No Women Bishops in New Anglican Province, says Anglo-Catholic Bishop

david at david at
Thu Jan 22 22:39:13 EST 2009

No Women Bishops in New Anglican Province, says Anglo-Catholic Bishop 
"There Will Never Be Another Traditionalist Bishop in TEC"

By David W. Virtue in Charleston, SC 

The Bishop of the Diocese of Ft. Worth, The Rt. Rev. Jack L. Iker said there will be no women bishops in the new province - the Anglican Church in North America (ACNA).

Speaking to participants at a three-day theological conference under the banner "Engaging Secularism and Islam, The Church's Global Challenge & Opportunity" at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke and St. Paul in Charleston, Iker said it is for this reason that he has given his support to the initiative of the Common Cause Partnership to form the new North American province.

"Though we have our continuing differences over the issue of the ordination of women, Bishop Duncan and the CCP lead bishops have given assurances that there will be no women bishops in the new Province and that the historic, traditional theological position on this matter will be protected, respected and welcomed."

The bishop said that Anglo-Catholic participants have called for a thorough theological and biblical study on the issue of the ordination of women as a top priority in the new province. 

"It must give due consideration to the reality that the Roman Catholic Church and the Orthodox Church, which together comprise over 80% of the world's Christians, have already spoken on this issue and that unilateral actions on our part have already seriously damaged ecumenical relations for the future. Are we willing to submit to the mind of the whole church? Are we really committed to abiding by common consent as determined by general councils?"

Iker said that The Diocese of Fort Worth believes that it has an ecclesial future in the new Province, a future that was denied them in The Episcopal Church. 

"This new provincial reality will mean the recognition of overlapping jurisdictions, under one College of Bishops, with affinity based networks, clusters and dioceses. With this comes for us the assurance of the continuation of a line of apostolic succession that upholds the historic, catholic position of an all male priesthood and episcopate. It means a freedom to hand on the apostolic tradition as we have received it, without addition or change.

"It will mean participation in the continuing GAFCON movement on an international basis, under the guidance of the Primates' Council - though Anglo- Catholics might confess to being somewhat uncomfortable with the evangelical predominance of the movement. Here in the (United) States it must also mean collaboration and ongoing communication with those who remain in TEC under the Communion Partners initiative. 

"While we recognize that some cannot leave or choose not to leave TEC for all kinds of reasons, we are reminded daily of many others among us who have decided that we cannot remain within TEC. Nonetheless, we must pray for one another and endeavor to cooperate together on mutual goals, and we must pursue a shared mission and witness in the world as fellow Anglicans."

Iker said that while the Bishops of TEC continue to depose clergy for realigning with other Provinces of the Communion, "we must bridge the gap and refuse to recognize such depositions, affirming that they remain validly ordained clergy members of the Anglican Communion. With mutual respect and brotherly affection, Common Cause Bishops must extend the right hand of fellowship to the Communion Partners Bishops, with an invitation to work ever more closely together, not at odds with one another, in addressing the challenges that are before us."

Citing former Archbishop of Canterbury Geoffrey Fisher, Iker said that the Anglican Church "has no faith of its own, but only the Catholic faith of the Catholic Church enshrined in the Catholic creeds." 

The traditionalist Bishop said that his recent decision to pull his diocese out of the Episcopal Church and bring it under the Province of the Southern Cone occurred because he had reached the sad conclusion that those who affirm the historic position of an all male priesthood and episcopate have no future in The Episcopal Church of the U.S., nor in the Anglican Church of Canada. He said it is likely to become the same in the Church of England in the near future.

"Instead of holding a position of integrity and respect, we have been outlawed in our own church. Conscience clauses have been rescinded, mandatory canons have been adopted, and the open process of reception declared at an end. There will never be another bishop who holds the traditional theological position in either TEC or the Canadian Church. Is there a future for us in Anglicanism? That remains to be seen."

Iker said that at the 2008 Lambeth Conference, he attempted to have this concern recorded as a part of the official reflections of the conference without success. 

"I attempted to have the Reflections Group record a concern that the open process of reception be reaffirmed in Anglicanism. I spoke about it in my indaba group where the listener recorded it and handed it in. I spoke of it again at a plenary session of the whole conference. I then put it into writing and submitted it to the Reflections Group, which was charged with gathering and publishing the conversations and reflections from the conference, but all to no avail. "

Iker said that when he inquired about this with one of the sixteen designated listeners, Gerry Wolf of Rhode Island, she told him that "they" had decided that my concern should be passed on to the Windsor Continuation Group or perhaps to the Covenant Design Group. Only Canon Gregory Cameron knows for sure what became of it (or where it was buried).

"In the absence of any meaningful overtures from the official American and Canadian leadership, and no proposals for effective alternative oversight, and amid a determination to press on with scandalous and acrimonious litigation, there is probably no option now other than a third North American province."

To Read Bishop Iker's full speech click here:


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