Wednesday, 5 August 2009

"Tainted" communion ...

Just over a week ago I celebrated communion. Week in, week out in my last parish appointment I celebrated communion at least twice a week and frequently more often. My vocation is to the word and sacrament. Of course many in the church throughout the world still use scripture to dispute a woman speaking, preaching or celebrating. Over the past ten days I have horrified at the story of "reserved untainted communion" being available at Blackburn cathedral to those who don't want to receive communion that has been consecrated by a woman.
Claims about this being about "trying to be inclusive" and "all being done very discreetly" are quite frankly a travesty of the eucharist. And they still dare to say "This do in remembrance of me" ...?
There is also an international ecumenical aspect to this. Blackburn is in a "local ecumenical partnership" (an LEP) with the German Protestant Landeskirche of Braunschweig. Sometimes I hear "ecumenism" (in this context usually relations with the Roman Catholic Church) being used as an excuse to not progress with women's ordination, to ministry, priesthood or as bishops. Interesting isn't it that noone seems to worry over much about what theologically dubious, "discreet" measures like this may have on ecumenical relations.

You can read more about it in David Watkinson's article from the Lancaster Telegraph:

CATHEDRAL bosses have been criticised for offering “untainted” Communion bread for those who object to it being consecrated by a woman priest.

Opponents in the church have branded giving those who object to women priests the alter-native of Communion bread consecrated by a man as “unacceptable and disgraceful”.

Blackburn Cathedral has introduced the choice in the wake of the installation of Dr Sue Penfold as a residentiary canon.

The cathedral’s canon, Andrew Hindley, defended the arrangement.

He said: “It was agreed by all the clergy and cathedral chapter that this was the best way to handle what we call a mixed economy.”

He said the congregation could choose whether to receive Communion blessed by Dr Penfold, or Communion blessed by a male priest, at the main cathedral service on Sundays at 10.30am.

Canon Hindley added: “The position of the Dean and the Bishop is well known.

"This situation is not ideal, but we are trying to be inclusive.”

He said Dr Penfold was appointed to Blackburn Cathedral to reflect the “broad views” of the Church of England.

An announcement was made to worshippers when the policy was introduced last year, but the policy is implemented in a “very discreet manner”, according to Canon Hindley.

But Sally Barnes, from the group Women and the Church (WATCH), said: “To turn it into a buffet is unacceptable and disgraceful.

“Women are being labelled as tainted.

“Women are not tainted, but the hierarchy of the church is not able to grapple with this.


Songbird said...

I've been hesitant to write about this since it's not my tradition, but the use of the word "tainted" is truly disturbing. Let's hope this is a sort of last gasp of those who object to women as priests.

Jane said...

Thanks for the comment Songbird. It isn't my tradition either but when you are Enlish everyone assumes you are an Anglican. What even one small part of the Church of England does can have disproportionate impact on how the whole of teh church is seen.