21 June 2010

Rowan goes down in flames in Round 1: TKO expected in Round 2

According to Ruth Gledhill in the Times, apparently the Church of England doesn't respect the ABC or ABY very much.
    A desperate joint effort by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York to prevent schism over women bishops was dismissed today by both opponents and supporters of female ordination in the Church of England. Dr Rowan Williams and Dr John Sentamu intervened with an unprecedented joint amendment to legislation on women bishops to be debated at the General Synod in York next month. 
    Their plan envisages the creation of “co-ordinate” bishops who would stand in for a woman diocesan in parishes unable to accept women’s ordination. But their scheme drew criticism from both sides of a debate that is regarded as more likely to lead to schism than those over the ordination of gays or women priests. 
    Even senior officials at the centre of the Church establishment struggled to understand what the Archbishops had in mind and what a “co-ordinate bishop” would be. Initial details of the Archbishops’ plan were published as the Synod prepares for a marathon 24-hour debate over women bishops, spread over three days in July. Their full proposal will not be made public until next month. 
    Under the legislation, women will be consecrated bishops in England by 2014 at the earliest. But hundreds of male priests in England oppose women priests and bishops. Because of this they will not accept the authority of a male bishop either, where it has been “delegated” by a woman. In their text the Archbishops say: “Once women become bishops, it will be possible to maintain something like the present mixed economy in the Church of England only if there is provision for someone other than the diocesan bishop to provide episcopal oversight for those who are unable to accept the new situation.” 
    The need for this provision was widely accepted, but the problem was how the structure should be set up legally. “The amendments we intend to propose involve neither delegation nor depriving a diocesan of any part of his or her jurisdiction,” the Archbishops say. “Instead we seek to give effect to the idea of a co-ordinate jurisdiction.” 
    After the synod voted in 1992 to ordain women priests, a new form of traditionalist bishop, dubbed “flying bishop”, was created to care for Anglo-Catholics. The problem is more difficult this time because of the nature of authority in a Church modelled on a Catholic hierarchy. Traditionalists refuse to accept that women can be bishops, while women refuse to cede any ground that would render them less important than their male episcopal counterparts. 
    Other Anglican provinces around the world have created women bishops without making special provision. There are 28 Anglican women bishops in New Zealand, Australia, Cuba, Canada and the United States. But the Church of England is in a more delicate position because of its position as the “mother Church” of the 38 provinces of the Anglican Communion. 
    The contradictions of the Church’s stance were illustrated last week when the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the US, Katharine Jefferts Schori, was told she could carry her episcopal mitre but not wear it on a visit to Southwark Cathedral. An attempt to find a compromise two years by the creation of “super” flying bishops had the backing of the Archbishops but was voted down by the Synod. 
    The auguries for the new effort to prevent a split are not much better. At the precise moment that the Archbishops’ motion will hit the floor of the Synod on Saturday July 10,traditionalist Church of England clergy will be meeting the Roman Catholic bishop of Nottingham, Malcolm McMahon, in Leicester to discuss converting to Catholicism. The meeting is organised by the Federation of Catholic Priests, an Anglican organisation with more than 400 members that is affiliated with the traditionalist Church Union. Bishop McMahon is a member of the committee set up by the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales to set up the Ordinariate, a new body that will allow Anglicans to convert while retaining their cultural and liturgical heritage. 
    John Broadhurst, the Bishop of Fulham who is chairman of Forward in Faith, said: “The Archbishops’ amendment is a brave effort to answer some very serious questions about the dispossession of orthodox Anglicans. “But I do not quite understand how a traditionalist bishop can work in partnership with a woman bishop while he actually rejects the concept of her ordination.” 
    Campaigners for women bishops also said the proposals from the archbishops raised several questions. Hilary Cotton, vice-chairwoman of Women and the Church, said the group had already made significant compromise on women bishops. “We cannot give an immediate response to whether we can support this amendment. But I would want to say that supporting the legislation as it is drafted is a significant compromise from us.”
Well, at least his own Church stood up to him and told him to "get stuffed." Too bad the Anglican Communion can't find the brass to do so, too.