It is interesting that the BBC reports before and after the consecration of the Rev Libby Lane as the new Bishop of Stockport appear under the URL "bbc.uk.co/news/uk-politics" for that is what it is, politics. The pre-service clip in the first link is of a TV interview with 'Mrs Lane's friend and curate', the Reverend Georgina Watmore, on the BBC Breakfast show. It stops short of the point when she was asked how they would be celebrating her vicar becoming the first female bishop in the Church of England.
Here was a heaven sent opportunity to say that they would be celebrating the Holy Eucharist, the essential sacrament of the Church, injecting some Christian teaching at the culmination of their 'equality' campaign - a spurious claim if ever there was one. They were going to celebrate with a knees up - rather than knees down. Previously a commentator who had been speaking live from York Minster referred to the thousand or more 'spectators' including a hundred bishops from around the world who wanted to lay hands on the first female bishop to be consecrated in the Church of England. Surely she meant 'congregation' I thought but on reflection she was correct. 'Spectators' summed up the media event. - After all, it's all about equality, stupid!
When the Archbishop of York asked the spectators during the proceedings, "Is it now your will that she should be ordained?", there was one objection on the not unreasonable grounds that innovation was not in the Bible. The objector was refused permission to speak. Instead Dr Sentamu read out a prepared statement assuring the spectators that the consecration was lawful under the Canon of the Church of England which is "part of the law of the land". Correct. It was legal, the Church of England having enacted it but it was not legitimate in the eyes of the wider Church, hence the objection.
A spokesman for the Church of England said the objector, the Rev Paul Williamson, a priest in charge of St George's Church, Hanworth, West London, had shown himself to be a "lone voice of protest in a sea of voices of affirmation". So he was but he gave an honest response, one which many others could have made had it not been for the agreement which enabled the consecration to take place. It is regrettable therefore that an objector voicing his response according to conscience was portrayed as a clown in the rite of feminist authentication in the same way that other objectors on grounds of conscience have been portrayed in the media.
Everyone who was anyone, or anyone who thought they were anyone in this charade was there. Around 100 bishops 'from around the world' pressed forward to be in front for the laying on of hands while exercising sufficient restraint to avoid the appearance of a Black Friday stampede. I say charade because in the view of the wider Church, Orthodox, Catholic and for most Anglicans the Church has no authority to ordain women. Hence it was a gross parody to answer "I do" to the questions:
- Do you accept the Holy Scriptures as revealing all things necessary for eternal salvation through faith in Jesus Christ?
- Will you teach the doctrine of Christ as the Church of England has received it, will you refute error, and will you hand on entire the faith that is entrusted to you?
- Will you be faithful in ordaining and commissioning ministers of the gospel?
- Will you promote peace and reconciliation in the Church and in the world; and will you strive for the visible unity of Christ's Church?
- Will you accept the discipline of this Church, exercising authority with justice, courtesy and love, and always holding before you the example of Christ?
Commentators were stressing that women in the Church of England had waited twenty years for this moment as if a prejudiced minority had impeded their legitimacy. They were of course applying secular principles of equality of opportunity in the workplace. Claims that the ordination of women are about equality are totally spurious but who cares these days let alone understands? Typical Sunday attendances in the Church of England have halved to just 800,000 in the last 40 years. That is around 1.5% of the population of England, just slightly better than attendance in Wales. Most of those remaining will simply have played follow-my-leader without regard for the consequences while others have left, their faith destroyed.
Friends of Libby Lane may celebrate with a knees-up but it is a hollow victory for the Church of England given the damage the liberal invasion has caused. Writing in the Telegraph their Religious Affairs Editor, John Bingham, poses the question "Female bishops are go: What on earth will the Church row about now?" One has to ask if it really matters any more given the damage to the Church the innovation has caused.
Writing about the consecration of Fr Philip North, a 'traditionalist Anglo-Catholic', next week Bingham commented: For reasons which might charitably be described as obscure at best, there is 'acrimony' because "the plan is - ironically - to depart from tradition for the central part of Fr North's consecration service". A Religious Affairs Editor who can refer to the Apostolic Succession as 'obscure at best' must surely be in the wrong job unless his main purpose is to denigrate the Anglican Church. If the deliberations of the Church are "tortuous and, to many people, simply incomprehensible" Mr Bingham would have been better employed explaining the genuine held beliefs of traditionalists rather than making a cheap buck out the misery inflicted upon them.