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CofE: Liberals want Forward in Faith to stay in Church, but on their Terms
VirtueOnline-News ^ | 2/11/2006 | Roland. W. Morant

Posted on 02/14/2006 4:46:24 PM PST by sionnsar

After attending the great Forward In Faith Rally in London attended by over two thousand supporters, and listening to the two General Synod debates, this observer would interpret the present state of play along these lines:-

To take a charitable view over recent events, it seems quite clear that the controlling powers within the Church, that is the liberal/revisionist majority genuinely do not want the catholic/traditionalist minority to be forced out of the Church. This is for the obvious reason that it would weaken the Church still further. Rowan Williams has said that the Church is now in a state of schism and that the forthcoming task is to pull back from the brink which means providing a legally based structure that would satisfy opponents of women bishops.

At the same time the liberal/revisionist hegemony want catholic/traditionalists to remain within the Church but on the liberal/revisionists' terms. This is why there were a number of General Synod speakers (e.g. Christina Rees) who pressed for a single clause motion, people who were certainly not happy with the whole notion of TEA (Transferred Episcopal Arrangements) and PRBs (Provincial Regional Bishops) and everything that that scheme might entail. But the majority of Synod members realised that a single clause measure would force many individual catholic/traditionalists out, and for this reason they voted down an amendment to this effect. At the same time we guess, liberal/revisionists would probably not be particularly upset if a few of the troublesome and vocal minority voluntarily left the Church.

There is a great danger ahead when the TEA/PRB structure is looked at again by the revamped Guildford/Gloucester Group between now and July when a refurbished report will be presented to General Synod. As someone pointed out in one of the two General Synod debates on women bishops, under the proposals put forward by the Guildford Group there would be three bishops covering the same TEA ground - the PRB, the archbishop (or the case of a woman archbishop, her bishop commissary) and the diocesan ordinary. The Vicar-General for the province of York (an expert in church law) pointed out that the Discipline of the Clergy Measure would be quite unworkable with two bishops (if not three) having fingers in the pie. He drew attention to several hypothetical instances demonstrating how hard it would be to discipline the incumbent of a Resolution C parish in the care of a PRB.. Under the present Guildford proposals a number of legal matters (e.g. the processing and award of faculties) would be reserved to the parent diocese, and thus ultimate authority for such matters would rest with the ordinary (a woman). What would happen in such a situation? It needs no expert to understand that as it stands, the TEA/PRB arrangement would be unworkable.

Realistically, the notion of a third province is probably more than catholic/traditionalists can hope for at the present time for the reason that the Guildford Group and now the majority in General Synod believe - arguably rightly - that it would lead sooner or later to a formal schism. Given the weight of opposition by the liberal/revisionist majority in General Synod, what can catholic/traditionalists press for? It seems quite clear that the price catholic/traditionalists must ask for (nay demand) for staying in the Church of England, is that the PRBs are given their own dioceses with all powers of ordinaries. This has to be the price that liberal/revisionists must pay for introducing women bishops into the Church of England without causing formal schism.. Anything less than this would be totally unacceptable to catholic/traditionalists. Such autonomous dioceses would have to be ring-fenced to protect them against future General Synod measures that could weaken their position. We already have four groupings based around the three PEVs and the Bishop of Fulham. They could provide an ecclesial framework for this purpose, a framework which has already been tested and proved to have worked with PEVs. A four diocese solution would have the merit of guaranteeing a continued place for the catholic/traditionalists' integrity within the C. of E.

What would happen in the event that no major concessions were made by the Guildford/Gloucester Group? This is where Fr. Geoffrey Kirk's suggestion of "taking a third province" may be helpful. Other than threatening a mass exodus of parishes from the C. of E. which is unrealistic given the attachment of many individual catholic/traditionalists to their own churches and church buildings, Forward In Faith should give notice that it intended to establish a provisional grouping (a provisional third province or PTP?) of four dioceses based on the existing C parishes, and furthermore to announce that it would invite all the present A and B parishes ( and any other traditionalist parishes at present sitting on the fence) to join with the C parishes in the new grouping. Although such a grouping would lack initially the legal and financial framework that a "real" grouping would have, the publicity would command enormous attention. To this observer it is improbable that the liberal/revisionist hegemony would take active steps to dismantle such a realignment.

It seems quite obvious that at the conclusion of a period of twelve years during which many women have been ordained as priests, we have now come to the end of the road, a point where Forward In Faith must make its final stand. Unless catholic/traditionalists are given their own dioceses under the headship of their own PEV/PRBs, there seems little reason for staying in the C. of E. We may be sure that if no significant concessions are made to catholic/traditionalists, there will be a steady haemorrhage from the C. of E. and indeed from Forward In Faith.

--Roland W. Morant is a cradle Anglican who has spent his professional life as a teacher, and latterly as a principal lecturer in education in a college of higher education, training students as teachers and running in-service degree courses.

TOPICS: Mainline Protestant

1 posted on 02/14/2006 4:46:27 PM PST by sionnsar
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2 posted on 02/14/2006 4:47:21 PM PST by sionnsar (†† | Libs: Celebrate MY diversity! | Iran Azadi 2006 | Is it March yet?)
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