Wednesday, 28 January 2015

In Communion with Canterbury or the Church Commisioners

The Church of England now has its first female Bishop.  This is a source of great joy for most of its members and of much grief for a significant minority.  The major kerfuffle has oddly not been over the consecration of Libby Lane but over the forthcoming consecration of Philip North as Bishop of Burnley.  The proposed service has the unusual innovation of the consecration not being performed by the relevant Metropolitan (in this case the Archbishop of York) but by Bishops to whom he has delegated the task. While this is absolutely York's prerogative, it is being seen as enshrining a "theology of taint" in as much as only bishops opposed to the ordination of women will actually lay hands on Philip North.

As someone who was Fulham Jurisdiction/FiF at one point, I have to say this is a description of conservative Anglo-Catholic theology I don't recognise. The objection was never phrased in terms of taint but of broken communion. Stuff about "taint" so prevalent on "liberal" websites is as far as I can see fairly hysterical and mainly American.  I think the proposed arrangements are deeply peculiar and un-catholic.  Flying bishops (Provincial Episcopal Visitors) have been ordained in the C of E before but the Archbishop in whose Province they will serve always led the laying on of hands.  This new "hands off" approach seems to solidify the reality of there being a Church within a Church that has been hinted about for years but never before explicitly acknowledged.  References within Anglo-Catholic to things like "the See of Ebbsfleet" or "Apostolic Districts" have built his up, ignoring the legal position of the PEV's as Suffragans of the Archbishop.  That I find un-catholic and a bad idea.  If a portion of the Church is allowed to function with a totally parallel structure of bishops deeply disconnected from their metropolitan, then it is not so much being in communion with Canterbury as being in Communion with the Church Commissioners who pay stipend and pensions.  It's not so much ecclesial communion as administrative communion. And that is a sad state of affairs.

It also begs the question of who are we as Scottish Episcopalians in Communion with in England? The whole C of E or just most of it?

No comments:

Post a Comment