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LONDON: Is the fat lady clearing her throat?

LONDON: Is the fat lady clearing her throat?

By the Revd. Fr. Edward Tomlinson SSC
February 8, 2010

Breaking news from the Revision committee of the General Synod has appeared on Ruth Gledhill's blog. Just as predicted it spells a complete betrayal of those Anglo-Catholics who cannot in all conscience accept the ordination of women. Far from honouring the sincere promises made to us in 1992 the recommendation effectively ushers in the end game for the Catholic movement within the Church of England.

Why is this? Because after months of discussion the Revision Committee has felt unable to deliver a single proposal that would satisfy the needs of traditionalists who have grave theological doubts over the validity of women bishops. Instead these poor clergy will have to like it or lump it and swear allegiance to a Diocesan bishop whose orders they do not recognise. Without any doubt this places their integrity and own authority in profound doubt. Regardless of who visits them pastorally they will be forced to serve under someone their consciences claim to be phoney.

On the plus side it is a very logical and Catholic decision. There will be no more flying bishops and/or strange ecclesiology. On the negative side the Church will have behaved deplorably to those people whose only 'crime' is to believe what the majority of Christians throughout history have always believed. If this goes ahead it is absolutely beyond question that those 'forced out' must be offered a generous compensation package and that those congregations 'forced out' be given use of their buildings. Anything less than that would constitute one of the worst scandals in the modern history of Western Christianity.

For those who had already decided that the Pope's offer cannot be ignored this is a wonderful day. It makes it abundantly clear that there is no long term future for traditional Catholicism in the Church of England and ensures no one can point a finger of blame when congregations walk away. But for those who feel unable to convert to Catholicism this is a very grave and tragic development. How wicked that the Church of England is unable to offer this group any space in which to thrive. The Revision Committee are ensuring they have no future which renders evangelism dormant.

Such priests are forced into a life as one generational hospice chaplains.


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