Thursday, November 16, 2006

Arch-enemy of Canterbury????????

Sensational news stories today concerning an interview with Archbishop Rowan Williams in the Catholic Herald. I heard it first in Radio 4 (in the bleary-eyed pre-breakfast state) and it sounded like he was saying that ordaining women to the priesthood had not brought renewal to the church so I wanted to follow up and find out what he said for real.

The BBC has him saying something reassuring about the place of women in ministry:

I think perhaps what one doesn't realise is how very, very normal this has come to feel for the vast majority of Anglicans and it hasn't undermined what the people feel about the ministry of the sacraments.
For me this was very reassuring. the article had implied that Rowan had not felt there had been the expected RENEWAL as a result of women in the priesthood and I was worried that somehow peopel expected that women being priests would be so ontologically different from men being priests that there would be a noticeable difference. For me the poitn has always beent hat individuals bring themselves to the priesthood and as much as there may be differences iont he personalities of priests these do not change the NATURE of priests. To have expected some great amazing RENEWAL and change from women in the priesthood would, bizarrely enough, have made ME question if it were the right thing to do. Women came into the SAME priesthood, the apostolic sucession, the CHURCH that has moved with the times and changed in many ways but still remained essentially the same. To hear the archbishop saying that women have become part of the normality of church is a FAR greater success than for there to have been some blinding shining amazing wondrous change.

The thing that had worried me most on the news this morning was the implication that the archbishop had said that they might revise the decision to extend the priesthood to women at some point int he future. Reading what he ACTUALLY said reassured me. In answer to a question as to whether he thought it was possible that the church might reverse its decision and restrict the priesthood to men his response was that he could

"just about envisage a situation in which, over a very long period, the Anglican Church thought about it again, but I would need to see what the theological reason for that would be"

Some might take that as someone saying we should revise but I hear it far more as a man saying he wouldn't exclude the possiblity but it was HIGHLY UNLIKELY and would be done only if theological reasoning LED to such a decision.

I think to me it sounds like an interview in which the Catholic Herald was desperately TRYING to get the Archbishop to say such things but not succeeding but the very fact that the questions were posed was enough for some journalists to hang a sensational story on.

This assertion is backed up by the Archbishop's own press release:

The Archbishop of Canterbury, Dr Rowan Williams has dismissed as 'wilfully misleading' newspaper reports that he is doubtful over the ordination of women to the priesthood, has ever felt that the ordination of women priests had been 'wrong' or believes that a revisiting of the question is likely, necessary or desirable.

Speaking during a visit to Manchester, Dr Williams declared his continuing support for the ordination of women to the priesthood.

"From the very beginning of this issue I have been a supporter of the ordination of women and have not doubted the rightness of that decision or the blessings it has brought. It has been a difficult road for the Church and the cost of that decision has been a heavy one and that has been a test.

"I made it clear in the interview with the Catholic Herald and will continue to do so that I see no theological justificaton for any revisiting of this question and indicated in the interview three times that I had no wish to reopen it, whatever technical possibilities might theoretically exist."

"The presentation of this to mean anything else is wilful misinterpetation. My convictions mean that I feel nothing less than full support for the decision the Church of England made in 1992 and appreciation of the priesthood exercised "
Whatever the papers may have said about it all, the lectionary as ever brought a great deal of calm to the matter. We celebrated today Queen Margaret of Scotland, known for her gentle teaching and humility. First of we had Psalms 26 & 27 with the lines:

My foot stands firm;
in the great congregation I will bless the Lord

One thing have I asked of the Lord
and that alone I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the Lord
all the days of my life,
To behold the fair beauty of the Lord
and to seek his will in his temple.

Then before we had the description of the virtuous wife from Proverbs we we had this from Turgot's Life of St Margaret:

MANY, as we read, have got their name from a quality of their mind, so that in their regard there is shown a correspondence between the word forming their name and the grace they have received. Peter was so named from "the Rock," that is Christ, in token of the firmness of his faith; John, which means "the grace of God," from his contemplation of the Divinity, and his prerogative of Divine love; and the sons of Zebedee were styled Boanerges, that is, "the sons of thunder," because they thundered forth the preaching of the Gospel. The same thing was true of this virtuous woman, for the fairness which was pre-shadowed in her name was eclipsed by the surpassing beauty of her soul. She was called Margaret, and in the sight of God she showed herself to be a pearl, precious in faith and works. She was indeed a pearl to you, to me, to all of us, yea, to Christ Himself, and being Christ's she is all the more ours now that she has left us, having been taken to the Lord....
Nor need we wonder that the queen governed herself and her household wisely when we know that she acted always under the wisest of masters, the guidance of the Holy Scriptures. I myself have had frequent opportunities of admiring in her how, even amidst the distractions of lawsuits, amidst the countless cares of state, she devoted herself with wonderful assiduity to the study of the word of God, respecting which she used to ask profound questions from the learned men who were sitting near her. But just as no one among them possessed a deeper intellect than herself, so none had the power of clearer expression. Thus it very often happened that these doctors went from her much wiser men than when they came...

When it was morning she rose from bed and devoted a considerable time to prayer and the reading of the Psalms, and while thus engaged, she performed the following work of mercy. She ordered that nine little orphans utterly destitute should be brought in to her at the first hour of the day, and that some soft food such as children at that tender age like, should daily be prepared for them. When the little ones were carried to her she did not think it beneath her to take them upon her knee, and to get their pap ready for them, and this she put into their mouths with the spoon which she herself used. The queen, who was honoured by all the people, did this act of charity for the sake of Christ, and as one of Christ's servants. To this most loving mother might be applied with great propriety that saying of the blessed Job, "From my infancy mercy grew with me, and it came forth with me from my mother's womb."

1 comment:

LutheranChik said...

Happy Delurking Week!

I think that, in addition to the love of and promotion of sensationalism built into the profession (I say this as a PR hack, which is I think a few rungs down the ladder from journalism proper), a lot of journalists are so uninformed in matters of religion that they really don't have the necessary contextual understanding of theology/praxis/polity/current issues in religion in order to be able to report it accurately.