Posted in Affirming Catholicism, Church of England, Roman Catholic Church

Hail and farewell

The Ordinariate is under way. To no-one’s great surprise, Fr. Keith Newton has been appointed Ordinary, and he and the other newly-minted (Roman) Catholic priests begin the process of inducting others to follow in their wake. Having just read Andrew Burnham’s interview in The Catholic Herald, I should think it must be quite a relief for them no longer to feel that they are held in tension between the Church of which they were part, and the Church which commanded their true loyalty. But what of those who remain?

As is often the way, it’s easier to speak the truth plainly when it no longer has personal impact: Fr. Newton is quoted by the BBC as saying: ‘”You can’t have a Church that believes in women bishops and doesn’t believe in women bishops.” Which is of course the point that Affirming Catholicism and others have been trying to make these many years. I do want those who disagree with the ordination of women to stay within the Church of England, if that’s how the Spirit is leading them. Others will feel called – and who am I to tell them they’re wrong? – to join the Ordinariate. But the Church which they are remaining within is either (as at present) one that does not ordain women as bishops, or (as I hope it will be) one that does. It can’t be both simultaneously.

The challenge for all Catholics, always, in whatever church they are, is to (in John Newman’s words)

…  hold in veneration,
For the love of Him alone,
Holy Church as His creation,
And her teachings are His own.

If the Church of England is part of the Catholic Church with authority to order its own life, then Catholic members of it are called to accept its teaching as the teaching of the Church, even if they disagree. If it isn’t – then I suppose there might be a prophetic ministry of trying to call the Church of England back to its true vocation as a part of the Western (i.e. Roman Catholic) Church. But that vocation cannot within integrity camouflage itself merely as opposition to women bishops; it’s about a wholesale change of direction, not a decision on one particular issue.

9 thoughts on “Hail and farewell

  1. I can not understand why ordinands opposed to women Priests and presumably women bishops are still accepted fopr training to the priesthood in Church of England, refusing to recieve the Holy Sacrament from the hands of a woman priest.Also that the principle of a theological College of the C/E St Johns Oxford also shares the opposition to Womens ordination.
    As you say we can not be both . Mary

    1. It was always a nonesene to have a church in which women were ordained, but it was optional whether to accept this. Once women become bishops, the fudge that is Resolution C becomes untenable. We must have the courage of our convictions. If we are right that God calls women to be priests, then ultimately the entire Holy Catholic Church will come to accept this. Having a two tier church is a mockery of the truth, whichever side the truth in fact lies one.

    2. In response to Mary: our liberal, open, generous and affirming faith risks becoming something very different if we desire to prohibit the ordination of those with whom we disagree. I pray for the day when the ordination of women as priests and bishops is accepted by all, but I would never want to be a part of Church that seeks to exclude those who, in conscience, are unable to agree with this vision. Andrew

      1. I tend to agree with Mary’s position in so far as the eventual extrapolation of a liberal othordoxy can end up in the land of the lowest common denominator. The effect of a totally liberal centred desire for a total state of inclusion of all views can actually result in a gospel of exclusion being promoted. I personally would resist bringing into a “tent of inclusion” those who promote exclusion based on gender, race or sexuality. For that reason, I think it is the best that those who are anti-women in Ministry move on.

  2. With the timing at the commencement of the 2011 Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, how will those in the Ordinariate respond to the call to love their neighbours as themselves? In 2011, the WPCU theme of ‘all things in common’ suggests we reflect on enjoying everything we hold dear in each other – a sweet and positive reminder rather than the sadness of the loss of friends or priests, perhaps?

  3. Please remember the women in the Roman Catholic Church. They are not even ordained as deacons.
    Why can’t these men see their change-over as their own personal journey? It seems to me they have wanted to eat their cake and keep it in their hand. As bishops they have had pastoral oversight in the Church of England. That body has decided to ordain women as equal co-partners with men. If they cannot agree with that, then as would any manager in a company or MP in a Party, their only course of action is to resign. At last they have seen this and done the honourable thing.
    But remember the women in the Roman Catholic church. I hope the ‘ordinariate’ move will not be seen as an added blow to their dignity.

  4. I can accept women priests and now bishops as a valid development but I do not expect every other Christian to agree with me. Why should they when for 2000 years the vast majority of Christians, women included, did not consider that women could fulfil those roles.

    Surely the basis of the Anglican via media that the Church of England (and the Church in Wales as my own Church) are heirs to is that we accept differences in belief and practice and seek to be inclusive. Sadly, we do not have an infallible pope whether flesh and blood or paper and for now, we see in a mirror dimly. Do we instead want to follow the example of those in the Anglican Communion who lay down boundaries to belief and practice with rules for judging those deemed to have strayed from their own understanding of the Gospel. Already this has divided (broken) our communion and this is what always happens when Christians try to define too closely who is a right believing Christian or Church.

    I do not want the Church of which I am a part to be one that lays down doctrines and rules that I must adhere to in order to be a member. Preaching, discussion, debate, guidance, yes but not tests of faith that can exclude. Bible, creeds, sacraments and episcopate, yes but do not ask what these mean to each of us. Accept they are there only to help us to be followers of Jesus which is all Anglicans need to be.

  5. I’m intrigued that Philip cannot see the contradiction of his own arguments. First he seems to reget that Anglicanism doesn’t have an infallible “pope” and yet he then goes on to say that he wouldn’t want to belong to a church which prescribed everything which members had to believe in. That, of course, is precisely what the RC church does with its allegedly infallible pope (a nineteenth century doctrine borne of the pope’s insecurity as a result of the loss of his secular powers in 1870).
    Of course it’s impossible tow belong to one organisation and believe two diametrically opposed things. I hope this will finally end the years of blood-letting and pain and that we can proclaim with confidence that this is what the catholic church as manifesct in the CoE believes. Who knows, without all the so-called “traditionalists”, we may even be able to have a catholic revival.

  6. ‘Sadly’, my attempt at irony. Sorry to confuse.

    With regard to proclaiming ‘with confidence that this is what the catholic church as manifest in the CoE believes’ a better known countryman of mine wrote:

    ‘A merely critical Church can reproduce in horrifying forms precisely those oppressive and exclusive relations which it exists to judge. It will pass sentence on those beyond its boundaries, and so will be concerned about those boundaries and their exact definition. It will, explicity or implicity, see ‘belonging to the Church’as a matter of fulfilling conditions of membership; so that it posseses criteria by which some believers can be cut off when necessary from its life. It thus encourages that attitude between believers or groups of believers which is almost preternaturally alert to failure and delinquency.’
    (Williams, R. ‘Resurrection’, 2002, p. 46)

    I am concerned that a confident proclamation may reproduce the same result as a ‘merely critical Church’.


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