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Tuesday, 19 November 2013

Sell out?

Photo: Getty Images

There is something about this image that makes me feel deeply uncomfortable. Perhaps it is because a person is the focus of attention. It has been used many times to illustrate articles about the ordination of women, most recently here under the heading 'The Church of England is on the brink of resolving its 13-year battle to introduce women bishops'. As the Telegraph puts it: "Under the new proposals, an independent ombudsman would be appointed to intervene when traditionalist parishes complain they are not sufficiently “protected” from women bishops’ authority. Leading opponents of female bishops believe the measure will “go sailing through” this week’s debate and on to final approval by next year or 2015".

This apparently is sufficient for Forward in Faith and Reform to claim that "the latest plan is 'the best way forward' for the Church". Is this a sell out? There is a weariness about the whole affair but is that any reason for those who in conscience are unable to accept the ordination of women to throw in the towel? 'The Church' is much bigger than the Church of England. Can we still claim to belong to the Holy Catholic Church if we fail to oppose what we believe to be wrong? I am heartily sick of listening to the secular drivel trotted out by supporters to justify their covetousness. There is no justification for the ordination of women in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church yet there appears to be a readiness to run up the white flag as Damian Thompson puts it here

Reliance on a referee has seen many a battle unjustly lost on the field of play but even assuming that the 'independent ombudsman' is of the highest integrity he/she will have an unenviable task. WATCH have fought tooth and nail to get their own way, objecting to everything they have regarded as a concession to their opponents. How many times will they be prepared to 'lose' before there is pressure to have the new measure rescinded?

The last of the Guiding Principles in the  Report from the Steering Committee for the Draft Legislation on Women in the Episcopate [GS 1924] states:
Pastoral and sacramental provision for the minority within the Church of 
England will be made without specifying a limit of time and in a way that 
maintains the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to 
mutual flourishing across the whole Church of England. 

In the run up to the vote on women bishops in the Church in Wales, the Ass Bishop of Llandaff lost no time in telling people that provision for the Provincial Episcopal Visitors (flying bishops) in the Church of England's Act of Synod was intended to be of a "temporary nature" (here).
Claiming insider knowledge, he testified as to what was meant:
"John Habgood, formerly archbishop of York, is widely acknowledged as the architect of the Church of England's Act of Synod, the Act that was promulged in 1994 and included the provision of PEVs. I was John Habgood's chaplain at the time, worked with him on the Measure and can testify that the intention of the Act was to be of a temporary nature, giving people opposed to the ordination of women a gracious space during a period of reception of women priests. As you probably know, I am now Lord Habgood's official biographer, and so have had recent conversations with him about that crucial period. His recollection coincides exactly with mine, that the intentions of the Act was that it would apply for a limited period of time. Inevitably the provision of PEVs strained the catholic understanding of episcopacy and ecclesiology as expressed in a UK Anglican setting, where formerly the bishop of a diocese was the centre of unity in that diocese; however, it was felt, in the run up to the Act of Synod, that that strain was bearable for a limited period in order to hold things together."

In the Church in Wales the time limit expired when women were ordained to the priesthood. The post of Provincial Assistant Bishop created to get the measure through was immediately dropped when Bishop David Thomas retired in 2008. In September this year the Welsh bishops introduced a bill which included a measure that would have made statuary provision for dissenters, a measure hailed by some as the way forward in the Church of England. That was a farce (here). The bishops voted in favour of an amendment in opposition to their own bill to remove statutory provision and make it voluntary through a code of practice. The mover of the amendment was a former GRAS activist imported into Wales by their scheming archbishop for now obvious reasons (here, and here).

The dissembling Statement of guiding principles in GS 1924 should act as a warning that what we are dealing with is politics, not the faith of the Church. If trust is to be of the essence for the future, the past does not augur well but one thing is clear, those within the Church of England who, on grounds of theological conviction, are unable to receive the ministry of women bishops or priests cannot in all conscience vote in favour of women bishops or even abstain. That we have had to fight, fight and fight again to save the Church we love should be proof of that.


  1. We cannot claim to be part of the One Holy Catholic Church and then do our own thing and go our own way. The Church of England is a small percentage of the wider Anglican communion,and the Church in Wales is even less again. When the Provincial Assistant Bishop was appointed ,the GB was led to believe that there would be continuing provision for those unable to accept ordination of women. The Archbishop has wriggled out of that one and will without doubt wriggle around any voluntary code of practice; it is sad to say the Archbishop is a confidence trickster.Although the Archbishop has said he will listen to dissenters ,he has also made it very clear that the final decision will be with the Bench. The code of practice is voluntary and thus ,by definition, it will be permissible to vary the practice. There is no objective theology in the Church in Wales anymore- believe what you want. Alice in Wonderland comes to mind: the Cheshire Cat explained to Alice that everyone in Wonderland is mad!

    1. Alice in Wonderland Simple soul? That reminds me:

  2. Thank you Ancient Briton:it is very interesting to read in this previous blog that the Church in Wales has a main aim to be 'relevant to society'. Surely that is the wrong way around- the Church should be teaching society to be relevant to the Church and relevant to the teachings of Christ? The watering down of the Faith has clearly been going on for years,and as I say 'believe what you want' . Our souls have been sold down the river in an erroneous attempt to make ourselves 'relevant'. There are those who believe that ordination of women is an equality issue, and having put this in place ,they say we have made the church more relevant and worldly. The church is becoming the Mad Hatters Tea Party!

  3. You raise an interesting point in your previous comment 'Simple Soul', which is, the reference to Dr Wonga as 'confidence trickster' in relation to getting his way on the Provincial and women bishops issue? But can he be nailed for something far worse ?

    Fraud is an act of deception to cause loss to another party or personal gain. Within this wide scope there will be a threshold in order to determine whether an offence has been committed, namely:

    a) Was there false representation?
    b) Failure to disclose information?
    c) Was there abuse of position?

    The good Dr Wonga would agree with me I'm sure, that as for as public law is concerned, there is no case to answer. There we are, who dare say that I'm bias?

    The Church in Wales remains safely nestled within the confines of 'lack of jurisdiction. As mentioned in a previous comment, it claims, (regardless what they preach to others) "We continue as we please". Legalised hypocrisy.

    However, fraud is a criminal offence from which, (or so we are to believe) there is no exemption even for an Archbishop. It depends of course on the 'silk' you happen to be instructing at the time. There are numerous restriction orders available for gagging if one can afford it. Now come off it you lot, what else are discretionary funds for?

    Plus there is police downgrading and massaging of complaints for specific purposes. The bench sitters do love a massage, and Dr Wonga doesn't really mind been downgraded for the sake of the Gospel. Now that may be defamatory - withdraw remark!.

    Although your case contains the hallmarks of a conspiracy, it would be an uphill struggle for you 'Simple Soul' but its worth the thought.

    Not every trick is a fraud but every fraud is a trick. And,on the basis of my reasoning you'll find proof beyond reasonable doubt that the order of St Wonga of Margam is living proof of legalised hypocrisy. Snap out of it're back in the room!

  4. Little Black Sambo20 November 2013 at 20:12

    I was John Habgood's chaplain at the time, worked with him on the Measure...
    Ooh! hark at him! The Ass was a mere chaplain (and writer of boastful articles). This account is so misleading as to be untrue. What that makes the Ass needs no explaining. There was to be no time limit on the provision.

  5. It seems somewhat hypocritical to say that a woman can and should be elevated to bishop and then say that it is also legitimate for those under her leadership to find someone else. Would the same provisions be made for parishioners under a male bishop? Who are we actually making accommodation for here? This is just a transitional stage where the revisionists wink at one another and know that traditionalists will die acquiesce or leave for Rome.