|Overtaken by Nile Lilies - Agapanthus|
Some while ago I was posting what might be thought marginally political matters: and I was told by a very senior member of the Ordinariate that I would be well advised to stick to gardening - which you, dear reader, will have noticed I have done. Nothing about the present state of the Church of England, no comments on the 'ordination' of women as bishops. So it came as something of a surprise - a pleasant surprise I must own - to find Mgr Burnham breaking his own rule and blogging about the Church of England's recent adventure in modernity.
Of course, he did not sink so low as to create a blog himself; instead he let Fr Tomlinson do it for him. I was particularly struck by this paragraph attributed to Mgr Burnham: 'The position of those opposed to women’s ordination is respected. Once more they are said to have an honoured place and it would be churlish and discourteous to point out that, in this matter, rhetoric has always been stronger than practice in the twenty years since women have been ordained priest in England. The important difference now is that the language of reception and communion have been largely ditched in favour of the language of tolerance.' All of Mgr Burham's piece is well worth reading, and I trust that the author of "Consecrated Women?" and the many other Anglo-Catholic leaders who were until very recently saying that "A code of practice will not do" are busily reading it - unless they genuinely are now very happy with the code of practice (for it is nothing more) that has been offered them.
I suppose Mgr Burnham's essay struck me particularly, since like him I had been a flying bishop. How truly he observes that rhetoric has been stronger than practice in regard to giving Anglo-Catholics an 'honoured place'. Like me he will recall the women Directors of Ordinands who made it impossible for men to proceed as candidates for ordination unless they denied their belief that Christ instituted a male episcopate (and presbyterate) when he set apart the twelve Apostles. Like me he will remember battles over presentation to livings of traditionalist candidates when there was a woman Archdeacon overseeing it.
But all that is now over. We sought an honoured place because we thought that the Church of England really was part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church, and all that was needed was to remind her of her vocation. Now that is no longer possible. Instead of being a voice recalling the Church of England to her roots, Anglo-Catholicism s now reduced to being simply a tolerated minority, expected very soon to die out when it has once experienced the reality of women in the episcopate.
It will be a very gentle process. After all the facilitated discussions of the past year, everyone knows how valued Anglo-Catholics are. They lend a bit of colour to the scene, and because they are so obviously wrong they can be put up with - for a while.
What a relief not to have to concern myself with all this any longer, now that I am a Catholic priest in the Ordinariate. Certainly we must continue to pray for our brothers and sisters in the C of E, especially those of a 'catholic' bent. There was a time when Bishop (now Mgr) Broadhurst would say “don’t trust a bishop – even me”. But of course women bishops will be entirely different, totally to be trusted. None of them will ever bully their priests into toeing any sort of official line. They will be quite different from any of their predecessors; or indeed from any women in positions of authority in the Church up to now. They will be models of generosity, and no Anglo-Catholic will have anything to fear. He will be treated equally over matters of preferment, there will be a new swathe of traditionalist bishops from both the Catholic and the Reform wing....
|On this, at any rate, Voltaire was right: get on with the gardening|