The Church of England’s attempts to placate a small minority strongly opposed to women’s ordination have plunged it into crisis, without satisfying these opponents, says Savi Hensman. What is the way forward now? Deep theological and practical questions need to be addressed, and the answers explained in ways that those who are not professional theologians can understand.
Becoming a bishop is definitely not on my bucket list, writes the Rev Dr Jane Tillier. But she had hoped soon to see some of her gifted and experienced women colleagues take their place alongside the men in the currently all-male House of Bishops. We need to see men and women working together, she argues. Male and female made in the image of God and serving the loving, revolutionary, redemptive purposes of Jesus Christ in whom, the Bible tells us, “there is neither male nor female”.
If Welby can hold on to his emphasis on enabling ‘ordinary’ Christians, and those of their neighbours who are seeking a more just and compassionate world, he can offer the kind of leadership needed at a time when idols have been falling, says Savi Hensman, a long-standing commentator on Anglican affairs and church and society issues.
If a future Archbishop of Canterbury were outspoken in defence of church privilege or the right to discriminate or exploit, this could do more harm than good, writes Savi Hensman. It is also important not to expect one man, whatever his gifts and office, to substitute for the wider church community.
The rejection of the Anglican Covenant by the Scottish Episcopal Church is another serious body blow for a measure which proponents say is about proper ecclesiastical order, but which detractors argue will impose narrow conformity on a denomination historically based on self-governance within its provinces. Simon Barrow looks to the background, history and significance of the latest manoeuvres.
What seems to have crystallised as the key to Archbishop Rowan Williams’ recent (somewhat early) resignation from his job, and as head of the global Anglican Communion, is the issue of sexuality. But, Alison Jasper suggests, this is part of a wider matrix of power and position connected to the deployment of the discursive category ‘religion’ and to the secular state acquiring a normative status.