Magazine article Anglican Journal

Female Bishops Opt out of Pre-Lambeth London Visit

Magazine article Anglican Journal

Female Bishops Opt out of Pre-Lambeth London Visit

Article excerpt

A Church of England priest has criticized the women bishops in the Anglican Communion for having cancelled a proposed meet-and-greet tour of the English church last month.

Rev. Donald Reeves, rector of St. James' Church, near London's Piccadilly Circus, called the cancellation "discourteous", especially, he said, after all of the bishops had originally enthusiastically accepted his invitation.

Mr. Reeves, who issued the invitation a year ago, said he proposed the visit in order to allow the bishops to meet together and to allow the English to meet the women bishops and become more comfortable with the idea of women in the episcopacy.

When the ordination of women was introduced in England, he said, women priests were often met with hostility. "But when (people) actually met a woman priest, lots of things changed. So I had the simple idea: let them meet some women bishops. Then, maybe when the debates come in synod, people may not be so frightened and hostile hostile about the whole thing."

Bishop Victoria Matthews, the only Canadian in the group, said she was initially excited about the invitation, when she believed Bishop Penelope Jamieson, diocesan bishop of Dunedin, New Zealand, would be coming. It showed promise, she said, that St. James had a commitment from the bishop who was furthest away.

"Then I had gotten a fax saying (Bishop Jamieson) was now not going to come. Then, Barbara Harris (suffragan Bishop of Massachusetts) told me she was not going to be able to come, at which point it ceased to be a meeting of women bishops.

"I think St. James, Piccadilly, may be crying over spilt milk."

Apart from bishops Matthews, Harris and Jamieson, there are six other women bishops in the Anglican Communion: Marry McLeod (Bishop of Vermont); Geralyn Wolf (Bishop of Rhode Island); Carolyn Irish (Bishop of Utah); Catherine Waynick (co-adjutor bishop of Indianapolis); Jane Holmes Dixon (suffragan bishop of Washington); and Catharine Roskam (suffragan bishop of New York).

The other factor in the decision was what Bishop Matthews called "the rather hostile media lamp in England ... there was some hesitancy whether there was total good faith on behalf of the English press, so I think there was sufficient reluctance for us to gather," she said.

"That's ridiculous," Mr. Reeves responded in an interview. "They certainly would have had the lamp of the British media on them ... but I'm quite good and experienced at managing the media in Britain so it would have been done in a good way, whereas now they'll be here next year for the Lambeth Conference and there will be a lot of attention to them. …

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