Monday, July 14, 2014

The Anglican Church finally catches up with the 20th century ...

This post is about an important issue affecting the Church of England from the viewpoint of an ordinary member of that church - an "Anglican in the Pew" - with no authority to speak for others.

Thank God that, at long last and thirty years after it should have happened, the General Synod of the Church of England has finally voted that women can be bishops.

I respect those, while totally disagreeing with them, who argue that because Jesus was a man, the priests who in a sense represent Him should also be male.

I respect those - I used to be one of them - who believe that God is calling some women to be priests but that in ordaining them to that role we must carry the whole church with us and include protections for the position of those who take a different view.

But I am afraid I have no time or respect for the ludicrous position of those who, after swallowing the camel of women priests, strain at the gnat of giving those women priests once ordained the same promotion prospects as their male colleagues.

Nor can I entertain for a single nanosecond the possibility that the absurd and unfair treatment of women who have dedicated their lives to His service over the last few decades, by denying them that prospect, could possibly be the will of a just amd loving God.

When the Church of England originally debated the ordination of women priests, both sides took it as read that if it was passed, within a few years the inevitable consquence would be the consecration of women bishops.

If people had realised it possible that after nearly another thirty years of destructive argument, we would until today have thousands of women priests for whom the possibility that they might have a calling to become a Bishop was not recognised, supporters of the ordination of women Synod would almost certainly have tried, and probably succeeded, in passing both measures with appropriate safeguards, in one go.

As one of the three-quarters of ordinary Anglicans who support this reform and believe it to be God's will, I was incredibly frustrated in 2012 when, despite getting overwhelming majorities among the existing (male) Bishops and the clergy (including the male ones whose promotion prospects will be affected) the motion won only a simple majority among the elected representatives in the "House of Laity" representing ordinary members of the church, failing by just six vote to ge the necessary two-thirds majority in all three houses to come into effect.

I rejoice that this disastrous error has now been rectified.

In a statement issued by Lambeth Palace after the vote, Archbishop Welby said: "Today marks the start of a great adventure of seeking mutual flourishing while still, in some cases disagreeing. The challenge for us will be for the church to model good disagreement and to continue to demonstrate love for those who disagree on theological grounds."

The Archbishop of York said it was a "momentous day".

He said: "Generations of women have served the Lord faithfully in the Church of England for centuries. It is a moment of joy today: the office of Bishop is open to them."

David Cameron added that it was a "great day for the Church and for equality".



Jim said...

well, when a head line reads "catches up" then the post reads "to the place everyone else was 30 years ago" well thats hardly catching up is it?

However i do like your line "an "Anglican in the Pew" - with no authority to speak for others."

perhaps when politicians under stand that bit then we can actually move forward, and the anglican church can catch up in another 100 years time

Chris Whiteside said...

If you look again at the header, I said "catches up with the 20th century"

(e.g. not with the 21st.)

Nevertheless it was a step forward ...