TQTWTAIN – No. 2 – Will more bishops leave the Church for Rome and other questions

Peter Bingle the chairman of Bell Pottinger Public Affairs tweeted this the other day. The second in my series of Theological Questions to Which  the Answer is No.

The answer to this is none (which is a no!)

There has been a lot of hype in the papers recently about the Roman Catholic ordinariate and the bishops and priests joining it from the Anglican church. To date three bishops have gone over. In fact they are suffragan bishops, of whom 2 were retired, which means they are assistant bishops and don’t have a diocese.

But here is the thing. All of the current diocesan bishops have women priests in their dioceses. If they then resign and go to Rome because of women priests what does that say about their integrity? So, it won’t happen.

The third is likewise a no. Peter Bingle asks

Does this mean that ecumenism is now dead?

No. Of course it doesn’t. Ecumenism was never going to end up with the Anglican and Roman Catholic churches combining. When it was launched after Vatican II it was over-hyped and sought by a stronger Anglo-Catholic movement that was then present.  But there were always too many differences – authority, Mary (immaculate conception and assumption) etc that aren’t likely to be sorted out any century soon.

Instead it will carry on in a realistic manner by focussing on areas of common interest and values. Local engagement in bodies such as Churches Together etc.

No. 4 was asked by the Ordinariate’s spokesman in chief the columnist Damian Thompson, who writes for the Telegraph. he wrote back in November when 5 bishops resigned (all suffragan and two retired.

NOW will people take the Ordinariate seriously?

Sorry about the size of headline – but says it all about his style of writing. The answer is, of course, no. The numbers going over to the ordinariate are minuscule. The MOST that they are talking going over is 50 clergy (and probably many of them retired).

Compare this to the number of clergy in the CofE. In 2009 there were 19,504 active clergy (plus another 1,600 chaplains). The one congregation that has been mentioned in Kent that might go over has a congregation similar in size to our Cafe Church – and even not all of them wish to go!

So no. It’s not serious



9 comments on “TQTWTAIN – No. 2 – Will more bishops leave the Church for Rome and other questions

  1. Harvey Edser
    January 21, 2011 at 2:11 pm #

    Strictly that’s TQTWTAIN nos. 2, 3 and 4…

    How about questions to which the answer is ‘does it really matter’? 😉

    I’m all for ecumenism (having grown up in a mixed RC / C of E family), but it has to take place at the local/individual level not top-down.

    BTW I’ve got a new blog: The Evangelical Liberal.

  2. Will Cookson
    January 21, 2011 at 2:39 pm #

    Technically you’re right – the 3rd question (or 4th if you see what I mean) just popped up at the last minute – so thought I would get it out of the way rather than have a totally separate post.
    I quite agree for many it doesn’t matter – but for others there is real heat under the collar and an over-realised eschatology to all of this. Still they will no doubt eventually get over it. Except, of course, those poor priests (literally so) who go over to Rome.
    Interesting to note that quite a few priests coming the other way. Ruth Gledhill pointed out a link to a question in Parliament that showed about 10 priests coming over to the CofE from Rome. Still we prefer understated in the CofE.

  3. Esther Somerson
    January 24, 2011 at 2:13 pm #

    Some would argue that ‘understated’ is lacking in the awe and reverence in how Christ teaches us to worship and love Him. Why does it have to be one thing or another? If you consider the ‘defections’ it is possible to see that ‘Communion under both kinds’ is plausible and possible, indeed the greatest way of worship and understanding. It should be seen as interesting and not causing anger and irritation that God is stirring things up – His recipes for change are always the best although we may not see it in our earthly lifetime. The RC Church needs to change and adopt more liberal approaches and some Protestant Churches need to be more in awe and less of an ‘entertaining’ model. Traditional worship can be beautiful and sincere and this country would look dreadful were church buildings not seen in so many peaceful places as well as suburban areas, often where all hope is lost. Unfortunately Church buildings hold unhappy or oppressive memories for people and meeting in a hall is more appealing. The Bible clearly points in myriad verses that one aspect of God is His command to be worshipped in particular types of building as well as other rooms and the ‘rooms’ within our hearts.
    Are there any plans to place a prayer or two on the blog and one or two Bible verses to meditate now and then?
    1 Thess 5:12-13,16,19 “We beseech you, bretheren, to respect those who labour among you and are over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Be at peace amongst yourselves. Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit.”
    Why that reference – I have not a clue ! That is what is wonderful about being baptised in the Holy Spirit. Thank you for the discussion.

  4. Will Cookson
    January 24, 2011 at 10:40 pm #

    Esther, thank you for your post and your thoughts.
    I really have no problem whatsoever with people becoming Roman Catholic. I think that the diversity of Christ’s church is a great thing. That’s not my problem with all of this. I am not “for” one style of worshipping God over another. The Church of England has worship that is more Catholic than many Roman Catholic churches as well as Charismatic in school halls (and all points between). I am delighted to be in communion with Christians from all branches of the Church whether they are RC or Baptist or Pentecostal or Orthodox or whatever.
    My problem is that it is being portrayed in the press as some major thing when the numbers involved are very small (and there is equal or greater traffic the other way).

    You might also wish to read an article in the Telegraph as to how it is all going down for some:

    Interesting suggestion about a meditation. I will think about it. It could be quite nice sometimes.

    • Esther Somerson
      January 25, 2011 at 11:07 pm #

      I have read it but not quite digested it. Some aspects of it are puzzling. Clearly planned to sell newspapers.

      Yes it might be quite nice. You could meditate about it.
      1 Cor 4,5

      Why is there such an issue about Mary? She was one of the people that Jesus addressed to be taken care of from the Cross. No one seems to discuss how helpful it is to women and especially to young girls to have another female to pray to (in no way worship as God) – to immature Christians Jesus is a man and women have different make up. Young girls feel good talking to the Mother of Jesus about personal things. I know some women who say this was a comfort to them growing up, especially where they had poor relationships with their earthly mothers. Interesting that Anglican Bishops want to join a church that promotes a woman. The Nativity was indeed excellent (recent TV programme.)

  5. harveyedser
    January 24, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    I’m not sure I agree that understated means lacking reverence. The C of E is a very broad church encompassing both deeply reverent sacramentalism and highly passionate charismaticism, and all the better for that. What’s understated in this example is simply the rather charming English reserve in which the church tends not to trumpet its own successes at the expense of others.

    I’m not sure there’s anything in the New Testament about God commanding to be worshipped in particular kinds of buildings, wonderful and helpful though many of these buildings can be. Similarly, the style of music or service is not a matter of command but one of preference, and we can thank God for his infinite diversity and variety.

    Will, I suppose my point is that, even if lots of people get hot under the collar about it, that doesn’t necessarily mean that it really matters if some people decide to church-hop for whatever valid or invalid reasons. But then I get highly exercised by the debate over creation/evolution which also in a sense doesn’t matter one tiny bit! 🙂

    I’m tempted to quote a random Bible verse at this point but will refrain… 😉

    • Esther Somerson
      January 25, 2011 at 10:14 pm #

      These things very obviously matter to you a great deal from the tone of your comments, not always easy to guage, I am aware by written word. There would be no New Testament without the Old Testament and that was my reference. Jesus himself states that in His Father’s House there are many mansions. What is wrong with wanting to show our Lord our Love by having Churches – also many good people were martyred or died waiting for their Holy Spiritually guided plans to come to fruition and the outcome lives on in people who worship there. It matters to individuals and individuals make up the body. Or maybe the Government will sell them all off after selling our forests!

  6. harveyedser
    January 26, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    All fair points, and I have no problem with beautiful church buildings or reverently sacramental worship services as such. If they are created or participated in as an act of love for Christ then that’s wonderful and good. However, by the same token, beautiful church buildings can also be dead monuments and aesthetically-pleasing services can be empty ritual, if not transformed by love. It’s never the building or the service itself that matters, it’s the loving faith community of people who participate in these things. And that could be as much in someone’s front room or a prefab shack as in a cathedral.

    After all, one day all the stones in all the temples and churches of the world will be torn down by time, if not by humans.

    Of course the New Testament depends on the Old Testament, but it also transforms our relationship with the Old. We can no longer directly read the commands of the old as though they were unaffected and unmediated by the new.


  1. Seen any Pharisees, Sadducees or Essenes lately? | Will Cookson's Blog - March 11, 2011

    […] The third area is the Anglo Catholics within the Church of England. They have almost withdrawn into an Essene type sect (used technically not as a form of abuse). Their distress over the ordination of women and their concern for doing things “just so”. The danger here is that they end up being an irrelevance and marginalised or as some are doing leaving for the Roman Catholic Church. […]

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