Thursday, 10 July 2008

CofE 'yet another liberal protestant denomination'

Andrew Carey is spot on in this article.

What should have been a joyous new beginning for women’s ministry at General Synod on Monday has been spoiled. Most women I know will not welcome the fact that progress towards ordaining them to the episcopate has been soured by the prospect of an exodus of many traditionalists from the Church of England amid an atmosphere of bitter recrimination.

The choice facing Synod was simple and straightforward. It was to pass legislation with structural provision for traditionalists or not. A code of practice was neither here nor there, because it clearly failed to meet the needs of those for whom it was designed. I am reminded in this of The Episcopal Church’s offer of ‘Delegated Episcopal Oversight’ to traditionalists. This provision was counted a success because it was so rarely used precisely because it was designed only to preserve the rights of diocesan bishops and not to meet the needs of parishes alienated from those very same bishops. It seems that exactly the same ‘winner-takes-all’ attitude has begun to prevail in the Church of England. As I listened to the debate, I sensed a new mood abroad in the Church of England as Synod members coldly and systematically voted down any amendments conceding crumbs to the Anglo-catholics. The Bishop of Winchester described the outcome as ‘mean-spirited’, Andrew Dow referred to a ’scorched earth policy’.

Let’s make no mistake about it, Monday’s night Synod opens up the possibility of a very serious exodus from the Church of England. The loss of large numbers of Catholics will not leave us with a ‘Reformed’ church, a mouthwatering prospect for earlier generations of evangelicals, but will leave us with yet another liberal protestant denomination. Far from being a national church with coverage throughout the entire country, we will end up with little or no presence in many communities where traditional catholics have ministered so courageously.

The vote to break the stained glass ceiling on women’s ministry may come to be viewed as the moment the whole structure fell, rather than a moment of hope and opportunity. Read more

When posting your comments please give a full name and location. Comments without this information may not be posted.

1 comment:

  1. John,

    I note that your posting of the piece by Andrew Carey, which I read last night (9 July) on the stand firm website, has, according to your blog, still received no comments (perhaps some more by now). This is surprising to me, since I think it is the best commentary I have read so far on last Monday's synod debate and vote, and find it deeply thought-provoking and sobering.

    While born in the UK, I spent the 25 years immediately before coming to Chile as a missionary, living and working in the US, mostly in Mississippi. I still keep in contact with friends there. One fellow, a very observant RC, is an attorney and something of a polymath. When the Gene Robinson affair blew up in 2003, he said, and has since steadfastly maintained, that the history of the Anglican Communion (of which he is fond) is one of compromise and mutual adjustment. The AC has, according to him, a genius for finding settlements which reconcile people of conflicting viewpoints. By the end of the day, when this affair is over, they will find (he affirms) some way of staying together.

    I sent him the link to Carey's article, and received a reply e-mail this morning. His tone has clearly changed! The article clearly got through to him. It will be shortest to quote his words: "It is hard to believe that such a rock as Anglicanism may break up.  This is rather astounding. This is tragic for Christianity. Very tragic." Of course, you don't know him, but I do, and his "conversion" on this topic shouts at me.

    This is something about the article. Andrew Carey lays it out with remorseless logic. If conditions remain as they are, the end result is inevitable and unavoidable.

    I also found some of the comments quite pungent. One of the contributors on the stand firm site said: "I ... suggest the time has come for Rome to name a new Archbishop of Canterbury, as the incumbent has now discarded even a tenuous claim to the office.  Whatever the organization is that Rowan Williams is leading, it will shortly be no more apostolic than Presbyterianism or Methodism." This helped to give the piece a yet more historical perspective for me, bringing it into even sharper focus.

    It is so sad. The Elizabethan settlement that has lasted more than 400 years is about to end, and we are going to lose something truly great. What makes it even sadder is the apparent ignorance, or deliberate neglect, of this fact by people bent only on pursuing their own agenda.

    On a lighter note, I gather, from a different thread, that you are soon to be married. May I offer my congratulations. This also means there is hope for me (I am 59 and single)!