More on the same Measure

Background update: voting on the amended Measure for the consecration of women as bishops was adjourned until November in light of opposition to Clause 5.1.c (the second amendment by the House of Bishops, which I discussed in a previous post). The House of Bishops will meet in September to discuss what to do next.

Rev Peter Ould, who I follow on Twitter, said this:

The main objection to Clause 5.1.c seems to be that it validates AC theology. Remove it and you say ACs aren’t proper Anglicans. #synod [link]

I disagree.

First of all, Rev Ould says “AC” theology when he means a much smaller subset. There are many people who identify as Anglo-Catholic, myself among them, who are wholeheartedly supportive of the ordination and consecration of women, and it is somewhat disingenous to claim to speak for all Anglo-Catholics and put forward one’s own opinion.

Secondly, I don’t think that is the main objection. My objection is not that the amendment validates TradCath theology; we already have Lambeth 1998 (and Synod’s affirmation of it in 2006) to state that both those in favour and those not in favour of the ordination and consecration of women are loyal Anglicans. I might think that those who are cautious, uncertain or opposed are wrong, but it is really not for me to decide whether they are Anglican, unless we tear up Lambeth. Be my guest, but then we’d still have promises made in 1992 to deal with.

Rather, my objection is to the practical effect of the amendment in allowing TradCath parishes to decide for themselves that other loyal Anglicans, regardless of being “real” priests and bishops, are not good enough. If your theology is that women cannot be priests or bishops then it is fair enough to want your parish to be under the pastoral care of male priests ordained by male bishops, it is fair enough to want episcopal oversight from a male bishop who was consecrated by other male bishops. But Lambeth doesn’t say “and it is OK for both groups to say the others aren’t really Anglican or aren’t really part of the Church” . I feel that is what is happening when issues over unrepentant sin, or impaired communion, or whatever the language is for theological objection to your real bonafide male bishop having ordained a woman, are cited as reasons for alternate episcopal oversight.

I think there are two fights here: one is over whether provision, such as it is, belongs in the Measure, or in the Code of Practice. Personally I would go with the Code of Practice, for a number of reasons, but mostly because having discrimination against women written into the Measure may well mean it won’t be passed by Parliament and we’re back to square one. It would be a bit of an own goal, really. My understanding is that the Measure was basically fiddled with in order to reassure those who might vote against it if they felt not enough provision was made. Oh, politics!

The second fight is over what that provision should actually be. Personally, I think “male priests and bishops who have been ordained/consecrated by male bishops, maintaining the apostolic line” is generous provision, given the tiny minority involved in opposition and the practicality of maintaining such a line. “Male bishops who agree with us over the issue of ordination of women, or other issues” is going too far; it is saying that the rest of the Church of England is not really the Church, unless it agrees with a certain viewpoint. I still have not received an explanation of the theology behind this that doesn’t make it a matter of “you must agree with us to be acceptable”.

I’ll finish with another quote, this time from Thomas Thurman:

When someone insisting on this censures their opponents for schism or lack of collegiality, take a drink. [link]

It is rather early in the day for gin, Rev Ould.