment.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

If my memory is correct at the time of the debates over the ordination of women Cardinal Hume certainly thought it to be a specific obstacle to unity, even though he claimed to be agnostic on whether women could be priests.
I well remember attending an Affirming Catholicism meeting at which a leading Catholic lay woman was arguing strongly that women be ordained as priests in the anglican church. In the Q&A afterwards, when pressed on the validity of anglican orders, replied ” Well, when it comes down to it, it’s us that signs the cheques.”

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Ian
9 months ago

A number of Roman Catholics attended my ordination to the priesthood. The Prioress of an RC religious order processed in with the clergy.

Janet Fife
Janet Fife
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

That’s the point I was making above. Blaming
the ordination of women for a lack of unity is just a pretext.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  William
9 months ago

And as the Archbishops of Canterbury and York pointed out in Saepius Officio, their response to Apostolicae Curae, if Anglican orders are invalid, then Roman orders are invalid on similar grounds. The decision was no doubt made on political grounds not theological.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
9 months ago

Yes, and Apostolicae Curae was also based on some pretty dubious research by Francis Gasquet (pilloried as an historian by the likes of Lord Acton, David Knowles, etc.). In essence, Leo XIII was under considerable pressure from the English hierarchy (led by Herbert Vaughan) not to make any concessions to the Church of England lest it prejudice the whole position of the RCC in the British isles. Leo XIII’s chief advisers on British affairs, Gasquet and Rafael Merry de Val (who grew up in Bournemouth), were entirely at one with Vaughan in wanting to find a pretext, any pretext –… Read more »

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Froghole
9 months ago

It is said that the Roman Curia had trouble reading ‘Saepius Officio’ because it was written in far better Latin than the Vatican was used to.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

In fairness, I should add that it wasn’t just Gasquet and Merry del Val who were responsible for the outcome, but also Louis Duchesne (who was a very distinguished historian, if of the early church), James Moyes (who was a controversialist), the Franciscan David Fleming, the Capuchin Calasanzio de Llevaneras, the Jesuit Emilio de Augustinis, Thomas Scannell (joint author of a ‘Manual of Catholic Theology’) and Pietro Gasparri who (like Merry del Val) was another future secretary of state. However, Gasquet and Merry del Val It is widely thought that Merry del Val’s enthusiasm against the Anglicans was borne of… Read more »

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

Well Matthew, I hope you think your last comments adds to the seriousness of the conversation so far!

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Ian
9 months ago

Where is that coming from? It seems a peevish remark.

Ian
Ian
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

If you think I was being peevish, I apologise. My reading of your comment was that the poor dears in the Vatican couldn’t cope with the superior latin of the Archbishops. That struck me as a bit patronising.
That’s where it came from.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  Ian
9 months ago

It was not my opinion, nor a serious one. I have a copy which was given to me by a retired clergyman. The donor’s note inside reads “Of course the Latin is much more polished than the Vatican’s, which is probably why they never bothered reading it.” I can endorse the assessment of the quality of the Latin.

William
William
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

There could be some truth in this in that Latin in the Vatican is a bog standard working language rather than the rarified domain of Oxbridge classicists.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  William
9 months ago

Maclagan and Temple were probably writing better Latin prose when they were 13, long before they went to uni.

William
William
Reply to  Matthew Tomlinson
9 months ago

Probably – or maybe they came out of their mother’s womb speaking perfect Latin.

Matthew Tomlinson
Matthew Tomlinson
Reply to  William
9 months ago

That is rather improbable. But perhaps you are just exercising your sense of humour. Latin prose and verse composition was a major element of Victorian school education.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  William
9 months ago

Perhaps you could ask + Welby about that? Apparently he saw the appointment as a gesture for reconciliation.

https://www.churchtimes.co.uk/articles/2014/17-january/news/uk/welby-extends-warm-hand-to-acna-priest

Tim Chesterton
Reply to  Janet Fife
9 months ago

And meanwhile, God yawns and gets on with it…

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Tim Chesterton
9 months ago

Yes indeed. Pope Francis’s recent letter to his diocesan priests is good stuff. Evils of clericalism. https://press.vatican.va/content/salastampa/en/bollettino/pubblico/2023/08/07/230807a.html?fbclid=IwAR2u5z8idgqzg03fWiQ1vad3W3y6GTm2WMArBjYOjJTeOQ5Irkf2PSKkV0I

Michael H
Michael H
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
9 months ago

Rest in Peace dear Stanley.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Michael H
9 months ago

There are reports on both Facebook and Twitter of the death of Stanley Monkhouse. If I receive more information I will post it. May he rest in peace.

Froghole
Froghole
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
9 months ago

Thank you for this. I am extremely sorry to read this news. Indeed, I am quite shattered. I had been maintaining a pretty regular correspondence with him for about five or six years, and deeply appreciated his wealth of experience, catholic knowledge (he was a true renaissance man), great sagacity, tremendous kindness, touching vulnerability (I mean in the sense of being a wonderful person) and brilliant wit. In occasional melancholy moments he sometimes wondered if much of his life had been a failure. I very much doubted it. It struck me as being evident that he had been a tremendous… Read more »

WYH
WYH
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
9 months ago

Simon, Thank you for this information. Our heartfelt thoughts and prayers are with his family. Stanley had a unique gift….. being able to communicate naturally and warmly with individuals. This healthy respect made folks feel that their lives mattered to him. His sharp wit was legendary, I chuckled(even laughed out loud) at his many apt humorous comments on this site. He had the confidence to talk openly about his own vulnerabilities which endeared him to everyone here. I valued and greatly appreciated his contributions.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
9 months ago

I am equally shattered by this news which I will pass on to an organists’ website of which Stanley had been a regular contributor. Stanley was a man of many gifts. As a boy he was a chorister of Carlisle Cathedral. I believe Carlisle was his home city. As an adult musician he graduated as a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists, and held church appointments at Nottingham among other places. He was also distinguished in the medical and surgical worlds, again in Nottingham, and in Dublin where he was the Professor of Anatomy at the Royal College of… Read more »

Sam Jones
Sam Jones
Reply to  Simon Sarmiento
9 months ago

RIP Stanley Monkhouse.

An outstanding contributor to this site.

James Byron
James Byron
9 months ago

Regarding Theo Hobson’s piece, I find it odd that the CoE’s foremost liberal doesn’t wish to frame arguments in terms of universal rights, a concept rooted in Christianity proclaiming all to be equal in God’s sight (as St. Paul illustrated when he asserted his Roman citizenship to escape a jailhouse beating, rights used to be anything but universal). It’s a proclamation we’ve fallen woefully short of, but at least the standard is there, a City on a Hill we inch towards with painful slowness, but urging us on as it glistens in the distance. Why remove that point of inspiration?

Kate
Kate
Reply to  James Byron
9 months ago

I agree very much with the sentiment but not your specific reference to equality as a right because that is a secular perspective. In the church it should be more than that. You quote Paul, which seems right to me, but I suggest that the more central passage is Galatians 3:28. I think ISV captures the depth of the point very well: Because all of you are one in the Messiah Jesus, a person is no longer a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a male or a female. Theo Hobson is right to highlight unity… Read more »

Mark Andiam
Mark Andiam
Reply to  Kate
9 months ago

Part of the problem here is that ‘secular’ England has now implemented Paul’s words in Galatians 3.28 to a greater degree than the Church of England; in this sense it is not a question of us being ‘progressive’ but rather of catching up. Perhaps that is the realpolitik behind Theo Hobson’s article. Of course, this situation can be discussed without explicit reference to Christ Jesus, which is another part of the problem, at least from Paul’s perspective. But then again, to invoke Jesus in support of one’s position without just cause is also a problem, and all parties accuse one… Read more »

Gareth Germain
Gareth Germain
9 months ago

I must admit that Susannah and Graham seem to both completely reverse what Theo is advocating. I can’t help but think he has been prejudged simply because he writes for the Spectator and worked for HM Government. His point is fairly simply. It is somewhat ironic that WATCH, which campaigns for the full inclusion of women in the whole life of the church, now finds its hands tied due to the Five Guiding Principles, which effectively enshrine disunity into issues of Church order. Theo’s suggestion that we should simply campaign to have these Five Guiding Principles abolished makes total sense.… Read more »

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Gareth Germain
9 months ago

Gareth, I wasn’t trying to pre-judge Theo. I didn’t even understand what he was saying: “I’m not really understanding what Theo is advocating…” “I apologise to Theo but I simply can’t get a handle on the specifics of what he is proposing…” “To be fair to Theo, I’m a bit slow understanding what concrete measures he is suggesting for achieving the Holy Grail of Church Unity.” I accompanied those honest admissions that I wasn’t clear what he was actually saying, with 7 questions, trying to get a handle on what he was actually trying to say. As for: “I can’t help… Read more »

Gareth Germain
Gareth Germain
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Susannah, it was more everything you said that flows after “If ‘rights’ are to be subordinated to a drive for ‘unity’…” where you think he wishes to accommodate the right of those who dissent from the prospect of gay marriage or blessings as well as female bishops and priests at the expense of those who are in favour. He says the exact opposite. I don’t know how he would be read any other way?

Re prejudging him apologies that was more aimed at Graham.

Susannah Clark
Reply to  Gareth Germain
9 months ago

I just found it confusing and wanted to get a few responses to help me ‘get’ what he was saying. I wasn’t clear. But thank you for some elucidation. My background in recent years has been anti ‘Anglican Covenant’ (I don’t think uniformity should be imposed on people’s consciences and the Church’s broad diversity of traditions and views. Likewise, though lesbian myself, I do not believe affirmation of gay sex and marriage should be imposed on people’s consciences, in the name of uniformity. And likewise, though a supporter of women’s ordination and consecrations myself, I do not believe that those… Read more »

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  Susannah Clark
9 months ago

Reading the thread above brought me to Proverbs 16 .2
‘Every way of a man is right in his own eyes but the Lord weigheth the heart…..’ ( or any other translation of your choosing )

There are so many opposing views held by church members, and unfortunately all the accommodations to please everyone only seem to be making things worse.

There could be one radical solution- dare I write it?
The Church of England should decide to obey the law of the land …..

Gareth Germain
Gareth Germain
Reply to  Susanna (no ‘h’)
9 months ago

Ummm the Church of England is a legislative body. It passes the law of the land in the same way Parliament does.

Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Susanna ( no ‘h’)
Reply to  Gareth Germain
9 months ago

I thought most Canon law was enacted in the early 1600s ?
The Church of England had to negotiate an exemption from Equalities legislation, and this is what it could- and arguably should – decide to give up

Gareth Germain
Gareth Germain
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
9 months ago

No the C of E constantly passes law. And law making bodies must negotiate with each other to ensure that they don’t contradict. Hence the negotiation around Equalities legislation.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
9 months ago

Canon law is updated, as necessary from time to time, the ordination of women being just one example.

’The exemption from equalities legislation’ is a common misconception. All religions and, indeed, non-belief are protected characteristics under the 2010 Act. This HM Government page explains it in the context of a rejected petition.

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/619001

Mark Andiam
Mark Andiam
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

‘There are not specific exemptions for the Church of England from equality legislation’ but it has been made *illegal* for Church of England clergy to marry couples of the same sex. The argument for this was that it was made necessary by the effect that equality legislation has on the legal duty of CofE clergy to marry people. However it has also had the effect of setting the Church of England against the will of the English people as enshrined in English law, and that cannot stand, even if it may be technically justified.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Mark Andiam
9 months ago

Contrary to popular belief, the right of parishioners to be married in the parish church of the C of E is just that and limited to one or both being residents of the parish, and not to the world at large, hence the residency rules and banns. I don’t think the Equality Act 2010 has had any direct bearing on this. The fact is that the C of E is in the same position as all other religions and denominations in not being legally required to conduct SSMs. Some of course choose to do so. Changing this would require legislation… Read more »

Mark Andiam
Mark Andiam
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

As I understand it (and as a member of the clergy I would be very glad to be proved wrong about this!) the law that specifically and uniquely prevents the Church of England from solemnising same sex marriages the Marriage (Same Sex Couples) Act 2013 itself, by the following measures: Section 1 ‘Preserves the Canon law of the Church of England which states that marriage is between opposite-sex couples only. States that the common law duty on members of the clergy to solemnise marriages does not extend to same-sex marriages.’ Section 2 ‘provides protections for individuals and religious organisations who… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Mark Andiam
9 months ago

There isn’t such a procedure to ‘opt in’. It would be contrary to C of E Canon law which section 1 specifically acknowledges. Opting in is optional; there is no element of inequality discrimination. The Church in Wales has chosen to ‘opt in’ although I do not know whether that is yet fully implemented. In my view it is wholly a matter for the C of E to decide if and when it wishes to accept SSM, not to be told by Parliament that it must. I can’t visualise Parliament ever enforcing the Roman Catholic Church to accept SSM by… Read more »

Mark Andiam
Mark Andiam
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

With respect, neither your view nor my view are the point here, which is that the Church of England has a specific status within same sex marriage legislation that is contrary to the fundamental purpose of that law, a purpose which presumably expresses the will of the people of England. If the Church of England wishes to become the Church in England, or something like it, then so be it, but otherwise I can’t see the current situation being politically sustainable.

Pat ONeill
Pat ONeill
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

As the RC Church is not “by Parliament established” obviously it cannot be ordered to do anything by Parliament. The CoE is in an entirely different set of circumstances.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Susanna ( no ‘h’)
9 months ago

Without making it too complicated, the 1603 Canons were wholly replaced in 1964 and 1969 by the present ones with one exception of a retained reference to the seal of the confessional. Since 1969 there have been in excess of 40 amendments to the Canons. These retain their archaic form, and one hopes that the next general revision, whenever it comes, will be in modern language.

C of E Measures and Regulations are separate legislation. When approved by Parliament, like the Canons, they have full statutory force.

God 'elp us all
God 'elp us all
9 months ago

I find it ‘interesting’comparing the number of contributions regarding Theo’s piece with those in regard of Helen’s. The absence of attention to survivors through August by those with responsibility is deafening. Shame on ‘the church’ and its lack of attention and compassion. Is no-one bothered?

Susanna (no ‘h’)
Susanna (no ‘h’)
Reply to  God 'elp us all
9 months ago

It is ‘interesting’ isn’t it? There was an amazing display of unity over Synod, but ‘compassion fatigue’- or exhausted acceptance seems to have crept in . Just how many times can anyone hit their head on the same brick wall??
Stephen Parsons’ open letter to Alexis Jay was virtually ignored. Maybe July/August, rather than April, ‘is the cruellest month’ when paralysis creeps in?

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Re: the part of the thread ( Simon, Pat, me) on Roman synodality, bishops, and optimism the following article from Commonweal Magazine may be of interest. With regard to “semper idem semper reformanda est“, semper idem always seems to have the upper hand.

https://www.commonwealmagazine.org/francis-fernandez-lintner-bishops-synodality-faggioli

Spoiler alert:

“As Lintner wrote, ‘It casts doubt on the success of synodality’—and in particular, on the chances of synodality to transform relations between theology, lived Catholicism, and the institutional Church.”

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
9 months ago

The part of the thread focusing on Anglican orders focuses on Apostolicae Curae. However, I can’t see any mention of Unitatis Redintegratio (link) from Vatican II. Note this section from Chapter III (13). “Other divisions arose more than four centuries later in the West, stemming from the events which are usually referred to as ‘The Reformation.’ As a result, many Communions, national or confessional, were separated from the Roman See. Among those in which Catholic traditions and institutions in part continue to exist, the Anglican Communion occupies a special place.” (underlining mine). Now, I left the Roman Catholic Church. If… Read more »

John U.K.
John U.K.
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

John Jay Hughes (1928-2020) wrote two good books re-visiting the question of Anglican Orders:
John Jay Hughes, Absolutely Null and Utterly Void: An Account of the 1896 Papal Condemnation of Anglican Orders (Washington 1968); Stewards of the Lord: A Reappraisal of Anglican Orders (London 1970),
but not ultimately accepted by Rome.
Wikipedia has a reasonable account of the question at

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Apostolicae_curae

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  John U.K.
9 months ago

Thanks John. My point is that Apostolicae Curae belongs in an historical context. Vatican II and the post Council era are a very different historical context. I think the Wiki survey, probably adequate as such, is also illustrative of my point. I didn’t see a lot of awareness of the shift in historical contexts in the thread here. I would argue, and I think at least some Roman Catholic theologians would support me on this, that the ‘aggiornamento‘ of Vatican II, which Rome considers to be a Council of the Church, trumps the particular and peculiar concerns of an older… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
9 months ago

At the heart of the matter, on both sides (Roman and Anglican) is a rather mechanical, and I think outdated, view of ‘apostolic succession’. One sees this reflected in Unitatis Redintegratio Chapter I: “Christ entrusted to the College of the Twelve the task of teaching, ruling and sanctifying. … Jesus Christ, then, willed that the apostles and their successors – the bishops with Peter’s successor at their head – should preach the Gospel faithfully, administer the sacraments, and rule the Church in love.” This, of course, is a foundational myth which is historically tendentious to say the least. This kind… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

An excellent counter to the arguments for apostolic succession is the Didache, and there is an excellent recent commentary by Thomas O’Loughlin. It can be argued that in the Didache (a very early text) authority is not vested in individuals but in the community. It is for the community to elect its own bishops, being careful to choose people of excellent quality. And presumably if the community had the authority to elect a bishop, it can sack him too if he goes wrong. Similarly when visited by wandering “prophets” (i.e. those living in the tradition of the disciples, wandering in… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

The use of the apostolic succession shtick to buttress authoritarianism requires critical examination. Decades ago I was at an ordination of a friend to the priesthood. The preacher, my friend’s father, was a bishop in The Episcopal Church at the time. The bishop noted wryly in his sermon, ” If priests have turf, then bishops have empire”. Despite all the really good theology of the past half century about the whole people of God, God’s pilgrim people and so on, we are stuck in this imperial feudalistic model of episcopal ministry. It is a problem because we end up with… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

O’Loughlin argues that the Didache is a much overlooked resource in challenging many preconceptions about how early Christianity developed. Any modern study of St Mary Magdalen is also instructive. According to many early documents, for the first three hundred years of church history she was a respected woman teacher and church leader, and then things changed. One had to ask why things changed. On my own reasoning, the Didache is clear in having two distinct roles, bishop and prophet. The bishop is an elder, elected from within the community. who leads and supervises the activities. Prophets are wandering mendicants who… Read more »

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
9 months ago

When I was a newly minted priest a more cynical older colleague once said to me, ” We tell lies to ourselves when we sing hymns”. When I queried him about this he said, ” Think about it. You know, the hymn, Take My Life and Let it Be, ‘ Take my silver and my gold; Not a mite would I withhold’; we tell lies to ourselves in the church.” lol. A lot of church ‘history’ is a story constructed by vested interests. As we’ve noted here before, critical history has really popped the balloon of a lot of ecclesiastical… Read more »

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
Reply to  Rod Gillis
9 months ago

Courtesy of the website Christianity.com we learn that Frances Havergal, the composer of “Take my life and let it be” did, indeed, give her silver and her gold, some 50 or so items, to ‘the Church Missionary House’. There’s a lot more to this hymn, of course. I have accompanied it many times in church, and it always seemed to engender the singers’ fervour.

https://www.christianity.com/wiki/people/frances-havergal-wrote-take-my-life-and-let-it-be-11630571.html

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

Sure R.W, but you get the point… I wonder how much fervour it converted into.action? Lol.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

A further reflection on the passing of Stanley Monkhouse. To fully understand him, you had to be on his wavelength. His views, sometimes trenchantly, often controversially, expressed here on TA polarised different responses. He always found it painful that some people, and intelligent ones, misunderstood, or misrepresented, what he wrote which was always challenging the reader to think more deeply and consider possible alternatives. He expressed this in his very final published homily: “There are so many apparently brain-dead people in today’s increasingly narrow-minded C of E, so it’s hard work swimming against the tide”. This, notwithstanding, he was in… Read more »

Ex clergy
Ex clergy
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

I was on the same ordination course as Stanley and got to know him a little. It was good to meet someone who challenged others views which as a scientist I was used to in my profession.However I noticed that others did not want to be challenged at all. I read his blogs and they encouraged me at a time when I found the Church of England increasingly stiffling.
He was also a kind and generous man.

Rod Gillis
Rod Gillis
Reply to  Rowland Wateridge
9 months ago

R.W. , I am on the road and just happened on this news in your comment. I am so sorry to hear of Stanley’s death. Our back and forth here on TA resulted in our becoming email pen pals. He tracked down my email address a few years ago and we had some great exchanges about books, for one thing. He was both a thinker and acerbic, two refreshing charisms for a parson. It was great getting to know him a bit even from a distance. Rest eternal.

Rowland Wateridge
Rowland Wateridge
8 months ago

Just announced in the Irish Times, a funeral service for Stanley Monkhouse will be held at St Paul’s Church, St Paul’s Square, Burton upon Trent, Staffordshire, DE14 2FZ on Thursday, September 7 at 2.15pm (family flowers only).
A memorial service in Ireland will follow with a date to be confirmed.

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