Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Women in the Episcopate

Somebody said to me: “Surely if women can be priests they can be bishops. I can’t see what all the fuss is about” There is logic to that statement but the key to it is “if women can be priests”. When the original debate was proceeding about the ordination of women, I argued that it was the wrong way round. The first question that needed resolution was “could women be bishops”. If the answer to that was no then they couldn’t be priests either. Typically of the CofE, they put the cart before the horse and proceeded to ordain women before resolving whether or not they could be bishops in the apostolic line. Once we had women priests the next step to women bishops was inevitable.

But for most Anglo-Catholics, women can’t be priests. It is not that we are misogynists but rather we put our faith in three things: Scripture, Tradition and reason. There is no tradition of women priests and nothing in the Bible which indicates that women can be priests. The Apostles, of which our Bishops are the successors, were all male. I don’t believe that Jesus would have been high bound by the custom of his day and just choose men to avoid upsetting the custom of the day.

Whilst, as I wrote previously, the consecration of women as bishops was inevitable, what was not inevitable was the way that General Synod has made little or no provision for those male priests who will never accept women as either bishops or priests. The promises made have all been broken so what trust can be put in The Code of Practice. It has been approved, without it even being published, and it will be such that it will be at the discretion of the Diocesan Bishop just what arrangements he/she may or may not make. My prediction is that within a short space of time, say ten years at most, it will be rescinded, just as they have rescinded the Act of Synod.

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