Equal before God

2008-07-17 00:00

This week Anglican bishops from around the world have gathered in Canterbury for the Lambeth Conference, a three-week consultation. Such conferences have met every 10 years since the first one in 1867 which, interestingly for this city, was occasioned by the controversial teachings of the first Bishop of Natal, John William Colenso. The conference is also shrouded in controversy in that a significant number of invited bishops, including many from Africa, are boycotting the event out of opposition to the church in the United States for its ordination in 2003 of Bishop Gene Robinson who lives openly in a homosexual partnership.

Meanwhile, the Church of England in its recent general synod in York agreed to accept women as bishops. This, too, has been controversial since there are those for whom such a step is thought to be a capitulation to

contemporary fashion and in conflict with ancient sacred texts. For many outsiders a decision in favour of having women bishops seems obvious and overdue. To them it is extraordinary that bodies such as the Roman Catholic church and the Eastern Orthodox churches have yet to countenance women priests, let alone the possibility of women bishops. The Church of England has made a bold decision grounded in careful theology and a due sense of justice.

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