Wednesday, 16 July 2014

An Anglican milestone

The Irish Times carries the following editorial comment on page 15 this morning [16 June 2014]:

An Anglican milestone:

Twenty years after agreeing to the ordination of women as priests, the Church of England has found a compromise on the ordination of women as bishops, following slowly in the footsteps of the Church of Ireland. For many, the decision is long overdue, some will continue to protest that this is a step too far, and others believe too many compromises have been made to reach this milestone.

The vote at the General Synod in York on Monday is a personal triumph for Archbishop Justin Welby, who has managed to unloose the Gordian knot created by the debate about women in the episcopate. Archbishop Welby’s success is due in part to careful, behind-the-scenes negotiations on his behalf by David Porter, an evangelical from Northern Ireland with experience in peacekeeping and problem-solving. However, the principal concessions were made not by the conservative evangelicals but by Anglo-Catholics who now say they are willing to live with difference.

Yet there is a fear that what is a temporary compromise may become permanent legislation. The extremists among conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics have the right to continue to refuse to accept the ministry of future women bishops, with the potential for creating a two-tier ministry with male bishops whose ministry must be accepted and female bishops whose ministry may be compromised or refused.

It may be next year before a woman becomes a bishop. But because the process has been slow and tedious, at least 20 women priests have already reached high senior clerical office in the Church of England. If the Church of England’s first woman bishop has the same calibre and promise as the first woman bishop in the Church of Ireland, Bishop Pat Storey of Meath and Kildare, then it will be truly blessed. Meanwhile, the Church of England and the other member churches of the Anglican Communion face a more difficult task when it comes to agreeing to live with differences of opinion on sexuality and same-sex marriage.


Aitch said...

Though I read and enjoy your blog, this is the first time I've decided to comment. It sad to see, that if I had remained in the C of E, I would be an extremist - your word. Please have a look at this post for a more reflective consideration of the Synod's decision from another 'ex-Anglican'.

Patrick Comerford said...

Thank you 'Aitch' ... it's always good to hear from readers who are in the background. Obviously, this is the view of The Irish Times, and I am sure The Irish Times is as at ease as Monsignor Burnham is at descending to what he describes as "an accessible shorthand rather than a sharp description" ... indeed, you and I may have very little to disagree about apart from this one issue.

Aitch said...

In view of the conciliatory approach that Synod had decided to adopt in this debate, I was irked by your use of the word extremist, but it is no more than that. I find the position of FiF and the Society of St Wilfred and St Hilda hard to understand, In due time they will be in the strange position of saying, this one is a bishop and that one is not, this reminds me of Elijah's comment about limping around with two opinions. There will be problems in providing appropriate pastoral care, which Synod has made provision for, but the first problem will remain.
Sorry I forgot to add my name to my first comment and let Google use my nick-name.