By: DURANO LAWAYAN
Beneath the cassock of religious conservatism, the Church of England’s ruling General Synod has demonstrated the successful attempts of its more progressive members by voting conclusively to consecrate women as Bishops.
The affirmation of this major reform agenda establishes the androgynous authority of the Anglican Church over its members and parishioners.
The vote also rejected a counter proposal by conservative members to create male “Super-Bishops” for members against the reform, for reasons that it will develop a two-tiered episcopacy and render the women Bishops second class clergy that would institutionalize divisions.
The long drawn out debate on the controversial measure was settled at the Lambeth Conference last July 8th, in an emotion packed assembly that exposed the cracks within the denomination.
The Lambeth Conference ( Lambeth, home of the Archbishop of Canterbury where the conference used to be held), a gathering of about 800 members from around the world is essential in helping to unify the largest protestant church grouping in the world.
It is the only meeting of all Archbishops and Bishops globally called every 10 years, presided by the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr. Rowan Williams.
During the voting on women Bishops, 1,300 clergy have threatened to bolt the Anglican Church and join the Roman Catholics, in what is seen as a fight between traditionalists and modernizers. But their distinctive positions have been blurred by the arguments favoring their own interests.
The General Synod
The Vatican has also expressed its reaction to the vote and warned that it could undermine talks of Unification.
The Church of England has approved the ordination of women priests since 1994 amid protests from the traditionalists, who at the time also voiced their intent to bolt the church. But the threat did not materialize.
The current vote and the recurring threat could also be empty and meant to foster their preference for the continuation of male domination. There are currently 2,000 women priests in the Anglican Church, but their desire to serve God has come at a steep price.
A survey of 6 dioceses have found that several hundred women priests have endured bullying and harassment by clergy.
It also uncovered evidence of women priests being physically injured in disputes with male colleagues, and in a small number of cases, sexually assaulted.
Women priests continue to struggle with their calling and a majority have found acceptance.
The question is: will the Church of England tolerate blatant discrimination?
The vote is a first step in the right direction, but the consecration of a woman Bishop may not be fulfilled until 2015. Until that time, a lot can transpire.
It is outrageously illogical to disqualify women from becoming Bishops after they have been ordained as priests, and have earned all the requirements to be so consecrated.
As it stands, 14 of the 38 Anglican Churches have already made the decision favoring women Bishops; but traditionalists insist there is no biblical precedent for women bishops since Christ’s apostles were all male.
They also believe it is wrong for women to have authority over men in a religious capacity. This argument puts Jesus in a bad light as a chauvinist and definitely diminishes his status as a Divine Being.
It would be inconceivable for Jesus in all his Divinity to endanger the women at a time when the culture, mores, values and attitudes were largely different from today.
He would not risk them being harmed senselessly. The Bible cannot be invoked for chauvinism nor discrimination as it would destroy the very concept of God, justice, equality, and respect for all humanity.
When the phrase “Peace on Earth, Goodwill to Men” is expressed, does it exclude women? Is it only hell on earth for them? Were they only made to suffer?
The Vatican response is even more pathetic. It merely reinforces the assertion of its objection to Catholic Women priests, much less the consecration of Catholic Women Bishops.
If it had no opposition to the ordination of women priests in the Anglican Church, why should it now lament the vote on women Bishops for the Church of England?
Is this not fostering an injustice?
Are they exerting their influence to perpetrate male domination of all clergy?
Was the Catholic Church pushing for the revocation of the ordination of women priests in the Anglican Church as a condition for unification?
Opposition may continue in more subtle forms to thwart or delay the consecration of the first woman Bishop.
The traditionalists have lost this battle and are constrained to accept the results. Or, they may split from the Church and form their own denomination.
When that happens, it wouldn’t be far fetched for the confused members to disregard their faith altogether.
The exasperation could make religion obsolete.
John Lennon would be vindicated.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
He is a prolific writer who can discuss any topic with flair that only a veteran could dish out.
He was previously a management consultant, but is now into a more nobler profession based on what I can discern from his posts.
According to him and I quote:
“There are many things we have been made to accept, drummed into our brains since we were kids; that these were true, unchangeable, and permanent. Well nothing is permanent and anything can be changed. What was true before may be uncovered today for the phoniness that it was and is. I keep a questioning attitude and a persistent orientation, balanced by a positive outlook. I love to laugh and enjoy life, and hope the pain brought about by what is wrong in this world is somehow diluted by this merriment. ”