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Re: VA questions for GC nominees
I don't see any value to arguing intent, since we really cannot know
intent. Even regarding our own actions, sometimes we are not always the
most trustworthy judges of our own intent, especially the farther away
from them we are in time. I'd rather stick with what the canon actually
Title III, Canon 1.8 states: "The provisions of the Canons of this Title
for the admission of Postulants and Candidates, and for the ordination to
the three Orders, Bishops, Priests, and Deacons, shall be equally
applicable to men and women. No one shall be denied access to the
ordination process nor postulancy, candidacy or ordination in any parish
or diocese of this church on account of his or her sex."
The canon does not force any bishop to ordain a woman in contradiction of
his conscience. There are others ways to allow ordination and deployment
without the bishop's doing that himself. I have already mentioned the
"Montgomery Plan" as an example.
Obviously any ordination within a diocese requires consents not only of
the bishop but also the Standing Committee. In actuality, the process
begins much earlier, typically with meetings with a sponsoring parish, a
parish discernment committee, with the COM for an aspirants
But it is a bishop, not the Standing Committee, COM, or others, who
ordains. The canon does not force a bishop to do so; it forces a bishop
to make sure that it may be done (bishops often ask other bishops to
ordain on their behalf). It forces consideration of persons for priestly
deployment in the diocese without regard to gender. Obviously that would
require a parish that wanted to issue a call, but that does not pose a
In all three dioceses (San Joaquin, Quincy, Ft. Worth) there are
parishioners who have expressed a desire to have the priestly ministry of
women, and that access has been denied. In all three dioceses there are,
or have been, ordained women who are denied the right to function as
priests, and have been spoken of as not being priests.
In several of the dioceses that were late in ordaining women, the hold out
was for the current bishop to retire. On July 1982, I was anathema with
the Bishop of Fond du Lac for hosting a house Mass celebrated The Rev.
Mother Anne Garrison, house guest. The local Convent turned out en masse,
as did most of the Lutheran women in town. The STEVENS POINT JOURNAL gave
it full page coverage for Friday, July 16. The response of my parish was
like an iceberg when Anne went with me to worship on Sunday, especially at
the coffee hour. When I returned to the parish on a Sunday thirteen years
later, in town to give a poetry reading, I was greeted with open arms by
people excited to tell me how glad they were that the diocese now ordained
women. A completely different local attitude, which some confessed they
had had a longer time than they would have spoken it. They spoke it now
because they had a new bishop.
One of the big tests in ECUSA will come when each of the 3 hold-out
dioceses elects a new bishop. I believe they will have an almost
impossible time getting the required consents for the election of someone
who will not ordain women. Bishop Iker is only 52.3; Bishop Ackerman,
55.4; Bishop Schofield, 63.2.