|Jolly June Source: Twitter@LlandaffDio|
Within the Church in Wales, those who on grounds of theological conviction and conscience are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women bishops or priests continue to be within the spectrum of teaching and tradition of the Anglican Communion. The Church in Wales therefore remains committed to enabling all its members to flourish within its life and structures as accepted and valued. Appropriate provision for them will be made in a way intended to maintain the highest possible degree of communion and contributes to mutual flourishing across the whole Church in Wales. (Principles. Women Bishops Code of Practice)
It appears that the newly appointed women bishops in the Church in Wales are happy to defy their Governing Body in an act which can only be described as a visible sign of disunity, showing no regard for the procedure which enabled them to be appointed bishops.
At ordinations presided over by the first female bishop of Llandaff, as a mere gesture towards the agreed Code of Practice, arrangements have been made for a male bishop to step forward for the laying on of hands if the ordinand, on grounds of conscience, is unable to receive the sacramental ministry of a woman diocesan bishop.
I understand that similar arrangements have been made for ordinations carried out by the bishop of St Davids. The gesture is clear.
No provision was made for those, who on grounds of theological conviction and conscience, are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of women bishops or priests. Instead the Governing Body voted for a Code of Practice.
Under the Code, "Individual members of the Church in Wales who, on grounds of conscience, are unable to receive the sacramental ministry of a woman diocesan bishop, shall not be required to do so against their conscience, and alternative provision shall be made".
The procedure has become so far removed from when the Provincial Assistant Bishop presided at ordinations that it lacks any integrity whatsoever.
The minister in the Sacrament of Ordination is the Bishop. The celebrant presides over the whole service – the interrogation of the candidates, the laying-on-of-hands (assisted by other priests who are symbolically receiving the new priests into the presbyterium) and the celebration of the Eucharist. Importing another bishop (solely because he is male) to step in and lay hands on any candidates who have conscientious objections to the sacramental ministry of women, far from being a gesture of accommodation, turns the whole business into a charade of misogyny.
The curious arrangements proposed in Llandaff and St Davids do nothing to solve the basic problem of conscience either, since it is a requirement in the ordination service that those being ordained receive Holy Communion from the bishop who is the celebrant.
It has been said over and again that we do not have a problem with women; our problem remains the unilateral departure from the practice of the undivided church and by far the greater part of Christendom whose orders we have always claimed to have shared.