Yesterday there was only one question on the television programme The Big Questions (should that be Question), should Parliament force the Church of England to appoint women bishops? However the question was hardly discussed as most of the time we heard something about the recent vote at Synod that rejected women bishops and we heard a lot of insults. I counted 36 examples of rudeness, insults, derogatory jokes and generally unchristian attitudes and emotions but there could easily have been more and the programme only lasted 43 minutes.
Rees, a lay member of the General Synod was extremely upset (1) this
week and feels that the Church looks "appalling"(2). Bishops, clergy
and laity have all been betrayed (3) by the House of Laity. She, and
those who agreed with her "walked the extra mile" to accommodate those
who disagreed but still they didn't get the result they wanted. It seems
that nothing (4) will satisfy those who want to keep the status quo.
is a problem with toxic (5) conservatives (the c is small because it
belongs to members of the Church) who are defining the Church by what
they despise (6), and according to the Rev George Pitcher this includes
homosexuals, women and people who aren't it (conservatives). When one
commentator felt that these conservatives needed protection from being
pushed out (if there were women bishops) Christina felt that the use of
the word protected was offensive (7). Peter Hitchens called this a
furious dogmatic rage (8). I wouldn't quite use those terms but
certainly the debate was heated (9). Christina told Peter that he was
absolutely wrong (10), so I suppose that makes Peter right. He went on
to criticise the use of the word toxic as he sees reasonable arguments
from both sides of the debate.
Christina asked the
conservatives how they would compromise, but her own position was clear.
She wants women bishops who are not second class(11). Christina refused
to accept that she is a purist and told us that this label should go to
those who oppose her views (12). Rev Rose Hudson-Wilkin felt that
"there would never ever be anything good enough for them (13)" - the
opposition. "That's a fact" she added. Not only is this opposition
toxic, offensive, purist with no intention of compromise, all these are
matters of fact(14) and do not need debating. She wants a new vote which
is simple and asks for women bishops. If other members of the Church
don't like it then Nicky Campbell suggested they should leave but Rose
answered by saying they should behave like adults and accept the
According to Rose, nothing was sorted out 20
years ago when women were ordained to the priesthood. It was a silly
fudge (15). Others were calling it compromise. Women remain as second
class and she added "that's a fact" - end of debate (16). Rev Pitcher
came back with a "how dare you suggest"(17) when referring to apostolic
mission and Sacred tradition. I don't think he was trying to cause
offence but he was having a good go. Ben Bradshaw MP reckons that
Parliament could well act in the next few months if nothing changes.
This is because there is a unique relationship with the Church of
England which allows it to make decisions about Sacred tradition.
spoke about a biblical illiteracy(18) within the Church referring to
those who did not agree with women priests. "What on earth (19) are you
(these people) doing on the General Synod?" The situation is ridiculous
(20). "It - does - not - make - sense"(21). Peter recognized that what
was just said showed no tolerance at all (22). Rose dismissed her
opponents with contempt (23). According to Peter this is the source of
the problem. Ruth Gledhill from The Times thought that Peter's view
should be dismissed because this was the pot calling the kettle black
(24). She was saying ignore Peter's views because he is not worthy of
Peter was speaking again when Christina
kept interrupting (25) and when challenged she told Peter that he kept
talking nonsense (26). Shortly after this she tried to interrupt another
speaker (27). She did manage to speak again and quoted Rowan Williams
by saying that her opponents did not show trust in the Church (28) and
if you do not trust someone what do you say next to them. I had thought
the Church in its wisdom had kept the status quo and so this is where
trust should lie and it is Christina who needs to show trust.
spoke about the flying bishops who care for Anglicans opposed to female
clergy. The aside from Rev Pitcher was "or the flying bigots (29) as we
sometimes call them". Shortly afterwards George asked Ruth to wait a
minute (30), to which he received the reply "no you wait a minute"(31).
It didn't sound very pleasant. One had been talking for a great deal of
time (31) while the other had monopolised (32) this debate. Well done
the two of you because that is quite a feat in a chat show, or it could
be that they were just arguing on air.
rudeness (33) towards the conservative wing of the Anglican Church over
and over again, and as if to prove the point Rose told him that this was
madness (34). At this point he did manage a "there you go again" (35).
Christina added that the House of Laity was holding the rest of the
Church to ransom (36).
In the last five minutes of the
programme a member of the audience spoke about her ambivalence towards
women bishops. She has a point. Christians must think that God must be
wondering how rude his supporters can get. Rudeness, insults and
derogatory jokes even if you find them funny are not a basis for
Christians to debate the role of women as Anglican bishops.
Change the world