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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Meanwhile, back in England

One of my favorite lines from "The Divine Ms M" - aka "Bette Midler" - is, "On New Year's Eve, when the ball drops in Times Square, NYC, no matter what year it is, it's always 1950 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.


Muthah+ said...

I always find it facinating when the CofE gets so exercized by clergy and bishops who threaten to go to Rome. I wonder if the shades of the ole "papish" Guy Fawlks fears come up.

If they are going to be happier with people with all the same lock-step think--let them go. They don't belong in Anglicanism anyway. They haven't been Anglicans for many years. But I believe you are right. It is the total fear of women that brings this to the fore.

It makes me sad that someone has to leave the Church, but it makes me damned angry if the Church will succumb to the kind of blackmail that those who would leave their own church are trying to pull.

I agree, Elizabeth, it is time to continue to build the Church.

Anonymous said...

This reminds me of my younger days in the Roman church. I married a man who left the Roman priesthood to marry and was replaced in his parish by none other than an Episcopal Priest-turned-Roman who was married!

KPSJ said...

This reminds me of my younger days in the Roman church. I married a man who left the Roman priesthood to marry and was replaced in his parish by none other than an Episcopal Priest-turned-Roman who was married!

Elaine C. said...

wait -- you wrote 28 women have been consecrated bishops in the Church of England -- there are no women bishops in the C of E -- you mean Anglican Communion or Episcopal church or?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Hmmm . . you're right. Actually, I was quoting Ruth Gledhill who, I suppose, considers all Anglican part of the "Church of England." Ah, the Brits! I should have caught that. Thanks, Elaine.

Clive said...

The answers to your questions are in the Complimentary Norms: no to married bishops but the Ordinary may be permitted to wear the signs of episcopal office even though "only" a priest.

It has no bearing on current or future cradle RC priests who will continue to be bound by the norm of priestly celibacy. Cradle RCs may not join an Ordinariate. Those of us who solo swam the Tiber may choose to join now or to remain in the mainstream RC church. Current Anglican postulants who are married but not ordained yet will be considered for ordination case by case.

I know John Broadhurst and he is a good and holy man with way more to his convictions than misogyny. Likewise I do not count myself as a misogynist and neither does my wife consider herself one. We simply could not be certain that after changing the nature of orders in isolation from the majority of the universal church CofE sacraments remain valid. Maybe women priests are priests, maybe you're not. Maybe CofE eucharists bring about the real presence, maybe they don't. Sacramental assurance is what leads most of us to Rome. I'm not a theologian but neither are most of General Synod.

I have several friends who are Anglican women priests and I have to say they are very understanding and respectful of those of us who have conscientious concerns. Would that you could be so open minded.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Your assertions aside, my understanding is that none of those details have been worked out, Clive. Except, of course that former Anglican bishops may wear the liturgical garb of a priest, even though Rome considers him "only a priest". How pathetic is that? My prediction is that will wear thin, after a while.

If you don't believe that women are fully equal in the sight of God and in the church then, what are you if not misogynist or sexist?

Roman clergy are priests only because Rome says they are. Maybe they are, maybe they're not.

Clergy who are priests in the Anglican communion are as much priests as Roman clergy. We have the assurance of apostolic succession.

Were we to meet in person, I can assure you I would be as gracious as any other Anglican woman who is a priest. Many of my friends are Roman clergy and we share a mutual respect of our ordained status.

That is as Jesus would want it and, Clive, Jesus is the ultimate authority - not the institutional church. If He revealed himself after the resurrection to Mary Magdalene first, what more evidence do we need that He embraces women as his apostles?

Anonymous said...

"...seeing as how Rome does not recognize the validity of ordination in any church other than their own."

A patently inaccurate statement. The validity of Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox Orders are unquestioned by Rome. Many of the Old Catholics also have apostolic succession recognized by Rome.

The determination of Pope Leo XIII that the Church of England lacked apostolic succession wasn't a knee-jerk reaction by a troglodyte but made after a historical study of the English Reformation and its aftermath. You clearly wouldn't agree with the commission's theological premises or conclusions, but at least recognize that it followed some principles other than misogyny or NIMBYism.


Elizabeth Kaeton said...

You're right, Michael (thanks for having the integrity to at least sign your name). Interestingly enough, the orthodox do not recognize the validity of Roman Eucharist.

And, Rome is still patently misogynist and sexist.

Mary Jo Campbell said...

We have the case of Junia who was an early example of involuntary trans-gendering by unhappy Church Fathers.
Eldon Epp and Kathryn Piccard have a few interesting things to say on this subject.

Brother David said...

There is precedent in the Roman church for Ordinaries vesting as bishops even without episcopal faculties. Some ordinaries, abbots, of Roman religious orders are not bishops, but are permitted the use of the miter and crozier.

I too have read the document which Clive mentions, and much more has been worked out than perhaps is publicly known. He has quoted it accurately.

And I think that you know that just because I support his comment on a few things, does not mean I support everything which he said. I honor your priesthood Madre!

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Thank you for this information which I consider infinitely more reliable than Clive's because you don't have an agenda. And, you respect my priesthood. Thank you.

Bill said...

I believe someone said "Sacramental assurance is what leads most of us to Rome."

It’s always been about power, control, and the position that Catholicism is the only true religion. They all talk around it and very seldom come out and say it but it’s there all the same. If they are saying that “Sacramental assurance” is the issue, aren’t they once again saying that theirs is the only true religion and the only true God. If one religion is as good as another, then what’s the big deal? Why else would they even utter the words “sacramental assurance”?

We are talking about a religion which dates back to the 1st century CE in an area of the known world which was patriarchal to the core. All rights were reserved for men and women derived their rights through associations with men. You can throw in a few queens and singular women of historical importance but for the rank and file, it was a man’s world.

Or, as one definition puts it, “social organization marked by the supremacy of the father in the clan or family, the legal dependence of wives and children, and the reckoning of descent and inheritance in the male line; broadly : control by men of a disproportionately large share of power”

Anonymous said...

The assertion by another Anonymous that Leo XIII only declared Anglican Orders invalid after a thorough historical study of the Reformation proves that some people will, sadly, believe anything. have you considered that this took place in the context of the rise of Anglo-Catholicism at a moment where Rome was convinced that Anglo-Catholics would immediately abandon Anglicanism as soon as he issued this announcement (didn't happen). Have you wondered if Anglican Orders were in facgt valid prior to 1883 and why Rome hadn't made this announcement three centuries earlier? Do you beleieve that this "historical study" would have come to any other conclusion? Rome chose to believe what they did and told egregious lies about Anglican orders, suxch as the "Nag's Head" story that claimed that an episcopal consecration took place in a pub! Do you realy believe that all Anglican sacraments are invalid and have always been so? If anyone is thinking of going to Rome for valid sacraments, they should have raced in that direction a long time ago. If they're still hanging around, what do they really beleive about Roman vs. Anglican orders? Or is it just mysolgyny?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Anonymous who did not sign your name - I allowed your post this time but will not allow future posts unless you include your name.

susankay said...

I was interested that Bishop Broadhurst has announced that he will retire and then join the RC's. Does that imply a pension from the church he is leaving? We had a comparable case in my diocese where the priest waited until after retirement (and the day after the Bishop had attended his retirement party) to join CANA or some such group.

Anonymous said...


LOVED that story. Don't have to be Episcopalian or even Christian to love it. And don't ever tell me G-d doesn't have a ripe sense of humor (tho' we don't necessarily get or appreciate the joke till later).


Francis sirfrATearthlinkETC

walter said...

Mother Elizabeth, I pray for a deep theological reading of Scripture centering on Mary Magdalene as the Apostle of the Apostles in the name of the One who keep us centered and focused and truthful, Jesus the Christ. A devotee,

Buffalo Shepherd

Clive said...

@susankay: Despite Elizabeth's assertion that my facts are suspect because our opinions differ, let me correct one other factoid: Bp. Broadhurst is resigning not retiring. He is not due to retire for a couple more years. He will still receive a pension from the CofE when he reaches the retirement age, and after 45 years of ministry, would you really seek to deny that to him?

Although there will be no convincing a liberal mind, I am not a sexist. I believe men and women to be 100% equal, but that doesn't imply that they need to be identical. We're different. Isn't it possible that God would wish to use men and women differently in the building of His church?

I don't have the answer, but the issue over WO for me was simply authority of the CofE to make the determination in isolation from Rome and the Orthodox. If and when women are ordained by the RC church, noone will be more accepting of that than me.

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Clive - I've had this conversation with several "conservative"/ Anglo-Catholic clergy. Listen to his tape. He says he is resigning, but he admits to collecting a pension while at the same time, switching to Rome.

A retirement deal by any other name would smell as rich. Perhaps we shouldn't call it "pension". Perhaps we should call it "alimony."


Yes, Clive. God does delight in our diversity and difference. Some men are called to priesthood - others are called to diaconate - others to an empowered laos - still others to the episcopacy.


I think there is ample scriptural evidence that the Holy Spirit is not limited by gender, age, race, ethnicity, physical ability, etc.

As for waiting for the church universal to speak before ordaining women, well, I can only repeat what my friend Ed Bacon says: "I'm sure glad Mary didn't wait for the church to formulate and agree upon a Doctrine of the Incarnation before she said 'yes' to God."

Clive said...

Not to belabour the point, but what is wrong with +John collecting the pension to which he is entitled after 45 years of ministry, and toward which he has contributed through deductions from his stipend?

How would denying him the pension rights he has earned be (a) legal, (b) moral or (c) Christlike?

Any other employee is free to move from organization to organization without sacrificing their retirement savings. Why should the Church, particularly an established state church, be any different?

Elizabeth Kaeton said...

Clive - absolutely NOTHING wrong with collecting his well-earned pension. Nothing. I object to his playing coy with the word "resign" vs. "retire". He's retiring from the CofE - not a thing in the world wrong with that - to work for Rome. That's his choice.

I am simply calling him on his little 'word' game. Why he feels he needs to play it is absolutely beyond me. It feels highly duplicitous - and for no good reason that I can see. So, why?

You don't have to answer that. And neither, actually, does he. The proof of his character will be in his ecclesiological pudding.

walter said...

Mother Elizabeth,
In the year of our lord, My God 2010 in the month of October on the day of the 23rd because we can discriminate between what takes time to develop and what can be rushed and because we know waiting time is over, I also am surely glad Mary Magdalene didn' t wait for the church to formulate and agree upon a Doctrine of the Incarnation before she said 'yes' to God!

Buffalo Shepherd

Brother David said...

Walter, I think that you have your Marys confused or your events in the Life of Jesus confused. Mary Magdalena had nothing to do with the Incarnation. But she was present to witness and give testimony to the Resurrection.

Perhaps what the flying Bishop is doing is resigning and taking early retirement. And maybe by taking it early he will get less each month. It is a bit like the folks who put in 20 years in the US military, retire and go to work for a civilian corporation for a nice big salary. Double dipping can be quite lucrative and is legal under many circumstances.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous of Oct 20:

I'm generally not a fan of Wikipedia, but this article on Apostolicae Curae gives a decent enough background of Pope Leo XIII's commission as well as a cursory review of the encyclical's arguments, the counter-encyclical issued by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York, and more contemporary critiques.

Do I think that this study could have come to another conclusion? I'm of the opinion that privately Leo XIII wanted another conclusion: corporate unity of Christians would be a lot easier dealing with churches with valid orders. But the evidence of the massive change in the Ordinal during the reign of Edward VII couldn't be whitewashed.


Brother David said...

If that is true Michael, why did the head of external church relations for the Patriarchate of Moscow and All Russia, of the Russian Orthodox Church, Metropolitan Hilarion, recently state at a presentation in Lambeth Palace, that the Russian church had been prepared to recognize apostolicity of the orders of the Church of England and then the CoE began ordaining women?

It does not appear that the "changes" to the Anglican Ordinal was sufficient grounds for the Orthodox, but now the fact that the English had admitted women to the Old Boys Club. And today the CoE may be ready to extend to those ordained women the episcopate!

Besides, at this point in time every Anglican/Episcopal church's line of authority incorporates lines the Roman church recognizes as valid; northern european Lutherans who retained the historic episcopate and the Old Catholics both. Not to forget that the US church's original line comes from Scottish Episcopal bishops who were not part of the CoE and did not change the ordinal!

Kind of shows me that now it is all just big boys in a tree house playing a childish game; No girls or queers allowed!