The Machine Again

The story is buzzing on Facebook about the appointment of former chief nurse Sarah Mullally as next Bishop of London. One such posting contains a comment:

This woman’s appointment as the 3rd most senior bishop in the Church of England (without having been a bishop first) is, what may be called, the ‘management paradigm’. This is the mistaken notion that the terminal condition of the Church of England can somehow be ‘managed’. Justin Welby had a secular senior management background before he very speedily became an archbishop. A short time ago, he was unable to give a straight answer to a straight question about the Biblical teaching upon sexual morality. No other previous archbishop would have prevaricated in this way. The harsh fact is that the grave situation with the Church of England cannot be ‘managed’ unless by management is meant the management and sale of empty church buildings. Please note: The only apostle who was a ‘manager’ was Judas Iscariot.

I haven’t really gone into this lady’s profile or the details. I have just finished a translation order and still have today’s washing-up to do! I would hope that Mrs Mullally’s  experience as a nurse will give her a special devotion to the sick – but I suspect that being a chief nurse in the NHS has little to do with nursing these days. I cannot judge Mrs Mullally, but the spectre of corporate management in the Church chills me to the bone. I replied in the thread:

There are still a few small RC dioceses in southern Italy where there are less than 10 parishes and just someone at the diocesan curia to help the Bishop manage the registers and the finances. Paul VI merged many of them into larger dioceses but not all. Many priests who have influenced me have spent time in Italy, and I have spent 2 years in that country. This other paradigm brings over the diocesan Bishop as something like a dean or a parish priest, visiting people and spending time with families, schools, the poor and sick – just “mere” pastoral work. It is like the small family firm against the huge and inhuman modern corporation. Most of the RC Church and the Church of England are run like large corporations that stifle humanity and intimacy. They are breeding grounds for psychopaths and narcissists. I have found in the Anglican Catholic Church a spirit that is similar to some of the little Italian and French parishes I have known (whose priests are now dead). Our bishops are first and foremost parish priests, and Bishop Damien Mead is no exception. Oddly, we may well be the most modern and progressive using the Internet and modern communications, not the obfuscation and obscurantism of modern bureaucracy and corporate management.

The question of women’s ordination is a serious one. A part of the raison d’être of the ACC is this issue in “mainstream” Anglicanism. The underlying dystopian element is there and we really wonder what it is all about. I left the Church of England too long ago to really care about the latest developments – but it must be a lesson to us all.

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23 Responses to The Machine Again

  1. ed pacht says:

    My bishop is also rector of a small parish, and very much a pastor to the people of his diocese. Our diocese is larger than ACC-UK, but still small enough that Bishop Marsh can know his people, well enough to take delight when he sees new people at a visitation, and to make the effort to get to know them. Our diocese is a family (as it should be), not some kind of corporate entity, and our bishop is far more like a parent than an administrator. I’m thoroughly put off by the bureaucratic model seen in most denominations, and even in many local churches. That’s just not what the Church is.

  2. Stephen K says:

    Just because someone characterises this person’s appointment as some kind of management strategy, or a management “paradigm”, doesn’t mean it is correct or accurate. How many ways can people’s actions be praised or demonised?! There are managers and managers. There are leaders and leaders. There are… get the picture. One sees a sunset, the next a stage in the revolution of the planet, the third an harbinger of the death of life. I think it is disingenuous to object to this person’s appointment because it heralds some kind of different or “modern” approach: this objection is more honestly an objection that a woman cannot be or should not be a bishop in a Christian church. I’m not getting into an argument about that here. I have expressed my different view on that before.

    What I find objectionable is the implicit slur by the commentator about people trying different approaches to leading diverse communities in the face of often competitive and mutually irreconciliable challenges. That Justin Welby might not have given a “Yes/No” kind of answer to a question about what “the Bible” “teaches” about a complicated topic of sexual morality not only suggests to me that he is the kind of man not prepared to treat important and complicated matters as trivially as reaching into a pack of corn flakes for a pre-packaged, mass-produced treats, but recognises the mystery of a text which is meaningless spiritually unless a person personally engages with it.

    His comment about Judas Iscariot seems a gratuitous assertion. By all orthodox accounts, Judas played a central and essential role in what was to become the core motif of Christian religion. Presumably the commentator is conflating the Gospel account of his betrayal with his questions about the use of money for the poor. If we accept the figure of Judas as he is portrayed, then he did not do anything perhaps most of us might not do: worry about the best use of funds and what might best further the cause. Looked at in this way, Judas comes across as downright reasonable, and everyone else blind, unreliable or all over the shop.

    The commentator does not paint a clear picture of what he thinks Ms Mullally will not be able to do, as bishop. In Australia, the Royal Commission has just presented its colossal, comprehensive report. Its conclusions are damning of institutional leadership across a wide range of bodies, but the worst by far is the institutional leadership of the Roman Catholic Church going back decades. That the raw material for the indictment does not extend back before the 1940s is simply because all the earlier people are dead, and their secrets buried with them or interred in impenetrable Roman archives. The issue was systemic not individual. The laws, structures and theology played a central part. The issue is squarely that bishops operating in old paradigms, theological and administrative, spectacularly failed a Gospel responsibility to care for the young and render justice. Their preference to protect the reputation of its priestly caste and preserve their authority is the result of a flawed ecclesiology as well as human weakness, but has been exposed as the great scandal to the faith. These men, and those who, deep down, think like them, are no recommendation.

    I’m sure there are horror stories throughout history about cruel or even sadistic convent leaders over vulnerable members of their community or people whom they were supposed to serve, so virtue and vice are not intrinsically gender-exclusive. But in view of the preponderant record, the Church, in my view, could do a lot worse than put some women into central leadership roles.

    “By their fruits shall ye know them”. Why not give Bishop Mullally a chance?

    • Thank you, Stephen, for your thoughtful reflection. There are really only two ways to go, faced with things we cannot relate to. We can try to get on as best we can in our little Churches or give up on Christianity. The tendency is towards materialism and nihilism, with the powerful few cashing in. Perhaps we can take the “herd mentality” pill. I debated with myself about whether I would bother with this topic. I agree that the way things were has been shown up to be rotten, like some of the “traditionalist” reactions that sought to preserve the old clericalism. I fear that “new” Anglicanism only perpetuates the old clericalism with a new appearance. I can’t judge Mrs Mullally because I don’t know her. She might well be a lovely person. However, if she doesn’t fit the “new orthodoxy”, how did she get appointed?

      Underneath, we can’t take the step to materialism or nihilism, because we still believe in something out there and beyond our earthly existence…

      • Stephen K says:

        Dear Father, it is certainly true that we can’t all relate to everything, and that we relate to different things. As you yourself would say, we just have to be true to ourselves as we find ourselves in good conscience at any given time, and my only enlargement on that is knowing that as the years pass, and our experiences enlarge, we may find ourselves being able to relate to different things. I’m like you, I don’t know Bishop Mullally, but I’ll accept that she has to take responsibility for what she does and will have to act like the best and not the worst of her predecessors.

      • I think that such a position is possible only if:
        – You completely reject the Church of England as a false Church (and convert to Roman Catholicism, Orthodoxy or Continuing Anglicanism), but accept it as a secular organisation that does good in human terms,
        – You adhere to the Church of England and are part of that system.

        She might be a good leader with good people skills but there remains the problem at a theological level as to whether women can be ordained. Perhaps the notion of the priesthood should be done away with and every baptised (or non-baptised) person allowed to go through the motions of “taking services” or celebrating the eucharist. That is a possibility, but not for me or Ed Pacht. If the sacramental priesthood is discarded, then of course you can have women in charge of whatever, but don’t expect any unity movement (even though such has never worked anyway).

        We come back to three choices:
        – atheism / nihilism
        – Christianity rethought in materialistic and political terms, perhaps even business terms
        – Orthodox (including RC-ism and Anglicanism) Christianity with or without a concession to humanism.

        We’ll never get to the end of this. I have had bad experience with fundamentalism / traditionalism but I stay within that broad grouping with the most regard for the human person and kindness / empathy.

      • Stephen K says:

        Dear Father, I’m not sure I agree with your choices but that you would have a different view about these things from me is exactly what I was acknowledging. And, in time to come, you and I might both change, who knows? But even if you don’t or I don’t, that’s the way of things. Getting rid of the priesthood is a question that will be answered differently by each of us, as you say.

        For the sake of clarity, I don’t reject the Anglican Church as a false church – it is what it is, and just one of many churches; nor do I reject the RC Church as a false church – it is what it is, and just one of many churches, and so on. But I do not believe any of them are the one true church, although they may seem the right one for you and me and Joe Blow at different moments in our lives.

        If you read my posts carefully, I did not seek to argue about women’s ordination to the priesthood because I knew that there were presently unresolvable differences between our respective views. But I was genuinely interested in whether you were prepared to consider the proposition that women could be bishops even if they could not be priests.

        There’s no need to get into an argument about our differing theological constructs: I think most proselytising is odious, but we can certainly opine about them in good fellowship.

      • I perfectly agree with you about not getting into theological arguments. Ironically, some of the Christians I respect the most are the Quakers and Unitarians. I find their plain halls, looking like Georgian court rooms with the high wooden panels, quite attractive. Unfortunately, we are no longer in the 18th century having to enter into learned debates with rationalist philosophers.

        But I was genuinely interested in whether you were prepared to consider the proposition that women could be bishops even if they could not be priests.

        This idea seems to present the Episcopate, not as the fulness of the priesthood, but purely as the overseer. Lay bishops? That is an idea, but if this were the only choice, I would prefer the Society of Friends in which no one is in charge. I went to a Quaker school in 1971 and warmed to their extremely intimate, personal, discreet and interior spirituality, even if many of us were atheists (I was or thought I was).

        I am also loyal to the position of my Church of which I am a priest, which like the Orthodox and Rome (John Paul II) considers that the sacramental ordination of women is impossible. But, as you say about theological constructs which are a part of institutional church life, “we can certainly opine about them in good fellowship“.

  3. ed pacht says:

    Yes, of course my primary objection (as I’ve said many times) is that women simply can’t be ordained. However, it is not the only issue. I tend to object to most appointments of bishops in most churches (yes, including males) on the grounds of missing what a bishop is really supposed to be. The usual thing is to seek out the best administrators, as if that were the principal job of a bishop. The usual thing also is to prefer those who have obviously had their eyes on the job for a long time. I tend to think that, though one who desires the office of bishop desires a good thing (as Paul says) the good thing may well be beyond the capability and calling of the man, and the desire may be a prideful overreaching. A bishop should be a spiritual man, given to prayer, able both in attainment and ability to teach, and a loving shepherd of souls. Administration is entirely secondary to that, and a spiritual bishop can find assistants gifted in administration.

    • Stephen K says:

      Dear ed, we part company on whether women can be “ordained”. However we may hold hands over whether women should be “ordained”. For I think there is a problem with the concept of ordination to a cultic function, and I no longer think that the concept of confining sacraments to a quarantined caste makes sense in Christianity, a religion based on no Greek or jew, man or woman, slave or free. On that basis, I wouldn’t want to see women become what the churches have made of many men. The question of women’s “ordination” is in some ways a distracting controversy – it has a lot to do with the optics of Church hierarchies wanting to insist on their exclusive authority in spiritual matters – which by and large they have probably quite forfeited – for while so ever women are not recognised or respected or allowed as Christian priests, there is this ugly ecclesiological misogyny optic that spills over into, and is fuelled by, a particular attitude.

      However, the question of women bishops is a separate issue, because whereas you say bishops don’t have to be administrators, only spiritual, I say here is where one of your own “both/and” paradigms applies: the office of bishop is, in the Greek,– epi skopos – the “overseer”. There is no reason why a bishop has to be ordained as a priest, when you think about it. The idea that he must is founded on an ecclesiology that has led to exotic vagantes and schismatic hierophants and the disastrous subordination of anyone less than a bishop – priests and lay alike – to people purporting to be princes, and who have until recently generally treated as such.

      Yes, I am rejecting the theology of Orders that makes a bishop a super-priest, and a deacon as ‘not-quite-as good –as-a-priest’. I submit that, if priesthood is to remain, then it is by function: deacons do theirs, preaching and succour – priests do the Mass and sacraments – and bishops show good leadership and oversight! In that case, there is nothing stopping women being good bishops even if they are not priests.

  4. alksdfj says:

    She currently purports to be Bishop of Crediton, an Anglo Saxon See.
    The Diocese of Crediton was created out of the Diocese of Sherborne in 909 but in 1050 S.Edward the Confessor agreed it should be moved to Exeter.

    I wonder how the Bishop of Fulham will survive being her Sufragan.

    • Stephen K says:

      You see, this is the same attitude that followed or motivated Apostolicae Curae. As I understand it, Sarah Mullally does not “purport” to be anything – she is, by the rules of her Church, indeed the Bishop of Crediton. No doubt there are still many Roman Catholics or Eastern Christians who would think the vast majority of Anglican (of whatever variety) priests and bishops not priests at all, in arrogant denial of the obvious that if the Anglican church says they are priests and bishops for its purposes, then they are priests and bishops. The other churches have no say in the matter. It works in all directions: a Roman priest is not a priest for Anglican or Eastern purposes.

      Each Church has a prerogative to organise itself according to its own rules and theology, and they do, and people find one or the other spiritually compatible, and the rest not. But their censures and condescensions of others are misplaced. The “one true Church” syndrome is absolutely incompatible with Christian humility, I think, and very destructive spiritually speaking.

      I don’t know the Bishop of Fulham but one would like to think that each person, recognising the rules of their Church, and focusing on their central Christian purpose, will not only survive each other but support each other in Christian unity and love.

    • Stephen K says:

      So that my position is clear, I recognise as fully priests and bishops all those whom their Churches recognise as such, and accordingly they are entitled to my courtesy.

    • ed pacht says:

      Well, Stephen, you are oversimplifying dramatically. There is an issue of interchangeability. She may fit the current rules of the CofE, but were she to move to another church (a not uncommon occurrence), would she be a bishop there? in my church she would not, while a bishop from the Roman Church would. The rules and standards of my church (ACA) are clear and she is not a bishop as defined among us, nor is a Methodist bishop, male or female. When I am outside such an organization. I can and should respect them on the terms of their organization, but am not bound to consider them as holding the same office to which I apply the term.

      For the Bishop of Fulham and other traditional Anglicans still within the Anglican Communion, things are more complicated yet. The question for them is not what rules have been made within their church, but whether those rules should have. or even could have, been made. The Bishop of Fulham and those directly under him do not believe the CofE has any right to change the qualification for ordination in that fashion and cannot accept that she is truly a bishop under the standards they believe still apply. In that view, by any standards they can accept, she only purports to be a bishop, whereas by her standards (and, granted, by the official standards of the bureaucracy) she Is the bishop and will, by her new appointment be his superior. The respect you call for requires recognition and honest respect for the quandary they find themselves in. I’m thankful; to be in a Continuing Church where such questions don’t matter unless full communion or interchangeabllity of ministries is a consideration.

      Yes, courtesy and respect are of high importance, but to yield on matters of principle for the sake of looking courteous is simply not acceptable — I’m tempted to label it as hypocritical. It is also uncourteous to refuse to let those who object find ways to speak intelligently of situations they cannot accept. We may disagree, but we need to realize that our views are not necessarily obvious to our “opponents”, and that they are neither stupd nor rude to attempt to express theirs.

      • Stephen K says:

        to yield on matters of principle for the sake of looking courteous is simply not acceptable — I’m tempted to label it as hypocritical

        So, ed, what would you do and say to Sarah Mullally if, representing her diocese as Bishop, she were to attend, say, an ecumenical conference? Would you refuse to accept her standing? Would you insult her? And, if you were in the same position, would you think it right for her, or anyone for that matter, to insist on their own metaphysics and do the same to you? Imagine if, as an accredited representative of your country, foreign politicians refused to talk with you or acknowledge your credentials?

        Don’t you see that whatever you or your own church think about whether women can or cannot be ordained Christian bishops, her own church has said not only that they can but that she is? What’s hypocritical about accepting that her church does not agree with yours? No-one’s asking you to belong to a church that does things with which you disagree. It’s how we treat each other that counts.

      • Stephen K says:

        When I am outside such an organization. I can and should respect them on the terms of their organization…….

        On closer reading, I see that I did not need to ask my question. Thank you, ed, that reassures me.

        but am not bound to consider them as holding the same office to which I apply the term
        I have no argument with that, and I don’t think I ever said you were. I accept that a woman or a Methodist would not be accepted as a bishop in your church, but I did object to the reported commentator’s dismissive “purport” when it is clear that she was accepted as a bishop in her own church, as a Methodist would be in his or her church.

        Finally, re your comment in my church she would not, while a bishop from the Roman Church would.

        Bishops are not ordained “at large” – they are appointed or ordained for the purposes of their own church. Therefore, it is clear that a bishop from the Roman church can in no way be or function as a bishop in your church because he will have been ordained for Roman Catholic purposes and not yours. In that sense Bishop Mullally is as much a bishop for the Anglican church as the Roman bishop is for his. But even if you mean –as I am sure you do – that bishophood is some kind of indelible transformative existentiality that only men can have, then still, his episcopal existentiality will not translate for any sacramental purpose in your own church, so in practical and possibly intentional terms, it might as well not be so. In other words Bishop Mullally is no more not a bishop in your church as the Roman bishop.

        I am sure that it has been on this site said several times, in respect of the various “bishops-at-large” something to the effect that if a person is not ordained for a real community and recognised as such by them, then their ‘episcopacy’ is meaningless. In that sense, each bishop finds their meaning in the church they serve and not outside it.

      • That is the tragedy of Christianity having been divided from the earliest days, the various rigorist sects like the Montanists and then all kinds of differences created as Ecumenical Councils made dogmatic definitions and excluded the “other side” of the debate. The first large-scale rift was between Rome and Constantinople, and then you had the various movements in the Middle Ages protesting against the corruption of Rome and the diocesan Bishops living like little fat lords on the tithes of the people. And so it goes on. In recent years, the problem has been one of innovations based on ideological trends without the consensus of anyone other than the indifferent or the ideological left. The traditionalist / conservative / continuing remainder would be left high and dry without the very authority to which they appeal. The result is splitting away in order to survive. As these dissonances grow and become institutionalised, they take on the vices and characteristics of fallen human nature of the parent churches of before the changes.

        Some people involved in these small churches, especially those who go to seminary, come into conflict with unjust authority and react. Felix Dzerzhinsky, the ruthless founder of the KGB under Stalin, was once a pious Roman Catholic and considered becoming a Jesuit. One of the most virulent French anti-clericals alongside Jean Jaurès in the early 20th century was Emile Combes, who had once been a seminarian. Some of the most fanatical French revolutionaries had been Jansenists. Sometimes people flip and “freak out”, and their judgement is not always sound as they go from one extreme to another.

        Central in all this is human sin and the “herd” mentality, sometimes the same that fuels issues like same-sex marriage and the kind of feminism that seeks to put men into the position in which women were formerly oppressed. It seems to me that the only way to get a break from all this is to live out in the country and take everything we read on the Internet with a pinch of salt. Above all, we need to think for ourselves and get to know our inner selves and discover God and our neighbour. Many of the old divisions between church institutions no longer make any sense, any more than what fundamentalist preachers say about Roman Catholics. There is a lot of junk that obscures our view, unless we have that individual and critical way of seeing things.

        Like Stephen, I treat all representatives and ministers of religions with respect, from rabbis to imams, to priests and ministers, whoever I come across. I use the appropriate titles if I am not ignorant of them. Personally, I see the Church of England as distantly as in relation to Tibetan Buddhism, the only difference is that I was a member of the former until 1981 – when there were neither women priests nor bishops. I have been in authoritarian groups like the SSPX of Archbishop Lefebvre, and my reaction focused on the precise problems rather than the principle “falsus in uno falsus in omnibus”.

        On the precise subject, Bishop Lullally is a bishop of the Church of England, but I do not belong to that institutional church and see no prospect of the church to which I belong entering into ecumenical dialogue or communion with the Church of England for this and other reasons. They have their bishops and we have ours according to our respective rules and beliefs. Division is tragic, as is human nihilism and sin. We all taste of this bitterness as we go the way of karma and in the hope of better things.

      • Stephen K says:

        Yes, Father, I agree – division is a tragedy but not difference. There are many mansions in the Father’s House and it is His House, not any particular mansion’s. It should be no church’s business telling other churches what they should or should not be doing. The core challenge for every Christian remains how to learn, understand and act in love and fraternity, and not make the differences a cause for divisiveness.

      • Two constructs that are very dangerous for the credibility of Christianity:

        Is it true if it is divided? Does it become more true if you conduct thousands of meetings and write out thousands of papers to attempt unity between separated church institutions?

        To what extent can we believe that Christianity (or the institutional church we belong to) is true and at the same time tolerate others and treat them with kindness and respect? Can we come to terms with indifferentism? On what basis is Christianity true or should it be rejected (and replaced with what?)? Would we be better with atheism, materialism and nihilism?

        These seem to be the fundamental questions that have been answered by the majority of western populations by dismissing Christianity as bunk. Will they do better with Islam or globalist capitalism and its alleged agendas?

        The real issue: too much one way Christianity is intolerant and bad for public order, too much the other way too diluted to be of any interest, therefore useless.

      • Stephen K says:

        Father, you’re posing various questions, setting up particular dichotomies, but I don’t think they cover the field. Yes it’s true that a lot of Western people have abandoned or rejected formal religious habits or traditional Christian formulations. We can do a lot of armchair analysis or seek empirical data as to why that may be so. It is not so obvious that they think Islam or capitalism are alternatives, for starters. The question as to how “intolerant” Christianity can be allowed to become before it becomes a problem seems to me to be hardly the way to approach the issue of division, let alone moral and spiritual progress in each of us. The problem this article dealt with was the way different Christians regard and speak about others. I’ve been thinking about respect, and how so often we say things like “I disagree with you (or whoever) but I respect you”. But do we really? I believe we cannot respect another, unless we accept that they are equal to us. Respect is the recognition that I am not better than, not superior to, not more religiously endowed than, another person. Deep down, I think, from the way religious discourse often goes on, that few people really respect others with whom they disagree because they do not think the others are their equal. So we are talking about the way we approach the question of truth, and our limitations in knowing anything, and a core attitude to others.

        What I am trying to convey is the notion that Christianity is precisely the religion that should make most sense in the face of difference, because it is not about righteousness and rectitude and superior faith or knowledge (aka ‘my kingdom is not of this world’), but about love and respect for our neighbour whoever they may be. The fact of the divisiveness amongst Christians, and the intolerance of difference, is perhaps a sign that few self-identifying Christians are. That may not be fatal, but only if we begin to see being a Christian not as a brand-name or state of arrival but as a life-long search and journey.

  5. ed pacht says:

    Stephen, you are still misreading me. “Finally, re your comment in my church she would not, while a bishop from the Roman Church would” — you miss that I am talking in much of my comment about equivalence in the case of transfer from one church to another. If she were to enter my church, she would not be received as a bishop, nor could she become one, whereas in the case of one coming into my church from Rome, he would be received ‘in his orders’ as a bishop, and could be licensed to function as such without further ordination. Thus he is a bishop under the terms of my own church and she is not, though, while representing their own churches they should receive equal treatment.

    You also completely ignored my discussion of the fact that within her own church there is a strong minority that does not recognize the rules under which she has been declared to be a bishop, and therefore cannot recognize her as a real bishop, thus “purported”. Do you respect them, or will you dismissively refuse them the right to speak as they must? We cannot talk to each other at all if we spend our effort on taking offense at wording (something both”sides” are continually doing) instead of digging deeply into each other’s thought as well as our own.

  6. ed pacht says:

    On your other question, as to whether someone (woman or man) could be a bishop without being a priest: well, I can imagine a polity constructed on such a premise, but it would have little, if anything. in common with what I see embodied in Scripture or in Christian history (tradition). It is nearly impossible on the NT to distinguish between ‘episcopos’ and ‘presbyteros’. “Overseer” in the sense of one whose principal function is administration is a concept I can’t find in Scripture, but rather I see spiritual oversight in teaching, on prayer, and in pastoral ministry. St. Paul’s requirements for a bishop are primarily these spiritual attributes with something resembling administration taking second place. When we first hear of a clear differentiation of the two offices, we find the bishop appearing as the principal leader in worship, minister of sacraments, and teacher, with presbyters assisting him. In some places it even seems that it was the presbyters rather than the bishop who took on administrative functions (though under his direction). In time, though perhaps not immediately, part of the sacramental and teaching role of the bishop came to be delegated to the presbyters (who were beginning to be called priests), to minister to the increasing number of branch churches without a bishop of their own. Yes, the size of dioceses grew and bishops came to be more and more involved in administering their ‘mini-empires’,but never ceased to have the teaching and sacramental role. I say all this just to say that, as I have come to see it, a bishop with administrative powers but not sacramental would be thoroughly alien to any polity purporting to be within the Catholic tradition, and to answer your question with a distinct NO.

    Now if some other body decides to operate in such a fashion, well, that’s none of my business — unless they demand that I consider what they have as the same thing as what I have. It’s not.

  7. William Tighe says:

    “as to whether someone (woman or man) could be a bishop without being a priest … a bishop with administrative powers but not sacramental would be thoroughly alien to any polity purporting to be within the Catholic tradition.”

    As Ed may well know, some Lutherans have come close to this, although, in fact, in every Lutheran church (that I know of) that has bishops, those who are eligible for choice as bishops have to be, “legally” or “unofficially” already pastors.

    In the Church of Sweden, when the diocese of Stockholm was created in 1942, a dedicated Swedish Lutheran layman involved administratively in churchly activities, Manfred Björkquist (22 June 1884 – 23 November 1985) was unexpectedly chosen its first bishop. There was some confusion about how to proceed with his installation as bishop, since the general Lutheran notion (even in Sweden, which, alone of Lutheran churches, claims to have preserved a continuous succession of its bishops through the Reformation) of a bishop is that he is simply a pastor/priest with additional administrative/jurisdictional functions or responsibilities. In the end, though, he was ordained a priest/pastor, and then consecrated a bishop.

    An interesting “practical” illustration of the implicitly-held differences between bishops in the Church of England and in the Church of Sweden after the Reformation is that in England a priest who became a bishop would have to go through a legal ceremony signifying royal assent to his election, then be consecrated a bishop, and finally be “inthronized” as bishop in his cathedral (the latter normally with a deputy substituting for the bishop-elect); until the second of these had been completed a bishop could not perform the administrative and sacramental “acts” appropriate to his position and “order.” In Sweden, however, once the election was ratified, and even before any ceremony of “episcopal consecration” (which in a few instances in the 18th Century did not happen until months or years later, and in one case never happened at all; a couple of bishops-elect even expressed reluctance to undergo such an “idle ceremony”) a bishop-elect could perform ordinations, and often did so; indeed, until 1786 Swedish bishops could delegate the performance of ordinations to other clergy, usually the dean of their diocesan cathedral (as can still be done to this day in the Church of Denmark and the Church of Norway)

    • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

      I’ve only read Dr. Tighe’s comment so far, but a pretty grossly uninformed knot of questions spring to mind. Not all Abbots have historically been priests, and even (Thomas Oestereich in his 1907 Catholic Encyclopedia article tells that) “Abbesses have been permitted, by Apostolical concession and privilege, it is alleged, to exercise a most extraordinary power of jurisdiction.” What’s the current scholarship on such Abbots and Abbesses? And are later historical canonical developments considered irreversible, and, if so, why?

      Would a “bishop with administrative powers but not sacramental […] be” not “thoroughly alien to any polity purporting to be within the Catholic tradition”, but in fact one of the historical forms of Abbot or Abbess under another name?

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