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Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Anglicans 'can reject women priest'

Telegraph - U.K.

Anglicans 'can reject women priests'

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent

Last Updated: 1:47am GMT 10/01/2007

Traditionalists won a victory against the liberal American branch of Anglicanism yesterday when a panel set up by the Archbishop of Canterbury ruled that they could not be compelled to accept women priests.

The “panel of reference”, a body created by Dr Rowan Williams to adjudicate in international disputes, said that the “non-acceptance” of women’s ministry was a “recognised theological position”.

The panel’s findings followed complaints from an American diocese that does not ordain women that it had been undermined by the national Episcopal Church, which had effectively made female ordination mandatory.

Though the panel’s recommendations have no binding legal authority, its decision to uphold the rights of opponents of women priests will have implications for the whole Church.

The findings will also come as a blow to the new Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, Katherine Jefferts Schori, the first woman head of an individual Anglican province, and they were angrily condemned by fellow liberals.

But traditionalists said that the panel had recognised that they had a continuing place in the Church.

The panel’s ruling came in response to a 2005 appeal by the Diocese of Forth Worth and its traditionalist Bishop, the Rt Rev Jack Iker. Bishop Iker argued that when the Episcopal Church originally decided to allow women to become priests in 1974, it permitted, but did not require, dioceses to ordain women.

However, in 1997, the Church modified its laws by stating that “no one shall be denied access to the ordination process in any parish or diocese” on account of their gender. Bishop Iker said that as he could not, in good conscience, ordain women, the new laws made him liable to be removed from office and would prevent Fort Worth from electing future bishops opposed to women clergy.

The Bishop argued that the rights of women who sought ordination in his diocese were adequately protected by the “Dallas Plan” he created in 1996, that transferred prospective women clergy to the neighboring Diocese of Dallas.

In its report yesterday, the panel praised the Dallas Plan and asked Dr Williams and Bishop Jefferts Schori to commend it. It also asked the Episcopal Church to clarify its canon laws and protect the right of conscience of opponents of women clergy.

Lambeth Palace had no immediate comment, but Bishop Jefferts Schori offered a muted response to the Daily Telegraph, saying that “we recognise that women do have access to ordination under the Dallas plan at present, which seems to address the intent of the canon.”

But the Rev Elizabeth Kaeton, the Episcopal Women’s Caucus president, said that the panel’s ruling “not only calls for flagrant disobedience of the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church, but also preserves and promotes a system of institutional sexism and misogyny.”

Bishop Iker said that he was “gratified that our conscientious position has been vindicated by this impartial, international body of Church leaders.”

Another leading conservative, the Bishop of Pittsburgh, the Rt Rev Robert Duncan, added: “It is clearly up to the leadership of The Episcopal Church to choose either to continue pushing faithful Episcopalians who disagree with the majority on this issue out the door, or to accept the constructive work of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference.”

Fort Worth is one of three Episcopal dioceses which do not ordain women to the priesthood. The worldwide Anglican Church as a whole is committed to “open reception” of women’s ordination.


marnanel said...

"also preserves and promotes a system of institutional sexism and misogyny"

Sheesh. You tell 'em!

MadPriest said...

What I think you fail to understand (or, petulantly refuse to understand) is the importance of serving beer at the right temperature.
I'm sure most of your readers will agree with me on this.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

I know how to serve beer, my darling. I just don't drink the stuff. (Makes you smell rather like an old sock.)

When I'm across the pond, I order a proper G&T - except you Brits don't serve it with any where near enough ice or gin.

But, I never complain. I close my eyes, sip slowly and dream of home.

KJ said...

"...not only calls for flagrant disobedience of the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church, but also preserves and promotes a system of institutional sexism and misogyny.”

Elizabeth, tweek that verbage just a bit, and you'll have the preamble for the looming covenant. Your plane ticket is in the mail.

I'm afraid that I am too old to develop a taste for beer, warm, cold, or otherwise. As a kid, I thought it smelled a bit like pee, but maybe that's just American beer. What would we do without MadPriest around to keep us focused on the important things?

Eileen said...

Elizabeth - the Admiral of Morality has a very interesting post quoting one of the Executive Council members comments from the HOB/D Listserv. It speaks to modern racism hiding within the folds of theology. It's excellent!

Deborah Sproule said...

Another morning, the snakes haven't taken over my kitchen yet. I'm sipping holiday black tea with cream this morning. It's better than beer any time of day. I'm sipping between prayers as I read today's lectionary. Paul gets going on his circumcised and uncircumcised lesson again. The boys keep missing the point. Poor boys have such a burden to carry
as though they still wait for a savior to tell them whether to 'snip' or 'not snip'. Since I'm such a girl of God lead by my Christ I know better than to dicker over tiny details of men.
So, my cup is now empty, I rejoice in my female emptiness. I'll pray for the boys too, even though they do not get it. With or without beer the boys must swallow the bitter truth that I will never follow them. Sorry.

Grace said...

I can see a middle position. Why not allow another bishop to ordain women in the diocese whose bishops are struggling with this issue. Continue to honor and allow freedom of conscience in the matter, but without doing so in a way that would ban all ordained women from any diocese as priests.

Certainly no parish should be forced to call anyone, but what if there are individul churches in the diocese of Fort Worth that someday might want to call an ordained woman? I personally do not even think of myself as a feminist at all, but as a Christian
I think it's surely wrong to limit the move of God's spirit.

Timotheos Prologizes said...


Good ideas. In fact, you have just described something that actually exists. It's the pastoral compromise called the "Dallas Plan", now affirmed and endorsed as faithful to the canons of the Episcopal Church by the ABC's Panel of Reference and by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

The Dallas Plan is a lie - a gentleman's agreement in the tradition of a Texas horse-trade. Except, ahem, if they hadn't noticed, women ARE NOT horses!

In 10 years, only three women have been ordained in "The Dallas Plan."

It's Mr. Stanton, of Dallas, trying to serve the church and Mr. Iker trying to get his own misogynist way.

The Panel of Reference recommendations encourage a flagrant disobedience to the UNAMBIGUOUS constitution and canons of TEC.

They will be of no help - no help whatsoever - when )not IF_ Mr. Iker is brought up on presentment.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Oh, and Bishop Katharine has NOT "endorsed" the Dallas Plan.


How can you misconstrue her quote about "satisfying the canons" to be an "endorsement"?

Is lying endemic to the Diocese of Ft. Worth- sort of floating free form in the diocesan ether - or is it something you boys learn from the example of your bishop?

Deborah Sproule said...

Hmmmm, Horse trading, what a riddle. The Dallas Plan sounds a little like "God in the Box" theology. Stallion vs. Gelding. Even with all the veils of the Temple, the lead Mare will never ever want to be a boy horse. The Mare of the Moon knows how to fly. Listen to what She says, in her own words, pg 157-160 in her book, A Wing and a Prayer.

God continue to bless our gifted PB Katharine Jefferts Schori, she is too smart to be pulled out of the sky by the spitting of boys and humble enough to sit at their table for lunch.

Timotheos Prologizes said...

Don't forget to read whole sentences. What I said was "It's the pastoral compromise called the 'Dallas Plan', now affirmed and endorsed as faithful to the canons of the Episcopal Church by the ABC's Panel of Reference and by Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori." I was not stating that she came up with the plan herself or even whether thinks its a good idea.

Would I still be lying if I said that on January 9th the Fort Worth Star-Telegram reported, "Schori supports the Dallas Plan. 'My sense is that the Dallas Plan provides for women and seems to be adequate, and our understanding is that it does seem to be responsive to the canons,' she said"?

Rather than calling people liars and threatening presentments, what if we thoughtfully considered whether the "middle position" that Grace articulated is or is not the same as the Dallas Plan.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Presiding Bishop Jefferts Shori is still on a learning curve.

Why not talk to those directly affected by the Dallas Plan and see how it's working for them?

Warning: what you will hear won't sound anything like the "middle postion."

Neither will it sound anything like the truth.

Jack Iker is in violation of the constitution and canons of the Episcopal Church. Period. End of sentence. That's not a threat of presentment. That's just cause.

And, when - not if - that happens, neither the Panel of Reference, nor the ABC - or, for that matter, anyone in the Anglican Communion - will be able to change the facts.