I have been following the debate in the Synod of the Church of England concerning the ordination of women to the episcopate, although I have to admit without much enthusiasm. Thinking Anglicans is of course the place to go for reporting on all that has transpired here, and as usual TA does a good job of it all.
The debate is a reminder to me that the Windsor Report too easily and too quickly proclaimed the issue of the ordination of women an example of a successful reception process. The Lambeth Commission makes much of the fact that the lead up to the ordination of women was accompanied by notice and discussion and that similar debate and notice has not taken place regarding the ordination of Bishop Robinson or the blessing of same sex unions. Similar mutterings about lack of consultation with ecumenical partners have been made. Both the Diocese of New Westminster and the Episcopal Church have contested this perception.
I don’t know if consultations with other parts of the Communion have taken place and inform the current debate in
It was also interesting to note that the Roman Catholics are back at it, claiming that having women bishops would be an impediment to ecumenical relations with them, as if things weren’t impaired enough already. I continue to wonder why we should be concerned about the opinion of a church that believes our bishops and clergy are not in fact bishops and clergy in the valid orders. They have determined our ordained leaders to be sectarian religious leaders rather than validly ordained catholic priests and bishops. And now they want us to take their concerns about ecumenical relations with them seriously? I think not.
It appears that the Church of England will have women bishops, but at considerable cost: Alternative oversight can be sought so that no one a woman bishop’s diocese actually has to have a woman bishop; the whole thing will not happen until 2012; and who knows what the Roman Catholic Church will say then.
It would appear that the Windsor Report was incorrect to assume that matters concerning the ordination of women had been worked out in a very satisfactory way. They have not.
There are a number of provinces that do not ordain women and where women are not welcome to serve in any priestly capacity. The same is true for Bishops. So what becomes of the notion that ordination is for the whole church?
Well, in the case of the ordination of women, it is conveniently forgotten that there is this problem. In the case of the ordination of a gay or lesbian person in a committed relationship the problem remains and is indeed shouted about with much hand wringing – he or she is not a bishop for the whole church.
The question is, why are we willing to cover up the incomplete recognition of the ordination of women bishops and hide from the brokenness of all that and at the same time bemoan the incomplete recognition of the ordination of a gay man?
I think this is a rhetorical question.