Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Translating into English

Bosco Peters states that no one has translated the recent Rowan Williams speech to the Church of England General Synod into English. I love a challenge and I'll try and summarise the choicest analytical bits.

What Rowan Williams was saying is that a bishop gets the being a bishop from the Church's sacrament of ordination, and this is derivation.

Ordination thus means a bishop can do certain sacramental things, which are derived from the ordination.

Then, a bishop actually doing what a bishop can do is delegation.

All bishops are ordained and become bishopy, but then they get licenced into a place to actually do the work. So derived is necessary and makes, and delegation puts what is made into place.

So if a woman bishop (or male one ordained by a woman), who has derived orders unrecognised by a minority, asks another (pure male) bishop to do a job of looking after male-only authority-seeking congregations, then the male bishop does not derive his authority from her, but from his ordination (that was pure). Rather, he, like she, is delegated into position, by the Church's further licensing arrangements.

She does it, but (like ordination) the Church has standard Church-wide delegating arrangements.

So a traditionalist Catholic should rest assured that the impure bishop making a request is doing no more than drawing on the Church's common licensing rules. In any case, this does not affect the ontological bishopness of him being a bishop.

Also, for the rest of the Church, there remains a united bishop caste, in the sense that those who reject the traditionalist position see also that there is one derivation of bishops, which is ordination.

But there is, first, a traditionalist flaw in this argument, and it is Protestant. In Protestant theology, the woman has made a decision to ask the other bishop to come in to play. Therefore she has exercised headship. She retains ultimate headship in the diocese, even though another retains acting headship over some in the diocese.

It won't do for Protestants, and that's because there can be no distinction between deriving and delegating. A Superintendent Minister delegates, and that is authority.

So the distinction given in his speech is irrelevant, but rather the stress would have to be on common licensing rules, and thus the female bishop must be bypassed in a request to have another male bishop to express headship. But then she is not a bishop at all from a whole Church point of view, because some are allowed to ignore her in her diocese. The distinction between derived and delegated allowed two views to remain, theoretically, only if one accepts Catholic ecclesiologies old or new.

Secondly, for the Liberal, the result is a Church-wide imbalance between women and men, or men ordained by women, based on a purity-pollution scale (which I've used above only to assist explanation). This clearly makes women unequal and is discriminatory. Whether a diocese has two or one bishops is based on a fundamental inequality of one's humanity and offends Christian or religious humanism.

So ingenious, Mr Williams, but it won't work, even if it might appease some traditionalists.

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