Thursday, 20 October 2011

Wales: new barriers to ordination?

Ancient Briton has these comments in a recent post about a story that a large majority of the Welsh Anglican dioceses will no longer accept for ordination training those opposed to the ordination of women. His sources are undoubtedly better than mine, but the same kind of information has even reached this very beautiful and sylvan corner of ecclesiastical exile.

Is it true? I don't know; but it's hardly surprising that they are in such wide circulation given the Province's unambiguous 'equality' agenda. 
In many ways this is hardly 'news' at all, as a Standing Committee report recommended this policy be adopted as early as 2009 [see here]  But it would be good to hear some authoritative denials of the rumours and, even better, some concrete evidence of its untruth in some three or so years' time, if there are still traditionalists brave enough to offer themselves for ordination to the priesthood in a province whose theological trajectory is now so clearly antithetical both to historically recognisable catholic faith and to contemporary ecumenical realities.

Why is this so important? Surely, as so many people have said, 'the game is over.' Without rehearsing all these arguments yet again, it remains important simply because promises were made to traditionalists in Wales and they should be kept. And to those who are saying that promises were not made, I can only respond that their understanding of the English language is obviously different to this one-time member of the Governing Body who was present when they were made. Perhaps the translation facilities were faulty that day.
On the other hand, we have to accept that these promises, like the continued appointment of a Provincial Assistant Bishop, were never formal constitutional guarantees. Yet, it was certainly in the interests of those in favour of change that they should be regarded as binding by those who were opposed. Of course, we know that, to quote Sam Goldwyn, "A verbal contract isn't worth the paper it's written on," but it would be a shame if that has become the unofficial motto of the new look Church in Wales.

Regardless of the present agenda and the increasing power and stridency of the women bishops lobby, there is a reason why such morally binding assurances should be honoured. It has something to do with authenticity, honesty and integrity.... things not wholly unconnected with the nature of the God who became man.

1940s GWR travel poster of the Wye Valley.
 Still Wordsworth's "sylvan Wye! thou wanderer thro' the woods.",


  1. Fine with me. The Catholic Church shouldn't tolerate dissent so why should the Anglican Church, even though the losing minority happens to agree with the Catholic Church?

    What we thought Anglicanism was, wasn't. I'm not angry or sad about that. It just is.

  2. I see where you are coming from, but the real issue surely is about the 'ownership' of the Church - if she belongs to Christ, then who are we in our generation to substitue the zeitgeist for the Heligegeist? I have real problems with a view of the various Christian traditions as simply competing business franchises which can do as they see fit within their own institutional frameworks, particularly when, as Anglicanism does, they still maintain they are part of the One Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and the changes introduced over the last couple (just) of generations clearly fly in the face of that. You may say the jury has already delivered its verdict on that one and I wouldn't really disagree, but I and many others didn't 'sign up' to minister in an ecclesial body which thinks it has a right to change according to the prevaling fashions of society.
    The other reason why it's not fine is a matter of honour and truth, not a question of dealing with dissent. To put it bluntly, they lied to us. I'd be interested in seeing a defence of that.
    Of course, we are living in a period of radical change and realignment, when perhaps the previously blurred boundaries of our traditions (hence Anglo-Catholicism itself) are becoming more sharply defined. But whatever the outcome of that (the Ordinariate is a good and necessary development in this process) it can't just be a matter of moving to somewhere where we feel more comfortable, like changing supermarkets or make of car.


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