Thursday, July 10, 2008

Statements from Forward in Faith UK and the Church Union

I’ll let these statements speak for themselves with a big hat tip to The Good Professor.

From Forward in Faith UK:

A Message from the Chairman of Forward in Faith

The vote in General Synod on the proposal for Women Bishops will have been a real shock to many in our parishes. This is not the time for rapid decisions or knee-jerk reactions but rather a time calmly to take counsel together.

It was obvious in November 1992 that the Church of England had changed substantially for the worse. In the years that followed we have lived together with a real Gospel sense of purpose and they have been good years for us and our parishes. This week’s vote at General Synod came as a real shock to me, not because I expected to win but because I had not realised the depth of the uncharitable and unchristian attitudes held by the majority. It became absolutely obvious that, in spite of appeals from both Archbishops, the majority of so called liberals were determined to see us out. I have been quite impressed today that a liberal bishop and an archdeacon have both phoned me saying they shared our sense of shock. The Bishop of Dover, who is a supporter of women bishops, said in Synod: ‘for the first time in my life I feel ashamed’.

So what has changed apart from clarity about the nature of our opponents? I suspect not very much. As a priest and as a bishop, and as Chairman of Forward in Faith, I have always believed that the changing ecclesiology in the Church of England made collective demands on us. My conviction has always been that we have to seek a common ecclesial way forward. Our hope was that this would be established by the General Synod and though this now seems unlikely, it is still not an impossibility. I remain determined to find a way forward.

There has been speculation in the media about contact with Rome. I am strongly committed to Christian unity and, as many of you know, I was involved in the talks with the Roman Hierarchy in 1992 and later spent a considerable time with the then Cardinal Ratzinger in 1996. My problem then was that, although there was great generosity, there was no offer of an ecclesial reconciliation. In other words, our common Eucharistic and spiritual life was not recognised. That remains a problem for me. I am fascinated by the conversations between the Traditional Anglican Communion and Rome as well as those between some of our Bishops and the Holy See. Will these now offer a way forward?

Many of you have phoned me in the last twenty four hours, angry or distressed. Several have suggested that we should declare war on those who seek to destroy us. Particularly, the suggestion has been made that we stop paying Diocesan Quota. I am open on this matter but think that now is not quite yet the time for such drastic gestures, for whatever we do needs its timing to be agreed by us all so that we can act together. Be assured of my commitment to our common life and of my determination to continue to seek a common way forward in faith for all of us.

Every Blessing,

+John Fulham

From the Church Union:

A Message from Bishop Edwin Barnes
President of The Church Union

Until July 2008 it was possible for members of the Church of England to claim to be part of the One, Holy, Catholic and Apostolic Church. By the vote in General Synod on 7/7/08 that possibility was removed. Now catholic Anglicans are looking to the future without any real chance of remaining members of the Church of England.

Fifteen years ago, we were told we had an honoured place in that church, and that there would be no discrimination against any of us who believed in conscience that women could not be priests. Now, the majority in General Synod have reneged on those promises. They have sought to cover their naked ambition with the fig-leaf of a 'code of practice' but we are not deceived. The code of practice of the House of Bishops which accompanied the Act of Synod in 1993 has been either ignored or positively undermined by those in authority. The even-handedness which was promised us has been replaced by a determined and successful effort to ensure that no-one who believed women's ordination might be against the will of God would gain any sort of senior office in the church.

For myself, this clear decision that the majority wants to be rid of us comes as a great relief. We can now begin to plan for a future which will not involve us in compromise. Our Fathers in God (the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, and the few remaining orthodox bishops such as Fulham, Chichester and a handful of others) will do their best to encourage us and keep us together, so that we can hold together. We believe our friends in the Roman Communion will do all they can to help us. Meanwhile, we must pray for one another and support one another - and pray for those who despitefully use us and want us gone. It is a sad time for the Church of England; but not for the Church of God. Great is the truth, and will prevail. God bless and sustain you - and in this interim the Church Union will do all it can to help you.

+ Edwin Barnes

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