“Gracious Restraint’ by ABY at Traditionalist Consecration

Sentamu exercises ‘gracious restraint’ over traditionalist bishop’s consecration

Tim Wyatt

by Tim Wyatt – CHURCH TIMES – Posted: 22 Jan 2015 @ 05:28

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Presiding: Dr Sentamu at the consecration of the Bishop of Beverley, in January 2013

THE Archbishop of York, Dr Sentamu, will not lay on hands at the consecration of the Bishop-elect of Burnley, Fr Philip North CMP, in February.

In a statement released on Thursday, Dr Sentamu said that he, and certain other bishops, would exercise “gracious restraint” at the laying-on of hands during the Ordination Prayer in Fr North’s consecration.

Furthermore, Dr Sentamu will not celebrate the Liturgy of Ordination and the Liturgy of the Eucharist. Instead, he will delegate these duties to another bishop, who is committed to the “flourishing” of traditionalist Anglicans who oppose women bishops, the statement said.

Dr Sentamu insisted that this break from normal procedure had nothing to do with the so-called “theology of taint”, and said that it had been his suggestion, not Fr North’s. Fr North, who was previously Vicar of Old St Pancras in North London, is an Anglo-Catholic who objects in conscience to the consecration of women bishops (News, 14 November).

The new arrangements are not binding on any future consecration, Dr Sentamu said, and have been made in the light of the House of Bishops’ commitment to enable a “suitable supply” of bishops to minister to Catholics and Evangelicals who cannot in conscience accept the ministry of a woman bishop.

Burnley is not one of the sees created for ‘flying bishops’ or Provincial Episcopal Visitors, but a suffragan see in the diocese of Blackburn. Dr Sentamu’s statement notes that he presided at the consecration of the traditionalist flying bishop the Bishop of Beverley, the Rt Revd Glyn Webster, without any objection, although Dr Sentamu had ordained women as priests since 1996.

In a statement, the pressure group WATCH (Women and the Church) described their “dismay” at the new arrangements for Mr North’s consecration. “We believe it is unprecedented that an Archbishop should be present at a consecration in his own Province and not lay hands on a candidate, and not preside at the Eucharist.

“We are saddened that there will be such a powerful visual sign of a divided College and House of Bishops.”

The Anglo-Catholic network Forward in Faith declined to comment on Thursday, but an editorial in New Directions, their monthly magazine, from February last year, addresses the question of consecration.

“The issue for us has never been about so-called ‘taint’ but rather with a theology and communion,” the editorial said. “For example, a bishop, who has in the past ordained women, by that act, created an impairment of communion between him and bishops who did not ordain women.

“Communion can be broken, but it can also be restored. Our issue has always been one of theology and sacramental assurance.”

Dr Sentamu’s statement explains how the consecration will work in detail, and suggests that these new arrangements could shape the custom of future consecrations.

Numerous references are made to the Five Guiding Principles, agreed by the General Synod during the debates on women bishops. Fr North will take an oath of canonical obedience to Dr Sentamu as his Archbishop, and Dr Sentamu will be involved in other ways during the service, such as preaching and presenting the episcopal ring.

“These arrangements are for prayer, not politics,” Dr Sentamu said. “If this accommodation is to work it requires a degree of gracious restraint and accommodation on all sides.”

______________________________________________________________

Further to previous posts on kiwianglo, this article in the U.K. ‘Church Times’ speaks of the ‘gracious restraint’ of the Archbishop of York, implied by his decision not to lay hands on the bishop-elect of Beverley, Fr. Philip North, at his forthcoming episcopal ordination in York Minster.

This charism of G.R. – which has arisen from the Church of England’s pledge made to F.i.F. Traditionalists (who oppose the ordination of women in the C. of E.) that their view of women’s ordination would not be compromised by their planned ordination as bishops – would seem to have landed the Church in a dilemma of some depth.

Despite the fact that the Archbishop of York had already laid hands on women at their priestly ordination, this did not prevent him from doing the same at the episcopal ordination of other F.i.F. bishops in the past.

However, it would appear that, now that women have been approved as candidates for episcopal ministry in the Church of England, things have changed, and the ABY elects not to participate in the episcopal ordination of Fr. North – because he will, by the time this is scheduled to happen, have laid hands on a WOMAN, The Reverend Libby Lane, who will be ordained a bishop in York Minster, a few days earlier. 

That this situation will enshrine in the Church of England a distinction of polity between the treatment of episcopal ordinands – on the basis of gender – will mark out the strange phenomenon of a two-tier episcopate in the C. of E. that the Church hierarchy have always hitherto said would not happen. On whatever grounds this new situation is allowed to be brought into being, it will certainly separate out Church of England ordination polity from that of other Provinces of the world-wide Anglican Communion, where women bishops share equal authority with their male peers.

Father Ron Smith, Christchurch, New Zealand

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About kiwianglo

Retired Anglican priest, living in Christchurch, New Zealand. Ardent supporter of LGBT Community, and blogger on 'Thinking Anglicans UK' site. Theology: liberal, Anglo-Catholic & traditional. regarding each person as a unique expression of Christ, and therefore lovable.
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