Sunday, July 06, 2008

Anglican bishops in secret Vatican summit

Senior Church of England bishops have held secret talks with Vatican officials to discuss the crisis in the Anglican communion over gays and women bishops.

They met senior advisers of the Pope in an attempt to build closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church, The Sunday Telegraph has learnt.
Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, was not told of the talks no, but it is rumoured that he was agreeable to Catholic intervention and the disclosure will be a fresh blow to his efforts to prevent a major split in the Church of England. for him it could be answer, he might well consider these people are better out of the CofE
In highly confidential discussions, a group of conservative bishops expressed their dismay at the liberal direction of the Church of England and their fear for its future. Even those who favour women bishops are anxious about the inroads of Liberalism.

They met members of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the most powerful of the Vatican's departments, the successor to the medieval Inquisition, black legend stuff!! which enforces doctrine I prefer clarifies and was headed by Pope Benedict XVI before his election.
The names of the bishops are known to The Sunday Telegraph, but they have asked for anonymity because the talks are of such a sensitive and potentially explosive nature.
The disclosure comes on the eve of a critical vote as members of the General Synod – the Church's parliament – prepare to decide whether to allow women to be bishops without giving concessions to staunch opponents.
Up to 600 I think that is 5% of C of E but some of course are on the protestant wing and not involved in talks with Rome clergy gave warning in a letter to Dr Williams that they may leave the Church unless they receive a legal right to havens within the Church free of women bishops.
In separate developments, three diocesan bishops wrote to the archbishop supporting the threat and two other bishops have said they are preparing to leave the Church. The letter from the Bishops of Chichester, Chichester has a large number of Anglo-Catholic clergy and had few female clergy Blackburn and Europe – seen by The Sunday Telegraph – argues that traditionalist clergy will not be able to "maintain an honoured place" in the Church without sufficient legislation.
"Clearly the ordination of women as bishops would divide the Church of England even more fundamentally than the ordination of women as priests," it says. Until this point male clergy could simply avoid female clergy, even to the point of not allowing women to reserve the sacrament in the tabernacle.
"This issue is one which touches all members of the Church of England and not just those with synodical voting rights. In the light of this we are convinced that some form of separate identities will be required to enable the holders of mutually incompatible convictions about the faith and order of the Church to remain in as high a degree of continuing fellowship as possible."
However, while the letter shows that there is deep disquiet in the most senior ranks of the Church, the meetings with Rome will be of far greater concern to Dr Williams.
One bishop involved in the talks, who wished to remain anonymous, said he was left with no option. "The Church of England is becoming more and more like the American Church. Those of us who hold to traditional orthodoxy are very concerned about the direction it seems to be moving in."
The Anglican communion has been arguing over homosexuality since the American Church made Gene Robinson the first openly gay bishop and issued rites for same-sex unions. Conservatives are concerned that gay blessing services are being conducted in Britain and last month this newspaper revealed that a “wedding” ceremony was held for two gay priests. The issue of homosexual priests is likely to feature strongly at this month’s Lambeth Conference of worldwide Anglican bishops. Many are concerned that with the purge of both those inclined to Catholicism and Traditional Protestantism the C of E will be merely a liberal rump.
Now the Church of England is poised to endorse women bishops — a move that will seriously damage its relations with the Roman Catholic Church and could force hundreds of clergy to defect to Rome. The damage was done with women priests.
"These are the presenting issues that have made talks necessary, but our concerns go much deeper than these rows to issues of basic doctrine," the bishop said. "I have to be loyal to the parishes in my diocese and to the Gospel and that’s why I felt I had to do something.W"
Another bishop said: "The internal pressure of the Anglican communion has pushed us apart and we’re committed to greater unity with Rome. There can be no future for Christianity in Europe without Rome." For many this understanding has grown with Pope Benedict's election
The Pope’s enthusiasm for bringing traditional Anglicans into the fold was shown in 2003 when as Cardinal he sent greetings to a group of conservative churchmen meeting in Texas in protest at the election of Bishop Robinson. The Pope and Dr Williams enjoy a strong relationship, Rome has been somewhat cold to Dr Williams on his visits.treating him as any othe Protestant leader.
However, a former aide to Cardinal Cormac Murphy-O’Connor, the head of the Roman Catholic Church in England and Wales, said that the dialogue with the Anglican bishops only started after the crisis in the Anglican communion worsened. "It is obvious things are starting to fall apart and Rome wants to be able to help if it can," he said.
The Rt Rev Kieran Conry, the Bishop of Arundel and Brighton, my bishop said: "A number of Church of England bishops are looking at the options open to them should things go wrong at the Lambeth Conference. Some are hoping for accommodation with the Catholic Church, but yet maintaining their Anglican identity." reject by the English heirarchy last time round
The Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Rev Martyn Jarrett said: “In the tragic circumstances that the Church of England takes decisions which make it impossible to walk with it anymore we would want to understand more where we are in relation to wider Catholic Christendom.
“Anglo-Catholics have always had a particular concern for re-union with the Holy See. No matter what might happen Anglo-Catholics will continue to be at the forefront of that dialogue and explanation.” Rome would see this as wishful thinking whilst they are still in communion with an ecclessial body that rejects the Apostolic Tradition and Apostolic Orders.
The Archbishop of York, Dr John Sentamu, used his Synod address yesterday to attack members of the "breakaway" Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans — accusing them of "ungracious" behaviour. They are fighting for their life in the C of E!
Lambeth Palace declined to comment.


Anonymous said...

Trebles and Personal Prelatures all round!

Physiocrat said...

Never forget that the Church of England would not exist were it not for Henry VIII wanting to get his divorce. Theologically, it is a lash-up.

It is painful to watch, but to anyone in it wanting to go over to Rome it should be made clear that the way is open to them as an individual, just as it is to anyone else. And that an objection to women clergy is not of itself a reason for becoming a member of the Catholic church

gemoftheocean said...

I don't know what the point is. It's not like the Vatican holds Anglican orders to be valid to begin with, male or female. They may as well ordain kangaroos for all we officially "care."

If the orthodox were ordaining females or having practicing homosexuals ordained.

I'm wtih Damian Thompson on this one. We don't really have a dog in this hunt.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I have just added some comments.

Paul, "Trebles"?

Anonymous said...

Any chance of wheeling out the Anglican Use option in the event of a mass conversion from the C of E? To date it exists only in the US.

Henry,if you believe that the Church ought to be episcopally governed, and you object on grounds of divine revelation to women clergy, then it is by elimination a reason for becoming either Roman Catholic or Eastern Orthodox.

The penny should have dropped by now that the reason the C of E and the Anglican Communion are cracking up is that it does not share in the infallibiity Christ conferred on His Church and must perforce be in schism from her.

Londiniensis said...

I would dearly welcome an "Anglican Use" rite within the Catholic Church in England and Wales. The Book of Divine Worship, authorised for (Catholic) Anglican Use parishes in the United States, uses Cranmerian English, so much more beautiful and fitting for the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass than our own lamentable ICEL (even taking into account the proposed changes). Although there are some disappointments - the Roman Canon is used (unfortunately with "for all") and the rather weak Novus Ordo Offertory - overall this is dignified vernacular worship. It is little wonder that our Conference of Bishops is rumoured to be dead set against a Roman Catholic Anglican Use within these shores.

You can see the Book of Divine Worship here.

Anonymous said...

What I don`t understand is: these bishops were in the Anglican Church when women were ordained. They could have moved then. I don`t see what difference having them ordained as Bishopettes makes. There has to be more to it. The Bishopettes thing has just become the immediate focus.

Anonymous said...

I agree with bernadette. Surely the logical progression after having agreed to women vicars was going to be eventually women bishops, women archbishops and finally a woman archbishop of Canterbury? Why the surprise now that women bishops are being discussed? it is mystifying.

My only experience with an anglican lady vicar was a couple of years ago when I had to discuss the funeral of my step father following his death. It was a strange experience - a pleasant lady but so difficult to accept as a vicar. The service itself was so surreal - I felt she was 'acting' her part.

Personally I could no more accept women 'priests' in our Church than I could fly so it would be a real test of obedience if it every came about. I was somewhat horrified to read a comment on 'Holy Smoke' today which I hope most sincerely is not true. It stated that our own Bishop of A & B 'told a delegation of C of E synod representatives in a closed meeting that he personally had no problem with the idea of women priests or bishops.' Could he perhaps have meant that the Bishop has no problem with C of E women priests etc or did he really mean our own Church?

Fr Ray Blake said...

I suspect what he was saying is that their search for reconcilliation with the Church has to be more than because someone doesn't like the C of E, or something it does.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Father - I think I see your point. Perhaps if we knew what comments preceded the quote from the Bishop it would be clearer. I wonder how someone knew what he said if it was a closed meeting?

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that I like gemoftheoean's comparison of myself with a kangaroo. Not very Christian!
I know of a number of ex-Anglicans whose ministry is now greatly valued in the Catholic Church. Many of them bring great pastoral experience and sensitivity. For many Anglo-Catholics women bishops are the last straw, and I hope that Rome will warmly welcome the contribution they might bring.

gemoftheocean said...

Fr. Heron... I just meant that I don't think we have a say so on what you do with your church.

I would agree that women can give great insight into pastoral problems that a male perspective might not have.

Be that as it may, I am really surprised that many in your church now are complaining about female bishops, because if you are going to ordain them to be deacons (and the deacon is in Holy orders) then by extension the same principle would hold for having them be bishops.

If people WERE to "swim the Tiber" from the Anglican church to Rome over the issue, they should have swum when they ordained the first woman a deacon. [I concur with Damian Thompson on this - the Anglican church, having already decided to ordain females as deacons is not following that decision to its logical conclusion if it doesn't also have them as priests and bishops.]

From my own perspective I can understand my own church's reluctance to ordain women. I would have to say I'm not happy with *SOME* of the ways the issue is argued ... some of the "boys only club" can and often does come up with specious reasoning and over simplifications of the issue and sometimes what looks like outright anti-female attitudes. The "barefoot and pregnant crowd" has never carried much water with me.

The SOLE argument I do find persuasive is one of caution. Jesus had to be one sex or the other when the word was made flesh. Would that society have listened to a woman and accepted her as saviour? Absolutely not. They were certainly expecting a male and would not have accepted a female. God does try to reach us in ways we understand. Is it merely important that Jesus became flesh...or particularly is there something special about male flesh, as opposed to female flesh? I do not think one superior to the other, both necessary to sustain creation. HOWEVER, that said we simply do not KNOW if Jesus came down today would He have also chosen women? Perhaps. But perhaps not. Is the connection between the priest being "in persona Christi" easier to understand for most people if the priest is a male? [Even though in different ways, we are all called to be "in persona Christi" to each other, the priest being the point man of the company, so to speak, and should ideally exhibit exemplary character.] Perhaps Jesus' reasoning was as simple as taking human nature into regard. Certainly the early apostles and for millenium + until very recently you simply couldn't expect women not to go into the dangerous and contentious situations many of the apostles and the presbyters went into. [Though to be sure there were many holy women martyrs.[ And today? It may be as simple as men/women being first of all men and women and having to work in such close circumstances would have natural male/female temptations. We certainly couldn't have two unmarried clergy of the opposite sex living in the same quarters. Some could do it, probably, but human nature being what it is - the same principle as having an all male submarine crew. Quarters too tight! Well, perhaps one might argue these things oculd be minimized...women clergy living in separate quarters. But even goes back to "Form and matter" issues.

Try this -- given a different day, age and culture ...*could* Jesus have consecrated tortillas and Rum?
Sourdough bread and Pepsi? I mean if you want to argue everything's all protons, neutrons and electrons, merely the same three basic components bonded in a different way...I suppose you *could* but I think prudence probably argues against chancing it. Step up and be the first to consecrate Pepsi and a burger? Probably not. Which is why I accept what the church teaches. [Mind one anyone prattling about women's innate capabilities somehow being inferior to mens or trying to shove every woman into the same jello mold "role" would get a quick tennis shoe tossed in their direction from me.]

Who knows, maybe when we get to heaven Jesus might says "Hey, dorks, how come you just used 50% of possible resources?" But I can see its a prudent thing to do that which we KNOW we can do - things aren't always what we may wish it to be, but that doesn't mean there isn't a reason to stick to the straight and narrow path.

Each succeeding generation has LESS latitude in some things than others. And I can see being cautious and prudent regards the form and matter of any of the sacraments.

Anonymous said...

There`s something else I don`t really understand. WHAT is an Anglo-Catholic ? IS it the same as a Roman Protestant ? Cos if it is, we need those like bullets in the head.

Anonymous said...

Gemoftheocean: I agree with most of what you say, but I was suggesting that it would be ex-Anglican MEN who would bring their sensitivity to the Catholic priesthood.
Bernadette: You're just being silly!

nickbris said...

The reason they really want to become Catholics is because they have realized that Catholicism is the True Christianity and that they are on the wrong road completely.

gemoftheocean said...

Fr. Heron. I would be happy for any Anglican male clergy who convert to Catholicism seek the priesthood in the Catholic faith. Such men would have many gifts to bring to the table. Even married ones (assuming they've been married a while and has a wife who isn't "around the bend crazy."

I wouldn't care to see the Catholic church in the west switch to allowing for married clergy in general ... but for the Anglicans/Episcopal priests who convert, I'm happy enough for the dispensation.

Anonymous said...

Yes it is a bit silly, Rev Heron. I find that God sometimes uses silly ones to illuminate the wise... But it is a question that is relevant. My Anglo-Catholic friends define themselves as broadly: liking classical liturgy, not minding Mary and The Saints and open to believing in the Real Presence (indeed, some occasionally join us for Adoration of the BS, which is wonderful.) What they are not open to accepting at all is the authority of The Pope and much of the dogmatic truth and doctrines that have been handed down. They are happy where they are. They LIKE the Anglican Articles of faith. Their position is clear.

Now, having listened to, read and watched all the reports yeterday, it seemed to me that there may a completely different understanding of Anglo-Catholicism, which could be summed up as "Roman Proestantism" - broadly defined as: We still remain Anglican, but we`re getting a bit tired of the CofE. Can you let us in.

To me that is quite a difference. And a question worth asking.

In my silly view, I see the forces of Roman Protestantism as being directly responsible for the messes within Roman Catholicism today. And it isn`t going to change until The Church becomes Catholic once more. So, the possible influx of people who can`t bear the thought of women bishops (having weathered the past few decades of women priests..?) rings a big alarm bell with me.

There has to be more to it. What is their agenda ? THEIR position is not so clear.

Fr Ray Blake said...

I think you are referring to is what Newmwn defined as "Liberalism" but I Liberalism as springs directly from Protestantism: dethrone the Pope, and everyone is a Pope.

Anonymous said...

That is an even better way of putting it, Fr Ray. Perhaps, [JOKE ALERT] Woman's Hour will do a little feature on it this week.

I am starting to get a bit steamed up about this, as all the "Commentary" from the media seems to be in support of this false ecumenism that`s unfolding. What kind of CATHOLIC CONVERTS remain in a church that has had women priests, that make up their own rules and that have very odd ideas about the sanctity of life and of marriage, all for some time now... There`s more to it. They all want to hang on to their Anglican identity and Articles of Faith. What`s stopped them before ? why jump now ? Women Bishops are the last straw ? I`d have thought women bishops were the least of their worries.

And why isn`t anyone asking them.

I really do think we need St John Henry Newman more than ever. He`d sort it out.

Anonymous said...

Father, I'd hesitate to agree that liberalism springs directly from Protesantism. There are plenty of Protestants who subscribe to Newman's dogmatical principle.

If you dethrone the Pope, it's not necessarily the case that everyone becomes his own pope. The Emperor (in the east) and kings (in the Protestant west) usually filled that role.

And woe betide a Free Presbyterian who makes a private interpretation that Ian Paisley disagrees with!

Fr Ray Blake said...

Until now Anglicans have been able to avoid them, but they can't avoid diocesan bishops.

Fr Ray Blake said...

Kings don't work, see the c of e, nor do emperors.
Popes work because they know they are subject to the authority of Tradition.

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