Principles - concerning the ministry of women as bishops and priests
Forward in Faith has produced a small folding card (reproduced below) outlining the 'Five Guiding Principles' for those in the Church of England, following their House of Bishops' Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests, specifically for those who are unable to receive the ministry of women as bishops and priests on theological grounds.
In Wales, we have just the first four of these principles. Our fifth principle simply refers to the Code of Practice drawn up by the Bench of Bishops. Since the provisions of the Code of Practice are inadequate for those who, in conscience, are unable to accept the ministry of women as bishops and priests - our only glimmer of hope is if the Bench feel moved to make some meaningful amendment to them that will allow traditionalists to feel wanted as part of the Church in Wales rather than distinctly isolated.
Chrism Masses - The subject of the first report of the Church of England's Independent Reviewer
As part of the settlement by which the Church of England agreed to the ordination of women as bishops in 2014, it created an ombudsman-style procedure whereby those with concerns about the operation of the House of Bishops' Declaration could appeal to an Independent Reviewer to resolve any disputes. In November 2014, Sir Philip Mawer was appointed as the Independent Reviewer by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York. Sir Philip was Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards from 2002 until 2008 and previously Secretary General of the General Synod of the Church of England.
On 31 July 2015, Sir Philip published his first report in response to a complaint received the previous April from Ms Hilary Cotton, Chair of Women and the Church (WATCH), concerning bishops of 'The Society' celebrating Chrism Masses - describing them inter alia as: "a powerful expression of disunity"; "a thoughtless challenge to mutual flourishing" and that their existence has "always been a cause of much pain to clergywomen and their supportive male colleagues." Specifically, WATCH asked Sir Philip: "In what possible way does the continuing of these occasions honour the Five Principles?"
In his submission to Sir Philip, the Bishop of Wakefield (on his own behalf and also on behalf of the Bishops of Beverley, Burnley, Ebbsfleet, Fulham and Richborough) said that there was a need for the Chrism Masses: "being an essential part of our sacramental ministry, as bishops, to the clergy and people who have been placed by means of the House of Bishops' Declaration under our oversight. It could be argued that not celebrating them would be a breach of our duty under the Declaration." Concerning the pain expressed by Ms Cotton, the bishop recognised that any pain is a cause of concern, but that our situation was: "... in different ways, painful to all. Our Chrism Masses reflect that reality; they are not the cause of it."
The complaint from WATCH was not upheld.
Download Sir Philip's full report:
Statements and Reports
Same Sex Partnerships
Last month, the consultation period ended for the six dioceses to put forward their views as to whether clergy in the Church in Wales should be allowed to solemnise same-sex marriages or bless same-sex partnerships.
Did every diocese conduct the consultation in the same way? No. The Diocese of Monmouth had one “Diocesan Meeting”. St Asaph had three 'Discernment Evenings.' Llandaff had discussions both in deaneries and at a Diocesan Conference. Swansea & Brecon had two Archdeaconry meetings and conducted a postal vote of Diocesan Conference members. St Davids held three ‘Archidiaconal Consultations’ and a Diocesan Conference discussion. Bangor held four synod meetings (two in each Archdeaconry).
How many people in total were consulted? It is not clear, since both the Llandaff deanery results and the overall Swansea & Brecon results were simply reported as percentages. Results for the Diocese of St Davids indicated 456 votes from their meetings: yet this is likely to include an element of ‘double-counting’ since some attending the Archdeaconry meetings would also be members of their Diocesan Conference. St Asaph Diocese had 365 people at their three meetings, the four meetings in Bangor indicated a total of 107 votes and Monmouth's meeting yielded 101 votes from people within the diocese.
What were the results? Looking at the two extremes, the Diocese of St Davids was most definitely against same-sex marriage with just 19% in favour at their Archidiaconal Consultations and 21% in favour at the Diocesan Conference vote. In the Diocese of Llandaff, most were in favour of same-sex marriages with 57% at their Diocesan Conference and 51% in favour at their deanery meetings. This means that 43% and 49% respectively, of those who voted in Llandaff, were against the marriage option. Voting in the Diocese of St Asaph was much more sophisticated. Rather than a straight forward vote for one of the three options, it asked for an opinion on all three – including asking whether views were strongly in favour, hesitantly supportive or strongly opposed (even so far as indicating that, if a particular option were adopted, would they: "find it hard to continue in the Church in Wales with integrity”). A downloadable Table of Results is available below (please read the notes to the table carefully). The full report of the St Asaph consultation is worth reading – a link to this is also provided below.
What happens next? The Bench of Bishops will formally ask the Governing Body [GB], at their meeting on 17 September, to discuss the options open to the Church in relation to same-sex partnerships and then request members indicate their preference from three options by means of a secret ballot. The options before them will be: 1. No change to the Church’s current teaching and practice on marriage and partnerships; 2. To allow same-sex unions to be blessed in the Church in Wales and 3. To enable same-sex couples to marry in the Church in Wales. The results of the ballot will be announced at the meeting.
Does the ballot result constitute a decision? No, since this would require a Bill to be formally brought to the GB for discussion. The bishops will not be participating in the discussion at this GB meeting, but the Bench state that they will consider the outcome later as they “seek to discern the will” of the Church in Wales on this matter.
Download Table of Results:
Link to Consultation Report of St Asaph Diocese:
Same Sex Partnerships : Governing Body Ballot
Many will have already heard, through various media, that the Governing Body of the Church in Wales [GB] have had their debate [which was well-mannered and with a 'more than usual' number of speakers, we are glad to learn] on whether the Province should allow clergy to solemnise same-sex marriages. Following the debate, members of GB were asked to vote by secret ballot for one of the three options: 1. No change to the Church’s current teaching and practice on marriage and partnerships; 2. To allow same-sex unions to be blessed in the Church in Wales and 3. To enable same-sex couples to marry in the Church in Wales.
Since there was no formal motion, members were voting simply in order to provide the Bench of Bishops with a view as to whether it was an appropriate time to propose a Bill. Having been presented with the result (see table below) the Archbishop, in a short BBC interview, provided their answer: "It would be a very brave or, perhaps, a very foolish Bench of Bishops who were to bring a Bill before the Governing Body at this stage."
The figures shown by the BBC, both in their news bulletins and on their website, gave the results for only options 1 and 3. Although there were only 9 GB members voting for option 2, they were clearly not voting for clergy solemnising marriages of same-sex partnerships. For the vast majority of the present GB members at least, the 'half-way house' measure (as it is called by some) of allowing same-sex unions to be blessed by clergy in church is not really an option at all. This option, however, enjoyed greater favour with those voting during the consultation process (see previous article) with the exception of those in the Diocese of Monmouth.
Governing Body Vote - Same-Sex Partnerships : 17 September 2015
Order Option 1 Option 2 Option 3 Total
Bishops 1 2 3 6
Clergy 21 1 26 48
Laity 28 6 32 66
Total: 50 9 61 120
41.67% 7.50% 50.83% 100%
NB: The full GB has 143 members. The 23 missing votes [representing 16% of total GB members] are likely to be attributable to a mix of: (a) possible vacancies; (b) an inability to attend or (c) abstained from voting.
A statement by Credo Cymru in relation to the election of Canon Joanna Penberthy to the see of St Davids.
On November 2nd the electoral college of the Church in Wales provided a sufficient majority to elect, for the first time, a woman to be the Ordinary of the diocese of St Davids. In the diocese Welsh culture, language and faith have been deeply intertwined since the days of St David himself and Canon Penberthy has ministered there for many years as an incumbent. We assure her of our prayers as she prepares to undertake the considerable responsibilities of her new office and we recognise too the various skills and experiences she will bring to it. In wishing her well we must, however, point out that her election does underline a particular and pressing need.
Over the last twenty years, assurance has been given publicly and repeatedly by those in authority in the Church in Wales that there is a place for those church people who on grounds of theological conviction and conscience remain unable to recognise the sacramental ministry of women as bishops and priests. Such assurance was repeated in the legislation passed by the Governing Body to permit women to be consecrated as bishops; such Christians remain “within the spectrum of teaching and tradition within the Anglican Communion”. Accordingly we believe that the election of Canon Penberthy makes it a pressing necessity that a male bishop in the apostolic succession with whom we may enjoy full communion be enabled to minister sacramentally and pastorally to such Anglicans in the diocese of St Davids. Thereby additional episcopal care would be provided in the new situation that has been created by the electoral college and action taken to ensure that the “highest possible degree of communion” may indeed lead to “mutual flourishing across the whole Church in Wales.”
The Church of England's Independent Reviewer speaks to Forward in Faith
Sir Philip Mawer, the Church of England's Independent Reviewer [or Ombudsman], in relation to the House of Bishop's Declaration on the ministry of bishops and priests, addressed Forward in Faith's National Assembly in London on 19 November. In his address, Sir Philip commented: 'What the House of Bishops with the endorsement of the General Synod has done in enunciating the Five Principles and establishing a framework of procedures to underpin them is a brave and worthy attempt to model a way for Christians to live with their differences.'
Sir Philip was appointed by the Archbishops of Canterbury and York in October 2014 to resolve any disputes arising from the operation of the House of Bishop's Declaration, as part of the settlement by which the Church of England agreed to the ordination of women as bishops earlier in that year. He is charged with publishing an annual report to the Archbishops after the end of each calendar year.
Sir Philip remarked that it was clear from what he had said that: "I love the Church of England - its history and traditions; its contribution to national life; and its honest and open messiness as it struggles to model what it is to live in Christian communion in the modern world. I value its place and its contribution (and that of the wider Anglican Communion) within the church unniversal. I care about the rich variety of the Church of England - the gifts which each of its many strands bring to it, to the wider church and to the proclamation of the Gospel. Through hard experience, I know that none of us has a monopoly on wisdom. It is only through prayer and God's grace that we can carry out any of the difficult tasks before us."
The full text of Sir Philip's address may be downloaded (below). The Five Principles are detailed at the bottom of this page (please scroll down).
The nomination to the diocese of Llandaff
A statement by Credo Cymru
After some weeks of waiting and praying following the failure of the electoral college to elect a bishop for the above see, we note with interest the decision of the Welsh bishops to nominate the Dean of Salisbury, the Very Revd June Osborne, as the bishop designate of Llandaff. At this juncture it seems appropriate that we should make the following observations.
1. As was stated at the time of the election to the see of St Davids last year, there remains a pastoral and sacramental need to enable a male bishop in the historic succession and of orthodox belief and life to minister to the minority of Welsh church people in what is the largest diocese in terms of population in the Province. These loyal Anglicans are unable on conscientious grounds to recognise Mrs Osborne as their Father in God. In so doing they believe that it is right and honourable that the Welsh bishops should act in accordance with the terms of the canon passed by the Governing Body which enabled the consecration of women to the episcopate of the Church in Wales. The relevant canon clearly states that provision would be made for those who disagree with this innovation, a change which, after all, clearly lacks ecumenical consent. Whilst recognising that our viewpoint is a minority amongst Welsh Anglicans of this generation, we wish to add that it is our belief that justice should be shown to those who, after all, adhere to the majority belief and practice of the Christian Church from the days of its apostolic origins and also, in effect, share the belief and practice of Welsh Anglicans over many other generations.
2. In addition, we now invite clergy of the Church in Wales who share our convictions and traditional understanding of the Faith and the Order of the Church to register their affiliation to Y Gymdeithas. This is a body of lay and clerical Anglicans in Wales which, like the Society in England, has amongst its purposes the determination to ensure sacramental assurance for all those who adhere to the teaching of the Church Universal concerning Holy Orders, who hold the Faith as set forth in the Catholic Creeds and adhere in good conscience to the Scriptural norms concerning the holiness and sanctity of human life. Further details about registration will be available shortly.
29 April 2017
Private Member's Motion - Governing Body Meeting on 2 May 2019
Statement by Credo Cymru
Credo Cymru is delighted at the outcome of a Governing Body debate, held during their meeting in Cardiff today, concerning a deeply divisive private member's motion which sought to persuade the Bench of Bishops to fundamentally change their Code of Practice. After an hour-long debate, Governing Body members voted overwhelmingly to reject the motion.
The motion was an attempt to prevent the future ordination of any traditionalist member of the Church in Wales who, in conscience, could not accept the sacramental ministry of women. All ten speakers, including those who consider they have no need of a Code of Practice, urged the meeting to reject the motion. We are deeply grateful for their compassionate understanding.
We are certain that our members, along with many other traditionalists in the Church in Wales, will be greatly relieved and thankful for the closure of this particular debate.
2 May 2019
The result showed: 63 (61.8%) votes against the proposal; 19 (18.6%) for the proposal and 20 (19.6%) abstentions