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The Women Bishops Vote -
An Obituary For Anglo-Catholics?
Fr John Pitchford reflects on the crisis recently created by General synod
s
OMethinG hAPPened the boot is now on the other foot! is what the Holy Spirit wants, made when women were or- The question today is this: How
on 7th July (2008) which will Discrimination and injustice are they wait until all PCC mem- dained as priests. When the 1993 many will be unable to live in a
affect all regular readers of this now being heaped on those who bers are in favour of the Act of Synod was passed, tra- changed Church of England, with
newspaper. General Synod cre- still hold the traditional faith. plan. Obviously this ditionalists were assured its women bishops? It is indeed
ated a serious crisis for traditional It looks as though many more would not be pos- that there would be ‘an a very sad day for the Church of
Christians. will leave the Church of Eng- sible for General honoured placed’ in England.
land, unless proper provisions Synod! However, the Church for
What a sad and are made for traditionalists. If one needs to ask traditionalists. The Second Option
un-holy mess! something has been right for questions: The Lambeth is to give up the
By voting to have women bish- nearly 2,000 years – (male only Are major de- C o n f e r e n c e struggle and join
ops, the Church of England has bishops and priests) – it cannot cisions really the 1998 decided another Church
taken a large step in the direction suddenly become wrong in the will of God when that those who This is a difficult decision, and
of Liberalism and Protestantism. 21st century. the atmosphere at accept – and especially for those for whom the
The Church will become a “sect” Synod was so “poi- those who cannot Church of England has played
and can no longer claim to be part How does the Church sonous?” Is that accept women priests such an important part for
of “the One, Holy, Catholic and discover the will of the way to find out and bishops – are both most of their lives. Some will
Apostolic Church.” God? what the Holy Spirit is “loyal Anglicans.” be ‘swimming across the River
Let us remind ourselves of the When women are consecrated saying to the When promises Tiber’ and heading for Rome.
facts. Jesus chose men only to as bishops in four or five years Church? are made, one Others will look to the Orthodox
be his Apostles, and he set the time, they will have won their The very first hopes and Churches of the east. Yet others
pattern of the ministry for his prize. However, their victory has Council of the believes that may turn to the Traditional An-
Church for the rest of time. The been soured by the way in which Church sent they will be glican Church.
Church of England is a very small it was won. There was so much a letter to the Church at Antioch kept, and especially if they are
part of Christendom, and she has bitterness and hostility against about a decision they had made. It made by bishops. Sadly, these The Third Option
no authority to change the widely traditionalists at the General Syn- was about admitting the Gentiles promises have not been hon- is to join a ‘caravan’
held tradition of the Church in od meeting. into the Church: ‘It has seemed oured. This idea seems to be about a
this matter. There was even some hissing good to the Holy Spirit and to us A thought comes to mind – spiritual journey. Rather than in-
and booing! One might ask - is ….” (Acts 15.28 RSV). Could the Surely a bishop is shepherd of dividuals making their own deci-
No legal provisions this the way to discover the will of Synod’s meeting at York Univer- all his flock. When the shepherd sions, it will be an attempt for like-
That is not all. The Synod also God? Many members of Synod sity really ‘seem good to the Holy loses - (or even drives out) - one minded people to travel together.
decided to make no legal provi- - who are in favour of women’s Spirit?’ of his sheep, is that shepherd ‘It seemed good to the Holy Spirit
sions for those who hold the tra- ordination – were appalled at the to be held responsible for this? and to us?’
ditional faith about male bishops behaviour of some Synod mem- What is the problem (The Prophet Ezekiel says some Obviously, it is far too early to
and priests. bers. The Bishop of Dover is in with Women Bishops? interesting things about shep- make decisions, but these are the
After the 1992 decision to ordain favour of women bishops, but he 7th July will be seen as another herds, and also about the ‘faithful three options which people are
women priests, we were able to re- (and many others) was so shocked “Black Monday.” Women bishops remnant’) considering at this time.
main as members of the Church of by some of the behaviour at the will clearly be the beginning of the
England. That was because three debate. end of ‘catholicism’ in the Church Where does this leave us? Extracts from a letter
“Flying Bishops” were appointed He said: “For the first time in my of England. The seriousness of Some believe that the House of sent by the Fourteen
to provide for our spiritual needs. life I feel ashamed.” Surely Our the crisis cannot be exaggerated. Bishops may at this late stage still Bishops of our integrity
Now, the present plan is to abolish Lord actually commanded us – We need to remind ourselves of bring in suitable legal provisions They wrote: “This is a complex
these Flying Bishops, and to abol- ‘Love your neighbour as yourself ’. the problem: which would enable us to remain situation and we acknowledge
ish the right of a parish to pass The atmosphere at Synod was The bishop is the successor of in the Church of England. that people and groups will react
Resolutions A, B and C. described as being “poisonous.” the Apostles. He is the guarantee Others may remember the differently.” For some, it “means
There will be no legal provisions This surely cannot be the way in that the Sacraments of the Church words of the Psalm: ‘Put not your that they can no longer remain
to care for the spiritual needs of which the Church discovers the are valid. When a woman is the trust in men and princes.’ Near- within the communion of the
those who cannot accept the min- will of God. bishop, many believe that the Ap- ly every traditionalist is think- Church of England.
istry of women. ostolic Succession will be broken. ing about their spiritual future. As bishops, we want to say that
Three Bishops and over 400 The right way When the celebrant is a woman, There seem to be three possible this is not a necessary conclu-
Priests left the Church as a result to make decisions? there is uncertainty about wheth- ways forward: sion. We are being encouraged
of the decision in 1992 to ordain Imagine a Church Council de- er the bread and the wine are by friends in the other historic
women as priests. An unknown ciding on a course of action. Some changed in the Mass. In other The First Option churches to continue to strug-
number of laymen and women PCC members realized that many words, women’s ordination brings is to remain in the gle for the catholic identity of the
also left the Church of England at people in the parish will not ac- doubt to the main part of the life Church of England Church of England. The legisla-
that time. cept the decision, and as a result of the Church. whatever happens tive and Synodical process will be
they will leave the Church. Sure- You might call this ‘putting your long, and we have time to reflect
‘Discrimination’ and ly, that PCC would want to put in What is wrong with a head in the sand’ and pretending and pray before any final deci-
‘Injustice’ have now place some safeguards to keep as ‘Code of Practice’? that nothing has happened. But sions are taken.”
moved to traditionalists many as possible on board? There When Synod voted to have when your vicar is replaced by a
Liberals claim that “discrimina- are PCCs (perhaps not many) women bishops, it also decided to woman priest, that course of ac- Some helpful words
tion” and “injustice” against wom- who make decisions without tak- make no legal provisions for tra- tion will not be possible for many. from the Prayer Book
en will be removed, when women ing a vote. ditionalists. Instead, it decided to When we think of the Church in (Divine Office)
are consecrated as bishops. But To make sure that the matter provide a Code of Practice. Codes the Diocese, there will soon be
God has established
can be broken so easily. Instead women bishops. Then the ques-
his people in hope.
of being firmly placed in the law tion has to be faced – are they
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