I was reading about ‘ordination’ today and thought it ought to be shared. So, before I go any further, for those who do not know what ordination is, I would quote its definition from Wikipedia. Ordination is basically a religious process by which a person is consecrated (i.e. set apart for the administration of various religious sites). Among some major religious groups, the ordination of women is a usual practice; however, in certain other religions, it remains a controversial subject. This commonly happens in religions where the rite of ordination is traditionally restricted to men. There might be various reasons for this restriction or its idea; be it something related to the prohibition of consecrating a woman based on the culture followed or due to the religious set of guidelines. In general traditions of Christianity, ordination refers to the method by which a person is included in one of the orders of bishops, priests or deacons. Now, what impelled me to read about this matter was the headline I read today on the Guardian. It said- ‘Church of England votes against women bishops.’
The possibility of women being admitted to the orders of deacon, priest and bishop has been on the agenda of the Church of England since at least 1966 when ‘Women and Holy Orders’ was produced for the Church Assembly. This issue has had decades of debates and throughout the world, the idea of women ordination has been discussed, favoured and even criticized. Yesterday, the Church of England had a voting session to reach the historic conclusion in regard with women priests. The legislation needed a two-thirds majority in the Synod’s three houses namely the bishops, the priests and the laity. (The Synod of Bishops, in the Catholic Church is an advisory body for the Pope comprising of bishops chosen from different regions of the world.) Both the bishops and priests voted whole heartedly in the favour of women bishops whereas the lay members voted 132 votes in favour and 74 against the proposal. If just six members of the laity had voted ‘for’ and not ‘against’ the idea, the measure would have been passed. The result significantly disappointed the campaigners who also warned that this decision would have a huge impact on the image of the Church as an institution against equality. Supporters further say that the pronouncement challenges the legitimacy of the ministry of every ordained woman throughout the Churches and religious institutions of the world and sends out a pessimistic message to the women community everywhere. Sister churches of the Anglican community in Australia, New Zealand, the United States and South Africa have already women serving as bishops.
Now, that the vote fell short of the two-thirds majority, the General Synod would have to start all over again. The officials of the Church of England say that it could take five years to put in order a new legislation and complete all the steps which would lead to a final voting. This defeat comes as an enormous blow to clergy women and is awful for their morale. The unwavering minority against ordination of women highly assert that this idea is plainly against the Bible and the Biblical principle of ‘male headship’. But, there are more supporters and lesser detractors of the movement. Over a thousand clergy of the Church of England had written an open letter to The Independent before the voting took place. The actual purpose behind writing this letter was to insist on the General Synod to vote in favour of women bishops. They highlighted several reasons citing Bible teachings like: ‘In Christ there is no male or female.” Also, they said that –‘Jesus treated women radically equally.’
The vote has left many distressed, miserable, emotional and at loss. People are strongly condemning the decision and the Church of England as well. It has been a sad and disappointing day for the huge population which supported the acceptance of women bishops. The world has changed and is changing constantly, for the better. The final verdict turns out to be a let-down but when I read about people’s views, I just realize that we are ready for transformation, we are ready to recognize and believe that it doesn’t have a bearing whether a priest is a woman or a man; what really matters is the piousness and the ability to hold the position of leading a religious community. Consequently, I am at this stage of mixed feelings, hanging between both good and bad. We all honestly need to stand up for what we believe in and eventually things would perk up; the world and its ideals would become more affirmative, more even-handed and tolerable. Where do you stand at the moment? With the good or the bad? Do leave your comments to let me know!
References: The Guardian, The Huffington Post, ChurchOfEngland.org , NBC29.com, Wikipedia, The Independent etc.