I have yet to read anywhere that this row is due to the dear old CofE's continued and persistent refusal to permit a modicum of democracy in their oligarchical CNC appointment process for bishops. Why can the CofE not have diocesan elections for bishops like the rest of the provinces they once colonised? Is democracy too new for the CofE to get its head around? Actually, despite the fact the democracy is quite ancient - thnx Greeks - anyone also watching the blathering and blithering of the Blairs, Majors and what have yous about resisting the referendum will of the people to Brexit, can quite understand that English-culturally the CofE is unable to accept democracy into its midst!!
For those not following the current life of the CofE a week or two back the row has been thus:
(1) Philip North, a suffragan bishop was announced as the next Bishop of Sheffield
(2) People objected strenuously, led by Martyn Percy (see below for example of a Tweet from him - examine his Twitter feed etc), because Philip North has public views about the nature of priesthood.
Summarised his views are: women can't be priests or bishops, they just can't.
In case you ask, there is a capacity within the CofE to have suffragan bishops who believe North believes because suffragan bishops are not quite the focus of unity that a diocesan bishop is.
(3) Some people, including women bishops plaintively reminded everyone that the CofE had agreed a few years back to Five Principles in order that everyone, for and against the ordination of women as priests and bishops, could mutually flourish.
(4) In administrative speak, Philip North's appointment was just an implementation of the policy.
(5) In Sheffield it was not seen that way, least of all by women priests there, not feeling particularly keen - understandably - to have a bishop who did not think they were priests.
(6) Everyone, natch (naturally), said that Philip North is a top bloke, fine priest, real concern for the poor and downtrodden, will be great in every way except re ordaining women, etc.
(7) Unfortunately a legitimate questioning of whether such an appointment really, really could lead to mutual flourishing, to say nothing of unity in a diocese, got overlain with personal abuse of Philip North.
(8) Late last week Philip North announced that he would stand aside from the appointment.
(9) Natch everyone said they were praying for Philip North and sending him nice cards.
(10) Also natch every pundit expressed their views (see Thinking Anglicans here and there and over there).
(11) I am a pundit so here is my ...
Actually, first up, three views from three English pundits, one of whom takes one of the others to task: Elaine Storkey, Jeremy Pemberton and Savi Hensman. These give a flavour of the post-stepping aside debate which is more or less about "What is the CofE becoming?"
In a pithy phrase or two, Martyn Percy offers the core of his concern: the CofE can be a church with good disagreement in its midst but it cannot be a church with good discrimination [against women].
Agreed. We can have good disagreement. But there cannot be good discrimination. Where it seeks to be imposed, it is rightly resisted. https://t.co/uvZ3ykni5R— Martyn Percy (@MartynPercy) March 12, 2017
There is also an astute question about the actuality of the CofE implied in an observation in this post by Janet Morley:
"If traditionalists and the rest of the church are now equivalent groups, then the Church of England has effectively agreed that it simultaneously does and does not recognise the validity of the ordination of women as priests and bishops and the sacraments they celebrate. This is either a total incoherence or we are now not a single Church at all but an ecumenical partnership."
Probably we need to say "partnerships" plural! We certainly have a few of those, formally and informally, in ACANZP ...
UPDATE: Here is a slice of Philip North's own views of how things might have worked out when he addressed clergy in the Sheffield Diocese before he made the decision to withdraw.
Here are my views. If you want to comment on the first three, please do so. DO NOT COMMENT on (4) - post Lent we can come back to that and expand upon it.
(1) I am amazed as a Down Under Anglican that I have yet to find a word written about the CofE's appointment process which denies full synodical involvement of dioceses in the appointment of their diocesan bishops. Would it not make a difference if the Diocese of Z, in full democratic, electoral synodical mode had elected Philip North, knowing his views etc, but definitively determining as a whole body that he should be their bishop?
(2) I am on the side of those in this particular CofE debate who see mutual flourishing as possible in many spheres of its life but not in the appointment of diocesan bishops who do not recognise women as priests or bishops. A diocesan bishop is a focus of unity. When a diocese has women priests how can they and those who believe they are priests unify around their diocesan when he does not believe they are priests? In theory it is possible for unity but the question is begged by such appointment, and also by Philip North's own remarks, linked to above, What if the clergy and laity of the Diocese are not united in receiving such appointment? (Cue my remarks about the importance of elections over appointments).
(3) Thus I am forced by logic to ask whether ++Sentamu and ++Welby have made a mistake in permitting this appointment to be announced? Did they not think - thinking men that they are - that this would inevitably lead to a lack of unifying reception?
FOR LATER POST-LENT DISCUSSION
(4) Even a lowly technician within the rocket science industry can see implications from this debate for the You Know What future ... here I simply acknowledge that. Post later in April or May about that. Do not comment, do not imply in your comment ... "DELETE" is the moderator's option!