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Special meeting of the House of Laity

New Directions editorial

We are appalled by the news that there is to be a special meeting of the House of Laity of the General Synod to have a vote of no confidence in the Chairman of the House of Laity, Dr Philip Giddings. Dr Giddings spoke up for proper and fair provision for those who in conscience cannot accept the ordination of women to the episcopate. He has been accused of impartiality, a charge not levied against those leaders in other Houses who spoke out firmly in favour of the legislation and indeed in one case against any provision whatsoever for us.

Dr Giddings is assured of our thanks and our prayers over the coming months. It is sad when a person stands up for a minority and acts in a completely Christian way that he is hounded by his peers and by clergy and bishops. All along we have been told that we need to trust the process of the Synod; sadly it would seem it is one rule for us and one rule for others.

In response to Bishop Jonathan Baker’s fine reflection on the vote in synod the website ‘Thinking Anglicans’ has been awash with misconceptions and in some cases simple untruths. Many commentators have become fixated with the idea that there is a See of Ebbsfleet. Given that Ebbsfleet is a suffragan see of the Archbishop of Canterbury and on the official advert declaring a vacancy in the see it was called the See of Ebbsfleet, one wonders why people are getting so irate. It is of course because they dislike what the See of Ebbsfleet and indeed the other Catholic sees stand for. They dislike the sense of coherence around a bishop that has grown up in our constituency. They cannot understand the world in which we operate, supporting one another and meeting together, because we share a common faith and a common vision.

We must continue, in the months ahead, to build up that common life through Forward in Faith, the Catholic Societies and perhaps most importantly The Society. We have a great work to do, a work that must be focused on mission and the building up of the Church. In 1992, when the legislation to ordain women to the priesthood passed by a mere two votes, it was assumed that those of us who were opposed to this innovation would simply disappear. That is not the case; we continue to grow, we continue to foster vocations to the sacred priesthood and we continue to serve the people of God. The failure of the legislation in the Synod has given us time to reflect and to pray and to work for the furtherance of the Gospel with love and understanding. This should not be a time for blame and hatred but for reconciliation and love.

Let us therefore this year, as a constituency, rededicate ourselves to the work of the Church, to the work our constituency has always been so important in doing. Let us continue to have ecumenical conversations and keep the ecumenical project on the map. Let us continue to work and to teach in our parishes and our schools. Let us rededicate ourselves to supporting the religious life and working for vocations to the sacred priesthood.

We must support our local parishes who work with us to further the Catholic faith as we have received it. So this year let us make an extra effort to support the work of the Additional Curates Society, or to go on that pilgrimage we have been meaning to go on for years, or to return to support the patronal festival in the neighbouring parish. Despite what people might say, let us show ourselves to be a viable constituency and loving and caring witness to the Catholic faith.

We must continue to pray for and support our bishops that they will be worthy pastors of the flock and that they will continue to witness to the faith given to us from the Apostles, that they would not be afraid to stand firm in the faith. The coming year and years may not be easy ones for us as a constituency but we must resolve to stay together and to work together so that the faith can be witnessed to, and hope and pray for the day when we can truly get off the political battlefield of synods and synodical wrangling and onto the mission-field to which we are all called. We must continue first and foremost therefore in prayer together and in the celebration of the sacraments. The sacraments must continue to be at the centre of our life together as we seek to further the mission of the church through study, social action and prayer. ND


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