Archive for November, 2012

The Church of England: Lessons for ACNA

Friday, November 30th, 2012

by Fr Dale Matson, ACNA

“For those pushing for women bishops in the Church of England, there is after all only one real theological argument. And it is that the office of priest and the office of bishop are fundamentally united, and that there should not be a class of people ordained to be priests who cannot be bishops:” Post on Stand Firm blogI agree with this and believe it is the crux of the issue. Women priests are already a break from tradition and scripture. Once this is allowed, the measure is no longer scripture and tradition but consistency. The cloth begins to unravel.

 “Archbishop Duncan has appointed the Rt. Rev. David Hicks, Bishop of the REC Diocese of the Northeast & Mid-Atlantic to lead a Theological Task Force on Holy Orders. The Task Force will lead the College of Bishops through a thorough study regarding the ordination of women to Holy Orders.”
How the issue of the ordination of women to the priesthood is resolved in the ACNA may be their most important decision theologically. It is not a second order issue. A theologically sound decision must be made. One issue is an existing provision in the constitution and canons of the church.

Orthodox fear for ecumenical future

Friday, November 30th, 2012

Metropolitan Hilarionby George Conger, CEN

WOMEN BISHOPS, gay marriage and other innovations of doctrine and discipline will end meaningful Anglican-Orthodox relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR) has warned.

At a 26 November meeting in Moscow, Ambassador Tim Barrow and second secretary James Ford met with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the official press statement, “Metropolitan Hilarion greeted the Ambassador and shared his reminiscences of his student years in Oxford and his impressions of the recent visit to London where he attended celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sourozh diocese.”

They also discussed the situation of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, the role the Russian Orthodox and Polish Catholic Churches had played in reconciling the “peoples of Russia and Poland” and the state of “Orthodox-Anglican relations at present” – which the Moscow Patriarchate said were at a nadir.

On 13 November, Hilarion wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury designate, Bishop Justin Welby, offering his greetings upon the Bishop of Durham’s appointment as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

However, Hilarion said meaningful Orthodox-Anglican ecumenical dialogue had all but died, and it was the Anglicans who have killed it.

In a carefully worded letter, Hilarion stated Moscow expected Bishop Welby to discipline the liberal wing of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Welby had been “entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth.

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Joint Press Statement from the Chairmen of the Catholic Group and Reform in General Synod November 28th 2012

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Women Bishops – The Way Ahead

The Chairmen of the Catholic Group in General Synod and the conservative Evangelical group Reform, who called for talks to break the deadlock over legislation to enable the consecration of women as bishops, have received acknowledgement of their request from the Archbishops of Canterbury and York.

Canon Simon Killwick (Catholic Group) and Prebendary Rod Thomas (Reform) have today further pledged themselves to do everything they can to ensure the speedy and safe passage of fresh legislation through the General Synod.

They said, “If agreement can be reached at round-table talks on fresh legislation which provides clearly and fairly for all members of the Church of England, there is no reason why fresh legislation should not be fast-tracked through the Synod before the next elections in 2015.”

The Synod’s Standing Orders only prevent the reconsideration of the same legislation during this period.

“It has never been our intention to prevent the consecration of women as bishops; our concern has always been for legislation which also made clear and fair provision for the substantial minority,” the Chairmen concluded.

The legislation which failed last week in the Synod would have had devastating consequences for the diversity and mission of the Church of England, had it been passed. We want the Church of England to continue to be a broad and comprehensive national Church.

Canon Simon Killwick
Prebendary Rod Thomas
(Chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod) (Chairman of Reform)

28th November 2012
Issued by Martin Dales on behalf of the Chairmen of both Groups
Enquiries in the first instance to Martin on 01653 600990, 07764 985009

A Shameful Caricature, and a Warning

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

By Canon Phil Ashey, AAC

In the wake of the narrow defeat of the women bishops measure in the Church of England’s General Synod by six votes in the House of Laity, a torrent of criticism has been unleashed on evangelical and Anglo-Catholic Anglicans who opposed the measure. From the Archbishop of Canterbury, members of Parliament, and down through the ranks, the consciences and reasons of those who voted against the measure have been belittled and even vilified. This vilification is most obvious in the editorial in The Guardian (London) from Friday, Nov. 23 by Canon Giles Fraser. Until recently, Canon Fraser held a senior position in one of the most important cathedrals in the UK. In his editorial, Fraser demeans the conscience and scholarship of faithful Anglicans who voted against the measure by caricaturing them as follows:
[…]  I submit that this is revealing glimpse at the loathing that many in the leadership of the Church have for people of faith who are evangelical and Anglo-catholic, and who both act and vote their conscience. It should be fairly obvious why this is a problem for Anglicans in the Church of England-and throughout the Anglican Communion wherever this kind of anti-Christian post-modern mindset has taken root among church leaders:

Who are the Bigots Now?

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

By Peter Hitchens, Mailonline

(This is part of a much longer blog post – scroll down a little)

[…0  But I also know that plenty of my fellow-worshippers take other views. For them, women cannot be truly ordained. I disagree with them, but I understand that they believe this to be hugely important, and that it is not motivated by loathing of women. A recently-retired vicar of my acquaintance, who held to this view, was living, breathing proof of that, being amongst other things very happily married, saintly in his person, and ( as Anglo-Catholics often are) rather left-wing politically. To keep him and others like him in his post, the church set aside a small corner where there would be no women ministers. Why not do the same with bishops?

You tell me. But when (as on the BBC programme ‘The Big Questions’ on Sunday, still available on i-player) I found myself facing the champions of change, it rapidly became obvious that they were not interested in having women bishops *as such*. They could have had that years ago. They were interested in having women bishops at all costs, without any conditions or limits, and with no binding concessions to (perhaps) a quarter of Anglicans who, for one reason or another, are deeply unhappy about the idea. Well, as we know from history, if you want unconditional surrender, you condemn yourself to a much longer and crueller war than if you are prepared to make terms.

Always suspect a cause that does not present itself straightforwardly as what it is. It has something to hide. And always mistrust any movement which has universal approval. It is precisely when ‘everyone’ thinks something that the thoughtful person needs to cry out ‘wait!’ and demand time to consider.

When the General Synod failed to agree on the specific proposal for the introduction of women bishops, last Tuesday evening, it absolutely did not reject the principle of appointing women as bishops, only the particular version of it under discussion.

An earlier version of the plan, containing much stronger protection for dissenters, was about to be voted on last July, during the normal meeting of the Synod at York. An amendment, drawn up by the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury in consultation with other bishops, was designed to deal with the concerns of traditionalists. Had it gone through then, there would have been women bishops by 2014 and possibly sooner.

The traditionalists wanted to have the undoubted right to be supervised by male bishops , even if they lived in an area headed by a female bishop. This wasn’t very different from the time-worn arrangement for parishes which didn’t want female clergy.

But Kaboom! A wave of supposed ‘outrage’ swept through the meeting.

Read here

Women bishops: a campaign of disinformation

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

By Chris Sugden

There has been a campaign of disinformation since the synod vote last Tuesday. Ordinary people I have talked with expressed great surprise when they heard our side of the story: that people did not vote against women bishops but against this particular measure.

M.P. Frank Field has said that the ‘reformers’ should have established the principle of women bishops, met the objections and that “whether they (women bishops) are curtailed in certain ways does not matter.”

The real question is whether a bishop is a monarch or whether there can be plural and collaborative leadership. All bishops have equal authority in their own sphere of ministry. The authority of women bishops would not be diminished by sharing their authority with a male bishop since all would have to so share.

We have offered varieties of this solution many times. People need one where in conscience they can accept the authority of the male bishop in whose jurisdiction they serve and they need some such conservative bishops to be appointed following an agreement.

As traditional progressives, rather than slavishly following tradition, we hold that faithfulness to the Biblical teaching is the only grounds for challenging injustice, poverty and oppression. We look for an arrangement which secures our future in the Church of England as a legitimate Anglican position and which provides a regular supply of ordinands accepted for training, ordination, deployment and appointment to senior posts and the office of bishop.

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Giles Fraser Demonstrates Why Conservatives Were Entirely Correct to Question “Respect”

Tuesday, November 27th, 2012

This piece stand alone, with no need for commentary. Remember, this is a man who was appointed by the institution to a senior position at one of the most important cathedrals in the Church of England.

There was this lad at school who got bullied all the time. When he wasn’t being bullied he was being ignored. He was thin, quiet and spotty. It says something that I cannot even remember his name. But at some point he got picked up by the Christian Union. They made him feel like he belonged and gave him a club to be a part of. And from then on, he began to wear the slightly superior look of someone who thinks he knows something that other people don’t know. Being an outsider became a badge of pride. He was now a Christian. And, in a way, the more ridiculous and unpopular the things he believed the better.

For his beliefs became a sort of barrier against the cruelty of the world. So the more people said his views were stupid, the more he felt the need for the protection they afforded him. His six impossible things before breakfast were a Maginot line against a world of hurt. Which is why he could never give them up or subject them to any sort of critical scrutiny.

Actually, I have made this person up. But I am trying to paint a picture of the mentality of conservative evangelicals, the people who have recently scuppered the female bishop legislation, without invoking the standard caricature of these modern-day puritans as life-denying fun-sponges obsessed with being right and with other people not having sex. Not that this latter image is all that far from the truth. The problem is that from Marlowe, Shakespeare and Johnson all they way through to Blackadder (and that brilliant episode where his rich puritan relatives come round to fulminate against fornication and inadvertently chomp on a penis-shaped turnip), this has become an overused trope that describes someone who seems to have stepped out of the Tardis from another century. The thing is, they are alive and well in the 21st century.

And the more we laugh at puritans, the more it confirms their worldview. Indeed, they have a text from St John’s gospel that seems to cover precisely this: “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world. That is why the world hates you.” In other words, the more hated you are, the more right you are. It’s one up from Millwall football club’s chant: “No one likes us, we don’t care.” Which is why the opprobrium that is currently being poured upon conservative evangelicals for voting against women bishops will make no difference whatsoever. It confirms them in feeling right.

Moreover, the fact that they have put a spanner in the works for everyone else is something they experience as some sort of secret pleasure. For the essence of the puritan mindset is revenge – as Nietzsche accurately described it, the revenge of the bullied who are subconsciously getting back at those who once made their life a misery. As the comedy puritan Malvolio rages at the end of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night: “I’ll be reveng’d on the whole pack of you.”

So what can be done? Argument is pretty useless. Conservative religious people are generally locked in a self-referencing worldview where truth is about strict internal coherence rather than any reaching out to reality. That’s why they treat the Bible like some vast jigsaw – its truth residing in a complex process of making the pieces fit together and not with the picture it creates.

So rather than laugh at them or argue with them, the best thing is probably ignore them. These modern-day puritans will always be with us. The problem is that the church needs a three-quarters synod majority to bring in women bishops and this gives them a controlling stake, holding the rest to ransom. The answer is simple. Reform synod and go round them.