Wednesday, 29 September 2010

Wimmin and the Church

The estimable and patrimonial Fr Hunwicke has just posted a perceptive commentary on the forthcoming Society of Sts Wilfrid and Hilda (SWILH); he iterates all my own reservations about this society more eloquently and knowledgeably than I could do.
One comment struck me; he observes that more than half the priests in the CofE will shortly be women. Well, as a Catholic, it isn't really any of my business to tell the CofE what to do, but the sheer fact is interesting.
As in schooling, it seems that diocesan structures now favour the female of the species over the male.
A friend who is a (male) priest in the CofE tells me that nearly all (if not actually all) Diocesan Directors of Training (DDT) Ordinands are women. In addition there are posts for Diocesan Support for Women's Ministry, but no equivalent for men.
Furthermore, we both opined, the large number of half-time posts now offered in the Anglican dioceses will suit women very well indeed. Husband can work full time, wife can, as a part-time priest, get a much larger home than they would perhaps otherwise be able to afford, free, (thus saving mortgage payments or else collecting rents from the family home), and have lots of flexible time to spend with family as she needs it. Quite ideal, in fact, and though this would naturally be an option for men, too, the fact is that it would probably appeal far more to women.
Yup, I think that we will be seeing a lot more lady clergy in the future.

19 comments:

Alan Harrison said...

I'm an Anglican layman and, by postgraduate academic background, a sociologist of labour.

If the proportion of women among Anglican clergy cited in your blog post is accurate, this is a truly remarkable example of the feminization of a labour force. A very early example of this phenomenon was the way in which male clerks (of the Bob Cratchit kind, rather than those in holy orders) were replaced by women typists. In this case, the change could be attributed to the technological innovation of the typewriter.

The case of the C of E is harder to explain. Let us imagine a steady state, in which the numbers of clergy remain more or les constant, with retiring priests being replaced by their newly ordained brothers and, in this case, sisters. Priests now reaching retirement in the C of E will still probably mainly be those ordained at about the minimal canonical age, retiring after about 45 years' ministry. Over the period that women have been ordained (since 1994), we might expect about a third of priests to have retired. If EVERY retiring priest were replaced by a woman, that would amount to about a third of Anglican priests.

Either your source is mistaken, or something VERY strange is happening in the pattern of retirement and recruitment in the Church of England.

Andrew Jordan said...

At the risk of 1) digressing from the immediate topic and 2)sounding like a feminist (which I am not - but I do regard women as absolute equals), it's hard to find anything wrong with women assuming a greater share of power in its widest sense, regardless of discipline or industry.

Many women I know (including my own wife and mother) have proved that it is perfectly possible to be terrific mothers while also forging impressive careers, both during and after their childrens' infancy. This has been largely despite a general lack of flexibility in the workplace, but I'm happy to detect faint signs that this may be changing too.

And - at the risk of sounding naive and idealistic - more women in power might mean less angry men which can only help reduce our species' propensity for conflict and war. Which would be a very fine thing...

johnf said...

"Lady Clergy" Father?

The politically correct term (as heard on the BBC a certain Mr Tatchell so it must be right) is "Clergypersons".

Ugh!

As for women in power leading to less wars etc, the history of the last 50 years shows that when women have achieved the highest office in a country, they have led their country into war when it was policy to do so. No difference really in spite of what the sisterhood would have us believe.

Andrew Jordan said...

We can only live in hope Johnf!

Anonymous said...

What a dire prospect you identify. At this rate the distance between Rome and Canterbury drifts further apart with no hope of real co-operation, still less reconciliation.

B flat said...

Andrew Jordan: What do you mean by your term "absolute equals"?
You betray a prejudice for women as peace loving to differentiate them from men. So what do you understand by equality? You recognise difference of quality, so why not difference of aptitude, or difference of role?

I believe that my personal relationship with others (men and women) is something I have to work out according to Natural Law and within the framework allowed by society. Society does the same with regard to individuals.

Andrew Jordan said...

Wow, I didn't expect the Sapnish Inquisition! Sorry if my comment has annoyed or irritated you Bflat - perhaps this says more about you than me.

I think my meaning is quite obvious, that I do not regard myself as being innately superior to a woman because I am a male, and I respect their rights as equal to mine.

And best of luck with working out your personal relationships.

B flat said...

Andrew Jordan:
My observation was not a personal attack on you and, read objectively, puts a question, which is followed by my own observations on the matter under discussion.

What you describe as obvious, is clarified by your response as far from being so. You are talking about equality of women relative to yourself, NOT absolute equality.
That must be something altogether different, and may have been an interesting idea if you had explained it.

The question about women and priesthood is often confused by people substituting (1)what they want for themselves for (2)the discernible truth of what God intends for His people. The second is what the Church teaches within the Tradition as received from Christ through the Apostles.

Andrew Jordan said...

B flat, if use of such emotive words as "betray" and "prejudice" are examples of your objective observations, I would really hate to get on your wrong side.

As for the question of equality in society and between individuals, it is indeed an interesting one, but having clarified my position, I do not propose to get into a wider philosophical debate on this, not least so I don't risk further imposing on our host's hospitality.

I do understand and sympathise with your position on women in the Catholic Church, but I think that as it gets increasingly harder to attract new entrants to the Catholic priesthood, eventually the pressure to allow priests to marry will become too great to hold back, and this will likely have a knock on effect of the acceptance of women priests. I do accept that you will probably strongly disagree with this viewpoint, and I also readily agree that I may well be completely wrong. Time will tell.

I don't have anything more to add to this subject, so won't be commenting further, and will leave the last word to you, should you feel the need.

Sui Juris said...

I'm an Anglican priest, and not a sociologist of labour at all. My non-expert observation is that the pattern of ministry that our host describes is in practice a disastrous one.

Ignore the sex question for now, but a ministry set up on the assumption of an only partial commitment (and the further assumption that this is an advantage!) does not do justice to the Gospel. People quickly pick up the message that the faith is for when it can be fitted in.

Unless our actions (and our church structures maybe above all) match our teaching we are setting ourselves up to fail.

Little Black Sambo said...

Married priests don't necessarily lead to woman priests - it hasn't happened with the Orthodox.

Andrew Jordan said...

Ahhh! My evil twin has appeared. I feel like superman when he first encountered Bizarro. Womens ordination is heretical and an "outward and visible sign" that the C of E has embraced its protestant identity, and forever forfeited the claim to be Catholic.

Andrew Jordan said...

Ahhh! My evil twin has appeared. I feel like superman when he first encountered Bizarro. Womens ordination is heretical and an "outward and visible sign" that the C of E has embraced its protestant identity, and forever forfeited the claim to be Catholic.

Fr Petroc said...

As a traditional Anglican priest one is being increasingly confronted with a church that has lost credibility. The advent of women clergy has only added to this malaise.

Anonymous said...

Im an Anglican priest too. Frankly, I'm sick of the mind numbing beaurocracy of institutional Christianity. giles has gone to Rome. Good luck to him. I think the Quakers make better sense. I keep getting letters from St Wilfred, SSC ect/. Oh whata bore. These people need to get a life.
David

B flat said...

FR Petroc: That the CofE has lost its credibility in England is confirmed by statistics on church adherence and attendance. Whether this is aggravated by women clergy has not been proved, has it?

Does not credibility of a person depend on their consistency as much as on their high quality? The credibility of the Church depends upon its consistent adherence to what it once proclaimed as eternal Truth. This the CofE has failed to do with regard to either dogma or morals. The David(?) Jenkins' appointment as bishop of Durham, and the abandonment of the discipline on Marriage are two examples from living memory. Shifting ground has led to sinking in quicksand. Indeed, the CofE has shown itself powerless to resist in the last 150 years, because it is a creature of Parliament and absolutely subject to its laws and the decisions of the courts.

If a traditional anglican chooses to follow conscience, rather than ecclesiastical fashion in the CofE, then separation from the CofE is inevitable, either in a subgroup like FIF, or to another community of what seems to be the Catholic Church. The latter seems to me the only enduring option.

Andrew Bizarro Jordan (the one in Australia) said...

And there I was thinking I was the only one! Tell you what, for future posts, why don't you be Superman and I'll Be Bizarro or vice versa, you can choose!

shane said...

My experience is that the most vocal advocates for the ordination of women tend to be very middle-class and quite comfortable. They are seeking some sort of inner 'recognition'. The fact that they can't be priests irritates them and strikes them as an insult.

That's as much rooted in culture as ideology. The challenge for the Church is to cultivate an alternative femininity, more attractive than the flawed and failed liberal western model.

Andrew Superman Jordan said...

Brilliant. There is hope for you yet, Bizarro Andrew Jordan.