Tuesday, October 19, 2010
Meanwhile, back in England
London Times Religion Editor Ruth Gledhill has been reporting on the recent. . . "unhappiness" . . . in the Church of England over the ordination of women in general and the election (or, in the case of the CofE "appointment") and consecration of women to the episcopacy in particular.
You can see Gledhill's interview with Christina Rees of WATCH - Women and The Church - here and a BBC interview with Gledhill, in which she discusses the issue of women bishops in the Church of England.
Twenty-eight women have been consecrated bishops in the Anglican Communion since 1989 when Barbara Clementine Harris became the first woman elected and consecrated to the episcopacy as bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Massachusetts.
In the Church of England, women have been ordained to the priesthood for the past eighteen years. By the time the proposed changes, authorized in July by General Synod, wind their way through the various dioceses and end up back at General Synod for final approval, women will have been ordained priests for twenty years in the Church of England.
Twenty (20) years! One would think that would be enough time for the church to adjust to that which scripture reveals Jesus himself condoned.
Gledhill reports that at least three CofE bishops are expected, by Christmas 2010, to leave the CofE and 'swim the Tiber' to Rome.
One of the three, Bishop John Broadhurst, bishop of Fulham and leader of the anti-woman movement ironically called "Forward in Faith International" has announced that he will retire from the Church of England at age 68 and join the Roman Catholic Church.
The other two - Andrew Burnham of Ebbsfleet and Keith Newton of Richborough - are on 'study leave' at the moment and have not yet made their announcements.
Actually, Broadhurst will accept the offer extended by Benedict XVI in the 2009 papal document, Anglicanorum Coetibus (sounds ever-so naughty, doesn't it?), which calls for the creation of new 'ordinariates' to serve the pastoral needs of Anglicans who wish to preserve their traditions while entering into full communion with Rome.
Broadhurst is recorded as saying, "The question is, how do we continue to live our history with integrity?"
Apparently, it doesn't matter to this good bishop that, for example, Mary Magdalene was chosen as the first to greet the Resurrected Christ and was known throughout antiquity as "The Apostle to the Apostles."
It seems to matter not that volumes have been written by learned, credentialed men and women over the past forty years or so which present a solid scriptural and theological foundation for ordaining women.
That being said, I didn't realize that the mission of the Church - any Church - was to 'live our history'. Silly me, I thought it was about working to bring in the Realm of God "on earth as it is in heaven."
Mind you, "living our history" is the goal from someone who heads an organization called "Forward in Faith" - international, no less.
You can't make this stuff up.
Broadhurst also called the Church of England "fascist" and "cruel" in its handling of the issue of the ordination of women. One supposes that the iron-fisted authoritarianism of Rome is to be preferred over the "big tent" traditional Spirit of Anglicanism.
If none of this is making any sense to you, then you are right where you need to be.
Let's call this exactly what it is: Misogyny. And prejudice, in any form not only has a twisted logic all it's own, it destroys brain cells.
It may be dressed up in liturgical language and spoken in very polite, articulate, measured tones, but it's misogyny none the less.
So, what will happen? I suppose some will leave the Church of England and accept Pope Benedict's Anglicanorum Coetibus. We've had that happen here in the States. Indeed, a few bishops are now laymen in the Roman Catholic Church, having left The Episcopal Church before the papal document.
Interestingly enough, many of the details have not yet been worked out - like, how ordination will be worked out, seeing as how Rome does not recognize the validity of ordination in any church other than their own.
Like, what will be done concerning priests who are married. Will they not be allowed to become bishops because they come with - ahem - 'baggage' of wife and children?
Like, how will this affect Roman Catholic priests who are bound by vows of celibacy? Will this create a place for Rome to place all their priests who want to marry?
I suppose the Neanderthal Anglican bishops in purple shirts will discover, soon enough, that "the devil is in the details".
If there are those who would rather embrace the totalitarian authority of Rome and join a church where the status and vocation of women are locked behind an iron gate of 'traditionalism' and children have been abused physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually by pedophile priests who were not held accountable by the institutional church, then I say, they can have it.
Meanwhile, the rest of Western Christendom will, indeed, move 'forward in faith' to bring about the Realm of God.
Because, it's not 1950 any more. Here, or in England.