frgavin on March 19th, 2017

On the Bishop of Burnley; Where is the surprise here?
CofE follows in TEC’s radical feminist footsteps
Is the will of God being thwarted?

By Mary Ann Mueller
VOL Special Correspondent

Is anyone really surprised that Bishop Philip North (XI Burnley) was beaten back into submission by the growing liberal feminist lobby within the Church of England to keep him from first becoming the XI Bishop of Whitby and now the IX Bishop of Sheffield?

This same thing happened in The Episcopal Church where orthodox traditionalists are crushed into compliance and that sort of spiritual cancer is spreading, originally from the secular society to the church, and now to the Mother Church of Anglicanism — the Church of England.

When women’s ordination burst forth through the irregular ordinations of the Philadelphia 11 on July 29, 1974, The Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States of America became snake bit. Now the Church of England has become dragon bit and the Archbishop of Canterbury will not rise up as a dragonslayer as the godly St. George did. The famed dragonslayer is the patron saint of England and his St. George’s Cross is in the center of every waving Union Jack as the upright cross is superimposed over the X-shaped St. Andrew’s Cross.

The Church, the Bride of Christ on earth — be she called Anglican, Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Methodist or Baptist — has become so infected by the world that she is slowly allowing herself to be fundamentally changed by creeping cultural secularism leading to spiritual death. A good analogy is that of a frog which can be slowly boiled to death in a pot of cold water without its knowledge limiting its ability to escape in time to save its very life.

Two years after the first female priests were “ordained” in 1974 that action was legalized by the 1976 General Convention which approved the priestly ordination of women and regularized the Philadelphia 11 and the subsequent Washington Four ordinations. A clarion call was trumpeted forth by the traditionalists and The Episcopal Church started to fray at the seams thus throwing off Episcopalians into the Anglican Continuum.

In response to the 1976 General Convention’s approval of women in the Episcopal priesthood the 1977 fall meeting of the Episcopal House of Bishops adopted a “conscience clause” which affirm “No Bishop, Priest, or Lay Person should be coerced or penalized in any manner, nor suffer any canonical disabilities as a result of his or her conscientious objection to or support of the sixty-fifth General Convention’s actions with regard to the ordination of women to the priesthood or episcopate.”

“Since the clause was adopted by the House of Bishops only, and not also by the House of Deputies, it had no canonical authority,” The Episcopal Church’s website is quick to point out. “The clause insured that no bishop could be punished for opposing the ordination of women in the Episcopal Church.”

The Final Four

However 20 years later all but four Episcopal dioceses ordain women priests. The four remaining conservative diocesan bishops holding the line were in Wisconsin (William Wantland – IV Eau Claire); Illinois (Keith Ackerman – VIII Quincy); California (John-David Schofield – IV San Joaquin); and Texas (Jack Iker – III Fort Worth). The Diocese of Eau Claire was the first to fall after Bishop Wantland retired in 1999. Within five years that diocese’s first two woman priests were ordained by Keith Whitmore (V Eau Claire).

It turned out the HOB’s “A Statement of Conscience” wasn’t even worth the paper it was written on. Eventually the 2000 General Convention, meeting in Denver, Colorado, mandated that no woman could not be denied ordination in any Episcopal diocese solely due to her biological sex. The issue of transgenderism had yet to be raised.

By 2010 all Episcopal dioceses were ordaining women priests when the tattered remains of the TEC Diocese of Quincy ordained a female to the priesthood. By then the consecration of Episcopal women bishops was in full flower with the elevation of a partnered lesbian, Mary Glasspool, to the bishopric as bishop suffragan in the Diocese of Los Angeles.

On July 29, the 43rd anniversary of the ordinations of the Philadelphia 11, Jennifer Brooke-Davidson is slated to be consecrated as suffragan bishop suffragan for the Episcopal Diocese of West Texas. She is to be the 26th woman consecrated as a bishop in The Episcopal Church. Gretchen Rehberg was consecrated today (March 18) as the XI Bishop of Spokane, and next month (April 29) Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows is in the pipeline for consecration as the XI Bishop of Indianapolis.

Slowly women’s ordination spread throughout the entire Episcopal Church and bishops, priests and deacons as well as the people in the pews were forced to acquiescence or leave for their souls’ sake. Many left going into the Continuum or crossed the Tiber to Rome or converted to Orthodoxy or joined the “other” Christian church on the corner or even spiritually stepped out into nowhere to become “nones.” Priests, even bishops, and the people left — taking their church structures with them — and ultimately entire dioceses and religious communities made the difficult move.

But, of course, women’s ordination was just the tip of the slippery iceberg; so the Church of England — Beware!

Now The Episcopal Church fully condones the culture with its open embrace of the culture of death … in-your-face gay pride … transgenderism … marriage equality … radical feminism … liturgies for animals … reinterpreted Scripture … interfaith ecumenism … you-name-it/we-accept-it pseudo theology … multiculturalism … politicized preaching … glitter ashes … Indaba & Ubuntu … pagan celebrations … florescent orange as a liturgical color ….

About the only one who is not properly featured in post-modern Episcopalianism is Jesus Christ, unless, of course, He can be portrayed as a gay, feminized, transgendered otherworldly being.

20 Years Slower

The Church of England was 20 years slower to jump on the woman clergy bandwagon than The Episcopal Church was. In 1992 the CofE General Synod make it possible for the ordination of women to the priesthood. However in 1993 an Act of Synod was passed to provide spiritual protection to those who could not in good conscience accept the ministry of a women priest through a system of “Flying Bishops.” Of course, use of the “Provincial Episcopal Visitor” was seen as an institutional scheme to discriminate against women. The first female CofE priests were ordained in 1994 — 20 years after the Philadelphia 11 burst upon the clerical scene — but the episcopate was still off limits to women.

Then it took another 20 years for the Mother Church of Anglicanism to authorize the consecration of women bishops but not before a bruising battle in CofE General Synod. In 2012 General Synod rejected female bishops by a mere six votes in the lay order.

Rowan Williams, then Archbishop of Canterbury, was deeply disappointed in the General Synod’s narrow rejection of women bishops saying he felt “deep personal sadness” at the outcome.

“[This] isn’t the end of the story,” Williams noted at the time. “This is not an issue that is going to go away.”

However, by the time General Synod voted again there was a new man at Lambeth Palace. The 2014 vote sailed through with Justin Welby championing the cause.

He stated: “Today’s overwhelming vote demonstrates the widespread desire of the Church of England to move ahead with ordaining women as bishops, and at the same time enabling those who disagree to flourish.”

In January 2015 first Church of England women bishop to be consecrated was Libby Lane as the Bishop of Stockport. Currently there are 10 women bishops in the Church of England. It took The Episcopal Church 13 years to consecrate 10 female bishops, a feat the Church of England accomplished in 17 months.

The ordination of women bishops in England has met with protests and WATCH (Women and the Church) protested the protests.

Penning a letter to Archbishop Welby, WATCH stated: “Such interruptions (protests) create the perception that the Church is willing to allow a woman who has been called by God and the Church, and appointed by the Crown, to be publicly insulted and undermined.”

The backlash against Bishop North’s appointment to Sheffield was swift and brutal. Undue pressure was put on the conservative bishop to where he was “publically insulted and undermined.” Yet he, too, was “called by God and the Church and appointed” by 10 Downing Street through the Crown Nominations Commission and approved by Queen Elizabeth to step into Sheffield Cathedral as the IX Bishop of Sheffield. This shaming happened not once but twice. In 2012 he was first appointed by the Prime Minister, and approved by the Queen, to be Bishop of Whitby. So apparently, as the Supreme Governor of the Church of England and the Defender of the Faith, Queen Elizabeth has faith in him to be enthroned as the Bishop Ordinary of Sheffield. But, he was forced to withdraw his nomination because of his historic theological understanding that the episcopate is reserved for males only. This traditional understanding of the character of the episcopate so upsets women priests clamoring to become female bishops that Bishop North buckled under the barrage and withdrew his nomination.

Becoming the Bishop of Burnley

Bishop North’s bishopric is located in the Province of York, which is one of two ecclesial provinces in England, the other being Canterbury. As such, two years ago, when he was consecrated the Bishop of Burnley, Archbishop of York John Sentamu graciously stepped back from actively participating in Bishop North’s consecration in deference to Philip North’s theological understanding of the nature of episcopal consecration which has been dubbed the “Theology of Taint.”

Forward in Faith-UK explains in New Directions magazine: “The issue for us has never been about so-called ‘taint’ but rather with a theology and communion. For example, a bishop, who has in the past ordained women, by that act, created an impairment of communion between him and bishops who did not ordain women.”

Archbishop Sentamu has ordained women priests and consecrated Libby Lane as the first female CofE bishop just one week before Bishop North’s 2015 consecration. Although the Archbishop of York did not participate in the latter’s consecration through the laying-on-of-hands, he did preach and made it possible for the CofE’s Five Guiding Principles to work and insure the mutual flourishing of those with theological differences within the Church of England by Bishop North’s consecration as the XI Bishop of Burnley.

Bishop Burnley’s consecrators were: Bishop of Pontefract Tony Robinson, who is also the FiF-UK chairman, was primary consecrator. He was assisted by the Bishop of Chichester Martin Warner and the Bishop of Beverley Glyn Webster. The newly-minted Bishop Libby Lane was in attendance.

Once Bishop North, a staunch Anglo-Catholic, was announced as the Bishop of Sheffield so the liberal feminist attacks and political bullying began in earnest. It all became too much for the Burnley bishop and he folded declining the nomination to Sheffield. He is currently taking some personal time to recover from the spiritual bruising he received before continuing his duties as the bishop suffragan (Bishop of Burnley) in the Diocese of Blackburn.

Premier reports that “Bishop North said the decision to refuse the nomination was made ‘with regret and sadness’ but he believed his arrival ‘would not be acceptable to many’ and be ‘counter-productive’ for local mission.”

“If, as Christians, we cannot relate to each other within the bounds of love,” Bishop North asks, “how can we possibly presume to transform a nation in the Name of Christ?”

Archbishop Sentamu decried the fact that the guiding principles — which were put into place to protect all members of the Church of England, regardless of their theological understanding, but particularly the traditionalists — failed.

“What has happened to Bishop Philip clearly does not reflect the settlement under which, two and a half years ago, the Church of England joyfully and decisively opened up all orders of ministry to men and women,” the Archbishop of York said in a released statement. “It also made a commitment to mutual flourishing.”

The CofE’s guiding principles were put into place to insure that the traditionalists received “the highest possible degree of communion” so that both sides might “mutually flourish” within the Mother Church. The concept of “mutual flourishing” lay at the heart of the 2014 agreement to introduce women bishops into the Church of England.

Through Bishop North’s vilification and haranguing the Church of England has learned a hard lesson: that radicalized strident women’s voices will not be quieted. They insist on their own way no matter what, even if it means taking a good man down with them and perhaps thwarting the will of God.

The Church of England’s Five Guiding Principles, designed to protect Anglo-Catholics by allowing them to flourish in the ever-changing church, are just as meaningless and empty as the 1977 Statement of Conscience is which was penned by the Episcopal House of Bishops to protect traditionalists in The Episcopal Church as women’s ordination unfolded in America.

What those who champion women’s ordination do not seem to realize is that the conservatives are not acting out of sexism, nor being politically incorrect or just being spiritual snobs, but rather because they honestly believe theological actions have eternal consequence which effect their very souls. It’s not a matter of discrimination but salvation.

Mary Ann Mueller is a journalist living in Texas. She is a regular contributor to VirtueOnline

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