The content and tone of the letter represents a rather strange way in which to "hold out the hand of fellowship," or so one might think .... particularly given the fact that the present impasse could be so easily broken by the Bench's adoption of the more inclusive and eirenic policy of the Church of England. There would need to be delegated authority of some kind, but changed circumstances call for imagination and vision from those on both sides of this argument, rather than intransigence and a rigid adherence to a Constitution which was designed for a more settled ecclesial climate in which the views of the present Bench concerning apostolic order would have been completely beyond the pale, as, of course, remains the case in those other Churches which 'stand legitimately in any way within the catholic and apostolic tradition,' and whose ministry Anglicans have always claimed to share.
But, that aside, could this perhaps not constitute the more 'moderated response' that the Bishops themselves are calling for - but have clearly 'overlooked' - a development which would at least go some way towards meeting the genuine needs and authentic concerns of their traditionalist flock?
This is the full text of the letter, signed by all six diocesan bishops:
Thank you for sending to us the text of Credo Cymru’s response to the Code of Practice.
As your Bishops, whom you have addressed as your Fathers in God, we have always been given to understand by you and the others who have met with us on behalf of Credo Cymru that your members reject any concept of “taint” which suggests that when we ordain women to sacred order we forfeit our catholic and apostolic character. This current response seems to suggest otherwise, namely that your members no longer accept us “as true pastors of their souls and as their link with continuing apostolicity.”
As the Bishops of the Church in Wales, we believe that the apostolic tradition neither denies nor disproves the legitimacy of the ordination of women. We believe that we continue to share with you the substance of that tradition, and we continue to respect and welcome those who cannot accept such ordinations. It is an extremely serious matter if those whom we seek to include cannot any longer reciprocate that fundamental respect and basic recognition. This is especially so, given that, in every diocese, those who are members of Credo Cymru have demonstrated themselves until now to be in Communion with us as their bishops, and to accept a share in our cure as the foundation of their ministry.
In continuing to hold out the hand of fellowship, we have to say, however, that the response as its stands raises fundamental questions about the place of those who now effectively seem to repudiate all the bishops of the Church in Wales as standing legitimately in any way within the catholic and apostolic tradition of the Church. That being the case it is hard to see on what basis they can continue, with any integrity, both to serve in an ordained ministry which is founded upon sharing in our cure, and as representatives of the Church in Wales. If their view is followed through, it would also call into question the legitimacy of any bishop of any persuasion whom we might now ordain, “traditionalist” or otherwise.
We sincerely hope that a more moderated response can be developed which builds upon the faith we share. However, we must state unequivocally that any attempt to approach another bishop in place of the diocesan to provide episcopal ministry would have very serious implications."