25 August 2008

A LETTER

Dear *******
I do not question your sincerity. I know I have sincere fellow-Anglicans whose consciences teach them that the ordination of women to sacerdotal ministries is so profoundly and structurally bound up with the deepest core dogmas and principles of the Christian Faith, that they are compelled to introduce it into the Church of England, even though it will prove gravely divisive within these provinces; even though it will render unattainable, for as long as can be humanly foreseen, unity with the ancient Churches of East and West which claim the allegiance of more than three quarters of the world's Christians.

Indeed, I think I even understand your belief that, in the last resort, dogma is so much more important than charity that the distress of your fellow-Anglicans is of secondary importance to the doctrinal necessity of ordaining women. Truth is, indeed, quite a trump card, if one can be quite sure that one possesses it.

And I understand the passionate and deeply held conscientious conviction that the ordination of women is an issue so radically integral to your very concept of what it means to be 'in Christ' that you consider the visible unity of the Body of Christ a prize worth surrendering in order to secure it. At the same time, I trust and pray that you and your friends may understand my position: that the unity of Christ's Body the Church Universal is a Gospel imperative rooted in the nature of the Blessed Trinity itself (John 17; Ephesians) as well as in prudential considerations of witness and mission.

After the vote of General Synod, it seemed right to reflect for a while and, in particular, to await the reactions of the Great Churches of West and East which articulate diachronically as well as synchronically the Tradition of the overwhelming majority of Christians in the overwhelming majority of Christian generations. These reactions are now to hand, and I presume you are familiar with those of them that were expressed at Lambeth.

I trust that those who have believed it necessary, for deeply and passionately held reasons, to walk away from their fellow Christians (both within and beyond these two provinces) and to choose paths of increased and increasing disunity in order to secure their own Pearl of Great Price, will understand that we also have our own Pearl, which we regard as taking priority over the mere existence, unity, stability, life, structures, and policies of the Church of England.
In Domino,
John

1 comment:

ekurlowa said...

Can you read this, father?