Bishops and Bloggers

There is a way out of this impasse.

'It is hard to find a bishop in England and Wales with a good word to say about Catholic blogs'


Bishops Shouldn’t Try to Censor the Blogosphere

Bishop Michael Campbell (Flickr/Mazur)

So say a leading English priest:

Fr Timothy Finigan, author of the Hermeneutic of Continuity blog, made the comment after Bishop Michael Campbell of Lancaster asked Deacon Nick Donnelly “to voluntarily pause from placing new posts” on his blog Protect the Pope.

Fr Finigan, parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary in Blackfen, south east London, wrote: “I do wonder about the practical wisdom of attempting to censor the blogosphere. Protect the Pope now carries posts by Mrs Donnelly, and she has offered an invitation to others to contribute material – which several writers have already taken up. Other censored bloggers can also simply start up a new blog under a pseudonym, or use alternative social media platforms – Facebook and Twitter are well-known but the possibilities are endless. As activists on the internet pointed out years ago, censorship is just another bug for which you find a hack or a workaround. The danger is that a previously censored commenter will be probably not be inclined to moderation in a new social media incarnation.

“Bishops also have on their side the great respect of most Catholics for Bishops. Quite often a blog will criticise a Bishop severely, only to find that another blog tells a different side to the story, or the Bishop issues a statement clarifying things – and then receives a lot of support from Catholic bloggers. The discussion will continue, but the Bishop is not exactly powerless to defend himself. Bloggers work in an environment which is open to everyone. One of the healthy things about such open communication is precisely that you cannot rely on personal standing to squash disagreement.”

After the bishop’s request Deacon Nick Donnelly, who writes the Protect the Pope blog, will be taking an indefinite break from blogging, while his wife, Martina Donnelly, has taken on the running of the blog for the time being.

A statement released by the Diocese of Lancaster last week said: “After learning that a notice had been placed upon the Protect the Pope website on March 7 saying: ‘Deacon Nick stands down from Protect the Pope for a period of prayer and reflection’ the Bishop’s Office at the Diocese of Lancaster was able to confirm that Bishop Campbell had recently requested Deacon Nick Donnelly to voluntarily pause from placing new posts on the Protect the Pope site.

“Meanwhile, it was also confirmed that the bishop asked Deacon Nick to use this pause to enter into a period of prayer and reflection on the duties involved for ordained bloggers/website administrators to truth, charity and unity in the Church. Deacon Nick has agreed to the bishop’s request at this time.”

In a short statement on the Protect the Pope website Martina Donnelly wrote: “As Nick’s wife I am writing to thank you for all the kind messages, prayers and gifts that Nick has received. You may have noticed that he has not posted for a while and I did not want you to be worried, as although he is still far from better, this silence has not been caused by his illness. Rather Nick has been asked to observe a period of prayer and reflection. Please continue to pray for Nick during this time.”

When asked by The Catholic Herald if he thought his blog had ever crossed the line, Deacon Donnelly replied: “No.”

He said: “I think blogging is an incredible tool for evangelisation, I started blogging in 2010 before the papal visit because I felt I needed to answer lies and misrepresentations about the Catholic Church. When I launched Protect the Pope it received coverage all over the world. I even received coverage in Vietnam. When I finished Protect the Pope I was getting 100,000 views per month.”

He said that the aim of his blog was simply “to compare and contrast what’s being said and done in the Church with the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. That can never be wrong.”

He said that he would rather not continue blogging in the future if it meant that he would have to change this basic aim. He emphasised that the “period of reflection” was indefinite and added: “The past three days I’ve had so many messages of support from my readers, even people who don’t agree with me. I’ve found that really encouraging. That’s been a positive experience from all of this.”

When asked if he thought that Catholic bishops understood the blogosphere, he said: “My feeling is that their a priori position is suspicion and they don’t understand blogging’s potential. They don’t react to it well.”

Meanwhile, Cardinal Gerhard Müller, the prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, has told the leaders of the world’s ordinariates that while blogs could be a helpful tool of evangelisation, they could also “express unreflected speech lacking in charity”.

The image of the ordinariate was not helped by this, he said, and it fell to the ordinaries to exercise vigilance over these blogs and, where necessary, to intervene.


Bishops Should Serve, Not Lord it Over their People

So says Pope Francis:

In a June 21 address to apostolic nuncios, Pope Francis stressed the importance of finding bishops who will be good pastors and servants of the faithful in their dioceses…

“Be attentive that they aren’t ambitious, that they don’t seek the episcopate,” the Pope said. Candidates to become bishops should be poor in spirit, he said; he warned sternly against those who have “the mindset of princes.”

The Pope warned the nuncios against the same sort of “spiritual worldliness” in their own lives. “Giving in to the spirit of the world, which leads one to act for personal realization and not for the glory of God, is that kind of ‘bourgeoisie of spirit and life’ that urges one to get comfortable, to seek a calm and easy life,” he said…

However, he suggested that it may be a means of spiritual growth, since “the goods and perspectives of this world end up disappointing, they push and are never satisfied. The Lord is the good that does not disappoint.”


Priests in Same-sex Relationships May Become Anglican Bishops

Well, there you have it:

(CNN) – Men in a civil union will now be allowed to become bishops in the Church of England, but they are not allowed to have sex.

Intercourse between two men – or two women – remains a sin.

“Homosexual genital acts fall short of the Christian ideal and are to be met with a call to repentance and the exercise of compassion,” according to Anglican doctrine.

Men and women in same-sex unions were already allowed to serve as priests in the Church of England, but there was a moratorium on advancement to the episcopate – becoming a bishop – while the church considered the issue.

The church announced Friday that if men in celibate civil unions may be priests, then there is no reason for them not to be bishops, as long as they are “living in accordance with the teaching of the Church on human sexuality.”

Rest here.

In other words, the ban on gay male clergy who live with their partners from becoming bishops has been lifted and that with some the flimsy conditions.


Speaking of Gratitude…

Someone is grateful to Archbishop John Hepworth for the unfolding Ordinariates.

How might things look different now had all the bishops behaved like good Catholics…





Church of England Faces Backlash Over Rejecting Bishopesses

When the Church of England scuttled plans to allow women bishops on Nov. 20, incoming Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby called it “a very grim day for women and their supporters.”Now, that grim day is turning into a church-state nightmare for Britain’s established church.

The Washington Post:

The Times of London quoted from a leaked memo to church leaders from William Fittall, secretary general of the General Synod, who called the public and political fallout “severe.”

After the unexpected defeat, the church said the process to allow women bishops would need to begin anew, and couldn’t start again until a new General Synod is seated in 2015.

According to The Times, Fittall’s memo outlined a plan that could lead to simpler legislation, such as a clause to consecrate women bishops with no provision for opponents. That measure could be put to the current synod when it meets again at the University of York next July.

“Parliament is impatient,” Fittall warned. “Unless the Church of England can show very quickly that it’s capable of sorting itself out, we shall be into a major constitutional crisis in Church-State relations, the outcome of which cannot be predicted with confidence.”

A former archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, upped the ante when he called on church leaders to “rip up its rule book” and speed through the introduction of women bishops. He said it was “ridiculous” to assume that the General Synod could not reconsider women bishops until 2015.

A full 42 of the 44 dioceses of the church voted for legislation that would have made women bishops next year. There are 3,600 ordained women in the Church of England and 37 female bishops in the worldwide Anglican Communion, including Africa’s first Anglican woman bishop, Ellinah Wamukoya of Swaziland, who was consecrated five days before the defeat in Britain.

Meantime, Prime Minister David Cameron has warned the church to think again — and fast — about its “very sad” rejection of women bishops.

Very sad?! It’s a Biblical rejection, not so?

Anglo-Catholics Not Welcomed in the Church of England

And I suppose, the Ordinariate would be (is) a far safer theological / ecclesiastical home for them. William Oddie:

The question of whether or not the Church of England will appoint women bishops drags on and on. (We will of course put to one side here the question of the validity of Anglican orders: though our view has been somewhat softened in its expression by the ARCIC process, it is still, of course, the unavoidable view of the Catholic Church that they are, in Leo XIII’s not exactly tactful words, “absolutely null and utterly void”).

The Anglican bishops have now decided that they will delay the final decision as to whether or not to proceed to legislate on the matter. The reason for this is that those opposed to any special arrangements being made, for those parishes who don’t want to be in the diocese of a woman bishop, object strongly to these arrangements, so much so that they are threatening to vote the whole thing down. This would mean that they would all have to start again from the beginning of the whole weary synodical process; it could take another five years.

As to why many Synod members don’t like these special arrangements — which they say will mean the establishment of a second-rate episcopate for women — it is germane to note that by this stage the arguments against them are entirely secular. The Evangelicals don’t want women bishops because they say that scripture requires male headship in the Church. That’s a theological reason. Anglo-Catholics don’t recognise that they can be bishops at all, because they don’t accept (for recognisably “Catholic” reasons) that women can be ordained priest in the first place. That, too, is a clearly theological reason. Those who want women bishops, by contrast, say it’s now nothing to do with theology, and that it’s a matter of their human rights as women, and that if parishes are allowed to refuse a woman’s episcopal ministry and to opt out of their dioceses into a kind of limbo — serviced by something like the present obsolescent arrangement of “flying bishops” — that will mean that those women the Church of England would raise to the Anglican episcopate would be second-class bishops, since not only would the Evangelicals and Anglo-Catholics not fully recognise them: neither would the Church of England.

This objection has nothing to do with theology, and you don’t need to be an Anglican or even a Christian to see the force of it. The arguments in favour of women bishops have nothing to do with theology, says Rabbi Julia Neuberger, and she is dead right: once, that is, you have accepted that the women who have been “ordained” priests really are priests, since if you are a priest there can be no theological reason why you should not become a bishop. And the Church of England has already made a clear decision about that.

The fact is that the Anglo-Catholics who are still determined to stay in the Church of England are in an impossible situation…

Read on here. And from the conclusion:

Anglo-Catholics need to understand clearly that there is no longer a place for them in the Church of England; they are not wanted. They have, however, an alternative, in communion with the one true Church: the ordinariate has been erected precisely for them. If they will not become part of it, they will have simply to accept that they are members of a Church with women priests and women bishops and get used to it. But if they do, they had better stop calling themselves “Anglo-Catholics”: they will have forfeited the right.


No C of E Bishopesses… Yet…

Anglicans postpone vote on women bishops.

Times Live:

The General Synod, the governing body of the worldwide Anglican Communion’s mother church, voted instead to hold further discussions on a last-minute amendment that had angered senior female clergy.

A final vote is now likely in November.

Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, the communion’s spiritual leader, told the meeting at the University of York in northern England that the adjournment would help “lower the temperature” over the debate.

“It is quite clear that the reaction cannot be ignored,” he said.

“When there is a reaction of real hurt and offence in the Church, Christians, and Christian pastors in particular, cannot afford to ignore it.”

The General Synod members voted 288 in favour of an adjournment, 144 against and 15 abstained.

It had as recently as Friday voted to hold the final vote on Monday.

The last-ditch amendment would have given traditionalist parishes the right of access to an alternative male bishop who shares their views about women clergy.

Pro-women campaigners have claimed this would enshrine discrimination against women in law, and therefore threatened to vote alongside traditionalists.

Williams warned last week that the Church was “looking into the abyss” over the issue and said that a vote against women bishops would put it off the agenda until 2015.

The legislation will need a two-thirds majority in all three houses of the General Synod — laity, clergy and bishops — if it is to get final approval.

If it clears the final hurdle it will then go for approval in the Houses of Parliament before receiving royal assent, paving the way for the first women bishops in 2014.

The Church of England — the officially established state church in England — voted to create women priests in 1992 and they now constitute around a third of all its priests.

The 61-year-old Williams will step down as church leader in December after a decade in the post.


Divine Judgement?

I’m sure there’s something Biblical

Church of England to Allow Women Bishops

And why not? If you already have women priestesses, then bishopesses are a forgone conclusion.

Church of England bishops last night cleared the way for historic moves to allow women to become bishops – but with a last-minute olive branch to traditionalists.

Strange things happen at night. The Telegraph reports – but before you go on, and look at the following pic - calm yourself, and keep whispering, Anglicanorum Coetibus, Anglicanorum Coetibus…

In a meeting behind closed doors in York, the Church’s House of Bishops gave its approval to legislation to admit women to the episcopacy and rejected a series of attempts to significantly water down the powers of future female bishops.

But they also agreed a key protection for conservative evangelicals and Anglo Catholics who object to women bishops on theological grounds.

In theory the vote clears the way for the church’s General Synod to have a final vote on the issue in July.

But there were signs it has plunged the Church into further uncertainty amid fears that the compromise failed to satisfy either side in the debate.

It remained unclear last night whether the compromise would be enough to see off the prospect of a large-scale exodus of traditionalists to the Roman Catholic Church or a new breakaway Anglican group.

Equally campaigners for women bishops privately voiced disappointment at the compromise. They fear attempts to make women “second class bishops”

Parishes and dioceses have already signalled strong support for ordaining women as bishops.

But a significant minority of traditionalists cannot accept the authority of a women bishop on theological grounds.

Complicated arrangements have been drawn up to allow to request to opt out and answer to a specially chosen male bishop instead.

The House of Bishops agreed last night that the alternative bishop’s authority would be “delegated” from the woman rather than independent from her and that this arrangement would have legal force.

But they also agreed that traditionalist parishes would have more say in who the alternative bishop would be – potentially undermining the powers of the woman bishop.

In statement the House said: “The legislation now addresses the fact that for some parishes a male bishop or male priest is necessary but not sufficient.

“The House rejected more far- reaching amendments that would have changed the legal basis on which bishops would exercise authority when ministering to parishes unable to receive the ministry of female bishops.”

Are you still saying it? Anglicanorum Coetibus…

The Church of England press release is here.



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