Wednesday, 21 November 2012

At last a sympathetic commentator... and, perhaps, a less than helpful suggestion

Having been known to bemoan from time to time the highly secularised views of the average Anglican layperson , although, to be fair to them, how on earth they are to distinguish between fact and opinion in a print and broadcasting media which is almost wholly (with a few honourable exceptions - mostly Roman Catholic) ranged against traditional expressions of Christian faith is anyone's guess.
But here is Peter Hitchens (by his own admission, a very low church Anglican) on the General Synod fiasco: 
"...Yet, knowing little of the subject,  all these Godless or indifferent outsiders have fervent opinions on the matter of mitres. In many cases, they have much stronger opinions than I do. As a Broad Church Protestant, I see no reason why a woman shouldn’t be what I call a minister (in my part of the Church, we have Ministers, not Priests, and tables rather than altars). But good friends of mine, both Anglo-Catholics and strong evangelicals, disagree. The Catholics think that the Mass doesn’t properly take place if it is celebrated by a woman, and argue from tradition – that Christ himself picked no women as apostles, and the priesthood derives from the apostles and can’t deviate from Christ’s example. Mrs Lindsay Newcombe, who is not some sort of religious doormat but has a doctorate in Mechanical Engineering and is married to an Anglican Priest, thinks like this. You can watch her here, explaining why she thinks what she thinks.  If you believed that, and they do (though I don’t), then it seems to me that you’d be entitled to carry on behaving as if you did,  in the Church that has until very recently treated your ideas as both normal and predominant . As discussed here at length, religious faith goes beyond provable facts and reason, and seizes people by the heart as much as it enters their consciousness through the brain. I’m unmoved by relics and see the service of Holy Communion as a potent remembrance of the greatest event in the world’s history, but no more. But I have friends who feel differently, and I respect them for it.
Likewise I have evangelical friends, at the opposite end of the Anglican spectrum,  who believe that the Bible is quite firm on the idea that men and not women should lead the church. I won’t go into that, simply say that if you are to have a Church which pays any attention to the Bible at all, then people who have such views cannot rightfully be excluded from it, or shouldered brusquely aside by it.
As far as I can make out, the argument in the ludicrously-named General Synod ( a body I would cheerfully dissolve tonight) has not for years been about whether there should be female Bishops. That was accepted long ago. The problem has been over *how those who could not in conscience accept the authority of such Bishops could be accommodated*.
The supporters of women bishops, had they been prepared to allow small separate jurisdictions for the Catholic and Evangelical dissenters, could long ago have got their majority and there would be women bishops by now. But ( as I found in a TV debate with some of them a few years ago) they regard such compromise restrictions as irksome and unacceptable. So the provisions for the dissenters, on offer on Tuesday, were rather vague. And as we all know, vague protections are subject to the iron whims of men and women who are charged with policing them, but do not respect them....."   [in full here]

Meanwhile, back at the ranch, or at least closer to home, comes what some might call a less than helpful suggestion concerning The Church in Wales from that doyen of retired liberal bishops, and darling of Radio 4's Thought for the Day, Lord Harries of Pentregarth -  who, as we know from his recently produced report  into the structures and life of the province, knows exactly what is best for the Church in Wales: 
[from, appropriately, the BBC here]

A former bishop of Oxford and leading church theologian has called on the Church in Wales to appoint women bishops.Lord Harries of Pentregarth said the Anglican church in Wales should "take the lead" on the issue after the Church of England voted against the move.
The Church in Wales rejected appointing women bishops in a vote in 2008.
But Lord Harries said Welsh Anglican leaders should now "have a go again".
The Church in Wales is an independent member of the family of the Anglican church, and of course they could go straight ahead and make women bishops. ”
Lord Harries of Pentregarth
"I think it would be very interesting and salutary if the Church in Wales over the next year or two had women bishops and the Church of England didn't," said the peer, who is an honorary professor of theology at King's College London.
"It would be good to see the Church in Wales giving us a lead on this."
The ordination of women bishops in the Church of England was narrowly rejected by its ruling general synod on Tuesday.
Dr Rowan Williams, the outgoing Archbishop of Canterbury, described the failed vote as a "deep personal sadness".
And speaking on BBC Radio Wales, Lord Harries described that decision as "a disaster" for the Church of England.
"Personally, I find it deeply dispiriting and more widely, it's highly damaging for the Church of England," he said.
'Lessons for Wales'
"The overwhelming opinion in the Church of England is in favour of women being made bishops.
"42 out of the 44 dioceses are very, very strongly in favour. The bishops and clergy are very strongly in favour."
He said 'unrepresentative' lay members in the general synod had tipped the balance against women bishops.
"I think there is a particular lesson here for the Church in Wales," he added.
"The Church in Wales is an independent member of the family of the Anglican church, and of course they could go straight ahead and make women bishops.
"They need to have a go again."
A vote on the ordination of women bishops in Wales was defeated by just three votes in 2008.
But the issue has never gone away, and was opened up for discussion again in April when a paper was drawn up by the Bench of Bishops for its governing body.
Following that debate, the bishops told the governing body in September there was sufficient support to bring forward church legislation in favour of women bishops.
However, if that bill was presented and passed, it is unlikely to be brought into force until a second bill is introduced to ensure provision for parishioners who are unwilling to accept the ministry of a woman bishop.
The Church in Wales' governing body is next due to meet in April next year, when it is likely the subject will come under renewed scrutiny."

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