Tuesday, 3 November 2009
The myth of temporary episcopal provision in Wales
I understand that there has been an assertion in some quarters that the provision of a Provincial Assistant Bishop for the Church in Wales was only ever intended to be a temporary, very short term, arrangement.
It’s odd then that nothing was said about that at the time, either to the Governing Body meeting where the provision was first unveiled (after – so we were led to believe – a somewhat acrimonious lunchtime meeting of the Bench of Bishops), or to Bishop David Thomas himself, the first and only Provincial Assistant, who left office last year clearly hoping to be replaced and deeply outraged when he was not.
Nothing was said in the official announcement of the creation of the PAB.
Nothing along those lines was communicated to those clergy who determined their future and that of their families on the strength of that provision, and resolved to remain in the Church in Wales only because they had been given a bishop to provide them with the (clearly recognised to be so at the time) pastoral and sacramental care they needed.
Human memory can be a very fallible thing, but surely after only thirteen years there must be someone capable of setting the record straight about what was originally intended - perhaps the bishop (later Archbishop, and now Archbishop in another province) who – despite being himself theologically committed to the ordination of women - so generously championed and then piloted the provision through against, so it is said, the opposition of some of his colleagues? Until we receive an authoritative and disinterested answer to that question, the suspicion has to be that – for what reason I can’t imagine – some people are now being 'economical with the actualité.’