Thinking Anglicans

See of Ebbsfleet – consultation

Press release from the Church of England

See of Ebbsfleet – consultation

12/05/2022

Following the resignation of the former Bishop of Ebbsfleet, Jonathan Goodall, in September last year, a consultation on the way forward for the see has received a number of calls to consider relocating the post to be rooted in an individual diocese and diocesan college of bishops.

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet – one of the Church of England’s three ‘Provincial Episcopal Visitors’, who minister to traditional catholic parishes – has been responsible primarily for churches in the western half of the Church of England’s Province of Canterbury.

Following the initial consultation, a suggestion from the Archbishop of Canterbury to revive the suffragan See of Oswestry in the Diocese of Lichfield is currently being explored.

The proposal would involve a future Bishop of Oswestry living in the diocese and ministering to traditional catholic parishes in that and other dioceses of the West Midlands and South West of England.

No decisions have been taken. Initial consultations are currently underway within the Diocese of Lichfield, with The Society and in consultation with the Archbishop of Canterbury. Any proposal would then be considered by the Dioceses Commission this summer.

Notes to Editors:

  • The Provincial Episcopal Visitors – the Bishops Beverley, Richborough and Ebbsfleet – were created as part of the arrangements in 1992 which first enabled women to be ordained as priests.
  • The See of Oswestry was one of a number of sees created in the 19th Century but never filled
  • Further information about The Society (more fully, The Society under the patronage of Saint Wilfrid and Saint Hilda).
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David Smith
David Smith
16 days ago

The term “provincial episcopal visitor” was created by the Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod 1993 and should now be as extinct as the dodo and the Act that created it. Forward in Faith may cling to it on their website: ‘The title and role of the “provincial episcopal visitor” are currently set out in the 1993 Act of Synod. There is no reason why these – or the financial arrangements for the three sees – should change when the 1993 Act of Synod is rescinded, given the House’s wish for there to be continuity. As noted in paragraph 30 of… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
16 days ago

This is the perfect opportunity to draw a line under this misconceived scheme, which perpetuates an uncatholic view of orders and which was designed solely to exclude women priests from parts of the life of the church.
This arrangement is a cause of shame to all members of the Church of England. Don’t replace Ebbsfleet or the others when they retire. Let’s regain the unity of Holy Orders and the unity of all of us in Christ.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Toby Forward
16 days ago

And again, Mr Forward, by regaining this unity, there is the desire to force out of the CofE those who, in conscience, cannot accept the priesthood of women. We’ve been through this at least twice before. Either the CofE is committed to mutual flourishing and allowing a place for those who disagree with specific Episcopal oversight or, like Sweden, it legislates them out. Do you want those who dissent from WO to leave the CofE or do you wish them to go against their conscience in order to stay or do you wish to accept the sticking-plaster known as “mutual… Read more »

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  Warwickensis
16 days ago

Mutual flourishing you say? Every altar in the Church of England is open to every male priest. But there are altars where women are not allowed to preside at the eucharist. Altars where men who have ordained women, or concelebrated with them, or even received Holy Communion from them are disallowed from presiding. This is not mutual flourishing. This is apartheid. This is like asking black and white citizens of Southern States in the USA to agree to mutual flourishing before the Civil Rights Laws. It’s a sham and a disgrace. It’s a lie. Time to tell the truth. Time… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Toby Forward
16 days ago

No. It’s not like Apartheid and, quite frankly, that is an unkind category error which, perhaps, betrays precisely the same bigotry with which members of FiF are accused daily just for believing that God instituted a male-only priesthood. There is no measurement of women being lesser because they are not capable of priesthood any more than there is a perception of men being lesser because they cannot have babies. I grant that there has been much political subjugation of women, but the priesthood is of divine institution, not a political institution save only with those who make it so. No,… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Warwickensis
15 days ago

Could you explain how the scandal of the Church’s treatment of ordained women differs from Apartheid? I would remind you that many supporters of Apartheid believed it too was divinely ordered.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Kate
15 days ago

Kate, I would be very happy to explain. Apartheid is based on the theory that one race is superior to another despite the fact that there are no biological differences between races (races may interbreed, et c). Any distinction between races is arbitrary and political, not ontological. To act as if someone was inferior because of one’s race is racism. Apartheid is a vile discrimination based on racist politics. Likewise to act as if women are inferior to men is sexism, and I agree that there have been some horrendous instances of non-WO Christians seeing women as inferior: again this… Read more »

Kate
Kate
Reply to  Warwickensis
15 days ago

So you are arguing that ministry and headship are male only roles; the only exclusive roles for women are obeying their husbands and carrying babies; but, don’t worry, women aren’t being treated as inferior?

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Kate
15 days ago

Not at all. By way of a bit of background, I am married to a woman I could not be more proud of. I gave up my paid work to look after our children in order for her to pursue her career. A head is no good without a body and to regard the body to be inferior because it is not a head is rather divisive to the body. St Paul is talking for an organic view of humanity, not a political one. I am not an evangelical, but a Catholic albeit Anglican. Like other Catholics, I believe that… Read more »

Simon Dawson
Simon Dawson
Reply to  Warwickensis
15 days ago

You said “according to Catholic teaching (accepted by the CofE until 1992) only certain men were to become priests.” Surely this should read “according to CURRENT Catholic teaching (accepted by the CofE until 1992) only certain men were to become priests.” A study of history shows that in the past the church has changed its mind on many things, for example on slavery and racial discrimination (Origen said some quite unpleasant things related to the curse of Ham”). The Church also had to change its mind and its teaching after Copernicus and Galileo came up with new ideas about the… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Simon Dawson
15 days ago

That depends on what you mean by “Catholic”. Given that neither the Orthodox nor the Roman Catholic believe in the mutability of doctrine, I meant what I said, i.e. there is no such thing as “CURRENT” Catholic teaching.

Again, the situations you cite are political, NOT ontological.

Simon Kershaw
Reply to  Warwickensis
15 days ago

Whilst it is true that there are important physical differences between the male and the female that prevent one sex or the other from doing some things, essentially reproductive things (passing on a Y chromosome, or bearing a child or nursing a child being chief among them perhaps), most other things are cultural differences rather than physical. It was a long time before women were allowed to be doctors, or lawyers, or MPs, but few beyond the Taliban would argue that women cannot undertake these and other roles (or indeed that men cannot undertake roles which used to be considered… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Simon Kershaw
15 days ago

I rather think that we are now getting into the fact that there are, as the Orthodox would say, different phronema. It is clear that, within Anglicanism, there are different ways of looking at things which make no sense to others. Simon, you’ve passed from ontology to roles. I’ve often heard the God as Mother Hen used to put forward the idea that the Father has no gender. My sex is male, that is my ontological status. My role is house-husband. If we say that the latter is a female role then, as you will point out, that is sexism.… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Kate
15 days ago

Further, Kate, I don’t think anyone has been physically tortured, arrested or imprisoned for the cause of either WO or non-WO with the sanction of the powers-that-be.

Graham Watts
Graham Watts
Reply to  Warwickensis
15 days ago

Dress it up in whatever lanugage that you like – it is pure prejudice. Wouldn’t be allowed in an other organisation except for private clubs which can have their own rules.
Why would any female want to be part of a denomination where they are relegated to being a second class citizen? Seems like a lack of self respect to me, maybe they do believe that they are less than men.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Graham Watts
15 days ago

Why is saying “any defence that a non-WO might make is pure prejudice” not an instance of pure prejudice?

Why is the Church not different from a worldly institution?

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Toby Forward
15 days ago

It has been painfully moving to see Ukranian Orthodox clergy giving comfort , or officiating at funerals for their suffering parishioners during this dreadful period. I’m sure it is furthest from their minds that Apartheid is being committed because the priests are male only. Putin’s lies are “a sham and a disgrace” along with Patriarch Krill’s appalling support. The role of women in Orthodoxy pales into insignificance compared to Putin’s failure to allow for “mutual flourishing” between Orthodox Christians.

Toby Forward
Toby Forward
Reply to  FrDavid H
15 days ago

That’s a false analogy. The apartheid image only works in a church which introduces a dual system.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Toby Forward
15 days ago

No it doesn’t. Women can’t be ordained in the Orthodox and RC Churches on the basis of gender. What could be more discriminatory than that? In South Africa there was no “dual system”. It was one white man, one vote.

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  FrDavid H
15 days ago

It helps to understand this discussion to note that “prejudice” means “based on principles different to mine” and “discrimination” means “drawing a distinction based on criteria different to mine”.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
14 days ago

“Prejudice” means creating a definition which suits my argument. “Discrimination” means “respecting other people’s right to hold different views”.

Geoff M.
Geoff M.
Reply to  Warwickensis
16 days ago

“Either the CofE is committed to mutual flourishing and allowing a place for those who disagree with specific Episcopal oversight or, like Sweden, it legislates them out.”

Without commenting on the substantive argument, I’ll just note that these are not the only two alternatives available. There are provinces of the Communion like my own that have neither purged those who hold to a male priesthood nor set up bespoke parallel structures.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Geoff M.
16 days ago

Would the other models work in the UK? How would a non-WO parish find Episcopal oversight if they are situated in an area with female Diocesan and pro-WO assistants – a situation which for the parish is theologically inappropriate?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Warwickensis
14 days ago

It involves the anti-women crew getting over their prejudices. It, in fact, already happens in the UK. No bishops fly in this realm of Scotland, and the sky has not fallen in. A few folk had a petulant strop about Bishop Ann but that was about it.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Jo B
14 days ago

So it involves the non-WO going against their conscience, Jo? Would you like to go against yours?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Warwickensis
14 days ago

We don’t allow those who only want a white priest to have their way just because they claim to be following their “conscience”. Some injustices cannot and should not be tolerated. Where are the limits of “conscience”?

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Jo B
14 days ago

May I refer you, Jo, to my earlier answer on why race and sex are not comparable when it comes to the Catholic understanding of the priesthood?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Warwickensis
13 days ago

In your version of Catholic theology, not everyone’s. It’s pretty easy to look at the Hebrew scriptures and conclude that in calling out the Jewish people to be a light to the nations God made them different in much the same way that God makes priests different. In the theology of others it was believed that God had created different peoples on different continents and intended that they be separate. Now you and I both know that is nonsense, but you could go to South Africa or parts of the US to this day and find people who consider themselves… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Jo B
13 days ago

No, Jo, it’s not *my* version of Catholicism that I’m preaching but the same Catholicism that is still taught both by the Roman and Orthodox Churches: women cannot be priests. I don’t know how many more times I can say this: race is not sex. Race is accidental, sex is substantial. No-one persecutes women priests: if they do then they commit a sin and, actually to make the comparison is to belittle the suffering of those under apartheid. Look, I suspect that all we are going to do is go around and around in circles, misunderstanding each other just like… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Warwickensis
13 days ago

You’re not quite getting my point. I’m not (in this instance) saying that race and sex are equivalent, only that there are Christians who (apparently) sincerely believe that both race and sex are grounds for treating people differently in regard to their roles in the church. Now, you have a theological rationale for your view, which is a view shared by some Catholic Anglicans, but it is not THE Catholic view as evidenced by the great many female members of the Society of Catholic Priests. “But Rome and Constantinople do it” is not a sufficient justification, if it were we… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Jo B
12 days ago

My final word:

It doesn’t matter what my answers are, Jo. You have just made it clear that there needs to be a separation between WO and non-WO in order to prevent harm being transmitted from the non-WO to the WO.

I would say that, if your view is the prevailing view, that you should encourage FiF to exist and provide for its existence in order to keep them away from those who do no such harm. But then, because I and my ilk are so harmful, it might be best not to have them in the CofE at all.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Warwickensis
12 days ago

Containing harm is not a solution. Telling clergy that they can accept the authority of their diocesan bishop or resign their office is entirely in keeping with the Catholic order and the doctrines of the Church of England. Once the Society can no longer use the CofE to legitimise their beliefs the number of CofE members with anti-women views will shrink rapidly (and I don’t mean by being forced out, just by the realisation that women can be and are priests). The “period of reception” has gone on long enough. The idea that clergy get to pick and choose their… Read more »

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
12 days ago

Not quite heresy: see Canon III of the Council of Ephesus.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Interested Observer
12 days ago

I disagree. It sounds like Donatism to me.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
12 days ago

Then you would be wrong. Donatism is with regard to the sinfulness of priests, not with regard to the validity of sacraments. A baptised stone is not a Christian. Saying so is not Donatism.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Interested Observer
12 days ago

Donatism is with regard to deciding that the sacraments are invalid because the priest celebrating is, in your eyes, defective in some way.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
12 days ago

So now you change the meaning of words to fit your understanding. I see. History disagrees with you.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Interested Observer
12 days ago

The Donatists believed the sacraments to be invalid if the priest sinned. You appear to be the one changing words.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
11 days ago

Indeed, that is where we agreed. But you in your earlier quote stated that Donatism is where the sacraments are stated to be invalid when the priest is “defective in some way” (your words, not mine).

But now you have said that Donatism is about the claiming that the sacraments are invalid due the sinfulness of the priest, which is correct.

Is being a woman sinful? No clearly not, so your attribution of Donatism to those who do not support the ordination of women is indeed incorrect.

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Interested Observer
11 days ago

The same principle – that the qualities of the priest can invalidate the sacraments – underlies both.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
11 days ago

But not agreed by History. Only by your interpretation.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
11 days ago

Further, the Church of England sees itself as *part* of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church alongside the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches. They clearly do not see Donatism the way you do, neither has the Church of England made such an official set of anathemata. It might seem that such is your loathing for those who hold to a doctrine that all the above churches have held for millennia that you *want* them to be heretics and will do everything in your power to denounce them as such. Indeed that you see no harm in forcing out of… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Interested Observer
11 days ago

Nobody is being forced out, and it’s absurd to suggest they are.

Since you seem to be playing both devil’s advocate and armchair psychologist I’ll leave it there.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
11 days ago

And so you refuse to recognise at least one person’s (Warwickensis’) testimony that he was forced out? Does that mean that only the “right kind” of testimony of being harmed is acceptable, the rest being “absurd”? Is that not another form of your understanding of Donatism?

It’s a shame that you do not wish to reflect on the ramifications of your theology. I’m sure, however, that you do that daily any way.

Simon Sarmiento
Reply to  Interested Observer
11 days ago

I think it’s time for this exchange to cease. Thank you.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
12 days ago

Also interesting that it takes an outsider to defend FiF and the Society. Why is that?

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Interested Observer
12 days ago

Further, an ordained potato is defective in the eyes of the Church. Is it Donatism to say so?
Is it Donatism to say that anyone who doesn’t meet the Board of Ministry’s requirements for ministry cannot be ordained?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Interested Observer
11 days ago

I would suggest that the latter is a *should* not, not *can* not. We’ve seen in Winchester that ill-advised ordinations are still valid, and it’s long been the case that the CofE has recognised the orders of any priest ordained by a bishop in apostolic succession, and accepted their sacraments as valid. Even Patriarch Kirill can validly celebrate the sacraments.

When a potato can do what is necessary to celebrate the sacraments (i.e. say or sign the words, perform the actions) then we can worry about whether it is possible to ordain them.

Interested Observer
Interested Observer
Reply to  Jo B
11 days ago

So you agree then this is a further refutation to the idea that Donatism is the heresy that the sacraments cannot be validly confected by priests who are “defective in some way”?

Are we therefore agreed that Donatism is the heresy that the sacraments cannot be validly confected by priests who are defective in a *particular* way, to wit the state of being sinful?

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Jo B
12 days ago

Just to be clear, then, clergy in the Anglican diocese of Sydney who do not accept, on the authority of their diocesan bishop, the invalidity of the ordination of women should resign their offices?

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
11 days ago

False equivalence. They don’t have to accept (as in agree with) the bishop, they just have to accept that the bishop is the bishop and (only) those licensed by the bishop may minister in that diocese. They are free to disagree with the bishop, and to seek to elect a better one in future, but not to demand “oversight” from another bishop who agrees with them, except in a situation where the bishop is removed from office for some grave offence (and I don’t think either reactionaries or liberals want duelling heresy trials).

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Jo B
11 days ago

Well, that’s clear. Just to check, your position is as follows. Clergy in a diocese must abide by the decisions of their diocesan bishop, or resign. Clergy in Sydney who believe that women can be priests must nonetheless treat women as if those cannot be priests: they must not allow women ordained elsewhere to robe other than as deacons, or celebrate communion in their churches. They are permitted to believe those things are wrong and harmful, but must continue to perpetuate those harms — or resign. Tough, but clear. By the same token, clergy in Perth who believe that women… Read more »

Jo B
Jo B
Reply to  Unreliable Narrator
11 days ago

Your Perth example indisputably strays into Donatism, even by the narrow definition given above.

Unreliable Narrator
Unreliable Narrator
Reply to  Jo B
11 days ago

Not my example, but yours. I’m repeating what I understand to be your position, they just have to accept that the bishop is the bishop and (only) those licensed by the bishop may minister in that diocese. They are free to disagree with the bishop, and applying it to a particular pair of examples in existence today. If you think that adherence to your position implies Donatism, or anything else heretical, then it is surely for you to reconsider it.

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Geoff M.
15 days ago

I would be interested to know how it is possible for a non-WO parish in a Diocese with, say, female Diocesan and pro-WO assistant bishops to find appropriate Episcopal oversight if there is not a system of connecting said parish with a non-WO bishop. If this indeed can be made to work in the UK, it might make “Mutual Flourishing” less of an empty mantra especially when *both* sides have experience of it failing.

Dominic Barrington
Dominic Barrington
16 days ago

I must be being dim… Quite aside of the larger points made above about the appropriateness – or lack thereof – of having such a post, I can’t begin to fathom whether it makes a jot of difference to call a boundary-crossing anti-women suffragan bishop of Ebbsfleet or Oswestry. What is the difference???

Perry Butler
Perry Butler
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
15 days ago

I suppose Dominic it roots the bishop in a diocese with other episcopal colleagues in that diocese like + Fulham, Burnley, Lewes and Wakefield. That said I wonder why discussion isn’t in progress to do the same with Beverley and in time Richborough? I’m not entirely sure why complementarian evangelicals need their own bishop theologically except to represent a point of view within the episcopal college post the departure of +W Benn It is a way , I suppose of holding together people of diverse ( incompatible?) views

RosalindR
RosalindR
Reply to  Perry Butler
15 days ago

This is the question I would be interested in hearing more about. The press release and diocesan website describe what might happen but not why this is being suggested.  It might well make sense to locate any Bishop of Ebbsfleet in the West Midlands if this is where  most of his ministry is located, but there is no need to become a suffragan of Lichfield for this to happen – previous bishops have lived in different parts of the southern province as worked best for them.  + Fulham, Burnley, Lewes and Wakefield are suffragan bishops who do not ordain women… Read more »

Chris
Chris
Reply to  Dominic Barrington
14 days ago

One difference it makes is to the people who live in Oswestry (both the town and the deanery of the same name), because the name will become associated with the PEV bishop, whether people like it or not. And that will have implications, perhaps especially for women clergy in that town/deanery.

Stanley Monkhouse
Reply to  Chris
14 days ago

it’s noteworthy that one of the five conevo churches in Lichfield diocese that look to the Bishop of Maidstone (there are others that don’t) is in Oswestry!

Chris
Chris
Reply to  Stanley Monkhouse
14 days ago

Fair point, I didn’t know that.

Simon Sarmiento
Admin
16 days ago
Susannah Clark
15 days ago

On some platforms I am excoriated for my so-called ‘liberal theology’. I am sorry to disappoint some, but I believe the idea of an all-male ordained priesthood is one valid understanding of the Bible and tradition. I don’t hold that view myself, but I recognise the faith, sincerity and idealism of walking that path or worshipping in such a community. As with other issues of disagreement in the Church, we need to be scrupulous about respecting genuine conscience. We are not all called to walk the same paths. I believe a degree of maturity is needed: 1. Priests or lay… Read more »

Warwickensis
Warwickensis
Reply to  Susannah Clark
15 days ago

Amen, Susannah! Thank you. Had your attitude been in more prevalence ten years ago, I might still be in the CofE.

FrDavid H
FrDavid H
Reply to  Susannah Clark
15 days ago

A sensible comment from Susannah, as usual.

Stephen King
Stephen King
12 days ago

Could someone please explain one point for me. As I understand it, the PEVs were introduced so that parishes opposed to the ordination of women could avail themxselves of the ministry of a bishop also so opposed. They were not – correct me if I am wrong – introduced so that evangelical parishes could circumvent the ministry of an Anglo-Catholic bishop (or vice versa). So, as the present Bishop of Lewes does not ordain women to the priesthood, is there (a) any need for parishes in his area to opt for the ministry of the Bishop of Maidstone, and (b)… Read more »

Gervase Gibbon
Gervase Gibbon
10 days ago

Oswestry and the north west portion of Shropshire was in the diocese of St Asaph until disestablishment, other than than the site of the martyrdom of St Oswald, it is the birthplace of Barbara Pym, oh what she could have made of this suggestion!

Last edited 10 days ago by Gervase Gibbon
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