Clarity

The following resolution was passed unopposed at the FiF Special Assembly on 7 4 February

This Assembly affirms that the recent Statement published by the Bishop of Beverley is an accurate reflection of its own position, following the February 2009 sessions of the General Synod of the Church of England; it commends the Statement to the members of Forward in Faith for study and guidance and calls on the Council to work out the practical implications thereof.

a)  If, as the Lambeth Conference has recognised, our view is as equally valid within Anglicanism as that of our opponents, provision for us should have equal weight to that of the other viewpoint. We are not looking for special favours by which we might be tolerated but for a provision that recognises us as being as authentically Anglican and Church of England as our opponents.

b)  A code of practice does not provide the above. Such a code lacks legal force. Much of the code only calls on those applying its contents to give them due regard. It is pointed out that such decisions would have to be defended in the law courts if someone were to apply for judicial review. Just imagine the costs to both the Church of England and to the petitioners of such a way of testing apparently unfair decisions.

c)  One of the marks of the Catholic revival in the Church of England was its protest at doctrinal matters within the Church of England being decided by the Privy Council. The notorious Gorham Judgement caused great consternation to many not just because of its outcome but also because of where and how the decision had been made. The present situation is not an exact parallel but nonetheless I doubt many of us would want to live exposed to that kind of system.

d)  Despite all the assurances given at its inception, the Act of Synod has come under continual attack with constant calls for its repeal... Does anyone seriously think that within a very short time there would not be a determined group seeking to whittle away, piece by piece, any code of practice and determined that eventually it should be abolished? Only provision by measure and not by a code of practice will do.

e)  There is no provision for transfer of jurisdiction to bishops who are supposed to be appointed to minister to those of our viewpoint. This is not a power game. A bishop and his priests are integrally linked in one interchangeable college. A presbyter receives his authority from and is an extension of the ministry of his bishop. How can such a theology be safeguarded by a so-called complementary bishop exercising authority only on behalf of a bishop over whose sacramental reality both the complementary bishop and those to whom he is set aside to minister have considerable doubt?

f)  Jurisdiction has implications for the mission of the Church. I have to say that after excess of eight years as a provincial episcopal visitor the lack of control over the placing of priests and of pastoral reorganisation, together with other matters, even, sometimes, the arranging of confirmations, has made it clear to me how constricted is my ability in seeking to lead the Church in mission.

 

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