A View From Middle England - Conservative with a slight libertarian touch - For Christian charity and traditional belief - Free Enterprise NOT Covert Corporatism

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Episcopal mayhem?

Tomorrow the synod of the Church of England votes on whether to press ahead with legislation that would allow women bishops. The proponents of this innovation are all for having no system in place for allowing traditionalists the right to opt out from having to serve under a woman bishop. This morning, Christina Rees, probably the most vocal proponent of the measure, sounded all sweetness and light when she answered questions put to her by Robert Piggott, the BBC's Religious Affairs Correspondent. I say answered, but she spun her way neatly out of answering the question as to why those born into a church that had a male-only clergy should change their beliefs. Instead she suggested that life would all be cosy and comfortable without any need for safeguards.

In her world of prelatial power, all that a traditionalist priest would be required to do would be to let a female Diocesan into the parish once a year to "preach, or to teach, or to open a fete. So long as she can come in". This sounds like it has not be thought at AT ALL. It is, to my mind, typical woolly nonsense. What is this notional bishop to do? Is she to robe as a bishop during the service, or attend in a simple dress? Will she address the congregation from the pulpit with warm words of delight? Or will she feel she's in need of "explaining"? What teaching role is to be assumed? And as for opening a fete, well I would think that a bit condescending!

Now, just to put my views on the line. I am a traditionalist. I am an Anglican Catholic who cannot reconcile the Sacrament of Holy Orders with anything other than a male integrity. However, at the same time, I cannot understand how the C of E could seek to ordain women as priests but not to consecrate them as bishops. In that, I agree with Ms Rees. Where I beg to differ is that forcing a woman onto a parish where there is little or no belief that she is what she says she is is farcical.

Christina Rees had Robert Piggott believe that the option would be "for services where a male bishop would not be needed". In other words, the Mass or Confirmation would not be services where this notional Diocesan would attend. This all sounds like sweet reasonableness indeed, but, as I say, it is not thought out.

Having recently been liked to "withering on the vine" I don't see the situation as Christina Rees does. She likens it to the USA, where "it worked well". Piggott either knows little of the Episcopal Church or he chose to let her paint an unrealistic picture. When Jane Dixon was in charge in Washington, she determined to preside at a eucharistic service. When priest and vestry declined, she bussed in her own suporters to make a stand. Whatever Ms Rees says, there will be these stand-offs here unless we get safegurds built into the legislation. I can't see the Archbishop of Canterbury being too comfortable with a female prelate trying to conduct a similar pantomime here.

Why we cannot agree to live and let live, with the two "sides" living within the same tent I do not know. But Ms Rees and her friends want a "winner takes all" approach, with the likes of me kow-towing or leaving for pastures new. Sounds a bit like Shaun the Sheep's in charge of the fold!

Precious little discernment there!


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