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Monday, 5 November 2012

Enough is enough

After watching Dr Inge's video I was left with the feeling that if people believe what the Bishop of Worcester says in his 'Enough Waiting' contribution they will believe anything. That is no disrespect to the bishop. I am sure he fervently believes what he says but it does not hold up to scrutiny. I have not seen any evidence to prove that the Church of England has been "enriched immeasurably through the ministry of women as priests" but I have been told by various parishioners that their new woman priest is 'a lovely person' and how friendly she is with people. Why shouldn't she be? Bar the odd exception, women in the church are but they have not been ordained to fulfill their ministries. This attitude may help to salve the consciences of those who have gone with the flow of women's ordination but it is totally meaningless in theological terms. The great hope of enrichment through the ministry of women as priests has been an abject failure for the church. Church attendance continues to fall at an alarming rate with the fate of the US Episcopal Church acting as a warning beacon of what we can expect in this country if the measure is approved.  But Dr Inge really takes the biscuit when he says: 

"The legislation presently before Synod strikes what seems to me is the best balance we are ever likely to get between rejoicing in the ministry of women as bishops but at the same time honouring those who don’t feel that this present move is warranted either by scripture or tradition. It enables us to move together, respecting one another; it enables us to remain a broad church."

That the balance is completely outweighed does not appear to have any significance for Dr Inge yet he speaks of honouring opponents when in truth the promises made to secure the ministry of woman as priests have been dishonoured removing any notion of a broad church.

The Bishop of Worcester is just one of a number of people who have been encouraged to add their support to Archbishop Rowan's 'Enough Waiting' campaign. In a postscript to a previous entry I noted that the Bishop of Chelmsford, like the Archbishop of Wales before him, had wrongly applied Galatians 3:28 to justify the ordination of women. There appears to be no limit to what supporters will say in an effort to get the measure through. Mark Russell, Chief Executive of the Church Army, had this to say: What happens if we say no? If we say no, we condemn this to the long grass, and years more discussion and years more synodical debate and more reports and more meetings – to get exactly to where we are right now. So I think this is the right time to make a decision, and to say yes.

Can they not see the imbalance when traditionalists are expected to accept their lot, as the Bishop of Worcester puts it, moving together, respecting one another, enabling us to remain a broad church, but if the vote goes the wrong way as they see it, we can expect years more discussion and years more synodical debate and more reports and more meetings. It doesn't have to be like that. The decision of Synod could be accepted in good grace as the will of the Holy Spirit. But be assured, if the vote does not go their way, it will not be accepted because their cause is not spiritual but secular, an attitude typified by an anonymous comment in this Telegraph report which referred to the "poor, poor beleaguered minority” ... “They have been pushing this but they are like a spoilt child: the more you give them, the more they want” when, in reality, what is on offer has become less and less, reduced to another meaningless promise.

Another bishop joining the 'Enough Waiting' campaign is the odd-ball Bishop of Willesden, The Rt Rev Pete Broadbent, who believes that his support is affirming women on equal terms with men. I don't know what world these people live in but I don't know of any women who do not already think that they are on equal terms with men. The only difference is that again, they don't see the need to be ordained to prove it. But worse, Bishop Broadbent also believes that there is a logic to what we’re going to do anyway, because when we ordained women as priests, it was only right that we should then say that they should be bishops as well. No, the logic is that they should not have been ordained to serve as priests if they were unable to accept that they may not be allowed to become bishops. He goes on to say that it is important to get a two thirds majority this time around not to "look completely stupid in the eyes of society"!

Let us hope that those eligible to vote allow themselves to be guided by the Holy Spirit, putting aside what society may think, not feeling pressured to vote in the affirmative because there has been enough waiting to get to this point. We are the Church, all of us; society may think what it will. The stark fact is that the measure as presented has lost all credibility. It is being steam-rollered under the banner of women's liberation in defiance of the wishes of the wider catholic church, hindering the cause of unity which should be our first priority. Women in the church have been liberated but a vociferous minority interested in their self advancement are seeking to control the direction of the church by unscrupulous methods as illustrated by this outrageously dishonest campaign

What these campaigners are saying is never mind that what we are doing is contrary to scripture and tradition, there has been enough waiting. We allowed women to be priests so we must allow them to be bishops; the measure must be approved now, otherwise we will look silly. This is not a waiting game, it is a fundamental change in our understanding of ministry. The church already looks silly as a result of adopting its liberal policies which have led to illiberal practices and disunity. Never mind Enough Waiting, enough is enough. This is no longer a question of whether there should be women bishops but a question of honour. The church is failing in its duty to care for all. Abstaining is not an option. The only honest vote is NO.

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