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Friday, 21 March 2014

Bradshaw plays the Joker

Vicar's boy and LGBT champion Ben Bradshaw MP played the Joker card when he spoke in a women's ordination 20th anniversary debate in Westminster Hall yesterday on 'Women’s Contribution to the Ordained Ministry (Church of England)' here. The Mail was quick to run the headline "Church is 'running out of men to be bishops': Labour MP uses debate on women being consecrated to says [sic] Anglican talent pool is drying up". If that sounds familiar the words were recently uttered by a Synod member who warned that the Church of England urgently needs to ordain its first women bishops because it has effectively run out of male clerics who are up to the task. See earlier entry here.

One commentator responded to the Mail article with "Perhaps the church is "running out of men" because it has pursued a secular, sexist agenda designed to advance women irrespective of any other consideration? Precisely. On his Ugely Vicar blog, the Rev John Richardson has been pointing out "The Church of England has only consecrated one Conservative Evangelical bishop of 'complementarian' views since 1997. Since he retired in October 2012, it has been without ANY of that persuasion for 506 days and counting" (here).

Akin to a WATCH pressure group meeting, members were informed that despite Archbishop Justin "managing the situation quite brilliantly" WATCH remains concerned about the continuing role of flying bishops and while the first two guiding principles in the 'Draft House of Bishops Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests' (here - see Annex A) were acceptable, "WATCH has concerns about the other three statements". As the Speaker's Chaplain put it, "As we go forward, the Church must stop leaving women to feel second best" suggesting that once women bishops are approved their campaign will continue until they have a Church acceptable to WATCH.

The debate offered a marvelous opportunity for mutual back-slapping interwoven with comments solicited from women priests on motherhood, housekeeping and social work:
"It goes without saying that women are not the same as men. They often have more responsibility for families, looking after the home at the same time as carrying out a job. Many female vicars are also mothers or grandmothers, and I have seen the benefits that those other duties have had on their ministry. One female vicar in my constituency said: “In Kingshurst, people call at the vicarage if they need help. I listen to a woman who works in a factory and needs help with improving her reading. I have been doing this for about three years.” Some of the women in my constituency lack female role models within their own family—perhaps they are estranged from the grandparental generation. A female priest can provide real practical help, advice and support to young women making their first steps in motherhood without a family network around them."

Previously accused of playing the buffoon, the Second Church Estates Commissioner produced some interesting figures: "Today, some 23%, or nearly a quarter, of stipendiary ministers—full-time paid clergy—are women. Just over half, or 53%, of self-supporting ministers are women. At present, some 1,245 people in England are training to become Anglican priests and of those, 594, or 48%, are women." ... "Women priests are now involved in every part and aspect of the Church’s life, from Lambeth palace where two of the Archbishop of Canterbury’s close team are women priests, to parish priests up and down the country. As time goes on, I think everyone expects that the proportion of women as cathedral deans and archdeacons will grow." 

Sir Tony made "no pretence of seeking to be a theologian" when he quoted from the New Testament to illustrate Christ's close relationship with women which is probably why he, along with the rest of the speakers, completely overlooks the fact that Christ appointed only male Apostles, a position maintained by the Catholic and Orthodox Churches contrary to Mr Bradshaw's assertion that  "At some time, though not in my lifetime, I confidently expect the Roman Catholic Church to embrace the ministry of women, in exactly the same way as the Church of England has done.

To mark and celebrate the 20th anniversary of women as clergy, there will be a gathering of ordained women clergy and others at Westminster Abbey on Saturday 3 May, followed by a procession to St Paul’s Cathedral where there will be a service of celebration for 20 years of women’s ordained ministry. 

This is equality? What a joke!

The theme of this post is echoed by Cranmer (here) and VirtueOnline (here) but what really hits home for me is a comment by George Conger (here) in Anglican Unscripted [advance to position 40] when he refers to clerics such as Bishop Gene Robinson as someone who believes that the Holy Spirit has informed him of God's new way of acting in this world, not tied to scripture and tradition, but only to what he believes God is telling him to do. That sounds familiar!


  1. It is very gracious of Sir Tony Baldry MP to say that he has no pretence of seeking to be a theologian, for he is a politician appointed to the honorary post of Second Estates Commissioner, and his role is to answer questions from MPs,about C of E matters. This means that,as a MP he is telling MPs how they should be regarding the Church (of England).
    Sir Tony is talking' through his hat' in respect of the potential for women to enter the priesthood in the Catholic Church.
    Pope John Paul issued a document in 1994-Ordinatio Sacredotalis,saying that the definitive belief held by the Church is that she has no authority to ordain women. Subsequently Pope Francis has endorsed what Pope John Paul said ,and added " That door is closed ".

  2. There are plenty of excellent men able to be elected Bishops. The powers that be just seem to not want to see them appointed. also the same goes for appointments of deans of cathedrals. Can Swansea and Brecon expect the obvious choice of the best man for the job. Would like to hope so but am doubtful.!!!!!

  3. No more anonymous comments on this thread please.

  4. I think you're right in your assumption that WATCH won't stop until they get exactly what they want.. I'm convinced that they would like all Anglo-Catholic priests to leave and will campaign to make our lives intolerable..

  5. The chair of Watch has said that one of her key priorities is a more representative House of Laity in the Synod of the C of E !
    Hilary Cotton (chair) says" she has had enough of an almost exclusively male God".
    I think Father Mervyn is right, the signs are that the campaign will continue, not only until Watch have achieved just the first consecration of a female Bishop, but until 'more expansive images of God have been discovered' : that is the uncertain agenda of Watch.

  6. One thing is for sure - anyone looking for talent would be hard-pressed to find any in the House of Commons.