WOMEN BISHOPS

Most people know that there’s been a row going on for years in the Anglican church, between those who accept women as priests and those who don’t, and now that the General Synod is thinking about women bishops and we’re moving closer to decision, battle-lines seem to have hardened.

Whatever one’s opinion, my hope is that we can do what we do best as Anglicans:  move forward under the leadership of the Holy Spirit, which means making a loving place in the church for those who agree and those who don’t.   It’s a rigorous time because we need to put in the work and the thinking and praying,  and hang on to the priorities that this is God’s church and the Lord’s body,  open to the leading of the Holy Spirit even if it takes us in directions some might not wish to go.

Archbishop Rowan has brought his usual clear intellect and grasp of the issues into sharp spiritual focus with a piece called ‘Women Bishops:  enough waiting‘.  Here are some extracts:

‘… a Church that ordains women as priests but not as bishops is stuck with a real anomaly, one which introduces an unclarity into what we are saying about baptism and about the absorption of the Church in the priestly self-giving of Jesus Christ.  Wanting to move beyond this anomaly is not a sign of giving in to secular egalitarianism – though we must be honest and admit that without secular feminism we might never have seen the urgency of this or the inconsistency of our previous position.

Rectifying the anomaly is, we believe, good news in a range of ways.  It is good news for women, who are at last assured in more than words alone that their baptismal relationship with Jesus Christ is not different from or inferior to that of men as regards their fitness for  public ministry exercised in Christ’s name and power.  It is good news for men, who may now receive more freely the spiritual gifts God gives to women because women are recognised among those who can at every level animate and inspire the Church in their presidency at worship – and so it is good news for the whole Church, in the liberating of fresh gifts for all.  It is good news for the world we live in, which needs the unequivocal affirmation of a dignity given equally to all by God in creation and redemption – and can now, we hope, see more clearly that the Church is not speaking a language completely remote from it own most generous and just instincts.

But our challenge has been and still is to try and make it good news even for those within our fellowship who have conscientious doubts.  The various attempts to find a formula to secure the conscientious position of those who are not convinced about the implications of the theology summarised earlier are not a matter of horse-trading, doing deals.  They are a search for ways of expressing that mutual patience and gratitude that are just as much a part of life in the Body of Christ according to St Paul – trying to do the right thing for the Body, even if this leaves loose ends.’

For full text see http://www.archbishopofcanterbury.org/articles.php/2654/

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