Tuesday 20 November 2012

Two southern provinces and their clergy...

A little while ago the Church of England just failed to pass a measure that (as its principal function) would have allowed women to become bishops in that church (the Anglican provinces of York and Canterbury).  It was nail-bitingly close, and one of the houses just didn't quite make the 2/3 majority needed.

Why care? As a Scottish Episcopal priest, it won't affect life.  We are allowed women bishops up here already.  At that point the complacency ends.  We haven't had one, although there have been attempts (we vote for bishops up here). Staggeringly few women are even in the few senior posts in the church, the deans and the provosts.  Only ever 2 female provosts and one female dean.  Not a particularly good track record.  But it takes years for a change to flow through a church, especially one that is contentious from a theological or traditional view.

I was ordained in England, and have many, many friends in ministry there.  Some of them are wrapped up in the campaign for women's episcopal ministry.  They will be hurting very much this evening.

But the vote was much more subtle than just the straightforward issue of gender justice, as Kelvin points out. The continued issue of maintaining a sanctuary for traditionalists who don't wish to accept the ministry of women bishops has also been rejected.  That was a live issue when I was still in the C of E, and I found myself taking a rather hardline against any compromise, and signing petitions etc. against such measures.  Go and see how green the grass of non-conformism or the ordinariate actually is, I muttered.

But how pyrrhic a victory is rejecting compromise at the expense of delaying female bishops for further years?  It is a hard, hard place that many English clergy will find themselves tomorrow morning.  Many of them have tweeted 'Ashamed to be Anglican,' and rather than pedantically correcting them, I share some sympathy.

Our house in Scotland is equally not in order from a gender justice point of view: no sanctuary for traditionalists, a canonical structure that allows female bishops: and we have still not made it...

And as for the issue of some other moratoria.  We'll let that lie for the moment.


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