The Rev. Lindsay Southern, a female curate in the Church of England, has taken on the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in an open letter critical of their most recent intervention in the debate over female bishops in their Church. Thinking Anglicans has the text, but here are some highlights:
Far from being attentive to the full diversity of voices within the Church of England, these amendments suggest that you, our Archbishops, are primarily concerned with a particularly vocal minority. Neither do you seem to trust that the Legislative Drafting Committee have, in fact, been extremely attentive to the diversity of voices for the past year and have worked hard to come up with the current proposals. There is nothing to suggest, for example, that you are listening to the voices of those who signed petitions in 2008 requesting a single clause measure. Or those, like WATCH, who have made it clear that the proposed legislation already demands many concessions and compromises from the simple single clause measure they requested and which has been favoured by all other Anglican provinces who have chosen to open the episcopate to women.
The smoke and mirror strategy of giving jurisdiction by virtue of the Measure, rather than transfer or delegation in effect implies that the Church of England as a whole is ambiguous about the identity and authority of both Bishops who are female and male priests who accept their ministry. This is a dangerous precedent to set and leaves women in ministry vulnerable as they, along with every Christian, continue the battle against the principalities and powers of darkness but without the full support of the Church that recognised and authorised their divine calling to ordained ministry.
The interpretation of the Lambeth Conference resolution (1998) which undergirds this proposal (para 2) fails to recognise that both those who assent to and those who dissent to the ordination of women to the priesthood are loyal Anglicans because what we hold in common; our love for Christ, our common identity as brothers and sisters in Christ, takes precedence over our disagreement over differing understandings of the Episcopal authority. Status as loyal Anglicans is not a carte blanche to demand special provisions.
I refute completely that the Church of England has managed to operate a practical polity (para 13). The practical polity is in fact extremely dysfunctional, cripples the ministry of women, in some diocese more than others, and has done nothing to bring about greater communion, but instead fosters division and discrimination and continues to damage the Church.
The Rev. Southern is active in WATCH