The second event on the Provincial level is the completion of the five-year study of the Task Force on Holy Orders, concerning the ordination of women, and the meeting of the College of Bishops to discuss the report for the first time at a conclave in Victoria, British Columbia, in early September. At the end of the meeting, a Statement was released stating where we are in this continuing controversy that divides us. It was the first time that all the Bishops went on record by stating their position on this issue. It was evident that no Bishop had changed his mind as a result of the study and that a majority of the Bishops are opposed to the ordination of women priests on biblical and theological grounds.
It is interesting to note that when Archbishop Robert Duncan appointed the Task Force, he charged them with doing a study of the issue of women in holy orders, but instructed them not to come to a conclusion or to make any recommendation as to how to resolve the debate. The report simply summarizes the arguments for and against. This is in stark contrast to a similar study done by the Anglican Mission in America several years ago, known as the Rodgers Report, which concluded that women cannot be ordained bishops or priests, while leaving open the door to the possibility of women deacons. Those of us who agreed to the formation of the ACNA in 2009 did so with the clear understanding that a serious theological study would be done and that a decision would be made at that time.
So where are we? Most ACNA bishops and dioceses are opposed to women priests, but as it presently stands, the ACNA Constitution says each diocese can decide if it will ordain women priests or not. We now need to work with other dioceses to amend the Constitution to remove this provision. As you know, women bishops are not permitted in any diocese, and no bishop wants to change that prohibition.
I would underscore that the recent Bishops’ statement declares that the ordination of women “is a recent innovation to Apostolic Tradition and Catholic Order” and that “there is insufficient warrant to accept women’s ordination to the priesthood as standard practice.” Needless to say, the women priests and their supporters are very unhappy about that.
We are in a state of impaired communion because of this issue. The Task Force concluded that “both sides cannot be right.” At the conclave, I informed the College of Bishops that I will no longer give consent to the election of any bishop who intends to ordain female priests, nor will I attend the consecration of any such bishop-elect in the future. I have notified the Archbishop of my resignation from all the committees to which I had been assigned to signify that it is no longer possible to have “business as usual” in the College of Bishops due to the refusal of those who are in favor of women priests to at least adopt a moratorium on this divisive practice, for the sake of unity. Bishops who continue to ordain women priests in spite of the received tradition are signs of disunity and division. I hope these brief comments give you a better understanding of where we are and what my intentions are for future discussions about this issue which must take place.