Sunday, June 20, 2010

A bitter fight looms in the Church of England over female bishops

The Archbishops of Canterbury and York are to make a dramatic intervention in the long-running row over women bishops this week by demanding that opponents of female clergy are not driven out of the Church.

Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu are so concerned thousands of traditionalist churchgoers will quit when women become bishops that they are to risk the wrath of liberals by calling for major reforms in Church legislation.

Sources said their statement will spell out a legal formula that will give traditionalist clergy and parishes the right to reject the authority of a woman bishop.

The intervention comes before a critical, 15-hour debate at the General Synod in York next month, which insiders are predicting could become a ‘bloodbath’.

Traditionalists, who do not accept that women can be priests or bishops, have been calling for the creation of a ‘his and hers’ Church, in which they cannot be forced to serve under a woman bishop.

Liberals say, however, this would unacceptably diminish the status of women bishops because there would be parts of the Church over which they would have no sway.

So far the Synod has only agreed to give traditionalists minimal protection in the form of a code of conduct.

The Archbishops want the Church legislation radically amended so that opponents are fully protected in law. They are, however, running the risk that the liberal-dominated Synod, which is made up of nearly 500 bishops, clergy and lay people, will reject the proposals, leaving their authority in tatters.

An insider said: ‘This is a huge moment for the Church. It will determine the shape of things to come. The Archbishops are putting their integrity on the line, but are passionate about keeping the Church together.’

However, a leading supporter of female clergy said: ‘There is a good chance the Synod will reject the Archbishops.’
Hat Tip: Dr. Tighe


Alice C. Linsley said...

If they really wanted to hold Anglicanism together, they should have spoken against the innovations of women priests and non-celibate homosexual clergy. This is closing the barn door after the cows have escaped.

The Archer of the Forest said...

This is indeed going to be a blood bath one way or the other. Alice Linsley is right. Anglicanism puttered around with innovations for so long without any consequences for groups that were clearly out of bounds that innovation is now seen as both necessary (See: Spong, Bishop, "The Church must Change or Die.") and a fundamental right or entitlement (See: "Church must be Relevant to Modern Culture" debate).

General Synod has signaled for a while now that Anglo-catholics are not welcome, and that the "Act of Synod," which promised that Anglo-catholics would never have to violate their consciences when Women's Ordination hit the fan in the early 90's, will be revoked even though the original language of the Act was irrevocable.

Liberals see Women Bishops as a right, flowing from ordination, and now know they have complete majoring in General Synod, so there is no need to even bother throwing the traditionalists any sort of bone. That whole "Code of Conduct" thing is a farce, as no one is bound to follow it if they don't want to, and there is no penalty for violating it even if they did sign on to it.

I think the current Archbishop of Canterbury is weakened after years of fiddling while Canterbury burned. The liberals in General Synod are smelling blood and know that the Archbishop can't or won't do anything to deal with them if they blow off his pleas.

With Rome offering an ordinariate to disaffected Anglo-catholics, several parishes and clergy will be out the door. I know several C of E clergy who have already gone over to Rome. And the sad thing is, General Synod will be more than happy to see them all go, as they can have there little liberal mad hatter's tea party all to themselves.