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Monday, January 08, 2007

Breaking news from Windsor Panel of Reference: Priestly vocations of Ft. Worth women have no worth

While we here in The Episcopal Church were busy preparing to celebrate the Feast of the Nativity of the Incarnation, it seems that there was a group of Anglican folk 'across the pond' meeting at Lambeth Palace in Canterbury, England, who were making a statement about the Manifestations of the Incarnation - at least in terms of who might appropriately be the ordained representatives of Jesus in the Episcopal Church.

The Panel of Reference, called together by the Windsor Report has made its recommedations on the appeal of the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

You can read the full report here.

You may remember that the Diocese of Ft. Worth appealed to the Panel of Reference even before it had appealed to the Archbishop of Canterbury for "alternate primatial oversite."

The good bishop of Ft. Worth, one Mr. Jack Leo Iker, asked that the Panel of Reference place its imprimatur on "The Dallas Plan," a system wherein those women in Ft. Worth who feel called to ordination to the priesthood or episcopacy, or, in fact, a vocation to be rector of a church in that diocese, would be refered to Mr. James Stanton, bishop of the Diocese of Dallas.

It was a "gentlemen's agreement" between bishops, the stuff of which good Anglican history - as well as the story of Texas horse-trading - is filled.

As President of the Episcopal Women's Caucus, I have issued a first response to the release of the Report. It is appended below. The Caucus board will be meeting later this week for further discussion and deliberation.

I want to suggest to you, dear Blog reader, that this Report has wider implications than just the issue of women and just the Diocese of Ft. Worth.

If the ordination of women is a bellwether issue in The Episcopal Church - and I believe it is - then I think this report sounds an ominous tone for those of us who believe in the radical inclusion of Jesus in all the councils and corridors of power in the church.

Here are some of my questions:

How, in God's name, do any of these good, Anglican folk from around the world who make up the Panel of Reference, have any idea of what is good for the Anglican folk here in The Episcopal Church?

Is this a sort of "neo-colonialism" in reverse?

How can people who do not live in the United States, much less the Episcopal Diocese of Ft. Worth, make a judgement on what "has worked well the past 10 years"?

With whom did they speak to make this judgment? What did they read in preparation for this judgment?

Certainly not anything by historian and author, Pamela Darling!

The journey toward the Realm of God just hit a big bump in the road!

Here's the initial response of The Episcopal Women's Commission:

The Episcopal Women's Caucus receives with deep distress and dismay the decision of the Panel of Reference that, "while the Communion is in a process of reception, no diocese or parish should be compelled to accept the ministry of word or sacrament from an ordained woman."

This decision provides a basis for the reason that a "foreign curia" is antithetical to the Spirit of Anglicanism in general and the Episcopal Church in particular.

What "appears to have worked successfully for ten years" to the distant perspective of an uninvolved few brings a harsh reality more painfully into focus for those Americans who will continue to be denied the sacramental, liturgical, pastoral and prophetic fullness of the ministry of women which is enjoyed in 108 of 111 dioceses.

Even more deeply troubling, the clear recommendation of the Panel of Reference that "it is legitimate for a diocese to ask of candidates that they abide by the particular policy of the diocese in relation to the ministry of women, and that theological views on the ordination or consecration of women should not be ground on which consent might be withheld by the Province/House of Bishops" 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.

The Episcopal Women's Caucus is a justice organization dedicated to Gospel values of equality and liberation and committed to the incarnation of God's unconditional love.

For further information, contact

(the Rev’d) Elizabeth Kaeton
President, EWC
973 464 8018

(the Rev’d Canon) Carol Cole Flanagan
201 537 6556


Cranmer49 said...

This is quite obviously a foreign interpretation of our canons and consitutions. The canons and consitution, by the way, of a province that is represented by a Presiding Bishop who happens to be a woman. Where in God's name are these people coming from to make that kind of judgment about something they absolutely do not know? They have crossed the line of interference by interpreting our canons with absolutely no legal right to do such interpretation.

I can only wonder, then, if Little Napoleon over there in Ft. Worth were brought up on charges of violating our canons, would the Panel of Reference trump the judicial bodies and the polity of the Episcopal Church?

I think this is worth considering.

Caminante said...

I have long felt that until we sort out women's ordination, and this proclamation from the Panel of Reference indicates that we haven't, we're not even close to tackling the orientation question.

Mon Dieu, is it taking long for patriarchy to die! How long can this institution keep gasping and fighting back?

Lisa said...

Thanks for this analysis, Elizabeth. And I'm impressed at the restraint you've exercised in this very calm posting. I'm stuck somewhere between fury and a chilling sense of dread.

What's that we used to hear about "autonomous provinces"? If the Panel of Reference has the power to direct the polity and policy of the Episcopal Church, then there's not much hope for the Anglican Communion.

Eileen said...

This makes me sick at heart.


If this is the price of staying in the communion - I hope we opt out.

Jim said...

I heart sick at the panel's statement. What a horrible slap at the wonderful, powerful ministries of excellent clergy.

The first Lambeth council was called, or so I have read, at the suggestion of Canadian and American bishops. Arguably, we made it, time to admit the error.

If the choice is between the ministry of our clerics and making troglodytes happy -- it is time to move on.


Ann said...

Anger does not even touch what I am feeling tonight - I think we have moved into A Handmaid's Tale.