Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Anglican Jihad

Cartoon by Rod Anderson
The whole wide world will be completely oblivious to the Holy War that rages in the Church of England, mostly because they have other less important things to do than to weigh the matter of Women Bishops. Instead, they leave this to frothing and foaming Christians who, once again, are irretrievably gusset-rotated about the whole affair. 

My first comment should be my usual litany - that I don't care if you have boobs or balls, if you are the right person and called by God (you know, the one who knows Everything), then good luck to you. I really don't believe that God has an issue with mitre-induced cleavage shadow, so neither must we. Consecrate women as bishops and let's just get on with more important missional stuff. 

But it is rarely that simple, and for good reasons. There are those who, through quite genuine matters of conscience, just can't accept this move. That I, or anyone else, happens to disagree with them is besides the point - they are entitled to have their conscience and not be forced to act against it. I think the 'real world' where normal people work would call it 'diversity', or something like that. 

As it happens, some bishops gathered for tea and locked the door. They talked about this and made some changes - little changes but I think important changes. Most significant of those changes is that people who want to be 'overseen' by a balls-bishops as distinct from a no-balls-bishop should receive that oversight from a bishop who is cut from the same cloth and of the same theological perspective (and not a balls-bishop in favour of no-balls-bishops). I think that that speaks to honesty and transparency, and is - to me - quite reasonable. In fact, the idea of removing provision for those who deign to disagree with the idea of female consecration is abhorrent to me. Not all supporters of this would agree with me and would tell you that it is all or nothing - like life is like that! But oh my word - there are posses of people who are baring their teeth and writing statements from their Oxfordshire farmhouses who say 'no bishops, stop. Put that opinion down and step away'. I wonder, if that meeting of bishops had yielded an amendment that wholly supported the 'pro' camp, whether that meeting would have been likened to a secret Coven. I just don't know. 

In the end, when I am older and greyer than I presently am, and when a woman resides in Lambeth Palace doing the job I wouldn't if you paid me, the time before women bishops will be as forgotten as that time before women got suffrage. What will be remembered, and what will do much damage, is that there were some who didn't have a heart of hospitality for those who were, in the end, on the losing team. I really don't think that the Lord is testing us in the issue of women bishops - I think that the Lord's real test is in the process itself and I fear that we may have failed spectacularly. 

For a very neat summary of the many arguments, froths and foams, please visit the Opinionated Vicar here, because the Vernacular Vicar is tired of the fighting


  1. Hi David,
    I might be wrong, but I am led to believe that your retirement vision is not going to be as your foresee. Since the current amendments will enshrine in law that there can never be a female 'no-balls' archbishop. Once again the females are asked to use a separate toilet for the fear of contamination (what The Help).
    Hope you are well ….

  2. "through quite genuine matters of conscience"

    "Genuine" as in they really believe it, maybe. But that doesn't mean that their opinions are acceptable and to be taken seriously. There are plenty of opinions out there that even a laid back, accommodator like yourself wouldn't want to be given consideration in our society, let alone our church. And what about the opinion felt by many female priests that the official sanction of those who believe women cannot be bishops is an attack on their vocations, ministry and a betrayal of the most heinous kind? Being nice is not always the answer.



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