Saturday, October 23, 2010

The CofE is making itself look stupid...

This excellent post comes from the "Employment Rights" blog which you can read here. The topic he writes about will cause some people pain, but I believe the time has come for the church to grasp the nettle and get consecrating...


Women bishops must be on a par with male bishops.

The draft legislation in the Church of England General Synod which is going to dioceses will allow women to be consecrated as bishops, if passed by diocesan synods, then agreed by general synod.

It is an issue which has been on the cards for 50 years, but seriously anticipated since 1992 when the first women in the Church of England were ordained priest, some 40 years after other provinces of the Anglican Communion, and many years after the Methodist Church.

Ordaining women as priests or presbyters – elders – presupposes that as priests they can undertake any role in the church even overseer or bishop – episcopos.

Our society is increasingly frustrated by attempts to relegate women to a second class citizenship, to pay them less than men, to give them part time temporary jobs and to give men full-time permanent jobs.

The credit crunch is likely to hit women harder than men…

Yet I can envisage women caring for their families with what little they have while their male partners go down the pub and spend their money on beer and themselves.

But that’s by the by, stereotypes don’t help much do they?

This week I want to talk about the Church of England and women bishops.

You may have heard of the Ordinariate, a Roman Catholic welcome pack for Anglo-Catholics, as long as the bishops aren’t married, and the priests promise celibacy, married or not. Let me quote one of my mentors, a certain Church Mouse: (Reproduced with thanks, though not permission)

‘First up we have the Anglo-Catholics. They seem to be splitting down the middle, with Chairman of Forward in Faith, Bishop John Broadhurst, stating that he is off to join the Ordinariate. However, he has utterly confused everyone by stating that he intends to remain Chairman of FiF and that FiF is not a Church of England grouping. This will be a surprise to the members of FiF, who are exclusively from the CofE. It was also a surprise to the Catholic Group in General Synod who have “distanced themselves” from his position and are encouraging people to stay in the CofE and fight on against women bishops.’

Then there is the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda.’

These bishops and clergy plan on sticking around for the time being, as Bishop Tony put it to me when I asked him.

‘To what end we do not know. In fact the only thing we do know about this society is that this group is exclusively for Anglo-Catholics. I am nt welcome to join. Perhaps FiF wasn’t doing it for them any more, so they wanted to re-brand.

Next up we have the Conservative Evangelicals. Not happy with existing groups such as Anglican Mainstream, Reform and the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans UK, they have voted to set up a society themselves. Actually, it was just a majority of the 170 members who turned up to their annual conference who voted for this move. Again, I am not welcome to join. There seems to be a view emerging that societies can be a model under which bishops can be appointed for factions so that the faction can segregate itself from other factions within the church which it doesn’t like.’

I considered founding the Society of Willibrord for Anglicans who plan on staying put, and being involved in mission and evangelism, but it already exists. Willibrord was noted most for going to Germany, hence the humour about staying put, maybe sending others to mission fields! I would be welcome in my own religious society, but I think I would have been short of bishops, except that there are plenty of Old Catholic Bishops whose orders are recognized.

So The Church Mouse on his blog announced today that he is establishing the Society of St. Magnus for Orthordox Church Mice. Again I am not welcome to join: as he wrote: ‘If you’re not a Mouse, please don’t talk to me any more.’ The equality of women is an issue which even the most theologically illiterate can grasp, that’s why women bishops will come, and however much the church embarasses itself parliament won’t allow anything less than full parity for women bishops…but how soon? And how silly will we look with our theological posturing in the mean time?


Unknown said...

Simon, I do just want to know how you handle this one: "I do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent."

That's one of my stumbling-blocks and I don't see anything in your post which addresses it, or recognizes it may remain an issue for some Christians.

So what do you do with it? What should we do with it?

Fr. Simon Cutmore said...

Paul is concerned as always about good church order.

If you have a church filled illiterate women who are recent converts from goddess worship (or ex-temple prostitutes), this is wise advice for that church at that time.

But if you look at the entire Bible's view of women, you see many leaders and teachers: prophets (Miriam, Deborah, Huldah, Isaiah's wife, Philipp's four daughters), military leader and judge (Deborah), disciples (Mary, Martha, Joanna, Mary Magdalene, Susanna, and "many more"), deacon (Priscilla), and church leader (Lydia).

Then you have to deal with Acts 2:1718 which is a fulfillment of Joel's prophecy "your sons and daughters will prophecy."

Sorry that my post left it out, but I had taken it as read, certainly within the stream of Anglicanism of which I am a part, that women in leadership within the life of the church is a given and a biblical mandate...

Unknown said...

Simon, as you say, "If you have a church filled illiterate women who are recent converts from goddess worship (or ex-temple prostitutes), this is wise advice for that church at that time."

But that's the problem. If you did, you would forbid those women to teach at all - but the text does not say that.

Hence I find the argument unpersuasive and am back where I started from.

You probably don't want to get into a big debate on this, but I'm just observing for some of us there are unresolved issues here.