Friday, July 31, 2015

Ms Cotton on behalf of WATCH

Female clergy of the Church of England
Back row, left to right:
Rachel Treweek, Nicola Sullivan, Annette Cooper, Joanne Grenfell

Front row:
Libby Lane, Jane Tillier, Vivienne Faull, Christine Wilson

Ms. Cotton on behalf of Women and the Church (WATCH) wrote:

"Anyone who ministers within the Church of England must be prepared to acknowledge that the Church of England has reached a clear decision on the matter; [Indeed this decision was a parliamentary one and there remains no real consensus on women priests and bishops.]

Since it continues to share the historic episcopate with other Churches, including the Roman Catholic Church, the Orthodox Church and those provinces of the Anglican Communion which continue to ordain only men as priests or bishops, the Church of England acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God; ..." [The church of England's decision to have women bishops has defined that Church as no longer having the "historic episcopate."]

Ms Cotton argues that the provision of alternative chrism masses for parishes that do not accept the decision of the Church of England emphasises division and is “a cause of much pain to clergy women and their supportive male colleagues.” The continuation of such events is “a thoughtless challenge to mutual flourishing.” [How can there be mutual flourishing? Only the Church that upholds Apostolic teaching, Patristic consensus, and the authority of Holy Scripture can flourish. The other will wither and fade away in time.]

The dispute arose over chrism masses. Chrism masses involve the blessing of holy oils and renewal of priestly vows, and "are an essential part of the sacramental ministry of the bishops concerned to the clergy and people who have been placed by the House of Bishops’ Declaration under their oversight and care." - Statement of Bishop of Wakefield, a bishop of the Society of St Wilfrid and St Hilda, an ecclesial community dedicated to maintaining catholic teaching and practice within the Church of England.

Read more about this dispute here.

Related reading: Women Priests and the ACNA; The Question of Women Priests Must Be Addressed; C.S. Lewis on Women Priests; Why Women Were Never Priests; Alice C. Linsley's Address to the ICCA (July 2015)

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