Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Torn in two directions

Well, the Cof E has voted for women in the Episcopate. No surprises there then. And I do think it was the right thing to do. Sadly quite a number of my friends there feel very hurt by the way the vote turned out, offering little (as they see it) provision for their point of view. The code of practice doesn't meet up to their hopes. No super bishops.

Part of me is annoyed. It seems silly to have moved from generous provision to less than generous provision, just at the very time you want all the non-fundamentalist hands on deck to repel GAFCON. But the whole GAFCON thing scuppered that. And sadly, I can see why. To continue to admit there can be a choice of Bishop depending on your point of view on one issue would be dangerous in view of the threat of African Conservative Bishop type incursions into the CofE. It's rough on the Anglo-Catholic wing, but there has to be a toughening of the ecclesiology in England. Either you accept the authority of the Bishops of your province as appointed or you don't. No more pick and choose who you work with. But my heart still bleeds for my pals. They are hurting right now.

Pah! Sometimes I detest the institutional Church because of what it does to people. And I have nasty thoughts about it. "May all your grand-daughters grow up to to bishops - and look and think like George Carey!" Still, in God we trust. And not in the Church in this world. Maranatha - Come Lord Jesus!


  1. Can't help feeling uneasy about your annoyance - even if it's only part of you feeling this way. To allow for some people to go on regarding women as second-class clergy - or worse, second-class Christians - seems to me to be pandering to something very unpleasant indeed.

  2. Yes, I suppose it is pandering rather than challenging. I was just feeling rather sorry for my friends who I know to be basically good and Christian people. As I think I said, I don't disagree with the decision and can see no option in the circumstances - the door to allowing people/parishes to pick a bishop they agree with, rather than accept the duly and canonically appointed diocesan has to be closed to resist the intervention of the GAFCON-ites in due course. The generous provision of 1992 is not something that can be afforded in the changed circumstances of 2008.

    But 2 points spring to mind on this. 1) The game is not quite over yet. The English Synod's decision must be ratified by Parliament and it is not unimaginable that they will decide that the provision offered by Synod is inadequte for the traditionalists. The Lords and Commons may yet rule that something more akin to the rejected "Super Bishops" scheme is what the CofE ends up with despite the views of Synod.

    2)The argument that we need to tighten up our borders to resist overseas intervention in our own UK Provinces can and will be used to push signing up to the Covenant. If we are in the Covenant with the Africans we have access to the disciplinary instruments to crack down on unauthorised intrusions like those which have happened in America. This may look all positive ast first but it may herald the thin end of the wedge as far as the Covenant goes. And that may be something that in due course and in the long term, all good liberals find even less palatable than Super Bishops. It's not always a good thing when all your wishes are granted in one area. The knock ons may be less desireable.

  3. I was so relieved that the vote went the way it did - no get out clause.

    From my experience in secular employment, some men are uncomfortable with the concept of reporting to a woman manager. Times have changed but some people haven't caught up yet and pre-conceptions and prejudice remain.
    But once it happens, they get over it pretty quickly. It is the same when they have to report to someone who is younger than they are.

    I have a niggling feeling that it is the same issue and not anything deeply theological that is narking our friends in England.

  4. Oh don't get me wrong, I do think the vote went the right way and, in retrospect, England laid up this trouble for itself back in 92 when it provivded "the pick a bishop clause". For all concerned, it might well have been better if they had done what Scotland did. 6 months pause to decide if you go or stay, severance package for those who go, but if you stay, you are in a Church which does this, so get used to it.

    But this may not be the final outcome due to Parliament. Also, the English GS is due for elections before the final vote in 2014 and the balance of Synod may change if the conservative Catholics and the conservative Evangelicals join forces and vote tactically to put in a more conservative Synod. This is not a done deal yet by any means. It is a stage on the way.

  5. I think there is a problem with people thinking that those who are unable to accept women bishops are against women in any positions of authority.

    I was always brought up being told that the Church of England is part of the Catholic Church. The Anglican Church has no coherent views on the ordination of women. It is ridiculous that a woman ordained in one province is not able to act in a province that does not ordain women. So there is no universal understanding of priesthood.

    As for the option - put up with it or get out. I'm taking the second option and going to the Catholic Church. So goodbye CofE and the Anglican Communion. Hello Holy Father!

  6. Fair comment on the reality of objectors views - there is diversity. Some from the more evangelical end of the spectrum might have problems with the headship argument. Less so the Catholic end. And yes, there is no clear cut universal understanding of "priesthood" - my understanding and that of ABp Jensen of Sydney would be very, very different. It is ridiculous that a person ordained in Scotland cannot act according to their order in non-women ordaining Province (of which there are a decreasing number) so the understanding of priesthood in the AC is evolving and becoming general. As the order of Priests originally emerged from the order of Bishops - ekklessia by ekklesia!

    Still Gussie I am genuinely sorry you are leaving us. God with God and with every good wish and prayer.