In January of this year the bishops of the Anglican Church of North America, in a pastoral communication posted on its website, said,
In 2012, the task force [on holy orders] was asked to develop resources to help guide the bishops’ future discussions on holy orders in general, and the ordination of women in particular. At our meeting this week, the Holy Orders Task Force presented Phase 4 of their work to the college. The College thanked the task force for the hard work that they have done on this topic in just a few short years. Having received the report at this meeting, the conversation then turned to the timeline for addressing these issues.
The Phase 4 report is being formatted and combined with the previous documents from the task force. This report will be passed on to the GAFCON Primates and to our ecumenical partners for feedback, and released to the whole Church in late February.
It is now early April, and I can nowhere find the Phase 4 report that was to be “released to the whole Church in late February.” There may be good reasons for this delay, of course, but one wonders why, if there are, they have not been made public after more than a month’s wait.
My own belief, as I have stated earlier in Mere Comments, is that
This task force’s conclusions on Part 4 can easily be extrapolated from Part 3, where no convincing reason for the denomination-wide adoption of any one of what are presented in it as four family rules [“churchmanship” varieties] could be found. This is what one can expect in January from the Task Force, unless it is reconstituted or disbanded . . . . Here is what the Task Force will conclude : Arguments pro and con [on women’s ordination] . . . all carry some weight, but at the end of the day they are, taken as a whole, inconclusive because they are associated with conflicting and inconclusive ecclesiologies. On that account, for the sake of unity, no departure from the status quo, that is, the denominational acceptance of women’s ordination, can be urged. There you have it.
How, indeed, can one effect divorce in a godly manner, breaking the “family” in a dispute over “rules?” And just what kind of people would be willing to do this? Bad people, I daresay, very bad people, schismatic people who do not prayerfully seek for unity–so often the happy and peaceable fruit of doing precisely the wrong thing.
The bishops say they are not bound by these reports, but because such things are so often commissioned to deflect criticism from those responsible for the final decision onto an “advisory” body (this is how these shows operate), one wonders whether there might be a closer relation between the spirit of the bishops and the conclusion of the Reports than at present appears. But we don’t know yet, and must await developments. I am anxious to see whether I have been right about this business, and whether a mea culpa or an I Told You So is called for.