Middle

of the road

Had the Vatican understood the Anglican patrimony differently, it might have adopted the pragmatism of Article XXXII allowing clergy to marry or not, ‘to serve better to godliness’. Never was the Anglican via media better expressed.

What a pity then that the Church of England didn’t itself follow the via media when it came to female ordination. The Victorian revival of sisterhoods rightly responded to the demand for fuller opportunities for female ministry. That the next stage had to be priestly ordination, with predictable opposition, doesn’t accord with Anglicanism’s via media approach nor its regard for scriptural precedents.

A middle way would have been to say that priesthood remains reserved for the chaps but for the ladies we’ll revive the office of prophetess. A revival that could look to Our Lady’s prophetic proclamation at the Annunciation. Anglican Catholics and Evangelicals could have rejoiced that there’d be no change to the presbyteral/episcopal order. The feminists of Watch could equally rejoice by realizing that biblical prophets outranked priests.

However, Watchwomen copying those Old Testament prophets who wandered about starkers, mightn’t have been greeted with rejoicing by FiF’s Page 3 fans.

Getting back to clothing – in this case of religious. To arrest the decline in monastic vocations, why not follow a multicultural via media and borrow from Buddhism where young folk spend a few years as monks before going back to civilian life?

If ‘uni’ is becoming too expensive, how about young Anglican lads and lasses spending a couple of years with SSF or OHP? Religious National Service. We’re a National Church, after all.

Carry on Sergeant Major – or Mother Superior.

Alan Edwards

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