Wednesday, December 17, 2008

WOMEN BISHOPS: More on "Codes of Practice" (for Australia, read "Protocols")

December's New Directions (the monthly Forward in Faith magazine) arrived in the mail this morning, together with the quarterly tabloid "Forward Plus." They can, in fact, be downloaded from the Forward in Faith Website, although this takes a long time if you have only a dial-up connection.

Both publications are excellent . . . but the front page of "Forward Plus" is so good that I've reproduced its content here.

On two separate occasions a few years ago I was assured by smirking Australian liberal bishops that "before long" it will not be possible to speak of the "flying bishop" system of the Church of England as an example of Anglican provinces ensuring the "sacramental space" necessary for real Catholics to survive in Anglican structures. That the C. of E. through its famous Act of Synod did so back in 1994 obviously irritates a whole lot of liberal Anglican bishops around the world. It is not surprising that liberal Aussie bishops include within their networks of friends those labouring long and hard to get rid of the Act of Synod in England and to introduce women bishops with only a "Code of Practice" for Catholics - rather than the "structural solution" our people have always said was the bear minimum we could live with in good conscience.

This post is a catalogue of what various people at the October FiF National Assembly said about the Code of Practice. Bishops of the Anglican Church of Australia take note . . . ALSO Australian Catholics and Evangelicals who might be tempted to think that the "protocols" suggested for this country will deliver a satisfactory outcome - or even basic fairness - take note, too!

". . . BECAUSE it cannot provide us with our honoured place in the Church of England. We need provision by Measure which will ensure that we have Bishops who are our Fathers in God and who have jurisdiction to ensure the future of the Catholic Movement in the Church in England."
- Margaret Tilley (Member of General Synod)

". . . BECAUSE it would violate the integrity of our position as one of obedience which it is, and treat it as a matter of opinion which it is not and - if enacted - would ensure that the Church of England would fall foul of secular sex discrimination legislation."
- Fr Sam Philpott SSC (S. Peter's, Plymouth)

". . . BECAUSE it cannot provide the stability the Church of England collectively needs in order to be an effective witness to the Gospel. It would be inadequate for those it is meant to aid, and unsatisfactory to those who oppose it. Finally, the implications behind it are so harmful to ecumenical dialogue that those who take seriously Christ's call that 'they may be one' may well find the Church of England an impossible communion within which to strive after that goal.
- Daniel Lloyd (Seminarian)

". . . BECAUSE it can give us neither spiritual and theological integrity nor legal security. It cannot therefore be a basis for growth, but only for terminal care, and the extinction (in a short period) of our position."
Fr Jonathan Baker SSC (Principal, Pusey House, Oxford)

". . . BECAUSE it promises what it cannot deliver. However nice its intentions might be, they would not be legally enforceable. When the last attempt was made to revise the Act of Synod, a new act and code were produced by a committee chaired by the then Bishop of Blackburn; even though both were rejected, some bishops and archdeacons have tried to pretend that the rejected code is in force! Likewise, the Code for the Pastoral Measure has been flagrantly flouted in some places by those who should know better."
- The Rt Rev'd John Broadhurst (Bishop of Fulham)

". . . BECAUSE it would destroy the integrity of the localised manifestation of the Episcopate in a manner demeaning to all involved, it could only be the cause of hostility and confrontation - the Church must not legislate for institutionalised self-harming."
- Fr Trevor Jones SSC (S. Peter's, London Docks)

". . . BECAUSE, sacramentally, it would remove the guarantee of the validity of the sacraments and, ecclesiologically, no proper Catholic Bishop would accept that he could have authority transferred or delegated to him from someone about whose orders there is doubt."
- Ian O'Hara (Member of General Synod)

". . . BECAUSE what we seek is a Catholic solution: a solution that we can live with in conscience. That cannot be achieved by a Code of Practice; by a system that legislates for discrimination; that cannot of its nature provide for the permanent preservation of our Catholic integrity and our understanding of Episcopal authority and the Apostolic Succession, the bedrock of Tractarianism; that is demeaning and patronising both to women and to us; that cannot provide for parity and equivalence. Unlike S. Martin of Tours, the General Synod and the Bishops of the Church of England did not share their cloak with us; rather, they passed by on the other side and threw us a Code of Practice on the etiquette of begging."
- Fr William Davage SSC (Custodian of Pusey House Library, Oxford)

". . . BECAUSE it would fail to guarantee a future in the Church of England for those of us preparing for ordination. The Church of England has affirmed our vocation to ordained ministry; a Code of Practice would deny us the opportunity to fulfil it."
- James Bradley (Seminarian)

". . . BECAUSE because it would simply be an unenforceable guideline as to how a woman bishop should exercise her authority and jurisdiction, which is the very thing we cannot accept."
- Fr Paul Benfield SSC (St Nicholas', Fleetwood)

". . . BECAUSE it would be like the Act of Synod: PEVs acting with authority delegated from the diocesan bishop; if the diocesan bishop is a woman, this cannot do. There would be sacramental confusion because it would not be clear whether or not a male priest had been ordained by a women bishop. It would be at best a temporary stopgap; those who are calling for a Code of Practice Crunch time for the Church are the very same people who are simultaneously calling for the rescinding of the Act of Synod; it will not be long before they call for the rescinding of the Code of Practice!"
- Fr Simon Killwick (Christ Church, Monton Street Manchester)

". . . BECAUSE it would require women bishops to delegate to others (men!) essential functions of the episcopal office. As such it would be sexist, and would demean both the office and person of lawfully consecrated women."
- Fr Geoffrey Kirk (S. Stephens', Lewisham)

". . . BECAUSE they bring out the worst in people: no one ever follows the spirit of a code; they always prefer the letter of it. A code's worth nothing without a sanction to enforce it and so it simply will not do – except for lawyers like me, who will spend hours trying to find ways round it!"
- Fr James Patrick SSC Reader of the Crown Court & Hon. Curate of All Saints, Clifton

". . . BECAUSE it cannot enshrine the theological conviction, held in good conscience, of those who remain unable to accept the innovation, and as such would bring to an end any understanding of the doctrine of reception. Nor can it cover issues connected with jurisdiction, which can only be met by primary legislation and as a result sacramental assurance in the life of the Church would be compromised. It would be, by its very nature, time-limited and open to alteration, if not abolition, so it would renege on the binding promise of an 'honoured place' to enable us to flourish and grow. It would herald the death-throes of a catholic identity for the Church of England."
- Fr David Houlding SSC (Master General of the Society of the Holy Cross)

". . . BECAUSE it would not provide the ecclesial provision we need; on the contrary, it would, in fact, undermine those female bishops under whose territorial jurisdiction we would find ourselves. It's rather like trying to explain to the people with whom you share a house that you need to find a different way of living together, say, by building an extension. 'OK, so what do you need?' asks one. 'Hm, we need some bricks, mortar, a couple of windows - that should do it.' The result: 'Right, well, here's some tarpaulin and a few tent pegs. Sure, it's not what you asked for, but we reckon that'll do.' If we're going to live together in God's house, we need the bricks and mortar of alternative provision."
- Alexandra Vinall (Post Graduate Student, Oxford)

". . . BECAUSE it offends the integrity of every opinion.
- Ellie Haynes (Diocese of Bath & Wells)


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