Juggling unsatisfactory outcomes after women vote

by
03 December 2008

iStock

From the Revd Manon Ceridwen Parry
Sir, — Susannah Rudge suggests (Letters, 28 November) we should ignore the “unCatholic” and “ecclesiologically unsatisfactory” situation of ordaining women to the diaconate and priesthood but not the episcopate, in the interests of inclusivity and generosity towards those who are opposed to women bishops.

Another solution could be for them generously to disregard their own theological convictions about the “unCatholic” and “ecclesio­logically unsatisfactory” nature of ordaining women as bishops in the first place. Yet deeply held funda­mental beliefs about the nature of humanity and the Church are not easily set aside — on both sides of the debate.

It saddens and concerns me that including women within the episcopate will make some within the Church feel unwelcome and excluded. Like Susannah, I, too, have been nurtured and supported by good friends who are opposed to the ordination of women.

But by keeping things as they are, we are really being asked to ignore the gifts of transformational leader­ship and emotional intelligence of a growing number of diverse and (by now) highly experienced people in the interests of “inclusivity”. This would increasingly have a knock-on effect on the mission of the Church as women, lay and ordained, let alone women outside the Church, would wonder whether there is, in fact, a place for them at the table at all. I think this is too much to ask.
MANON CERIDWEN PARRY
Y Rheithordy, 2 Rhodfa Wen
Llysfaen, Colwyn Bay
Conwy LL29 8LE

From the Revd Mark Letters
Sir, — Reading the letter from Bishops Geoffrey Rowell and David Hamid (28 November), in which the Bishop of Gibraltar states that neither he nor his Suffragan ordain women priests “mindful of the unique ecumenical considerations in this diocese,” I was left wondering how it must feel to be a woman priest labouring hard in the diocese of Gibraltar in Europe, yet have one’s bishop publicly unable to say anything more positive than that one is merely an impediment to closer ecumenical relations between him and the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches.

Advertisement

Surely the only Roman Catholics in Europe who would recognise Anglican bishops as having valid orders are those of the most liberal variety, who also long for women priests in their own church? There is, after all, a Roman Catholic Bishop of Gibraltar, too. Are not the only “ecumenical partners” in Europe to share full communion with the Anglican Church, the Nordic Churches of the Porvoo Agreement, who themselves are much more committed to gender equality than the current leadership of the Church of England? At the recent celebrations in Sweden for 50 years of ordained women’s ministry, the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church was present to give an inspiring speech before the King and the whole Swedish General Synod, whereas not even a (male) bishop was sent by the Church of England to represent it at the celebrations.

I think there are much more prosaic reasons than “ecumenical considerations” which explain why an elderly exclusively male leadership in Roman Catholic, Orthodox, or Anglican churches might find it hard to open up to a world in which women are their equals.
MARK LETTERS
Avenue Paul Hymans 122, apt 9
Woluwe St-Lambert, 1200 Brussels
Belgium

From Christina Rees and others
Sir, — We were very disturbed to read the letter from the Bishop of Chichester justifying his decision not to commission a suffragan bishop who would ordain women to the priesthood (Letters, 28 November).

We have reason to believe that a majority of licensed clergy in Chichester diocese support the ordination of women to the priesthood, along with a large number of lay people. Has the Bishop taken account of this important fact, and is he aware of the deep distress his decision has caused?

We also ask why it has been possible for the Bishops of London and Blackburn to commission suffragan bishops who ordain women to the priesthood, but not the Bishop of Chichester?

The Bishop wrote that he “would expect any future area bishop to be willing to license and institute or collate incumbents, regardless of gender”. We fail to see the logic in the Bishop saying this, and at the same time stating that he would not commission such a bishop to ordain women to the priesthood.

We have serious concerns that the eventual outworking of the Bishop’s proposed policy would be to create a diocese which is cut off from the rest of the Church and which would be virtually a separate church.

For the sake of the mission of the national Church in Chichester diocese, as well as for the sake of its many faithful clergy and lay people who support the ordination of women to the priesthood, we would ask the Bishop to think again.
CHRISTINA REES
Chair, National WATCH
The Revd Sarah Lamming
Vice-chair, National WATCH
The Revd Charles Read
Vice-chair, National WATCH
St John’s Church
Waterloo Road
London SE1 8TY

letters@churchtimes.co.uk

For the sake of the mission of the national Church in Chichester diocese, as well as for the sake of its many faithful clergy and lay people who support the ordination of women to the priesthood, we would ask the Bishop to think again.
CHRISTINA REES
Chair, National WATCH
The Revd Sarah Lamming
Vice-chair, National WATCH
The Revd Charles Read
Vice-chair, National WATCH
St John’s Church
Waterloo Road
London SE1 8TY

letters@churchtimes.co.uk

Church Times: about us

Latest Cartoon

The Church Times Podcast

Interviews and news analysis from the Church Times team. Listen to this week’s episode online

Welcome to the Church Times

​To explore the Church Times website fully, please sign in or subscribe.

Non-subscribers can read six articles for free each month. (You will need to register.)