- From the CANA website...
- Q13. What is CANAs position on womens ordination?
- CANA recognizes that there are differing theological positions in the Anglican Communion about women in ordained ministry. CANA acknowledges the integrity of those who understand the Holy Scriptures to permit the ordination of women to the priesthood and those who believe the Scriptures prohibit womens ordination. Archbishop Peter Akinola has stated that there needs to be freedom for CANA to include both perspectives because of its North American character. CANA believes that for the health and well being of the church the particular gifts of women must be freely expressed.
The underlying problem is that some (not all) of these congregations want to go back to "business as usual" as of June 2003 in TEC. One can't help but wonder if they have stopped to consider how they got to this point of splitting in the first place? I don't believe they have considered the facts that they are coming from a diseased institution and that they can't help but carry some of this disease with them as they leave. Working for realignment in America and establishing missions here are noble goals. But I keep seeing that in CANA, in The Network, and other institutional alignments they seem to always speak of alignment in their own terms and according to their own rules. The rest of us it seems may choose to get on board the bus or choose not to and get left behind. Shouldn't it be the other way around? Shouldn't these leaders be seeking guidance from those who have gone before them and that are more further separated from the TEC disease? In the case of CANA, why is women's 'ordination' a cultural must have for the fleeing parishes?
To better understand where I am coming from about the disease a simple analysis of the FAQ on the CANA website will help explain. Let's take Question 3 in the FAQ:
What does CANA believe? CANA holds to the traditional formularies of Anglican Christianity. It adheres to the Historic Faith, Doctrine, Sacrament and Discipline of the one Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church as the Lord has commanded in his holy word and as the same are received as taught in the Book of Common Prayer and the ordinal of 1662 and in the Thirty-Nine Articles of Religion (quotation from the Constitution of the Church of Nigeria). The Articles of Religion are a statement of faith first adopted by the Church of England during the Reformation and containing strong affirmations of the authority of Scripture. You can find them at page 867 of the 1979 Book of Common Prayer.
(bold print is my emphasis)
How odd is this? They affirm the 1662 BCP, ordinal, and 39 Articles as the traditional formulary and then direct you to one part of it in the 1979 TEC Prayerbook! Surely they must know the doctrines contained in this prayerbook do not match the 1662 BCP or any of its successors? Do they know that the 1662 Ordinal does not allow for the ordination of women? Did they notice when turning to page 867 that this is a section called "historical documents" which is intended for historical curiosities of the Episcopal Church? Hardly a place to locate one of your formularies! This is the point I think. It is a formulary they don't practically use yet they claim to stand under it. This is evident by the statements they make in other areas. They refer to Scriptures as though they say something different and the unfortunate fact is that if they are using the 1979 Prayerbook, at best it is vaguely similar. This is part of the same disease of the revisionists in TEC prior to 2003: a formula is in writing, but practically they don't use it. Theologically the revisionists are very different but philosophically speaking they are exactly the same when reflecting on what is in this FAQ. (CANA does allow the 1662 and 1928 BCP's to be used but they don't appear to suggest their difference from the '79 book.)
Finally here is the last part of Question 13:
CANA will welcome applications from congregations and female clergy on the same basis as other applications with the expectation that women clergy will be licensed to continue their ministry. Because of the differing positions regarding the ordination of women to the priesthood CANA policies regarding the ordination of new female aspirants will be developed from a biblical and pastoral perspective. This is a matter that is being actively pursued by the CANA clergy and elected lay leadership.
The pastoral question I suppose is if you already have them what do you do with them? All in all though, I think we may be able to find some hope for a good resolve in what is said here. If they truly seek Scripture for guidance and truly want to abide in the Anglican Formularies they will ultimately find that they cannot ordain women to the priesthood.
Setting aside for a moment the Tradition and the Holy Scriptures (these are proof enough against it for me), on a very practical level it just doesn't make sense to allow the practice to exist in CANA. Even if there are those who believe that WO is biblicaly acceptable and compatible, the fact still remains that TEC never permitted women's 'ordination' on this basis but instead on the basis of rights and social justice. In other words the intent was skewed from the beginning. Sound familiar?
My feeling is that all of the Common Cause partners need to get this issue behind them by agreeing to ban the practice of 'ordaining' any women in the future. More importantly, I hope and pray that CANA/CofN will recall their Covenant (this is more than just a common cause) with the REC and the APA and recognize that although they may need to respond in a pastoral way to some parochial issues, they cannot decide alone on an issue as big as this. WO began as an innovation without a defined theology. Following the logic of arguments put forth by many CANA congregations about homosexuality, a single institution of the Church cannot decide this for themselves. Covenant partners should and hopefully will weigh heavily in any decision.
Last of all I want to say that this is intended to spark healthy discussion and not to offend. My parish has many families of Nigerian nationality who come from the Church of Nigeria and I hold them up as wonderful examples of Christian men and women in our parish. I have learned much from them. This is partly why I find this so difficult to understand. I would love to expand on this post if I get the opportunity to ask for opinions from some of these Nigerian-born Continuing Anglicans at my parish (or if you are reading please comment!!). Their opinions would be interesting to hear for sure.