Back in 2004, the book CONSECRATED WOMEN, an initiative of Forward in Faith, was published by Canterbury Press. It contained a theological response to the direction of the Church of England’s General Synod with regard to women bishops, and a useful appendix of several resource papers cogently arguing the case against the ordination of women in general. At the time CONSECRATED WOMEN was published, it already seemed certain that on the substantive issue, mainstream Catholics had lost in the General Synod. That's why the burden of the book was to argue the case for a jurisdictional structure within the Church of England for those who conscienciously held the innovation to be against the mind of the Church Catholic, of which the Church of England has always claimed to be part. The rest of CONSECRATED WOMEN was taken up with suggested detailed changes to Canon Law that would enable such a jurisdiction to become a reality.
Subsequently, a strictly jurisdictional solution was rejected by the Synod. Then followed Pope Benedict’s creation of the Ordinariate for clergy and “groups” who left the Church of England. In 2012, the legislation for women bishops came into being, supported by the five “declarations” which include a kind of provision for parishes and clergy who would otherwise feel that they had been “unchurched.” Subsequently, Forward in Faith, the Bishops of the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, and - admittedly - some of the bishops on the other side of the debate, have worked hard to ensure a continued ecclesial life for Catholic Christians within the Church of England.
It would have been a great pity if the theological parts of CONSECRATED WOMEN had slipped into history, out of sight and out of mind, as they carefully relate the various arguments together in a way that is both positive and widely accessible. That is why the Church should be thankful to Dr Colin Podmore, Director of Forward in Faith, for editing FATHERS IN GOD, an excellent volume that incorporates those theological parts of CONSECRATED WOMEN (which had been edited by Bishop Jonathan Baker) as well as new articles and addresses by Emma Forward, Cardinal Kasper, Bishop Geoffrey Rowell, Dr Podmore and Bishop Martin Warner, with a foreword by the Bishop of Coventry.
There is a new generation in what are sometimes now called the “declaration” parishes. These people were not around for the theological debates of 20 to 30 years ago, and some want to know the reasons why their parish doesn’t have a woman bishop or priest. FATHERS IN GOD needs to be made widely available.
FATHERS IN GOD? is available from Forward in Faith. Go HERE for details.
The Kindle edition is available HERE.