|Ministerial group: the Prime Minister with (left to right) the Ven. Dr Jane Hedges, the Rt Revd|
Kay Goldsworthy, and the Ven. Christine Hardman Credit: Church Times
"A confident Church is a 'vital partner' in the care of the nation" the Prime Minister wrote in the Church Times. A report on his politically correct twaddle dressed-up as faith can be read here. With this new founded but deluded confidence the latest call raised by MPs is: "Give us a female Bishop of Durham and Bishop of Newcastle", having approved legislation to help fast-track female bishops into the House of Lords over the next decade.
In the debate "Mrs Blackman-Woods told MPs: I should say that we have recently got a new bishop in Durham and I am not trying in any way to push him out of the door, as he is doing an excellent job, but when the time comes for him to retire I hope that a woman bishop will be on our agenda. Backing a change in the law, Mrs Blackman-Woods told the Commons: 'Without the Bill, a woman appointed as a diocesan bishop would effectively join the back of the queue to get into the House of Lords. At anticipated rates of retirement it could take up to seven years for the first female diocesan bishops to get into the Lords, a period that could cover the lifetime of the next Parliament. That would create an anomaly whereby women were actively and visibly involved as bishops in all aspects of the Church’s national ministry except as Members of the Bishops’ Bench in the other place'."
I don't know whether or not Mrs Blackman-Woods is a regular churchgoer, an Anglican or even a believer but in her previous intervention in the 'Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) Measure' we heard the usual political claptrap dressed as faith when she said. "This is a historic moment that we should note, because it gives the Church a real chance to look more like the society that it seeks to serve. A Church with women in office at the highest levels of authority will better reflect British society today" [@5.56]. I note also that she voted in favour of Same sex marriage so if she had been ordained no doubt she could have expected a call from the Archbishop of Wales with an offer of another plumb appointment over the heads of his loyal but long suffering clergy.
Of little surprise to observers, there are now dire warnings that that this 'confident church', this 'vital partner' in the care of the nation is in peril. If it is not to go into 'terrifying' decline the Church of England must 'adopt one of its most radical shake-ups in generations'. Senior Church leaders have warned: "It leaves the Church little time to sit back and enjoy the success of the legislation as the consecration of the first woman bishop at York Minster approaches."
If readers think these reports are exaggerated they should read Virtue Online. Here is a sample:
"Virtually all the 1,900 churches with more than 350 people in their congregation are either Catholic (1,350) or evangelical (460); the remaining seventy are considered broad or liberal. There are also virtually no churches with 350 or more in rural areas; just thirty spread across numerous commuter rural areas (and all between 350 and 400 people). There are one hundred churches of this size in city centers, 310 in inner city areas (many of which are Roman Catholic), 165 on council estates, 920 in suburban areas, and 350 in separate towns".
As a "dyed-in-the-wool traditionalist" I am told that I should avoid waving around statistics shrieking: "See! We told you this would happen if you let women have opinions, and stand at the front of church, and be vicars. We told you the men wouldn't like it. You've feminised the Church! Of course the men are leaving!" The author of this Telegraph article, Helen Coffey, continued: "This sexist hysterical crew seem to think that, in slowly but surely embracing equality, the entire Church is being transformed into one long episode of Loose Women. That by letting women lead, it naturally follows we're creating an environment that is “toxic” to men. What a load of tosh." Obviously hysteria is not confined to the male sex. Helen Coffey is a sub editor and staff writer at Telegraph Ski and Snowboard. Her previous contributions have been "Church yoga row: Am I going to hell for stretching myself?" and "Twenty years of women priests: And the Church has survived just fine".
To these politicians and journalists who feel free to dictate what true Anglicans are supposed to believe, sending the Church of England and the Church in Wales into terminal decline in the process, must be added liberal Anglicans whose sole aim is to change the Church to meet their career prospects and to suit their particular lifestyles. The feminist pressure group Women and the Church (WATCH) has played a key role in this phenomenon: "We have in modern society a new F-word: Feminism" - Keynote address given to the WATCH AGM, 3 November 2007, by Canon Lucy Winkett, Precentor of St Paul’s Cathedral.
I admit to having expressed regret about the increasing feminisation of the Church although not in the manner suggested by Helen Coffey. However, if women were supposed to halt the decline by spreading 'equality', how is it that the Anglican Church has reached this perilous position? Women clergy have not halted the decline in liberal Provinces by 'looking more like society', they have exacerbated it. Perhaps they are waiting until they have packed the benches of the Lords Spiritual by which time they will be left to talk among themselves on current trends.
Notwithstanding the fact that the innovation of women priests has been a complete and utter disaster bringing the Anglican Church to the point of collapse, there is no indication that lessons have been learnt with calls for yet more women, particularly younger women to be ordained instead of the elderly matrons soon to join the retirement queue. The secular notion of rapid advancement for women in the Church which shattered any claim about introducing 'equality' has not lessened their anger as they invent more claims of foul play so that they can frustrate procedures if no longer backtrack on their promises.
The latest outcry is over the token consecration of one traditionalist, the Rev Philip North as Bishop of Burnley on 2 February alleging female 'taint' because the Archbishop of York will not participate in the laying on of hands when Fr North is consecrated. This is deliberately emotive point scoring. It has nothing to do with 'taint'. It is a question of true belief in the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. A matter of 'authenticity' such as bishops of The Old Catholic Church acting as co-consecrators in the ordination of Anglican bishops.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, told The Huffington Post that "he was the one who suggested the unusual change, in order to accommodate North's strong theological conviction that women should not be ordained. Giving traditionalists room to flourish was part of the church's plan all along -- a necessary concession that makes it difficult for either side to claim outright victory". Dr Sentamu added: "Any suggestion that the arrangements proposed for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley are influenced by a theology of ‘taint’ would be mistaken," Sentamu said. "These arrangements are for prayer, not politics."
The consecration of the first woman bishop in the Church of England takes place tomorrow (26 January, 2015). In the Observer it has been reported that the Rev Libby Lane is aware that "what I say and do will be heard by millions, many of whom have no other contact with the church". So what does she say? - She hopes that as the new bishop of Stockport she will "send a signal to young girls regardless of their faith". Whilst Anglicanism has become all about the advancement of women, the new bishop admits to "feeling the pressure that comes with the historic appointment, expressing concern that her position may distract people from the message of Christ". The message of Christ is what some of us have been concerned about all along, not a distorted version of Christ's ministry designed to satisfy wants, not needs.
There is no letup in the feminist's campaign. The 'theology of taint' is the latest weapon feminists are using to exercise their power. They agreed a compromise to ensure that women were allowed to become bishops in the Church of England but now they are seeking to dictate on matters which should not concern them. They should follow the advice of the Archbishop of York "giving traditionalists room to flourish" rather than creating imaginary divisions. That has caused more than enough damage in the Anglican Communion.
All credit then to His Grace the Archbishop of York for his integrity in maintaining agreements unlike the example set across the border in Wales.