Tuesday, 9 July 2013

The response from Forward in Faith

to the General Synod decisions on the woman bishops process can be found in full here

Despite our misgivings, we can understand the need to be involved in the process while there is still a game to be played. As long as this involvement does not imply an inevitable acceptance of  what (little?) will be left on the table for traditionalists at the end of this synodical negotiating process all well and good. 
But, as we know, the reaching of a 'consensus' (one of the aims Forward in Faith has made much of in these negotiations) can be interpreted in varying ways depending upon one's stance, and there are times when an outright rejection of proposals which can offer no continuing and secure future is preferable to being tied into a process which will only lead to the disappearance of the Catholic voice in the Church of England. 
There are far worse things than being accused of intransigence or disloyalty to an institution which has itself become deeply disloyal both to its own history and traditions and to the wider Catholic consensus fidelium.

So even against the background of an understandable need, in a highly politicised atmosphere, to facilitate discussion and put the traditionalist case as sympathetically as possible in order to win over waverers, in many ways this response can only be described as disappointingly weak in its tone. One hopes that, even now, there is a plan 'B' and that moves are being made to hold the Catholic Movement together when, as many now predict, the final outcome of this process is to say to traditionalists 'accept what is on offer or leave.'

On another, but related, matter, this is probably 'politically' the worst possible time to leave the membership of Forward in Faith (and Credo Cymru in Wales) without one of its vital sources of information, the newspaper Forward Plus. It's always far easier to close something down than to set it up again, particularly in the kind of situation in which we now find ourselves....
I'm sure plans to produce a  successor publication of some kind are well advanced; keeping the membership in the dark would not be the best strategy to encourage a wholehearted commitment when that is precisely what will be needed in a future fraught with uncertainty.

However, the most significant part of the Response, however, is probably this: 

"...In later votes even larger minorities, especially in the House of Laity, rejected key elements of the approach preferred by the House of Bishops and by the most uncompromising supporters of women bishops. In the end, 25% of the Synod declined to endorse even the drafting of legislation on that basis. The logical conclusion is that to do so would result in a repeat of last November's failure...."

How one convinces the liberal fundamentalists and (evidently) their episcopal fellow travellers of this and of the need to avert it by a generous display of Anglican inclusivity  is another question altogether....

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