Women bishops - Judgment Day
Many congratulations to HM The Queen and HRH the Duke of Edinburgh on their 65th wedding anniversary. The Coalition limps on from one incompetence to another, the EU does the same, and Israel is at war in/with Gaza. But the story of the day will be women bishops and the Church of England.
It has been 20 years since the Established Church ordained women as priests, since which time some 5000 have responded to the call of God on their lives. Throughout the Worldwide Anglican Communion, provincial autonomy has permitted women to be consecrated bishops in accordance with cultural shifts in gender perspective. This has not merely been tolerated, but actively promoted.
For some, this development represents reformist progress; for others, it drives a wedge between Orthodox/Roman Christianity and the Anglican variety. Gender 'equality' is seen to trump church unity, and Anglican-Roman Catholic relations are impeded as a result. There are also those Roman Catholics who support women bishops in the hope that the Church of England disintegrates, perceiving it to be a means by which England might return to the 'Catholic fold' through the chaplaincy of the Ordinariate. They can dream on.
His Grace wrote last week about Anglican fudge. While the ecclesial tide undoubtedly ebbs toward women bishops, it must be remembered that many disagree on sincere theological and historic grounds of catholicity: women are equal, but their roles in the church are different. Neither is diminished in this discrimination, any more than they are in the manifestly different roles accorded by nature in the act of procreation.
There is a widespread feeling that the provision made for this group in the church's legislation is inadequate: the exhortation to 'respect' falls short of any kind of assurance, and will lead to future dissent and division in the Church. And yet the legislation continues to discriminate against women, since some will not have quite the authority that their male counterparts possess.
Neither side is content: both are irked by the compromise. This would appear to be quite genuinely and consistently Anglican.