C of E hijinx: an object lesson in Church and State

A couple points to start this off.

The liberal element in the Church, progressivists, the Fishwrap and Bitter Pill types, want the Catholic Church to become, at the least bad end of the scale, like the Church of England or otherwise something more congregationalist.  They want less clear or no hierarchy (unless they are in charge) and less systematic doctrine.  They want less transcendence and more immanence.  They want a church that goes along to get along.

Another point to consider is that catholics such as Rep. Nancy Pelosi, VP Biden, Sec. Kathleen Sebelius, etc. pro-abortion quislings, would be content with an American Patriotic Catholic Association, a state-controlled church which could be used, when convenient, to promote their political and social engineering agenda.

The Church of England, which in my opinion should immediately issue their document Romanum coetibus, is demonstrating why all of the aforementioned is a bad idea.  You see, the Church of England, as the established church, the church of the state, under the Crown, must by its very nature go with, and not against, secular trends.  It may be slow in moving, but it is inevitable that it will to in the direction of popular trends and mores.

At the the site of the UK’s best Catholic weekly, The Catholic Herald, there is an article by William Oddie about the debate in the Church of England about women bishops.  Take your time to read the whole thing.  It is worthwhile and informative.

What I found so interesting was the fact that, in this debate about women bishops, some Members of Parliament are getting involved.  They are not involved on theological grounds, but on state/secular/legal grounds.

Oddie writes (my emphases):

The Church of England is established by law under the crown; it is the state Church, so we too have a stake in it. Ultimately its affairs are regulated by Parliament: when, that is to say, the Synod has legislated to establish a female episcopate, its legislation must be taken across the road and translated into English secular law by both the House of Commons and the House of Lords. Then the Queen must give her assent. All this would normally be a formality: whatever the Synod wants Parliament usually lets it have. It has been little noticed, however, that this time, members of the 30-strong parliamentary committee of MPs and peers known as the “ecclesiastical committee”, which would have to agree that the Synodical legislation is “expedient” before it proceeds on its weary way, are saying firmly that any “special arrangements” for dissident parishes would not be accepted by them.  [Get that?  Oddie here is referring to the possibility that, in the event of women bishops, there might be “flying bishops” (love that image) who would be 2nd-class bishops.]

This is, of course, for entirely secular reasons, as members of the ecclesiastical committee are making clear: the Synod’s legislation will have to conform with the Human Rights Act. That means that the “special arrangements” the House of Bishops want incorporated into the new law will not get past Parliament. “This is now the second time the bishops have tried to water down the proposals,” says Ben Bradshaw MP, a member of the parliamentary committee. “These would, in the eyes of many Anglicans, create a two-tier bishopric and a lesser status for women… I have spoken to some of my colleagues on the ecclesiastical committee and they share my concerns about the amendments.”

Simon Hughes MP, another member of the committee, says that its members have a “duty” to ensure the proposals do not conflict with equality law. “The ecclesiastical committee obviously does not set out to impose its will on [the Church], [Is that so?] however we have a duty to make sure that anything that comes before us does not break any of the principles of the law of the land,” he said.

Thus, you see what happens where there is too much Church/State entanglement.

A warning.

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  1. heway says:

    Too late to read -will do in am. But those poeple you mentioned and called ‘catholic’, I don’t even consider ‘Catholic’. I spent sometime on the 4th of July telling my Jewish friends that these individuals are not in communion with the one, true Holy Roman Catholic Church – by virtue of those things they espouse publicly. God help us if we continue on this way, we will be the church of England or China!

  2. fvhale says:

    The Supreme Governor of the Church of England is already a woman: Queen Elizabeth II.

    The Act of Supremacy, an act of Parliament in 1534, made King Henry VIII “the only supreme head on earth of the Church in England.” The question of having a woman at the head of the Church of England was settled by the Second Act of Supremacy in 1559, when Queen Elizabeth I became “Supreme Governor” (rather than “Supreme Head”) of the church.

    From the online “Church of England Companion: A Glossary”, entry under “Crown”:
    “The Crown is concerned with the Church of England in three ways (at least!). The monarch is the Supreme Head of that church; the Crown is involved in the appointment of bishops and other senior clergy; and a number of parishes have the Crown as patron. The function relating to appointments is largely in the hands of the Prime Minister’s Secretary for appointments, who is also involved in the Crown’s patronage…”

    So over 450 years ago the Church of England had a woman as its Supreme Governor, and the civil government plays a great role in the church. The “39 Articles of Religion” (finalized 1571) clearly spell out that the Church is subject to the State, in Article 37, from the revised 1801 edition, also used by the Episcopal Church USA:

    XXXVII. Of the Power of the Civil Magistrates.
    The Power of the Civil Magistrate extendeth to all men, as well Clergy as Laity, in all things temporal; but hath no authority in things purely spiritual. And we hold it to be the duty of all men who are professors of the Gospel, to pay respectful obedience to the Civil Authority, regularly and legitimately constituted.

    The original 1571, 1662 text of this Article reads as follows: “The King’s Majesty hath the chief power in this Realm of England, and other his Dominions, unto whom the chief Government of all Estates of this Realm, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Civil, in all causes doth appertain, and is not, nor ought to be, subject to any foreign Jurisdiction. Where we attribute to the King’s Majesty the chief government, by which Titles we understand the minds of some slanderous folks to be offended; we give not our Princes the ministering either of God’s Word, or of the Sacraments, the which thing the Injunctions also lately set forth by Elizabeth our Queen do most plainly testify; but that only prerogative, which we see to have been given always to all godly Princes in holy Scriptures by God himself; that is, that they should rule all estates and degrees committed to their charge by God, whether they be Ecclesiastical or Temporal, and restrain with the civil sword the stubborn and evil-doers.

    The Bishop of Rome hath no jurisdiction in this Realm of England.
    The Laws of the Realm may punish Christian men with death, for heinous and grievous offences.
    It is lawful for Christian men, at the commandment of the Magistrate, to wear weapons, and serve in the wars.”

    Prior to the late 20th century, the Church of England had woman monarchs as Supreme Governors, but women were not ordained ministers. In the modern era of civil legislation regarding equal rights, it was only a matter of time until the civil view came to influence the church under its governance.

    The Sex Discrimination Act of 1975 outlawed discrimination against women quite broadly, but the civil legislation in 1975 allowed wiggle room for the General Synod of the Church of England.
    But, since the church is governed by the state, the Church of England could probably see the handwriting on the wall.

    In 1975, just 37 years ago, the General Synod passed the motion: ‘That this Synod considers that there are no fundamental objections to the ordination of women to the priesthood,” and the door was opened. In 1981 the General Synod resolved that the Order of Deacon should be open to women, and the legislative necessities were completed in 1985, and women deacons were ordained, in good, lawful order, in 1987 (25 years ago). In 1984, the General Synod votes to allow ordination of women to the priesthood, but said nothing about bishops.

    But the path to lawful, orderly ordination of women priests in England was longer and more difficult. In 1988, the General Synod approved draft legislation. In the 1992 Synod, the measure finally won needed majorities in all houses. The 1993 Measure for Ordination of Women can be found online at legislation.gov.uk:

    Part I of the Measure, “Power to Legislate by Canon,” specifies:
    Provision for ordination of women as priests..

    (1)It shall be lawful for the General Synod to make provision by Canon for enabling a woman to be ordained to the office of priest if she otherwise satisfies the requirements of Canon Law as to the persons who may be ordained as priests. .
    (2)Nothing in this Measure shall make it lawful for a woman to be consecrated to the office of bishop.

    It was not until May 2012 that the House of Bishops approved draft legislation to enable women to be consecrated as bishops–25 years after the first women deacons were ordained in the Church of England, and 9 years after the first women priests.

    One lesson to be learned here, aside from the challenges of having the civil rulers also be rulers of the church, is that it makes no sense at all, and is a terrible discrimination against women, to say, “you, by nature of your being a woman, can only be ordained a deacon, and no further; or only a priest, and no further.” Ordination is integral. This was clearly stated by Abp. Müller, our new prefect of the CDF, in his 2001 interview:

    Q: Is it possible to separate the diaconate of women from the priesthood of women?

    Müller: No — because of the unity of the sacrament of orders, which has been underlined in the deliberations of the Theological Commission; it cannot be measured with a different yardstick. Then it would be a real discrimination of woman if she is considered as apt for the diaconate, but not for the presbyterate or episcopacy.
    The unity of the sacrament would be torn at its root if, the diaconate as ministry of service, was opposed to the presbyterate as ministry of government, and from this would be deduced that woman, as opposed to man, has a greater affinity to serve and because of this would be apt for the diaconate but not for the presbyterate.
    However, the apostolic ministry all together is a service in the three degrees in which it is exercised.

    So it seems that if a church with three degrees of ordination (deacon, priest, bishop) is going to open ordination to the diaconate to women, well, they better be ready to go all the way. Otherwise, it just makes no sense.

    Sidebar for the Episcopal Church USA: The American approach to this question was a bit messier, as Americans are a bit more inclined to grab the bull by the horns. The US General Convention debated the question, without positive resolution, in 1970 and 1973. Then, in 1974, the “Philadelphia Eleven” women just did it and were ordained as Episcopal priests by two retired and one resigned bishop. In July 1976, the 72nd General Convention of the EC-USA declared that “no one shall be denied access” to ordination into the three orders of ministry: as deacons, priests or bishops, on the basis of their sex. In 1990, the first woman bishop f the EC-USA was consecrated. The Americans ran quite a bit ahead of their English counterparts.

  3. asperges says:

    The C of E is a remarkable creature. By all logic it should have collapsed and ceased to be years ago, but it is seen by its supporters as tolerant, all-embracing and flexible, able to regenerate and adapt – which, in very different terms, is exactly what its detractors say. It is able to appear “catholic” on one side and “protestant” on the other. Its Bishops are all things to all men, being dogmatic (or even vaguely religious) is not encouraged. The question of “the one true Church” does not occur to them – except the so-called Anglo-Catholics who can be vicious and extremely prickly over such matters. It really doesn’t matter to most.

    As to the role of Parliament in all this, it will usually rubber-stamp anything asked of it, but if it suits, they will invoke equality legislation or EU regulations, or worse the all-pervading ‘diversity.’ The Catholic Church in general does not suffer quite the same interference, but the situation is getting worse. A few years ago, our Catholic Children’s Homes were effectively abandoned because our Church stood against gay adoption, which the law now allows. Unfortunately its ‘stand’ was not to defy the law, but, albeit after due lobbying, to capitulate. It wouldn’t put up children for gay adoption, so ended up abandoning the whole project. On the current ‘gay marriage’ debate, the only concession so far is not to impose any eventual legislation on Churches: but this won’t deter many C of e clergy who accept it anyway. Sooner or later an aggrieved party will surely take legal action against any Church refusing its legal rights.

    Secularisation pervades every aspect of life here: religion doesn’t. Before US readers say ‘it’s the same here,’ the influence and presence of religion (of all colours) is much higher there. Religion is seen as largely a private matter: respected, but certainly not to be imposed on anyone else. The rise of the militant atheist (Dawkins and co) is a relatively new phenomenon too. Hardly surprising that most people get their moral code from popular soaps and TV personalities. What is said in the pulpit is often vague and woolly. Catholic education for the last 40 years has been largely a failure with lapsation at very high levels after school leaving age. Even the level of practising Catholics overall is about only 25%.

    The Church of England used to be very influential in public life. Its stand on doctrine was strong. With the obvious exception of Orders, the nature of the Eucharist, a whole list of issues would be common to both Catholic and Anglicans. This would include abortion, divorce (in principle) and women priests as well as a large range of social issues. But once you give way on one issue, compromise on another and abandon a third, you are left with nothing either credible or useful.

    Despite often disagreeing with it, actually most people here would like a strong moral lead. The C of E comes into its own for State occasions, royal marriages, funerals and the like. It can have an influence. Catholics are seen as a side group: too strict for the mostpart but a more serious Christianity overall. Their view may be disparaged but it is listened to if ever heard. The trouble is, it is either undermined by the woolliness of the other Churches or simply never heard at all.

  4. jflare says:

    “’The ecclesiastical committee obviously does not set out to impose its will on [the Church], [Is that so?]…'”

    I noticed that comment too!
    Made me wonder why they bothered with that particular committee or why they bother ordaining bishops or priests in the first place. If your alleged authority has no substantive teeth, you may as well toss it altogether.

  5. Legisperitus says:

    Ideally, Church and State should be separate but equal, each acknowledging the other’s proper sphere and working cooperatively. This has never been the case with the C of E because Henry VIII claimed to make the head of State head of the Church.

  6. BaedaBenedictus says:

    Ironically, the CofE being the state church has saved it from moving too quickly into post-Christianity. The Episcopalians have had female bishops for over 30 years.

  7. Kerry says:

    How in the world could the Church be equal with, or to, the state? Working cooperatively to what ends? What is the title of the appointed Czar whose duty it is to cooperate with Cardinal Dolan? As the Constitution exists to protect the individual citizen from the government, and the Church exists to spread the gospel, where can these ends overlap?

  8. teevor says:

    As Legisperitus notes, the Anglican settlement has at its root the inherent problem that the State is effectively superior to the Church because the civil government can control its affairs.

    However it is possible to conceive of a society where there is an established church (ideally a Catholic one) which retains complete autonomy in its own sphere while providing a moral authority equivalent to the role of a constitutional court. This would ensure, far better than a written constitution (for however well written, it is just a piece of paper and depends on judicial interpretation) that the society conforms to the Divine Law.

    I don’t imagine that such a system will necessarily result in a a higher standard of government, for as we’ve seen in societies like Quebec, the local hierarchy is always in danger of being co-opted by the government for its political purposes through promises of influence and power. The critical requirement for a healthy society, as I see it, is its own willing observation of the natural moral law. However, it is far easier for civil society to become corrupted if the state possesses the tools to legitimize its own evil decisions.

  9. ray from mn says:

    In the CofE’s perspective, they need the state, through English Heritage, to help maintain the properties stolen from the Roman Catholic church 500 years ago. Roughly half of all the historical properties in England are churches and their buildings.

  10. albinus1 says:

    heway wrote: But those poeple you mentioned and called ‘catholic’, I don’t even consider ‘Catholic’. I spent sometime on the 4th of July telling my Jewish friends that these individuals are not in communion with the one, true Holy Roman Catholic Church

    Isn’t that up to the Church hierarchy to decide? Neither you nor I nor any layperson has the authority to proclaim that a particular person is “not in communion” with the Catholic Church, however scandalous we may find their statements and actions. “I don’t even consider …” I’m sorry, but who are you — or, for that matter, who am I — to make these kinds of authortative pronouncements? Your “Jewish friends” might have received the impression that individual communicants can decide for themselves — based on what they “consider” — whether or not someone else is truly Catholic. Isn’t that a Protestant attitude?

    This is what has always bothered me about many traditionalist congregations: the attitude that no one is truly Catholic but them.

  11. heway says:

    @albinus1 – 1st I am not a ‘traditionalist’.
    2nd – I made this judgement based on what these people espouse publicly = pro choice. Whatever your personal thoughts may be when you have a public role,call yourself Catholic and maintain choices contrary to catholic teachings, you are giving an example of catholicity that is false.

  12. jlmorrell says:

    “Thus, you see what happens where there is too much Church/State entanglement.”

    I can’t help but infer a hint of prejudice against the traditional social teaching of the Church in this last statement. It is worth pointing out that, as most know, the situation with the Church of England and the Crown is not the same as the traditional Catholic teaching regarding the Social Kingship of Christ and the need for the civil authority to recognize Catholicism as the only true religion.

    In a proper Catholic state, which of course doesn’t exist anymore, the civil authority would yield to the Pope on these matters which affect the salvation of souls. And, yes, good Catholic states did exist prior to secular nations we have today. Regardless of what your civic teacher taught you in high school.

  13. Supertradmum says:

    What one forgets, is that Parliament has the right and laws to prosecute their own clergy as well, as it did in the 19th century. After the Anglo-Catholic movement got going, priests were fined and lost their parishes if they wore cassocks, insisted on candles, incense and God forbid, worshiped as orientem. The liberals and the conservatives in politics took sides on such issues, but the laws are and were on the books. If one looked last week at some Parliamentarians reaction to the delayed vote, one can see the power still in the hands of the government regarding religion and religious ideals. Much of the arguments are linked on my blog. Of course, just like gay and lesbian civil marriages, the ideas surrounding women bishops have to do with “civil rights”. The Archbishop of Canterbury’s reaction, which I also have linked , is a Modernist parody of the emphasis on feelings, tolerance and liberal interpretation of the Bible. Gag.

  14. Supertradmum says:

    sorry ad orientem..but you all know what I mean..

  15. Johnno says:


    It is wholly right to point out the facts when there are Baptized Catholics who do not follow or believe in their Catholic faith, but want all the ‘rights’ associated with it, such as wanting communion, marriage, etc. whatever is of material benefit to them. While no one other than the Church hierarchy has the authority to formally excommunicate members of the Catholic Church, the laity must also take a role in pointing out to others which Catholics are bad examples and not to take anything they claim about the faith seriously, lest those outside the faith get mistaken impressions about the Catholic Faith. Sometimes this might require tarnishing the image of another person for being a hypocrite and being spiritually disassociated from the Church. that’s inescapable, and even our Lord did so when necessary, as have many of the saints.

  16. Imrahil says:

    In a proper Catholic state, which of course doesn’t exist anymore

    The Vatican. Liechtenstein (per conincidence the wealthiest state in the world :-) ). Argentinia.

  17. jlmorrell says:

    Liechtenstein, Malta, Philippines, Argentina, are not Dominican Republic, to name a few, are not proper Catholic states according to the traditional social doctrine of the Church.

    For example, although Malta professes Catholicism as the religion of the state, its civil code is clearly infested with classical liberal error when it allows false religions to be professed in public. It thereby allows for error to be put forth in public alongside the truth. Additionally, the country has just allowed divorce against the clear teaching of the Church. A horrible blow for to the Catholic family which will wreak havoc in decades to come.

    The Vatican is the only country that perhaps would qualify though it doesn’t really have a lay population. So, I have no problem stating again that a proper Catholic state does not exist anymore. The last fell soon after Vatican II, which sadly accelerated the downfall of what remained of Christendom.

  18. jlmorrell says:

    I meant to say “and the Dominican Republic, to name a few,”

  19. Supertradmum says:

    jlmorrell, you are correct but it is worse than you think. The average Catholic family in Malta supported the socialist government which came in almost as soon as Malta became independent of Britain. The society contracepts to the tune of 1.2 – 1.4 babies per woman, depending on the graph, and that includes a large Muslim immigrant population and other African immigrants. Last year, 27% of the babies born were born out of wedlock. Two weeks ago, Sliema saw another gay pride parade, and the homosexual community is obvious in Floriana and Valletta. Divorce is legal and some groups are trying to pass a freezing of embryos act.

    There is no TLM there as the hierarchy has suppressed Summorum Pontificum.

    Liechtenstein, thankfully, just voted to let the very Catholic monarchy keep its veto power, as the abortion proponents are pushing for that law to go through and the Prince will veto it. The Philippines has been witness to fighting between the hard-line communists for years in certain areas where the New People’s Army holds sway and the government. There is a history of kidnappings as well.

    I do not know about Argentina or the Dominican Republic, but my guess would be that these countries are just as secular as any other. The Vatican is the only Catholic country in the world.

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