Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Barry Morgan: Women bishops essential to mission

(Ed: I think my headline is nearer to what he is saying than the Guardian's, "At odds with the gospel: Refusal to ordain female bishops is counter to core Christian values. We must stand up and say so today."

In an age when women have broken through the glass ceiling in most professions in Britain, it is strange that they still face discrimination in a church that believes there is "no male or female" in Christ. Women can become judges, surgeons, chief executives and heads of state, but in the Church in Wales - which waited until 1997 to ordain women as priests - they are as yet unable to become bishops.

I do not see how, having agreed to ordaining women to both the diaconate and priesthood, the church can logically exclude women from the episcopate. That is why I and my fellow bishops will be asking members of the church's legislative body today to vote in favour of a bill to allow women clerics to become bishops. It's a move that Anglican churches have made in other countries - Scotland, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada and the US, though not yet England. I believe Wales is now willing to embrace this important change too. Read more

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1 comment:

Revd John P Richardson said...

Sadly, what I think this article does reveal is why it is harder for supporters of women's ordination to the presbyterate and episcopate to accept its opponents than, contrary to expectation, vice versa. Archbishop Morgan writes, "At the heart of the Christian gospel are values of integrity, justice, wholeness and inclusion ... That is why I cannot support any of the proposed amendments to the bill, which call for the appointment of a male bishop with jurisdiction for those who oppose the authority of a woman bishop. To do so, moreover, would be to sanction schism, to threaten the unity of the church."

For me, the ordination of women is a matter of a different interpretation of Scripture. (Only with my tongue firmly in my cheek would I say supporters interpret it their way, whilst opponents interpret it God's way.) I happen to think having women as vicars (etc) or bishops goes against Scriptural principles, but I recognize there are those, equally committed to Scripture, who do not. I accept them as fellow believers, but Archbishop Morgan's position cannot extend the same courtesy towards me.

In the end, for him and those who think like him, my viewpoint violates the gospel and to provide for it would be to create schism on the basis of that violation.

Whilst I might hope to 'out-teach' those who hold differently to my own views, whilst allowing they have a place for the practical application of their views within the Church, Archbishop Morgan cannot allow my views similar expression.

Thus the ordination of women becomes a 'credal' issue, and hence, beyond the issue of 'should women be ordained' we have the issues of 'should the ordination of women be treated as a credal issue?' Archbishop Morgan is seeking to settle both these questions in one vote!