Those who wish to rescind the 1993 Episcopal Ministry Act of Synod (one which received overwhelming majorities in all three Houses at the time) are now, quite disingenuously, deploying the argument that the Provincial Episcopal Visitors, because they are in a relationship of impaired communion with other bishops, undermine the authority and integrity of the diocesan as focus of unity in his diocese.

They are right, of course, that impairment of communion of this kind breaches Catholic Order and compromises the claims of a church which willingly embraces it to be continuing the Apostolic Ministry as it has been received. But they are wrong to blame that impairment on the PEVs or on the opponents of women in the priesthood.

It is they themselves who are the authors and sole begetters of this unfortunate and anomalous condition.

In pursuit of what they take to be an ethical a priori imperative or self-evident truth, they have consistently rejected the restraints of common order and ecclesial consensus. By illegal ordinations, in the USA and Australia, and by the deliberate adoption of the doctrine of provincial autonomy as the means of effecting their programme, the proponents of this innovation have shown scant respect for Catholicity. By the doctrines of ‘reception’ and ‘provisionality’, which they have elaborated to cloak the nakedness of their aggression against Catholic Order, they have compounded the felony. They have knowingly and willingly created a world-wide impairment of Communion, and now have the effrontery to blame their crime on the local opposition to it.

In a Church that had not experienced this doctrinal rapacity, PEVs would indeed seem problematical. In a Church which will have to grow accustomed to the same rapacity in pursuit of other items on the liberal agenda, PEVs seem like an island of reason and sanity.

To GRAS (the Group for the Rescinding of the Act of Synod) we can fittingly apply the words of Bishop Berkeley: ‘They have first raised a dust, and then complain they cannot see.’

But there is more. Apostolic order, like Humpty Dumpty, once broken cannot be put back together again. Continuity and interchangeability – its vertical and horizontal dimensions – once fractured cannot be restored. The twin doctrine of ‘provisionality’ of course is ‘reversibility’. But that too proves a snare and a delusion.