I never thought I’d find myself in agreement with Reform, but it’s hard to fault this statement:
“If priests really are out of sympathy with the C of E’s doctrine (as opposed to the battles we are having over women’s ministry and sexuality), then perhaps it is better they make a clean break and go to Rome. However, when they do, they will have to accommodate themselves to Rome’s top-down approach to church life, whereas the C of E has always stressed the importance of decision making at the level of the local church.”
Instead of the individual conversions envisaged by Reform, however, what we are being invited to contemplate is mass annexation, aptly summed up by Ruth Gledhill as the Vatican putting its tanks on the Archbishop of Canterbury’s lawn.
How can any self-respecting Anglican, whether traditionalist or liberal, acquiesce in a situation which
·(a) has been brought about unilaterally by the CDF, apparently without consultation with the RC hierarchies of England and Wales, much less with the Church of England
·(b) has, according to the ABC, been sprung on him at short notice, precluding proper discussion within the CofE
·(c) will entail insult and humiliation to any ordained Anglican priest who joins the Romeward movement, as he (no she’s involved!) will have to undergo re-ordination, with the implication that his previous life as a priest has been a charade
·(d) will mean that any married Anglican priest who bows his head to re-ordination and who is subsequently widowed will not only be forbidden to re-marry without renouncing his orders, but will be precluded even from discussing the celibacy issue publicly?
If the arrangement goes ahead as it is apparently contemplated, it will be gall and wormwood to those fine men, some of whom I have been privileged to know, who were forced out of the RC priesthood because they wanted to marry.
I suppose it’s too much to expect that those who will make the move to Rome will worry unduly about the implications for attitudes towards women; but the signals that this development will send to the rest of the world mean that half the human race yet again has its humanity negated by an organisation calling itself Christian. This comment, by someone signing ‘palaeologos’ on the Thinking Anglicans website, really takes the biscuit:
‘The problem with women’s ordination is not that women are unqualified, but that they are not proper matter for the sacrament. You can’t marry your car, you can’t consecrate pizza for the Eucharist, and you can’t ordain women. It’s not a matter of an internal rule that prohibits something from happening, but an ontological impossibility.’