July 5, 2008

When All is Only Some

The Church of England is gathered in its General Synod. High on the agenda, once again, is the vexed question of the ordination of women to the episcopate. This is, no surprise, hotly contested in certain Anglo-Catholic circles, and by a few others. For the Anglo-Catholics, though, it seems a reminder is in order.

It used to be, in such Spikey circles, that the things the Articles of Religion refer to dismissively as "those commonly called Sacraments" (but which Anglo-Catholics just called "Sacraments"), were described under the catchy rubric: "All may, none must, some should." It seems that the "all" here was perhaps not intended as such. It appears rather to be the ecclesiastical equivalent of the mathematical set theorists' hierarchy, originated by Georg Cantor. This use of "all" is rather like Aleph-null, the "smallest" of the cardinal sets, the set of enumerated natural numbers.

As the opponents of women in the episcopate would have it, due to natural limitations, while a woman can become a Cantor, she cannot be a Cardinal.

Tobias Haller BSG, leaving the stage


Allen said...

I'm reminded of Ado Annie's response to Will Parker:

"With you it's all er nuthin'.
All fer you and nuthin' fer me!"


Anonymous said...

Yeats has his "...slouching towards Bethlehem..", but the C of E has seemed to be stumbling and bumbling and slithering towards its own "incarnation" of women in Holy Orders. They did it once with that pitiful failure called "flying bishops", and they are now called to reiterate that messy error.

We Anglicans have only just begun faintly to understand that such "half-way" measures in any matter of justice will produce only notable and confusing failure. No one - literally NO ONE - has benefited from those compromises anywhere in the Communion.

There is at least a voice at England's Synod saying "Stop this -- and stop it now! Take the step, and live with the results. At least it will be clean and clear."

How one hopes that that rational voice may finally be heard - both in England and America!

June Butler said...

Impeccable timing, Tobias. Thespian that you are, you well know when to "Exit stage right".

G said...

Not just a cardinal - or even a priest. I have friends who don't believe that women should even be altar servers.

Anonymous said...

I was waiting – I wait no more. I have received several e-mails from Anglican clergy announcing that IF the Church of England (and in one case WHEN the Anglican Church of Australia) ordains a woman bishop, they will convert to Orthodoxy. Am I supposed to pray that women will be ordained as bishops and await the flood of converts? Will the imminent conversions be postponed if the decision to ordain is postponed?
As an Orthodox priest this rather confuses me. I wasn’t aware that I was a member of a church that held as its core doctrine “No Women”. Perhaps we should run a campaign of evangelism: “Don’t want women? Join us!” I’ll leave my own views on the ordination of women out of the public domain for the present!
I am equally confused that men who presumably held some sort of commitment to something they thought of as Anglican tradition now view that as entirely optional, rather like a style of vestment that can be changed according to taste.
I suppose that living in Sydney (where the Anglican archdiocese very much holds to the core doctrine of “No Women”) entitles me to be confused about Anglicanism.

Fr Gregory

Tobias Stanislas Haller BSG said...

Dear Fr Gregory,

Thanks very much for this perspective. It echoes, to some extent, the thinking of a Vatican official who, in response to a similar effort by unhappy Anglicans in a Romeward direction, said, basically, "There is much more to the Roman Catholic Church than 'not ordaining women' and any effort to become part of Her will require careful preparation."

Many Anglicans, I know for a fact, adopt the title "orthodox" with a scant clue as to the real depth of Orthodoxy. In particular, how easily would those who embrace the somewhat peculiar Western doctrines (or twists on doctrines) as the Substitutionary Atonement, Predestination, Original Sin, and so on, fare in a tradition that gives such views scant notice? It seems to me that the radical protestant wing of Anglicanism is well away from Orthodoxy.

Meanwhile, God bless you in your ministry in Babylon (or should I say "Geneva") Down Under.