This is one of the saddest ecclesial stories to have occurred. This is an excellent “Evangelical” response with the Anglo-Catholic response having been posted several days ago. (Not all Evangelicals keep us Anglo-Catholics in the loop.). The point is – if anyone wants to see how a hammered out agreement is implemented – here it is. As long as a Bishop believes that the “ordination” of women is a matter of Doctrinal Truth and that other Biblical principles are also irrelevant – and subject to a vote – this is what happens.
Bp. North is a highly energetic Bishop, who as Administrator of our Anglican Shrine (Our Lady of Walsingham) brought vibrancy, youth, and spectacular plans for evangelization. He was appointed and then consecrated a Bishop (suffragan) and was recently appointed to Sheffield to be the Ordinary. This is a tragic day for all of us Catholics in the Anglican world – but it is a defining moment. The C of E “deed” of 1992 and the later “deed” of two years ago has produced a fourth order of ministry, in my opinion:
Bishops, Priests, Deacons, and Ordained women. It has now come home to roost in the UK. In fact – this is what will effectively end our ecumenical relationships with other Catholic Communions such as Rome and Eastern Orthodoxy. We had always claimed that we simply were Catholic priests or bishops or deacons serving in the Anglican Communion. The reason was clear – we simply received the Catholic Orders without alteration, as have the Roman Catholic Church, some Old Catholics, and the Orthodox. In the last few decades we saw the alterations, and yet we struggled to find a place where we could mutually coexist. I think the sad situation in Sheffield brings further to the light the struggles that Faithful Catholic Anglicans have in having tried to work from within.
There are very many conclusions one may reach – but one of the points to be made is that reform within an ecclesial institution is usually destined to failure unless your name is St. Francis. For those who know me, you know that I do not believe that Anglicanism is a Protestant Denomination, nor that it was founded in modern Church history in the 16th century, but that it is a continuation of the Catholic Faith that made its way to the British Isles. But undeniably, Protestant behavior, (we can vote on just about anything) has become the mode in several Provinces. I counsel priests (wearing my other hat) who are in the larger Communions (Rome, Orthodoxy, Old Catholic, etc) and they clearly are not exempt from numerous challenges and distress within their Communions. I have also counseled a few Protestant ministers who are distressed with what they see in their church jurisdictions.
More prayer…………..less complaints………..more action………more teaching…..more compassion for those who fight for Truth – wherever they may be serving. I fear that too many of us see the Church like a talent show, where we sit as judges assigning scores for Orthodoxy. We need to get out from behind the Judges Desk…..and make a difference. When I allegedly retired, I tried to give up Social Media, emails, and meetings so that I could be free to teach, write, and work with those who want to make a difference – even if they do so in unfamiliar ways to me (I am starting to learn some evangelical speak as a second language.). But the problems we are encountering are not Anglican or Roman or Orthodox or Protestant problems or sins or challenges. Satan is interdenominational and interfaith, and he is really enjoying himself.
Bp. Keith L. Ackerman, SSC