The Leading Question? is the conclusions of the Women in Leadership Consultation and reflects the experience of women with a diversity of leadership experience in churches and ecumenical structures as well as the secular workplace and politics.
The seven recommendations of The Leading Question? suggest ways in which churches can become more aware of key concerns and issues identified and experienced by women, and so develop a deeper understanding of ways in which they can become truly gender-inclusive.."
We must, I suppose, be grateful for the question mark. If this is really the 'leading question' for contemporary Anglicans, our tradition deserves the greater decline into spiritual irrelevancy and even extinction which is waiting for us. Such reports, and the degree of seriousness, even reverence, with which they are now received in Anglican establishment circles, inevitably bring to mind the following words from Pope Francis' first homily after his election:
".....we can walk as much we want, we can build many things, but if we do not confess Jesus Christ, nothing will avail. We will become a compassionate NGO, but not the Church, the Bride of Christ. When one does not walk, one stalls. When one does not built on solid rock, what happens? What happens is what happens to children on the beach when they make sandcastles: everything collapses, it is without consistency...."
It also puts into context the most recent of many warnings from Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Synodal Department of External Church Relations of the Russian Orthodox Church [reported here]
"...The Moscow patriarchate expects Justin Welby, the new Archbishop of Canterbury, to adhere to the norms of Christian morals and the church system.But the message which comes over loud and clear, not in words but in actions, is that the Anglican hierarchy, and those pulling their strings, don't care. The brakes are off; there can be no change of direction. The proponents of heterodox change will tell you it's all about justice. Don't believe them: it's a power thing. The increasingly desperate search for acceptance (and the influence they fondly believe goes with it) by the only culture in which they feel at home takes precedence over anything else, including our Saviour's prayer, in the same night that he was betrayed, that we may all be one...
"We know that the Anglican Church is now going through a difficult time and various views, positions, and parties co-exist in it. However, we really hope that the traditional understanding of Christian morals and the church system will prevail in this polemic," Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the head of the Synodal Department of External Church Relations, said during a meeting between Welby and representatives of the Orthodox churches who attended his enthronement.
The introduction of the institution of female bishops will lead to the elimination of even a theoretical possibility of the Moscow patriarchate recognizing the church hierarchy of the Anglican church, the communications service of the Department of External Church Relations reported on Saturday. [And see here from 2010]
"I would like you to know about that and take our opinion into account when this issue arises again," Metropolitan Hilarion said.
Metropolitan Hilarion also said he is hoping Justin Welby will firmly defend the traditional biblical understanding of marriage as a union between a man and a woman "to prevent secular society from forcing on the Church of England the recognition of some forms of cohabitation which were never considered marriage by Christian churches..."