Monday, April 28, 2008

C of E Prepares to Seal Its Apostacy

Nigel McCulloch, the Church of England's bishop of Manchester, has just published a report by a group he headed that had been tasked with preparing draft legislation on the consecration of "women bishops." It would "appear from his introduction that the act is now a foregone conclusion, and the only question is how to bring it about

"It is possible to wonder what more there is to say about whether the Church of England should have women bishops. The Church of England has already been blessed by a series of substantial reports – notably the Rochester Report in 2004, and the series of documents that went to General Synod in 2006 from the Guildford Group, the Bishops of Guildford and Gloucester, and the Faith & Order Advisory Group


"This Report, nevertheless, breaks new ground and is of a different character from what has gone before. The task that the General Synod gave us in July 2006 was to prepare possible legislation, consistent with the Synod’s view that the time had come to explore in some detail what the practical implications would be of admitting women to the episcopate. This report, therefore, seeks to move the debate on from the ‘whether’ to the ‘how’. In so doing it sets out some key options, with illustrative legal material."

Full text of report is here

Here is the long and short of it:

"138. This is undoubtedly one of the most difficult circles to square. Having pondered the matter carefully, we believe that any possible solution needs to incorporate the following elements:

"a. A clear statement by the Church of England that, in admitting women into the episcopate, it is now fully committed to opening all orders of ministry to men and women;
"b. An acceptance on the part of those who, theologically, cannot receive the ministry of women priests and bishops or those ordained by them that the Church of England has decided to admit men and women equally to holy orders and that those whom the Church has duly ordained and appointed to office are the lawful holders of the office which they occupy and thus deserve due respect and lawful obedience;
"c. An acknowledgement by those in favour of women’s ordination that the theological convictions of those unable to receive the ordained ministry of women are within the spectrum of Anglican teaching and tradition and that those who hold them should, therefore, be able to receive pastoral and sacramental care in a way that is consistent with their convictions."

Quickly scanning this report, at no point do I ever see any theological discussion whatsoever, much less any theological argument in favour of the action being proposed. Perhaps, however, that has been dealt with in the previous reports.

To me, the message here, not a new one, is that people in the Church of England are free, indeed encouraged, to believe and practice whatever they wish, as long as it is appropriately sanctioned by legislation, or some lesser official regulation. The possibility that those beliefs might be entirely contradictory to each other, or that one might be contrary to the Catholic faith is of absolutely no import.

23 comments:

Albion Land said...

A first reaction:

The Catholic Group in General Synod and Forward in Faith warmly welcome the publication of the Report of the Legislative Drafting Group. We are most grateful to the Bishop of Manchester, to the members of the Group (particularly Fr Jonathan Baker SSC and Sister Anne Williams CA, members of both the Catholic Group and Forward in Faith) and to the Officers and staff of the General Synod for the very great care with which they have clearly approached this mammoth undertaking.

We are pleased to note that the Report appears to have addressed most, if not all, of the issues which we raised with the Group and that it seems, among the several possible ways forward described, to include proposals which those unable to receive the ordination of women as bishops could in good conscience embrace. However, we shall naturally need time fully to digest and reflect upon the Report before commenting further.



Fr Simon Killwick


X John Fulham

Chairman


Chairman

Catholic Group in General Synod


Forward in Faith

John A. Hollister said...

"The Catholic Group in General Synod and Forward in Faith warmly welcome the publication of the Report of the Legislative Drafting Group....

"We are pleased ... that it seems, among the several possible ways forward described, to include proposals which those unable to receive the ordination of women as bishops could in good conscience embrace."

Translation: "It does not matter to us whether the Church of England crosses the last line into complete Protestantism, nor will it bother us to remain in communion with utter apostates. All issues of theology and faith are negotiable, so long as we are left alone to hunker down in our little bunkers where we can preserve our own purely aesthetic preferences."

John A. Hollister+

Albion Land said...

Canon Hollister,

Precisely what I was anticipating in the final paragraph of my post. It is as if the good clerics read that and constructed their response accordingly.

Anonymous said...

Well, given the aspirations of FIF/UK to move in a "Romeward bound" direction, I think that one might give it another translation:

Translation: "It does not matter to us whether the Church of England crosses the last line into complete Protestantism, nor will it bother us to see it abandon all pretense of 'Catholicity.' We have long wanted to bail anyway, and to that end we actually welcome this apostasy, both because it will enable us to make a do-or-die effort to get out, and because it force the fencesitters off the fence in one way or another. We can now take off the gloves, abandon any pretense that we owe any obedience in foro conscientiae to the Church of England and its bishops, and set about to cause the mnaximus possible disruption in the life and work of the Erastian religious establishment in which we find ourselves, in the hope that, to get rid of us one way or another, we will be allowed to depart with some spoils of Egypt. And then? Well, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to Rome we go."

Invicta Veritas

Albion Land said...

Invicta Veritas,

"... given the aspirations of FIF/UK to move in a 'Romeward bound' direction ..."

This is news to me. Please do elaborate.

I'm afraid I fear Canon Hollister is on target here, not you.

Millo Shaw said...

If the C of E establishment's desire to attempt to consecrate women does indeed materialize then, really, the only viable option for our FIF brethren and their evangelical allies will be the establishment of an orthodox "Third Province" in the C of E - otherwise their episcopal orders will be jeopardized. But what is the likelihood now of the C of E agreeing to a "Third Province"?

Millo Shaw

poetreader said...

Invicta Veritas,

You had best be prepared to substantiate your fearsome attack upon FIF. You have accused them of a sin as bad as that of the Pharisees, that of using truth in dishonest actions, as a club with which to injure people. If you are making an attack of this magnitude merely out of suspicion or dislike, without solid evidence, this is an example of malicious gossip.

FIF, clearly, to my mind has serious difficulties in its position, but I assume (and have evidence that it's not an unfair assumption) that these are honorable men doing their best to serve their God. Their continuance in the Canterbury Communion appears to me a serious error that may end in their destruction, but they do not merit such condemnation of their morality and intent as you have just rendered.

ed

Fr. Robert Hart said...

And then? Well, heigh-ho, heigh-ho, it's off to Rome we go."

Why? We of the Continuum have no women clergy either.

Fr. Robert Hart said...

Having learned the identity of Invicta Veritas, his analysis of FIF/UK heading Romeward, and disdaining the English manifestations of Continuing Anglicanism, has to be accepted as accurate, or at least as based on genuine sources who know.

Albion Land said...

I have invited the powers-that-be at FiF to respond to these various issues. I look forward to hearing from them in due course.

Anonymous said...

Being a cleric in the CofE I would urge you to have a close look at some of what is being offered / talked about in the report and what some of the other options might be.

The favoured ‘structural provision’ (a victory in itself?) for those who cannot accept 'women bishops' would be to create (potentially) three non-geographical dioceses within the current CofE. If that did come into being then those new Dioceses would be in a much stronger position to approach a range of ecumenical partners (including Rome and Continuers). It could also establish itself as a coherent entity before eventually seeking to become an independent 'Continuing Church of England' with property, structure and experience. It could well be a valuable 'means to an end'.

Fr Hart wrote: “Why? We of the Continuum have no women clergy either.”

As I’ve mentioned above this legislation could prove to be invaluable in paving the way for a sustainable 'Continuing Church of England' and perhaps avoid some of the problems of the early US continuing movement.

As it stands the CC’s in the UK lack viable numbers, credibility, coherence and stability. A quick glance over the CC’s history in the UK and you can see why it isn’t viewed as a viable option.

Fr Edward

Fr Odhran-Mary TFSC said...

The C of E cannot and will not have women bishops. Such a creation is not authorised nor possible. It will have pretenders as it already has in the clergy: pretenders to the priesthood.

Fr William Bauer PhD
Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen

The Rev. Robert T. Jones IV, Psy.D. said...

Maybe I'm just too cynical, but I remember when the issue of women "bishops" was being debated in the Episcopal Church. There was considerable discussion about what to do with people who could not abide by a female "bishop." The discussion made smarmy comments that were eerily similar to those being presented in the CofE about providing alternative episcopal oversight and other options, none of which have materialized to this day. In fact, in the Episcopal Church, if you do not accept the right of a woman to be "ordained" then you run the risk of being summarily drummed out of the church. I suspect that is the endpoint of this latest maneuver by the CofE. What it really is is the continued decline of a once-proud Church that has capitulated to the heresy of modernism. In another decade they will be indistinguishable from the Episcopal Church and we, in the ACC and other orthodox continuing bodies, will still be proclaiming an authentic Catholic Gospel.

John A. Hollister said...

Millo Shaw wrote, "If the C of E establishment ... attempt[s] to consecrate women ... the only viable option for ... FIF ... will be the establishment of an orthodox 'Third Province' in the C of E - otherwise their episcopal orders will be jeopardized."

I see two problems with this formulation:

1. No Province that is in communion with the C of E -- whether today's C of E with its deaconettes and priestesses, or tomorrow's C of E with its inevitable bishopesses -- can possibly be orthodox.

2. The C of E's episcopal Orders have not only been jeopardized, they have been destroyed, at least as for as any men consecrated after 1992 or so at the latest. No Province that may be formed out of remnants of today's C of E can reasonably be supposed to have valid episcopal Orders. That is because today's C of E, which purports to "ordain" women, no longer intends to do what the Church has always done in the Sacrament of Orders.

Holy Order is but one Sacrament that is administered in three ascending grades of responsibility and function. As St. Paul makes crystal clear, if a woman could be a deacon, then she could ipso facto be a bishop, so the C of E's loss of any claim to the Apostolic Succession occurred with its first official deaconettes.

How ironic that what Leo XIII could not do to the C of E by shouting at it, the C of E did to itself with a whimper.

John A. Hollister+

Fr. Robert Hart said...

As St. Paul makes crystal clear, if a woman could be a deacon, then she could ipso facto be a bishop...

Intresting thought. I take it that this is drawn out of I Timothy chapter three.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Hart wrote, "I take it that this is drawn out of I Timothy chapter three."

Yup, 1 Tim. 3:1-7 & Titus 1:6-9 (bishops); 1 Tim. 3:8-12 (deacons). And this is clearly no mere happenstance because in 1 Timothy, St. Paul discusses the requirements to be a deacon immediately after, and in the context of, the requirements to be a bishop.

Where the Apostolic norms, as laid down in inspired Scripture, for deacons and for bishops are identical, then were the predicate of being male ("the husband of one wife") waived to permit a woman to be a deacon, then that same predicate were ipso facto also waived so she were able to advance to being a bishop.

In such a case, those who accepted her as a deacon and then as a priest would be rankly sexist to deny her as a bishop.

Please note that the foregoing is phrased in the subjunctive, the grammatical mood for conditions contrary to fact. Of course it is the woman's eligibility for ordination that is thus contrary to fact, not the necessary conjunction between the prerequisites for the diaconate and those of the episcopate, which is fact and so is phrased in the indicative.

John A. Hollister+

Albion Land said...

Manchester Report - further reaction
Apr 29, 2008

Forward in Faith and the Catholic Group in General Synod wholeheartedly agree with the Legislative Drafting Group that the Church of England now faces ‘some very serious decisions’, which ‘go to the heart of what sort of Church it wishes to be’. We are convinced that it is, in the words of the Report, ‘far better that those issues are faced calmly, honestly and prayerfully now than that the Synod should set off down a road which may, ultimately, fail to command sufficient consensus’.

It is for this reason that it is only fair to say, at the outset, that we reject the Simplest Statutory Approach outlined in paragraphs 53 – 78. We believe that such a course of action, which would signal the end of the open period of reception and the Church of England’s rejection of Resolution III.2 of the Lambeth Conference, 1998, is one which would without question fail to command any degree of consensus whatsoever.

We also believe that no discernible degree of consensus would attach itself to those variations of the Arrangements within Existing Structures option set out in paragraph 115 which rely for their force upon a Code of Practice. We remain unconvinced that a Code of Practice, however enforced, will be capable of maintaining the ‘degree of equilibrium’ which presently obtains.

We believe that consensus will only be achieved if arrangements are made which are acceptable to those for whom they are intended and which will, in the words of Professor McClean, ‘remain in perpetuity’ for as long as they are needed. We agree with the authors of the Report that such arrangements will need to be both ‘creative and innovative’ and we shall therefore now examine with care the remaining options before us in order to judge the extent to which each of them meets the Report’s criterion that we should be able to receive pastoral and sacramental care in a way that is consistent with our convictions (paragraph 138c).



X John Fulham
Chairman
Forward in Faith

Simon Killwick
Chairman
Catholic Group in General Synod

The Auld MacLaren said...

Fr. Edward:

I am curious about your observation that, “As it stands the CC’s in the UK lack viable numbers, credibility, coherence and stability. A quick glance over the CC’s history in the UK and you can see why it isn’t viewed as a viable option.”

I, for one, would welcome more information on the CC’s history in the UK. When last in London I chatted with a COE clergyman who, although very sympathetic, said of CC-men in the UK that they were “too much the Catholics, and too little the Anglicans.” What did he mean?

Alice C. Linsley said...

"...at no point do I ever see any theological discussion whatsoever, much less any theological argument in favour of the action..."

So typical! This is emotional not rational.

Anonymous said...

The Auld MacLaren said...

"I, for one, would welcome more information on the CC’s history in the UK. When last in London I chatted with a COE clergyman who, although very sympathetic, said of CC-men in the UK that they were “too much the Catholics, and too little the Anglicans.” What did he mean?"

I think this is a criticsm often directed towards Catholics in the CofE. English 'Anglo-catholcism' appears very different to that in the US. Most Catholic Anglican Parishes use the modern Roman Rite and wouldn't dream of using the BCP.

The very small continuing groups in the UK use either the English Missal or the some variation of the BCP.

The attempt to form a coherent 'Continuing Church of England' post 1992 broke down (for the usual reasons) and resulted in the tiny 'Traditional Church of England' (TCE) alongside a small ACC presence (which spilt into HCC-AR)and also the TAC via contact with the ACA in the US.

Today each group has no more than half a dozen parishes or 'missions' (the HCC-AR appears to have disappeared). There is some movement of clergy and laity between these small groups but little, if any, movement to them from the CofE.

Canon Hollister said…

“The C of E's episcopal Orders have not only been jeopardized, they have been destroyed, at least as for as any men consecrated after 1992 or so at the latest. No Province that may be formed out of remnants of today's C of E can reasonably be supposed to have valid episcopal Orders. That is because today's C of E, which purports to "ordain" women, no longer intends to do what the Church has always done in the Sacrament of Orders.”

I do not accept this view and most orthodox Anglicans within the Canterbury (and the TAC?) would not accept it either. Not every Bishop in the CofE ordains women (plenty do not). Those Bishops who only ordain men are very clear what they are intending to do when they ordain. This is made very clear at the various Chrism Masses at which we gather around the PEVs or orthodox Diocesans and renew our Priestly vows.

We have protected our Orders and we have kept the faith and orthodox practice alive in the Church of England. As a result we may come away with our own Dioceses in which that faith and order can be proclaimed and exercised unhindered and ecumenical relations advanced with orthodox partners.

I believe this is worth fighting for, especially when you consider the lack of alternatives (I sense some reluctance on the list to acknowledge the reality of the CC movement as it stands in the UK).

There simply is no alternative in the UK. I think this needs to be recognised.

Fr Edward

Warwickensis said...

Fr Edward gives a very accurate picture of the C of E in Blighty.

There are still respectable and orthodox priests bishops and deacons. There are also some Religious Orders who have not compromised their catholicism with the Ordination of women.

The problem of course is a "wheat and tares" situation, and I can understand the American Coninuers (and even the tiny parishes of English Continuers) finding themselves unable to separate one from the other. However, I don't think pouring a bucket of cold water would help. This is why I'm waiting for some definite split to happen because of the attempt to ordain women as bishops. The Synod will certainly not grant a third province because they want women "bishops" to be seen as proper bishops. A split would therefore be likely, and it will give clear indication as to who is who, and where the true English Catholics lie.

I certainly cannot move out of the C of E until I see the outcome of this. I am hoping that there will be at last a credible and theologically sound challenge to the heretical take-over. However, it would be helpful if we had some encouragement from other Anglican bodies, rather than all being tarred with the same brush.

Failure to produce a viable alternative would mean a large number of individuals swimming the Tiber to the Holy See, or else just sitting at the back pew of Anglican churches with a perpetual frown, or worse, stop going altogether.

Albion Land said...

Well said, Mr Munn.

You know, however, my views on the matter. There are unquestionably deacons, priests and bishops in the C of E who remain true to the faith once delivered. They deserve our respect and prayers.

But the institution to which they cling has abandoned all credible pretext of being a part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. As I have repeatedly argued to you, we should in turn be arguing to them -- that they should flee from the burning timbers before they collapse and engulf you. Be true to your sacred commitment to the cure of souls and act prophetically. Publicly call to repentance those who have abandoned and perverted the faith; take with you those people who will be saved.

John A. Hollister said...

Fr. Edward wrote: "I do not accept this view [that because today's C of E purports to 'ordain' women, it no longer intends to do what the Church has always done in the Sacrament of Orders, even when the subject of that rite is a man.] [M]ost orthodox Anglicans within the Canterbury ... would not accept it either. Not every Bishop in the CofE ordains women (plenty do not). Those Bishops who only ordain men are very clear what they are intending to do when they ordain."

The problem here is that it is never the subjective intention of the ordaining Bishop that makes the rite valid or invalid. See, e.g., Article XXVI of the Articles of Religion.

Every C of E Bishop who conducts what purports to be an ordination, even where that individual has never "ordained" a woman and even where the subject of a particular service is a man, nevertheless conducts that service (which we may call a "no hairspray" service) under conditions that vitiate its effect. These conditions are that the Bishop acts: (a) in communion with those who "ordain" women (not only in the C of E but, for example, in PECUSA as well), (b) by authority of the C of E, an institution which proclaims that it is possible to "ordain" women on the same basis as men would be ordained, (c) on behalf of that unisex C of E, and (d) using rites that the C of E has appointed for the "ordination" of women as well as of men.

I might add that the ordaining Bishop himself received his episcopal Orders from that same C of E and through a hierarchy that itself "ordains" women.

As to (a), being "in communion with" someone means that one's own sacramental acts and those of one's communion partners are identical. To put it another way, each partner in communion adopts and ratifies all the sacramental acts of each other partner in communion; were this not so, the concept of "communion" would be meaningless.

Thus for any Bishop who today is still found within the C of E, his communion with "hairspray" Bishops of the C of E and with similar Bishops in Uganda, Rwanda, PECUSA, the Ang. Ch. of Canada, etc., etc., means he has left no sacramental integrity whatever.

As to (b), (c), and (d), what the C of E has done since the early 1990s is exactly what the Ang. Ch. of Canada did ca. 1975 and PECUSA did in 1976: erect a new, non-Sacramental preaching ministry, on the Congregationalist model, into which (1) it was possible to install women, as it was not possible to install them into the ancient Apostolic ministry, and (2) all subsequent ordinands, both male and female, have presumptively been installed, as an alternative to that old Apostolic Order.

Thus the entire institutional context within the C of E today means that there is no certainty of sacramental efficacy that any "(somewhat, or comparatively) orthodox" C of Ers could take with them elsewhere. This is precisely the reason that the Continuing Church movement arose in North America in 1976-77: its original members were unwilling to remain in, and thereby themselves be tainted by, an Ang. Ch. of Canada or in a PECUSA, both of which had so cavalierly jettisoned all "sacramental intention" other than that which might inhere in Baptism and Matrimony.

(Of course, both of those bodies have subsequently brought into question their "sacramental intentions" in those two remaining rites, as well.)

So if the somewhat orthodox clergy and laity in the C of E really believe what Fr. Edward says they do, and I have no reason to believe they don't, they are fooling themselves. As the late Archbishop William O. Lewis put it, "You can't be a clean cup of water in a dirty puddle."

John A. Hollister+