Thursday, 18 September 2008

A statement from the Bishops of the Church in Wales

We reaffirm as Diocesan Bishops our commitment to securing a continuing place in the life of the Church in Wales for those who cannot in conscience accept the ordination of women to the priesthood. However, we no longer consider that the continuation of additional episcopal provision for one part of the Church on grounds of belief or doctrine on one particular issue is either necessary or consistent with Anglican ecclesiology. All Church in Wales clergy and parishes are in communion with their respective Diocesan Bishop, regardless of whether or not they agree on every issue. Episcopal oversight and care for all within each Diocese is the responsibility of the Diocesan Bishop.

There remains a continuing place in the Church in Wales for those unable to accept the ministry of women priests, but we do not believe that this is contingent upon appointing another Provincial Assistant Bishop and it is therefore our decision not to appoint. Whilst bringing a particular arrangement to an end, we remain committed to serving every person and every parish within our respective Dioceses and we will continue to be sensitive in our appointments, both in terms of the views of parishes and in ensuring that clergy from different parts of the Church are given the opportunity to progress in their ministry.”

Outside the writings of George Orwell it's hard to find a better example of "Newspeak."
Essentially, they seem to be saying, 'we will do all we can to keep you within the Church in Wales except the very thing we know you require in order to stay.' In what way can this be distinguished from actually telling lies?
If, as is asserted by the bishops (an incomplete bench of bishops), the appointment of a Provincial Assistant in some way contravenes that very elastic theological concept, "Anglican ecclesiology" then how does the ordination of women to the Sacred Ministry fit in? Of course, words mean what we want them to mean. We have become very used to this kind of misuse of language over recent years in all walks of life, but somehow (and I know it's naive) one expected better things of the Church.
I know, too, that is not a particularly charitable reaction, as I have just read the news, but the Bishops' statement has the word 'dishonourable' running through it like a stick of Barry Island rock.

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