Respect the argument

From Mr R. Morant

The Archbishop of Canterbury is reported recently to have said that he sees no theological objections to the ordination of women as bishops. What does he mean? Has he not read the FiF report Consecrated Women? If he had, he would have found many good reasons, theological as well as ecclesiological, why women should not be ordained as bishops.

Had he said that he had weighed the evidence and found the theological arguments against women bishops less compelling than those in favour, his position would have been more convincing. As it is, it suggests that he has a closed mind.

Roland W. Morant

Cardinals in agreement

From Fr Skublics

Apropos John Hunwicke’s article ‘Cardinals Fighting’ (ND July) the complementary views of the then Cardinal Ratzinger, on the ontological primacy of the universal Church, and those of Cardinal Kasper, on the sacramental priority of the local Church, are only two sides of the same coin and must not be played off against each other.

The credit falls to the Orthodox Metropolitan Zizioulas for brilliantly balancing the two, seeing each local eucharistic communion as identical with all others, and the Universal Church as the communion of communions, all generated by the identical Eucharist.

The local church is the Catholic Church, but only insofar as she is identical with all her sister churches and their universal communion, through the identity of her Eucharist with theirs, and her bishop being in communion with the rest of the college synchronically, and with all churches past.

The reason why either the local or the universal emphasis is adopted by different theologians is their hermeneutical situation and perceived need for balance. Kasper, countering too much authoritarian centralism and wishing to be ecumenically constructive, rightly stressed the local church’s dignity and integral wholeness, while Ratzinger, striving to balance centrifugal liberalism, also rightly, insisted on the Universal Church.

John Hunwicke, being an Anglican, rightly wishing for more coherence and authority, sided with Ratzinger. Once balance is restored, Kasper, Benedict and Hunwicke will peacefully embrace. For the first church in Jerusalem was a local church, which was reproduced elsewhere as local churches, and all the ‘reproductions’ were the same Church, both individually and in their communion.

Ernest Skublics

295 Fernhill Road, Farnborough, Hants GU14 9EW

Good on yer, bishop

From Mr M. Dupré

I was much heartened by the careful and forthright summary by Michael Scott-Joynt (himself a member of the House of Lords) of the process which led up to the passing of the Civil Partnership and Gender Recognition Bills. It is good to know that a member of the House of Bishops, though a supporter of women’s ordination, shares our concerns in these matters.

Sadly the Bishop of Winchester wrote before the publication of the bishops’ statement on civil partnerships. It would have been even more illuminating to have heard his views on that document. Perhaps, like his colleague of Worcester, he might have broken ranks, with another rare but welcome dose of episcopal candour.

The bishops’ statement has been roundly criticized from here to Lagos, and this is not the place to add to those strictures, except to say that a house divided against itself, even though it stands, cannot be expected to give leadership. Nor it seems, can it witness clearly to biblical values on the family and human sexuality. The cracks emerging between Worcester and Winchester reveal a bench of bishops which simply cannot agree on crucial issues.

How one wishes that the CofE could have given a firm and clear steer in these matters! How one longs, when reports emerge which are anodyne or even positively damaging, to read at least of a minority report which contradicts them!

Short of that, it is good that at least one bishop has come out of the huddle to set the record straight. New Directions could do worse than offer its services to others who are ready to break ranks and uphold the perennial teachings of the Church Catholic.

Marc Dupré

3 Rue Dr Roux, Nébian, 34800 France

Biblical nonsense

From Mr T. Sutcliffe

The numbering of popes Benedict is as I stated. Robin Saunders (Letters, August) has not noticed that the only Pope Benedict X is an Anti-Pope. Benedict XI refused to call himself Benedict X because name and number had been borne by a usurper.

Concerning my denial of eternal verities, the duty of Christians today is (as it has always been) to discern truth from falsehood. The Bible contains much nonsense alongside jewels of popular wisdom and writing of beauty. Jesus says nothing about sex, as such. What the Old Testament says about sex, echoed in the teaching of Paul, is ill-informed and preposterous.

Bishop Scott-Joynt’s attack on the Civil Partnerships Act is typical of the ludicrous adherence to irrational traditions that characterises a certain Christian element, and probably helps explain the falling-away of most of our population from attendance at and support for church.

The world affords many different models of successful sexual behaviour, by which I mean sexual practices that do not damage society or the individual.

Thank God, the wisdom of traditional theology is ever less compelling and influential in a world where empirical knowledge continues to expand fast, and to render ever less tenable the nonsense and falsehoods littering the Bible.

Tom Sutcliffe

Duvet policemen

From Judge R. Bartle

The despair endured daily by members of the disintegrating Anglican Communion can only be increased by lunatic decisions such as that consenting to same-sex civil unions between clergy, provided they agree that no sexual relations will take place. How such agreements are to be monitored gives rise to such hilarious concepts as to be reminiscent of a Whitehall farce.

Ronald Bartle
16 Pentlands Court, Manhattan Drive, Cambridge CB4 1JN