Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Can we construct a better Way Forward?

Update A much simpler scheme is proposed by Bosco Peters here (among other GS matters).

Recap

My sense is that I and a few other bloggers are not alone in being dissatisfied with AWF. In fact, beating drums tell me that a number of people across many of our episcopal units are not satisfied that AWF is "the" way forward. My own summary of what we are most dissatisfied about is that, when all is said and done about the strengths and weaknesses of AWF, it does not propose a robust scheme for two integrities. Diocese by diocese choice and individual priests being able to refuse to do a blessing does not "cut it" when it comes to signing up via licensing procedures to what this church believes according to its formularies.

But I think we should pause and note that there is no particular reason to make that a great negative re the work the working group did. Let me explain: I am a great believer in arriving at the truth via failed efforts (!!), in line with Karl Popper's approach to finding by approximations what the truth is, such approximations getting ever closer on the basis of the latest approximation being falsified. If we collectively judge that AWF doesn't get us to where we think we want to be (let alone to where God wants us to be), that should be a spur to work from what has been falsified to a better position, always grateful for what AWF has illuminated for us along the way.

I think we can construct a better way forward than AWF does, and I think Trevor Morrison is correct to argue that we should. I also think he is correct to press for greater signs of mutual understanding of respective but different positions on blessings as well as to remind us that there was a vision in Motion 30 for "two integrities" which is not well developed in AWF.

At the end of the previous post I  suggested that the formation of FCANZ could be significant in finding that way forward. I said that because if we are to have a "two integrities" approach then we need FCANZ to engage with the development of the concept and to sign off on any new proposal in that direction. Ditto, observing some remarks made in the paper by Peter Lineham and Mark Hendrickson linked to here last week, a group inclusive of publicly self-identifying gay and lesbian people should also engage with and sign off on such development. That is, in a new proposal, we could see ourselves heading to towards a future GS with a settled feeling that we had negotiated a peaceful outcome. Remember we go to this GS with the AWF report declaring it is not an agreed report by the whole group!

Two Integrities?

Note that the simplest, clearest form of two integrities on the matter of blessing of same-sex relationships is for there to be a formal division of our church into two separately governed churches. A schism, in other words. But or BUT no one says they want schism, no one says they want ACANZP to divide. That, surely, provides a starting point for thinking about how we might have an undivided church with two integrities within it. That starting point being that we share a commitment to not dividing our church.

Can we find another point of common interest? Yes, we can, and that point is that we commonly recognise that there are three sides in this church on this matter of blessing, none of which looks like changing its collective mind any time soon.

One side: we want blessings to happen

Another side: we do not want blessings to happen

Yet another side: we are not yet sure on the matter and we don't want to be railroaded into one or other of the other two sides. This side, incidentally, has most to lose if our church divides.

In other words, we could have a common commitment to finding a way forward which neither divides the church nor requires one side or another to give up what they believe.

Incidentally, but not insignificantly, the three sides I describe above are present simultaneously in many of our parishes and, as far as I can tell, are present in all of our episcopal units!

Naturally some readers here will wonder why I am talking about two integrities and three sides, so why not three integrities? I see the two integrities in concept as a formal way of acknowledging the right of some in our church to explicitly believe one thing and the right of some in our church to explicitly believe the opposite. The "third" side I am talking about should have their right to keep options open simply by being part of our church without pressure to choose one integrity or another.

Key step?

It then strikes me that a key step towards two integrities within one church is securing agreement on what each integrity might permit the other integrity to believe and to perform.

A few weeks ago. Bosco Peters introduced the very helpful word "may" to the inter-blog discussion.

"May" is a great Anglican word because it implies a permissive (i.e. broad, liberal as in "open-minded") approach to matters of choice and of conscience.

My sense is that our church may hold together if

A. it can continue to permit require belief that marriage is between a man and a woman and

B. permits belief that a marriage-like relationship between two people of the same gender may be blessed providing the latter belief rests on a case* that conservatives can respect even if they do not agree with it. (A weakness of the AWF report is that it does not offer that case).

What kind of formulary?

Clearly two integrities within one church has the challenge of securing a way forward so that a blessing service is

(a) authorised for use by those who wish to use it
(b) expressive of what this church permits its members to believe concerning such a service.

That is the two integrities (however they are defined) need to act as cohorts within one church (through General Synod) in respect of (a) and (b).

My understanding of (a) and (b) is that this would need to be a formulary (i.e. a service agreed both by GS and by a majority of the diocesan synods and hui amorangi).

I am no expert so I may be out of (constitutional and canonical) line in proposing that Bosco Peters' "may" be part of any such formulary so that it is clear that the doctrine being expressed in the formulary is a matter of permitted belief and not of required belief. I invite constitutional and canonical experts to come out of their hermitages and comment!

Of course, if one reply is that "Peter, it would be unprecedented to have that kind of formulary" the easy response is "Well, Dr Expert, we are in an unprecedented situation so, just as we did with the Three Tikanga Structure in 1992, we need to invent a new way forward."

What kind of "two integrities"?

If a new way forward followed the line being taken here, two integrities would be much less about responding to a formulary for blessing a same-gender relationship and much more about how our church handles questions of ordination and appointment corresponding to two differing understandings of "rightly ordered" ordinands and clergy.

In one integrity the understanding of "rightly ordered" would remain what it currently is, in the other integrity the understanding of "rightly ordered" would be enlarged to include "ordered" same-sex partnerships.

(By "ordered" I mean, "according to some objective measure." The AWF recommends that measure be "a blessed civil marriage" but there has been criticism of that proposal and it may be that in a new proposal there is also a new proposal about what the measure should be (e.g. "a civil marriage, whether blessed or not") but here I am not going to offer further discussion on this particular issue.)

Now this is where things do get tricky and as we  try to work out a better way than AWF's "diocese by diocese" approach we can see that while it is easy to criticise this particular "way forward" it is a challenge to find a better way forward. (And I am by no means confident that what I outline here is that better way forward but I think it may offer a better sense of safeguarding of convictions for individuals and for parishes than AWF's "diocese by diocese" basis).

A first level of "two integrities"

Individual office-holders, deacons, priests and bishops may wish to indicate that they identify with one integrity or the other. This likely would impact on appointment in respect of the second level.

A second level of "two integrities"

Individual parishes and other ministry units may wish to indicate that they identify with one integrity or the other. This likely would impact on aspects of working together within the same diocese where a ministry unit's identification is different to the diocese to which it belongs.

A third level of "two integrities"

Individual episcopal units may wish to indicate that they identify with one integrity or the other. This may impact on candidates offering for ordained ministry and on applicants applying for licensed positions.

A fourth level of "two integrities"

I am going to put this level in terms of a question to be resolved rather than offer my resolution(s).

How would we work through the situation when a deacon or priest and/or  (a) (their) parish identify with one integrity and the licensing/overseeing bishop identifies with the other integrity?

It would take a lot more thought on my part and yours to work out whether these "two integrities" needed some kind of formality like a "warden" or a "council" to guide and facilitate each integrity. As I write I am inclined to think that the two integrities could be about making a formal note of some kind (individuals on a CV, parishes in a self-description on a website, etc). We already have these notes informally: Fred is an evangelical, St Swithin's will never have a woman as vicar, St Jeremiah's will only have a liberal theological priest who will wear a chasuble. Might we have them formally?

I have done my dash for this week. Your comments welcomed, especially any improvements.

Summary

If we were to start again while building on learnings from AWF and the process that has led to that report and its recommendations then we could consider:

- work on common ground between various sides, seeking before a GS (2018? 2020?) some agreement as to what the sides could be committed to, all premised on the promise of Motion 30 to find a way for two integrities to operate in this church;

- we take particular care that any resulting formulary expresses what people may believe and not what they must believe when signing licences and adherence to General Synod;

- we formulate an approach to "two integrities" which permits individuals, ministry units as well as dioceses to belong - if they choose - to one or other integrity or to neither;

- we attempt the very difficult if not impossible and answer the question I pose above re "Level 4";

*Appendix:

Briefly, my own suggestion for a respectable case in conservative eyes is one which (a) acknowledges different assessments of what the Bible says and does not say about homosexuality, (b) in particular acknowledges that while the Bible is clear in its prohibitions re sex between two people of the same gender, it can reasonably (but not necessarily) be interpreted as silent on the specific question of a marriage-like relationship between two people of the same gender committed to lifelong loving partnership, (c) assesses a permanent relationship between two people of the same gender as pragmatically better than either a series of impermanent relationships or an unbearable life of celibacy, (d) acknowledges that the church itself has opened a pathway to remarriage of divorcees which takes a generous, non-literal understanding of Jesus' and Paul's own teaching on remarriage after divorce and thus as a consequence acknowledges that some couple relationships do not fit neatly into what otherwise appears the clear teaching of Scripture, and thus (e) opens the possibility that in good conscience a marriage-like relationship between two people of the same gender might be both prayed for and given thanks for by bishops/priests subscribe to this kind of case.


28 comments:

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

Your post correctly identifies the problem presently facing the Church, in that it accepted the improbable prospect of ‘two integrities’, both of which diametrically opposed to each other, each co-existing happily within one unified communion.

This was a decision based entirely upon political expediency without sufficient consideration for theological fidelity or for the traditions that have been handed down to us throughout Church history.

Two call both positions ‘integrities’ awards an ill-deserved theological status to one of these positions, while entirely depreciating the other. By making these positions ‘appear’ to be equal in merit simply because they are ‘sincerely held’ by their respective adherents does violence to the way the Church has traditionally formulated doctrine.

Sincerity has never been a test of Scriptural fidelity, and to pretend thus is even more novel than the novelty it seeks to promote.

We will never resolve this matter because we are debating the symptoms rather than the cause of our present problems.

Sunday by Sunday we repent of our sins, and seek God’s forgiveness. Never was a formulary more apt than for such a time as this.

Father Ron Smith said...

One wonders how people who once led 'their own church', could offer advice to Anglicans on how our Church ought to proceed, theologically.
Is that not something of a dilemma for ADU?

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Ron
I am not prepared to treat members of FCANZ who a few months back were members of ACANZP as some kind of "former brethren".
In any case the vast bulk of FCANZ are members of this church and it is this church I am interested in holding together.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Brendan
I disagree with your analysis of the two integrities in our church re blessings.
They are not integrities by virtue of respective and equal sincerities.
They are integrities by virtue of theological commitments which differ and which no one yet has been able to reconcile, or, at least, enable both integrities to see the other as holding a second order position.
That each integrity, perhaps for a variety of different reasons, does not see the other as equally worthy of the ascription "integrity", is a significant part of the reason why we are in the position we are in.

Rosemary Behan said...

Peter, I would like to understand quite what you mean by using the word ‘integrity.’ In First Corinthians 13, the Greek word telios is translated ‘perfect.’ “Be ye perfect as your Father in Heaven is perfect.” But the word perfect, allows of no imperfection .. it means perfect. Yet in chapter 14, [never mind the Book of Hebrews] the word telios is translated, ‘mature.’ Mature? Well that definitely seems to allow for some degree of imperfection!! Integrity is a noun I think, and I don’t know of any adjective to go with it, so in my mind, I have sort of translated ‘integrity’ to mean ‘truth’ .. or ‘honest.’ But I don’t see how we can have two truths, or two honests for that matter. It seems to me that the word integrity, doesn’t allow for two integrities, it’s an impossibility, as to be perfect doesn’t allow of any imperfection. Can you please explain to me what you mean?

Liturgy said...

Dear Peter,

I would like to fly a kite – building on your work, which builds on my work, which builds on the Report.

May I first note – that the Report was restricted by Motion 30. So what follows is no criticism of the Report by me but builds on it in a way they could not because of their restrictions – restrictions this discussion is not bound by.

The model I keep returning to again and again, as you do in (d) of your Appendix, is of marriage of divorcees. If such a couple, in conscience, judge it is right to be married, and an Anglican priest or bishop, in conscience, is prepared to officiate, then that has occurred in NZ for nearly half a century. Ordination, licensing, and appointments have followed what you refer to as “notes informally.” There has been no formalised “two integrities” over clergy married in such a ceremony, nor of clergy offering such a ceremony.

Now, as I understand it, we could not proceed to follow this model as it was seen as changing our doctrine of marriage. A formulary is required. Digging deeper, and understanding that marriage of divorcees is also a change in our doctrine of marriage (held from before the Reformation, through the Reformation, until 1970 in NZ) – I discovered that our church has not actually formally “opened a pathway to remarriage of divorcees.” It has merely acted as if it has.

Last meeting of General Synod Te Hinota Whanui agreed that some of our rules show “inconsistency with the 1928 Act and lack of fundamental authorisation in the first place.” Those rules were removed. It now seems clear that 2.6 & 2.9 of our Marriage Canon (which includes marriage of divorcees) are in this category – and, for our integrity, also need to be removed.

Here’s the kite:

What say, alongside your/my “may” formulary, another formulary is introduced removing “lifelong” and “a man and a woman” from our doctrine of marriage. That marriage is lifelong may, then, still be a belief held in our Church – but it is not a required belief. It would be replaced by a minimum that “the intention is that the marriage be lifelong.” Similarly, that marriage is “between a man and a woman” may, then, still be a belief held in our Church – but it is not a required belief. It would be replaced by “a couple.”

This, in one stroke, also repairs our lacuna in relation to marrying divorcees.

As a different discussion, I think your four-level “two integrities” too complicated and unnecessary. We haven’t needed it for the last half century in relation to marrying divorcees; your “informal notes” are simpler and effective.

For more than 12 centuries, this coming Sunday we have been praying the following prayer which I offer as my prayer for this conversation:

O God,
from whom all good things come,
grant that,
by your inspiration,
we may discern what is right,
and by your merciful guiding may do it;
through Jesus Christ
who is alive with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.
Amen.

Easter Season Blessings

Bosco

Father Ron Smith said...

All this talk about the problems of 'two integrities! The Church of England has been, and still is, living with such an ethos - on the issue of women clergy. They seem to have survived the situation. What's so different with the current issue?

On the broader scene. The multiplicity of different denominational theologically credal view-points seem well able to be accommodated with the commonality of membership of 'The Body of Christ' - with far greater differences than currently obtain within our little Anglican Communion.

What really matters, is that we can, within the one larger integrity, ALL claim to intimate relationship to Jesus Christ; in our witness to his Incarnation, life, death, resurrection and ascension. THAT's the mostimportant 'integrity' of all: The only one that gives any of us any credibility.

For Nick's benefit, his own deonmination may be under the impression that they are the only ones within the tent, but it just aint so.

Father Ron Smith said...

"in my mind, I have sort of translated ‘integrity’ to mean ‘truth’ .. or ‘honest.’ But I don’t see how we can have two truths, or two honests for that matter." - Rosemary -

If you could solve this problem, Rosemary, you would probably have earned at least a Ph.D., a D.D. and whatever some 'on-line' American Universities could award to you 'on-line' for a subscription.

The fact is that, according to personal conscience - which is all anyone has to go one in matters of spiritual 'integrity' - there does happen to be more than one 'point of view'.

For instance: You may aver that the Blessed Virgin Mary has very little to do with God's plan of salvation; whereas I, as an Anglo-Catholic, aided by Scripture, am prone to call her 'Blessed' - in accordance with the Magnificat; and in consequence of her radical obedience to the voice of God spoken through the Angel Gabriel.

Incidentally, for those who believe that priesthood involves a human being's special charism to invoke the Presence of Christ (via the Invocation of the Holy Spirit) at the Eucharist; Mary (a woman) actually hosted and eventually brought forth the Presence of Christ in her womb - a veritable priestly act!

You and I Rosemary - at least as far as I am concerned - inhabit the same part of the Church we are disposed to call 'Anglican', but with obviously different understandings of women's ministry in our Church - amongst other theological understandings.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear Peter

Perhaps once we descend into a discussion over the meaning of words we are missing the larger point, yet language is important because it is the only way we can convey meaning.

Integrity, besides meaning having strong or high moral principals, means being ‘whole’ or ‘undivided’. While both sides may claim the moral high ground, the idea of there being ‘two integrities’ within an undivided Church is at best an oxymoron.

In addition, calling both positions ‘integrities’ implies both a moral and theological equivalence they clearly don’t have. One is an Orthodox position that has been unchanged and unchallenged throughout more than 1,000 years of Church history, the other is a novel innovation whose practice is condemned by a plain reading of multiple Scriptural texts.

To call both positions integrities appears to lack, well… integrity.

Sarah Behan said...

Ron,

You pointed out that the AC has been living under the ethos of two integrities in regards to women's ministry, then asking, what is the difference? This is a great question.

If conservatives like myself are forced to choose which conviction we would risk it all for - our church buildings, our reputations, our comfort, our peace - then it would be for the continuance of marriage being between a man and a woman.

Do I believe God's word teaches that a church ought to be led by a man? Yes, I do. Does that mean I think a woman has no ministry within the church? No, not at all.

So, why would I accept continuing under the AC when there are practices happening that I don't agree with?

Simply because it is not a moral issue. If I take Romans 1:18-32 and other verses {from both OT and NT} as true {that God considers sexual relations outside of marriage, whether as a single heterosexual or homosexual as sinful and against his design for human relationships}, then by blessing what God calls wrong is leading his sheep astray. And God's condemnation on those who lead his people into sin deliberately is severe {Proverbs 30:5-6, Galations 1:6-9, James 3:1}.

When I face God, I am quite happy to be wrong about my position on women's ministry. That is just mistaken understanding of theology {which we all will find we're mistaken about on one thing or another}. Those who I have sat under and who have taught that theology will be judged because of that. But if I were to face God after blessing SS marriage and I was wrong, which meant leading people away from salvation, then I myself would morally deserve the wrath of God.

This is the difference as I see it, which I am sure differs from your own. I know I am fallen, frail and have imperfect understanding of the Bible. I could completely be wrong on everything. But the risk of losing what is to come beyond this life, both for myself and those around me, is too great not to believe that what God says in the Bible is true and still stands.

Rosemary Behan said...

Father Ron .. I was personally assured by Archbishop Eames, that my position on the role of women within the church, was not only totally acceptable, but it always would be, there would always be people within the church who believed as I do. I don’t want to ‘nit-pick’ but that is NOT two integrities.

You said, “On the broader scene. The multiplicity of different denominational theologically credal view-points seem well able to be accommodated with the commonality of membership of 'The Body of Christ' - with far greater differences than currently obtain within our little Anglican Communion.”

Again Ron .. those differences cannot be referred to as two integrities. In fact the Oxford Dictionary does not have a plural for the word ‘integrity.’ So there is no such thing as more than one ‘integrity.’

You said, “If you could solve this problem, Rosemary, you would probably have earned at least a Ph.D., a D.D. and whatever some 'on-line' American Universities could award to you 'on-line' for a subscription.”

Are you complimenting me Ron? Or is the above a put-down. Are you suggesting that I have some desire for some on-line qualifications?

You said, “The fact is that, according to personal conscience - which is all anyone has to go one in matters of spiritual 'integrity' - there does happen to be more than one 'point of view'.”

A ‘point of view’ is quite different Ron. Two ‘integrities’ is what I am querying.

You said, “You and I Rosemary - at least as far as I am concerned - inhabit the same part of the Church we are disposed to call 'Anglican', but with obviously different understandings of women's ministry in our Church - amongst other theological understandings.”

Agreed.

Father Ron Smith said...


So, Rosemary, just a wee question, after your previous comment. Is your perception on what you see as a moral issue, more important than your valuation of what might be called the deeply doctrinal issue of belief in the Incarnation, death and Resurrection of Christ? Or, even, equally important; an issue for which you would leave our Church? - all this in the realisation that you, personally, may never be asked to bless a single S/S Union - nor even be expected to 'live with it' in your own local congregation?

Well, maybe another question: Do you see divorce and re-marriage (somethung that Jesus acgtually did express an opinion about) merit an equal censure as a moral evil?

Father Ron Smith said...

Rosemary, re your sematic ergument about the word 'integrity'; would you accept the possibility that other people might have a different view from yourself on what the word means, for them? Not Ph.D. stuff this, just another 'point of view' being expressed.


I can't claim to have spoken to Irish Archbishop Eames on tne issue of women's ordination, but I have discussed it with Welsh Archbishop Rowan Wiliams a couple of years ago here in Godzone. I also discussed his eirenic work 'The Body's Grace, in which he offers a theological case for S/S relationship - that you also have problerms with.

Incidentally, Rosemary, did Archbishop Eames say that Women's Ordination was worth schismatic withdrawal by those who opposed it, or should both sides live together with it? Obviously Women's Ordination, that you feel so strongly about, was not a deal-breaker for you. Nor was re-marriage after divorce - actually disapproved of by Jesus.


Further, Rosemary, re your understanding of doctrinal (moral?) issues; would you see the Blessing of a S/S Civil Partnership as worse than, or equal to the 'problem' of S/S Marriage? Which is mor morally repugnant for you; S/S relationships or the re-definition of Marriage as now practised in the civil realm?

Despite your suggestion that my questions are meant to in any way discredit you, Rosemary, I assure you that I am struggling to understand your point of view. Despite our differences, I admire your tenacity in protecting your beliefs.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Rosemary
Two integrities?
Yes, I see the definitional problem re "integrity."
But I think there can be two integrities in this sense: each integrity refers to a belief, firmly held with complete conviction that this is the truth, yet also with honest acknowledgment that the other integrity believes the opposite, and each integrity also acknowledging that many identify with neither integrity because they feel uncertain about what to believe (notwithstanding the clear conviction of each integrity and the testimony given to each conviction).
Yes, if we try to contain two integrities in one church, the question arises whether the church itself has integrity, but we could acknowledge that two integrities applies to a few beliefs, not to all, and not to those embedded in the creeds.
In the end "integrity" may not be the best word to use.
All suggestions welcomed because I cannot think of another word tonight!

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco,
No.
Neutralise the doctrine of marriage re gender and we will no longer be colleagues in the same church.

Liturgy said...

Hi Peter,

In your post you wrote
"My sense is that our church may hold together if
A. it can continue to permit belief that marriage is between a man and a woman"
But you have changed that now to
"continue to require belief that marriage is between a man and a woman."
That is quite different to your original point.
What happened in those intervening 14 hours to make you change your position so drastically?

Also your silence on altering the "lifelong" in our doctrine of marriage is deafening!
Are you prepared to see "lifelong" be altered in our Church's doctrine of marriage to "intend to be lifelong," or would that also mean you would no longer be in the same church?

Blessings

Bosco

Peter Carrell said...

A slip of the pen, Bosco.
Change "permit" to "require" and there is no change.
I will change the post.
I am keen in "lifelong" but I do not see "intend to be lifelong" as sufficient change to require me to be permitted to leave the church.

Liturgy said...

As I said, Peter, my kite was being flown building on your work.
Now that you have changed that work - I can pull that kite back in - or just let it drift away.
[the day will yet come when a commenter can edit a comment].
I have already been contacted off-site with objections to this kite.
Someone else might yet make it, or another one, fly.

Blessings

Bosco

Anonymous said...

Peter, Fr Ron has given me a mention although I have not contributed to this thread. I am starting to think that evangelical anglicans might be as confused by anglo-catholic views as I am. Although Fr Ron does not have to justify himself to me, I do wonder how exactly Christ's dying for all people solves the issues of mortal sin and the need for reconciliation.

Nick

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Nick,
Ron can make his own reply, but is it not a strong tradition within a variety of theological traditions (including, I recall, Origen, and, possibly Rahner, with his notion of anonymous Christians) that in the long run, God in Christ reconciles "ALL" to himself, that is, a way is found for God to draw all to himself, forgiven, reconciled and embraced like the prodigal son?

What I do understand, in line with your question, is that an Anglo-Catholicism which takes into Anglicanism various Roman lines of understanding of the Mass (including actual lines of liturgical text not agreed to by Anglicans in General Synod!!) while, seemingly, eschewing various lines of associated Roman theology re sin, confession, penance, etc has some explaining to do as a coherent system of theology-and-liturgical practice.

Peter Carrell said...

Hi Bosco
I do see how I have inadvertently created a light breeze for such kite-flying!
My original "permit" was to do with "permitting a continuing adherence to the doctrine of marriage as understood by this church before introducing variation to that doctrine via approval of same-sex blessings" than with a permission which permitted your kite to fly :)

Father Ron Smith said...

Dear Peter and Nick; Just to say that many Anglo-Catholics like myself find a consonance with some aspects of Roman Catholic theology (the historic Creeds, for instance, and the Real Presence of Christ in the Mass - for anyone who has that scriptural understanding). However, I find some aspects of the 39 artifacts (for that is what they have become with the passage of time) antithetical to the theology of the Real Presence of Christ in the Eucharist, and their disdain for the Church of Rome - a theological view that I find at odds with today's understasnding of the need for ecumenical co-operation.

My admiration for Pope francis is largely derived from his desire to identify closely with his famous namesake's identification with the poor and outcast of the world - not the usual sort of charism one might have associated with the Vatican, and more Christlike.

Rosemary Behan said...

You said, “Rosemary, re your sematic ergument about the word 'integrity'; would you accept the possibility that other people might have a different view from yourself on what the word means, for them? Not Ph.D. stuff this, just another 'point of view' being expressed.”

It would be difficult to do that. I’d have to argue the case with the Oxford Dictionary.

You said, “I can't claim to have spoken to Irish Archbishop Eames on tne issue of women's ordination, but I have discussed it with Welsh Archbishop Rowan Wiliams a couple of years ago here in Godzone. I also discussed his eirenic work 'The Body's Grace, in which he offers a theological case for S/S relationship - that you also have problerms with.

Well I don’t have any problems with Rowan’s work, because I haven’t read it.

You said, “Incidentally, Rosemary, did Archbishop Eames say that Women's Ordination was worth schismatic withdrawal by those who opposed it, or should both sides live together with it? Obviously Women's Ordination, that you feel so strongly about, was not a deal-breaker for you. Nor was re-marriage after divorce - actually disapproved of by Jesus.”

The issue of the ordination of women is not a first order issue. Women can do anything Ron, didn’t you know? No, not a deal breaker, adiaphora. Deal breaker for you though I suspect. Perhaps you should be the first one to cast stones .. or are my ideas acceptable? I’ve never talked with you about remarriage after divorce .. so you’re making assumptions aren’t you?

You said, “Further, Rosemary, re your understanding of doctrinal (moral?) issues; would you see the Blessing of a S/S Civil Partnership as worse than, or equal to the 'problem' of S/S Marriage? Which is mor morally repugnant for you; S/S relationships or the re-definition of Marriage as now practised in the civil realm?

You really DO guess about folk don’t you. Civil partnerships had and have all my support.

You said, “Despite your suggestion that my questions are meant to in any way discredit you, Rosemary, I assure you that I am struggling to understand your point of view. Despite our differences, I admire your tenacity in protecting your beliefs.”

Hmm, that is fairly hard to believe considering your posts to my daughter in law and now me, which prove you’ve never understood me at all, nor even tried to.

Father Ron Smith said...

Repoonse to Rosemary @ 5.44pm:

1. The Oxford dictionary is one of many, but a good starter for students' word power.

2. Nor have I read any book by Archbishop Eames (Has he written any?)

3. From what you say here, Rosemary, I gather you're OK about Gay people and their Same-Sex legal partnerships (Good News) but not about the Church extending the concept of heterosexual marriage (Even though this is now legal, and not necessariy, for me and some other Anglicans, a 'First-Order' Issue).

By the way, did you know that Article XXV does not even consider Marriage to be a sacrament of our Church?

4. I think I have understood Sarah's position on ecclesiastical polity better than yours. However, with your last post, I think I understand you better. Agape.

Father Ron Smith said...

Oh, Rosemary, by the way. I do have the utmost respect for binary marriage - being in one such relationship myself. However, by the state providing for S/S Marriage nothing has been done that could be considered to endanger the sanctity of heterrosexual Marriage. It won't stop being celebrated - either in Church or elswhere, as long as men and women want toi commit themselves to the legal contract.

Sadly, though, it seems that fewer heterosexual couples want to make that step nowadays. I woud have thought that, by extending the possibility of marriage to S/S couples in Church, we would be encouraging them into a more stable and satisfactory monogamous relationship. Is that not what we want for ALL loving couples?

Sarah Behan said...

Can I just say that it is highly unlikely that anyone can "know" one another by the comments we write in the blogosphere? I am sure face-to-face, the way God made humans all those years ago, is how we are to know one another truly. We may get tones or glimpses of a person's nature and quality as we discuss things online.

That being said, having done life with Rosemary for the last nine years - her seeing the best and the worst of me, and I seeing how she lives her faith in the sphere she is able to - I can well say that I know her. And I don't think she is even the tiniest bit what Ron might think of her. Rosemary is a straight-shooter, which some may love or shrink from, and it certainly intimidated me at first, a young naive, twenty-one year old.

But I am married to the youngest of her sons, whose integrity, honesty and unfailing ability to forgive and let go, is a living example of who she was and is, especially as a mother. And if my children reflect even a quarter of her personality, faith, intelligence and faithfulness, then I would be ever grateful to God. Her commitment to her husband and his ministry is unfailing, in sickness and in health. She is the mother I didn't have, and God knew well what he was doing when he made me a Behan.

She isn't perfect, her tongue can get the better of her sometimes, but, I can quite confidently say that, in this business of faith and conviction, she has the kind of love that Paul talks of in 1 Timothy 1: a love that comes from "a pure heart, a good conscience and a sincere faith" {vs.5}.

At the end of the day, that is the only sort of person I truly want to know.

Peter Carrell said...

Dear Sarah
Thank you for your lovely comment which I endorse, both about the difficulty of getting to know someone via writing and the commendation you give of Rosemary, your mother-in-law.

With respect to the first point, I would like to say that I happen to know "in person" quite a few of the regular commenters here, and none who make, shall we say, "robust" comments, is anything like as "robust" in person. :)

Sarah Behan said...

I agree, Peter, I am a much more confident writer than I am a talker. In person, I would rather stay away from the limelight, so to speak, probably my own failings than a strength.

The discrepancy between an online forum and real life is just another vital reason to season all our words with salt, grace and a genuine desire to care for another person, even if there is no middle ground of agreement. We don't know who may be reading our comments, especially those who do not know Christ.