Thursday, July 14, 2005
+tom southwark and the clamorers for women bishops
There is an interesting article from the Catholic News Service about potential Anglican converts to Roman Catholicism in the wake of the very likely election of women as 'bishops' within the next ten years or so. (Read the whole thing here.) Here is what +Tom Southwark had to say:
Anglican Bishop Tom Butler of Southwark said during the debate that the Church of England should not be deterred by its relations with Catholics.
"The Church of England, catholic and reformed, has before acted prophetically for the wider church: The vernacular liturgy, married clergy, have all been pioneered by our church and have proved to be a blessing to other communions also," Bishop Butler said. "The same I believe will be true of women's orders, which we are pioneering."
But that's just ludicrous. And why does he have to use that vacuous and boring rhetoric about being "prophetic"? In addition to being muddled and backward, its downright Griswoldian in its inducement of yawning.
Does His Grace really think that the Anglican Church is the inventor of married clergy? I mean, St. Peter was married! (Cf. Mark 1:29-31.) Which is to say nothing of the near universal presence of married clergy in the Church for centuries, and their lawful continued presence in parts of the Church, uninterrupted, down to the present, e.g. among the Greek Orthodox.
And the liturgy in the vernacular was invented by Thomas Cranmer?! I suppose that means that Latin, Greek, Coptic, Slavonic, Ethipoic, etc. etc. not only are now, but have always been dead languages.
But as far as I know, no part of the One Church with plausible claims to catholicity has ever attempted the ordination of women to the presbyterate or episcopacy - until about 1976, or whenever it was.
Which brings me back to "prophecy". I'm sure its been said before, and better, but this "prophetic role of the Church", so often cited by the apologists of innovation, manifests a seriously bastardized understanding of prophecy. Its certainly not the biblical model. Its more akin to chrystal-ball gazing: an ability to predict and anticipate the cultural viscicitudes of secularism.
On the contrary, Jeremiah, for example, is clear: "Return, O faithless sons, I will heal your faithlessness. Behold, we come to thee; for thou art the LORD our God" (Jer 3.22). The prophet's role is to call the people back to God and to what he had anciently revealed.
Again, Malachi (2.7ff) does not equivocate: "For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and men should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts. But you have turned aside from the way; you have caused many to stumble by your instruction; you have corrupted the covenant of Levi, says the LORD of hosts, and so I make you despised and abased before all the people, inasmuch as you have not kept my ways but have shown partiality in your instruction. "
Malachi, in his prophetic functioning, is not the advocate of something new, but the herald of the custodianship of the Levitical covenant (Holy Tradition), comme il faut. He comes to change nothing but the deviation from that which has always bound the people.
This is authentic prophecy. And an authenticly prophetic role for the Church today would likewise be in calling the people back to what God has anciently revealed: back to the Holy Tradition, back to the authenticity of Catholic faith.
My Lord Bishop should know better.
Posted by gwb at 11:36 AM