Comments: Understanding the women bishops debate


You are entitled to your opinions. What you are not entitled to do is to slant headlines to embody those opinions. It's the old and essential distinction between 'news' and 'opinion'. The fact that it is increasingly ignored is no reason to abandon the distinction - quite the reverse.

It is not at all 'unlikely' that Ed Tomlinson should reject anything other than polarised options. This is the single thing in which he is in agreement with his ideological opponents. We should reject such crass simplicities, which will do untold harm to people's lives, churches, careers, happiness and spiritual well-being.

Posted by John at Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at 7:47pm BST

Thanks very much to Justin Brett for writing this and TA for posting it. This is the clearest explanation of process I've seen. Hugely helpful. Now if you'd just work on explaining string theory to the scientifically challenged ...!

Posted by Cynthjia Gilliatt at Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at 9:18pm BST

"see Ed Tomlinson’s article at Cif belief This fudge on bishops must fail. An Anglican considering going to Rome says, keep your women bishops, and give us the money and buildings we need."

Well of course he does. [And, as we say on my side of the Pond---in those precincts that are still at 100F today }:-0---Fuhgeddaboutit!]

Posted by JCF at Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at 11:36pm BST

"Either the Church of england wants to profess the revealed faith or one being revealed through innovation. So set your course that your members might know where they stand."

- Ed Tomlinson, 'Guardian' C.i.F. -

You have to give it to Fr. Ed. He battles right on to the end of the road - only, in his opinion, the Road of the Church of England ought to be going nowhere, having already terminate its causeway with the Advent of the 39 Articles and the First Church of England Prayer Book.

This is precisely why the Church needs to keep moving - in the light of new evidence of God's creation of ALL things, including Sexuality and Gender, with no special preference for the male of the flock. Ed's insistence on 'Catholic Order' is seemingly limited to that of Rome. Not even the great Church Councils of the Church, including Vatican II, which have effectively altered the course of the Church's history, would seem to have done anything to change the status quo since Peter and Jesus visited his mother-in law to bring her healing.

As an intending Roman Catholic, Ed should begin to admit that this Church has been constantly changing its collective mind on many things - from the ordination of married priests, to the acceptance of the understanding that the earth is really not flat, and that the sale of indulgences was wrong.

Jesus mentioned to the Apostles that "When the Spirit comes, (he) will lead you into all Truth". Has the Holy Spirit ceased motivating and order-ing the process of enlightenment? If this were so, then the Church has no further relevance in the world we live in. It is a dead limb.

Ed is right, though, about the casuistry involved in the proposed ordination of a fourth order of Bishop - which involves the peculiarity of the bishop's jurisdiction being dependent on their gender being acceptable to their congregants. The amendments proposed must surely fail - if only on the ground of their incongruity.

Let the original proposal by the Commission become the substantive motion - if only to prove that the General Synod is a democratic Body!

I don't think Fr. Ed would now be satisfied with any outcome - he is too disillusioned with the process. May he find peace and joy with the Pope.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Wednesday, 7 July 2010 at 11:39pm BST

What bothers me so much is that these amendments were proposed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. This is a truly disturbing development and while I totally agree with Fr. Ron Smith's comments that just on the grounds of their "incongruity" these disingenuous amendments deserve to fail and fail in a big and dramatic way, and I pray that this will happen, but who knows how all of this will unfold? As to Fr. Ed and his journey to Rome, I too, wish him and his fellow pilgrims a peaceful journey and I hope they find what they are seeking. The big fallacy that Catholics in this century as well as the in the last century seem to realize is that the Church (be it Roman, Anglican, Orthodox or one of the many bodies of protestant Christian communities and churches) is in constant flux. The changes may be small and sometimes may be large but the changes continue and will continue to unfold. The Episcopal Church in America has a healthy and embracing attitude about the constant revelations that occur as the Holy Spirit reveals new ideas and ways to follow Christ. There is constantly "new evidence" of God's creation, to quote Fr. Ron Smith. May we find ways to respect and love one another enough to allow for different ways to be disciples of Christ.

Posted by Chris Smith at Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 2:46am BST

I would be interested in knowing more about the shape and format of debate in the CofE on such a controversial matter. Is there a concern that debate will be passionate, heated, divisive? Is there a sense that debate may leave people traumatized afterward? Will there be a mechanism for bishops to be available to provide pastoral care to clergy and lay members of your General Synod during the debate? Will there be "indaba" like groups set up to lead delegates in coming to a common mind, like the one your bishops appear to have achieved? Just asking.

Posted by Rod Gillis at Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 4:01pm BST

Going to Rome or elsewhere often looks to be making quite good sense; provided the destination fits one's strict scruples - since strict scruples are pretty much the most frequently stated lure and reason for going somewhere besides where one finds oneself. To that extent, I very much doubt that anybody in particular wishes anything negative in particular towards Fr. ET and believers like him. Unlike conservative-traditionalist believers with strict scruples who often seem to boast hard and sharp wishes towards, say, TEC? Or Canada? Or ?

That said, we stayers/liberals/mixed middles Anglicans cannot avoid predicting that trying to find some final church life destination, utterly without doctrinal changes seems less and less likely to pay off - at least while one is still alive in an average human lifetime. (Copernicus after all has been totally reversed, and that heavy-closed-final church judgment was fully backed by traditional readings of scriptures, plus authorities from long tradition of several thousand years, plus (on an everyday level) with what nearly everybody in his or her sane frames of mind 'knew' in a taken for granted sort of solid way.)

I still think that pilgrims looking for utter stasis as the core sign of faithfulness (not to mention as a gold standard for brute revelation truth) are misguided at best; we know through the glass, darkly. Goodness knows what stasis-oriented believers ever found in core Anglican values and methods, to start with. Strict traditional scruples clearly pronounce Henry a lascivious adulterer, and his daughter a silly woman, no matter. Yet, believers like citizens are free to make their own personal-spiritual mistakes within the leeways bounded by what the Elizabethan Settlement settled as common prayer? I'd follow Benedict too as he follows Christ, if on certain hot button change topics I decently-genuinely thought B16 was following Jesus of Nazareth, alas. Problem is, so far, on far too many hot button change topics, B16 seems to be bull-headed to repeat the Copernicus lessons, so why follow? Why Anglicans necessarily should pay the freight costs on messing with gifted-talented women, or queer folks for that matter, is quite beyond my common sense grasp. Stop send the bills for women bashing and queer bashing, to Anglicans as a matter of settled course?

Lord have mercy.

Posted by drdanfee at Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 6:21pm BST

For all those who regard FiF priests and laity as bigots or simply misguided, I commend to you most strongly Father T E Jones' latest posting:

Posted by john at Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:34pm BST

(to counter) those who regard FiF priests and laity as bigots or simply misguided...

But it looks like something from 1950s Ireland, a kind of fantasy religion.

So much in the press is a half truth that still hits the hot button - this latest Jeffrey John matter even made 'This Week' with Prof. A. C. Grayling pointing out that really it is Anglican Communion intolerance coming into the Church of England (the intolerance that has bolstered the minority of Conservative Evangelicals for too long).

Posted by Pluralist at Friday, 9 July 2010 at 2:02am BST

It appears that the time has come for DEMOCRACY and open election of bishops in The Church of England by the lay people, priests and deacons of each diocese. It appears the time in history has come for this and a kind of Anglican Ecumenical Council. Human sexuality also needs to be a front burner topic at such a Council. The women and glbt members must also have equal access to their issues at such a Council. Isn't it time for this in The Church of England? Would it not be great if this coincided with a Vatican III? Perhaps the Holy Spirit is moving us toward such events.

Posted by Chris Smith at Friday, 9 July 2010 at 4:41am BST

"It appears the time in history has come for... a kind of Anglican Ecumenical Council."

Good Lord, no. It would be the Lambeth Conference, unfettered by the knowledge that it is not a legislative body.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 9 July 2010 at 12:48pm BST

'a kind of fantasy religion.'

Yes, but surely all religion is of its very nature a fantasy project both individual and orporate. And none the worse for that, along with poetry, opera, nnvels, music and (in some cases) football. Surely it is the quality of the fantasy and its effects on our lives that matters. How much enrichment, insight, tenderness,action, entertainment, togetherness / fellowship it brings or enables.

Posted by Pantycelyn at Friday, 9 July 2010 at 1:19pm BST

'For all those who regard FiF priests and laity as bigots or simply misguided, I commend to you most strongly Father T E Jones' latest posting: ' '
Posted by: john on Thursday, 8 July 2010 at 7:3

Thanks. It do give a good insight into the richness -especially the pics of children and other locals. I can image how their lives may be touched by the richness of the experiences there.

Posted by Pantycelyn at Friday, 9 July 2010 at 1:27pm BST

"Thanks. It do give a good insight into the richness -especially the pics of children and other locals. I can image how their lives may be touched by the richness of the experiences there."

But I'm not sure how or if it refutes the idea that they might be "simply misguided," in the words of john, who posted the link. I can (indeed, do) think that they are simply misguided in the matter of women's ordination (among other things). I suspect that some of them *are* bigots; it would be unusual if FiF were made up of the only humans on the planet free from prejudice. None of that prevents me from recognizing that they do good work or have rich religious experiences.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Friday, 9 July 2010 at 9:36pm BST

Here's a way to cut the Gordian knot on women bishops:

Forget the Measure and all its proposed amendments. Rather, treat women bishops like the CofE treats Gay Bishops: Don't Ask, Don't Tell. Just ordain women as bishops without asking whether they are women. As long as they are not openly female, or not too openly, the CofE can carry on pretending there is no change. Yes, certain Evangelicals will demand that women bishops repent of their femaleness, but Anglo-Catholics can hardly complain, can they?

In fact, this would be no different than the way male bishops are treated. Does anyone ask them if they are male before they are ordained? Presumably not. Thus we have full equality. No need for TEA, no need for separate dioceses or any other silly schemes to avoid women bishops. As long as we don't ask the sex of any bishop, the problem will be solved.

Posted by Nom de Plume at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 3:29am BST

Nom de plume that is very funny!!

And Bill is of course spot on. Some in FIF are there for sexist not theological reasons....indeed I would go so far as to suggest that the irony of the current proposals are that the sexist will remain (being happy to put up with a male representative in a church devoid of Catholic reality) but the theologically principled will leave (wanting an authentic Catholic theology and ecclesiology)

Ironically the C of E, by constantly acting as if our problem is with women and not eccelisiology, will have made a self fulfilling prophecy whereby the meritourious have left since 1992 and the mysogynists will remain.

That is also quite funny if you think about it

Posted by Ed Tomlinson at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 8:35am BST

"indeed I would go so far as to suggest that the irony of the current proposals are that the sexist will remain ...but the theologically principled will leave "

I see two problems with your suggestion, Father. You seem to take for granted that there are no misogynists in FiF for whom the proposed Synod scheme is unacceptable. You also seem to downplay the attraction of the RCC as a "no woman clergy zone" for misogynists and sexists. I'm afraid that a tendency towards the RCC is not at all a guarantee of purity of intent.

Posted by Bill Dilworth at Saturday, 10 July 2010 at 1:31pm BST
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