Thursday, November 16, 2006

Is Canterbury dancing to Rome’s tune?

According to The Times, the Church of England may one day reconsider the ordination of women priests. In an interview with The Catholic Herald, the Archbishop has admitted that the divisions caused by the ordination of women had ‘tested his conviction that it was the right thing to do’, and he even concedes that the development may have been wrong.

The interesting dimension to these statements is that there is no appeal to Scripture or tradition, but they are based on the wholly subjective assertion that women priests had not ‘renewed’ the Church in any ‘spectacular ways’. In what sense is this a measure of the rightness of ecclesiology, the applicability of theology, or the practice of liturgy? Has the decision to ditch my Book of Common Prayer ‘renewed’ the Church of England in any ‘spectacular way’? Has the Archbishop’s own office achieved the same?

Lambeth Palace has said that Dr Williams’ remarks to The Catholic Herald had been ‘wilfully misinterpreted’, insisting that the Archbishop fully supports women’s ordination, but they seem oblivious to the effects of his equivocations. He does indeed state this, but he also leaves the door open for reversal of the decision. Cranmer wonders if such mixed signals have anything to do with his plans to visit the Pope next week, not least because Rome has indicated that any moves to consecrate women bishops would cause an intolerable division in an already imperfect communion.

The Archbishop views his ministry as ‘containing and managing the diversity’. This is not leadership; it is functionalism. What are the limits of such diversity? What about the ordination of gay clergy? What of gay marriage? What of adherents to racism? How is unity expressed in such diversity? At what point does communion become impossible? It is worth considering that a ‘broad church’ may acquire such breadth that it ceases to be a church at all, yet if ‘managing diversity’ is the Archbishop’s raison d’être, why bother trying to repair the split with Rome?


Anonymous Voyager said...

The poor old Anglican Church is in a muddle - a muddle which has made Pope Benedict determined to avoid the elephant traps that Anglicanism fell into as it ignored it founding precepts such as the BCP and the XXXIX Articles.............without those it lacks coherence..........and lacking coherence it became the repository of 1960s deadbeats who studied Theology because it was easier to get into University than applying for Unstructured Thinking ie. English...............

Thus armed with a degree in Sociology - whoops, I meant Theology - they could read The Guardian and pronounce from the pulpit until the men abandoned the congregation rather than listen to Simon Dee in surplice.

Rowan realises it has all gone too far - as it does when Junior has grown-up responsibility thrust on him as the trust fund dissolves. Rowan is fearful of the cracks across the foundations of the Anglican Church, is desperate to stop more defections to Rome; or to see Evangelical Protestantism freed of the Established Church and following the US/Ulster track.

He as an Anglo-Catholic would be left with a gay rump of a Vaudeville Church, the laughing stock of historians and the centre of a Feminised congregation of Apostates

16 November 2006 at 09:06  
Anonymous Ulster Man said...

The man's a joke. He says nothing clearly, and has forgotten that the path to salvation is narrow, not wide. The answer to every single question seems to be yes and no. He is a relativist, about to meet an absolutist, so has to make a view absolutist overtones. I doubt very much female priests will be reversed - it would be like prohibiting alcohol or cigarettes - once you've legislated FOR something you can't then easily decide to prohibit.

THe CofE is a mess for want of leadership. Since the men have failed, let's try to find an Archbishop of Canterbury in the mold of Thatcher. Hasn't Rome had a female pope, or is that a myth? Joan, I think. Could be just myth, though.

16 November 2006 at 12:24  
Anonymous bob said...

The interesting dimension to these statements is that there is no appeal to Scripture or tradition, but they are based on the wholly subjective assertion that women priests had not ‘renewed’ the Church in any ‘spectacular ways’.

Was there an appeal to Scripture or tradition when the ordination of women was introduced? It seems to me that the case for the ordination of women is less than watertight in terms of Scripture and tradition.

16 November 2006 at 12:24  
Anonymous Lilith said...

Yes Ulster Man, Liv Ullman was Pope Joan in 1972..

Seems to me that Rowan must brace up or face the consequences of the biggest threat to the C of E...namely the descendants of all those religious extremists we exported to the New World coming back home and taking over...their influence permeates these pages...

16 November 2006 at 13:11  
Anonymous vikki said...

" How long will you falter between two opinions ? If the Lord is God follow him; but if Baal follow him "

Pray what is apostasy.....

16 November 2006 at 13:33  
Blogger Little Black Sambo said...

The Archdruid is a classic example of a very clever man who is also very silly. And evidently "Lambeth Palace" (whoever he is) does not believe quite the same things as Rowan.
Your Grace, have you written at any length about your Prayer Book and your original intentions for the future? Is there anything in your archives. These matters, as you seem to imply, are all bound up together.

16 November 2006 at 13:40  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Little Black Sambo,

His Grace has written at considerable length on his Prayer Book, his intended revisions, and its likely future. Sadly, this medium cannot contain such lofty thoughts, not least because a 'blog' is supposed to be succinct and direct; it is a medium antithetical to profundity, yet manifestly the medium of postmodernity. It is, essentially, Greek for the Greeks, and this forces perceptions through a particular lens.

16 November 2006 at 14:02  
Anonymous Voyager said...

.namely the descendants of all those religious extremists we exported to the New World coming back home and taking over...their influence permeates these pages...

Those who went to Plymouth Rock, CT were Congregationalists like John Harvard, and Presbyterians and other Non-Conformists.............the Anglican Church established itself rather later in the New World.................but I take youir point about the extremists in ECUSA bringing their malign influence to this country - it is to be hope Schorri and the Neo-Pagans are expelled

16 November 2006 at 14:36  
Blogger shergar said...

Poor, vacillating Rowan. "So because thou art lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold..."

His Grace's extended prayer book heres-- I mean, valued thoughts, would be a welcome addition to my pc's regrettably slim theological volume. His Grace can, of course, easily turn his notes into a .pdf format, which can then be disseminated, for the improvement of all, via a file hosting website such as

16 November 2006 at 15:17  
Anonymous Colin said...

" why bother trying to repair the split with Rome?"

On the other hand, why not?

Is there anything written in the Bible forbidding to repair a split within Christianity?

With regard to the ordination of women as priests, I am unable to see why, for example, Vikki shouldn't receive an ordination if she wishes to do so and studied theology. She and many other women are certainly as much able as men to convey the words of Jesus.

17 November 2006 at 00:14  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Is there anything written in the Bible forbidding to repair a split within Christianity?

Christianity does not exist in The Bible...........nor does what you call The Church.............nor do Bishops.........and professional priests only exist by virtue of Leviticus.

am unable to see why, for example, Vikki shouldn't receive an ordination

but since you are a self-confessed atheist you see no reason why a MuslimImam should not be Archbishop of Canterbury or why an Arminian is different from a Calvinist..............

The ordination of women is impossible in any theological sense, but it is possible in a theatrical sense. Priests are nothing more than actors in costume reading lines, they have no especial connection with God or to God.............that is why lay ministry should replace much of the clergy.

Women were chosen simply because there was a shortage of priests and women were cheaper, many were the wives of priests who wanted to double their family income, or widows of priests who wanted to retain housing with council tax paid

Women priests have led to a marked reduction in the attendance at church by men, and have weakened the adherence to the theology of the Church - studies have validated this. Visit Anglican Mainstream to see

17 November 2006 at 07:26  
Anonymous vikki said...

The issue of women priests as far as I am concerned is hullabaloo. Men will leave church because women are ordained....meanwhile women have been known to lead in the Bible. ( no precedents for homosexuality )When it comes to gay bishops.....its an entirely different ball game. The issue of gay priests should not even arise in the first place ! I am yet to see any religion that condones homosexuality. The message of the cross is very simple. All the talk about women Bishops is chasing shadows at the expense of substance!

17 November 2006 at 09:57  
Anonymous Voyager said...

women have been known to lead in the Bible.


17 November 2006 at 10:45  
Anonymous vikki said...


17 November 2006 at 11:46  
Anonymous Colin said...


Thank you for the enlightenment which saved my day.

Because I just received a letter of invitation today by the woman priest of my local protestant church for attending the next church service. This puts me in a conflict because she is a very kind, intelligent and erudite person. She did theological research at the university, studied the history and systems of other religions but couldn't get a university position. For me, it is always a pleasure to talk to her because I can learn quite a lot from her about religion. By contrast, the male priests I have previously met in person, were unintelligent and boring Ignoramuses. The Catholic priests were the worst in my humble experience.

Anyhow, I did not want to disappoint her. On the other hand, I am not too much amused about the prospect to sit in church and listen to a sermon about the benefits of multiculturalism.

Probably, I will simply tell her that my English friends informed me about the fact that "the ordination of women is impossible in any theological sense". Therefore, it wouldn't make any theological sense for me to go to church on Sunday.

17 November 2006 at 18:00  
Anonymous vikki said...

"....the male priests.... were unintelligent and boring ignoramuses"

Perhaps you should invite them to Cranmers blog. I am sure His Grace would welcome them whole heartedly.

17 November 2006 at 22:26  
Blogger Laban said...

The CoE is beyond repair unless The Rev Charles Raven gets to nail his theses to the door of Worcester Cathedral in the next year or so, followed by the trial of Peter Selby for apostasy, the committal to the Tower of Richard Harries and Tom Butler, and the restoration of the shrines of Wulfstan and Oswald.

Trouble is the Catholic Church is nearly as bad. Not quite though.

It'll get worse before it gets better.

17 November 2006 at 23:41  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Therefore, it wouldn't make any theological sense for me to go to church on Sunday.

It doesn't anyway - the Sabbath is on a Saturday but was changed by Roman Imperial Decree to a attending church on a Sunday has absolutely no theological significance over say Wednesday...............

As for women priests - if you treat her as a University academic with something to discuss you should be fine, but if you believe she has any closer connection to God than any member of her congregation you are idolatrous.............

Any woman who has researched questions of religion can give you an interesting academic discourse nothing more, and listening to a sermon from someone is rather like listening to a political speech, in many cases it is from the Guardian and so if you read The Guardian and like what you hear/see on BBC - a sermon should be relaxing since you will neither strive against it nor battle to accept it.............

18 November 2006 at 07:15  
Anonymous Colin said...


Perhaps you should invite them to Cranmers blog. I am sure His Grace would welcome them whole heartedly.

Do avoid a misunderstanding: I was not talking about Cranmer. Although I sometimes don't share his views, he obviously is highly intelligent. That's the reason why I enjoy reading his blogs.

18 November 2006 at 12:28  
Anonymous Colin said...


if you believe she has any closer connection to God than any member of her congregation you are idolatrous.............

Are you talking about Christianity or Islam?

Richard Dawkins explains why God is a delusion. Why should a closer connection of men to a postulated "delusion" matter for an atheist?

18 November 2006 at 12:49  
Anonymous Voyager said...

Not sure I understand you point - my reference was to for Dawkins he cannot give me proof of the validity of his thesis...........without proof I am disinclined to believe in his creed

I actually find Dawkins deficient as a philosopher and prefer Immanuel Kant, I really do not see why people have any regard for Dawkins who bores me just as much as Ronald Dworkin used to do

18 November 2006 at 13:12  
Anonymous Colin said...

My point was not about Dawkins. I only cited him to look erudite for making His Grace smile.

I was refering to your 7:26 AM comment "you are a self-confessed atheist"

Since God does not exist in the mind of atheists, closeness or distance to him can't be either.
In other words, I enjoyed to point to a certain lack of logic. Remember, the topic which gives us both so much fun.

18 November 2006 at 13:42  
Anonymous vikki said...

Colin, I did not misunderstand you. I was just trying to be mischievous. Surely if these Priests are unintelligent.....would Cranmers blog not have a beneficial effect?

18 November 2006 at 14:15  
Anonymous Colin said...



You appear to me as always kind and polite. Compared to you, I am guilty of mischievousness.

"would Cranmers blog not have a beneficial effect?"

You are right that it should. Unfortunately, intelligence has a strong genetic component. You are right, such a statement would be mischievous. So let's assume that it is rather my fault than theirs.

Still, I think that the individual's self-selection for certain profession plays an important role. High testosterone (most but not all men produce 10-fold more testosterone than women) predisposes humans to lacking empathy, aggression and attempts of dominating others (i.e. politics). On the other hand, low testosterone and high estrogene (women) predispose humans to empathy, altruism, social networking and caring for others. Simon Baron-Cohen has written an interesting book about the influence of hormones on the human brain and behaviour: The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains. Because of these differences, women are more attracted to the helping professions such as teacher, nurses, doctors and priesthood in the protestant Church.

In my view, Christianity is based on altruism. Therefore, women should not only be more attracted to this Christianity than men but on average would also be more altruistic, be better Christians and make better Christian priests than men. This probably contributed to my impression. However, male priests should excel in abstract theological reasoning and empire building (the Pope?, Voyager?). Let's be cautious about generalizations since there are also individual differences with a few women having higher testosterone levels than some men (sportswoman? Thatcher?, Merkel?). Interestingly, sex differences predict that men should feel more attracted to Islam because of its concepts of conquest, submission and domination than to Christianity with its concepts of forgiveness, love, and altruism.

18 November 2006 at 20:01  
Anonymous vikki said...

Yes colin, I do love to laugh. Thanks for your kind words I shall remember not to be too mischievous......

"unfortunately, intelligence has a strong genetic component"

I take it there is no hope for these priests then? The question now should be......would
His Grace welcome them?

18 November 2006 at 22:21  
Blogger Cranmer said...

His Grace welcomes all who are intelligent and erudite or who show promise of the potential to be so.

It would be invidious if His Grace were to discourage those whose mere attempt and self-improvement were to bar them from keeping company with the wise.

18 November 2006 at 23:16  
Anonymous billy said...

Your Grace

I have returned to look in after an absence induced by a couple of racists who I thought were taking over your blog. You described one of them as entertaing rather than erudite. Have they gone?

23 November 2006 at 00:15  
Blogger Cranmer said...

Mr Billy,

It depends what you mean by 'gone'.

23 November 2006 at 12:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Pope is antichrist.
The XXXIX Articles were a good statement of Faith.
The Test Act (swearing to accept the XXXIX Articles) was a positive good(as it kept those who would dance to the reels and jigs of the Vatican).
Protestantism enabled Britain, Germany, the US and other nations to break free from the destructive medievalism of Popery.

Archbishop Williams is an apostate, and should be dealt with in the manner of Foxes Book of Martyrs.

2 December 2006 at 19:19  

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