Sunday, 25 November 2012

What, if any, were the concessions to traditionalists? How can progress now be made?

Given the constant barrage of comments - there were several this morning on the BBC's Sunday programme - about the majority in the Church of England having made numerous concessions to satisfy the needs of traditionalists, John Richardson [here] asks what those concessions actually were...
"One of the things I have heard and read frequently in the wake of the failure of the women bishops Measure is that supporters, as one Tweet put it, ‘bent over backwards’ to accommodate Traditionalists.
On this blog, one person wrote “we compromised, we put aside our own desires, our own theological convictions, our very sense of identity in Christ to accommodate those opposed in a spirit of love”.
Now my problem is this. From where I am sitting, it simply didn’t look like that. Sorry, but that is the case. I remember too well the public tears of the Bishop of Dover (who was also ‘ashamed’ then to be part of the Church of England) at the Synod in July 2008.
This was the same occasion on which the Bishop of Durham reportedly called for the debate to be abandoned — a debate during which thirteen proposals, most of them intended to strengthen provision for Traditionalists, were voted down.
Sadly, I remember it all too well, and my feeling that the writing was very clearly on the wall. At that point I was personally convinced that nothing except a bare minimum of provision would be offered. The ‘train crash’ of last Tuesday started, as far as I am concerned, with the ‘derailment’ four years ago.
So here is my question, and I ask respondents PLEASE to keep their replies brief and to the point.
I am looking for specific examples where what Traditionalists requested was either approved or strengthened through the decision-making processes of the General Synod. For example, you could say, “The House of Bishop’s Clause 5(1)c amendment was not completely removed and a form of words to satisfy Traditionalists was attempted.” (Only don’t, because I’ve got that one down.I would genuinely welcome contributions as I feel progress can only be made in an atmosphere of honesty, which includes correcting the historical record..."
On the same radio programme this morning Bishop Pete Broadbent, although not wholly unsympathetic to the traditionalists' predicament, threw out the comment that the Church of England was being asked to accommodate theologies of sacramental certainty and biblical headship which are not recognised by the Church of England - since when and in what way are they not recognised? I think we should be told. It would be worrying indeed (no trace of irony here, of course) to learn that, either explicitly or implicitly, the C of E has repudiated the authority of Holy Scripture and elevated to the level of dogma the necessity of sacramental dubiety.

On a constructive note, there have been several suggestions - one in the combox of this blog - that it is time to revisit the idea of the 'Society' model, rejected by the C of E's Synod along with so many other attempts at a way forward.  Perhaps more on that later - and its possibilities of satisfying those who like to speak of female bishops as second-class,  by extending this provision to all dioceses (and U.K. provinces?) regardless of the sex of the ordinary.  Now from the perspective of a 'catholic' ecclesiology it is clearly flawed (as, frankly,  are all 'solutions' to the theological mess we are in - that's been the case since the 1990s) and clearly insufficient. That's a compromise from traditionalists to begin with; when will those in favour of women bishops begin to reciprocate? 

Following on from the comments of Archbishops and others about the credibility of the Church being undermined by Tuesday's decision, what could give a clearer signal in an increasingly intolerant and monochrome society (see here) than for the Church to be seen to be bending over backwards, even if the majority will is temporarily frustrated, in order to protect the rights of its own minorities? 
'Credibility' is clearly in the eye of the beholder, and I suspect the bien-pensant elite, in Church and State alike, is shamefully unconcerned about what happens to those who don't subscribe to its own historically narrow vision for the future.

1 comment:

  1. Protestantism it is then! Any regard to catholicity has been cleansed. What is the point in trying to defend it or accommodate it?

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