Friday, January 2, 2009

Women bishops: get over them

Opinon piece in the guardian writen by an ordained woman

When I was ordained a deacon in 1992, a few months before the historic vote on women priests, I was like most people shortly to be ordained: overly anxious and overly serious. Added to that I had recently finished my doctorate on an aspect of the English Reformation. This meant, unlike most Anglican ordinands, I had actually read the 39 Articles to which one must assent before being ordained in the Church of England. I had scruples.

I told my diocesan bishop that although most of the thirty-nine were fine, one or two were a real problem. Article 37 for example, endorses capital punishment, a position I find incompatible with the Christian gospel – a fact that seems to have been overlooked (or has it?) by those who wish to impose the Articles as a touchstone of orthodoxy and morality on the whole of the Anglican Communion. I received from my bishop just the right response for the occasion: he told me that by 'assent', I was saying 'Yes bishop, those are the 39 Articles'. His pastoral, intelligent and humane response to my somewhat precious scrupling carried me through the day.

The draft legislation to consecrate women as bishops published on Mondayand the supporting documentation makes a great deal of Anglicanism's gift for holding together diverse, at times, contradictory points of conviction in a wider context of pastoral common sense. Often derided by others for this as the fudge producers extraordinaire of Christianity, we Anglicans tend to make a virtue of it and if it makes us less prone to witch-hunts and the gleeful doctrinal purges of the purity police, I'm all for it. Human beings, let alone God, are rather complicated.

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