Why Can’t They?

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UPDATE: The Church of England has voted in the affirmative – females will now be allowed to become bishops. The Vatican isn’t too happy, but, then again, the Church of England isn’t Catholic, so I’m not sure why the Vatican’s response is getting so much coverage on this issue – you’d almost think Europe was going to erupt in another series of religious wars between Anglicans and Catholics.

The Church of England’s General Synod voted in favour of consecrating women and against safeguards demanded by traditionalists opposed to the move.

A Church group will now draw up a code of practice to try to reassure critics.

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The Church of England will soon vote on whether or not women can be consecrated as bishops.  Now, I am no Episcopal, nor am Christian at all (I used to be… oh, I daresay I used to be), but what’s the deal?  The Anglican Church was sought out by ex-Catholics who thought that the Catholic Church was too strict, but lately, there have been a lot of reverse converts.  The most recent mass exodus of former über-Episcopals was when Gene Robinson, an openly gay man, was voted as the bishop of New Hampshire.  And now women want to be bishops too.  They were given the right to be priests in 1994, but why can’t they be bishops?  I mean, let’s talk about it – seriously – the only reason why, in my point of view, Gene Robinson was actually elected to be bishop is because he is male.  I am guessing that most Episcopalians still think that he is living “in sin.”  So, why is this sinner of a man still allowed to be a bishop while a woman (and let’s just say in this case, a heterosexual woman), who is just as holy as this guy can’t?  Well, hm.  What a predicament.

One signatory to the clergy’s letter, Father Robert Fayers, said while men and women were equal in the eyes of God, he would have some “hard decisions to make” if the Church voted to allow women bishops…

In his Sunday sermon, the Archbishop of Canterbury said Jesus would feel the pain on both sides of the divide in the Church of England over women bishops and gay priests.

Um… 2 things: “while men and women [are] equal…” okay, just this teeny, tiny part angers me to my very core – do you hear the setting-up for an exception to the rule, even if these people are equal in the eyes of God?  Secondly, how the heck does that guy know if Jesus would feel the pain?

From what I can see, this isn’t even about religion; it is about power.  You cannot bar spirituality.  And if women want to be bishops, what is a good and logical reason why they can’t be? If they are already allowed to be priests, there really can be no more excuses.  As for the Catholic Church, well, don’t even get me started.

About the author

Liz

i'm from helena, montana. i now go to school at the university of montana and i study russian language as well as arabic language and southwest (middle east) and central asia.

3 Comments

  • I’m an Episcopalian – baptized and confirmed – and I’m happy to say that the American church is on the right track. While there may be dissenters (when aren’t there?), the Episcopal Church of America is pushing, bit by bit, progressive ideals into the mainstream (i.e. universal rights to becoming a bishop).
    It’s sad that this is even an issue.

    Note: Church of England =/= Episcopalian. Church of England is Anglican, which the Episcopal Church is a member. But, that’s kind of splitting hairs.

  • Throughout the day I continued to think about your post, Liz, and how it related to my concept of the feminist struggle.
    A quick google search will tell you that the Anglican Church has appointed (under it’s very large umbrella) a wide and diverse group of Bishops. Obviously, some regions are more progressive than others, but that is to be expected.
    However, woman face a greater challenge. Looking beyond the Anglican Church to, well, any church, you will see that woman have faced disproportionate opposition in their ascent (both failed and successful) to the position of bishop.
    Unfortunately, the subject of who can and cannot become a bishop serves as a more than accurate representation of society as a whole.

    In high school I sported a “Feminism is the radical notion that woman are people” bumper sticker on my car. I thought it was edgy and liberal, but I didn’t really give it much more thought than that. However, over the years that bumper sticker’s accuracy has been burned into my brain.

    It’s the struggle of feminism. That is, qualifying woman as people.

    Honestly, I don’t think woman are seen as sub-human – that is a categorization that seems to be reserved for racial and ethnic others. Woman are simply other. Woman are not human – they are something else.

    Your examination of the “bishop issue” illustrates that. While racial and ethnic minorities and homosexuals (both open and freely assumed) break barriers of oppression, woman are not even considered.

    This is the battle of feminism. Woman are human beings.

    I am a feminist and a proud feminist, but I am also a straight, white male. This has it’s down falls and its benefits. The down fall is that I will probably never be able to empathize with a woman, African American, Native American, homosexual, etc. etc. I am able to sympathize, but the likely hood of empathy is slim.

    The benefit (if you can call it that) of being a male feminist is that I am occasionally able to recognize my ignorance. Occasionally, I am able to catch myself operating in the exact mindset I oppose. This, in turn, gives me a greater understanding of the oppressive nature of this patriarchal world we live in… in the belly of the beast kind of stuff.

    Apparently, I’ve gone on a bit of a rant here and I think what I wanted to say was that you’re right, Liz, this is crap.

  • to bob 1 – thanks for the clarification of the whole anglican/episcopalian confusion

    to bob funk – i remember seeing that on your car and i loved it. you lucky, white male :0)

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