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Central Africa says no to women priests: The Church of England Newspaper, January 17, 2014 January 27, 2014

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The General Synod of the Church of the Province of Central Africa has voted down a proposal by the Diocese of Harare at their 27 November to 1 December 2013 meeting in Lusaka to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood.

Bishop Fanuel Magangani of Northern Malawi told The Church of England Newspaper the motion had been put forward by Bishop Chad Gandiya of the Diocese of Harare in response to motions adopted and put forward by a number of diocesan synods.

Bishop Magangani said he voted against the motion because it was contrary to tradition. “Some of us are happy to maintain our roots without the idea of thinking that we know better than those who have gone before us over the years of the Christian faith. I believe that the Church fathers down to the Apostles taught and reserved the faith I would like to uphold. I feel satisfied with the way I received the teaching of the Church and that there is everything I need for my salvation without diluting it with my ideas.”

The motion fell short of the necessary two-thirds vote in the House of Laity with 14 yes and 10 no votes, but was defeated in the House of Clergy, seven yes to 21 no, and in the House of Bishops six yes and nine no.

“Cross does not save” says Australia’s first diocesan woman bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, November 29, 2013 November 28, 2013

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The Diocese of Grafton has appointed Australia’s first diocesan woman bishop.

On 17 November 2013 a twelve member Nomination Board appointed by the diocesan synod selected the Rev. Dr. Sara Macneil to be the 11th bishop of the New South Wales diocese.

In a statement released on the Diocese of Canberra and Goulburn website, Dr Macneil, the Senior Associate Priest at Holy Covenant in Jamison, ACT, said she was “surprised, overwhelmed, humbled” to be appointed Australia’s first female diocesan bishop.

“I am awed by the confidence placed in me by the [Grafton Diocese] appointment board and by their willingness to be trailblazers,” she said.

She told the ABC: “There’ll be lots of people for whom it’s unexpected that a woman has been elected. For some people for whom it will be unwelcome, I think there’ll be some scrutiny but there’ll also be, for a lot of people, a lot of excitement and joy.”

While women have been appointed assistant bishops in Melbourne, Canberra, Perth and Brisbane, none have been elected to the episcopate.  While serving as Archdeacon of Canberra in 2008 she stood for election as bishop in that diocese, but was not elected.

In 2011 Dr. Macneil abruptly quit as Dean of Adelaide, telling the congregation of St. Peter’s Cathedral she was resigning as she could “no longer work with integrity at diocesan level.”A member of the liberal wing of the Australian church, Dr. Macneil rejects the doctrine of penal substitutionary atonement, journalist the Rev. David Ould reports, and has argued the “cross does not save” but it is “Jesus’ presence among us” that saves. The bishop-elect also has gone on record endorsing the ordination to the priesthood of candidates who are in same-sex relationships — a stance at odds with the church’s teachings.

A onetime member of the Australian diplomatic corps, Dr. Macneil declined to elaborate on the reason she was resigning less than two years after her appointment as South Australia’s first female Dean – and the first woman to be appointed to the post in an Australian capital city.

Unlike other Australian dioceses, where the choice of bishop is made by the synod, in the diocese of Grafton a 12 member committee composed of six clergy and six lay members is elected by the synod to select and then appoint the bishop.

The choice of a new bishop for Grafton fell to a 12 member committee Other women have been consecrated as assistant bishops within Australian Anglican dioceses and, overseas, women have been made diocesan bishops but this is a national first for Australia.

Dr. Macneil’s election comes at a difficult time for the diocese. Her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Keith Slater, resigned in May 2013 in the wake of an abuse scandal involving the Church of England North Coast Children’s Home in Lismore.

On 18 November 2013 a Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse began hearings on the diocese’s conduct in the North Coast Children’s Home affair.

However, Bishop-elect Macneil stated: “In recent times the Diocese of Grafton has faced financial difficulties and is now appearing before the Royal Commission… There is a determination among the people of the diocese to understand what has gone wrong in the past, to ensure that it does not happen again and to embrace the future with hope, trusting in God.”

Belief in the Virgin Birth an optional extra, new Swedish archbishop declares: Anglican Ink, October 16, 2013 October 16, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of Sweden, Women Priests.
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The Church of Sweden has elected its first woman archbishop.

On 15 October 2013 the Rt. Rev. Antje Jackelén, Bishop of Lund, was elected Archbishop of Uppsala and primate of the Church of Sweden. She is the second Archbishop of Uppsala to be elected by popular vote by the church’s synod following the separation of the Church of Sweden from the state on January 1, 2000, and succeeds the Most Rev. Anders Wejryd who was elected in2006.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

First woman bishop for India consecrated: The Church of England Newspaper, October 4, 2013 p 44. October 15, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of South India, Women Priests.
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The Church of South India has consecrated its first woman bishop. On 29 Sept 2013 the Rev. E. Pushpa Lalitha was consecrated Bishop in Nandyal in the Southern Indian state of Andhra Predesh.

On 25 Sept the CSI’s Synod Executive selected Bishop-elect Lalitha from among four candidates short listed by the diocese to succeed the Rt. Rev. P.J. Lawrence.

Bishop-elect Lalitha (57) was born in Diguvappad village in the Kurnool district of Andhra Predesh in Southern India. Educated at Andhra Christian Theological College, she was ordained a priest in 1984. A Telugu speaker, she ministered in several villages before serving as the director of Vishranthi Nilayam in Bangalore and as the administrative head of the CSI’s women fellowship.

In a statement released on her behalf by the CSI, Bishop-elect Lalitha said: “My parents had decided to dedicate me to the lord even before I was born, as they had already lost two sons. My life has been God’s mercy, and I wish to be his servant for life.”

Among her priorities is the empowerment of women. “Be it any institution, women are always given second-rung treatment. We need to change that by promoting values that teach us to not to discriminate and treat all humans the same.”

“I hail from a village and my parents sold their land to educate me. I want every girl from such a background to get the best education possible. Only education can change lives,” she said.

“As a priest, my primary responsibility was towards my congregation. As a bishop, the responsibilities are much more,” she said.

Women were first ordained for the Church of South India – a united church formed from the merger of the Anglican, Presbyterian, Baptist and other Protestant denominations in 1947. The church at present has 110 women clergy.

First woman bishop for Ireland: The Church of England Newspaper, September 27, 2013 p 1 October 15, 2013

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The House of Bishops of the Church of Ireland has appointed the first Anglican woman bishop for the British Isles.

On 19 September 2013 the bishops appointed the Rev. Patricia Storey to be the Bishop of Meath and Kildare in succession to the Most Rev Richard Clarke, who was translated to Armagh last year.

Bishop-elect Storey becomes the first women Anglican bishop in Europe.  Last week the Church in Wales’ governing body gave approval to women bishops while the Scottish Episcopal Church also allows women bishops. Irish bishops are usually elected by a special meeting of the diocesan synod. However, the 28 May 2013 electoral synod meeting was unable to agree upon a bishop, giving the choice to the House of Bishops.

Mrs. Storey (53) presently serves as rector of St Augustine’s Parish Church, Londonderry in the Diocese of Derry and Raphoe.  Married to the Rev Earl Storey, she has two children. Reared in Belfast, she was educated at Trinity College, Dublin and trained for the ministry at the Church of Ireland Theological College. Ordained deacon in 1997 and priest in 1998, she served her curacy in Ballymena in the Diocese of Connor and was Team Vicar in Glenavy in the same diocese before movi9ng to Londonderry in 2004. She is also a member of the Standing Committee of the General Synod.

Announcing the appointment Dr Clarke said: “Having known Pat Storey since she was an undergraduate and I was Chaplain at Trinity College, Dublin, I very much welcome her as a new bishop. She is a person of great warmth, intelligence and spiritual depth and I am certain that her ministry in the Dioceses of Meath and Kildare and the wider Church will be a blessing to many. We remember her and her family in our prayers.”

The Rt Rev Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe, welcomed the appointment as “great news indeed.”

“We know well how gifted the Rev Pat Storey is and how effective her ministry is not only in a parish setting but also far beyond the local church. Her warmth, her deep personal faith and her natural ability to relate to people have enabled her to make a significant impact throughout the city, the diocese and the wider community,” he said.

Mrs. Storey said: ‘I am both excited and daunted by this new adventure,” adding “I count it an enormous privilege to begin a new phase of my ministry with the people of Meath and Kildare, and I look forward to working with the team of clergy who are already there. I would sincerely ask for your prayers for myself and my family, who are the best family in the world!”

India consecrates its first woman bishop: Anglican Ink, September 30, 2013 September 30, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of South India, Women Priests.
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The Church of South India has consecrated its first woman bishop.

On 29 September 2013 the Rt. Rev. E. Pushpa Lalitha was consecrated and installed as Bishop in Nandyal at Holy Cross Cathedral in Nandyal. She was selected by the CSI’s Executive Synod on 25 Sept from four candidates chosen by the diocese.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

India appoints its first woman bishop: Anglican Ink, September 28, 2013 September 28, 2013

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The Church of South India has appointed the subcontinent’s first woman bishop.  On 25 Sept 2013 the CSI’s Synod Executive selected the Rev. E. Pushpa Lalitha from among four candidates to be the next Bishop in Nandyal.

Bishop-elect Lalitha (57) was born in Diguvappad village in the Kurnool district of Andhra Predesh in Southern India. Educated at Andhra Christian Theological College, she was ordained a priest in 1984. A Telugu speaker, the Rev. Pushpa Lalitha ministered in several villages before serving as the director of Vishranthi Nilayam in Bangalore and as the administrative head of the CSI’s women fellowship.

In a statement released on her behalf by the CSI, Bishop-elect Lalitha said: “My parents had decided to dedicate me to the lord even before I was born, as they had already lost two sons. My life has been God’s mercy, and I wish to be his servant for life.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

English female priest elected bishop in New Zealand: The Church of England Newspaper, September 13, 2013 p 6. September 12, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Aotearoa New Zealand & Polynesia, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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Bishop-elect Helen-Ann Hartley of Waikato

An English female priest has been elected Bishop of Waikato in the Anglican Church of Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia.

The Rev. Dr. Helen-Ann Hartley will become the first woman priest ordained in the Church of England to become a bishop in the Anglican Communion. Bishop-elect Hartley will join the Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch, as one of two women bishops in New Zealand, and the provinces third female bishop.  In 1990 the Rt. Rev. Penelope Jamieson became the Communion’s first female bishop when she was elected Bishop of Dunedin.

At her election, Dr. Hartley (40) was the dean of students at St John’s College in Auckland. Ordained in 2005 in the Diocese of Oxford, she served her curacy as part of a team ministry in the diocese, before being appointed Director of Biblical Studies and a lecturer in New Testament at Ripon College, Cuddesdon.  In 2010, Dr. Hartley moved to St John’s College in Auckland to conduct research and was appointed dean in 2013.

As Bishop of Waikato, she will be one of two co-equal bishops in the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki – sharing episcopal jurisdiction over the diocese with the Bishop of Taranaki, the Most Rev. Philip Richardson – who also serves as Archbishop of New Zealand and co-Primate of the province.

The New Zealand church’s provincial news website quoted the new bishop as saying “I am greatly looking forward to putting on my tramping shoes and gumboots, and getting to know people where they are, finding out more about the landscapes and industries that are integral to life and ministry in the diocese.

Church in Wales votes for women bishops: Anglican Ink, September 12, 2013 September 12, 2013

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Church in Wales Governing Body debate on Women Bishops

The Governing Body of the Church in Wales has adopted a Bill to allow women clergy to be ordained to the episcopate.

Meeting on 12 Sept 2013 at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in Lampeter the Governing Body amended the original Bill put forward by the House of Bishops to adopt a staged introduction of women bishops so that an adequate provision for opponents of women bishops might be codified.

However, the Archdeacon of Llandaff, the Ven. Peggy Jackson and the Rev. Canon Jenny Wigley put forward an amendment that would allow the ordination of women to the episcopate without waiting for a code of practice to be adopted.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

English women priest elected co-bishop in New Zealand: Anglican Ink, September 10, 2013 September 12, 2013

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New Zealand has elected the first female priest of the Church of England to the episcopate. On 7 Sept 2013 the Diocese of Waikato and Taranaki elected the Rev. Dr. Helen-Ann Hartley (40) to be Bishop of Waikato.

Bishop-elect Hartley will join the Rt. Rev. Victoria Matthews, Bishop of Christchurch, as one of two women bishops in New Zealand, and the province’s third female bishop.  In 1990 the Rt. Rev. Penelope Jamieson became the Communion’s first female bishop when she was elected Bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand.

Born in Edinburgh and reared in Northeast England, at the time of her election, Dr. Hartley served as dean of students at St John’s College in Auckland. Ordained in 2005 in the Diocese of Oxford, she served her curacy as part of a rural team ministry before being appointed Director of Biblical Studies and lecturer in New Testament at Ripon College, Cuddesdon.  In 2010, Dr. Hartley and her husband, a church musician, moved to St John’s College to conduct research and she was appointed dean in 2013.

Read it all at Anglican Ink.

Conscience Clause deleted by the Reformed Church of America: Anglican Ink, June 21, 2013 June 21, 2013

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Marble Collegiate Church in Manhattan

The General Synod of the Reformed Church of America (RCA) has removed the “conscience clause” from its the Book of Church Order (BCO), ending the right of its clergy to object to the ordination of women.

At the 2012 meeting by a vote of 143 to 69, the delegates voted to remove the conscience clause. Two thirds of the classes or jurisdictions of the presbyterian organized denomination were required to endorse the vote for it to take effect and over the past year 31 classes voted in favor of removing the clause and 14 voted to keep it. On 20 June 2013 General Synod ratified the vote.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

No election in Newcastle: The Church of England Newspaper, May 5, 2013 May 5, 2013

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The Rt Rev Kay Goldsworthy

The Assistant Bishop of Perth’s bid to become the first woman elected to the episcopate in the Anglican Church of Australia has fallen short as the Diocese of Newcastle failed to elect a new bishop at its 12-14 April 2013 meeting of synod.

The Rt. Rev. Kay Goldsworthy was among five nominees that included two local clergy and the Assistant Bishop of Canberra & Goulburn Dr Stephen Pickard and Dr Peter Stuart Assistant Bishop of Newcastle to succeed Bishop Brian Farran. Four women priests have been appointed assistant bishops in Australia—Perth, Melbourne, Canberra & Goulburn and Brisbane – but none have been elected.

In a note to the diocese after the election, Dr. Stuart said: “sometimes the Synod elects quickly and sometimes the process takes time. Synod elected Bishops Farran (2005) and Holland (1977) in one sitting. Synod elected Bishop Herft (1992) over two Synod sessions and refereed the decision to elect a bishop in 1972 to the Diocesan Council which elected Bishop Shevill.”

The Synod “resolved to begin the process afresh” he said, though the candidates may place their names in nomination a second time.

No sex please, we’re Catholic: Get Religion, January 30, 2013 January 30, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ordinariate, Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Women Priests.
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The perils of re-writing another news outlet’s work were on full display this week in an article that appeared in the New York Daily News. Based upon a news story broadcast by Buffalo’s WGRZ-TV,Call him ‘The God Father’: Husband and dad will become Roman Catholic priest — and take vow of celibacy” reports that a former Episcopal priest who upon his re-ordination as a Catholic priest will begin a “sex-free life”, is filled with errors of fact and false assumptions about sacerdotal celibacy.

It is not clear at what point the errors entered into the food chain. Perhaps the subject of the story John Cornelius misspoke; perhaps WGRZ-TV misstated the quotes — or it may have be the fault of the Daily News. Whatever the reason, the only trustworthy fact that I would take away from this story is that former Episcopal priest John Cornelius will be re-ordained as a Roman Catholic priest on 26 Jan 2013. Beware of everything else.

Let’s start with the lede.

John Cornelius will be ordained a Roman Catholic priest this weekend — and with the blessing of his wife they’re giving up their sex life. Cornelius, a father of three, will become the first married Roman Catholic priest in New York — and Sharyl, his wife of 33-years, has agreed to the whole celibacy thing. “We have decided to do that voluntarily,” Cornelius told WGRZ-TV. “I have always had friends that are Roman Catholic priests and I appreciate what they’ve given up to serve God and the priesthood.”

The story continues:

Cornelius, 64, is a former Episcopalian priest who converted three years ago to Catholicism. He said his old church had gotten too liberal for him. “There was the ordination of the homosexual priest in New England,” he said. “Then it came time for women’s ordination. … It may have been okay for other people, but it was just too much for me.”The article reports Fr. Cornelius retired as an Episcopal priest in 2010 and “jumped at the chance after Pope Benedict issued a directive last year aimed at filling the depleted Catholic ranks with converted Episcopalian priests.”

It closes with the news that Fr. Cornelius will serve a “flock of other former Episcopalians at the Fellowship of Saint Alban” outside Rochester and speaks briefly of his faith journey. Let’s pick the low hanging fruit first and work towards the conceptual failures in this story. The chronology offered in the quote by Fr. Cornelius is incorrect.

Women priests were authorized in 1976 by the Episcopal Church (though a group had been illicitly ordained earlier). Non-closeted, non-celibate gay/lesbian clergy were first ordained in 1979 in New York city and by the early ’90s a number of dioceses were ordaining gay clergy. And the first “gay” Episcopal bishop, the Rt. Rev. V. Gene Robinson, was consecrated in New Hampshire in 2003. The chronology offered by Fr Cornelius is incorrect. And the suggestion that the Catholic Church is free from the controversies surrounding gay or women clergy is not so straight forward.

And no, John Cornelius will not be the first married RC priest in New York. That honor belongs to Fr. Scott Caton of the Diocese of Rochester who was ordained under the 1980 Pastoral Provision. Fr. Cornelius may be the first priest ordained in New York state for the Ordinariate of the Chair of St Peter.

What is the difference between the pastoral provision and the ordinariate? The first has been around since 1980 and permits certain Protestant clergy who are married to be re-ordained as Catholic clergy. The second was created in 2011 as a home for Anglican communities (clergy and laity) who wish to seek full corporate unity with the Catholic church while retaining some Anglican liturgical forms and their own ecclesial structures.  The article does not do justice to these distinctions.

And, is it fair to say the re-ordination of ex-Episcopalians and Lutherans is a tool to fill the “depleted” ranks of the Catholic clergy?

And, is it fair  to say that by “giving up their sex life” Fr. Cornelius and his wife have “agreed to the whole celibacy thing”? Can abstinence from sexual relations with a spouse be considered celibacy — as understood by the Catholic Church? Is a “sex-free life” the definition of sacerdotal celibacy? Or is there a bit more to it than that?

The New Advent dictionary begins its definition of celibacy by writing:

Celibacy is the renunciation of marriage implicitly or explicitly made, for the more perfect observance of chastity, by all those who receive the Sacrament of Orders in any of the higher grades.

Are Fr. Cornelius and his wife practicing celibacy, abstinence or chastity? No questions are asked by the article about clerical celibacy, nor are comments or observations made by knowledgeable sources — a bishop, theologian, church spokesman, et al. Is this the norm for re-ordained Episcopal clergy? Is this renunciation of the marital state a spiritual discipline, a physical separation — what is going on here?

I don’t know. Do you?

ACNA to review women’s orders: The Church of England Newspaper, January 20, 2013 p 6 January 25, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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The College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA) has agreed to launch a Task Force examining the question of the Holy Orders of women clergy.  Meeting last week in Orlando, the ACNA bishops set down a five part protocol studying the question of women clergy in conjunction with the issues of Prayer Book reform, the creation of a Catechism for the church, and a review of its ecclesial structures.

In ordering their priorities, the bishops decided to begin with a study of Scripture and church traditions and them move to the creation of church policies.  One bishops told The Church of England Newspaper the ACNA bishops wanted to ground their actions in doctrine, rather than find a doctrine to support their actions.

The election and translation of five bishops were approved by the College of Bishops, while time was also spent seeking to heal the hurts caused by the break-up of the Anglican Mission in America last year.

The ACNA currently permits dioceses to ordain women to the diaconate and priesthood, but not to the episcopate.  However, Forward in Faith and the Anglo-Catholic Diocese of San Joaquin have urged the province to review its “two integrities” structure.

The bishops announced they had appointed a task force to study the doctrine of Holy Orders – not limiting their work to the question of women clergy – and would begin by with the Bible and then move to a study of doctrine and tradition.

At Phase 4 “the Task Force will discuss the arguments, pro and con, related to the ordination of women, considering the relevant Scriptural texts and historical arguments, and reviewing studies conducted within and without the Anglican tradition.”

The College of Bishops said that before final action is taken, their recommendations will be passed to the theological commission of the Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans.  The conservative reform movement within the Anglican Communion is divided on the question of women clergy with Uganda, Kenya and Rwanda strongly in favor, while Singapore, Sydney and the Anglo-Catholic provinces of Africa are opposed.

A report on overlapping dioceses and episcopal jurisdictions was also presented to the College.  A communique from the meeting stated the ACNA sought to bring the church into conformity “with historic Anglican practice. The goal of the work is to organize each region for the long-term sustainability of the movement in recognizable, godly Anglican Church structures.”

The bishops received a map showing the location of each of the their 951 congregations, which enabled the bishops to identify “11 regions of overlapping mission work among the various jurisdictions of the Province.”

While no diocese or group was slated for elimination, the bishops’ communique stated the challenge of overlapping jurisdictions “will result in enhanced collaboration, responsive structures and ministry oversight, with better sharing of resources, clearer communication and more profound unity in the mission that we share.”

Channel 4 keeps it all in the Anglican family: Get Religion, January 22, 2013 January 22, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Women Priests.
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January has been a wonderful month for lovers of Anglican ecclesiastical drama. The resignation of Rowan Williams as Archbishop of Canterbury at year’s end should have led to a few month’s peace and quiet for the Church of England and the wider Anglican world. I had even thought of taking a vacation this month as little of substance appeared on the radar as of late December.

I could count on the penchant of Episcopalians in the United States to sue each other over church property disputes — 88 cases and counting. And there would certainly be some sort of gay story — thank you Washington National Cathedral for announcing you will host gay weddings! But I could write those stories in my sleep — and to tell the truth I would have had a hard time selling them. I could hear the editors say: “You want me to publish another gay Episcopal story? Tell me how is that news?”

But thank goodness for the Church of England. When life get’s me down. When I begin to think my mother in law is right and there is still time to go to law school and have a “respectable” career, the Church of England comes to my rescue. What a month it has been. Fights with the government over gay marriage, fights over gay bishops, and fights over women bishops. The CoE is at its most interesting when it is at war. Liberal and conservative wings in full war cry, possessed of the certainties of the Israelites who went out boldly to hew Agag in pieces and to smite the Amalekites hip and thigh.

Last week the fight over women bishops flared anew, illuminating the dreary skies of Westminster as the lay members of General Synod met at Church House in London to hear a motion calling for the impeachment of the chairman of the House of Laity.

Channel 4 News — which is the fourth British television network (BBC1, BBC2, ITV and Channel 4) — ran a story entitled “Women bishops: laity votes in no confidence motion,” previewing the meeting. It began:

The debate over women bishops in the Church of England is reignited today as one of the houses of the church’s governing body meets to consider calling for the resignation of its chair.

The House of Laity, part of the General Synod, is meeting in London for an extraordinary meeting to vote on a motion of no confidence in chair Dr Philip Giddings, who spoke against women bishops – directly after the Archbishop elect, Rev Justin Welby spoke in favour.

Canon Stephen Barney, who will propose the motion after setting up a petition, says Dr Giddings’ action “undermined” the speech of the archbishop-elect and were not representative of the house.

The story goes on to give the background to the meeting, noting it was the laity who blocked passage of a bill permitting the consecration of women clergy to the episcopate. The story then quotes the mover of the resolution, giving him space to summarize his views:

Speaking to Channel 4 News ahead of the meeting, Mr Barney, who has insisted the motion is not a personal attack, said the purpose of the meeting was not to debate women bishops in this particular incident, but whether Dr Giddings was representing the house which he chaired.

He said: “I hope that we will have a proper debate. It’s a question of whether this was appropriate given that he was not representing the view of the vast majority of the House of Bishops, the House of Clergy and indeed all but 74 of the House of Laity.”

Three more paragraphs of quotes from Mr. Barney are provided, followed by the line:

Dr. Giddings has not yet commented on the issue and said that “the time for debate is when we have the debate.”

Oh, and at the bottom of the page is this announcement:

The author of this piece, Katharine Barney, is the daughter of Canon Stephen Barney.

Is that clear. Katharine Barney the author of the news article is the daughter of the subject of the news article, Stephen Barney.

Is it possible for a daughter to write a balanced news article about her father? Yes, it is possible. A good journalist can detach themselves and write a story that is fair to both sides.  Love or hate Dad, a good reporter can still do their job. Yet the appearance of impropriety remains.

In this case, the balance expected of a reporter — a normal one, e.g., not the child of the subject of the piece — is absent. The British blog Cranmer — one of the best written and more intelligent religion blogs out there — had this to say:

This debate will attract an awful lot of media attention: it touches on theology, equality, morality, the governance of the Church of England, and the right separation of powers. One might expect Channel 4 News to have done rather better than get the daughter of the motion’s proposer to write a superficial and thoroughly biased article on the matter.

Standing outside the issues, the Channel 4 story failed as journalism. It was unbalanced. While Dr. Giddings declined to speak to the issues, there were dozens of others in the Church of England — bishops, lay leaders, commentators — who could offer a contrary voice. The context for this story was insufficient. How did the Church of England get to this place? Has this happened before? How much does it cost and who is paying for it? What happens if Dr. Giddings is impeached, or if he survives censure?

Where these problems addressed in the article, then it could be argued that having the daughter of the subject of the story write the story was a bold move by Channel 4′s editors to show the professionalism of its reporter. This did not happen.

Opprobrium should not be heaped on the author of the story, however. We do not know what the original story she submitted looked like, and by her lights this may have been a balanced complete account. The fault lies with the editors at Channel 4. What were they thinking?

First printed in Get Religion.

Women clergy under review for the ACNA: Anglican Ink, January 11, 2013 January 11, 2013

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Ink, House of Bishops, Women Priests.
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More bishops, fewer dioceses and the future of women clergy were amongst the main topics of debate at the Anglican Church of North America’s College of Bishops meeting this week in Orlando.

Bishops from the conservative province in waiting in North America in the Anglican Communion approved the election of two additional bishops for the PEAR-USA Network. The Rev. Quigg Lawrence will lead the Atlantic Regional Network and the Rev. Ken Ross the Western Regional Network, while the Very Rev. Clark Lowenfield was elected bishop of the Diocese of the Western Gulf Coast – a diocese in formation.

The bishops also confirmed the election of the Rt. Rev. Charlie Masters as bishop coadjutor of the Anglican Network in Canada and approved the translation of the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons from the Diocese of Bolivia to the Diocese of Pittsburgh as assistant bishop.

Time was also spent in mending fences amongst the College between the three former members of the Anglican Mission in America and the wider ACNA, following the protracted break up of the group.

A report on overlapping dioceses and episcopal jurisdictions was also presented to the College.  A communique from the meeting stated the ACNA sought to bring the church into conformity “with historic Anglican practice. The goal of the work is to organize each region for the long-term sustainability of the movement in recognizable, godly Anglican Church structures.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Brisbane’s first woman bishop appointed: The Church of England Newspaper, December 9, 2012 p 6. December 12, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Australia, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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Alison Taylor

The Venerable Alison Taylor, Melbourne’s Archdeacon for International Partnerships and Vicar of St John’s Church Camberwell, has been appointed by Archbishop Phillip Aspinall to be the next Assistant Bishop for the Southern Region of the Diocese of Brisbane.

Archdeacon Taylor will become the fourth woman assistant bishop in the Anglican Church of Australia joining Genieve Blackwell Assistant Bishop of Wagga Wagga in the Diocese of Canberra & Goulburn, Barbara Darling Assistant Bishop of the Eastern Region of the Diocese of Melbourne, and Kay Goldsworthy Assistant Bishop of the Diocese of Perth.

Appointed to the steering committee of the Anglican Alliance for Development, Relief and Advocacy in 2009 by Dr. Rowan Williams, Archdeacon Taylor has also served as chairman of Australia’s Anglican Overseas Aid agency.

The Archbishop of Melbourne, Dr. Philip Freier welcomed the announcement saying: “Alison Taylor’s ministry in the Diocese of Melbourne has encompassed a breadth of experience as vicar and archdeacon. I am delighted that her leadership, developed within the Diocese of Melbourne, now takes her on to this senior role in Brisbane.”

Archdeacon Taylor will be consecrated Bishop in St John’s Cathedral, Brisbane 6 April 2013.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Anglican-Orthodox relations near death, Moscow warns: The Church of England Newspaper, December 2, 2012 p 6. December 7, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Russian Orthodox, Women Priests.
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Women bishops, gay marriage, and other innovations of doctrine and discipline will end meaningful Anglican-Orthodox relations, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations (DECR) has warned.

At a 26 Nov 2012 meeting in Moscow, Ambassador Tim Barrow and second secretary James Ford met with leaders of the Russian Orthodox Church. According to the official press statement “Metropolitan Hilarion greeted the Ambassador and shared his reminiscences of his student years in Oxford and his impressions of the recent visit to London where he attended celebration of the 50th anniversary of the Sourozh diocese.”

They also discussed the situation of Christians in the Middle East and North Africa, the role the Russian Orthodox and Polish Catholic Churches had played in reconciling the “peoples of Russia and Poland” and the state of “Orthodox-Anglican relations at present” – which the Moscow Patriarchate said were at a nadir.

On 13 Nov, Hilarion wrote to the Archbishop of Canterbury-designate, Bishop Justin Welby, offering his greetings upon the Bishop of Durham’s appointment as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.  However, Hilarion said meaningful Orthodox-Anglican ecumenical dialogue had all but died, and it was the Anglicans who have killed it.

In a carefully worded letter, Hilarion stated Moscow expected Bishop Welby to discipline the liberal wing of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Welby had been “entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth.”

“Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion,” Hilarion said.

“The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole,” he wrote.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Call for an Evangelical flying bishop for England: Anglican Ink, December 5, 2012 December 5, 2012

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Conservative Evangelicals in the Church of England have asked for the appointment of one of their own to serve as a “flying bishop.

In an email sent to its members this week, Reform noted that with the vacancy for the position of bishop of Ebbsfleet, “please write to the Achrchbishops’ Appointments Secretary” to “make the case” that the next Provincial Episcopal Visitor be a “conservative Evangelical.”

Created under the 1993 Act of Synod, Provincial Episcopal Visitors (PEVs) exercise alternative Episcopal oversight for congregations unable to accept the ministry of women priests.  If the local diocesan bishop has participated in the ordination of women as priests, a parish may request that it be placed under the pastoral and sacramental care of a PEV. The parish remains within its local diocese, but the PEV exercises episcopal authority on behalf of the local bishop.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

General Synod received a vote of “no confidence” from the Diocese of Bristol: Anglican Ink, December 1, 2012 December 1, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Women Priests.
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The Rt. Rev. Mike Hill

The Rt. Rev. Mike Hill

The Synod the Diocese of Bristol has endorsed a motion of no confidence in the General Synod of the Church of England, stating the failure of Synod last month to endorse legislation opening the episcopate to women clergy frustrated the “clear will” of the church.

On 1 Dec 2012, delegates to the synod adopted a three part motion of no confidence by a vote of 51 to 3. It stated:

In the light of the recent failure of the General Synod to pass the Draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordination of Women) measure at its sessions of November 2012, despite overwhelming support for this legislation by this and other diocesan synods of the Church of England, Bristol Diocesan Synod:

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Evangelicals/Catholics lay out conditions for women bishops: Anglican Ink, November 28, 2012 November 28, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Church of England, Women Priests.
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Anglo-Catholics and Evangelicals will not block new attempts by the General Synod of the Church of England to introduced legislation permitting the consecration of women clergy to the episcopate, provided adequate safeguards are introduced to protect liberty of conscience, freedom of worship and association for the members of the Church of England opposed to the innovation.

On 28 Nov 2012 the chairman of the Catholic Group in General Synod the Rev. Canon Simon Killwick and the chairman of the conservative Evangelical group Reform the Rev. Preb. Rod Thomas released a statement  pledging their cooperation with the proposals set forth by Archbishops’ Council to reintroduce legislation on women bishops for consideration at the July meeting of General Synod.

At the close of their 27-28 meeting, the Archbishops’ Council released a statement saying that some of their members were saddened and shocked by the outcome of the women’s bishop vote.  Therefore, “the Council decided that a process to admit women to the episcopate needed to be restarted at the next meeting of the General Synod in July 2013.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Church of England rejects women bishops: Anglican Ink, November 20, 2012 November 20, 2012

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The General Synod of the Church of England has rejected legislation allowing women priest to be appointed to the episcopate.

Following 12 years of legislative progress and several hours of debate during the 20 Nov 2012 afternoon session of synod, the Consecration and Ordination of Women Measure failed to pass in all three houses of the Church of England’s legislative body.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Missile from Moscow for Justin Welby: Anglican Ink, November 13, 2012 November 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Ink, Archbishop of Canterbury, Church of England, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Russian Orthodox, Women Priests.
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Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

Meaningful Orthodox-Anglican ecumenical dialogue has all but died, the Moscow Patriarchate has told the next Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby – and it is the Anglicans who have killed it.

On 13 Nov 2012,Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk – the chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian church – wrote to Bishop Welby extending Moscow’s greetings upon his appointment as 105th Archbishop of Canterbury.

In a carefully worded letter, Hilarion stated Moscow expected Bishop Welby to discipline the liberal wing of the Anglican Communion. Bishop Welby had been “entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth.”

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Second Anglican woman bishop for Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, October 21, 2012 p 6. October 22, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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Bishop-elect Margaret Vertue

The Archbishop of Cape Town reports the Diocese of False Bay has elected Africa’s second Anglican bishop. Archbishop Thabo Makboga reports that on 3 Oct 2012 the diocesan synod elected the Rev. Canon Margaret Vertue as second bishop of the diocese in succession to the Rt. Rev. Merwyn Castle.

“In the last few months, we have had four episcopal elections, electing two women and two men,” Archbishop Makgoba wrote. “It seems the Holy Spirit is not finished with us, but is taking us further onwards into this new stage of our Church’s life. We give great thanks to God.”

Bishop-elect Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland will be the first Anglican African women bishop following her consecration on 17 Nov 2012. In recent weeks the Ven. Steve Moreo was elected Bishop of Johannesburg and the Rev Steven Letloenyane was elected Bishop of the Diocese of the Free State. They, and Canon Vertue, will be consecrated in early 2013.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

Swaziland elects first women bishop for Africa: The Church of England Newspaper, July 29, 2012 p 6 August 4, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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The Diocese of Swaziland has elected Africa’s first Anglican woman bishop.  On 18 July 2012 the Diocesan Elective Assembly meeting in Mbabane elected the Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya as fifth bishop of the diocese.

Bishop-elect Wamukoya (61) will be the first female Anglican bishop in Africa and one of only two serving women bishops among the continent’s mainline churches – in 2008 the Rt. Rev. Joaquina Nhanala was elected the Methodist bishop of Mozambique.  The first woman bishop in Africa was the Rt. Rev. Purity Malinga, a Methodist bishop in South Africa.

Educated at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland (now the University of Swaziland), the new bishop has exercised a bi-vocational ministry.  She serves as Anglican chaplain at the University of Swaziland and at St Michael’s High School in Manzini.  Bishop-elect Wamukoya is also the Town Clerk and CEO of the City Council of the town of Manzini and is a skilled and seasoned financial administrator and has also worked as a planning officer for the Government of Kenya.

Cape Town Archbishop Thabo Makgoba, who oversaw the election stated, “When it was announced that she had received the necessary votes, there was great rejoicing both that a person of undeniable skills and personal qualities had been chosen, and that it was Ellinah herself, who obviously commands considerable respect and affection across the Diocese of Swaziland.’

‘It is rather fitting that the Diocese of Swaziland should elect our first woman to be a Bishop, since it was here, 20 years ago, that, amidst both tears and joy, our Provincial Synod agreed that both the priesthood and episcopate should be open to both men and women’ the Archbishop said. ‘We have waited a long time for this moment!’

“I am humbled by the trust and confidence placed on me by the people of Swaziland, a person like me of humble beginnings” said Mrs. Wamukoya after the election. “My prayer is to be able to listen and be guided by the Holy Spirit in everything I do. My vision is to see that the people of God are restored and transformed, in order for them to be a church in mission, for, as it is said, ‘a church that does not reach out, passes out’.”

The new bishop enters the stage at a difficult moment in the political and ecclesial life of Swaziland.  The diocese had been led by vicar-general since the resignation last year of her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Meshack Mabuza.

Bishop Mabuza had been a sharp critic of King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa. King Mswati has ruled the landlocked mountain kingdom since 1986 and has been denounced by church and civil society leaders for mismanagement of the economy.  The king also has earned a public image as a profligate ruler unconcerned with his subjects’ poverty.

Last year Bishop Mabuza told the BBC “the answer [to Swaziland’s problems] really lies in regime change in terms of the traditional, feudalistic, archaic form of government,” and “has to be replaced with multi-party democratic rule.”

The Diocese of Swaziland has also been rocked by internal dissension. In 2011 Bishop Mabuza was investigated and cleared of charges that he had mismanaged money given to the diocese by its overseas partners, the Dioceses of Brechin and Iowa.

The financial misconduct charges were only part of the bishop’s worries. On the evening of 21 February 2011, traffic officers from the Lobamba police station stopped Bishop Mabuza while he was driving along the Manzini-Mbabane freeway. The Bishop failed a breathalyzer test and arrested him for driving while under the influence of alcohol.

Following his archiepiscopal visitation in January 2012, Archbishop Makoba released a pastoral letter stating that he believed the diocese was “in a healthy state in spite of all the challenges it went through. Bishop Mabuza must be congratulated and complimented for his effective leadership.”

Women clergy have stood for election as bishop in the Anglican Church of Southern Africa before, but Saturday’s election marks the first time a woman has been elected bishop since the ACSA synod voted to ordain women to all orders of ministry in 1992.

Of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, 7 do not ordain women: Central Africa, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, and Tanzania.

Two provinces ordain women to the diaconate only, Congo and the Southern Cone while 26 provinces and the extra-provincial Church of Ceylon have ordained women to the priesthood: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Central America, England, Hong Kong, North India, South India, Indian Ocean, Ireland, Japan, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, the Sudan, Uganda, Wales, West Africa, and the West Indies. Southern Africa becomes the fifth province to elect a women bishop, joining the Episcopal Church, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, and has the extra-provincial diocese of Cuba.

Africa elects first Anglican women bishop: Anglican Ink, July 19, 2012 July 19, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Southern Africa, Anglican Ink, Women Priests.
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Africa has elected its first female Anglican bishop. On 18 July 2012 an Elective Assembly meeting in Mbabane elected the Rev. Ellinah Wamukoya as fifth Bishop of the Diocese of Swaziland.

Bishop-elect Wamukoya (61) will be the first female Anglican bishop in Africa and the continent’s second serving female bishop of a mainline church – in 2008 the Rt. Rev. Joaquina Nhanala was elected the Methodist bishop of Mozambique.

Educated at the University of Botswana, Lesotho and Swaziland, the new bishop has exercised a bi-vocational ministry. She serves as Anglican chaplain at the University of Swaziland and at St Michael’s High School in Manzini. Bishop-elect Wamukoya is also the Town Clerk and CEO of the City Council of the town of Manzini and is a skilled and seasoned financial administrator.

The new bishop enters the stage at a difficult moment in the political and ecclesial life of Swaziland. Her predecessor, the Rt. Rev. Meshack Mabuza has been a sharp critic of King Mswati III, the last absolute monarch in sub-Saharan Africa. King Mswati has ruled the landlocked mountain kingdom since 1986 and has been denounced by church and civil society leaders for mismanagement of the economy. The king also has earned a public image as a profligate ruler unconcerned with his subjects’ poverty.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Women clergy and doctrine dividing the Orthodox from ACNA June 9, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Ink, Orthodox Church in America, Polish National Catholic Church, Women Priests.
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Metropolitan Jonah of the OCA addressing the ACNA Assembly in Ridgecrest, NC on 8 June 2012

The Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church in America, His Beatitude Jonah has called upon the Anglican Church of North America to ditch women clergy, Calvinism and the filioque in the name of Christian unity.

This is an “opportunity to return your church to its original catholic heritage” Jonah told delegates attending the ACNA’s 2nd Assembly at the Lifeway Conference Center in Ridgecrest, NC on 8 June 2012.

The ACNA can “overcome generations of schism, a schism forced upon the English church” by Rome if it eliminates the filioque from the Nicene Creed, the Orthodox leader said. The Filioque – the phrase “and from the Son” is a clause found in the Western Christian Church but not in the Eastern Churches.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Anglican TV Episode 42, June 2, 2012 June 2, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Anglican Church of Canada, Anglican Church of North America, Anglican Consultative Council, Anglican Covenant, Anglican.TV, Church of England, Property Litigation, Virginia, Women Priests.
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So much news so little time. In this week’s Anglican Unscripted Kevin, George, Peter, and Alan bring you the latest Anglican News. Peter brings news of a Diamond Jubilee and Women Bishops in England. Alan delivers the latest supreme court news from The Falls Church. Kevin and George talk about a cancer in the Anglican Communion and updated betting on the next Archbishop of Canterbury.

House of Bishops to take up women bishops Measure: Anglican Ink May 16, 2012 May 16, 2012

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The House of Bishops of the General Synod of the Church of England is scheduled to meet in private session next week to review the draft Bishops and Priests (Consecration and Ordinartion of Women) Measure debated by General Synod at its February 2012 session.

On May 21 and 22 the bishops will respond to the motion adopted by the February meeting of General Synod that the House of Bishops review the safeguards for those, who for theological reasons, are not able to receive the ministry of women bishops.

Read it all in Anglican Ink.

Women bishops on the agenda for Wales: The Church of England Newspaper, May 6, 2012 p 6. May 11, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church in Wales, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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The House of Bishops of the Church in Wales has rejected calls for the reintroduction of a flying bishop for its members opposed to women clergy.

In a paper given to last month’s meeting of the Governing Body of the Church in Wales, the bishops said that while they wish to “uphold the principle of respect for those, who in conscience, cannot accept that women can be ordained to holy orders,” they would not permit the creation of any legal structures to safeguard these principles.

The paper stated the bishops “do not feel able to support any scheme for the reintroduction of alternative episcopal oversight, such as the appointment of a Provincial Assistant Bishop.”

In 2008 the Governing Body rebuffed Archbishop Barry Morgan and declined to support his bid to enact legislation permitting women bishops.   At the September 2011 meeting of the Governing Body, Dr. Morgan announced that discussions on women bishops would be re-launched in 2012.  Copies of the bishops’ proposals were distributed to the members of the Governing Body and delegates broke into small groups to discuss the paper.  The results of the discussions will be compiled and distributed to the next meeting of synod.

The bishops asked the Governing Body whether it believes it is time to refight the women bishops’ battle, whether there should be safeguards for those opposed to women bishops, and if so, what form these safeguards might take.

The bishops proposed amending canon law to allow women to be ordained to the episcopate and to render the ordinal gender neutral.  Two model conscience clauses were proposed by the bishops:

(a) No member of the Church in Wales who has a conscientious objection to the ordination of women to the episcopate shall be required to receive the sacramental ministry of a woman bishop. And (b) In circumstances where a member of the Church in Wales believes that they require specific arrangements under these provisions, he or she may make application to the diocesan bishop, who shall make such reasonable arrangements necessary to enable that member to receive such sacramental ministry from a bishop whose ministry is not subject to such objection.

Or: (a) At a meeting chaired by the Archdeacon, the Parochial Church Council of a Parish in the Church in Wales may, by secret ballot of its members, resolve: (1) not to receive the sacramental ministry of its woman Diocesan Bishop or  woman Assistant Bishop; and (2) to make application to the Diocesan Bishop to receive only the sacramental ministry of a male bishop. (b) Upon receipt by the Diocesan Bishop of written confirmation of the resolution, the Bishop shall make the necessary arrangements, and notify the Archdeacon, the Incumbent and the Secretary of the Parochial Church Council in writing of the arrangements made. (c) The Parochial Church Council may at any time, and not less than every five years, by secret ballot taken at a properly convened meeting to consider whether to rescind such a resolution. (d) During any vacancy in the incumbency a further secret ballot shall be taken at a meeting of the PCC chaired by the Archdeacon.

The bishops also proposed legislation that would prohibit a bishop from refusing to sponsor for ordination, ordain or license a woman priest.

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Reporting on gays, women and the PCUSA splits: Get Religion, April 27, 2012 April 27, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Human Sexuality --- The gay issue, Presbyterian/Church of Scotland, Press criticism, Women Priests.
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Thou shakest thy head and hold’st it fear or sin
To speak a truth. If he be slain, say so;
The tongue offends not that reports his death:
And he doth sin that doth belie the dead,
Not he which says the dead is not alive.
Yet the first bringer of unwelcome news
Hath but a losing office, and his tongue
Sounds ever after as a sullen bell,
Remember’d tolling a departing friend.

The Earl of Northumberland in Henry IV part II
Act I, scene 1, lines 95-103
William Shakespeare

Blaming the teller of bad news for the bad news is as old as time. Reporters who break stories about malfeasance in churches are often attacked for airing dirty linen. I’ve been reproached by those perturbed by what they read in my stories about bad behavior in churches. My critics argue that as a Christian (which I am) and a priest (which I am) I should suppress discomforting or embarrassing news. I should take as my guide Matthew 18:15-17.

15 If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.’17 If they still refuse to listen, tell it to the church; and if they refuse to listen even to the church, treat them as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

I am not persuaded by their Biblical exegesis nor by the merits of the argument, believing that truth telling is a higher virtue than face saving. The phrase, “shooting the messenger” is a valid rejoinder to these criticisms,

The same retort can be applied to media criticism. Complaining about what something is not, rather than addressing what it is, is a form of shooting the messenger. When there is a hole in a story a reader should not assume the reporter is responsible. Some things are unknowable — try as we like, reporters are not omniscient.

A recent story in The Colorado Springs Gazette on the disaffiliation of one of the state’s largest churches from its parent denomination — the Presbyterian Church of the U.S.A. (PCUSA) — brought this problem to mind.

Let me say up front there is nothing wrong with the article on the First Presbyterian Church of Colorado Springs’ vote to leave its presbytery — it is a workman-like story that relates crisply the facts. But The Gazette story entitled “Sparked by acceptance of gay ministers, First Presbyterian bolts denomination” seemed to be missing something. This something was not the rather dumb headline. The story makes it clear that it was not only about gay ministers and the church didn’t bolt — but reporters do not write headlines and this brick forms no part of my critique.

The lede is clean and lays out the facts well:

In an historic vote Sunday morning, the largest Presbyterian church in Colorado voted overwhelmingly to leave its governing body and join a new, more conservative denomination.

An estimated 95.5 percent of the 1,769 congregants who cast ballots at First Presbyterian Church in downtown Colorado Springs voted to leave the mainstream Presbyterian Church USA in favor of the newly-created Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians.

The new denomination was created with the help of First Presbyterian’s senior pastor Jim Singleton.

The reporter’s editorial voice comes into play at this stage through her selection of quotes — and to her credit she does not play favorites. After relating the news of the vote, the author addressed the question of the minority who opposed the vote — identified as 80 out of almost 1780 members who voted. The first quote comes from a church spokesman who acknowledges that “some members may leave.

This is followed by a quote from a church spokesman stating the vote was historic. Background on the church and its decision to leave the PCUSA follows with The Gazette avoiding the mistake of portraying this as being solely a gay issue.

Sunday’s vote was the culmination of almost a year’s worth of work by church leaders who wanted to distance themselves from the Presbyterian Church USA. That organization voted in 2011 to allow openly gay ministers to be ordained, but First Presbyterian leaders say the divide is greater than just that issue – going back to a basic way that scriptures are read and interpreted.

“God has called us to respond to his call, step into something new and hold firm to our understanding of scripture,” Cindy Sparks, chair of the church’s Board of Trustees said Sunday morning.

Further detail on the vote and what happens next follow, as does a quote from a member of the minority opposed to the split, and closing quote from a member of the majority. All in all this was a very clean story.

But it was also incomplete. The pastor is quoted as saying this was historic. Well why was it historic? The story is not clear on this point. Was it historic for First Pres, for Presbyterians in Colorado, for all Presbyterians?

I was struck by the weakness of the pastor’s comments reported in the article as to why it was historic. Did the reporter not do her job? Did she not understand what was said? I think she did. The problem was that she was not given much to work with.

When I checked the church’s website and read the statement issued after the vote, I found that all the reporter had to work with were some rather anodyne comments. If you want to know why this was a “historic day”, you won’t find an answer from the church.

As an aside — What is it about Colorado Springs and conservative churches? First Presbyterian of Colorado Springs was the largest PCUSA congregation in Colorado and it quit is denomination. In 2007 Colorado’s largest Episcopal Church, Grace and St Stephen’s in Colorado Springs, quit its denomination over the same basic issues as First Presbyterian. That split ended badly for the parish and the Episcopal Diocese of Colorado — the Presbyterians appear to have avoided the path of litigation. Is there something in the air, or unique to the culture of that community that would see schisms in two mainline congregations — as well as produce inordinately large Episcopal and Presbyterian churches?

To find out why this was historic — and why this story has wider significance you need to do some research in the congregation’s website. What is the significance of the choice of First Pres’s new denomination? The article mentions that the pastor, Jim Singleton, helped form the ECO — Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians — but why did the church not join one of the existing conservative Presbyterian groups?

A letter to the congregation on the church website states that it was the issue of women ministers that led First Pres to the ECO, as the existing conservative groups were not as accepting of women clergy as was First Pres.

One of the subtexts often unreported in the stories about the mainline splits is the question of women clergy. Conservatives leaving the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America, the Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church may be at odds with their denomination’s teachings on human sexuality, and they may express this as being a division over the interpretation of Scripture, but amongst themselves they are divided over women clergy.

And this division over women clergy is driven by the interpretation of Scripture. What criteria is First Pres using to say that the PCUSA has broken with Scripture over homosexual clergy, but not over women clergy? In asking this question, I am not assuming an answer — rather seeking development of an issue. One, for example, that may well divide the nascent Anglican conservative church, the Anglican Church in North America, and is dividing First Pres and the ECO from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.

I also liked this article from The Gazette because it did not make the mistake so often made by newspapers in distilling the mainline splits into a story about opposition to gay ministers or gay marriage. That is part, but is far from the whole story. It is the back half of the story — the question of where these breakaway churches are going and why — that was missing. And, if the church can’t explain why — a reporter can’t tell her readers why.

The first bringer of unwelcome news, as Shakespeare observes, hath but a losing office. Beating up on the press for omitting part of a story is easy. But when the actors in the drama don’t say their lines — the reporter is unable to say it for them.

What say you GetReligion readers? Is this a case of the subject, not the journalist, dropping the ball? Who should be telling this story?

Province of the Southern Cone to divide: The Church of England Newspaper, March 9, 2012 p 7. March 15, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, Women Priests.
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A special meeting of the Synod of the Province of the Southern Cone has voted to begin discussions on dividing the province in two.  Meeting in Asunción, Paraguay, from 12 – 15 November 2011, the synod suggested dividing the province into an Atlantic and a Pacific half with Peru, Bolivia and two dioceses in Chile comprising one province and Argentina, Northern Argentina, Uruguay and Paraguay comprising the second.

According to a press statement released by the Bishop of Bolivia, the Rt. Rev. Frank Lyons, the decision to divide came in response to a request made by Uruguay to allow it to seek the oversight of another jurisdiction.

In September 2010, the Southern Cone synod rejected a proposal put forward by the Diocese of Uruguay to allow dioceses to have a local option to ordain women to the priesthood.  Uruguay’s diocesan synod responded the following month, endorsing a resolution asking for a transfer out of the province.

Last June the provincial standing committee agreed to advance the date of the general synod by two years, to November 2011 to review Uruguay’s request and to take up the issue of women priests again.

At the special meeting, Uruguay’s request to allow it to ordain women priests was rejected by all three houses of synod.  Bishop Lyons reported that a “second motion was entertained to allow Uruguay to seek other oversight and surprisingly, the extraordinary Synod also voted against that action.”

However, discussion on a way forward “stretched into a second day,” Bishop Lyons said, and “it was proposed to multiply the Province into two provinces.   This combined a previous desire for growth with a way forward to meet the need in Uruguay.”

The next two years will see the proposal to divide debated at the local, regional and communion level.  However, “the diocese of Uruguay still has the option to seek other jurisdiction,” the bishop said. “But the probable future of the Southern Cone briefly envisioned was of two provinces” divided between east and west.

First printed in The Church of England Newspaper.

How many women priests?: Get Religion, February 20, 2012 February 20, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Get Religion, Press criticism, Women Priests.
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The Vatican Insider section of La Stampa reports that there are now more women priests than men priests in the Church of England. This report in Italy’s largest circulation newspaper has been picked up by Catholic newspapers and blogs round the world. It has morphed into reports like that in CathNews New Zealand which states: “A first: Anglican women priests outnumber men in UK.”

The trouble is — the underlying claim is false.

However this surface error aside, the La Stampa article offers a very fine summary of the theological and historical issues at play — and reports that in the view of one Italian church historian, there were women priests and bishops in the early Catholic Church.

The La Stampa story entitled “Women outnumber men in the Anglican Church for the first time” begins:

There is a female majority for the first time in the Church of England, with more women priests joining than men. This certainly bodes well for a final “yes” vote in next July’s Synod that would allow women into the Episcopate. “Official figures show that 290 women were ordained in 2010, the most recent year for which figures are available,” says British newspaper The Telegraph. “By contrast, just 273 men entered the priesthood.”

Yes, I would say that there is a female majority among those in the pews in the Church of England — but I expect that this has been the case for several hundred years.

And yes, La Stampa accurately quotes news from the Telegraph that in 2009, 290 women were ordained as against 273 men. But the ordination of 17 more women than men in 2009 does not mean that a majority of priests are now women. The headline of the Telegraph article from 4 February 2012 could be misconstrued by someone for whom English is not their first language: “More new women priests than men for first time.”

But in the body of the article there is the statement that should remove any ambiguity:

Overall there were still more than twice as many ordained men (8,087) as women (3,535) in 2010.

In 2009 I ran a story in The Church of England Newspaper that reported that as of 2007 the number of women clergy who were incumbents — e.g., who actually were in charge of a congregation — was 15 per cent of the total number of clergy. And, in 2007 the Associated Press ran a story that reported in 2006 the Church of England added 213 women and 210 men to the priesthood. So, the claim of more women than men in total is untrue, as is the claim that 2010 was the first year that the number of female ordinands exceeded the number of male ordinands.

Putting to one side this confusion of language, the article does offer a look at this issue from a Catholic perspective. The official church position, as summarized by Giorgio Otranto, Professor of Ancient Christian History in the University of Bari is:

Thus the Magisterium returned to the traditional theories that lie behind their opposition to the ordination of women: Christ did not choose any women to join the group of 12 apostles and the entire Church tradition has remained faithful to this fact, interpreting it as the Saviour’s explicit wish for men only to receive the priestly powers of governance, teaching and sanctifying. Only man, through his natural resemblance to Christ, can embody, sacramentally, the role of Christ himself in the Eucharist.

However, Prof. Otranto noted that the historical record shows that women had been ordained in the Catholic Church.

In a letter sent in 494 to bishops of certain regions of Southern Italy … Pope Gelasius I (492-496) stated he was highly displeased to hear that the contempt towards religion was such that women were being allowed to “sacris altaribus ministrare” and that they were carrying out tasks reserved for males, which did not fall under their competence.”

In Southern Italy, women had received the Sacrament of the Order of bishops, a decision which Gelasius I had firmly condemned. … “Even outside heretical contexts, ancient Christianity seems to have sometimes elevated women to the rank of priest solely and exclusively due to certain prerogatives within the Holy Order, Otranto pointed out.

I find this fascinating. What I also find fascinating is how an unclear lede about the sexes of new Church of England priests morphed into reports about the entire Church of England priesthood. And then was used as a symbol of Church of England’s incipient collapse by some caustic commentators.

What is the moral of the story? Read past the headline? What say you?

First published in Get Religion.

Anglican Unscripted Episode 28: February 13, 2012 February 13, 2012

Posted by geoconger in Albany, AMiA, Anglican.TV, CAPA, Church of England, Church of South India, Civil Rights, Development/Economics/Govt Finances, Women Priests.
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This week Kevin and George take on the year 1662 and the missing 2500 Anglican Clergy. Also, your hosts talk about CAPA and DEPO and how they are relevant or no longer relevant today. Peter Ould covers last weeks events in the Church of England. AS Haley and Kevin discuss Obamacare and the 13th Chime of the Clock. Oh… and how many AMiA parishes are moving to PEAR or ACNA?

Women bishops and the Church of England: Get Religion, November 16, 2011 November 17, 2011

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How knowledgeable is your audience? What can a writer assume and what must be explained. One of the arts of journalism is the ability to gauge readers’ interests and abilities — to write not too much nor too little in setting the background of a story. When I write a story for the Church of England Newspaper, the Jerusalem Post or an American newspaper, I have an idea of what needs to be said and left unsaid for that particular audience.

A wire service reporter does not have that luxury. A recent Reuters story on the controversy over women bishops in the Church of England illustrates this question. In less than 400 words Reuters had to  summarize the issues and arguments and offer insights into what lies ahead. And it must do so using non-theological language that is accessible to their readers.  Sometimes it works, but in the article entitled “Church regions back women bishops,” it fell short.

The opening sentences show the problem of vocabulary:

The Church of England’s dioceses, or regions, have voted in favour of consecrating female bishops, campaigners said on Sunday, clearing one hurdle in a long legislative battle to let women break through the “stained glass ceiling.”

Only two of the Church’s 44 dioceses voted against the draft legislation, easily securing the 50 percent required for it to go back to the General Synod, or parliament, for another vote, said WATCH, a group campaigning for women bishops.

Do we really need to have explained what a diocese is? And if so, does “region” explain anything? If the audience is that ignorant should not the article explain what a “bishop” is and what connection a bishop has to a diocese? Explaining that the General Synod is the Church of England’s parliament is fine — but I feel the heavy hand of an editor at work — inserting explanations that break the flow of the story. It is so much smoother to say the “church’s parliament, the General Synod” than the circumlocution offered above.

The news reported in this article is that 42 of the Church of England’s 44 dioceses have endorsed the consecration of women priests to the episcopate. But the flow of the narrative and the informational value of the story deteriorates when Reuters attempts to summarize the arguments and predict the future.

Dioceses have been balloting their members since March this year and Sunday’s result confirmed what had largely been a foregone conclusion following the Synod’s earlier backing of the motion.

Here we have a “yes, but” problem. No, the dioceses have not been balloting  their members. No one has asked the people in the pews for their opinion. The members of the diocesan synods, who are not directly elected by the church’s members either, have been the ones voting.

The article reports that “traditionalist Anglo Catholics and conservative evangelicals have threatened to continue to oppose the draft legislation,” and notes that:

Other Anglican churches, including in the United States, Australia and Canada, already have women bishops.

But traditionalists and evangelicals continue to argue against it on biblical grounds.

The consecration of women bishops is one of the most divisive issues facing the church, alongside same sex marriages and the consecration of homosexuals.

The Church of England has been criticised for being obsessed with such issues at a time when families are struggling with economic hardship amid rising unemployment, higher prices and frozen wages as part of the British government’s attempts to rein in a record peacetime budget deficit.

The Church was seen as weak and confused when demonstrators protesting against the excesses of capitalism last month parked 200 tents outside one of the its most famous places of worship, St Paul’s Cathedral in London.

Liberals in the Church, who say it is insulting not to admit women to positions of power, argue concessions have already been made to appease opponents.

About 50 disaffected traditionalist bishops and priests in the Church of England have decided to leave the Anglican Church and take up Pope Benedict’s offer to switch to Rome.

Others have decided to stay and fight from within. They say Jesus Christ’s apostles were all men and that there is nothing in the Bible or church history to support women bishops.

They pointed to the number of dioceses who backed a following motion, or secondary motion, calling for improved provision for opponents to support their case.

This is not evenhanded. The author’s sympathies are on display by the use of “continue”: “continue to oppose”, “continue to argue” in light of the diocesan votes and the example of the U.S., Canada and Australia. (As we have to explain what a diocese is, should we not explain that by the U.S. Anglican Church Reuters means the Episcopal Church? There are a number of churches in the U.S. who use the word Anglican in their names and none have women bishops.)

Writing a story from a press release has its perils also. This appears to have been drawn from an announcement from a group that lobbies for the approval of women bishops. The article notes that women bishops may appear as early as 2014. While this may be the goal of campaigners, it is far from being a “foregone conclusion.”

For the Church of England’s General Synod to approve women bishops, each of its three houses — bishops, clergy and lay members — must approve the measure by two-thirds super majority.  The last statement in the quote above — that protections are being sought for opponents of women bishops — should be fleshed out in order for the reader to understand that this is a live political battle and that the women bishops’ measure may fail. (For those interested in a detailed discussion on this point, I would refer them to English blogger and Huffington Post contributor Peter Ould.)

The digression about the Church of England’s debates over women bishops while the poor remain with us is preaching not reporting. It confuses politics and theology. This tone deafness is sounded quiet clearly in the explanation of the positions of the two opposing camps.  Setting calls for justice and access to power against the Bible is a gross caricature of the arguments.

As the Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr. Rowan Williams — himself a supporter of women bishops — has said, the language of human rights should not be a “show stopper”.  Those in favor of women bishops make their argument out of a particular understanding of Christian Scripture and theology — as do the opponents of women bishops. To paint traditionalists as hide bound misogynists is as a mistake as calling supporters of women bishops the loonie left. Explaining the dispute in political terms misstates the issues. One might as well write that because women can’t be masons, ipso facto, they can’t become bishops of the Church of England.

Does Reuters explain too much and yet say too little? What say you GetReligion readers?

First printed in GetReligion.

What I am is what I am — Womenpriests and The Age: Get Religion, Sept 22, 2011 September 22, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Get Religion, Press criticism, Roman Catholic Church, Women Priests.
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First published in Get Religion.

A story this week in The Age, Melbourne’s major daily newspaper, leaves me puzzled. I am not sure what the paper’s religion editor, Barney Zwartz is doing in his article “Ex-nun a cardinal sinner in the mind of the church”. Read at one level, it c0uld be a silly puff piece. Yet there are hints the story could have a deeper meaning—wheels within wheels—where The Age’s editorial voice is heard by its allowing the subject to impeach herself.

It also raises the philosophical question for journalists: to what extent may a person identify themselves? What shapes reality? The social construction given by the subject of a story, or an outside arbiter—an eternal truth, natural law, the AP style book?

Take a look at The Age story. Is it a puff piece, or absurdist fable? “We report, you decide” as Fox likes to say.

The subject is the visit to Australia of one of the leaders of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests, a group that defines itself as an:

international movement .. [whose purpose is] .. to primarily spiritually prepare, ordain, and support women from all states of life, who are theologically qualified, who are committed to an inclusive model of Church, and who are called by the Holy Spirit and their communities to minister within the Roman Catholic Church.

The gist of the article is that one of its leaders, Bishop Patricia Fresen, is visiting Australia to build support for the organization in hopes of expansion down under.

The article begins with a flourish:

Patricia Fresen prefers being quietly subversive to openly confrontational, but the 70-year-old former Dominican nun is like a purple rag to a bull to the Vatican.

She says she is a Catholic woman bishop, properly ordained by a male bishop in the sacrament passed down by laying on hands from the first apostles. The official church says that by that act she ceased to be a Catholic and it has excommunicated her (banned her from the church).

Bishop Fresen – now a bishop in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests church – rejects the excommunication.

Cute. I confess I had to think for a moment before I got the color joke, (e.g., substituting purple, the color associated with a bishop, for red), but the meaning is clear, Bishop Fresen is an irritant to the Roman Catholic Church.

The language in the second sentence however begins to cloud the issues. Bishop Fresen says she is a “Catholic woman bishop”—the word “Roman” being conspicuous by its absence—while the “official church”, which one presumes is the Roman Catholic Church due to the reference to the “Vatican” in the first sentence, says ‘no she’s not’ and has excommunicated her. The bishop responds by saying she rejects this rejection and the author’s voice identifies the former Dominican nun as “now” being a bishop in the Roman Catholic Womenpriests church—note here we have the first use of the “Roman” descriptor.

Follow me so far? Former nun c0nsecrated a bishop for a dissident group/sect rejects her excommunication by the Roman Catholic Church for having participated in the consecration service.

The article continues with the information that Bishop Fresen is South African by birth, and thus may cloak herself in the mantle of Nelson Mandela and Desmond Tutu. Stirring justice quotes inserted here: “An unjust law must not be obeyed but broken.”

The bishop also adds that she is not alone in being a rebel, gathering those who use birth control, the divorced and remarried, and sexually active gays into her camp as fellow excommunicates from the Roman Catholic family.

A historical note is offered, as is a word about the church’s present size and the sort of people it has attracted:

[History] Roman Catholic WomenPriests was launched in 2002 when an anonymous Catholic bishop ordained seven women secretly on a boat on the Danube. Bishop Fresen was ordained a priest in 2003, a bishop in 2005 and excommunicated in 2007. .. [Numbers] Now the group has nearly 200 women priests in North America and Europe, .. [Members] “Nearly all are people on the fringes of the church, who want to be Catholic but are very critical of some aspects. They are forming churches with much more communitarian structures, much more accountability on the part of the leaders.”

The article closes with Bishop Fresen’s belief the Petrine system is on its last legs.

“Benedict, a German Pope, is very unpopular in Germany. He’s become a figure of fun. I think he’s bringing the papacy to a quick end, and I don’t think there will be many more popes elected this way,” she says.

The authoritarian structure based on the Pope and Vatican bureaucracy is collapsing, she says, and soon the Bishop of Rome will be just another Italian bishop. But the church will survive, and she will be a part. ”I am still a Roman Catholic, very much on the edges. They don’t want me, but I’m not going. As [theologian] Hans Kung says, ‘Less Pope, more Jesus.’ “

That’s the story. Read on one level, it comes across a being more of a press release on behalf of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement than a news story. Bishop Fresen speaks, but no voice from the “official” Roman Catholic Church is heard to give these claims context.

Why can women not be priests in the Roman Catholic Church? What does it mean to be excommunicated? Is the bishop an irritant to the Roman Catholic Church, or is she even on its radar? No answers here to these questions.

The statement that a Catholic bishop consecrated the first Womenpriests needs to be expanded. Yes, a Catholic bishop did consecrate seven women priests on Aug 5, 2002 at a ceremony held on a Danube steamer. The catholic bishop in question, Rómulo Antonio Braschi, is a bishop of the Charismatic Catholic Church of Christ the King in Argentina.

All Roman Catholics are Catholics but not all Catholics are Roman Catholics. Old Catholics, Anglo-Catholics, the Chinese Patriotic Catholic Association, and host of other groups lay claim to the moniker ‘catholic’. You can even listen to Dr. J. Vernon McGee, the noted Presbyterian preacher and popular radio Bible teacher, preach on this point in his sermon: “You are a Catholic priest”.

A superficial reading shows it to be an incomplete, rather one-sided mess. But could there not be more to it than this? Perhaps The Age is giving the bishop a pulpit and thereby allowing her to impeach herself. No contradictory voice is needed because the subject’s views are so extraordinary.

Support for this view could be derived from the structure of the article. In the closing paragraphs Bishop Fresen makes her strongest statement about Benedict being a “figure of fun” and the imminent collapse of the Petrine system that will leave the pope as “just another Italian bishop.”

This is great stuff for a reporter, yet it is buried in the closing paragraphs. The Age starts out with who she is and ends with what she believes, when what she believes is more newsworthy. Could it be the story is setting is subject up for a fall by closing in this manner? Or is The Age content to let Bishop Fresen craft her own identity?

As thinkers from John Locke to Margaret Mead and today’s many “social constructionists” like to say, people are simply whatever they are conditioned to be. Bishop Fresen believes the church’s construct of gender being determinative as to ordination violates the deeper meaning of Scripture.

The Roman Catholic Church takes the opposite view, believing it is not possible for women to be priests because Christ himself chose no women to serve among the Apostles. It lacks the authority to contravene Christ’s example. Its precise position is that articulated by John Paul II in 1992: “the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women.”

How then should a journalist approach these competing claims? “I am what I say I am” vs. “You are what you are.”

Anglican Unscripted, Sept 17, 2011 September 19, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Anglican.TV, Archbishop of Canterbury, Property Litigation, The Episcopal Church, Women Priests.
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Is the Archbishop of Canterbury preparing to move onto something else… perhaps move back into academia? In Episode 10, Kevin and Peter Ould discuss the rumors and facts surrounding this significant story from Lambeth. Today in history is another “where were you moments” in the Episcopal Church and Anglican Unscripted Hosts Kevin and George discuss September 16th, 1976 with the vote to permit women clergy and bishops in the Episcopal Church. They also hold Pat Robertson accountable on his marriage and Alzheimer’s proclamation. Allan Haley brings new revelations from his Investigative reporting on the Episcopal Church borrowing against money it already has… Yeah — you are going to have to watch to understand. Please email your questions and comments to AnglicanUnscripted@gmail.com and visit us at http://Anglican.tv

Cardinal backtracks on women priests: The Church of England Newspaper, July 15, 2011 p 8. July 19, 2011

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Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo, the Patriach of Lisbon

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Patriarch of Lisbon has backtracked on his statement that there are no theological reasons why women cannot be priests.

In a letter to the Zenit News Agency Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo stated he had perhaps not been as clear as he would have liked and had not meant to suggest that Pope John Paul II’s statement that women would never be priests was up for negotiation.

In an interview last month with OA, the monthly magazine of the Portuguese Order of Attorneys, Cardinal Policarpo said there could be women priests “when God wills,” however, it was better “not to raise the issue.”

He added: “I think that there is no fundamental obstacle” to women priests. “It is a fundamental equality of all members of the Church. The problem is a strong tradition that comes from Jesus and the ease with which the Reformed Churches have granted priesthood to women.”

The Cardinal’s comments caused a stir in Catholic circles as John Paul II in his 1994 Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis said the Roman Catholic Church would never ordain women to the priesthood. The following year the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith held Ordinatio Sacerdotalis had been “set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium,” and “must always be kept, everywhere and by all the faithful, because it belongs to the deposit of faith.”

In his letter to Zenit, Cardinal Policarpo said he had since come to “consider the issue more carefully.”

He acknowledged he had not taken into consideration Ordinatio Sacerdotalis in his thinking. John Paul’s Apostolic Letter was not only a “practical way to proceed” but was “an expression of the mystery of the Church, which we must accept in faith,” the Cardinal wrote.

“The fact that there are no women among these cooperators and successors [of the apostles] does not mean a minimization of women,” the Cardinal explained, for in the early church “it is known that there was harmony between the apostolic priesthood granted to men, and the importance and dignity of women in the Church.”

The push for women priests was partly a result of the “loss of awareness” of the “dignity of the priesthood, thereby reducing the priestly expression to ordained priesthood,” the Cardinal explained.

Others had been misled to believe the “ministerial priesthood” was a “right and power, without perceiving that no man or woman can claim this right, by accepting the Church’s call to this service, which includes the gift of one’s life.”

“We are therefore asked to observe the teachings of the Holy Father, in the humility of our faith,” Cardinal Policarpo wrote, “to continue to deepen the relationship of the ministerial priesthood with the priestly quality of all the People of God and discover a female way of building the Church, in the critical mission of our sisters, the women.”

No theological obstacles to women priests says cardinal: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2011 p 6. July 1, 2011

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Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo of Lisbon

There are no theological reasons why women cannot be priests, the Patriarch of Lisbon said last week, however the time for such a change in church tradition is not right.

In an interview with OA, the monthly magazine of the Portuguese Order of Attorneys, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in Portugal, Cardinal Jose da Cruz Policarpo said there could be women priests “when God wills,” however, it was better “not to raise the issue.”

Cardinal Policarpo stated: “I think that there is no fundamental obstacle” to women priests. “It is a fundamental equality of all members of the Church. The problem is a strong tradition that comes from Jesus and the ease with which the Reformed Churches have granted priesthood to women.”

He noted that Pope “John Paul II at one point seemed to settle the matter” with his Apostolic Letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis. Written in 1994 after the Church of England opened the priesthood to women, the Pope stated the Roman Catholic Church would never do so.

Cardinal  Policarpo explained the question of women priests could not be “resolved like this. Theologically there is no fundamental obstacle, let’s just say that there’s this tradition: it has never been done otherwise.”

The 75-year-old Cardinal’s comments are likely to spark controversy in Catholic circles as they appear to contradict formal Church teaching. Criticized by some for his refusal to automatically excommunicate Catholic politicians who voted to legalize abortion in Portugal, in its 11 April, 2005 preview of the election of a new Pope, the Guardian said he was “a dark-horse candidate for pope, capable of bridging the divide between the Europeans and the Latin American Roman Catholic cardinals.”

In 1995 the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, then headed by Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger, held Ordinatio Sacerdotalis had been “set forth infallibly by the ordinary and universal Magisterium,” and “must always be kept, everywhere and by all the faithful, because it belongs to the deposit of faith.”

No going back on women priests in Bermuda: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2011 p 8. July 1, 2011

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Bishop Patrick White of Bermuda

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Bermuda has dismissed suggestions his diocese was rethinking its 2009 decision to permit women priests.

Bishop Patrick White told The Church of England Newspaper that speculation over the postponement of the ordination of the island’s first woman deacon was misplaced. Neither the diocese nor I have “changed our minds about women’s ordination. It is in this case about a decision not to ordain this particular woman,” he said.

Elected in 2008, Bishop White had promised to end the ban on women priests in the diocese.  Shortly after his election, he told the diocese: “It’s important to extend the ministry to women to have them ordained,” adding that it’s a “priority for me and I hope for other people in the church as well. It is a decision that we will work on together.”

On June 22 the Bermuda Sun reported the ordination of the island’s first woman deacon had been postponed.  The decision not to ordain Jennifer Hodgkins (68) who trained at St John’s College, Nottingham prompted speculation that the diocese had second thoughts about what the Sun described as the ‘bitter’ battle over allowing women priests.

However, Dr. White said the issues revolved around a particular candidate for holy orders, not over women priests in general.  “To say anything more would be insensitive to her,” he said.

The bishop also questioned the Sun’s characterization of conservative clergy as “bitterly opposed to our decision to go ahead with the ordination of women. I work and worship with these men on a regular basis. If they are bitter they are hiding it well,” he noted.

First female dean for Wales: The Church of England Newspaper, July 1, 2011 p 6. July 1, 2011

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Dr. Sue Jones of Bangor

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church in Wales has appointed its first female dean.

The Bishop of Bangor has appointed Dr Sue Jones, the Residentiary Canon Missioner of the diocese, to be the 56th dean of the cathedral.  She will take up her appointment on August 1st.

Born in South Wales, Dr. Jones worked for the Midland Bank before entering the ministry after training at Ripon College Cuddesdon, and was ordained to the deaconate in 1995.  She was one of the first women priests in the Church in Wales when she was ordained in 1997 in Brecon.

She has served as Chaplain at Swansea University, Director of Studies at St Michael’s college in Llandaff, vicar of St Peter’s Church in Penrhosgarnedd as well as being the Area Dean for Ogwen and Canon of Bangor Cathedral.

Dr. Jones thanked Bishop Andrew John for her appointment and stated, “The Diocese of Bangor is in good heart. It is committed to being a Learning Church through the Exploring Faith Programme and nurturing committed and articulate disciples and fostering vocations for lay and ordained ministries. The Diocese of Bangor is the place to be.”

“St Deiniol brought the Christian faith to Bangor in 525 and his Cathedral Church has been a continuous place of prayer, praise and study ever since,” the new dean said, adding she looked forward to “standing in St Deiniol’s shoes” and to “continuing his commitment in shaping the cathedral as a powerful witness to Christ nurtured within the distinctive and special culture and language of Wales.”

Windward Islands diocese ordains first women deacon: The Church of England Newspaper, June 17, 2011 p 9. June 19, 2011

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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Diocese of the Windward Islands in the West Indies has ordained its first women deacon.

On June 11, Eleanor Glasgow, Director of Lay Ministries of the Anglican Church in Grenada, was ordained to the diaconate at the St George Cathedral Church in St Vincent and the Grenadines.

The 1997 Eames Monitoring Group report on the status of women clergy in the Anglican Communion, reported that while the Church of the Province of the West Indies had authorized women deacons and priests, two dioceses: Guyana and the Windward Island rejected the innovation.

In 2000 the Windward Island diocesan synod gave its assent to the ordination of women, but no female clergy were ordained until this past weekend.  The traditionally Anglo-Catholic Diocese of the Windward Islands is comprised of the islands of St. Lucia, Grenada and St Vincent and the Grenadines.  Guyana remains the sole West Indian diocese that does not permit women clergy.

Speaking to the Nation newspaper of Barbados, Deacon Glasgow stated “that by my answering the call and being accepted as a woman, that the door is now open for other women who believe they are so called to come forward,”

“Why should a woman be denied if she has been called?”, the new deacon asked.

First women priest ordained in the Middle East: The Church of England Newspaper, June 10, 2011 p 7. June 13, 2011

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The Rev. Catherine Dawkins, Bishop Michael Lewis, and the Rev. Nigel Dawkins at the June 5 ordination of Mrs. Dawkins to the priesthood at St. Christopher's Cathedral in Bahrain

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The first woman priest of the Episcopal Church in Jerusalem and the Middle East was ordained this week at St Christopher’s Cathedral in Bahrain.

On June 5, the Bishop of Cyprus and the Gulf, the Rt. Rev. Michael Lewis ordained the Rev. Catherine Mary Dawkins to the priesthood.  On January 15, 2010 Mrs. Dawkins was ordained a deacon by Bishop Lewis and she served her cure as deacon and assistant chaplain at Christ Church, Aden, with her husband, the Rev. Nigel Dawkins—chaplain at Aden.

At a meeting of the province’s house of bishops late last year, the bishops agreed to allow each diocese the local option of ordaining women priests.  Jerusalem, Iran and Egypt do not permit women priests, while Cyprus and the Gulf had given permission to officiate to women priests ordained outside of the diocese.

Mrs. Dawkins met her husband while she was training for the ministry in England, and came out to Aden two years ago after her marriage.  Last month the Dawkins accepted new posts in Dubai: the Rev Nigel will serve as senior chaplain at the Mission to Seafarers, while the Rev. Catherine will take up the post of chaplain at Christ Church in Jebel Ali.

The Dean of St. Christopher’s Cathedral, the Very Rev. Christopher Butt told the Gulf Daily News Mrs. Dawkins’ ordination held a special significance for the church in Bahrain.

“We are privileged to host this big occasion, not because it is just a Bahraini event but it holds significance for the whole of the region and this diocese, and it is a joy to be involved in this process,” Dean Butt said.

“It is a sign of recognition in the wider church that women have a final role in the ministry of the church and not a secondary. It is also recognition of the gifts and special insights that women bring into the ministry in a powerful way,” the dean said.

Middle East approves women priests: The Church of England Newspaper, Feb 25, 2011 p 7. February 28, 2011

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Bishop Michael Lewis

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Province of Jerusalem and the Middle East has authorized a local option for women priests.

On Feb 7 the Bishop in Cyprus and the Gulf, the Rt. Rev. Michael Lewis, told a meeting of his diocesan synod in Larnaca the province had approved his request to ordain women priests for the diocese.

On Jan 15, 2010 Bishop Lewis ordained Catherine Mary Dawkins to the diaconate at Christ Church, Aden, to serve as deacon and assistant chaplain with her husband the Rev. Nigel Dawkins.  The decision to approve a local option for women priests will now allow Bishop Lewis to ordain her to the priesthood in June.  While Cyprus and the Gulf had given permission to officiate to women priests ordained outside of the diocese, provincial canons have forbidden their ordination.

“This is something that Synod has wanted to see for some time, and I am delighted to announce this new opportunity,” Bishop Lewis said. “The diocese is currently advertising for a chaplain for south east Cyprus, and it will be good to be able to invite applications from a full range of candidates.”

The decision will not affect the Dioceses in Iran, Jerusalem and Egypt, which do not ordain women to the priesthood.

Of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, 7 do not ordain women: Central Africa, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, and Tanzania.

Two provinces ordain women to the diaconate only, Congo and the Southern Cone while 26 provinces and the extra-provincial Church of Ceylon ordain women to the priesthood: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Central America, England, Hong Kong, North India, South India, Indian Ocean, Ireland, Japan, Jerusalem & the Middle East, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, Southern Africa, the Sudan, Uganda, Wales, West Africa, and the West Indies. Four provinces have consecrated women bishops: the Episcopal Church, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as has the extra-provincial diocese of Cuba.

No plans to ground the flying bishops, Parliament assured: The Church of England Newspaper, Jan 28 2011 p 4. January 29, 2011

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Women Priests.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of England will keep faith with traditionalists opposed to the consecration of women bishops, Parliament was assured last week—until the Act of Synod providing for provincial episcopal visitors (PEV) is rescinded.

On Jan 18, the member for Kingston upon Hull, Diana Johnson (Lab.) asked the Second Church Estates Commissioner, Mr. Tony Baldry, “what assessment the Church of England” had made of the “likely requirement for provincial episcopal visitors” should legislation be adopted “enabling the consecration of  women bishops?”

Mr. Baldry stated the question was premature.  The PEV scheme operated “under the terms of the Act of Synod, which will be rescinded if the draft legislation to enable women to become bishops is approved and brought into force.”

However, “it will on any basis be at least two more years before that stage is reached and there remain important questions about how suitable episcopal oversight will be provided under the new legislation and associated code of practice for those with theological difficulties over the ordination of women,” Mr. Baldry said.

Ms. Johnson responded that given the current climate of “cutting costs and removing superfluous posts” was not sensible that any “new flying bishops be grounded now?”

This would not do, responded Mr. Baldry.  The PEVs were “there under the Act of Synod. Under the Act of Synod, the archbishop is expected to take steps to secure the appointment of up to two additional suffragans” to act as PEVs.

“Even if the Synod gives final approval to the draft legislation, the Act of Synod will remain in place for some time to come. We must keep faith with all sorts of different groups in the Church of England until there is a final decision on women bishops within the Church,” the Second Church Estates Commissioner said.

Bishop of Chile tapped to lead Southern Cone: The Church of England Newspaper, Nov 12, 2010 p 7. November 18, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, La Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur de America, Women Priests.
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First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Bishop of Chile has been elected Presiding Bishop of la Iglesia Anglicana del Cono Sur (the Anglican Church of the Southern Cone).  Bishop Hector “Tito” Zavala of Chile will succeed Bishop Gregory Venables of Argentina as primate of the Anglican Church in Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay.

Bishop Venables, who remains in office as Bishop of Argentina and acting Bishop of Northern Argentina, told The Church of England Newspaper the province’s Oct 29-Nov 1 House of Bishops meeting and its Nov 2-5 10th provincial meeting of synod held in Buenos Aires was “extremely satisfying” and was marked by a “real commitment to unity and mission.”

Bishop Zavala was unanimously chosen to serve a three year, renewable term as primate and will be the church’s first leader of South American descent.  The synod also extended Bishop Venables a formal note of thanks for his nine years of service as primate and endorsed his work on the international Anglican stage.

The new primate is expected to continue the work of his predecessor on the pan-Anglican scene.  The Diocese of Chile has a companion relationship with the Diocese of Pittsburgh and has given its full support to Archbishop Robert Duncan and the Anglican Church in North America.

In other business, the synod rejected a proposed revision to the provincial canons that would have permitted the ordination of women to the priesthood.  The proposed amendment would have give dioceses a “local option” for women priests.  While the proposal was adopted in the episcopal and lay order, it failed in the clerical order and was defeated.

Of the 38 Provinces of the Anglican Communion, 8 do not ordain women: Central Africa, Jerusalem and the Middle East, Melanesia, Myanmar, Nigeria, Papua New Guinea, South East Asia, and Tanzania.

Two provinces ordain women to the diaconate only, Congo and the Southern Cone while 25 provinces and the extra-provincial Church of Ceylon ordain women to the priesthood: Bangladesh, Brazil, Burundi, Central America, England, Hong Kong, North India, South India, Indian Ocean, Ireland, Japan, Kenya, Korea, Mexico, Pakistan, Philippines, Rwanda, Scotland, Southern Africa, the Sudan, Uganda, Wales, West Africa, and the West Indies. Four provinces have consecrated women bishops: the Episcopal Church, Canada, Australia and New Zealand, as has the extra-provincial diocese of Cuba.

Moscow warns Church of England not to consecrate gay or women bishops: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 17, 2010 p 5. September 22, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Russian Orthodox, Women Priests.
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Metropolitan Hilarion

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Archbishop of Canterbury’s decision to exclude members of the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada from the Anglican-Orthodox dialogue commission is too little and comes too late to save one hundred years of dialogue between the two churches.

In an address given at Lambeth Palace on Sept 9, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk, the chairman of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, denounced the introduction of gay bishops and blessings by North American Anglicans, and warned that if the Church of England went ahead with women bishops, it would end any hope of the Orthodox recognizing the validity of Anglican orders.

While Metropolitan Hilarion’s comments to the annual Nicean Club dinner were not new, his remarks did come as a robust vote of no confidence in Dr. Rowan Williams’ handling of the Anglican crisis.  The Russian leader also dismissed out of hand claims there would not be major ecumenical consequences if the Church of England consecrated women bishops.

During a July 28, 2008 meeting at the Lambeth Conference, Hilarion told Dr. Williams the Russian Orthodox Church believed a “code of practice” was insufficient to protect opponents of women bishops within the Church of England.  The consecration of women bishops would be an “additional obstacle” to Orthodox-Anglican dialogue, Hilarion said, adding that such a move would exclude “even the theoretical possibility of the Orthodox churches acknowledging the apostolic succession” of Anglican bishops.

In his Nicean Club address, Hilarion returned to the same theme.  He recounted the history of Anglican-Orthodox dialogue, but noted that in recent years the Christian world had fragmented.

“Nowadays it is increasingly difficult to speak of ‘Christianity’ as a unified scale of spiritual and moral values, universally adopted by all Christians. It is more appropriate, rather, to speak of ‘Christianities’, that is, different versions of Christianity espoused by diverse communities,” he said.

Current Christian divisions were not primarily denominational, he said, as the “abyss that exist today divides not so much the Orthodox from the Catholics or the Catholics from the Protestants as it does the ‘traditionalists’ from the ‘liberals’.”

The Anglican Communion had split along these lines, while the “Orthodox-Anglican Dialogue itself has come under threat.”

While the Orthodox Churches “appreciate the proposal Archbishop Rowan Williams made this year to exclude from the dialogue those Anglican churches which failed to observe the moratorium on the ordination of open homosexuals,” this “proposal” was not “quite sufficient to save the dialogue from an approaching collapse. The dialogue is doomed to closure if the unrestrained liberalization of Christian values continues in many communities of the Anglican world.”

Relations between the Russian and English Churches were no better, Hilarion said.  The Russian view was that women priests had “taken Anglicanism farther away from the Orthodox Church and contributed to further division in Christendom as a whole,” he said.

Women bishops would deepen the divide.  “I can say with certainty that the introduction of the female episcopate excludes even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the apostolic continuity of the Anglican hierarchy,” he said.

The Russian Orthodox Church had suspended all relations with those “churches and communities that trample on the principles of Christian ethics and traditional morals,” he said, citing the 2003 break with the Episcopal Church and 2005 break with the Church of Sweden.

The Russian Orthodox Church would “not remain silent and look with indifference at a world that is gradually deteriorating,” Hilarion said.  However, the Orthodox had not given up on the Anglicans, he said, even though “many of our Anglican brothers and sisters betray our common witness by departing from traditional Christian values and replacing them by contemporary secular standards.”

“I very much hope that the official position of the Anglican Church on theological, ecclesiological and moral issues will be in tune with the tradition of the Ancient Undivided Church and that the Anglican leadership will not surrender to the pressure coming from liberals,” the Russian church leader said.

Finland consecrates first woman bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 17, 2010 p 8. September 20, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Finland, Women Priests.
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Bishop Irja Askola of Helsinki

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of Finland has consecrated its first female bishop.  On Sept 12 the Rt. Rev. Irja Askola was consecrated Bishop of Helsinki for the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Finland.

A member of the Porvoo Group of churches in Communion with the Church of England, Finland now joins Norway, Sweden and Denmark in appointing women bishops.  Women bishops from Sweden, Denmark and Germany were among those laying hands on the new bishop.  The former Bishop of Limerick the Rt. Rev. Edward Darling served as a co-consecrator and the Dean of Leicester, the Very Rev Vivienne Faull, and the suffragan Bishop of Gibraltar in Europe, the Rt. Rev. David Hamid, represented the Church of England.

The consecration of Bishop Askola has come at the price of soured ecumenical relations in Finland, however.  In June, the head of the Orthodox Church of Finland said the consecration of a woman bishop would drive Lutherans and the Orthodox father apart.  In an interview with Kotimaa the leader of Finland’s Catholics, Bishop Teemu Sippo, said that while he would work with the new Lutheran bishop, her consecration would drive the two churches farther apart.

The chairman of the Pentecostal Church of Finland, Vesa Pylvänäinen, said his group was concerned over her theological views.  Her support for same-sex blessings would likely push traditionalists out of the Lutheran Church.  “I am quite sure that this will happen,” Pastor Pylvänen told the Helsingen Sanomat.

In her address to the congregation, Bishop Askola said, “people have a longing for trust. If we do not know how to speak with each other, even with those who have different opinions, backgrounds or lifestyles, we are on the way to destruction. Disagreement does not destroy us.”

The new bishop added that people need to hear that someone shows unconditional mercy toward them, the Helsingen Sanomat reported.

The consecration of the new bishop follows close upon the dismissal of traditionalist Bishop Matti Väisänen.  On Aug 11, the Diocese of Tampere removed Bishop Väisänen from the ranks of its ministers after he was consecrated by traditionalist Lutheran bishops from Sweden and Africa to serve members of the state church who are unable to accept the oversight of a woman bishop.

In 2006 the Finnish Bishops’ Conference ruled that male priests may not refuse to work with women priests, and stated that those who rejected the validity of women’s orders would not be appointed as parish vicars.  The church has also refused to ordain clergy opposed to women priests.

Church of Finland deposes traditionalist bishop: The Church of England Newspaper, Sept 3, 2010 p 6. September 8, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England Newspaper, Church of Finland, Women Priests.
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Bishop Matti Väisänen

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

The Church of Finland has defrocked the leader of the church’s traditionalist movement, the Luther Foundation, saying that by accepting consecration at the hands of foreign Swedish and African Lutheran bishops, Bishop Matti Väisänen had violated his ordination vows to the state church.

On Aug 11, the Diocese of Tampere removed Bishop Väisänen from the ranks of its ministers.  Spokesman Leevi Häikiö told STT television the diocese had no choice in the matter.

“Defrocking Väisänen will influence how his actions and the religious ceremonies he administers will be evaluated. In our eyes Väisänen is now a layman,” Mr. Häikiö said.

Formed in 1999, the Luther Foundation began as a confessional movement within the state church for those opposed to the ordination of women.  In 2006 the Finnish Bishops’ Conference ruled that male priests may not refuse to work with women priests, and stated that those who rejected the validity of women’s orders would not be appointed as parish vicars.  The church has also refused to ordain clergy opposed to women priests.

In 2007 a state court fined the Rev. Ari Norro 20-days pay for refusing to con-celebrate the Eucharist with a woman priest.  The Hyvinkää District Court held that religious convictions cannot trump the state’s sexual discrimination laws, and that by agreeing to serve in the ministry of the state church, a clergyman forfeited his rights of conscience.

The church’s purge of traditionalists has led to the formation of 17 congregations that operate within the tradition of the Evangelical-Lutheran Church of Finland, but are self-governing and financially independent.  In March, the leaders of the Church of Sweden’s traditionalist movement, the Mission Province, consecrated Bishop Väisänen to provide episcopal oversight to the ‘free diocese’ in Finland and to ordain new clergy for the movement.

On Aug 12, Bishop Väisänen released a statement saying the state church’s action would have no bearing on his ministry, and that the failure of the state church to be faithful to its confessional standards had led to this situation.

“Because shepherds who bind themselves to the apostolic view on the office of the ministry are no longer being ordained in our church, I have received the office of bishop. The justification for this ecclesial emergency right is based on the Holy Bible and the Lutheran confessions. It is not an offence against the ordination oath but in the most profound sense precisely acting in accordance with the duties of that oath,” he said.

While the Luther Foundation has not yet broken with the Church of Finland, the issue may be put to the test in October, when Bishop Väisänen is scheduled to ordain four graduates of the Theological Faculty of the University of Helsinki.  Bishop Matti Repo of Tampere told the Finnish press that if Bishop Väisänen starts ordaining ministers, it will be an indication that the Luther Foundation considers itself a church unto itself. “Real bishops guide the Church to unity, not disunity,” he said.

Catholic Church saddened by General Synod’s vote on women bishops: The Church of England Newspaper, August 6, 2010 p 6. August 10, 2010

Posted by geoconger in Church of England, Church of England Newspaper, Roman Catholic Church, Women Priests.
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Bishop Brian Farrell of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity

First published in The Church of England Newspaper.

Last month’s vote by General Synod on the consecration of women bishops is a departure from the apostolic tradition of the catholic church, the secretary of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity said.  However, Bishop Brian Farrell declared the Roman Catholic Church and the Anglican Communion continued to have a duty to engage in ecumenical dialogue.

In an interview with the ZENIT news service, Bishop Farrell said would women bishops would present an “enormous obstacle” to Anglican-Catholic talks.  “All the Churches of the first millennium, Catholic, Eastern and Orthodox, state that only men can be ordained. These Churches see the ordination of women as an illegitimate abandonment of authentic Tradition.”

However, the addition of women to the episcopacy in the Anglican Churches of Canada, New Zealand, the United States and Cuba had not ended ecumenical dialogue in those countries he noted.  Any future dialogue with Anglicans “must take account of this situation, and recognize that an enormous obstacle has been created for attaining the objective of the dialogue itself, which would be total and visible ecclesial communion. The Catholic-Anglican dialogue will continue within these parameters,” Bishop Farrell said.

He added that the attempted compromise brokered by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to keep traditionalists on board, was inherently unworkable.  If General Synod had accepted the archbishops’ proposal “one would be faced with a situation in which, for example, a parish or a group could reject the authority of a woman diocesan bishop and place itself under the authority of another male bishop. Thus, that parish would not be in communion with the other parishes of its diocese. In a certain way it would be a structural schism, even if it isn’t called that.”

The Church of England’s determination to go forward with women bishops “saddens us” Bishop Farrell said as “on this point the Anglican Communion has left what we consider the essential Tradition of the Church since its beginning.”

However this “process began a long time ago,” he said, adding that the Catholic Church “will continue the ecumenical dialogue with a realism that accepts things as they are and is aware that the road ahead is long and arduous. Knowing, however, that dialogue is a task imposed by Christ himself and sustained by the grace of the Holy Spirit, soul of the Church of Christ.”

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