Friday, September 08, 2017

Initial Observations on the Statement of the ACNA College of Bishops on the Ordination of Women

Their Conclave having concluded, the College of Bishops of the Anglican Church in North America have issued a statement setting forth their decisions.  In short, the status quo on women’s ordination in ACNA will continue.

Although disappointed with their decision, I do have to give them credit on one thing – they did not kick the can down the road, but went ahead and made their decision.  Whatever one feels about WO, it’s better to know where we stand now than later.  I, for one, am thankful that the option of stringing along the faithful, so often practiced in the Anglican Communion, was rejected.

However, I do not think the bishops realize, or at least are not admitting in this statement they realize, what danger ACNA is in.  Archbishop Beach’s statement that the bishops are “more unified than ever” seems wishful to me.  Maybe the bishops are very unified but many of the rest of us in ACNA are not. But I will have to put that subject aside for another post or two.

And perhaps the bishops are not all that unified.  I do not have privy information nor should I speculate.  But a close reading of the statement may reveal divisions.  Abp. Beach wrote that the College of Bishops unanimously agreed to the final statement.  And that statement documents that they unanimously agreed to continue with the policy of not having women bishops.  However, the other agreements noted in the statement are noted without indicating whether they were unanimous or not:

In an act of mutual submission at the foundation of the Anglican Church in North America, it was agreed that each Diocese and Jurisdiction has the freedom, responsibility, and authority to study Holy Scripture and the Apostolic Tradition of the Church, and to seek the mind of Christ in determining its own convictions and practices concerning the ordination of women to the diaconate and the priesthood.

And this:
Having gratefully received and thoroughly considered the five-year study by the Theological Task Force on Holy Orders, we acknowledge that there are differing principles of ecclesiology and hermeneutics that are acceptable within Anglicanism that may lead to divergent conclusions regarding women’s ordination to the priesthood. However, we also acknowledge that this practice is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order. We agree that there is insufficient scriptural warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice throughout the Province. 

Now it could be that these agreements were unanimous also.  But since two important unanimous decisions are noted – on the statement as a whole and on women bishops – one would think if these other agreements were unanimous, that should and would be noted as well.  Perhaps statements in the coming days from various bishops will clarify how unanimous the Conclave was.

The College of Bishops’ statement, along with the Holy Orders Task Force, did not address the baggage that seems always to attach itself to women’s ordination in the West.  That is a serious omission though an understandable one since several bishops surely would not acknowledge WO has such a problem at all.  That, too, is part of the problem.  Many in ACNA, like me, can live with women’s ordination.  Fewer will put up with the baggage that so often comes with it.

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