letters to the editor
Breaking the rules
From Fr Richard Martin
It was interesting to read the Bishop of Bolton's biblical arguments for the ordination of women [ND December], but why is it that people like him - and most of our present episcopal bench - cannot see the illogicality of their position?
The Church of England has never claimed to possess Orders of its own, but only those of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church. It surely follows that we must therefore be bound by the rules of that body, with regard to those on whom Holy Orders may be conferred upon.
Once we cease to follow these rules we surely cease to be able to claim to be part of that one Church. And that is why traditionalist priests like me are in despair. We desperately want to be priests of that One Church. Our own communion has betrayed us and our calling. It still refuses to give us a free province. And the Roman Catholic Church still refuses to recognize us as priests.
Is it too much to ask that our Roman Catholic brethren might be more understanding of our position when the crunch of women bishops eventually comes and those of us who have attempted to soldier on are finally compelled to leave?
11 Benson Place, Oxford OX2 6QH
After the fall
From Mr John Chilver
For the Bishop of Bolton [ND December] the key argument in support of the ordination of women is that it 'reaffirms' the 'joint leadership role' of Adam and Eve in Genesis before the Fall.
But was this the divine intention when the sacrament of orders was instituted? It is certainly inconsistent with what we know about the sacraments of the Eucharist. There was no bread or wine in the Garden of Eden; they are the 'fruits of the earth and the work of human hands', the product of the 'sweat of your brow' which is required of humanity after the Fall.
Isn't the whole point of the sacraments that they reflect the ordinary, everyday things of our fallen, imperfect world which need the sanctifying, transforming power of God's grace?
Perhaps the bishop's problem is that he seems to see ordination purely in terms of leadership and authority (a very episcopal view). Couldn't it be part of God's plan for the Church that, following the
Jewish practice, priesthood is restricted to men in order to reaffirm the Old Testament vision of the priest as a sacrificial servant of the community ?
11 Greenfields, Adstock MK18 2JA
Stand up for Jesus?
From Mr Stuart Chillingworth
The Concelebrated Mass for Christ the King at Gordon Square was once again a great celebration. Nevertheless I was amused, but also bemused, when the hymn 'Stand up! Stand up for Jesus' was sung during the offertory, all the concelebrating priests and many of the laity remained resolutely seated for most of the hymn!
43 Glengall Road, Woodford Green,
From Fr John Scott
The structure over the altar at Holy Redeemer, Clerkenwell and at Pusey House, Oxford [ND December] is properly termed a ciborium.
A baldacchino is made of fabric -a view that's not maverick; it's the learned opinion of Comper, J. Ninian. John Scott Gordon Square, London WC1
Changing the roles
From Fr Anthony Bell
The Bishop of Bolton has looked for the biblical grounds of his argument for the ordination of women in the creation story in Genesis. In doing so he has failed to give due weight to the prophetic verse [3.15], T will put enmity between you [the serpent] and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; he shall bruise your head and you shall bruise his heel'
Catholic thinking has always seen this verse as the protevangelion, but the impact of the verse goes further, for from it ensues not just the role of motherhood in the incarnation, but the authority of the mother in the home, both in the nurturing of her young in the womb, and in their nurture and guidance to adulthood.
Equality does not mean equivalence. Motherhood and fatherhood as social and religious archetypes cannot be interchangeable. The current desire to manipulate the social order given in revelation
and tradition can only carry grave consequences for generations to come. Abdication of motherhood in the home leads to anarchy in the street.
Ilchester Road, Charlton Mackrell,
From Fr f. Dodd
I have been meaning to write ever since my November ND arrived on my desk, but in retirement 'there is no time.' Peter Toon [in 'Sticking plaster'] uses 'Province of Canada' when clearly he means 'The Anglican Church of Canada.'
The Diocese of New Westminster is not in the Province of Canada. That province is on the east coast. New Westminster is on the west coast, in the Province of British Columbia and Yukon. There are two other provinces in the Canadian church, namely the Province of Ontario and the Province of Rupert's Land.
Provinces don't have General Synods. The Anglican Church of Canada does have a General Synod, coming up next year, but then autonomous churches do.
3 Shawdene, Burton, Leeds LS6 4DN
From Mrs Irene Oakley
I read with interest David Gillett's article, particularly the statement '[Jesus] became fully part of the first century world and lived and spoke through that particular culture.' We do well to remember when reading the gospels that the writers were the children of their times, using the thought forms of the Graeco-Roman world. Jesus' life and teaching can only be described by them within that framework in which they lived.
By drawing attention to this fact David Gillett is performing a great service to the ongoing discussion about women in the episcopate.
II High Hamsterley Road, Rowlands Gill, Tyne & Wear NE39 1HD
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