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The Anglican Church Ordains women bishops




1. Church of England Names Libby Lane as First Female Bishop



The Church of England on Wednesday named the Rev. Libby Lane, a parish priest for 20 years in the north of England, as its first female bishop, just weeks after the church authorities took the final step to reverse centuries of canon law to begin what the archbishop of Canterbury called “a completely new phase of our existence.”

Ms. Lane, 48, will be consecrated on Jan. 26, the Church of England said on its website. She described herself as “grateful for, though somewhat daunted by,” the appointment. “This is unexpected and very exciting,” she said in a statement on the website. “On this historic day, as the Church of England announces the first woman nominated to be bishop, I am very conscious of all those who have gone before me, women and men, who for decades have looked forward to this moment. But most of all, I am thankful to God.”

Ms. Lane is to become the bishop of Stockport, in northwest England, a position that lacks the status of a full, diocesan bishop but nonetheless represents a historic shift roughly 20 years after the Church of England first ordained female priests. Technically, she will be an assistant in the Diocese of Chester. The tradition of all-male bishops dates to the Church of England’s break with Rome five centuries ago, in the days of King Henry VIII.

Ms. Lane’s husband, George, is also a priest, and they were one of the first married couples in the Church of England to be ordained together, the church said. “Her interests include being a school governor, encouraging social action initiatives, learning to play the saxophone, supporting Manchester United, reading and doing cryptic crosswords,” the church added in a brief biography on its website.

Ms. Lane is one of eight female clerics who have held observer status in the church’s House of Bishops, and she represents the northwest of England.

The halting process toward her consecration reflected deep divisions between liberals and conservatives that are likely to be cemented rather than resolved by the move.

“Without prayer and repentance, it is hard to see how we can avoid some serious fractures,” the Most Rev. Justin Welby, the archbishop of Canterbury, who backed the push for female bishops, said after a final vote on the matter last month.

The archbishop is the senior leader of the church and the symbolic, spiritual leader of the broader Anglican Communion, which claims about 80 million followers around the world. It includes the Episcopal Church in the United States, in which women have served as bishops for years. “This moment is significant, but it is not simply a gesture,” Ms. Lane said. “I’m the first, but I won’t be the only. And I follow in the footsteps of women across the Anglican Church and globally.”

The Church of England first agreed to the appointment of women as bishops in July, and it took the final step with a show of hands at its General Synod on Nov. 17. The appointment of Ms. Lane comes almost four decades after the Church of England first considered the ordination of women, in 1975.

Ms. Lane said on Wednesday that opponents of female bishops would be “distressed and disturbed by today’s announcement.” One of those was the Rev. Rod Thomas, the head of a conservative group, Reform, which led opposition to the consecration of women as bishops. “We have known since July that the Church of England would seek to appoint women to the episcopate — against the biblical model of good church leadership,” he said in a statement. “Though it grieves us, it comes as no surprise.”

The church leadership agreed in July to make concessions to conservatives, permitting parishes that are reluctant to acknowledge a female bishop to request supervision by a man.

That compromise is likely to be tested with the consecration of Ms. Lane in the diocese run by the bishop of Chester, the Right Rev. Peter Forster. Mr. Thomas said he urged the bishop to “enable the many thriving conservative evangelical churches in his diocese to continue to serve their communities with theological integrity under the oversight of a male bishop.”

Source: New York Times

2.Moscow Patriarchate: Decision to Ordain Female Bishops in Church of England Contrary to Apostolic Tradition




At the session that took place on the 14th of July 2014, the General Synod of the Church of England made a decision allowing women to serve as bishops. The Communication Service of the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations is authorized to make the following statement in this regard:

The Russian Orthodox Church has been alarmed and disappointed to learn about the decision of the Church of England to admit women to the episcopate, since the centuries-old relationships between our two Churches had shown possibilities for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in Anglicanism. As far back as the 19th century, the Anglicans, members of the Eastern Church Association, sought “mutual recognition” of orders between the Orthodox and the Anglican Churches and believed that “both Churches preserved the apostolic continuity and true faith in the Saviour and should accept each other in the full communion of prayers and sacraments.”

The decision to ordain women, which the Church of England took in 1992, damaged the relationships between our Churches, and the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.

Such practice contradicts the centuries-old church tradition going back to the early Christian community. In the Christian tradition, bishops have always been regarded as direct spiritual successors of the apostles, from whom they received special grace to guide the people of God and special responsibility to protect the purity of faith, to be symbols and guarantors of the unity of the Church. The consecration of women bishops runs counter to the mode of life of the Saviour Himself and the holy apostles, as well as to the practice of the Early Church.
In our opinion, it was not a theological necessity or issues of church practice that determined the decision of the General Synod of the Church of England, but an effort to comply with the secular idea of gender equality in all spheres of life and the increasing role of women in the British society. The secularization of Christianity will alienate many faithful who, living in the modern unstable world, try to find spiritual support in the unshakable gospel’s and apostolic traditions established by Eternal and Immutable God.

The Russian Orthodox Church regrets to state that the decision allowing the elevation of women to episcopal dignity impedes considerably the dialogue between the Orthodox and the Anglicans, which has developed for many decades, and contributes for further deepening of divisions in the Christian world as a whole.

See also: The Anglican Church may be extinct in 20 years.



Article published in English on: 19-12-2014.