|Dr Barry Morgan, Archbishop of Wales Picture: WalesOnline|
A new bid to establish the first women bishops in the Church in Wales could be heading for the rocks, half a decade after the last attempt at reform was sunk according to a report in WalesOnline.
In another report from the BBC, 'two Bangor churches' are to close. Not particularly surprising given the steep decline in worship but the actual figures from the Visitation of the Rectorial Benefice of Bangor Report make grim reading:
Church Average attendance 2012
St David's 23
St Mary's 27
St Peter's 25
Eglwys y Groes 11
Bangor Cathedral 90
Under the plans, Bangor cathedral will be used as a "parish" church for congregations from St Mary's and St David's which are both within a mile-and-a-half (2.5 km) of the cathedral. But for how long is this solution sustainable with ageing congregations being bused in?
The Church in Wales should have got the message by now. Congregations are voting with their feet but still the hierarchy plods on with a political obsession with women's rights as the church falls apart around them. True, for many it just doesn't matter who is standing at the Altar but for others it is central to their faith. More the pity then that attempts are made to sideline this section of the church. Without them the church will be the poorer both spiritually and financially.
Some see the bishops' Bill as a way forward: " Susie Leafe, director of the conservative group Reform, was impressed by the Bill, saying: “We have watched with interest the approach the Church in Wales has taken and think that what’s currently on the agenda is an imaginative and helpful solution which recognises the integrity of a broad church.” But this takes no account of the fact that the Church in Wales reneged on alternative episcopal oversight after women were admitted to the priesthood and looks set to do the same again if the measure is passed.
The Jackson - Wigley Amendment illustrates the thinking of Women and the Church in England which implies concern but in effect gives no assurances. In the secular world which the church is busy mimicking, who in their right mind would enter into a contract on vague suggestions of fair treatment after the deal is done?
What is clear in this whole sad affair both in England and in Wales is that the Anglican Church is not prepared to agree in advance acceptable provision for worshippers who follow the traditional teaching of the universal church which must raise doubts about their intentions and remains a cause of considerable concern among many who are in favour of the ordination of women.