Monday, April 02, 2007
Australia: Women are people, too.
I suppose when you live in a place referred to as "down under" it is difficult for the light of a new day to illuminate the thinking of the church.
Nah, that's not it.
Actually, the word "Neanderthal" comes to mind. I'm told they still do roam the earth, finding Churches in general and the Roman and Anglican church in particular, places of sanctuary where they can drink in as much embalming fluid as they desire.
I found this over at "MadPriest's" blog.
Linda Morris, religion editor
THERE is no constitutional barrier to women becoming bishops in Australia, despite warnings from conservatives that such a decision would risk damaging national church unity, the Anglican Church's highest court has been told.
Lawyers representing supporters of women bishops told the Appellate Tribunal's landmark hearing that a plain text reading of the church's 45-year old constitution showed only that bishops must be baptised, be a priest and be over 30.
They claimed the decision of the national church 15 years ago to permit women to become priests was more momentous than first thought and had effectively removed one of the legal impediments to them becoming bishops.
The long-running and contentious political and theological battle to break the stained glass ceiling came down to four hours of complex legal argument on Saturday. Debate included whether the word "person", when referring to clergy in the Anglican church constitution, meant males only.
Being male was not a "pre-requirement" for the Anglican Church's episcopate, just as it was not for any experienced barrister or lawyer seeking appointment to the judiciary, said Richard Refshauge, the chief legal adviser to the Bishop of Canberra and Goulburn, George Browning, who supports the idea of women bishops.
Removing the constitutional link of maleness to the priesthood in 1992 had important legal consequences for the elevation of women to be bishops, he argued.
But the conservative and influential Sydney diocese, which is leading the case against admitting women to the Australian Anglican episcopate, says the church's general synod, not its legal courts, must decide if women should become senior church leaders.
Robert Tong, chairman of the conservative Anglican Church League, told the Herald that if the tribunal ruled that supporters of women bishops could bypass the church's parliament, it would undermine church unity and open the floodgates for other dioceses to go it alone on other issues. He said supporters of women bishops did not have the numbers to change the system.
Muriel Porter, from the Melbourne diocese, said Sydney had such dominance in the general synod it might frustrate this and other changes indefinitely. "But if we don't get through this way we will keep on until women can be bishops in this country. It's a scandal that this discrimination is allowed to continue."
She noted that the former archbishop of Sydney Donald Robinson had stalled on approving changes to bishops' qualifications in 1989 precisely because he feared it would allow women bishops.
Claire Smith of Equal but Different, the conservative lobby group which argues that women are equal to men but should not be bishops, said the national church would need to set up some alternative mechanism to minister to conservatives who would not accept female bishops.
"In almost every diocese there are people who object to women bishops," she said. "With a church you can change churches but with dioceses you just can't change cities."
Earlier, the Archbishop of Perth, Roger Herft rejected an application by Sydney to have him disqualified from the hearing.
The tribunal, made up of seven bishops and lawyers, is expected to deliberate for several months.