Wednesday, 9 July 2008

Positive Action from the Bishop of London.

This just in from London.....

Pastoral Letter from the Bishop of London. July 9th 2008.

Dear Friends,

You will be aware by now that the General Synod has voted for the legislative process to begin which will open the way to the consecration of women bishops, possibly as early as 2012. The majorities for this change were substantial in all three houses of bishops, clergy and laity. For many this will be a cause for rejoicing. As Paul says in Romans XII: 15, we are to “rejoice with them that rejoice and weep with them that weep”. The question remains of how to honour the promises made when women were ordained to the priesthood that those who could not accept the decision of General Synod as one authorised by scripture and tradition would continue to have a secure and honoured place in the life of our church. It was clear from the debate on Monday that there are profound doubts about whether a national code of practice could provide such a “secure and honoured place”.

I believe that the London Plan has provided a secure framework within which we have not only been able to live together in one church for more than ten years but we have been able in unity to address the agenda which God has put before us as a Christian community called to serve him at the beginning of the 21st century. In one of my speeches in this Synod which attracted rather less media attention than the events of Monday, I rehearsed some of the most significant challenges facing us as human race – “climate change, the flaws and forces of globalisation, the scramble for resources, the conjunction of weapons of mass destruction and the lethal ambitions of people with an apocalyptic view on life”. To these we might add some of the more pressing issues in our own country and Diocese – the violence on our streets and the waste of young life, the fragility of relationships particularly within the family, social fragmentation and the loss of a moral compass. All these will become more obvious as the euphoria generated by a booming economy is replaced by anxieties which the most vulnerable members of our community, those least able to insulate themselves, feel most acutely.

I believe that estrangement from God and ignorance of the work and person of Jesus Christ, God’s human face, lie at the heart of the challenge which the whole world faces. I am also convinced that only through one of the greatest and innermost renovations it has ever gone through will the world be saved and enabled to maintain itself. Our own Diocesan Synod has endorsed the London Challenge 2012 as a distillation of our corporate response to the agenda which God is putting before us in the suffering and turbulence of our world. It would really be a tragedy if we were to be distracted from this work which needs our combined prayer and energy. With all this in mind I am summoning a Sacred Synod for those who wish to consult about how to reaffirm and reinvigorate the London Plan. We shall be able to discuss the potential of the Plan for keeping open that “secure and honoured place” which has been promised to those who share the Great Commission of Jesus Christ to make disciples of all the nations but whose convictions do not enable them to accept that the consecration of women as bishops is authorised by scripture or tradition.

I am grateful to the Rector of All Souls, Langham Place, Hugh Palmer for making his church available for this gathering on Friday October 3rd. This date is some days before the next meeting of the House of Bishops and I hope that it may be possible as a result of our deliberations to make a substantial contribution to the thinking of the House.

With thanks for our partnership in the Gospel.

The Rt Revd & Rt Hon Richard Chartres DD FSA