The Panel of Reference’s statement on women’s ordination

The Anglican Commuinion’s panel of reference has released a statement which you can find covered here, here and here.

The Living Church puts its this way: The Archbishop of Canterbury’s Panel of Reference has responded favorably to an appeal by the Diocese of Forth Worth which opposes an amendment to the Canons and Constitution of the General Convention making access to ordination mandatory for women in all dioceses.

ENS puts it this way: The Anglican Communion’s Panel of Reference has recommended that the Archbishop of Canterbury discuss with the Presiding Bishop the possibility of clarifying what it called the ambiguous wording of a 1997 amendment to the Episcopal Church’s ordination canon “so as to ensure that the permissive nature of the ordination of women is maintained in any diocese.”

“At the same time the apparent intention of the amendment to defend the interests of women candidates for postulancy, candidacy and ordination in a diocese that does not ordain women would be underscored,” the panel’s recommendation said.

The Fort-Worth Star-Telegram, which seems not to understand that the Panel makes recommendations, not rulings, put it this way: Women who want to be ordained as Episcopal priests may not be denied the chance by any diocese or church, but no diocese or parish will be forced to accept a woman priest, the Episcopal Diocese of Fort Worth was told Monday in an opinion issued by an international panel of the Anglican Communion.

I am not deeply versed on this issue, but I am told by people who are that the Panel’s ruling hinges on its misundertanding of our 1997 canon. The panel believes it is ambiguous. My correspondents tell me it is not. The canon gives latitude to a bishop who does not want to be personally involved in ordaining women. It does not give any diocese the right to reject female candidates, or to keep parishes from calling female clergy. As I say, I am not an expert here, but I haven’t seen this point of view expressed in any of the commentary yet.

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