27 November 2009

Archbishop Rowan's lecture again

An intriguing little nugget: as far as the question of women's ordination is concerned, Rowan says that we are still "in what is formally acknowledged to be a time of discernment and reception".

Intriguing, because proponents sometimes claim that the period of reception is over; opponents of the Ordination of Women pessimistically say the same. Rowan asserts the opposite. In this he has put clear blue water between himself and his befuddled predecessor - as long ago as the early 1990s poor Carey, in his I-am-the-Holy-Office mode, declared that opposition to the Ordination of Women was "a heresy", and, moreover, uttered this formal anathema in as significantly magisterial context as the pages of Readers' Digest, apparently the Anglican Establishment's equivalent to the Acta Apostolicae Sedis.

The big question, of course, has always been whether we would get ecclesial structures in which to continue Discerning without having in fact sold the pass by equivalently accepting women priests. 'Discerning' is a concept which can be vague and endless when it is applied to ideas which clever people can tweak, adapt, and compromise upon. But wymynprysts are not glossable concepts but physical realities. If we are not given a viable and discrete ecclesial structure in which what can be identified as the authentic Catholic life can be lived out, those who are still Discerning and have not yet Received the innovation are not in fact being permitted to exist. Unlike his dim comprovinciales, Rowan is bright enough to know this. But does anybody seriously think that, even with his backing, they are going to give us a Third Province? And what did we want a Third Province for anyway, except as a lifeboat to get us from the Titanic across to the Carpathia? What have we ever wanted for more than a hundred years except unity with the Barque of Peter? That Ocean Liner which really is unsinkable?

The possibility of continuing what is apparently our Anglican mission of Discerning whether or not to Receive the Ordination of Women, while lounging comfortably on the promenade deck of an ocean liner soaking up the gins (for are we not Anglican Catholics?), seems to me not without its charm.

Oh dear ... somebody cleverer than me will have to sort out metaphor from reality in that last bit.

9 comments:

Steve said...

"And what did we want a Third Province for anyway, except as a lifeboat to get us from the Titanic across to the Carpathia?"

That's one of the best arguments against a Third Province that I've seen.

Nebuly said...

Perhaps Auden gives a hint about Gin and inded the future in "The Twelve"
I
Without arms or charm of culture,
Unimportant persons
From an unimportant Province,
They did as the Spirit bid,
Went forth into a joyless world
Of swords and rhetoric
To bring it joy.

When they heard the Word, some demurred,
some were shocked, some mocked.
But many were stirred, and the Word spread.
Dead souls were quickened to life; the sick were healed by the Truth revealed;

released into peace from the gin of old sin,

men forgot themselves in the glory of the story told by the Twelve.

Then the Dark Lord, adored by this world, perceived the threat of the Light to his might. From his throne he spoke to his own. The loud crowd, the sedate engines of state were moved by his will to kill. It was done. One by one they were caught, tortured and slain.

II

O Lord, my God,
Though I forsake Thee,
Forsake me not,
But guide me as I walk
Through the Valley of Mistrust,
And let the cry of my disbelieving absence
Come unto Thee,
Thou who declared unto Moses,
I SHALL BE THERE.

III
Children play about the ancestral graves: the dead no longer walk.
Excellent still in their splendor are the antique statues: but can do neither good nor evil.
Beautiful still are the starry heavens: but our Fate is not written there.
Holy still is Speech, but there is no sacred tongue: the Truth may be told in all.
Twelve as the winds and the months are those who taught us these things:
Envisaging each in an oval glory, let us praise them all with a merry noise.

andrew said...

But many were stirred

Still others were shaken, not stirred.

rev'd up said...

Since they don't have The Twelve on youtube, it's enough to settle for Waltons Festival Te Deum.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=abj2-m_mPPc

(Walton's setting of The Twelve is magnificent)

Patricius said...

This may be irrelevant to the post, but what did Henry Chadwick think of the ordination of women?

AndrewWS said...

Patricius, I'm told that he was against it. I seem to recall this was mentioned in his Telegraph obituary.

Nebuly said...

I can find no direct reference to Henry Chadwick's view in the obituaries.

However these lines, from the present Archbishop of Canterbury, ( The Guardian, Thursday 19 June 2008 ) struck me:

'No one could replace Henry and no one will. The Anglican church no longer shows so clearly the same combination of rootedness in the early Christian tradition and unfussy, prayerful pragmatism, and the ecumenical scene is pretty wintry with less room for the distinctive genius of another Chadwick. But the work done stays done, and it is there to utilise in more hospitable times.'

Sir Watkin said...

"[Chadwick] warned the Church of England that it could have unity or the ordination of women; it could not have both. That the Church has not chosen unity caused him much anguish, as the Archbishop of Canterbury wrote in his obituary in the Guardian."

Davage, W., and Orford, B., "Two good men", New Directions, August 2008.

William Tighe said...

Henry Chadwick was against it, and rather strongly, because he thought it would hinder reconciliation between Canterbury ans Rome. However, by the last decade of his life he had persuaded himself that the hesitations of the Roman authorities, and especially of the CDF and its then Prefect, about the acceptability as a whole of the results of the ARCIC I agreed statements, had been at least as much at fault for the "impasse" in Anglican/Catholic relations, as anything that Anglican churches had done, and that the acceptance of WO would not have happened if Rome had been less "suspicious." And so, it seems, he ceased to oppose it.

Contrast that with the attitude of his brother Owen, who, asked about his view of WO some two decades ago, replied "well, I opposed the admission of women to Selwyn, but when it happened it made no big difference, and I expect it will be the same in the church" -- a response of which I was informed by a fellow of Selwyn College who heard the exchange.

Now, I have always respected the scholarship of both Chadwicks, but Henry's attitude seemed to me then and seems to me now to have been profoundly "insular," as Rome was well aware of what was going on in the Anglican Communion as regards WO since the early 70s (cf. Card. Willebrands' correspondence with Abp. Coggan, and then Paul VI's), and it is a fine demonstration of Roman hopes for the best and forbearance that it took the CofE as the "exemplary" Anglican Church, and didn't draw the conclusion that "the cause was lost" until the CofE's actions of 1992/94 -- even though it must have been perfectly clear after the 1978 and 1988 Lembeth Conferences to what ends the Anglican "ecclesiological deficit" was tending.

In retrospect, the CDF's hesitations of 1981-83 look both prescient and an instance of Divine Providence (or the Holy Spirit) guiding The Church to avoid a well-intentioned and charitable act (i.e., some sort of recognition of Anglican Orders, or at least of Anglican churches as being somewhat like Orthodox, Oriental, Assyrian or Old Catholic churches from Rome's perspective).