Gender Reversal and the Church in Wales

A curious little response from the Bishop of Fulham on the Church in Wales and its vote in favour of women bishops (without any complex schemes to protect ardent anti-women-bishop-people’s views.)

“We cannot see how a female bishop could be what a diocesan bishop should be – a Father in God and a focus of unity for all within his diocese.”

Well quite. I take it that the Bishop and his organisation believe women can’t be focuses of unity because some people won’t accept them. Because they’re women. Which is a bit self  fulfilling. If that’s the argument, imagine putting the word “black” where “female” is, and sending the message back 40 years in a time capsule. That all people won’t accept the leader is not a good reason for them not to be a leader.

So then we have the “Father in God”. I know that’s what the licensing letters from bishops to new clergy in their posts say. And we might have to reword that when we get female bishops, but that hardly seems to be beyond the wit of carbon-based ape-descendants. But to me a bishop is a pastor, an administrator, a prophet, an inspirer, a dreamer and a healer of divisions. There’s no particular arrangement of your lesser-mentioned bodily regions required to achieve any of those things. Is it true that a woman can’t have dreams, comfort broken hearts, build bridges and do the paperwork? The  latter, in particular, having been women’s work since the typewriter was invented. And if you think that mothers are somehow incapable of being focuses of unity, whereas fathers are great at it, I would like to spend a few hours droning on about every Cockney matriarch I’ve ever known – the unity they enforce on their families – both atomic and extended – whether they wanted it or not. And then I’ll tell you all about such great fatherhood role models as Simon Cowell, Ghengis Kahn and Charles II.

In the years after the First World War, tens of thousands of British women brought up their families without their husbands being around. They had to care for the kids, and somehow find enough to bring in to keep them alive. They had to be – in the stereotypes of the time – both mother and father to their families. And if women could bring up anything up to ten kids, with no father to help, in the 1920s slums of London – don’t tell me being a bishop is beyond them.

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5 thoughts on “Gender Reversal and the Church in Wales

  1. I’m not (any longer) an Anglican – Reflex or otherwise! – so I don’t really have a right to comment… But all these divisions are so sad. It’s a struggle to understand the views so passionately held by those we disagree with, especially when (as it often seems) one side can get to use all the PC soundbites, while the deeper issues can get overlooked in the process.

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  2. Thanks for this. After the profoundly serious and respectful debate on Thursday and the overwhelming vote in favour, my joy was a little dented by the Bishop’s ungracious statement. However, having lived and ministered in Wales for many years and having been among that first group of women to be ordained priest in 1997, I know that in Wales, unlike England, we managed to hold together afterwards and not a single cleric took the money and ran. Surely we can do it again.

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