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An article by the reliable Ruth Gledhill on the Christian Today website claims:

As the consecration of the first female bishop [in the Church of England] approaches, Christian Today has learned that at the consecration a few days later of traditionalist priest Father Philip North as Bishop of Burnley no bishop will lay hands on him who has previously laid hands on a woman bishop or priest.

I must say that I had to check the date to see if I was reading an old April Fools joke. And then later I rechecked the reliability of the site and the author in case I was reading some ecclesiastical satire site.

Let me be clear: Christians disagree about whether or not women can be ordained. Sacramental actions include form, matter, and subject, and I understand the majority of Christians have seen women to be not the right subject for ordination. Those who hold this have tradition on their side, and the support of biblical texts. I do not hold to this position; I uphold the change allowing women to be ordained. But I respect those who disagree with me and believe in ordaining only men.

I understand the Church of England is trying to take care to hold these different positions together. I am aware of the different positions within worldwide Anglicanism.

Fr Philip North
Fr Philip North

But Ruth Gledhill’s article is not about that. It is not about providing a male bishop who has been ordained by male bishops all the way back to the male apostles. It is about providing a male bishop who has been ordained by male bishops where those ordaining bishops have never tainted themselves by ordaining a female.

And the church doesn’t have a variety of possible opinions, on which we can respectfully differ, about that.

If I have tainted my baptismal record by rebaptising, or by baptising not in the name of the Trinity, or by using rose petals instead of water, or by sacrilegiously baptising a boat – read my, no, read the church’s lips: this does not negate my ability to validly baptise. Should I, after any such an error, baptise using water in the name of the Trinity, the person I baptise is validly baptised.

Catholic, orthodox theology holds that a bishop’s ability to validly ordain is not affected by possible errors in previous ordinations.

The Donatist controversy in the early church sought purity in the one ordaining. Donatism is a heresy. The church is clear – the validity of sacramental actions is not dependent on the worthiness of the one administering that action.

Ruth Gledhill’s article says, “the Church of England’s catholic wing is being allowed to preserve the traditionalist apostolic succession, creating a line of male bishops in perpetuity”. That, as I said at the start, is something I understand. But in their method of bringing that about, let us hope that the article is wrong. Or, if not, let us hope that those involved resile from these plans.

Because, if they do go ahead, and what she terms “the Church of England’s catholic wing” does in fact think that in order to preserve a male-only episcopal line it needs to have “no bishop lay hands on [Father Philip North] who has previously laid hands on a woman bishop or priest”, then that would mean that this “wing” would have lost its mooring, and drifted away from orthodox sacramental understanding, and could no longer rightly be called “catholic”.

UPDATE: Bishop Jim White very wisely develops some concerns about the current CofE episcopal ordinations, with a wonderful bonus about mitre wearing, here.

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58 thoughts on “Anglo-Donatism”

  1. According to the Archbishop’s statement, it was his decision, and not at the request of Fr. Philip (or anyone else). And, as he also points out in the statement, it is his prerogative. Statement here: http://www.archbishopofyork.org/articles.php/3204/forthcoming-consecrations

    Whilst I’m not disagreeing that picking and choosing would be Donatism, and I am concerned that this might set a precedent, Fr. Philip seems to be (based on views of those who’ve worked with him and public statements – no significant direct contact, I admit) one of the better picks for a bishop that the CofE has made of late!

    1. Thank you, Tom, for pointing to the Archbishop’s statement.

      Whilst he says, “Any suggestion that the arrangements proposed for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley are influenced by a theology of ‘taint’ would be mistaken”, he does not go on to explain what theology has influenced the arrangements. This is particularly noticeable when he goes on to describe several consecrations of traditionalists where these arrangements were not followed.

      As an aside, I am not agile enough with the CofE consecration rite, but I am interested that he is altering it, “The oath of canonical obedience to the Archbishop will be reinstated into the liturgy”.

      Obviously the archbishop can delegate consecrating, but has there ever in Christian history been the archbishop present at a consecration in his own province without him even laying on hands? One can rightly question whether his right of delegation, stressed in this statement, extends to stepping back and delegating when he is actually within touching distance.


      1. Bosco – this is the Church of England. We do our best not to let our theology influence anything at all! (By comparison with, say, the Green Report, the theology is well presented here!)

  2. Oh, for pity’s sake!! I saw this on Thinking Anglicans. I don’t understand why the two archbishops have caved to this demand. I know they are concerned with church order, but this is dis-ordered, for the reasons you stated in your post. I think that is a big mistake. The message given to the women of the Church of England by this action is horrible.

    1. There is no ‘caving in’ here. The General Synod took two years after what happened in 2012 to create the conditions under which all people communicant in the CofE have to work – the 5 Guiding Principals. This was done with all sides well aware of how the other operated and QED what is happening with North should not be a surprise. People who don’t agree with the decisions and how this is being enacted had many chances to voice their concerns during the talking over the two years or just plain say NO to the agreement that was reached – they, male and female, didnt and thus the principals where put in place. All this starts to smack of double standards over what was agreed and the status quo now. The aim of the working groups was to find a common agreed position which is what they did. It is not dis-order but simply following and being true to what was agreed by General Synod and was voted FOR by a majority of lay and ordained women at Synod. I pray for all people in the C of E that they can find it in their hearts to accept while being accepted.

      1. Simon, can you explain how male bishops (including the archbishop) who clearly adhere to the 5 Guiding Principles you mention, are excluded, by those same principles (as you suggest) from consecrating a male bishop? It seems to me highly probably that, had this particular way of consecrating been described at GS as an outworking of those principles, the legislation would have struggled to pass. Blessings.

      2. Simon, my understanding here is that the House of Bishops produced the Five Guiding Principles and they have never been through General Synod. If I am wrong, please tell me when GS approved these.

  3. Thank you Bosco for pointing out a key theological difficulty with this C of E “workaround” to cite your post yesterday (on a different topic, though related under the category of ecclesial compromise).

    We can understand the ‘politics’ and ‘psychology’ of this compromise, but can we understand the inability of otherwise visionary leaders such as York and Canterbury to lose sight of the bigger picture to which your post points, the true character of catholicity of the church of God?

  4. Agreed, Bosco. But, bending over backwards to understand things sympathetically (which seems to be both my characteristic virtue and my besetting sin), I think it is misleading for Gledhill (or her sources) to insist that this is about “taint” (or as the childish have said in print, that Anglo-Catholics “don’t want girl cooties”).

    The issue, as I understand it, it not ultimately about preserving apostolic succession, though the over-scrupulous might harbour the opinion that a bishop who has previously ordained a woman must be assumed to have defect of intention. (I find that not a very credible objection. Even from a Roman Catholic point of view, it’s virtually impossible to have defect of intention unless one is deliberately pretending to celebrate a sacrament, as in a seminary, or one is using the 1550 Anglican Ordinal…)

    As Gledhill points out, the first Provincial Episcopal Visitors (PEVs) received consecration from bishops who had ordained women. The issue wasn’t taint or breaking apostolic succession then, and it’s not here either.

    Rather, the issue is ecclesiological. It’s about who is in communion with whom.

    When Fr North is consecrated, the C of E will already have its first woman bishop, and most of the bishops present will have laid hands on her. They will have shown that they regard her as a fellow bishop and successor of the apostles, that her sacraments are the same as their sacraments, that clergy she ordains will (all things being equal) be accepted in their dioceses too.

    Most of these bishops will also have ordained women to the priesthood. Such a bishop must believe that the women he has ordained are in fact priests; that they share in his cure of souls (“which is mine and thine”, as the Service of Institution puts it); that they celebrate one and the same Eucharist. In other words, the bishop and his (female) clergy are in communion with each other. They see each other as ordained ministers of the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.

    But an Anglo-Catholic traditionalist cannot recognize the Church in this. Someone who believes a woman is not capable of ordination and cannot “confect” the Eucharist cannot therefore see the Eucharist presided at by a woman as a sacramental sign of the one communion of the Body of Christ. Being unable in conscience to partake of the sacrament at such a celebration, such a traditionalist must furthermore confess that he or she is not only “out of communion” with the woman priest, but also “out of communion” with the bishop, of whose cure of souls and Eucharist the woman priest’s are an extension. A bishop’s participation in the episcopal consecration of a woman merely elevates this dissonance to the level of utter incoherence.

    When the Provincial Episcopal Visitors were instituted in the C of E, it was popularly understood that this was about supplying “male only” clergy to care for misogynists until said misogynists died out. But the PEVs themselves set about creating a parallel, alternative diocesan structure to the C of E. (One even called his pastoral area an “Apostolic District”, resurrecting the administrative term used by Roman Catholics in England before the resurrection of their hierarchy in 1850.) They were creating an organic Church within the legal structures of the existing Church of England. Their ultimate goal was the creation of a third province in the Church of England, but this never came to pass.

    The same ecclesiological strategy is now being pursued by “The Society”, which is gathering a sacramental Church-within-the-Church and exploiting every available loophole in the laws permitting women to be bishops.

    All of this goes to show that Anglo-Catholic traditionalists regard themselves as in a state of de facto schism with the rest of the Church of England. Women bishops may be recognized by traditionalists in matters of law — and a diocesan has many legal powers not at all dependent on ordination or consecration — but they will not be recognized as successors of the apostles or foci of unity in the Church. On the contrary, women bishops and male bishops who have ordained women are in visible breach of the Catholic faith; they have separated themselves from Catholic communion. They are, from the traditionalist perspective, schismatics, heretics, perhaps even apostates.

    It is only against that background that the Donatist precedent so many people wish to adduce becomes intelligible. The Donatist controversy clarified that a bishop or priest who had apostatized (become a “traditor” under persecution) still possessed the character of Holy Order and could validly celebrate the sacraments. But does that mean one should share in the sacraments with an unrepentant apostate? The debate with the Donatists wasn’t whether traditor clergy needed to be reconciled through public confession and arduous penance. (Everyone agreed they they did.) The Donatists were wrong in their belief that reconciled traditor clergy could no longer celebrate valid sacraments — that they had lost the character of Order.

    So from a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic perspective, a bishop who has previously ordained a woman is in an ongoing state of apostasy and schism. The Donatist precedent would only become relevant if such a bishop publicly confessed that he had been wrong to ordain a woman, had committed a sin by doing so, and sought reconciliation and readmission to Catholic communion.

    Has any C of E bishop ever made such a declaration? I suppose he could be invited to lay hands on Fr North. By contrast, I’m not aware of any sound precedent for accepting episcopal (co-)consecration at the hands of a bishop with whom you are in open schism. (And it is schism that exists in the C of E, even if it is the most genteel schism in the history of Christianity.)

    It’s not about “taint”. It’s about communion. The fact that twenty “mainstream” bishops will be present but not participating in the laying on of hands is, ecclesiologically, no more significant than if a group of Anglican bishops were invited to attend, but not participate sacramentally in, the ordination of a Russian Orthodox bishop.

    Such are the wonders of establishment! And such is my attempt to understand what Fr North and his coreligionists are really doing. I detect no trace of taint or cooties.

    As an aside, Ms Gledhill needs to brush up on her Latin. “Societas Sancta Cruces? People called Romanes, they go the ‘ouse?”

    1. Thanks, Jesse, for explicating my point of in a previous comment – “Whilst the Archbishop says, “Any suggestion that the arrangements proposed for the consecration of the Bishop of Burnley are influenced by a theology of ‘taint’ would be mistaken”, he does not go on to explain what theology has influenced the arrangements.”

      I have often said the Anglican Communion ceased at the ordination of women, not more recently. We just don’t want to say that out loud. I am wondering if bishops beyond the CofE (as ministers of our unity) are making any response (even privately). There can be no more visible image of the break of communion than the unprecedented-in-Christian-history having the archbishop within touching distance present in his cathedral but not laying on hands in this consecration.

      [And if it’s not done by sunrise, you know what will happen… hmmm… suddenly very pertinent in this discussion]

      1. It is easy to argue that ‘taint’ is not a theology or a doctrine, because ‘taint’ is (as I have suggested on a Thinking Anglicans thread) better understood as a practice. And for some of us it is the practice which is in question here.

  5. Just as a follow-up, Bosco, I thought your readers might appreciate seeing two documents. The first is the C of E House of Bishops “Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests”, which is an agreed statement of five guiding principles whereby the new reality of women in the episcopate is to be implemented and interpreted:


    The second is a traditionalist commentary on those guiding principles, where my point about a parallel Church emerging within the existing law governing the established C of E is, I think, incontrovertibly demonstrated:


    Particularly revealing is the commentary on what the “highest possible degree of communion” actually is. Traditionalists apparently regard themselves as in baptismal communion with other Anglicans (as the Roman Catholic Church sees all Christian denominations), but nothing more than that.

    1. Thanks, Jesse. I struggle to see how the event planned as described implements these principles, and I wonder if this event as described had been tabled as the way forward whether the legislation on women bishops would have passed. Blessings.

  6. While it does not affect what you wrote The Church Times lays it almost entirely on the Archbishop ot York. Quote follows.

    THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, will not lay on hands at the consecration of the Bishop-elect of Burnley, Fr Philip North CMP, in February.

    In a statement released on Thursday, Dr Sentamu said that he, and certain other bishops, would exercise “gracious restraint” at the laying-on of hands during the Ordination Prayer in Fr North’s consecration.

    Furthermore, Dr Sentamu will not celebrate the Liturgy of Ordination and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Instead, he will delegate these duties to another bishop, who is committed to the “flourishing” of traditionalist Anglicans who oppose women bishops, the statement said.

    Dr Sentamu insisted that this break from normal procedure had nothing to do with the so-called “theology of taint”, and said that it had been his suggestion, not Fr North’s. Fr North, who was previously Vicar of Old St Pancras in North London, is an Anglo-Catholic who objects in conscience to the consecration of women bishops .

    I have always relished the acceptance of differences in the Anglican Communion but More and more I wonder at their increasinfg width.

  7. Beautifully put, Bosco. As a lay woman in the CofE this makes me sick, and the attempts of the Archbishof of York to insist on all the other parts of the service at which his authority is being properly acknowledged read to me like desperation,

  8. I am struggling with this state of brokenness. Even BBC Radio news referee to ‘taint’ this morning. I know of no ‘traditionalists’ (and there are also fairly trad Anglo-Catholics who include and are inclusive of women priests) who accept the term ‘taint’, instead wanting to refer to ‘an impairment of communion’. It so appears that this impairment is not considered to be indelible: a bishop could change his mind, say he did wrong by ordaining women, and be accepted into communion by traditionalists. I suppose that might happen, but it’s unlikely to be put to the test. Yet, if this interpretation is true, the traditionalist view is closer to Catholic doctrine than that of the Donatists. Even with much wriggling, it is difficult to see the sacramental theology demonstrated by the words and actions of traditionalists as amounting to anything more than a false doctrine of taint.

    1. Thanks, Gareth.

      I repeat what I’ve said in previous comments. If people are saying ‘taint taint, they have to be clear and say what it is instead. If they are not in communion with the Archbishop of York, why go through this charade? In this Northern Hemisphere Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is there not a heightened awareness of the profusion of options (sadly) available in the Christian cafeteria? What is their objection to the Ordinariate of Our Lady of Walsingham?


      1. “Why go through this charade?”

        I suppose because one can’t assume episcopal office in the Province of York without the involvement of the archbishop. (Whereas one could be consecrated to the episcopate, albeit illegally and irregularly, by any bishop who was willing to perform the rite.) As those guidelines I linked to point out, the traditionalists are willing to compromise by recognizing and respecting the “office” of bishops with whom they are out of communion, obeying them as administrative superiors even if they don’t necessarily recognize their “order”.

        Young children (in minor clerks’ orders) held episcopal “office” in the Middle Ages, and the Church managed to carry on very efficiently.

        Here in Canada (as in the US), we just have good old fashioned secessions from the parent body. Much tidier. Also much nastier. And way more expensive, what with all the lawsuits.

      2. My thoughts exactly. The complaints against the slur of ‘taint’ are many, but very few have offered an alternative explanation, and I have found non convincing.

        Does ‘impaired communion’ mean ‘not in communion’? It seems so. The CofE is planning to ordain a suffragan bishop who is not in communion with his diocesan or metropolitan. They might see their withdrawn presence at his ordination as generous hospitality, but there is absolutely no ecclesiological sense in all of this.

    2. The former Bishop of Exeter, Michael Langrish, used to ordain women to the priesthood, desisted at the end of his time in Exeter and is now a bishop of the traditionalist Society (of St Wilfrid and St Hilda. So yes, it has happened.

  9. Father Robert Lyons

    I don’t think that the parallel of Donatism quite a perfect match.

    The question is really, at least to someone who believes women should not be ordained, does accepting that women should be ordained mean that you have a defective understanding of orders which leads to the inability to formulate proper intention in conveying orders? If so, I can understand the position of the camp that would seek ‘purity’ at all costs.

    With the Donatists, they believed that the act of falling into the grave sin of denying the faith, even in a token manner, voided their authority to celebrate any sacraments. It wasn’t that the ‘traditores’ couldn’t formulate proper intention… the Donatists believed they were cut off completely from the Church because of their moral and faith failure, and that even after reconciling, they were forever barred from celebrating the sacraments again. The worthiness of the minister was the hinge point, and of course, the Articles of Religion (drawing on Augustine) refute that position.

    Is this about the worthiness of the minister? Apparently not.

    The fact that Archbishop Semantu has stated that it was his idea seems to solidify that. Insofar as I can tell from what I have read, Bishop-elect North has not asked for this, at least not publicly. Perhaps the good Archbishop is simply trying to forestall the question I have asked in the minds of traditionalists in his Province. I suppose he’s succeeded for at least a short time; but, at some point, the Cathedra at York will be occupied by someone else. And who knows what will happen then!

    1. Thanks, Fr Robert.

      The virtual impossibility to have defect of intention in this context has already been reflected on in the comments, but let’s unpack your point, “does accepting that women should be ordained mean that you have a defective understanding of orders which leads to the inability to formulate proper intention in conveying orders?”:

      1) Anglicans (and others) have a wide variety of theologies, sacramental included. I think some of these theological positions are sorely defective. The catholic sacramental understanding is that the confused theology of the minister of the sacramental action does not invalidate that action – if an orthodox rite is followed, the sacramental action is valid. That was the point of my paragraph on tainting the baptismal record.

      2) In catholic theology, having only one minister is sufficient to effect a valid sacramental action. The requirement of having at least three bishops present at the consecration of a bishop ensures that, should there be any doubt about the validity of one of the bishops, apostolic succession continues validly. We know that there will be, participating in the consecration, bishops who do not accept women should be ordained (these are the current, planned co-consecrators). To suggest that the presence and full participation of other bishops (whose validity is questioned by the one being consecrated) along with those somehow nullifies the consecration’s validity is completely contrary to catholic theology.

      One of the issues you are highlighting is that in saying it ain’t about taint (and not giving any reason why it isn’t), and not presenting then what it is about, is this very conjecture about what it, then, is about. No one has formally said it is about intention.


      1. Spot on, Bosco. What is it that makes the participation of others problematic? The language of “taint” may be contested, but that is exactly the question it asks. And the answer “it isn’t taint” avoids the question, rather than engaging with it.

  10. Dear Bosco, why are you looking for theological reasoning in what is a political action? The Church of England has been good at putting theology aside in the pursuit of political will since, and may be before, the reformation. This is not about theology. It should be seen alongside of the announcement of a conservative evangelical bishop for the suffragan see of Maidstone and is part of the deal, some clauses articulated and some not, which allowed the women bishops legislation to pass. Just as the Evangelicals will now get their reward in the Bishop of Maidstone, the conservative catholic wing of the CoE gets their reward by being allowed to bolster the walls of their ghetto. The consecration of Philip North will doubtless be a splendid occasion and there won’t be any outsiders to spoil the party atmosphere.

    1. Thanks, Richard. Can you explain, then, this, what you call a, “political action”.

      That “the conservative catholic wing of the CoE gets their reward” by the consecration of Philip North makes fine political sense, as you say. But it does not in any way explain the issue in this post – why is he being consecrated in this unprecedented manner? The best (political) explanation I have so far seen is that it means that Bishop Libby Lane will be present but not lay hands on him.

      So, quite the opposite of your point that “there won’t be any outsiders”. The Archbishop of York is, following your nomenclature, an “outsider”. “Outsiders” (your term) will be very much present. If they were not, then this discussion might be quite different.


  11. It seems, Bosco, that the only theological excuse the ABY has for his reluctance to participate in the laying on of hands at Fr. Phillip North’s consecration is that of the pastoral concern for ‘Gracious Restraint’ – thus allowing Fr. Phillip and his F.i.F contemporaries to believe that only male-ministry affirming bishops will be involved in the consecration). I wonder if that is sufficient reason for his stance?

  12. A few years ago when the Diocese of Wangaratta (Australia) finally decided to ordain women, I had a conversation with a traditionalist Anglo-Catholic priest who was arguing for the provision of episcopal oversight and ministry by a Bishop who had not and would not ordain women. He never used the word ‘untainted’ but that was what he meant. No such provision has ever been made and he subsequently went to Orthodoxy.

    I tried to have him explain why a Bishop who ordained women was unacceptable but a radical, unorthodox Bishop, e.g.Spong (leaving aside the women’s question)was acceptable and his ordinations, confirmations etc. were considered valid. I am not a Donatist but I tried to suggest that Bishops who deny core Christian beliefs surely are more problematic than an otherwise orthodox one who lays hands on a woman.

    I didn’t get a satisfactory explanation, indeed, the response was frankly limp.

  13. The idea that ++Sentamu came up w/ this notion of “gracious restraint”—not just for himself, but for ANY bishop who ever ordained a woman!—all La-Dee-Da, apart from any hint (nay, demand) from Fr North & his cohort is one of the most disingenuous things I’ve ever read out of Anglican Land (and I’ve read a lot!)

    The only word that I think properly describes the anti-OOW crowd, and all their “two integrities” “mutual flourishing” whingeing, is “butthurt”.

    On the one hand, you have a woman. Called by God.

    And on the other, you have an ideology, that the woman is delusional or a liar, NOT called by God.

    There are NOT “two integreties” here! And I sure as heck do NOT want to see the latter “flourish”.

    Lord, Re-form Your Churches!

  14. “NZ Anglicanism, for example, is increasingly influenced by Sydney’s position.”

    Really? Please explain some more.

      1. This interested me as well but I find the discussion link is on Facebook and not available even for reading to those like me, who got out of Facebook after about a year of great difficulty, and plan never to return.
        I know there are areas in NZ where Sydney has an influence. That they might be increasing is of great concern to this refugee from that sad diocese.

        1. Hi Bosco / Brian
          The statement made was “NZ Anglicanism, for example, is increasingly influenced by Sydney’s position.” That is a claim about facts of church life, that our approach to matters concerning the ordination of women in our church are not only influenced by Sydney’s position but increasingly influenced, i.e. today’s influence is greater than yesterday.

          Where is the evidence for this being so?

          1. Firstly, Peter, I think this could become a distraction from the point of the post.

            The paragraph from which you have taken the sentence is simply trying to underscore that we, in New Zealand, are not unaware or unaffected by different attitudes to women in ministry. But if the conversation with Bishop Kelvin about this that I pointed to was not sufficient for you and you are seeking stronger statistical evidence than he understood, then, as one of the clergy responsible for clergy training and formation in our province, please provide us with the annual statistics over the last four decades (the current generation of clergy in active ministry) of to which seminary people went from NZ to train, so that we can examine trends for going to Moore Theological College, Sydney, from NZ to train.


          2. Hi Bosco
            Your statement has a generated concern by a commenter here. Your statement is unevidenced. It is not for me to provide evidence for your statement. Nor is it appropriate, having made the statement, to persist in this mode of avoiding giving the evidence.

            Please give the evidence or withdraw the assertion.

            I can offer absolutely no evidence for increasing influence of Sydney Diocese on our position re WO.

          3. Since, Peter, I think it is a distraction to the thread to list off parishes with growing congregations where a woman priest or bishop would not be welcome to preach or teach to a mixed-gender congregation, or how they cultivate other parishes, or evaluate their influence within church leadership structures, or do the analysis of sending people to Moore Theological College, Sydney (the focus of the facebook discussion with Bishop Kelvin that the commenter was averse to going to), and returning here for ordination (noting that not all those trained there hold to a male-headship position) in comparison to the trends over recent decades to go from here to, say, Mirfield, for training, but mostly because it is a diversion from the point of this post, and because you are vociferous in your insistence, and it ultimately makes no difference to my point, I am removing the sentence, and will not distract further from the post’s point by such discussion on this particular thread. Blessings.

  15. Martin Reynolds

    I think it has become clearer over the last few days that this arrangement was set in place in a darkened (formerly smoke filled) room deep in the bowels of Church House as part of the negotiations to permit women into the episcopate.

    So Fr North can claim to have not asked for it. The deal had already been done and it was what he expected. The Archbishop of York and presumably a female successor will follow the same or very similar arrangement in the future when one of these men is thrown up.

    I must say how much I valued Jesse’s commentary.
    It does seem that for some the act of ordination far from imparting the grace of Holy Orders confers a spiritual form of impetigo on all those partaking and assenting.

  16. This is an obvious nonsense, but look at the number of bishops for the consecration tomorrow. The vast majority are in favour of women bishops.

  17. Wow we really do go in for guff in a big way in the C of E and the thread here proves it. There is a bottom line. Over the TWO yes TWO years that it took, painfully, to reach agreement on what transpired to be the 5 Guiding Principals people talked about these very events and agreed that they needed to be met with understanding and humility. Every chance was afforded for people to voice opinion and concern on both sides of the women bishops debate and they did! Can I remind everyone that it took and majority of lay and ordained women to vote in agreement of these measures and they did vote in favour thus the agreement we have now. You cannot shut the stable door just because you think the horse has bolted not cry foul when there was so many chances to amend or even stop these measure from becoming what they are now with the case of North. At a recent CNC meeting where it was mentioned that a candidate would have to be in favour of the ordination of women an Archbishop, very agitated, said no ‘we haven’t been though two years of pain and soul searching to agree the Guiding Principals just to forget them at the first chance’. There we have it and no amount to crying and trolling can change that. The point of the principals was that there was no ‘winner’ and that there would be periods where both sides would feel pain but have to comply to what the majority agreed when the proposals, rightly, where passed in order we could have women bishops. Many will feel not joy but real pain tomorrow and even if we dont agree we have to be christian and acknowledge this and move on.

    1. As I responded to another of your comments, Simon, please point to where in the Guiding Principles there is the suggestion that male bishops who hold to the principles would be excluded from consecrating a male bishop? Had that been clear, I wonder if the legislation would have passed in the manner you describe. Blessings.

  18. Revd Steven Cooper

    I’m a Methodist, so in one sense this isn’t my fight, though I have as much contempt for “taint” theology as the person. But I think we may be looking at this situation from the wrong angle to properly understand the basis of what has been requested. As the Archbishop of York’s own statement makes explicit, this is not about theology of “taint”, and is not at the behest of Fr North but is none other than the archbishop’s own initiative. But if – as has been asked above – it isn’t based on “taint” theology, then what? The assumption has been made that what has been requested is being done in order to appease traditionalists – but the Archbishop of York’s statement does not support this. If I attempt to think through the situation from the archbishop’s perspective, what occurs to me is this: Come Fr North’s consecration, the bishops who (in a normal situation) would take part in a new bishop’s consecration will include, as well as plenty of bishops who have ordained women, a bishop who is herself a woman: the Rt Revd Libby Lane, as from tomorrow she will be. Putting myself in the archbishop’s shoes, I think it likely that his call for “gracious restraint” is intended to minimise the extent to which Bishop Lane is put in a difficult position. I expect that she herself would feel awkward about participating in Fr North’s consecration (I’m sure Sentamu will have had a conversation with her about it) and so it seems very plausible to me that the idea of most of the other bishops holding back is more about standing with her than about supporting Fr North’s position. If that is the case, I can sympathise with it as an attempt to respond pastorally to a tricky situation – and can see where the grace might be found in this idea of “gracious restraint”. So the prospect of Donatist-type heresy rearing its ugly head is perhaps less in view than first appears.

    1. Thanks, Steven, I have already described your conjecture as “The best (political) explanation I have so far seen”. Firstly, it remains just that – in the face of no explanation (other than the claim that it isn’t about taint), this is merely one more conjecture amongst others. Secondly, as you describe it, there is no reason for the Archbishop of York to “delegate” his role in this unprecedented manner when he is standing at arm’s length (or so). Blessings.

  19. By the time this comment is read, in all probability there will be a woman bishop in the Church of England. What is most disappointing to me is that, in a week’s time, a male bishop will be episcopally ordained who does not believe that Bishop Libby is really a bishop! How does this affect the principle of episcopal collegiality – both in the C. of E. and in other Provinces of the Anglican Communion?

    It does seem to me that F.i.F clergy and bishops have a closer relationship to the Roman Catholic and Orthodox Churches (even though these two Churches do not officially recognise their Anglican Orders) than to the Church of England – which recognises women as co-bearers of the image and likeness of God, and therefore candidates for sacramental ministry in God’s (Anglican branch of the Body of Christ.

  20. Jonathan Streeter

    Father Ron, I believe that now-retired Episcopal Bishop Gene Robinson can tell you exactly what happens with “episcopal collegiality” when old boundaries are crossed. The old-schoolers get miffed! Yet, lo and behold, we survived, he served admirably, and the Via Media rolled on.

    Bosco, I’m late to this thread but want to say that the Episcopal priests in my diocese and parish who have done the most to awaken and encourage my love of God and the church have all been women. We now have a generation of Americans who see women in leadership roles as natural and unremarkable. (Not everywhere, not everyone, of course).

    Last week the Bishop of California preached in our cathedral here in San Francisco in vestments that were donated to him by a man in Australia who was denied ordination when he came out as a gay person. That’s another boundary we crossed in this part of the world and survived. (Not everywhere, not everyone, of course).

    Progress will come. As we are fond of saying in our church, “God isn’t finished with us yet …”

  21. As an aside..its not just “tainted” bishops…a friend of mine applying for a Permission to Officiate in a diocese he had retired to was asked whether he was happy to celebrate on an altar at which a woman priest had celebrated! I hope this was a one off!!
    While there are FIF parishes there arent necessarily FIF congregations….it is I think a largely clerical movement and laity in many FIF parishes are there because its their local church, always has been, like the priest ,like the worship etc….Those who attend the PEVs Chrism masses are ( except perhaps in a diocese like London)made up of a fair proportion of retired clergy.I cant see enough traditionalist catholics being ordained to cover retirements and for historic reasons of geography a lot of these parishes are struggling financially. It will be interesting to see the shape of the movement in 15 yrs time……..

  22. Ok, I’m very late to this discussion, but suggested on Twitter last night (US time) that there could be another reason for the Archbishop of York to show “gracious restraint.”

    He has been ordaining women since 1996. He has also participated and consecrated previous “flying bishops” from the FiF wing of the Church of England. There was no uproar at that time that i’m aware of regarding his participation in those consecrations.

    Could it be that with the new legislation allowing women bishops, the Archbishop of York is signaling his displeasure in maintaining this “church within a church” by not being the consecrator? He is within his rights to delegate this responsibility if he does not wish to be identified with the consecration of Fr. North.

    This doesn’t necessarily have to do with the “taint” of women’s ordination as it could be the “taint” (I hate that word in reference to people) of non-catholicity within the Church of England requiring circles inside of circles.

    Just a thought.

        1. Far be it for me, Jesse, to say how the Pope should run his liturgies, and I have great love and respect for Pope Francis, but I regard being one of the people administering the Sacrament as one of the tasks of the presider, and I have done so on every occasion that I have presided at the Eucharist. Blessings.

  23. All the huffing and puffing in the world does not alter the fact that if a woman functions sacramentally in my parishes, half of the flock (the most able bodied half) will simply leave. That is the pastoral reality for me. As one of them said to me, it is not we who have created a new sect – it’s the General Synod.

    1. In what you call “huffing and puffing”, Fr William, I am clear “the majority of Christians have seen women to be not the right subject for ordination. Those who hold this have tradition on their side, and the support of biblical texts” and that I respect them. I fail to see how this leads the Archbishop of York (a male), unprecedentedly in Christian history, without explanation, being within arm’s length of an about-to-be-consecrated priest, stepping back and delegating his required role of laying on hands to another. Blessings.

  24. “I understand the majority of Christians have seen women to be not the right subject for ordination.”

    This is such a broad statement that it becomes quite irrelevant. My opinion that the majority of Christians in New Zealand would see that women are a right subject for ordination. If you are talking about Anglicans, Presbyterians and Methodists, then you could add “vast”. Only Catholics might not agree, but even they might admit off the record that women ought to be ordained.
    Of course, Great Britain is more conservative and Nigeria even more so so by including an appropriate subset of Christians you could make the statement true. I apologise for the lack of coherence in this argument.

    1. I’m not sure what your point is, Stephen, sorry. The quote you are commenting on is true as we look back at most of Christian history. And your point in NZ could just become a playing with statistics – I do not at all think that church-going Anglicans + Presbyterians + Methodists would “vastly” outnumber churchgoing RCs in NZ. Blessings.

      1. I agree that when you go back over history most people did not see women as being fit subjects for ordination. I did not propose lumping Christians for all denominations together.
        I think the point I was trying to make is that in denominations where ordination of women has been firmly established, they are widely appreciated and very few would wish to go back to a regime of male-only clergy.

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