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

Wednesday, July 09, 2008

Will Walsingham fall foul of the new order?

Following the vote in General Synod, it seems the intention of the liberals in the Church of England is to sweep aside the Act of Synod which gave us Episcopal Oversight and to "force" traditionalists to accept women bishops. There appears little comfort for the views of Archbishop Carey, who signalled that there were two integrities of value. Without a legal framework, the traditionalists could be subject to the courts under the discrimination laws.

A test case could be dynamite for church/state relations. It may be based on a female prelate bringing a lawsuit against an incumbent and his PCC, or it could be a female cleric claiming sexual bias over an application to a parish vacancy. Either one could set a dangerous precedence.

What of Walsingham, that great shrine in Norfolk? The administrators state that -

Membership of the Association is open to all priests who are permitted to minister sacramentally at the Shrine: those of the Anglican Communion who are in good standing with their Bishop and episcopally ordained priests of Churches with whom the Anglican Communion is in full communion. The Guardians maintain the discipline of reserving sacramental ministry in the Shrine to male priests ordained by a male bishop. When necessary the Superior General of the Association (the Priest Administrator of the Shrine) will rule on admission to the Association, and in extreme circumstances may withdraw membership of the Association.

Could the administrators find themselves before the courts on charges of discrimination under the secular law? I think it a real possibility. After all, those who hissed at the Synod would not think twice about setting a lawsuit into motion!

And what of the Roman Catholic Church in England, and the Orthodox? Could they find themselves equally in the dock defending core beliefs against a strident opponent? It is not unlikely, I think, especially if a legal precedence has been set.

The Archbishop of Canterbury should endeavour to find a reasoned, thoughful, but above all godly way out of this tragedy.


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