Monday, July 12, 2010

Church of England says YES to Women Bishops

We here at the Cafe welcome this news. As we've seen in the Diocese of Rhode Island, traditionalists can be cared for in a compassionate manner by a woman called to be a bishop of the church.  The Bishop of Rhode Island is a good example of how it can be done well. 

From the BBC:

The Church of England's ruling synod has decided that women bishops should be created.

The synod has given minimal concessions to traditionalist Anglicans who opposed the move.

They had sought exemptions from serving under women bishops and guaranteed access to a male alternative.

But the synod decided that it would be up to the women bishops to decide the identity of any bishop coming into their dioceses.

They would also have the ability to dictate the functions these bishops could carry out.

The BBC's religious correspondent Robert Pigott said women bishops would have only to consult a code of practice guiding them in their dealings with traditionalists.

Read it all here.


SometimesWise said...

"The Bishop of Rhode Island is a good example of how it can be done well. "

Well, we all have examples of how it can be done BADLY - and making no provision for conscience is outrageous at best, and tragic at worst. I cannot welcome this news without provision for those who cannot accept a female bishop, other than "guidelines".

Anonymous said...

Sad news -- now , as with TEC, many conservatives will leave the COE leaving fewer conservatives to hold the line against the foaming revisionists remaining. It's a pity -- had the ravers been willing to allow protections [not, of course, dependent on the good nature of the ravers themselves] the conservatives whose consciences are violated -- and who were lied to years earlier by being told this would not happen -- could have stayed.

What a debacle for the COE conservatives and evangelicals and AngloCatholics.

RE: ""The Bishop of Rhode Island is a good example of how it can be done well. "

Yes indeed -- and all the other women bishops in TEC are a good example of how it is usually done, which is quite bullying, fascist, and power-hungry.

Good luck, COE -- and welcome to more of FCA, more division, and some lawsuits too!


Andy said...

I wonder how many will be throwing a Tiber beach party in response to this decision?

Anonymous said...

The Bishop of Rhode Island is a TERRIBLE example of "how it can be done well". Don't assume that because she is female that she supports female clergy. She certainly does not support gay and lesbian clergy and has continuously been unable to see the justice in giving them the love and acceptance that she herself has benefited from. For a church that has for too long ignored the rights of women, were she held to the standards that she holds non heterosexual clergy and lay people, she never would have been ordained, much less accepted as a bishop. Only someone from outside her diocese would hold her up as a role model.

Anonymous said...

Uhhh...I would say Geralyn Wolf is merely the better of bad...

Anonymous said...

an inch at a time.....

Lapinbizarre said...

"..... how many will be throwing a Tiber beach party" Not many, Andy - those opposed to the ordination of women as priests and bishops have a statutory right to ask for a male only ministry.

Anonymous said...

For the proponents, an optional step - even if desirable - takes clear priority over fellowship with the more traditional. So, excommunication of their fellow Christians in the CoE is an acceptable cost for the proponents.

IMHO - quite a sad witness regardless.


TJ McMahon said...

"The Bishop of Rhode Island is a good example of how it can be done well. "
Can you provide some link or reference to the program in Rhode Island? Having spent the last 20 odd years in dioceses where the male bishops have conducted pogroms to rid themselves of all Anglo Catholic clergy and as many laity as possible, it might be interesting to see something that worked. Although I am left scratching my head as to which of the 2 or 3 non-deposed, retired Anglo Catholic bishops is heading off to Rhode Island to provide oversight. Since there is no active Anglo Catholic bishop in TEC.

WannabeAnglican said...

I am appalled you welcome this news. Traditionalists have clearly stated they cannot faithfully submit to women bishops. And they, along with ++York and ++Canterbury for God's sake, asked for adequate provision. That effort failed thanks to the complete lack of grace from the "inclusive" crowd.

Good news this is not!

Daniel Weir said...

Bishops are a strange breed and some on all sides of issues of conscience have - at times - made life very difficult for people with whom they disagree. It shouldn't be necessary for a diocesan to surrender all authority to another Bishop for the consciences of clergy and laity to be honored. Were that the plan in the CofE, I would expect there to be requests for similar provisions for those who disagree with their Bishops' positions.

Robin G. Jordan said...

The C of E had at one time a good reputation of a church that made provision for "conscientious objecters" to changes in the Prayer Book and to women's ordination. This time around General Synod failed to follow the example of past Church Assemblies and General Synods. While all those who support women in ordained ministry and the consecration of women bishops do not support the LGBT cause, the supporters of the two causes do overlap. I anticipated that when women are put on the short list for an open bishopric, they will include partnered and unpartnered lesbian women. The C of E's liberal wing will exploit this development to its best advantage. It is unconcerned that traditionalist Anglo-Catholics and conservative Evangelicals may leave the C of E over this development. Their departure will leave the C of E solidly in liberal hands.

On the bright side, if the C of E continues its present decline, the blame will squarely fall on the liberals.

General Synod was so focused on this issue that it did not address the issue of recognition of the Anglican Church in North America. A C of E dominated by liberals is not going to recognize or support a conservative ecclesiastical organization like the ACNA.

If as a result of this past Saturday's votes a lesbian woman bishop is appointed and consecrated in the C of E, it will have more than a ripple effect through the Anglican Communion. It will have the force of a tsunami and will lead to the complete breakup of the Anglican Communion with the global South Anglican provinces recognizing a state of impaired communion exists between them and the C of E as well as TEC. It is likely to lead to a permanent split in the Communion.

If those who support women in ordained ministry in the ACNA are emboldened by this development to push for a woman bishop in that organization, it will cause the present conservative alliance in the organization to unravel. There is already deep division in the ACNA over women's ordination.

SometimesWise said...

@ Father Daniel:
"It shouldn't be necessary for a diocesan to surrender all authority to another Bishop for the consciences of clergy and laity to be honored."

I guess this could be read several ways, but here's what seems to be escaping the proponents of female bishops: as far as the Anglo-Catholics are concerned, a female bishop is a misnomer - and she is no more a bishop than the sexton is. Therefore, if an Anglo-Catholic congregation has a female diocesan, they HAVE NO BISHOP - she has no authority at all. It is not a matter of "shared" authority, or having a male bishop for "pastoral" needs - they need a male bishop as an authority, an overseer, a shepherd. The vote of the Synod to deny provisions for these folks is cruel at best, and certainly belies any claims of "inclusiveness". I guess inclusive is as inclusive does....

TL said...

As far as this Anglo-catholic is concerned the See of Rhode Island is vacant. There is no Bishop

Unknown said...

It might be worth at this point to caution my Anglo Catholic brethren to consider their reconsider their current approach, at least here at the cafe this evening.

One of the most powerful examples I have seen to encourage tolerance and accommodation for the traditionalist understanding of ordination is the witness of one man, Bishop Keith Ackerman.

A devout traditionalist himself, he shows great charity and kindness to those with whom he disagrees on this subject. Therefore, one is more inclined to listen to him because of his own charity and compassion. He has suffered much - very much - for his views, but while he stands firm in them, he remains kindhearted and compassionate, reaching out and building bridges.

I have found that witness to be quite powerful and why I do not believe that a vote against women's ordination is necessarily a vote against women, as was presented in The Episcopal Church. No, that is not necessarily the case and Bishop Ackerman is a witness to that truth.

I commend to him to you as an example of how to have conversation and discussion on this issue. But I also commend us to remember what it is that is separating the Church - a separation so dire that it brings evangelicals and Anglo Catholics, Reformed and Wesleyan together.

Indeed, I recall another amazing moment. It was at the General Convention in Denver in 2000. There was a resolution on the floor there that would institute investigations (tribunals really) into dioceses that did not ordain women. It was so not good.

At one point, the Ft. Worth delegation was receiving a briefing from one of the team leaders who were working to help bring TEC back to the center. The Ft. Worth delegation was in a tight circle getting their briefing and as I moved closer I saw that the deputies were writing down notes and asking questions and being encouraged by the briefer - who turned out to be an ordained woman. I thought that was pretty cool.


Anam Cara said...

So much for the Fellowship of St. Alban and St. Sergius.

This is just another indication that when Jesus prayed in the garden "Let them be one as we are one" the answer must have been, "Okay for now, but when the 20th century comes, all bets are off!"

As much as it pains people to give up their individual ideas and views, the only way to unity is to return to what was taught and practiced by the apostles and the early Church.

It worked for the first 1000 years. Look at what has happened in the next 1000 years - nothing but splintering, division, denominations - and fighting within as well as between them. Certainly not what Jesus wanted!

W. A. Whitestone said...

In a church that is so lax and double-minded in Scriptural and traditional adherence as to embrace and employ 'gay' clergy 'with benefits', what's the big deal about women in leadership?

Daniel Weir said...

Sometimes Wise & TL,

If women can't be Bishops, then a church that purports to have women bishops can't be Catholic and a Catholic ought to consider seriously leaving. I don't want people to leave the CofE, but I recognize that conscience may make it impossible for some to stay no matter what provisions are provided for pastoral oversight.

Anam Cara said...

You're right, Daniel, especially about the part of pastoral oversight. How can you be in communion with a group that disagrees on something you think is fundmental? Bottom line is, you really can't.

TL said...

Why should those who have maintained the Apostles teaching and adhered to them leave? It is the ones looking to change scripture and the teaching of the Apostles & the Church to their own liking that should be the ones to leave and go build that new grand idea of a church and prove to the world that it works.

But I understand the way the revisionist and the conformists think...."Why start our won when we can take someone else's and force it down their throat or use the secular law to sue them and take their property and assets."

Anonymous said...

True...I agree that +Bishop Ackerman is a saintly man. is good to bridge-build. It was nice of that lady to help the Ft. Worth delegation at GenCon, back in the day. But as others on this thread have said, if WO really worked, then wouldn't the Mainline Denominations in Europe and the West that permit it be growing because of perceived "inclusivity"? There is precious little fruit from it. This does NOT bode well.

Now is not the time for "indaba" and "ubuntu". I have heard many neo-evangelicals say that "Well, bishops are a nice form of government, but not really necessary."..."Well, ordination doesn't really bring ontological change in the one's really just an office." If all bishops and priests are merely role-fillers, then let's all go home.
The Anglo-Catholic view is that ordination "matter" matters. Therefore, to us, the See of Rhode Island is vacant. It doesn't matter how nice she is. Her consecration is invalid to Anglo-Catholics. And let's not forget, she was FOR +Gene Robinson's consecration.

The ACNA, in my opinion, will NOT be able to move forward with just "Indaba" on this subject of WO. It is unsustainable, as it is NOT adiaphora to a very significant number of dioceses...the majority. The problem is that it is being treated as mere adiaphora, which it is not. It is a matter of time until it is faced in the open in an Assembly. It is THE elephant in the room that will break ACNA, if it is not faced. The current Constitutional arrangement won't work.

It's things like this when the opposition tells us that ACNA was all about gay sex. Is that true??? It may not be, but laxity on WO lends credence to that supposition to many.

Anonymous said...

Not sure what TL is referring to. All the recent cases I am aware of involving property and assets relate to people deciding to leave the Episcopal Church to found or join others. No problem with that. The difficulties have arisen when those who leave try to seize property as they depart. Aside from making things extremely difficult for those who stay, there simply is no governing principle in law or ethics on which people leaving a church get to keep stuff. Reading between the lines a bit, I guess TL would say that if your theology is correct, you get to own temporal property against someone whose theology is incorrect (or, perhaps more precisely, if one assesses his view on the centrality of a particular issue to the correct theology of the church, one gets to take title from one who, for a variety of reasons, chooses not to embrace that particular issue as requiring schism). No church could function very long with this viewpoint and it provides absolutely no sustainable basis for sorting out ownership claims within the polity of the Church. The last comment, if superimposed on TL's, would say that opponents of Women's Ordination own ACNA property should they choose to assert this as a controlling issue. Yikes. The vector for this is that we all become Churches of One. (It may work for Army recruiting, but not for Christian fellowship).


Anam Cara said...

TL said...

Why should those who have maintained the Apostles teaching and adhered to them leave? It is the ones looking to change scripture and the teaching of the Apostles & the Church to their own liking that should be the ones to leave and go build that new grand idea of a church and prove to the world that it works.

True, true, true. But sadly it doesn't seem to work that way.

As a child (10 years old), my family left the Lutheran church when it was taken over by "liberals" who wanted to teach that there were no miracles. The Red Sea never parted as the story is told; the children of Israel crossed over a marshy area. I still remember my mother saying, "You may tell children in the Midwest that it was a marsh, but our children in the Carolina lowcountry KNOW you can't drown all of Pharoah's army in a salt marsh!" I wondered then why those who didn't believe what we always taught got to stay and we had to leave. Years later, I wondered why the WO people were getting their way, while those of us who opposed it (and took the historical stand that the Church has always taken) were the outcasts and began to think about the need for checking ordination genealogies in the future.

Then came 1996 when I finally realized that the Episcopal Church had left me. They were not teaching or practicing the historic faith any more and once again, the revisonists were winning. I had already been doing some preliminary searching, but could never join a church unless I could subscribe whole-heartedly with the teachings and practices. I had already been "pushed" out of churches that changed their teachings and practices, I saw no reason to join one that I wished would change. If I wanted to wish someone would change, I could have stayed where I was!

I could never understand why those who hold to the teachings are seen as the dissenters, while those who change things are the ones who get to stay and keep everything!

I became Orthodox where any dissenters (the ones who want to change what the Church has always taught) who might arise are the ones who have to leave.

The Orthodox church still adheres to the faith held the Church in all places and at all times (not by a few at only a given time)

Anonymous said...

Weird to see BabyBlue get pilloried on her own blog. I guess the reported strain between pro- and anti-women's ordination in the ACNA movement is real after all.

Unknown said...

Which reminds us to remind all that this issue is a distraction and not the presenting issue. That is what has brought evangelicals and Anglo Catholics together and something we ought to keep in mind as we take the larger view of what is at work here.


Anam Cara said...

Just found this for folks who might be interested:

Daniel Weir said...

Comments about the question of who left - TEC or traditionalists - raise questions about the polity of TEC and ecclesiology. The decision to allow the ordination of women was made in accordance with TEC polity, as were the decisions to consent to the elections of Mary Glasspool and Gene Robinson.

The question of whether these decisions are in accordance with a reasonable ecclesiology is another matter. Churches have always made changes and there will always be debate about which changes are acceptable. There was debate when TEC ordained a man who was deaf and, if I am not mistaken, such an ordination would still be impossible in the Roman Catholic Church.

I don't have veto power in TEC and, if a decision is made that I can't in conscience support, I will have to consider the option of leaving.

TL said...

Thn why did you not leave Daniel? Why did you not leave long ago knowing that the church's teaching was that there was no WO and no openly partnered homosexuals in Holy Orders? Why did you stay and work so hard to push your secular world-view upon the church?

And by the way if it truly was what God wanted we would not b having these issues now would we? If it was truly what God wanted He would have set it in motion centuries ago. God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow...He and His Word ans His teaching has not and never will change...only humans do.

So es you should have left long ago and started your own feel good about my sin church

Anonymous said...

WO is not a mere "distraction" issue. It will never be. It has caused nothing but trouble, strife, and splintering since it was illegally introduced in 1974. The saga continues. The Prayer Book and WO issues are like yeast that go through the whole loaf, even if most of the loaf doesn't wish to be leavened. I mean, really, did anyone think the controversy would just go away???!!! If anything, Anglo-Catholics and Traditional Evangelicals are united AGAINST WO. TEC told us over and over to look at "the larger view"...that we were too narrow. Many a heresy hath been adopted by avoiding specific problems. Sooner or later, it is NOT healthy to grind teeth and "get along"...because it's phony.

Katherine said...

Baby Blue, I assume you welcome this news because you feel that women should be able to be bishops. I understand that. However, the measure as passed provides no safe place for the Anglo-Catholics or conservative evangelicals. You point to the TEC Bishop of Rhode Island. I have always heard good reports of her, and if all bishops were like her, the problem would be much smaller (although not gone). But you remember yourself how very unsatisfactory the DEPO proposal was to TEC conservatives. For those who cannot accept the ministry of ordained women, this is the same situation. It depends entirely upon the bishop having Christian charity, and that is something which has been sadly lacking in CofE liberal circles. For this reason, because you do look to Anglo-Catholics and conservative evangelicals with charity, I wish you could understand their difficulty.

And secondly, for those who disagree with you about this, it isn't a diversion or an unimportant secondary issue. If the ACNA is to prosper, this also needs to be understood by the pro-WO faction. As presently constituted ACNA does provide the safe place which the CofE is losing. I pray that Christian charity will prevail on our side of the ocean so that promises of continuity will be kept, rather than being callously repudiated as the CofE is doing.

rwk said...

If the "polity" of TEC had not been trampled on by progressives over the years I might have sympathy with Fr. Daniel's argument. From the "clandestine" ordination of women - where the church refused to discipline - through our current crisis, progressives have mocked the polity of the church when it suited their agenda. Now that they dominate the polity that kind of behavior will not be tolerated.

Fr. Daniel, if we had more clergy like you maybe we wouldn't be in this mess. We'd still have problems but scorched earth would not be the driving strategy. But as one of the other poster's said and I concur 100 percent..the Episcopal Church left me, not the other way around.

Unknown said...

I've been a long-time supporter of CBE - Christians for Biblical Equality. You can read more about them at this link:


Anam Cara said...

"If you hold to the concept of a sacerdotal priesthood based on the Apostolic Succession, then the ordination of women is a non-question,.... If, on the other hand, you stand by the Protestant concept of ministry, there’s no real reason why women shouldn’t be admitted to all levels. " ~from the blog Splintered Sunrise above.

I've read the info at the CBE website. There is no doubt that God has given women talents which they are to use for His glory. But many forget that ministry is not limited to the ordained priesthood.
Priesthood is not a "right" or even a "privilege." No one, not even all men that a "right" to ordination.

Jesus chose men as His apostles. When Judas needed to be replaced, he was replaced by a man. Jesus certainly had the ability to choose women (and He did have women in his company, women were the first to witness the resurrection!), he didn't mind turning the social tables upside down. He scandalized the authorities on many occasions with his changing the rules (some of which he made stricter - you have heard it said, do not kill, but I say to you....).

Men and women may be equal, just as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are equal, but they are individuals and have different purposes and actions, just as the members of the Trinity have different purposes and actions even though they are one.

One of those differences between men and women is the priesthood. Women have ministered in many ways; they were leaders, prophets, but not priests. No where in Scriptures, Old or New Testament, or in Church history until the 20th century will you find women in the priesthood. Pagans had priestesses, but not the people of God.

Isn't it strange that if God does not change (Malachi 3:6, Hebrews 13:8, James 1:17, Psalm 102: 25, Numbers 23:19, 1 Samuel 15:29) that the Body of Christ guided and directed by the Holy Spirit would not see calls for ordination of women until 1950 years after Christ?

Just wonderin' about that.

Daniel Weir said...

Two points:

I didn't leave when it wasn't clear that women would ever be ordained, but, as a young seminarian, I was confident that the Episcopal Church would see what I saw in the women in seminary and I was willing to be patient. Had the change not happened, I would have been faced with the difficult question of staying or leaving.

A friend described his own moment of change over the ordination of women. A Roman Catholic priest showed him the list of kinds of people who weren't proper matter for ordination. At the end of a long list of men with disabilities there were two more words: a woman. While I have enough experience with people with disabilities to know that they are not defective people, my friends reaction was that the Church considered women to be defective men and that began a process of rethinking his position on the ordination of women.

I do respect the convictions of those who believe that women can't be ordained. I think they are wrong about that, but then I could be wrong.

Anonymous said...

The organization cited above, Christians For Biblical Equality, reminds me of a Crypto-Progressive TEC philosophy...just dialed back a few discernment went off...not a good feeling...

Katherine said...

What has distressed me about the CofE debate is not that there are believing Christians who don't agree with me about whether women should be ordained. I knew that. Those who stayed in the CofE or TEC after women's ordination became legal were those who felt they could stay so long as their own traditional belief maintained a secure position of full respect. Some, like Bishops Ackerman and Iker, stayed until the "respect" was totally gone, and beyond.

What distressed me is the failure of Christians in TEC and the CofE to stand with their fellow conservatives on this issue of respect and safety while disagreeing on the underlying issue. In TEC, when mandated "gay" acceptance came along, there were no longer enough conservatives left to stop it, in great part because those who were "conservative" on the WO issue had been pushed out. I don't understand why CofE "open evangelicals" can't see this freight train coming. And I don't understand why American conservatives can't see what happened and repent of their hardness of heart.

Daniel Weir said...

Two more points:

I think the provisions in the CofE should be adequate for those who are 1) willing to be in a church that has women bishops and 2) unwilling to accept the direct ministry of a woman bishop.

I think the Church was wrong in linking permanently its understanding of holy orders to the apostles and/or to the temple priesthood. It was not a bad provisional position to take, but as the cultures in which the Church sought to profess the faith changed, it has become an unnecessary stumbling block in many places. Holy orders derive from the Priesthood of Christ in which all the Baptized share.

RMBruton said...

"Put not thy trust in princes ..." Like so much else, they've made episcopacy irrelevant by this completely un-Scriptural act.