Saturday, 21 November 2009

NOW I get it!

The Archbishop of Canterbury, speaking in Rome at the Gregorian, clearly suggests that such matters as the ordination of women should be firmly relegated to the status of “second order” issues, and not be capable of derailing the ecumenical process which has been so successful up to this point.

Can the Archbishop really believe this: that the theology of holy order is somehow just a “secondary” matter of “church organisation" and structures  and not directly and intimately related to the nature of the Church herself and her status as the Bride of Christ and, accordingly, our own relationship with Christ in and through his Church?
If so, it certainly explains the vast gulf of understanding which has opened up between traditional Catholics in the Anglican world and the rest of the Communion, happy to ordain women, who regard such matters (presumably including the theology of the sacraments) as somehow of “secondary” importance? For the Catholic, the theology of the Church and, in one form or another, the Petrine ministry, are clearly “first order issues.” Having said that, Catholic theology is a seamless robe and I’m not sure the distinction between “first” and “second” order is a useful one at all.

Is the Archbishop really stating his own developed theological position in this recent address, or is he attempting to speak for a divided Church which has never in nearly five hundred years been able to come to anything approaching a common mind on matters of sacramental theology, ordained ministry and ecclesiology?

Again, if these questions really are second order issues, why are traditional Catholics now being excluded from his Church for holding what has become (very recently and only in some provinces) a minority view? How can a Christian communion, which has hitherto prided itself on bridging the Catholic / Protestant divide, hope to pursue ecumenism on the global stage when it has so spectacularly failed in its own “internal” ecumenism?

And (this is where accusations of being disingenuous really hit their target),  if these really are second order issues, why do many of the advocates of women’s ordination constantly stress that, in ordaining women to the sacred ministry of the Church, our view of the Godhead (himself?) is radically changed as a result?

1 comment:

  1. That's a very helpful point you make at the end. Thanks.


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