Sunday, 20 July 2014

Women Bishops from Russia

Left to right - Archbishop Elisey of Sourozh, Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk
Justin Welby, Anglican archbishop of Canterbury,  Richard Chartres, Anglican bishop of London
Zenit has a report of the statement of Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk on the recent decision of the Church of England to begin to have women as bishops. You can see it here.
The presence of women in the episcopate shuts for us the door to any discussion on the issue of succession in the Anglican episcopate...
I do not think that this is an issue for most of the people in the modern C of E. I think that desire for union and the means of reaching it have more or less died out. And if the underlying theology, even from the Russia side, is no longer able to be used - there being no succession - it is difficult/impossible to think of any common language or principles that could ever lead to any form of union.

The truth is, I suspect, that union has been the concern of Catholics, Anglo-Catholics (some, though not all) and certain theologians. I do not think it is on the agenda of the rank and file. For many, of course it would be nice if we were all together, but not if it meant that they would have to change, or more exactly would have to stop doing what they thought was right.

And you can respect this point of view. It is a clear exposition of a protestant mindset. And that is fine, because the C of E is protestant. It does not want to be told what to do by a magisterium. If it did, it would be Catholic.

It is time, surely, to put all of this in its correct place. Let us work together in areas, like social justice, where we can and should work together (acknowledging that when it touches abortion - such as is the case with Christian Aid and Amnesty International, see here and here - that we cannot be involved). But that is it. We have two ecumenical mechanisms for the C of E, the Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults, and the Ordinariate. As Cardinal Kaspar said

Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office.
Following that action we could still come together for the sake of information and consultation; we could continue to discuss and attempt to clarify theological issues, to cooperate in many practical spheres and to give shared witness.Above all we could unite in joint prayer and pray for one another. All of that is, God knows, not negligible. But the loss of the common goal would necessarily have an effect on such encounters and rob them of most of their élan and their internal dynamic. Above all -- and this is the most painful aspect -- the shared partaking of the one Lord's table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance. Instead of moving towards one another we would co-exist alongside one another.
[H/T Hermeneutic of Continuity, here]

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