Friday 25 June 2010

a Sacred Synod

I am grateful to the I Timoth 4 blog for this piece, which I have reproduced simply because it needs to be as widely known as possible. I have already responded to +John Plymouth; if it applies to you, don't leave it, respond asap.

"Catholic-Minded clergy in the Southern Province called to a Sacred Synod in London
September 24th 2010
The Bishops of Plymouth, Horsham and Richborough, writing on behalf of the Bishops of Chichester, Burnley, Ebbsfleet, and Fulham, and Bishops Lindsay Urwin, Michael Nazir-Ali and Robert Ladds, have invited Catholic-minded Anglican clergy of the Southern Province of the CofE to a Sacred Synod, to be held at the Emmanuel Centre, 9–23 Marsham Street, Westminster, London SW1P 3DW on September 24th between 11.00am and 3.00pm.
Their invitation is principally to those who have expressed severe reservations about the innovation of women bishops and who signed an open letter to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York on that subject some two years ago, but is also open to those who are now presented with questions which cause them to hesitate, pause and reflect on the difficulties which face the CofE and the wider Anglican family, and about the future direction of the CofE.
Clerical members of Forward in Faith are welcome, as are clergy who are not members of that organization, as an opportunity for them to express their anxiety and opinion and to take counsel with others in similar situations.
All those who intend to be present should register their interest by sending an email to This is to help with planning. Packed lunches should be brought, or local catering outlets used during the break for lunch. Attendees are asked to bring £5.00 to help defray the costs of the event.
(A similar event is to take place in the Northern Province at Belle Isle in Leeds on Thursday 23rd September 2010, details to be confirmed.)"

For myself, I hope as many as possible who are accepting the Holy Father's Offer will be present.
+ Edwin

Thursday 24 June 2010


Good to hear from the Catholic Group in Synod. They perform a necessary and generally thankless task. Comparing their statement with what the Archbishops are proposing, though, a few questions remain. Here is what they said:

From the Catholic Group in General Synod
Responding to the statement of the Archbishops of Canterbury and York Re. forthcoming women bishops debates
The Catholic Group in General Synod is grateful to the Archbishops for their suggestion of a possible way forward for the Church of England, both to enable the consecration of women bishops and to provide for those who cannot in conscience accept the ministry of women bishops. We are particularly grateful for their recognition of the need for bishops with jurisdiction in their own right to minister to us, and to all those who share our convictions.
We look forward to studying the amendments in detail when they are published. We very much hope that they will provide ‘nominated bishops’ who will be real leaders in mission and ministry. It is also be vital that the amendments provide for us to continue to hold a principled theological position, looking to the faith and order of the undivided Church. We believe that the Church will be better served by the consistency of a national scheme of provision.
The Catholic Group is wholly committed to securing provision within the Church of England.Canon Simon Killwick

The Archbishops
are proposing that the Flying Bishop Substitutes (I cannot help thinking of them as "Grounded Bishops") will have jurisdiction, and that this jurisdiction does not come from the Diocesan Bishops but "from the measure". The diocesan bishop would have every right to exercise ministry of any sort in any parish is his or her diocese, "the diocesan would in practice refrain from exercising certain of his or her functions in such a parish" (a parish which had written a letter asking for special treatment).

I hope members of the Catholic group will press Synod on this. What are the 'certain functions' which the diocesan will not exercise? Will it include the selection of candidates for ordination?

Will it include all confirmations in parishes which ask for special provision?

Moreover, who will monitor this? In the bad old Act of Synod days, with PEVs and all the rest, the Archbishops took an active interest in how the Act was being operated, and did a bit of gentle leaning on episcopal colleagues who ignored the Bishops' Guidelines. Now, it appears that everything will be decided by the Diocesan Bishop (after consulting, not with disaffected parishes, but with their own Diocesan Synod).

So what safeguards are there for any parish, when the Diocesan Bishop decides she has had enough of all this and will disregard any guidelines?

And who will choose the "Nominated Bishop" for any diocese? In the PEV system, the Archbishops consulted widely and ensured that those appointed were themselves opposed to women's ordination. Will the same apply in the new circumstances? Surely not - and it would be hard to find anyone prepared to act as a Nominated Bishop (with jurisdiction) whose jurisdiction in reality is hedged about by a Diocesan Bishop who can change the rules whenever s/he pleases. But it is a good question, so again I hope some member of the Catholic Group will ask it, and tell us the answer.

And what of those ordained by women 'bishops'? At present such people, male or female, may not be licensed to officiate in the Church of England. Indeed I understand that even when we have women bishops, those ordained by women bishops overseas will still have orders which the Church of England cannot recognise.

Will it be possible for ordinands to require ordination from the hands of a Nominated Bishop? That has been a sticking point for many Diocesan bishops in the present dispensation.

Will parishes have the right to refuse the ministry of those ordained by women 'bishops'?

These are just a few of the many questions which must be answered before anyone should accept the Archbishops' amendments as worthwhile.

It looks terribly as though what is being proposed is well intentioned, but depends upon human beings always acting honourably. They have not in the past, and it is certain they will not in future. Naturally every diocesan bishop will consider his/her arrangements to be absolutely fair; but who is to monitor this fairness? Call me cynical if you will; once, before I became a Provincial Bishop and had to deal with Diocesan Bishops and their Archdeacons, I was just an innocent trusting babe. The iron entered my soul when I discovered that promises made ("Just rescind the votes: we promise you will have a male priest") have been broken more often than not.

I am sure Canon Killwick and the catholic group will do their best for those who feel they must refuse the offer from Pope Benedict. I hope they and the Archbishops get something worthwhile from the July Synod; but I have a horrid feeling that they will come down the steps of the York Synod saying "I have a letter here giving us the firmest of promises: it will be peace in our time".

Monday 21 June 2010

A Cunning Plan

The Archbishops have come up with a cunning plan to try to save their embarrassment, caused by the Synod's determination to make it impossible for many good Anglicans to remain in the Church of England. It comes in the form of Amendments which they mean to put down at the York Synod next month.

First, I think the plan will be rejected; possibly some bits of it will make it through the system, but even if the entire thing were accepted by Synod, it is not acceptable to many catholic Anglicans; for it relies on Code of Practice. Come on now, what did we say? A code of practice will not do. And why not? Because it can be ignored and got around, as the Bishops' Code of Practice accompanying the Act of Synod was ignored, in spirit if not in letter, in so many dioceses.

The great plan is that diocesan bishops male and female, shall have jurisdiction. The replacements for the PEVs (if any mug can be found to take the job on) are said to have "ordinary jurisdiction" too; but in reality, jurisdiction is only given them 'by virtue of the measure to the extent provided for in the diocesan scheme'. So in each diocese there would be a scheme, and that scheme could be amended by the diocesan bishop at any time after consulting, not with the pseudo-PEV, nor with the Archbishop, but with his or her own diocesan synod.

It will not do. It really will not do. It is just empty promises dressed up to appeal to a few 'catholic minded' Anglicans who want any excuse not to do what they clearly ought to do, which is to accept the Pope's offer.

It is cunning, this plan, but not cunning enough. I hope everyone will see through it. It ought to fail in the Synod. It leaves no possibility of anyone saying in future "The Church of England is part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church' Rather it is a congregationalist protestant sect from the moment women are consecrated. I've written at greater length, if you can bear it, in the Anglo Catholic blog (see the link to it on the right) about all this. Oh hurry up, Synod, get on with your miserable work, and let us say our farewells with honour.

Sunday 20 June 2010

Sarum S Martin

Fr Whyte & friends
First Sunday off in many weeks, so we celebrated Fathers' Day (Fathering Sunday?) by worshipping in a favourite church, St Martin's, Salisbury. It chanced to be the 57th Wedding Anniversary of Fr Duncan Whyte, who assists there, and also his wife's birthday, so we joined in the merriment.

A very pretty side altar

Fr Keith Robinson, the Rector, had a brief PCC meeting in the chancel after Mass, so you see him [in the first picture at the top of the page] with the eagle competing on mike. The church spire was intended as a trial run for the much taller spire on the neighbouring Cathedral. That is from the 14th Century. Three hundred years ago it was surveyed by Christopher Wren, and found to be 13ft off centre. It still is. Incredible that it stands, built as it is on boggy ground with scarcely any foundations. The Spire was an afterthought; there was meant to be just a central tower.

We met several old friends, in particular a priest's wife visiting from Cornwall. We'd hoped to escape horror stories by going to St Martin's but she told us of her experience in Truro Cathedral. They live near Bodmin, but there is no longer any catholic presence in any Anglican church nearby. So they took themselves to the Cathedral. A woman priest appeared, vested for mass, so they quietly left. Our friend then wrote to the Dean asking whether he might not announce who was to be the celebrant. He duly consulted with the Chapter, and said, "No". So much for the honoured place which traditionalists are meant to have in the Church of England, when their own cathedral is determined to make life intolerable. Yet we are being told once more that a 'Statutory Code of Practice' will look after us. It will not. Nothing short of bishops with jurisdiction will do; and that we shall not be given, no matter how Synod wriggles at its meeting next month. Oh, hurry on the Ordinariate!

The day was completed with lunch at a riverside hotel overlooking the Cathedral, and another visit to the gardens at Mottisfont on the way home.