Thursday, 3 April 2014

"Nothing must be lost"

Women bishops: "Nothing must be lost" was the heartening headline on the front page of the March edition of Pobl Dewi, the newspaper of the St David's Diocese,  The article itself consists of  a very fair report (remarkably so, given the tight editorial control exercised over other official Anglican publications these days) of the Women Bishops' Code of Practice consultation meetings in the diocese.
Following the meetings in the other Welsh dioceses which were very similar in terms of the opinions expressed, it will now be very hard indeed for the Welsh Bench to avoid their moral obligation (if the honouring of promises is to mean anything in this Christian community) to provide a traditionalist bishop to minister to the 'original integrity' within the Province.

The text of the report is printed below [link above]

Women bishops: “Nothing must be lost”

Meetings across the diocese have sent a clear message to the bishops as they draw up a Code of Practice to cater for those who, in conscience, cannot accept the principle of female headship

 THE Governing Body voted in September to allow the ordination of women as bishops one year on. And the present Bench was required to bring forward “without delay” a Code of Practice which would govern how opponents of the measure could be accommodated. 
The Vicar of Tregaron, Canon Philip Wyn Davies, set out his stall at the opening meeting in Aberaeron: “It must be acceptable to have reservations about women’s sacramental ministry, at least until the Anglican Communion as a whole has taken a position,” he
said. “There is no evidence that women [bishops] will bring anyone into the Church and we can’t afford to throw anyone out. Nothing must be lost.”
But how? The most frequent suggestion was the re-introduction of an assistant bishop, such
as the one appointed in 1996 when women were first ordained into the priesthood.
Elizabeth Arnold-Davies, a Reader in the United Parish of Lampeter, pointed to the Provincial Episcopal Visitor scheme in England, which seemed to work well. “We have to find acceptable provision for all,” she said. “We have no right to deny people access to Christian worship in church.” 
Another concern was the timescale. Would the Code be in place before the first consecration?
Fenella Strange (Cwmann) believed  this was essential. And to what degree would whatever the bishops come up with be open to debate? Others, though, did not believe gender was an issue. 
Carol Griffiths (St Tysilio’s, Llandysiliogogo) believed calling – “a gift from God” – was more important and feared creating a Church within a Church. “We are a family,” she
said. “We have to live together or we will die together.” 
Rhoda Healey said that if
priests were there to represent the Bishop at the Eucharist, there was no logical sense to opposing women bishops, when women already administered sacraments, as priests.
But Revd Stephen Edwards (Priest-in-Charge, Llanilar) had a stark message: “You either have to take your conscience and go,” he said, “or deny your conscience. If you want priests with no conscience, then pity the Church.”

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