In Consecrated Women? Forward in Faith has set out not only a cogent theological case against the ordination of women as priests and bishops, but also a simple and workable draft Measure for the establishment of a New Province of the Church of England to provide lasting safeguards for those opposed to the new regimen.
The draft Measure allows for the wholesale removal, in the Provinces of Canterbury and York, of all constraints on the exercise of priestly or episcopal ministry by women. The ordained women of those Provinces would achieve thereby a degree of acceptance unknown even to their sisters in the United States and Canada. They would be left exposed only to the misogyny of their friends.
It will be interesting, therefore, to see who objects to this simple and painless solution; and more interesting still to consider the psychopathology of the objectors.
Most women priests, one suspects, would be glad of a respite from the struggle. They want to settle down, do their job and prove their worth. Like their opponents, they are more interested in preaching the gospel than in continuing an ecclesiological civil war.
There are those ardent feminists who will want to carry on the hostilities. Some will not be content until the last opponent of women’s ordination is in her grave and the last offending male pronoun has been expunged from liturgy and holy writ. The struggle, for them, has become their life.This is the Last Battle. In it they can take no prisoners and make no concessions. But, by now I suspect, they are not many.
The most ardent objectors to an equable settlement, I am convinced, will be the recent converts, not the old warriors. Suppose you had once opposed the innovation, suppose you had changed your mind at the eleventh hour, and suppose (as is not improbably the case) you had benefited, in terms of preferment, from the turning of your coat. Then surely you would be opposed to any concession or comfort to your former friends. It would be pain to you if they thrived.
So expect the most ardent opponents of a New Province to be, not the prospective women bishops – who may well see the good sense of calling a truce – but those who have sore consciences and high expectations. They will be upwardly mobile men.