Thursday, 9 February 2012

The Archbishop of Canterbury's intervention yesterday

Someone gets it:  
"The difficulty many feel is that to leave the phrase ‘male bishop’ in the draft Measure insufficiently recognises where that particular point comes in the argument people are trying to make. It doesn’t go to the root of it. In other words the theological conviction is not about male bishops as such: it arises from certain other convictions. And one of my questions about the draft Measure is whether anything can be done there, and / or in the Code of Practice, to overcome the resistance that is felt to that phrase, and to do better justice to what it rests upon. If I’m right about the two fundamental principles, that’s not a substantial change in the Measure. But it does of course then raise the question of how, whether in Measure or in Code, we do proper justice to this second point about theological integrity and pastoral continuity and ecclesial integrity; how we do that without over-legislating, over-prescribing in way that creates parallel church identities by default. And that I suppose is what a couple of years ago the Archbishop of York and myself were feeling our way for in the now notorious ‘archbishops’ amendment’. If you look at some of the background literature that was provided at the time with that amendment, precisely the two principles with which I began were enunciated as the principles on which that amendment was based. Whether we were right or not to cast it in that form, I’m not at all sure. But looking forward to the debate later today, I would quite like Synod—no, I’d very much like Synod—to consider whether leaving a door open for the bishops to revisit some of those questions in the light of where we have got to might not a good idea at this juncture.

I think, you see, that we have a very high degree of clarity about the basic principles here. I think we have the possibility of some bits of fine-tuning that will take us a little bit further. To use the analogy I’ve used in this chamber before: it’s a little bit like the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel with God’s finger and Adam’s just about within touching distance!
If there is a way of clarifying these last couple of points then maybe we can find something we can all more-or-less gratefully live with. And one of the things I shall be listening for this afternoon in the debate on the Manchester motion, is perhaps a little bit of clarity as to whether it means a recommendation to the House of Bishops to bring back the archbishops’ amendment in its pristine form; or whether that phrase [in the Manchester amendment] ‘in the manner of’ the archbishops’ amendment gives us some scope to think again about whether there are ways of getting to that point by another route. So that’s what I’ll be listening for.
But not to detain you further, I hope that the two principles that we have, I think, enunciated as basic in this debate—clarity about a single structure of episcopal ministry, and clarity about respect and adequate provision for a minority—are for all members of Synod clear enough to feel grateful for. Because I think it’s rather remarkable that in spite of the depth of division and the sharpness of theological disagreement that has been around in Synod, we have nonetheless come to a point where we can say, ‘This is the kind of church we could, with celebration, with affirmation, live in’. I hope we won’t lose sight of that today."

[Text - ACNS)
Unfortunately, the majority of those on the Church of England's General Synod, including a large number of the Archbishop's brothers in the episcopate,  has proved beyond doubt, not so much that they have lost sight of that kind of church, but that they have no interest in living in it whatsoever.

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