|Church in Wales bishops, Llandudno 2012|
+St Davids, +St Asaph, +Llandaff (Abp), +Monmouth, Ass+Llandaff, +Bangor, +Swansea&Brecon
The liberal credentials of the Archbishop of Wales are beyond question. He has been straight forward about his attitude to the next trauma for the church, same sex marriage. He talks about it here adding his thoughts about the then forthcoming women bishops legislation and his idea of 'provision' for those who remain faithful to the teaching of the Holy Catholic Church. Studying his delivery and what he had to say suggests that, given their unanimity, he and his bench have no intention of changing their previous stance on alternative Episcopal oversight.
In an earlier 'first' in 2004 Dr Morgan and his bench of bishops appointed the first divorced bishop in the UK after the electoral college failed to agree. At the time the Archbishop said the bench was unanimous in deciding that their candidate was the person "who best fitted the requirements" for the bishop's post.
In that regard it should be noted that the name of the new Bishop of Monmouth was being circulated long before the Archbishop appointed his facilitator to help diocesan representatives in their task of discernment (ie, naming the selected bishop who favours the ordination of women). The new bishop obligingly went on record saying that he was "in favour of women bishops and wants to make the church more relevant for society" - straight off the Archbishop's hymn sheet!
Had 'The Venerable Pain' not been in favour he wouldn't have had a chance but his assurances guaranteed the continuity of unanimous voting by the House of Bishops, thus perpetuating a disease which has spread to the other two Houses resulting in traditionalists being denied their rightful place in the church despite Dr Morgan's claim that "The Bishops are unanimously committed to securing a continuing place in the life of the Church for those who cannot in conscience accept the new situation created by the ordination of women to the priesthood." (See below).
Dr Morgan has actively encouraged the appointment of an openly gay bishop in his Province though not yet realised. Presumably he also looks forward to the appointment of a lesbian bishop following the decision to allow women to be appointed bishops in the Church in Wales giving him another 'first'. But that is not the issue here. There is one minority group within his own church whose wishes he has had no truck with. This doesn't augur well for discussions on the Code of Practice, provision for which accompanied the women bishops 'yes' vote in the Church of Wales.
This is what Dr Morgan said in 2009 about alternative Episcopal oversight :
“We have ... given an assurance that there is room in the Church in Wales for those who in conscience cannot accept the ordination of women. However, we are not minded as bishops to perpetuate a system whereby conscientious objectors may avoid not only the ministry of ordained women but also the ministry of male bishops who have ordained them. That leads in the end to fundamental division and a denial that things are other than they are – that we do live in a church that ordains both women and men.
“There is a difference between recognising the fact that some individuals hold personal views that are at variance with what the Governing Body has decided about the ordination of women and reflecting those views in the structures of the church as if the Church in Wales as a whole had doubts about women’s ordination and the bishops who ordained them. That to my mind would be a real act of injustice – to ordained women, bishops, indeed to the whole church.” [In this context 'whole church' means his dominion, not the Holy Catholic Church which the bishops still claim to belong to despite separating from her following the vote - Ed.]
Compare Dr Morgan's statement with what he promised on behalf of the Bench when persuading the Governing Body to allow women to be ordained to the priesthood:
The Bishops are unanimously committed to securing a continuing place in the life of the Church for those who cannot in conscience accept the new situation created by the ordination of women to the priesthood. They wish to preserve the highest degree of unity possible in the Church in Wales for the foreseeable future. With this in mind, they propose to appoint a bishop who will undertake among other duties the pastoral oversight of those unable to accept women as priests in the Province, and to represent their views in the councils of the Church in Wales. He will be an Assistant Bishop, appointed by one Bishop and authorised by all to minister in their dioceses, and will share collegial responsibilities with the diocesan bishops in the Province.
The 'foreseeable future' can now be seen as the shortest possible time before abandoning it bringing into doubt the bishops' sincerity. If their 'commitment' was to be strictly on their own terms they should have said so. It was a shabby promise which is about to be repeated based on the available evidence.
When the Bench of Bishops voted unanimously for the amended Bill which substituted a voluntary Code of Practice for statutory provision they already knew what was meant by alternative episcopal oversight. This was clearly spelled out by the Provincial Assistant Bishop in his paper "A Noble Task". I quote:
... For this reason, I believe that the only way in which it might be possible for so-called traditionalists (how I loathe that misleading word!) to remain in the Church in Wales [if women were to be ordained as bishops - Ed.] would be if the PAB were to be replaced by a bishop or bishops who had jurisdiction over those in his or their pastoral and sacramental care. In saying this, I am not necessarily suggesting the creation of a seventh ‘non-geographical’ diocese. I can see no reason why such a jurisdiction should not remain within the existing diocesan and provincial structures in all matters to do with buildings, finance, schools, etc. It would be necessary, however, for such a bishop to be able to receive in his own right the customary declarations of canonical obedience made by clergy, churchwardens and others on admission to office and to issue licences, dispensations and whatever other legally binding documents are required for the day-to-day running of the Church. Likewise, such a bishop would need to have final authority in all matters to do with the selection, training, ordination, deployment and discipline of those clergy in his care.
Why would 'traditionalists' now want to accept anything less? The ecstatic reaction to the passing of the amended Bill appeared to consummate the Bench's duplicity. With no canon, a damp squib was thrown in to register concern enabling the Archbishop to make another pledge:
Based on statements in the public domain it is difficult to see how an acceptable Code of Practice can be agreed. In scripture a bishop must be above reproach. If they enter into discussions with the same predetermined attitude it will lay bare a disgraceful charade rendering the Governing Body vote a deception and make their positions as bishops of the Church completely untenable.