FOR many of us, the question in November's General Synod is not whether women can be admitted to the priesthood, but rather "by what authority?"
We question the right of the Church of England to take this step alone, as we believe that our Church's trust deeds are held within the One Holy Catholic Church of Christ.
Our ecumenical partners in this direction have left us in no doubt as to the consequences of a decision to take unilateral action.
How will such a move be seen against the recommitment towards the "restoration of visible unity and full ecciesial communion in the confidence that to seek anything else would be to betray Our Lord's intention for the unity of his people", made by Pope John Paul II and Archbishop Robert Runcie in only 1989?
What of the dialogue with the Orthodox Churches and others?
Many of the Church's current uncertainties have to do with the doctrine of Creation, in particular the nature and expression of sexuality. Perhaps some of its foundational blocks are defective, being in need of re-examination? Whilst we wish to promote a vigorous faith which is free to explore, we arc conscious that potential insights in the form of local resolutions may have to be regulated by universal responsibilities.
Such is the nature of Catholicity and for this reason we are unable to support November's legislation. Some have already made this position clear, but others of us have never signed anything before.
We are deeply saddened and frustrated by the pain this debate is inflicting within the Church we love, and we suspect that there are many clergy and laity in the country who do feel the same way.
Part of the agony is trying to discern authentic guidance, but in all this the Holy Spirit appear to be being treated like a child in a particularly messy divorce custody and access to be decided by the Synodical court.
The present climate is very difficult, often demoralising, and some of the dark rumours may well have frightened off many who would like to engage in open and constructive dialogue concerning the essential contribution of women's ministry.
Undermining the integrity of those with whom we disagree will do nothing to promote the search for truth.
In the meantime, our desire is to do all possible to create and maintain an environment in which all views are treated with respect and where all people are afforded the greatest possible courtesy. Such should be a hallmark of Christ's Church.
Rev Simon Everson and Revds Robert Fayers, Graham Preston, Nigel Worn, Paul Ensor, Tom Hopperton, Nick Richards Michael Shields, (Canon) David Diamond, David Garlick, (Canon) Peter McCory, Kevin Robinson, Ashley Beck, Philip Warner, Christopher Dawson, Albert Brown and Mr Teehan Page London SEll
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