Sarah Coakley writes from a theological perspective on the current state of affairs in the Anglican church involving women priests (allowed) and women bishops (still not allowed due to the squeakingly narrow defeat of a recent vote). She pulls no punches as she asks
Has the Church of England finally lost its reason? Women bishops and the collapse of Anglican theology.
The most dangerous element in this long-running saga has been insidiously hidden under an almost farcical set of pragmatic and political attempts at compromise, attempts to “protect” conservatives from the visceral dread of female authority. In short, the real issues are theological, and it is the Church’s current theological amnesia and confusion which is preventing it from thinking straight, let alone extending its honourable and distinctive traditions of ecclesiology to meet this new challenge.
She later goes on to say,
[T]he preceding twenty year hiatus in our church’s life, during which time women have been able to be ordained to the priesthood but barred from the episcopate, represents as I see it a lapsing into theological incoherence more powerful and damaging than any I can think of in Anglican history. But as it is left to our Roman Catholic and Orthodox interlocutors to remind us, there is no such thing, in a theo-logic of any veracity, of a legitimately-ordained priest who is inherently banned from the episcopate by gender. . . . So what we have created in the past twenty years is a theological anomaly which has insidiously been made to seem normal: a whole cadre of priests – a third of our priesthood now – who are supposedly intrinsically disabled from exercising the charisms of spiritual unity and authority historically associated with the episcopate. It is here that the main theological scandal still lies: the implicit creation and normalization of second-class priesthood. The terrible danger is that this may now be extended into second-class episcopacy.
Do click through and read the whole thing. She writes clearly about the historical development and current understanding of the bishop as the locus of unity, the status of reason as a source of Anglican theology, and (in an excellent turn of phrase) the dangers of the “secular bureaucratization of the episcopate.”
(That last item also thoroughly plagues the Roman Catholic church, I believe, although I read it a little differently than she does. But that would be another post entirely. 🙂 )