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Friday, 6 September 2013

The gentle art of persuasion or is it deception?


A BILL TO ENABLE WOMEN TO BE CONSECRATED AS BISHOPS

"WHEREAS the Law and Constitution of the Church in Wales has hitherto not permitted women to be consecrated as bishops

AND WHEREAS it is now appropriate in the Church in Wales that women be eligible for consecration to the Holy Order of Bishops

AND WHEREAS the Church in Wales intends to continue the ministry of the universal church in its threefold orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and to remain part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church 

AND WHEREAS the Church in Wales, subject to the provisions of the civil law relating to equality and other relevant matters, wishes to respect those who in conscience cannot accept that women be eligible for consecration to the Holy Order of Bishops ..."

The above preamble to the Church in Wales Bill to Enable Women to be Consecrated as Bishops reads as a statement of facts but only the first statement is true. The universal church does not consider it appropriate that women be eligible for consecration to the Holy Order of Bishop. This is an innovation based largely on secular principles of equality misapplied to the church for political reasons and have nothing to do with the Christian faith as handed down through the ages.

The Anglican Communion has been torn apart by separate provinces breaking with our traditional understanding of ordination. This and the related matter of Homosexuality and Anglicanism has resulted in many provinces representing about half of the 80 million practising Anglicans worldwide responding to these theological disputes by declaring a state of impaired communion with their counterparts.

The Catholic and Orthodox churches have made their positions abundantly clear, examples here and here. Ordaining women to the episcopate is in direct contradiction to the statement that 'the Church in Wales intends to continue the ministry of the universal church in its threefold orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and to remain part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church'.  As Metroploitan Hilarion observed, the future of ecumenism is in great peril with the gap widening between orthodox and progressives.

'Progressives' have shown themselves determined to plough their own furrows regardless of the cost to unity and to the fate of their brothers and sisters whose only 'error' has been to remain loyal to the traditional teaching of the 'One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church' in common with the vast majority of Christians including most Anglicans. The preamble to the Bill asserts that the Church in Wales...wishes to respect those who in conscience cannot accept that women be eligible for consecration to the Holy Order of Bishops" but on the evidence so far, this sounds as empty as 'the Church in Wales intends to continue the ministry of the universal church in its threefold orders of Bishops, Priests and Deacons and to remain part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church'.

Unlike the Church of England where alternative episcopal oversight is provided by Provincial Episcopal visitors, such oversight has been denied to worshippers in the Church in Wales following the retirement in 2008 of the Provincial Assistant Bishop (PAB) on the grounds that alternative oversight creates a church within a church. This argument is refuted in The Church, Women Bishops and Provision : "We have shown that authentic episcopal oversight can be, and has been, exercised in a variety of ways,  both historically and today" [p.77].

Under Section 3(2) of the Bill:
Recommendations made pursuant to the provisions of subsection (1) and agreed by the Bench of Bishops must be included in a Bill introduced into the Governing Body of the Church in Wales within two years of the promulgation of this Bill [My emphasis - Ed.]. But what sort of provision can possibly be made given Dr Morgan's outright rejection of anything acceptable to those for whom it is intended? Without a complete about face there cannot be acceptable provision. A PAB would no longer be appropriate because he could not with integrity be an assistant to a woman bishop so a duly consecrated bishop, or bishops, perhaps from outside the province, would be required which is unlikely given Dr Morgan's refusal even to replace the PAB.

The danger if this legislation succeeds is that having achieved their main aim of permitting women to be consecrated as bishops, the Bench of Bishops will find themselves unable to agree any proposals put to them, no doubt making full use of the proviso 'subject to the provisions of the civil law relating to equality and other relevant matters' if their conduct to date is taken as a guide. One only has to look to the manoeuvring in England and what has happened in the United States to be wary of this legislation. 

4 comments:

  1. "And to remain part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church" Not possible I'm afraid - once women are consecrated the Church in Wales (and possibly the CofE in due course) will have relinquished any claim of Catholicity.

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  2. It is somewhat ironic that in these troubling times one church leader, Pope Francis, engages with the G20 delegates to try and prevent a regional war, and this evening leads his church in prayerful vigil for peace and reconciliation in Syria; and yet Archbishop Barry Morgan leads his church along a path to further internal division, decline and disintegration.

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  3. You will all need to find your nearest catholic bishop and gather around him - it's happened throughout church history and you must not be arrogant to ignore this obvious solution.

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  4. This Bill is designed to approve the consecration of women bishops and to concentrate power in the hands of the Bench enabling them to brush aside any opposition as they did after women were admitted to the priesthood.

    Under its provisions -

    "the Bench of Bishops must establish a Working Party" to

    "invite receive and consider proposals for a scheme of provision" and

    "produce recommendations to the Bench of Bishops" to be

    "agreed by the Bench of Bishops".

    For "Bench of Bishops" read Barry Morgan. He has no intention of allowing alternative Episcopal oversight. He abandoned it at the first opportunity after agreeing the procedure to clear a path which enabled women to be ordained as priests. The Bench of Bishops has shown no respect for those who cannot in conscience accept that women are eligible for consecration as bishops, a position that is scriptural, not based on prejudice as they would have the uninformed believe.

    As leaders the bishops have already brought the church to her knees, not in prayer but in penury, yet they alone have their positions safeguarded in the Church in Wales Review. Their proposed measure will seal the fate of fellow loyal Anglicans if it is carried. The Bill must be rejected if we are to regain trust and rebuild the Church in Wales. Nehemiah

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