Roman Catholic reaction to women as bishops

Reactions to the actions of the General Synod of the Church of England and the consecration of women as bishops continue although if all proceeds as planned, no woman will be consecrated a bishop until at least 2014. The Vatican Council for the Promotion of Christian Unity issued a statement Tuesday.

The Council is headed by Cardinal Walter Kasper. The statement reads:
“We have regretfully learned of the Church of England vote to pave the way for the introduction of legislation which will lead to the ordaining of women to the Episcopacy.

The Catholic position on the issue was clearly expressed by Pope Paul VI and Pope John Paul II. Such a decision signifies a breaking away from the apostolic tradition maintained by all of the Churches since the first millennium, and therefore is a further obstacle for the reconciliation between the Catholic Church and the Church of England.

This decision will have consequences on the future of dialogue, which had up until now born fruit, as Cardinal Kasper had clearly explained when he spoke on June 5 2006 to all of the bishops of the Church of England at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

The Cardinal has been invited once again to express the Catholic position at the next Lambeth Conference at the end of July”.

Read it all here.

One might point out that In 1976, the Pontifical Biblical Commission concluded that "It does not seem that the New Testament by itself alone will permit us to settle in a clear way and once and for all the problem of the possible accession of women to the presbyterate" (Origins 6, no. 6 [1 July 1976]:92-96; in CTSA, 77. However in 1994, Pope John Paul II wrote:

Although the teaching that priestly ordination is to be reserved to men alone has been preserved by the constant and universal Tradition of the Church and firmly taught by the Magisterium in its more recent documents, at the present time in some places it is nonetheless considered still open to debate, or the Church's judgment that women are not to be admitted to ordination is considered to have a merely disciplinary force.

Wherefore, in order that all doubt may be removed regarding a matter of great importance, a matter which pertains to the Church's divine constitution itself, in virtue of my ministry of confirming the brethren (cf. Lk 22:32) I declare that the Church has no authority whatsoever to confer priestly ordination on women and that this judgment is to be definitively held by all the Church's faithful.

Anglican Communion News Service has the legislation and Church of England links here

Links to reactions in the UK press can be found at Thinking Anglicans.

The US press has a variety of stories:
NY Times: The Church of England Endorses Women as Bishops here.

USA Today, Chicago Tribune, San Francisco Chronicle, Philadelphia Inquirer, Washington Post, and Miami Herald rely on the AP: England church backs women bishops, risks division here.

CNN International: Church of England backs female bishops here.

The Living Church: English Synod Approves Legislation Allowing Female Bishops here.

CBS Radio: Women bishops here.

Bloomberg: Anglican Vote on Female Bishops Sparks Threat of Separation here.

Bloggers are also discussing women as bishops:
Elizabeth Kaeton, President of the Episcopal Women's Caucus, writes a personal response here.

Susan Russell, President of Integrity writes here.

Grandmere Mimi of Wounded Bird comments here.

Friends of Jake, a blog by fans of the retired blog, Fr. Jake Stops the World, has comments here.

Anglican Centrist blogs Vatican Objects to Anglican Women Bishops here.

Episcopal Women's Caucus responds here read it all below:


EWC Board applauds CofE vote

The Episcopal Women’s Caucus (EWC) Board applauds the Church of England Synod’s vote on July 7 to “affirm that the wish of its majority is for women to be admitted to the episcopate” and to prepare by February 2009 a first draft of a “national code of practice” outlining how this will be accomplished.

“The Caucus is celebrating this great news,” said EWC President Elizabeth Kaeton. “The Church of England ‘allows’ women to be ordained to the diaconate, and for the past 15 years the C of E has ‘allowed’ us be ordained to the priesthood. But women have not been ‘allowed’ to be appointed bishops, keeping the stained glass ceiling firmly in place.”

Bishops are appointed in the Church of England, not elected in a diocese by clergy and laity as they are in The Episcopal Church.

Kaeton and EWC board members are cautiously optimistic as the Church of England moves forward, including discerning how to “accommodate” those who will not support the episcopacy of women. “While it is important to make room for the multitude of voices in the Church, it is vital to maintain the authority of the office without regard to the person holding the office,” Kaeton said. “Any accommodation must not be used to legislate sexism.”

The EWC will continue to work for the Gospel values of equality and liberation and committed to the incarnation of God's unconditional love --- including and especially in the Church, said Kaeton.

“Women and men who have heard the liberation promised in the gospel of Jesus Christ, and who understand ourselves worthy, through Christ, to stand before God as children of God, will work together to continue to crumble the ideology of patriarchy and the system of sexism,” she said.

Comments (1)

This decision will have consequences on the future of dialogue, which had up until now born fruit, as Cardinal Kasper had clearly explained when he spoke on June 5 2006 to all of the bishops of the Church of England at the invitation of the Archbishop of Canterbury.

And what fruit would that be? I'm racking my brains, and I can't come up with anything.

June Butler

Add your comments

(If you haven't left a comment here before, you may need to be approved by the site owner before your comment will appear. Until then, it won't appear on the entry. Thanks for waiting.)

Reminder: At Episcopal Café, we hope to establish an ethic of transparency by requiring all contributors and commentators to make submissions under their real names. For more details see our Feedback Policy.

Advertising Space