Sunday, July 30, 2006

Bishop Tom Wright answers Kasper on Women Bishops

Here’s one that has probably slipped under the radar of many Catholics. Most who have been paying attention to things ecumenical and the continued woes of the Anglican Communion will be aware of Cardinal Kasper’s frank but ultimately futile plea to the Church of England house of bishops not to go down the path of admitting women to the episcopate—although even he acknowledged that if you have already taken the step of ordaining women to the priesthood, consecration as bishops is logically the next step.

But what you may not be aware of is that a reply to Cardinal Kasper has been penned by no less a personage than the superlative historian of the New Testament and Anglican Bishop of Durham, Dr Tom Wright (in partnership with Bishop Stancliffe of Salisbury).

Taken together, these two papers could form the basis of a week long seminar on the future direction of Catholic/Anglican relations. As it is, I intend, over the coming weeks, to make some comments on Dr Wright’s paper. I have a huge respect for his work—although I share some of the frustration that our Anglican brethren and Sistern in Sydney have with him: namely, that while he is generally a conservative and evangelical defender of orthodoxy (for eg. he opposes the ordination of practicing homosexuals), he is very much in favour of the ordination (and hence consecration) of women.

Lutherans who take the time to read his arguments set forth in this reply to Kasper will note with some amusement that the arguments he puts forward for the ordination of women differ in no way from the arguments of the pro-WO camp in the LCA. This does not stop him from accusing Catholics of opposing the ordination of women because they interpret scripture through tradition, rather than taking scripture at face value. Lutherans—who do attempt to take scripture at face value quite apart from any sort of authoritative tradition—are still far from agreed that the pro-WO position is “scriptural”.

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