Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Women Bishops and the Catholic Remnant

Yesterday, the Sydney Morning Herald ran this story on the controversial subject of women bishops:

Women bishops want male authority
Andrew West

WOMEN bishops must enjoy the same authority as their male counterparts if they are placed in charge of an Anglican diocese, say two pioneering Australian churchwomen.

Barbara Darling, who was consecrated Assistant Bishop of Melbourne this year, said she opposed any plan that would diminish traditional authority of bishops over their dioceses.

In an attempt to heal the rift within the worldwide Anglican communion over women bishops, the Church of England has proposed a compromise that would permit its two most senior clerics, the archbishops of Canterbury and York, to appoint men as "complementary bishops" to care for parishes that do not accept women in the ministry.

The proposal, released on Monday in London, deals only with the English church but is similar to an agreement reached by Australian bishops at a conference in Newcastle in April. It allowed for "alternative episcopal oversight" for parishes that refused to accept the authority of a female bishop.

Bishop Darling supports alternative oversight but said that a complementary - or "flying" - bishop should act only with the consent of the diocesan bishop. "Women as bishops must have the same authority as men as bishops," she told the Herald. "We need to acknowledge that some people, in good conscience, cannot accept women bishops.

"But we cannot have a situation where a man, appointed as a complementary bishop, can simply come in and override the authority of the woman."

She said a "substantial majority" in a parish, "not simply one or two people", would have to request the alternative oversight of a male.

Fourteen of the 38 Anglican provinces in the worldwide communion have approved women bishops, although only four major provinces - the United States, Canada, New Zealand and, most recently, Australia - have consecrated women to episcopal office.

Kay Goldsworthy, who was ordained in Perth in April as Australia's first female bishop, said she supported measures to maintain the unity of the Anglican communion but she feared that the opponents of female bishops would not accept compromise.

"It is only my opinion but I think some people who are opposed to us will never be appeased even when you bend over backwards for them," she said. "They will never accept that God is calling women to leadership in the church."

Here is the Response by the National Council of Forward in Faith Australia Inc:

The Council of Forward in Faith Australia Inc takes great exception to Bishop Kay Goldsworthy's statement reported in the Sydney Morning Herald that those who oppose the ordination of women "will never accept that God is calling women to leadership in the church".

This denigrates the great women in the past as well as the present who are leaders in the Church. In her attempt to make this an argument about leadership she is once again diverting attention from the main issue. We in Forward in Faith do not object to women in leadership roles. We do not doubt that Bishop Goldsworthy has lawfully become a bishop within the Anglican Church in Australia.

What we question is whether she is a bishop within the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church and whether in purporting to consecrate her, the Anglican Church in Australia has forfeited its claim to be part of the Catholic Church.

The great churches of the East and West say that she cannot be a Catholic bishop. So where there is doubt, Anglican Catholics must err on the side of certainty. If she is not a Catholic bishop, the validity of the sacraments she administers is at the very least thrown into grave doubt. To reduce our objections to a squabble about leadership illustrates the total refusal of her and her supporters to take seriously the conscientious grounds on which opponents of the ordination of women stand. For the people we represent this is a "salvation issue" ripping apart the sacramental communion of the Church.

That is the reason we keep on saying that the "protocols" - the so-called provisions for those who cannot in conscience accept that women can be priests and bishops - offered by the Anglican Church in Australia, fall far short of the minimum alternative episcopal structures to which we have always laid claim.

(From the Forward in Faith web site)


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