Ecumenical consequences of C of E decision on women bishops (aka “wyshyps”)

On 5 June 2006, Walter Card. Kasper, then-President of the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity, spoke to the Church of England members gathered for the Lambeth Conference.  They were discussing, and were going to vote on, women bishops [aka wyshyps].  HERE

What did Kasper say?

“What follows from these conclusions and questions? What follows for the future of our ecumenical dialogue? One thing is certain: The Catholic Church will not break off the dialogue even in the case of such a decision. It will above all not break off the personal relationships and friendships which have developed over the past years and decades. But there is a difference between types of dialogue. The quality of the dialogue would be altered by such a decision. [We can still play skittles together and then go for a pint afterwards.]

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.  [Sure, we can talk!  Communion? That train has left the gate. Another pint?]

Following that action we could still come together for the sake of information and consultation; we could continue to discuss and attempt to clarify theological issues, to cooperate in many practical spheres and to give shared witness.

Above all we could unite in joint prayer and pray for one another. All of that is, God knows, not negligible. But the loss of the common goal would necessarily have an effect on such encounters and rob them of most of their élan and their internal dynamic. Above all — and this is the most painful aspect — 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 co-exist alongside one another.”

Surely this reflected the thought of the Pope of Christian Unity, Benedict XVI.

What Card. Kasper read at Lambeth is surely true.  Meanwhile, the Catholic Church and the Church of England can still pursue some common causes, such as… ecology!

And then there was Card Diaz, the-Prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples. He also spoke at Lambeth back when.  He told them then:

“Much is spoken today of diseases like Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s. By analogy, their symptoms can, at times, be found even in our own Christian communities. For example, when we live myopically in the fleeting present, oblivious of our past heritage and apostolic traditions, we could well be suffering from spiritual Alzheimer’s. And when we behave in a disorderly manner, going whimsically our own way without any co-ordination with the head or the other members of our community, it could be ecclesial Parkinson’s.”

Meanwhile, the Catholic Church and the Church of England can still pursue some common causes, such as… ecology!

About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

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  1. joecct77 says:

    But, But.. They’ll know we are Christians by our Love!!

  2. Charlie Cahill says:

    And now I’ve just read where Obama is to sign a document that favours unnatural sexual acts and there is no exemption for religious communities…It’s a special protection order for gays etc…America has now reached the crossroads. We in Canada are probably next

  3. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Meanwhile, the Moscow Patriarchate’s Department for External Church Relations, which is under the chairmanship of Metropolitan Hilarion, who has a D.Phil. from Oxford (where his thesis was supervised by Dr. Ware [Metropolitan Kallistos]) , has said, “the introduction of female bishops has eliminated even a theoretical possibility for the Orthodox to recognize the existence of apostolic succession in the Anglican hierarchy.”

    There is someyhing particularly impudent in the second “principle” which the C of E bishops have declared, and which Justin Welby is quoting in writing “to ecumenical partners”: “the Church of England [for whom/which they presume to speak] acknowledges that its own clear decision on ministry and gender is set within a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God”.

    It would seem that the “ecumenical partners” are expected to ‘go on discerning’ until they submit to the “clear decision” of the (current) C of E General Synod.

    And note that in their first “principle” they proclaim “the Church of England is fully and unequivocally committed to all orders of ministry being open equally to all, without reference to gender” – not ‘to (biological) male and female sex (as discernable in the DNA)’, but “to gender”. The “clear decision” is said to be, not ‘on ministry and sex’, but “on ministry and gender”.

  4. wont that be an interesting photo when the future Arch’wyshyp’ of Canterbury and Pope Francis (?) celebrate ‘ecumenical’ Vespers at San Gregorio Magna al Celio in Rome, and both give their apostolic blessings….

  5. jhayes says:

    In 1993, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke on ecumenism and said that the goal is not uniformity but what Oscar Cullmann called “reconciled diversity”. I was interested that in Francis’s recent meeting with Evangelical leaders, Cullmann’s “reconciled diversity” was brought up from the Evangelical side.

    Cardinal Ratzinger said:

    This, then, is the aim, the ultimate goal of any ecumenical work: to achieve real Church unity implying plurality of form that we cannot yet define. But we should also bear in mind that this unity, this ultimate aim of ecumenism, is not something we can pursue all by ourselves. We must commit ourselves with all our hearts but we must recognize that ultimately, this unity is a gift of God because the Church belongs to Him, not to us. Any unity built by us alone in a political or intellectual way would only be capable of creating our kind of unity mediate period. It seems to me that any such model could be expressed by that well known formula “reconciled diversity” and on this point I feel that my ideas are very similar to those of my dear colleague, Oscar Cullmann….

    Christ came to reunite the children of God who were scattered. So the fundamental characteristic of ecumenism which is theological and not political is the willingness to be together and walk together, even in diversity which has not been resolved: the rule of thumb is to do all we, ourselves, can do for unity and leave the Lord to do what only the Lord can do. “Oportet et haereses esse ” , St. Paul says. Perhaps we are not all mature enough for unity and perhaps we need the thorn in our flesh – each other in our diversity – if we are to re-awaken from a Christianity that is cut in two, diminutive. Perhaps it is our duty to be each other’s thorn. And we have a duty to let ourselves be purified and enriched by each other.

    Perhaps listening, humbly one in the other in our diversity would be of more help to us than a superficial type of unity. All these attitudes must always be in function of the firm will to become mature for the moment of unity. The model of reconciled diversity should be interpreted in terms of these dynamics and processes. I see this as very important: reconciled diversity does not mean being content with the situation at hand. Rather, it is a dynamic process; it is ecumenism in the positive if it is interpreted in this way. Even at this moment in time when God is still not giving us perfect unity we each acknowledge the other as our Christian brother, we acknowledge the sister Churches, we love each other’s communities, we meet together in a process of divine education in which the Lord uses the different communities, one for the sake of the other, to render us capable and worthy of definitive unity ‘.

    [Not sure what that has to do with anything in regard to the C of E’s choice to have wyshyps and what the Catholic Church will do in response. Oh… right… this was a trick, like pointing and saying “Look! A pony!”]

  6. Priam1184 says:

    So when Mr. Welby retires from his current post after doing such a fine job leading it into the gutter, one would have to think that his successor will be a woman. And when she wants to go to Rome and have a tete a tete photo op with whomever the Holy Father is at that point, just as her predecessors have all done of late, what will the Pope do?

    I used to think that Protestantism was basically the same as the Catholic Church just misguided, but now I can see that it really is an entirely different religion.

  7. kpoterack says:

    I can’t believe that I am writing this but, “Yay, for Cardinal Kasper!” – at least in 2006. (Even more so for Cardinal Diaz.)

  8. Amateur Scholastic says:

    But Father, but Father… why shouldn’t female Anglican clergy enjoy the same equal rights and career opportunities as any other employee of the British government?

  9. SimonDodd says:

    I understand that something may have changed from an Orthodox perspective, but from ours? Not really. Reunion with the Anglican Church means Anglicanorum coetibus and “re”ordination of their clergy, not recognition that their orders are valid in situ, and that has been so not since Monday, not since 1987, but since the 1890s and Apostolicae curae. Last week, reunion of the kind apparently envisaged by some of the ARCIC people was impossible; is it today impossibler?

  10. tcreek says:

    I think it is time for our bishops to focus on ecumenizing baptized Catholics that have abandoned the Faith. I suspect there are more in this group then there are in mainline Protestants denominations.

  11. robtbrown says:

    Charlie Cahill,

    Where did you read that?

  12. robtbrown says:

    The C of E is no more a church than the Rotary Club is.

  13. jhayes says:

    robtbrown, there is no text yet for the Obama action on LGBT employees . Here are excerpts from Politico, based on leaks, which say he will add those categories to lists in two existing orders:

    Obama will on Monday amend two existing executive orders — 11246, signed by Lyndon Johnson, which requires federal contractors not to discrimination on race, color, religion, sex or national origin, and 11478, signed by Richard Nixon, which extends similar protections to federal employees.

    Though he is amending Johnson’s order on federal contractors, Obama will keep in place a 2002 amendment by George W. Bush, which allows religiously affiliated contractors to favor people of their same religion for religious roles, such as positions in the clergy.

    “You can use religion to only hire people who share your religion, but you can’t discriminate against someone who is of your faith who happens to be LGBT, unless they fall within the ministerial exception,” the senior administration official said.


  14. HyacinthClare says:

    robtbrown, search “Obama’s executive order about homosexuals”. Lots of comments. I’m not very good at links…

  15. jacobi says:

    We could from time to time send them a friendly email reminding then that there are no valid orders within the Anglican church, and that their duty in Christ is to return to the One True Church, the Catholic Church. They could join the Ordinariate which is a fully Catholic body, but they would have to accept the Catholic interpretation of Scripture, Revelation and the Tradition and Magisterium of the One True Church.

    By the way they must also understand that women can not be made deacons, priests, or bishops. That is not possible.

    As I say, a nice friendly email.

  16. acardnal says:

    jhayes, your comment has nothing to do with Fr. Z’s post which pertains to the Church of England and the Catholic Church. When the Vicar of Christ, Pope Benedict XVI, promulgated APOSTOLIC CONSTITUTION ANGLICANORUM COETIBUS in 2009 he provided the Anglicans with THE vehicle for communion with the one, true and apostolic Church.

  17. Bea says:

    “The magisterium also judges with authority….”


    Does this cancel out the “Who am I to judge?” statement?

  18. Bea says:

    Charlie Cahill says:
    19 July 2014 at 12:25 pm
    And now I’ve just read where Obama is to sign a document that favours unnatural sexual acts and there is no exemption for religious communities…It’s a special protection order for gays etc…America has now reached the crossroads. We in Canada are probably next

    I read that, too, but Obama (who is supposed to sign this, this Monday) is aiming this at Federal Contractors. Contractors that work with the Federal Govt. programs and that includes “religious” contractors who work with the Govt. It didn’t mean contractors at large, but this is bad enough. “How many contracting jobs does the RC Church work hand in hand with the govt.?”, I ask myself. Housing illegal immigrants came immediately to mind, also common core studies if The Church contracts with the govt. for school books.
    Can of worms either way.,

  19. Supertradmum says:

    Bea, on the side quickly-if you do not know how evil Common Core is, look at all the articles on my blog.

    As to ecumenism, as one who has spent much time in GB in 2011-2013, and from 1985 through 1995, I can say the discussions seriously ended a long time ago. ARCIC was a joke to begin with and the only real discussions happened among clergy having to share facilities or work in university situations.

    However, the vote on women priests over ten years ago stopped most discussions and led directly to the founding of the Ordinariate.

    To pretend one can have ecumenical relationships with Christian denominations which have departed from traditional Gospel truths and even the Ten Commandments, is a waste of time.

    I do not know one seriously orthodox priest in England who believes in such ecumenical outreach anymore, and the government, through various policies, has managed to keep the Anti-Catholic feelings always in England alive and well, as with the defeat of the proposed law to allow Catholics on the throne.

    When the Queen within two days of Parliament passing the “same-sex marriage” Bill signing it into law, she not only deepened the gap between Catholics and Anglicans, but also broke her coronation oath.

    The sham of ecumenism must be seen for what is was since ARCIC–an attempt to meet in some false middle ground of agreements in very superficial areas. 1992 was the watershed year of the Anglicans openly pushing over any pretensions to apostolic succession, a point clarified in the negative by the saintly Leo XIII.

    I think it is time for the Catholic Church in GB to go on the offense and proudly claim to be the one, true, holy, and apostolic Church, and inviting anyone who wants to embrace this great heritage in…real unity is joining the Catholic Church, not covering up the huge cracks separating us from protestantism with paper.

    The Catholic Church in GB needs to come out strong against contraception and ssm, and She will, as the younger men in the seminaries are prepared for martyrdom.

    We have seen it all before.

  20. jhayes says:

    Not sure what that has to do with anything in regard to the C of E’s choice to have wyshyps and what the Catholic Church will do in response.

    My guess is that Francis will not do anything differently than he has in the past. Cardinal Kasper was talking before the votes were cast in 2006 and was trying to encourage them not to approve women bishops. This time the votes have already been cast and it won’t accomplish anything to be negative now.

    In his 1993 speech to the Waldensians (quoted above), Benedict said that arriving at one church is the long term goal, but that is really in God’s hands. In the meantime, “real ecumenical success does not consist in one new agreement after another but in our perseverance to press on together with humble respect for each other, even when compatibility on the doctrine or order of the Church has still not been attained

    According to the Evangelicals who met with Francis recently, he told them: “I’m not interested in converting Evangelicals to Catholicism. I want people to find Jesus in their own community. There are so many doctrines we will never agree on. Let’s be about showing the love of Jesus.”

    According to Scalfari, Francis said that he found the Waldensians (the people +Ratzinger was talking to in 1993) “very devout” and he added them (along with Pentacostals and Jews) to Scalfari’s list of Orthodox and Anglicans as groups the Pope was working hard to build relations with.

    Reading Francis through Benedict

  21. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    I cannot answer for jhayes, and I have not (yet) followed the link, but the 1993 quotation seems to offer a contrast to, say, the C of E bishops latest remarks about “a broader process of discernment within the Anglican Communion and the whole Church of God”. ‘Heresy’ is not addressed here – unless by way of the quotation from the Vulgate text of 1 Corinthians 11:19. But what does St. Paul mean by ‘haireseis’/’haereses’, there? It is followed by the use of 2 Corinthians 12:7 (“stimulus carnis meae”: not quoted in Latin). Though this is there in apposition with “angelus Satanae”, it does not clearly refer to ‘heresy’ properly so called, either – St. Paul does not claim somehow to embrace a heresy he can’t resist embracing, or ‘think his way out of’, or whatever.

    I think it suggests the “hermeneutics of continuity” where, for example, Lumen gentium 15 is involved. That has not disappeared with the Synodical “clear decision”, even though that decision, so long as it is maintained, proves an insuperable barrier to “real Church unity”.

    Quoting this seems to me more a clarification of the situation, than anything like “a trick”: a reminder that there can be no “reconciled diversity” before true impediments are removed.

  22. Bea says:

    I have read about how evil common core is. I’m just saying that some dioceses are buying it hook line and sinker and so are working with the Fed. Govt. in obtaining schoolbooks and are thus contracting with the Govt..

    I’ll check out your website, which I also visit. I’m sure I’ve missed many of the evils connected with this program and have only come across a few. I can’t understand why some dioceses still tout it, but there are a few out there that do.

  23. robtbrown says:

    Bea & C harlie Cahill

    For some time, in fact preceding ObamaCo, Civil Service regulations have prohibited discrimination on the basis of sexual preference. Obama has simply extended that to contractors

  24. Venerator Sti Lot says:

    Supertradmum says, “To pretend one can have ecumenical relationships with Christian denominations which have departed from traditional Gospel truths and even the Ten Commandments, is a waste of time.”

    What, by way of comparison, is to concelebrate with Michele de Paolis? Has he not, personally and emphatically “departed from traditional Gospel truths and even the Ten Commandments”? Are there no ‘office holders’ within the C of E who are much more orthodox and ‘Catholic’ in these respects than he?

    Would not explicit clarity with respect to such various “relationships” be a good use of time and energy?

  25. jacobi says:

    Let’s be clear. The “who am I to judge” quote and the remarks about the Pentecostals were in no way authorative statements, and Catholics have no obligation whatsoever to be guided or influenced by them.

    Objectively speaking, although they have to be seen in context, they are heretical.

    It is the duty of every Catholic to judge sin, of bishops and priests to judge when any teaching is compliant with the Magisterium or not , and in all sorts of situations, particularly the Confessional, to judge the sinner as well as the sin.

  26. robtbrown says:


    No, they are not heretical, but they are ambiguous. And that ambiguity has given license to enemies of Church teaching.

  27. robtbrown says:

    Re judging the sinner:

    1 The Sacrament of Penance is based on the confession of the penitent. The judgement of the Confessor is limited to that.

    2. God judges the heart, and so He is the Eschatological Judge. Man, however, can judge actions. The problems begin when man decides he can judge the heart or cannot judge the actions

  28. jacobi says:


    I submit that in the context, the Successor of Peter seeing two presumably active homosexuals and saying he is not in a position to judge their behavior is contrary to, and in denial of his duty as Keeper of the Keys. It is therefore, objectively speaking, heretical. It may not have been intended that way, in which case a prompt official denial was in order. In the absence of that, then it is not authoritative, is implicitly if not intentionally heretical, and no Catholic is bound by it.

    Re the Pentecostal remarks, this sect is in heretical schism from the One True Church, through which alone Man achieves Salvation. Now we can argue about how that is so, but nevertheless it is so. Again a prompt official clarification is appropriate and in the absence of that, I submit the remarks have no authority, are implicitly if not intentionally heretical and no Catholic is bound by them.

    In the Confessional the priest not only hears the confession and questions to clarify, but has to judge whether the confession is sincere, whether there is a firm purpose of amendment never to commit those sins again, and then “in persona Christi” to judge whether to grant Absolution or to withhold Absolution.

  29. robtbrown says:


    1 When did the Pope say he was not a judge of someone’s behavior? Or is that something that you read into what he was saying?

    2 The successor of Peter has universal jurisdiction. As the Vicar of Christ he is not only the headof those whose faith is informed by charity but also those with dead faith. Further, he is also the head of those who are potential members and lack both faith and charity.

    Would I have preferred clarity in both of these matters? Of course, but that doesn’t make his statements heretical

    3. The Confessor can only judge according to what the penitent has told him. To say otherwise, as you seem to have done, is an heretical understanding of the Sacrament

  30. Seamus says:

    Uh, didn’t the train leave the gate back when the CofE started pretending to ordain women as priests (if not when they started “ordaining” them as deacons)?

  31. acardnal says:

    jhayes, that was not a speech given by Pope Benedict but by Cdl. Joseph Ratzinger. Moreover, it was not even an official pronouncement from the CDF. Therefore, to say that one is “reading Francis through Benedict ” is erroneous.

  32. jacobi says:

    Reponse to 1. On the plane . Witnessed by Heaven’s knows how many reporters and photographers. No denial or official correction.

    Response to 2. Agreed, and his duty as Keeper of the Keys, is to preach the Gospel of the one True Church established by Christ for the Salvation of Mankind with clarity, precision and directness, not ambiguity.

    Response to 3. At least we agree he has to judge. That was my point. John 20 :23. I presume Christ knew that that judgement had to be on the basis of whatever the priest was able to ascertain, but in any case there is direct authority from Christ to the Apostles to act “in persona Christi” and to judge.

    If that is heretical then the whole thing becomes a joke and we might just as well all go down to the pub and forget it all – which of course is what a staggering number of Catholics have done in the post-Vat II collapse.

    Now we are going round in circles. Last word to you, and peace be with you . Over!

  33. jacobi says:


    My apologies. Should have ended with Out!, and not Over! To say Over when you have switched off is rude since you are asking the other person to speak to nothing.

  34. jhayes says:

    acardnal, In my first post, i wrote “In 1993, Cardinal Ratzinger spoke on ecumenism and said that the goal is not uniformity but what Oscar Cullmann called “reconciled diversity.”

    In, my second post, I wrote “In his 1993 speech to the Waldensians (quoted above), Benedict said that arriving at one church is the long term goal, but that is really in God’s hands.”

    Sorry, that was careless of me, but not intentional. I was referring to the same speech both times. Cardinal Ratzinger was Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith in 1993, He became Benedict in 2005.

  35. acardnal says:

    jhayes, I think you missed my point.

  36. jhayes says:

    acardnal, I responded to your factual point about my reference to “Benedict” vs.”Cardinal Ratzinger”.

    I elected not to engage a debate on what statements made by Joseph Ratzinger are useful in “Reading Francis through Benedict.” I accept that you have a different view of that than I do.

  37. Suburbanbanshee says:

    The point was not that Cardinal Ratzinger was advocating some kind of non-conversion; but that he was saying that until we are one, we shouldn’t paper over our differences in theology and practice, AND we should act as much like Christian brothers and sisters as we can _while_ understanding that those differences are deep and real.

    Meanwhile, over in Pope Francis Land, of course the man said he wasn’t trying to “convert” Evangelical Christians. Christians “reconcile with the Church,” because even unbaptized Christians have already “converted” and baptized Christians are already members of the Catholic Church. (Even if they’re not aware of the fact.)

    Sighhhhhh. I agree, that’s kinda like the theologian-version of trolling. But seriously, if that was all the man said, you’d have no complaint. This is right up there with all the complaints about “Who am I to judge?” and almost nobody pointing out it’s a relevant reference the Epistle of James:

    “There is One Lawgiver and Judge that is able to destroy and to deliver.
    But who art thou that judgest thy neighbour? “

  38. laud1645 says:

    As Fr Forrest (an anglican clergyman and poet) wrote in one of his books in response to the 1958 decision of the Swedish state church to do the same….

    O Bishopess, your lipstick doesn’t tally with your cassock,
    Your sharp stiletto heels are both embedded in your hassock,
    Your hair is loose, you really ought to learn to tie it tighter,
    Or bind in in a bundle with the ribbons of your Mitre.
    (Chapter & Verse -Fr.S.J.Forrest)

  39. Ben Kenobi says:

    “[We can still play skittles together and then go for a pint afterwards.]”

    I have not had such a hearty laugh in a long while. Thank you Father Z. you’re a national treasure.

  40. Ben Kenobi says:

    “And when she wants to go to Rome and have a tete a tete photo op with whomever the Holy Father is at that point, just as her predecessors have all done of late, what will the Pope do?”

    “It is my pleasure to meet such an esteemed member of the Church of England!”

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