Game over for the traditionalists

Game over for the traditionalists

C of E finally to get women bishops

IN 1992 the General Synod of the Church of England voted for women priests and two years later the first crop were ordained. But conservative evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics engineered a delay of 21 years before today’s vote for female bishops.

Damian Thompson, writing for the Spectator, said he doubted that the traditionalists would be shocked by today’s decision. Some have even been arguing that, although they were still opposed to the measure on principle, another “no” vote would be a disaster for the Church.

And he asked:

How will Pope Francis react? Some Anglicans suspect that he’s secretly pleased: they see him as a fellow liberal who would be open to ordaining women if only John Paul II hadn’t declared it to be a theological impossibility. They’re wrong. Francis talks about expanding the “ministry” of women, but when he’s pressed on the subject he makes jokes about bossy priests’ housekeepers and Adam’s rib. There’s definitely a streak of old-fashioned Latin American misogyny in the Holy Father.

He added:

On the other hand, the Pope won’t lose any sleep over this, since he doesn’t believe that Catholics and Protestants should waste time debating irreconcilable doctrinal differences. His message to the C of E’s new women bishops will be: join me in spreading the Gospel.

Conservative Anglo-Catholics now face a simple choice: stay in an established Church that has reaffirmed its liberal Protestantism by this vote, or seek full communion with Rome, either as ordinary Catholics or as members of a self-governing Ordinariate that celebrates Mass in Cranmerian English.

I hope they move to Rome, but I can understand why many Anglo-Catholics – especially those in gay partnerships – will find it easier to stay put. I just wish they’d ditch the pretence of being Roman Catholics in all but name.

Last week I saw their leader, Bishop Jonathan Baker of Fulham, swanning down Notting Hill Gate in a bright pink Roman soutane. I bet Jorge Bergoglio never wore such a garment in the streets of Buenos Aires. And it did make me think that, these days, Anglo-Catholicism is mostly about dressing up.

In the pink: Bishop Johathan Baker with two members of the Anglican Church

In the pink: Bishop Johathan Baker with two members of the Anglican Church

The Independent reported scenes of jubilation as Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, won an overwhelming majority for his package of measures designed to win over the support of traditionalists whilst staving off a crisis after Parliament threatened to intervene.

There were cheers from supporters in Central Hall at the University of York where the three Houses of the Synod – Bishops, Clergy and Laity – had been locked in a day of impassioned debate.

Backers of the measures – the most controversial since the ordination of women priests was passed by a single vote two decades ago – celebrated with champagne and looked forward to the prospect of the first female bishop being appointed within a matter of months.

Archbishop Welby had been prepared to drive through the change in the event of a repeat of the shock no vote from the House of Laity which blocked the move two years ago.

In the end it was not necessary after months of mediation between opposing factions delivered 95 per cent of the votes of bishops, 87 per cent of clergy and 77 per cent of the laity – far and above the two thirds needed to bring about the historic change.

The Archbishop told the Synod that the Church had been embroiled in the “darkness of disagreement” and set on a “tortuous path” as it battled over the issue.

He warned that the future would be “hard work” and that Anglicans faced a “long period of culture change” ahead of them. Holding out an olive branch to opponents he said:

You don’t chuck out family or even make it difficult for them to be at home. You love them and seek their wellbeing even when you disagree.

There was immediate political support for the vote which was welcomed by all three party leaders. Prime Minister David Cameron, a practising Christian, described the news as a “great day for the Church and for equality”. Nick Clegg said it was a “watershed moment”.

Rebecca Swinson, the youngest member of the Archbishop’s Council, said the vote paved the way for young women to take a full role in Church life.

I’m really, really pleased. This is the start of something that is really great. I felt very angry last time but today we have managed to put some of that behind us.

Sufficient numbers of the house of Laity – which had blocked the measure last time by six votes – accepted the five ”guiding principles” thrashed in the last 18 months providing safeguards to allow the conservative minority to remain within the church.

The debate continued precariously close to the deadline as 85 Synod members sought to speak.

In an at times emotionally charged atmosphere liberals and traditionalists did their best to follow Archbishop Welby’s determination that should “disagree well”.

The deep scars of the decades-long debate were visible with gloomy warnings of long term schism and growing irrelevancy from opposing sides.

Prudence Dailey, a member of the House of Laity from Oxford who abstained said it had been “hard to forget the amount of bile, vitriol and disapprobation heaped upon the heads of us who voted against” in the defeated measure of 2012.

Samuel Margrave of Coventry said people have been “bullied” and suffered “abuse” after voting no. He claimed that the motion would mean:

The end of the Church as we know it.

The top photo was taken at an Anglican bash held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the first ordinations of women priests.

Hat tip: BarrieJohn


23 responses to “Game over for the traditionalists”

  1. Broga says:

    I heard one sad Christian declaiming that women bishops was “against biblical truth.” You have to wonder about these people. They do their holier than thou sanctimony, back it up with “biblical truth” and appear to have not even a glancing acquaintance with what is in the bible. Yet they claim to revere the bible as their supreme authority.

  2. Dave Godfrey says:

    So, after 2000 years, people with testicles have decided that people without testicles can spout bullshit just as well as people with testicles. Amazing.

  3. Nigel Walsh says:

    I’m finding it really difficult to find any positive feelings for this vote, so much so, I’m feeling a little guilty for thinking that as far as the advancement of feminism/gender equality goes, this is only marginally more positive than the church itself and its beliefs. So women will now get a higher profile role in peddling delusional beliefs; so bloody what!

  4. AgentCormac says:

    Welcome to the 20th century, Mr. Welby & Co. Unfortunately for you the rest of us have already moved on to not only another century but another millennium altogether. Who knows, after another 21 years of relentless, pointless debate your irrelevant church might also come to accept that there are those of the same gender who love each other just as much as ‘traditional’ couples, that there are people in so much pain that they should be allowed to choose to end their own lives, and that ultimately all those empty pews are confirmation that there really isn’t a deity up there in the sky after all.

    As for Frankie being ‘a fellow liberal’ – don’t make me laugh! He’s a PR spin doctor, nothing more.

  5. barriejohn says:

    Nigel Walsh: I recently read a comment ascribed to Clive James in which he referred to religions as “advertising agencies for a product that doesn’t exist”. That sums it up pefectly, yet Welby was on the news tonight saying that the church’s influence in society was greater than it had been since the Second World War because of things like food banks, faith schools, credit unions and so forth, and I’m sure he’s right, Something is going very wrong here.

  6. Bubba T Flubba says:

    I am a bit saddened by this because I enjoyed the sport of watching the pious ripping themselves apart in defending the indefensible. They had no choice in the end. If they failed concede they would look have looked even more stupid than before. But why oh why do women want to be bishops……don’t they realise the whole thing is based upon lies and confabulated myths. Or is being a bishop a nice little earner, no pressure, good pension, housing provision, plenty of opportunities to swagger and lord it over the common people, opportunities to exercise power over those of us who do nor believe, fine regalia……

  7. Lord Admiral Wing Commander Sir Nathan Gloss-Smythe of Gobian with Epaulettes Braid OBE, MBE, Garter, Braces, Swagger Stick and Pipe Esq. says:

    Bloody hell. Girlie Bishops. What the hell is going on? Will have to write a strong letter to the Times.

  8. Norman Paterson says:

    What will it mean for the CofE? Will the masses see that the CofE (like every other C) is simply a human construction, and that there is just a man behind the curtain? I hope so.

    But the important question is: What will these women wear, to match the men in dresses? If they wear the same as the men, won’t it be obvious that the men are silly? If they don’t, then either it will be something of middle eastern style (a burqa?!) or totally new (a trouser suit?!). I can’t wait. There will be fur flying, because women’s appearance is subject to much more comment than men’s.

  9. Brummie says:

    Wonderful just watching them trying to square the circle!

  10. Matt Westwood says:

    I can’t get over how many air-minutes have been wasted on this topic on BBC radio. In the end I turned off the radio today on my 200-mile-plus drive and listened to CDs instead.

  11. Trevor Blake says:

    Religion is against change until it is for it, and then won’t shut up about causing it. A good century behind secular suffrage comes the Church. And they are already red-handed from patting themselves on the back for their progress.

  12. Robster says:

    Another reinterpretation of a previously interpreted interpretation of biblical nonsense. Their nasty old book says the ladies should shut up an be not heard. How come all of a sudden it’s OK for women to get into the colourful robes, silly hats and so on to eat the tasty jesus and preach the silly stuff, while owning slaves is frowned upon? I wish we could interpret traffic laws etc. each time something untoward happens? Given it’s all made up anyway, we shouldn’t be surprised at this “breakthrough”.

  13. charlie says:

    Well, as a heathen living in the US of A, I see this as a very silly PR stunt. As has been said above, the CofE is STILL way behind the times.
    But, what got my attention were two comments near the end of the post.
    A Ms. Prudence Daily mentioned “bile, vitriol, and disapprobation” for a previous “no” vote on this matter.
    Another, a Mr. Samuel Margrave said something about “bullied” and “abuse” for a previous “no” vote.
    Really? In a “christian” church? “Abuse, vitriol, disapprobation, bullying”? Seriously? From those inside the CofE? Amazing that. I mean, isn’t xtianity ALL about loving each other? About loving their neighbor as themselves? Or was that my own misreading of bits of the new tasty mint back before I left religion at the ripe old age of 14.
    But, as I stated to start with, I am JUST an old heathen living in the US of A, so what do I know about the wondrous CofE? or ANY “good” church/mosque/temple of ANY religion or whatever doG they worship?
    Oh boy, makes me so damn happy to be an old heathen more and more every day.
    Then too, it may have been partly due to all this great “love” of their fellow xtians that aided my departure from xtianity and all religions.

  14. AgentCormac says:

    I mean, isn’t xtianity ALL about loving each other?

    As we all know, charlie, every religious institution is a business and a political movement all rolled into one. And as we also know, you don’t find a whole lotta love in business or politics!

  15. Angela_K says:

    A bit OT. The CofE has allowed women Bishops and on the Radio today Dave Cameron says he wants more women in his cabinet/Government but he says he won’t have all “wimmin” lists like Labour did. Shouldn’t we just have the best person for the job, any type of tokenism whether of gender or race is offensive.

  16. AgentCormac says:

    Also OT, I see religiots of the muslim variety have been griping loudly that their local school wouldn’t assist fully with the tradition of starving children for a month. So loudly, in fact, that it seems the school has now capitulated, with the head teacher stating that ‘Although the volume of communication has been from significantly few parents it is now interfering with the daily management of the school and detracting from our focus, which is the education of all children at Newport.’

  17. Newspaniard says:

    As a devout sexist and observer on these matters, I recall when women were allowed to become “priests” and the great celebrations when the first one was appointed. Now, you can’t move for them, they have taken over the church. Male priests have become rare birds indeed. It seems that the same is about to happen to bishops. Watch out, guys. Every time a vacancy for a bishop comes up, you can bet your socks that, qualified or not, a woman will get it. When she passes on, the post will automatically be allocated to a woman on the grounds that it was previously occupied by a woman and it can’t be changed. The same happened in our armed services with redundancies only applying to men. Ho Hum.

  18. Broga says:

    I loved Justin Welby wittering something about them being prayerful and the prayers had been answered. I had to stop listening before I hurt myself laughing.

  19. Angela_K says:

    Hurrah the religious gurning Gove has been sacked from his education post! Hopefully the rise in the number of religious schools will stop.

  20. barriejohn says:

    Angela: Not only that but he is to be the face of Toryism during the next general election, and will be appearing on breakfast television every day to “put the Conservative case”. That should lose them a few million votes!

  21. The Woggler says:

    Angela_K – Unfortunately, Gove’s replacement, Nicky Morgan, in her spare time ‘…attends her local church…’ (according to Wikipedia). So probably not.

  22. The Woggler says:

    Will the euphemistic phrase ‘Bashing the Bishop’ become redundant?

  23. Brummie says:

    Yes Woggler, no more Bisho-pricks.