Our post on the statement issued by the Church of England's House of Bishops earlier this week attracted a lot of readers, and some very interesting, informed and courteously made comments. Do have a look if you haven't already done so, you can find it all here.
As a short postcript, we draw our readers' attention to a statement issued last night by the Archbishop of Canterbury and the Archbishop of York. You can find the full text here, but we set out below a few extracts and comments.
In summary, the clarificatory statement confirms the way we had understood the statement from the House of Bishops. You see, there's proof for all you doubters about whether Anglican Patrimony exists, we are still capable of deciphering the dense language that emerges from Lambeth Palace and Church House.
In the comments on our article Missing the Point, we said that the clarification about what delegation meant and where the replacement bishop's episcopal status came from did not change anything, it was merely a statement of fact. A helpful one, but still a clarification only, bringing about no change. York and Canterbury said :
To take the simpler ...[amendment]...first: we decided to make no change to the provision in the Draft Measure by virtue of which the arrangements made by diocesan bishops under diocesan schemes for the exercise of ministry by a male bishop take effect, as a matter of law, by way of 'delegation. But we believed that it would help to spell out what is and isn't meant by the 'delegation' of the power to perform acts of episcopal ministry. Bishops are bishops because they are ordained in the name of the whole Church; but they are enabled to act as bishops in this or that particular area in virtue of various legal provisions. For those who are not diocesan bishops, this means that a diocesan gives them the legal authority to act as bishops - as pastors and teachers and people responsible for other ordained ministers.So, the clarification of the clarification of the first proposed amendment is clear: nothing has changed (no disrespect intended, but isn't that a classic example of the typical Anglican model of governance). There is no additional comfort provided to Anglo-Catholics, and there should be no implication of "taint" assumed by proponents of the ordination of women to the Anglican episcopate.
'Delegation' describes the giving of that authority. It does not take anything away from the diocesan bishop who delegates; it just allows another bishop to minister legally in the diocesan's area of oversight. The amendment simply declares what the law and practice of the Church already is, and what we mean by delegation in other contexts.
The clarification of second proposed amendment is also pretty clear. A replacement bishop supplied by a diocesan bishop must be male and must share the views of the parish on the issue of the ordination of women. There is no right for a parish to choose who the replacement bishop will be. Therefore, despite the ongoing role (even if no longer in PEV status) of Ebbsfleet, Richborough and Beverly, a diocesan bishop need not call them in, but can call in a more establishment or mainstream figure, such as a nearby suffragan or retired anglican bishop (I don't mean to be rude there, it is no insult to anyone I hope, but I think what I mean is clear).
The earlier draft of the Measure already allowed parishes to request the diocesan to provide a male bishop to minister to them if their theological convictions were such as to make it impossible in conscience to receive a woman's ministry in this role. For this to operate effectively, a diocesan would obviously have to do what could be done to find a bishop who could work constructively with such a parish.One can understand why Canterbury and York issued this clarification. There had been a lot of comment, some of it very excited indeed. I'm sure we have all read of the sadly infamous article commented upon at Let Nothing You Dismay.
The amendment requires the Code of Practice which the bishops will draw up to offer guidance as to how this might be achieved. This was already something the bishops and the Synod would have been able to include in the Code. The change is that they will now have to include such guidance. It does not give parishes the right to 'choose their own bishop' or insist that their bishop has a particular set of beliefs. It allows them to ask for episcopal ministry, as spelled out in Clause 2 of the Measure, only on the grounds of theological conviction about women's ordained ministry. The precise wording in the Code remains something for the Bishops and Synod to determine but it attempts to take seriously the fact that, as has been clear all along, simply providing any male bishop would not do justice to the theological convictions lying behind requests from some parishes.
As our comments on the Missing the Point blogpost suggested, we think that if for whatever reason, the legislation is not passed in the summer (without commenting on whether, from a personal perspective, any of us would wish that it should or should not be), then the negative fall out could be significant. This will most especially be the case if the "pro" camp doesn't vote the legislation through. The "pro" camp, the media and politicians will thereafter exert massive pressure on the new Archbishop of Canterbury to ensure the swiftest and clearest possible solution to what they will simplistically and erroneously - but successfully and convincingly - describe as a sacrifice by supporters of the ordination of women, made necessary by the bishops being too nice to meanie traditionalists.
After all, who knows what the approach of the new Archbishop of Canterbury might be. It seems unlikely that he will be as understanding as Rowan Williams has been. The make up of the selection committee cannot, we suppose, offer much comfort to Anglo-Catholics.
We have focused too much on developments in the CofE recently, even if given our history it is inevitable that we should. One more mention then of the Ordination at Westminster Cathedral today, on which we will provide a report in a subsequent post. Our prayers for all the candidates ordained deacon this morning. Thanks be to Almighty God for sending so many good and holy men to serve in his Church.
H/T to the Once I Was a Clever Boy blog for this beautiful 15th century Catalan painting of the ordination of St Vincent to the diaconate by Bishop St Valerius.
A word also about the feast of St Philip Neri, Father of Oratorians. His feast is being kept in the greatest style at the London Oratory today, led by HE Cardinal Burke. We ask the prayers of St Philip Neri, and also offer our prayers, for that wonderful church, led of course by its new Provost, who like us is a former regular at St Mary's Bourne St, and with many former members of the Bourne St congregation in its pews. Our fellow Catholics at the Oratory had the Theresienmesse as the setting of the Ordinary of their Solemn Pontifical Mass this morning. Here is the Gloria, followed by a couple of photos taken by Eoghain Murphy of proceedings in Brompton this morning.