Monday 16 July 2012

A few weeks ago I wrote to you after the Bishops in the Church of England had agreed to include an amendment for the then forthcoming to the debate about the appointment of women as bishops, which would allow those who could not accept such appointments to be overseen by a male Bishop. This did not please women supporters and I quoted a statement reported to have been made by a Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, an interim principal at Durham University’s Ustinov College.

I wrote that if ever anyone wished to establish a case against women being appointed as bishops, the writing of The Rev Dr Miranda Threlfall-Holmes, in a recent blog would be sufficient. She had accused the Church of England of being an "abusive institution" and questioned whether women should stay or flee.

She then went on to suggest women’s exclusion entrenched sexist attitudes, causing serious consequences for women around the world; and alleged that rape, sexual abuse, violence against women and women's political and economic subjugation, are repeatedly justified on the basis that it is 'natural' and 'God-given' that women should be below men on some divine hierarchy.

It is hard to believe that a supposedly educated person could make such an astoundingly stupid statement. It is hard to credit that a proposed amendment from the Church of England would reverberate around the world in an aggressive reaction to women. To further suggest serious sexual crime would result is allowing the emotion to run berserk. Now she has been at it again.

She is quoted as stating that the point of having women bishops is to say the Church of England believes men and women are equal and made in the image of God. I was never aware that anyone in the Church thought otherwise, but what this woman doesn’t seem to realise is that being equal does not mean must be the same. As Melanie McDonough, the Evening Standard commentator forcefully remonstrated, the Catholic Church does not have women as bishops, and Catholics have never felt unequal.

One would assume that Miranda being a principal of a College is also a teacher of Scripture, in which case she should be aware that the Bible states (1 Corinthians 12) God decreed there should be various gifts given to different people. God never rated some as being more important than others. Was He being discriminatory then? God did through His chosen writers of the Bible decree that leadership in the Church should be male.

When women were ordained as priests all supporters imagined they would succeed in evangelism, more so than their male colleagues. The Church has continued to lose members, and whilst that is a reflection on both sexes, it reinforces the fact that the ordination of women was more to conform to society’s attitudes, which do not consider tradition or theology, and is more concerned with the issue of equality and diversity laws.

We proclaim in the Creed that we believe in one holy Catholic and Apostolic Church, yet we seem to anxious to break away from that Church and separate us from the (Roman) Catholic and Orthodox Churches. Can we not find another way of proving the dear old Church of England believes men and women are equal?

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