Monday, December 1, 2014
It's a done deal. The Barque of Elizabeth has finally gone all-in for women bishops. We knew this was an inevitability, made all the moreso by Archlayman Welby's ascension to the See of Cranmer.
The Church of England overturned centuries of tradition on Monday with a final vote allowing women to become bishops, with the first appointments possible by Christmas.
Approval of the historic change, which was first agreed to in July, was announced after a largely symbolic show of hands at the General Synod, the lawmaking body of the Church of England. The British Parliament supported the measure last month.
“Today we can begin to embrace a new way of being the church and moving forward together,” the archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev. Justin Welby, said after the vote.
Two decades after the first female priest was ordained, the issue of women taking senior roles in the church hierarchy remains divisive. As recently as 2012, the proposal had been defeated by six votes.
But Archbishop Welby, the spiritual leader of the church and the global Anglican Communion, who supported the vote from the start, had warned fellow church leaders this year that the public would find the exclusion of women “almost incomprehensible.”
Which public? Are you including the folks in Africa on that? I'm thinking that a behind-closed-doors confab between Archlayman Welby and Cardinal Kaspar would be a hoot.
Anyways, this is another mile marker on the path of the Anglican Death March and a significant one.
With that in mind, I direct your attention to some great articles by Philip Jenkins (who isn't Catholic in case you're looking for bias) entitled The Church Vanishes, as he focuses on the collapse of Episcopalianism in America. Part One can be found here and is noteworthy for the following comment:
In conclusion, I just offer one wholly scientific theory that I just invented: The numerical growth and success of a religious denomination is inversely proportionate to the favorable treatment it receives in major liberal media outlets (New York Times, Washington Post, Nation, New Republic). Examples? The Episcopal Church USA versus Mormons or Catholics; Episcopalians/Anglicans in North America versus Africa.
Heh. It's a pretty good observation, but plenty of people will shout about the difference between correlation and causation to ignore the obvious here. At least one of the Anglicans' own is recognizing that the road of public approval ends in self-annihilation.
The real gem from Mr. Jenkins comes in Part Two, though, in his discussion of the recent declines in Anglican faithful:
If we extrapolate that rate into the not-too-distant future, then the number of people attending Episcopal churches on a typical Sunday will be negligible by mid-century, typical of a tiny sect rather than a great church or denomination. It won’t reach zero for a while, but in effect, the church will cease to exist. We might need a new vocabulary of religious decline. How about church evaporation?
That mid-century date is really not far off. In fact, the baby baptized at my church last Sunday will by that point only be a young adult in her 30s.
Non-attending notional members will persist for a few years longer, but by the end of the century, we should be talking total disappearance.
In that scenario, America’s last Episcopalian walks among us today.
Holy smokes. I wonder if anybody has done the math on the rest of the mainline Reformed groups. I doubt they're in much better shape.
We need a History Channel production starring Katharine Schori as The Last Episcopalian On Earth, wherein she wanders around a landscape of Anglicanorum Coetibus converts, calling them freaks, and trying to burn their churches down.