Comments: Church Times on episcopal resignations

I am the only one to think that the British media are making too much of this? Two retired clergymen and three serving bishops, two flying, have decided to become Roman Catholics.

People change religions all the time; here in California it is estimated that 49 percent of all people have changed at least once.

The Church of England is one of the great institutions of the world. Why does it tremor in response to the departure of a very small group of people who prefer to submit to the Pope of Rome? The Roman Catholic Church does not worry about the number of their communicants, including priests, who become Episcopalians.

The Church of England will do just fine without these five blokes. I would be much more concerned about submission to the Anglican Convenant, which Her Majesty might rightly find infringes on her privileges.

Posted by Andrew at Friday, 12 November 2010 at 5:14pm GMT

The Church Times asks an interesting question. " For the Church to effect a significant change — to open up the episcopate to women, for example — it requires a two-thirds majority in each of the three Houses. What has never been clear, though, is the fate of the other third. Is it supposed to bow to the will of the majority? Or is the majority supposed to take account of the minority?"

I thought we had decided this question years ago, with St Benedict writing on the spiritual benefits of obedience.

"The first degree of humility is obedience without delay. This becometh those who, on account of the holy subjection which they have promised, or of the fear of hell, or the glory of life everlasting, hold nothing dearer than Christ. As soon as anything hath been commanded by the Superior they permit no delay in the execution, as if the matter had been commanded by God Himself. Of these the Lord saith: "At the hearing of the ear he hath obeyed Me". . . . This obedience, however, will be acceptable to God and agreeable to men then only, if what is commanded is done without hesitation, delay, lukewarmness, grumbling or complaint, . . . And it must be rendered by the disciples with a good will, "for the Lord loveth a cheerful giver (2 Cor 9:7). " For if the disciple obeyeth with an ill will, and murmureth, not only with lips but also in his heart, even though he fulfil the command, yet it will not be acceptable to God, who regardeth the heart of the murmurer."

It always interests me that when it comes to my own homosexuality I am given no choice by my more conservative fellow Christians. Celibacy is mandatory with no room for discretion. Obedience to the will of the church as expressed in synodical decision is a painful but goodly spiritual discipline.

Yet when it comes to synodical decisions about women priests then the long spiritual tradition of submission and obedience seems to have got lost somewhere.


Posted by Simon Dawson at Friday, 12 November 2010 at 6:09pm GMT

"The Church Times asks an interesting question. " For the Church to effect a significant change — to open up the episcopate to women, for example"

Interesting assumption. Certainly, opening up the episcopate is significant to the women who have previously been excluded. And it's significant, in relation to the theological claims of the Church (that human beings, male and female, are Made in the Image and Likeness of God).

But is it really THAT significant, to the FUNCTION of the episcopacy? That something in the Y chromosome, or male morphology, has been vital to the ministry of the episcopate? I really don't see how (and that hasn't been the experience in those churches which have already made this move).

Ergo, I don't an Earth-shaking "significant change — to open up the episcopate to women" that CT posits. Let's just get on w/ it already!

Posted by JCF at Friday, 12 November 2010 at 8:58pm GMT


I think that all here should raise their glasses to the Bishop of Beverley. He has made it quite clear where his heart lies. So - it seems - have almost all of his people. So - earlier - did Father Trevor Jones. Jarrett is also - as an earlier post made clear - a gracious gentleman who is no bigot. He gets the proportions right - no threats, no 'or elses', just an honourable fight within Anglicanism.

We should do all in our power to retain him and his people.

Posted by john at Friday, 12 November 2010 at 9:30pm GMT

John, you display a noble sentiment in your 'vote of confidence' on the Bishop of Beverly, who has, quite rightly in my opininion, deicded to remain obedient to his vows as priest and bishop in the Church of England, to obey the polity of that Church. What, however, is still to be seen, is whether he will maintain that loyalty if, by the passage of the legislation for women bishops at the General Synod, his desire for 'special provision' for dissenters from the measure is not sufficiently generous to meet his requirement?

No doubt, the good Bishop's monastic formation has given him insights into what the vow of obedience entails, and he has decided to trust in the Church - rather than his own will - to provide the necessary discipline to deal with any conflict that may arise from passage of the measure to secure the ordination of women bishops in the Church of England. No doubt, too, that he has considered his vow of obedience to be more important than his own discernment of God's will.

I fell deeply for Bishop Martyn. I feel deeply also for the Archbishops of canterbury and York - in their desire to try to please everybody in the Church of England. However, God's justice is, in the end, what we all must seek.

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Friday, 12 November 2010 at 10:59pm GMT

Its not just the British media that is hyping this. Look at the Time Magazine article...the departure of the five bishops is apparently the biggest crisis in the Church of England since 1534. I suspect many ordinary americans know little of english history..but I wish some reputable american historian of english history might correct this rubbish

Posted by Perry Butler at Sunday, 14 November 2010 at 5:59pm GMT

re my comment on Friday, 12 November: I have been informed that Bishop Martyn Jarrett is not the same person as Fr. Martin Jarret-Kerr - who was actually a member of the Anglican Community of the Resurrection at Mirfield. My correspondent informed me that Bishop Martyn was a fellow theolog. at Bristol - already married, so no fear of women there! Just a theological difference!

Apologies to both persons

Thank you Perry, for your fellowship in Gospel!

Posted by Father Ron Smith at Tuesday, 16 November 2010 at 5:03am GMT
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