“A serious and long lasting chill”
One story that we haven’t commented on here yet has been the ecumenical implications of a decision by the Church of England to ordain women bishops. Cardinal Walter Kasper has been warning the CofE that moving ahead with such ordinations would create a “serious and long lasting chill” between the Catholic Church and the Anglican communion. The London Times reported on Kasper’s comments:
He made clear that while the Catholic Church would not break off talks with Anglicans, the tone of ecumenical dialogue would change. “Ecumenical dialogue in the true sense of the word has as its goal the restoration of full Church Communion. That has been the presupposition of our dialogue until now. That presupposition would realistically no longer exist following the introduction of the ordination of women to episcopal office.”
Above all, all hopes of intercommunion would end. “The shared partaking of the one Lord’s table, which we long for so earnestly, would disappear into the far and ultimately unreachable distance. Instead of moving towards one another we would coexist alongside one another,” he said.
The British Catholic weekly The Tablet has also commented on the situation, noting an apparent irony:
There is not much room for dispute about this. Anglican bishops may ask themselves the slightly different question: does it really matter? Hasn’t the historic process of theological and personal rapprochement and reconciliation gone as far as it can go? (And isn’t the unwillingness of Rome to engage in a theological debate about female ordination also part of the problem?) But now they have to face a new question, vital to their own future. Can they demand that the American Church halts or reverses its moves towards homosexual bishops, for the greater good of the communio, while the Church of England dismisses an appeal from Rome over women bishops on the same grounds? Or to put it bluntly, how do they say “Yes” to women bishops and “No” to gay bishops?
In related news, the Episcopal Church USA has become the first national church of the Anglican Communion to appoint a woman as presiding bishop.