The Anglican Church in Australia’s Appellate Tribunal has handed down it’s decision regarding the constitutional legality of the consecration of woman Bishops. In a 4-3 vote it was held that those who had adopted a 1992 Church law allowing the ordination of woman priests were able to constitutionally admit women to the office of Bishop. Though this did not apply to the position of (regional) assistant Bishops.
This decision will surely be welcomed by some and not others. It is going to be interesting to see this is played out for both sides. I can almost hear the cogs turning in the minds of some as to how they will take up this battle, how it may be used to fuel already raging fires of talk of fracturing of the Communion (or more bleakly – schism).
Will this decision be the proverbial ‘straw’ needed by some when the Communion has had little chance to heal from the current fractures over the ordination of an openly gay Bishop in the Episcopal Church (USA). Or is it so bleak, the optimist in me sees an opportunity to finally lay to rest an argument and pave the way for a Church that will moved into the future as a more open and welcoming Church, one more closer in the Spirit Christ’s desire for all to come to God in faith, love, hope, acceptance and tolerance.
Of course another part of me looks outside the Communion and wonders the impact this will have on already strained relationships with other members of ‘the one holy catholic and apostolic church’ which already sees Anglicanism as a schismatic church at best and nothing more than an ‘ecclesial community’ at worst.
Coming from a previous church background where these questions are simply not relevant (the head of the church has been both a woman and a man, it’s ministers are both men and women) I find it had to comprehend the expansive energy which has been (is being) poured into the long standing debate and the wounds it seems to mark and leave to fester. This aspect of me wonders what could be achieved if we used the same amount of energy to begin tackling more important issues such as spreading the good news and making a reality the Kingdom of God in the hear and now.
Imagine, what the ‘the universal’, the ‘one holy catholic and apostolic church’ could achieve if we all united and faced the issues of poverty, war, environment together. If we stopped bickering for long enough to see that we are united by one God whose message was so simple a poor misguided rich man could understand… love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind… and if we did that we’d also love our neighbours as ourselves. If we did that wouldn’t there be less war, less poverty, and couldn’t we save ourselves from destruction? Does it really matter who leads us, a woman or a man.