Tuesday, 9 February 2010

How long, O Lord?

Dear Archbishop Rowan is once more engaged in circle-squaring. It was handed over to the Manchester Commission, and they have been able to propose nothing; except this:

..."after more than six months work we had rejected all the options which would have involved conferring some measure of jurisdiction on someone other than the diocesan bishop. The legislation that the Revision Committee sends back to the Synod will, therefore, be on the basis that any arrangements that are made for parishes with conscientious difficulties about women’s ordination will be by way of delegation from the diocesan bishops. That much is already clear."

So that much is clear; and it is in the light of that decision that we should hear what the Archbishop is saying. In his address to Syond today he summed up the position "for both many women in the debate and most if not all traditionalists, there is a strong feeling that the Church overall is not listening to how they are defining for themselves the position they occupy, the standards to which they hold themselves accountable. What they hear is the rest of the Church saying, ‘Of course we want you – but exclusively on our terms, not yours’; which translates in the ears of many as ‘We don’t actually want you at all’."
Ipse dixit: we have been saying, as loudly as we possibly could, that delegated authority will not do. Whoever is to be our bishop must believe with us that women may not be ordained, and must have authority over us. That, says the Manchester Group, is not possible.

So what does Archbishop Rowan have in mind?
First, as so often, he askes another question: "what are the vehicles for sharing perspectives, communicating protest, yes, even, negotiating distance or separation, that might spare us a worsening of the situation and the further reduction of Christian relationship to vicious polemic and stony-faced litigation?" In other words, how do we get the jolly old Indaba process going to prevent us from reaching any conlusions?
He does hint at a way forward: Restraint. But not over women's ordination, that is clearly a done deal - despite all we were told about there being 'a time of Reception until the whole church, Eastern and Western, was of a mind'. No, restraint is what he proposes - but only over the LGBT issues (and no, that is not another version of a bacon sandwich - BLT- keep up!)
"Sometimes that may entail restraint – as I believe it does and should in the context of the Communion – though that restraint is empty and even oppressive if it then refuses to engage with those who have accepted restraint for the sake of fellowship". Restraint, maybe - but not delay over women in the episcopate, it seems. Only over Gay issues.
So it is back to circle-squaring. " Whatever we decide, we need to look for a resolution that allows some measure of continuing dignity and indeed liberty to all – in something like their own terms". Somehow, some day, the Synod will discover the magic elixir... giving us "something like" what we need. But what we need is Jurisdiction for our bishops, not lent them by women bishops when and if they see fit, but by law. And that, as the Bishop of Manchester has made clear, just is not on offer.
Rowan again: "as Christians we somehow have to add to that the question of how granting any freedom anywhere is going to set free the possibility of contributing to each other’s holiness".

Well, Rowan, we must tell you there is a way to set us free. It is to go ahead as quickly as you can to consecrate women as bishops, making no sort of provision for us at all. Any provision you make CANNOT give us what we need and have consistently asked for, so GET ON WITH IT: and set us free. Don't concern yourselves with what happens to us. The Good Lord will provide - and if Parliament's concern to ensure justice when women were first ordained is renewed this time round (by requiring there to be financial provision for us) so be it.

Only so is there any hope of your "contributing to (our) holiness". We do not want to be endlessly arguing about this issue. We have the offer of an honoured place - a real one - from the Holy Father, so just let us go. It will be sad to bid farewell to the church of our life's ministry; but that church is now just ancient history. We look to a better future. And we hope you too will enjoy your purified church with its broad open vistas without glass ceilings for women or LGBT bishops.

You said it yourself in your address to Synod; there might have to be "an unwelcome degree of distance" between us - just remember sometime though, that it was not we who chose to go, but you who made it impossible for us to stay.


  1. Thank you Father, how sad but how true.

  2. The best, most coherent summing up of the situation I've read. Thank you so much and God bless you (and us!)

  3. Incisive, direct and pertinent, as is all your writing. Yes, I've made my move (before the Pope's offer was known) and am very happy - but I still pray for you and all my dear friends who are struggling and will be totally devastated by this after fighitng for so long for the truth, for "that which is believed everywhere, by everyone, at all times."

  4. ....oops, last post should have been plain Nick De Keyser now - must change my name and picture on Goggle account!

  5. As sorry as I am to see the way so many of you have been treated, I have to say that I really look forward to welcoming you home. My farewell to the Episcopal Church was nearly thirty years ago, and as it was happening, I couldn't imagine what it would be like to leave. Now, on this side of the Tiber, I can testify that it's wonderful. No more pointless arguments (which were always designed for us to lose anyway!), and now I can just get on with the business of preaching the Gospel and ministering the Sacraments.

    You're very much in my prayers.

  6. Dwight Longenecker has an excellent piece on his blog "Standing on my Head" http://gkupsidedown.blogspot.com/2010/02/archbishop-of-canterbury-church-may.html
    It's all been said before and we know all that, but its worth a read to remind us of why we are where we are.
    DL's blog on the whole is worth a regular visit - click on "Blog Home" in the lh column on the above site

  7. Bishop Edwin has for so long been tied up in the machinations of Byzantine Church politics that he seems to have lost sight of the three things that last forever, as far as the future for faithful, hopeful and loving Catholics within the Church of England is concerned.
    The second of these is HOPE!
    So, please don't give up hope, as far as our future in the Established Church is concerned, just yet bishop.

    Yours ever, from the "lovely world he inhabits"

    Father David

  8. Ah, Father David - but remember too that we are to be not only dovelike, but also wise as serpents. Yes I hope; I hope you might be right and that the Synod can extricate itself from the mess it has got into; but that hope should not make us shy away from reality - which is that in human terms there is little possibility of the CofE ever recovering her catholic credentials. But HOPE, certainly - for a renewed church within the Ordinariate, which eventually might win over the whole Church of England. Meanwhile, keep the prayers going. +E

  9. Dear Bishop Edwin, I'm sorry to see from the photograph that accompanies your reply to my blog comment that you seem to have lost your head (did a typical wedding photographer take this snap, by any chance?). However from the photographic evidence and from what you write - it is obvious that your heart is still in the right place.

    Every Blessing,

    Father David