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Credo Cymru challenged over women bishops

14 November 2014


Redundancies announced: Llandaff Cathedral

Redundancies announced: Llandaff Cathedral

THE Bishops of the Church in Wales have issued a robust response to opponents of women bishops, questioning "on what basis they can continue, with any integrity, both to serve in an ordained ministry which is founded upon sharing in our cure, and as representatives of the Church in Wales".

The joint letter from the Bishops is in response to a submission from Credo Cymru - Forward in Faith in Wales - in which the organisation tells the Bishops that it "would be unable to recommend that the members of Credo Cymru should continue their Christian life within the fellowship and structures of the Church in Wales" if the bishops' code of practice for opponents was "the last word on the matter".

It says that, without changes to the code, which was published at the last meeting of the Governing Body in September, it would have to "express the conclusion that fully orthodox and catholic life could no longer be lived out under these circumstances, and that our members might well be advised to seek an alternative spiritual home within which to continue their Christian pilgrimage".

It says that it is "going to have to look to bishops outside the current bench as the true pastors of their souls", and that "the unrelenting trend towards secular modernity in recent years has simply not benefited us in any obvious way."

In response, the Bishops have signed a joint letter in which they say that the submission suggests that members of Credo Cymru "no longer accept us 'as true pastors of their souls and as their link with continuing apostolicity'.

"As the bishops of the Church in Wales, we believe that the apostolic tradition neither denies nor disproves the legitimacy of the ordination of women. We believe that we continue to share with you the substance of that tradition, and we continue to respect and welcome those who cannot accept such ordinations."

The letter states that Credo Cymru's response to their code of practice "raises fundamental questions about the place of those who now effectively seem to repudiate all the bishops of the Church in Wales as standing legitimately in any way within the catholic and apostolic tradition of the Church.

"That being the case, it is hard to see on what basis they can continue, with any integrity, both to serve in an ordained ministry which is founded upon sharing in our cure, and as representatives of the Church in Wales. If their view is followed through, it would also call into question the legitimacy of any bishop of any persuasion whom we might now ordain, 'traditionalist' or otherwise."

The bishops go on to say that "any attempt to approach another bishop in place of the diocesan to provide episcopal ministry would have very serious implications."

The chairman of Credo Cymru, the Revd Alan Rabjohns, said that the organisation was still considering its formal response to the bishops; but the bench's letter was "a prime example of how not to conduct discussions". Progress, he said, "has to be through some sort of dialogue, and not through exchanging letters."

Under the code of practice, women bishops should provide "alternative sacramental provision" to individuals opposed to women in the episcopate; but the individuals and parishes would remain under their diocesan bishop's jurisdiction and administrative authority.

The Archbishop of Canterbury will move on Monday that "'Amending Canon No. 33' be made, promulged, and executed" at the General Synod - the final legislative stage before the consecration of women as bishops becomes lawful in the Church of England.

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