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The "wound" of Mutual Flourishing

Saturday, November 23, 2019

I notice that a Dr Gabrielle Thomas has published an article in Ecclesiology about the fact that CofE Women Ministers believe "mutual flourishing" to be damaging to their ministry and feel that they are assumed to be flourishing automatically. They feel that they have to be the ones to make sacrifices so that a minority within the Church of England who cannot accept the ordination of women can flourish.

There is a lot of talk of victimhood, of unkind rejection and active hatred displayed towards Women Ministers by those who disaffirm their ministry. What I hear is appalling and demonstrates a lack of Christian charity. That needs to stop.

However, I am concerned that organisations such as WATCH play the victim card in order to score the emotive point while, at the same time, never addressing the actual issue: if someone does not believe that a woman can minister in the CofE how can that one worship with a woman minister if to do so means affirming that which they cannot accept.

The point is that there is victimhood on both sides. A woman minister finds her ember cards torn up and placed in her pigeonhole. A non-affirming Reader finds himself compelled by the female Rural Dean to affirm her ministry in an hitherto unknown "renewal of commitment". A woman minister receives "hate mail". A minister of SSWSH is labelled "sexist" and "bigot". A women minister feels that "Mutual Flourishing" means "being grateful and keeping quiet". A non-affirming suffragan bishop is prevented from becoming Diocesan by those who think that he can never be a focus for unity for those who affirm women's ministry.

It all sounds like six of one and half-a-dozen of the other, doesn't it?

Of course, the victimhood of the straight white male is inferior to everyone else's victimhood. Interesting that ending victimhood means pushing it all onto the straight white male. Why not seek to end it wholesale?

What is utterly clear is that Dr Thomas is absolutely right. Mural Flourishing is anything but. It is a compromise that pushes underground the battle for the Catholic Faith in the CofE. The sad fact is that the Catholic Faith in the CofE is to all intents and purposes extinct. Forward in Faith is now an elephant's graveyard where the Catholic Priesthood has come to die. Every time WATCH open its mouth, there is silence from SSWSH. 

If the CofE truly wanted mutual flourishing then it would have told FiF that it could walk away with buildings, parishes, pensions and the blessing of the CofE. At least women ministers could be protected and Catholic parishes allowed to thrive apart.

However, I would still very much like to hear how forcing people of differing views on women's ministry to worship together would encourage flourishing. I have never heard WATCH answer that question, mainly because it seems that they simply cannot countenance the possibility that someone does not accept that women can be priests. If only they would stop forcing women to be perpetual victims and actually address the issue head on.

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