Further to my previous two postings on this subject, it's worth pointing out that, in the US, the Episcopal Church there has elected Katherine Jefferts Schori as it's first leader by a narrow vote of 95-93.
This is only to be expected, considering the fact that the Episcopal Church in North America has women bishops, that it was only a matter of time before one of them was elected Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church USA.
But it is not going to be helpful in the problems the church is facing worldwide. They are already difficulties over the consecration of Gene Robinson as Bishop of New Hampshire, although that is another story.
What do I think about this? Well the same as I do over the current problems in the Church of England, which I will metion shortly. I feel a bit torn, on one hand I almost wish the americans hadn't elected Schori, because it will rock the boat and could cause all sorts of problems. Whereas I happen to agree with the idea of women priests (although there was a time when I didn't), as I regard it as Biblical and morally right. That said, if I were a Roman Catholic, or a High Church Anglican/Episcopalian I would probably think differently on this, as my ideas on what defines the priesthood in general would be different. The question over Schori's election is not whether it is the popular or trendy thing to do, it is whether it is the right thing to do? Those who elected her believe it was the right thing to do, because, believe me, it would be easy not to, if only to have a relatively quiet life.
As for the Episcopal Church in the UK (otherwise known as the Anglican Church, or the Church of England), there is a debate at the moment as to whether to elect women as Bishops. Again, this is inevitable if women are already ordained priests. What I do find slightly distressing though, is that some Roman Catholics have called for a break in relations with the Anglican Communion if that happens, or rather a more frosty relationship.
I can understand why many feel that way. To take their view, the liberal wing of the C of E is behaving like a wiful petulant child, wanting things that, in their understanding, goes against 2,000 years of history, apparently refusing to consider their feelings and hurts over this issue, i.e. what's the point of continuing?
And because I once shared their views on this I can empathise, as some who are against women priests or bishops are not being sexist, rather there is the symbolism of the Church and who fits into what criteria that is being disrupted in their eyes. They would argue that there are female saints and female doctors in the Church, and yes, there is also the Virgin Mary.
But I urge the Roman Catholic Church not to freeze relations. I cannot see it as being helpful at all and we have much to learn from each other. Speaking as a Methodist, we have women priests and bishops (or rather ministers and chairs of districts), and yet we have fairly good relations with both the Roman Catholic and Anglican Churches.
Another aspect of this is that there are aggressive minorities within both the liberal and evangelical wings of the Church, who are keen to whip up this issue in order to enforce a few points and settle a few scores against various groups. We must not let them because they want the anglican community to split and make their own stamp on the Episcopal Church worldwide, and if nothing else such behaviour is a long way from how Jesus Christ behaves.