Monday, July 14, 2014

Women Bishops in the Church of England

 A crowd of hundreds of women priests stands with Justin Welby
All at least 15-20 years older than my mother...
In its General Synod vote today the Church of England has approved the consecration of women to the episcopate. I'm not going to use quotes or words like "attempt," for we as Roman Catholics know that the Church has no authority to ordain women to the clergy. Pope St. John Paul II explained this in his apostolic letter Ordinatio Sacerdotalis, and Catholics must give assent to this as belonging to the deposit of faith. The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith confirmed this in a responsum ad dubium.

He taught:
 Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church’s divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church’s faithful.
It is a matter of ecclesiology, and it has nothing to do with the nature of women. In fact, when one reads the Fathers (St. Basil comes to mind) one realizes women have a special capacity for holiness men don't have, whereas men have their own. Now, I'm not sure why the CDF needed to clarify this matter. It could not be clearer that the Holy Father was teaching in a matter of faith and morals for the entirety of the Christian peoples, i.e. the Church and her members in full communion or not, by virtue of his office as Supreme Pontiff. It met the criteria set in Pastor Aeternus quite clearly. At a minimum, those are teachings that are infallible. There might be more, but we know those to be infallible when taught by the Pope. And it was not a new teaching! The entire Christian apostolic tradition rests on the passing on apostolic succession to the male presyberate. Lumen Gentium for instance reiterates that the clergy is passed down to males (oh, if only that document was a tad bit clearer and had canons and anathemas!).

Jemima Thackray writing for the Telegraph online said, "women bishops are now a reality." Well, Jemima, I think we need to define reality. Certainly, the Church of England is going to join its American cousin in consecrating female bishops, and that means there will be women in charge of dioceses. But there won't be women bishops at the same time, because it is impossible, so there will be no ontological reality of women bishops, i.e. their souls cannot receive an indelible mark of ordination because the Church can't give it by the Spirit to her, even if she was consecrated by someone whose validity of orders was impeccable.

The Church in worship
She imagines "the church at the vanguard of every progressive cause, leading the way in the campaign for nuclear disarmament for example, or gay rights, rather than always being the slowest on the uptake of every social development." Wait, isn't the Church about going to all nations, preaching the Gospel, and baptizing for the salvation of souls in nomine Patris, et Filii, et Spiritus Sancti? Isn't she about being the Mystical Body of Christ, wherein is contained the New Israel, for the entire world to join in corporate adoration, sacrifice, and praise of the Almighty and Eternal God, living and true? Now, I realize she is talking about the Church of England. With only two valid sacraments, in many respects it is just a non-governmental organization, but it is still imperfectly part of the Body of Christ (although one might question how many ministers-especially among female clergy- use the proper Trinitarian baptismal formula).

Why would one wish for the Church to keep up with the world? She is a sign of contradiction, and we are to be in the world but not of the world. There are a few things I wish the Holy See would keep up on, such as the Internet and loosening copyright restrictions on liturgical texts, but never would I ask Holy Mother the Church to keep up with every social trend, every blow of the wind in a new belief. She is our mother and guide to Heaven. If she moved at the front of every social movement we could very well wind up in Hell for having achieved a noble goal in a blazingly sinful way. In fact, sometimes the Church has to prod the world into taking the correct action. Rerum Novarum is a great example of one, how people could agree with the Church but badly implement it (protecting workers' rights through a revolution) and two, the Church pushing the world in the right direction (as is her right and obligation).

She also writes, "I read the Bible literally, thinking that respecting it meant reading it like a car manual - a book of exact instructions for life, not a collection of beautiful writings which are a launch pad into an interpretative adventure." Once again, Dr. Hildebrand's hypothesis (not that it is original to him, he just pointed it out regularly in class) is confirmed: errors in the theology of divine revelation are at the heart of what I would call Modernist errors that plague contemporary Christian thought.

Thackray refers to something Justin Cantaur. said. I suppose he is correct to say the Church is a family, but only because we were reborn of water and the Spirit in regenerative baptism which removed original sin from our souls as at the same moment we entered into the Body of Christ. And of course this is all being mediated by Our Lady, Mediatrix of All Graces, Co-Redemptrix and Advocate, Mother of the Church, Help of Christians, and Refuge of Sinners for the Church is a hospital for sinners.

Part of Chesterton's conversion involved his going to a Protestant church and finding his umbrella, whereas someone stole it when he went to Mass. I find that there is always a sense of propriety, social conformity, and undue deference to those who pay the bills for the Church of England, namely the wealthy and the aristocracy. And of course it needs the state. The Suffrages from Evensong amuse me: "O Lord, save the state [or the Queen in some texts]" is a good prayer. The Canon of the Mass and the Good Friday petitions each had a prayer for the Holy Roman Emperor until 1955. But the Evensong prayer indicates a consciousness in which Anglicans are very much aware of their establishment and their utter dependence on the powers that be.

Finally, Pope Benedict is the Pope of Christian Unity.

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