In a historic vote, the Church of England today approved female bishops. The vote wasn’t even close. This from the Telegraph’s report stood out to me:
One of the most striking interventions was from Mr Vincent, a [voice for] traditionalist Anglo-Catholics, who voted against in 2012.
He said: “I shall be voting in favour today – by doing so, I am betraying what I believe, I am betraying those who trusted in me.
“I hope that the promised commitment to ‘mutual flourishing’ is not a commitment that will run out of steam in a few years.”
Christina Rees, one of the leading campaigners for women bishops, broke down in tears as she spoke, singling out Mr Vincent’s intervention.
“Adrian Vincent has made a sacrificial decision today for the sake of the Church, he has shown his loyalty as an Anglican and as a member of the Church of England.
“I was not prepared for what he said, it absolutely stunned me.”
So, he threw himself on the mercy of the Synod? Good grief. He’ll learn soon enough what will be done with the likes of him.
Prior to the vote, a reader and I were discussing how the Anglicans could justify accepting women priests but not women bishops. My guess — and please, Anglican readers, correct me if I’m wrong — is that an individual Anglican may not believe that women can be ordained priests, but as long as the bishop is male, the traditionalist believer can be certain that the male priests have been validly ordained. With women bishops, it becomes impossible to know who has been validly ordained or not. From this point of view, a male bishop in the year 2100 who was ordained by a male bishop, who was ordained by a female bishop, would be no bishop of all — and there would be no easy way for the worshiper to know.
Well, that’s all over with now. What’s done is done. It’s worth reflecting, perhaps, on the fact that it seems conceptually impossible for religious modernists to understand why orthodox believers cannot accept that women could be priests or bishops. It has to do with what a priest is within the sacramental scheme of a particular religion, or iteration of that religion. But then, ours is a world in which existence is increasingly believed to precede essence. If people don’t believe that maleness and femaleness are much more than social constructs that we are free to adapt to individual desires, then why on earth should they believe that the sacramental priesthood is a male-only thing? I can see how it literally makes no sense to them, except as an expression of bigotry.
They’re wrong, but they live on the other side of a conceptual divide.