Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Oh dear, is this really helpful?

I thought that our church in its 'official' mode of being has no need to revisit the question of the ordination of women to the priesthood and to the episcopacy. So I do wonder if the following statement by our archbishops is, in the end, as helpful as they intend.

"The ordination of women is in the news again, thanks to developments in the Church of England, and comments from the Vatican.

It is timely, therefore, for us to reflect again on our own position in this church on this matter.

The Anglican Church in Aotearoa, New Zealand and Polynesia long ago affirmed and provided for the ordination of women to all levels of ordained ministry, as deacons, priests and bishops.

This has resulted in widespread, in-depth and effective ministry, with a unique and special character, across all three Tikanga.

As the Church of England comes close to providing for the ordination of women bishops, we pray that all three orders in that church will benefit as richly as we have done from taking this step.

This church also takes part in Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue, both here in New Zealand and abroad.

For some decades now, our affirmation and celebration of the ordination of women has been a feature of our contribution to these conversations.

We draw our authority for these ordinations from scripture, tradition and reason, as well as from the decisions of many General Synods of the Anglican Communion.

At a time when the Vatican-based Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith has restated its commitment not to proceed in this way, we affirm again the fundamental value of all ordained women within our church.

For us, such ordinations are a profound enrichment of the sacraments – and when ordained women and men work together in ministry and mission, we have found this both invigorating and life-giving.

++David Moxon, Senior Bishop of the New Zealand dioceses

++Brown Turei, Pihopa o Aotearoa"

Sourced from Taonga.

I am personally less than enthusiastic about this phrase: "with a unique and special character". It suggests women in their priestliness and episcopalness are different to men in their priestliness and episcopalness. I thought we were one in our priestliness and episcopalness. Our church in various ways is troubled by 'class' concepts in respect of ministry: lay v ordained, stipendiary priests v local shared ministry priests.* This phrase veers awfully close to another distinction: male priests v female priests.

But then I could be wrong!

*Highlighted in some instances by dioceses having separate annual conferences for the two classes of clergy.

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