We are grateful to the Archbishops of Canterbury and York for putting into place provision for the consecration of bishops in order that all might flourish in the Church of England. As they acknowledged in their statement: “These new arrangements are made in the light of the pandemic and in awareness of the sad reality that not all in the Church of England agree on issues of ordination, and yet all are committed to upholding the Five Guiding Principles.” This is a clear acknowledgement of where the Church of England is in relation to mutual flourishing and an encouragement to all in our constituency of our continued and valued place in the life of our church. The Executive of Forward in Faith have expressed our gratitude in the following statement:
“We express our gratitude to the Archbishop of Canterbury for making arrangements for Prebendary Will Hazlewood’s consecration to the episcopate at Lambeth Palace Chapel on 15 July which give full expression to the Five Guiding Principles, as enshrined in the House of Bishops’ Declaration on the Ministry of Bishops and Priests.
For slightly over twenty-five years, in the period since the admission of women into the priesthood by the Church of England, provision has been made for traditional Catholic candidates for the priesthood to be ordained by bishops with whom they are in full sacramental communion.
It is fitting that this well-established practice is being adopted as the norm for the consecration of traditional Catholic bishops, now that women have been admitted into the episcopate by the Church of England.
At the moment of consecration all candidates must experience the sacramental assurance and joy of full communion with the bishops who ordain them. In that spirit, we offer our prayers for the ministries of Ruth Bushyager and Hugh Nelson, whose consecrations will take place in Lambeth Palace Chapel earlier in the day on 15 July.”
This statement sets out clearly the position of Forward in Faith and The Society that it is important that bishops and priests are ordained by bishops with whom they are in full sacramental communion. The ordination of women to the priesthood and episcopate has meant that sacramental communion has been impaired. The arrangements set out by the Archbishops allow for the fullest possible communion and is a good expression of the Five Guiding Principles. The group Women and the Church (WATCH) has attempted to characterise these arrangements as an example of what they call the ‘theology of taint’. Forward in Faith has consistently stated that such a theology does not exist, we do not believe in taint. For us the issue is one of sacramental communion and assurance, and it is this theological understanding that the Five Guiding Principles bear witness. The Independent Reviewer has addressed this issue of communion in his ruling on the need for complementary Chrism Masses when he said: “It will be clear from what I have already said that I do not accept WATCH’s view that alternative chrism masses are sacramentally unnecessary. They are a consequence of the less than full communion between some bishops and a minority of priests who differ from those bishops on the subject of the ordination of women, and the fact that the Church of England has decided to make alternative sacramental provision for this minority.”
As we approach the delayed ordination season it has become increasingly clear that the work of Forward in Faith in defending the catholic life of the Church of England is far from over. In the Diocese of Chelmsford, with total disregard for Anglican norms, a statement was issued indicating that the ordinations would take place without the celebration of the Eucharist. Following a social media storm this decision was reversed but it displayed a lack of understanding of the sacramental life of the church which is concerning. Elsewhere, in the Diocese of Canterbury, the instruction requiring clergy administering that Sacrament of Reconciliation to make a statement that they will break the seal of the confessional if a safeguarding issue is revealed to them still appears to be in force. This is clearly not in line with the teaching of the Church of England on the seal and is yet another sign of the drift in teaching about the sacraments in the life of the Church of England. Forward in Faith stands ready to defend the sacraments and to promote teaching about their use and administration, it is vital that we take up this work to ensure that the catholic identity of the Church of England is maintained and strengthened and we hope all Catholic Anglicans whatever position they hold on the ordination of women will join with us in defending our catholic life.