Yet Another Woman Bishop: Ho, Hum.

While the Vatican wrings its hands over the “grievous sin” of the attempted ordination of women, yet another woman, Rev. Teresa Snorton, has been ordained bishop, this time in the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, in Mobile, Alabama. She is just the latest among many women formally recognized as bishop in modern times, including at least two lesbians:  Eva Brunne of the Swedish Lutheran Church, and Mary Glasspool, Episcopalian bishop in LA.

The Anglican communion has been ordaining women as bishop for over twenty years (the first was Barbara Clementine Harris, in Massachusetts, back in 1989). Since then there have been 17 more, including Dr Katharine Jefferts Schori, who is now the first female primate of an Anglican region. There are also Anglican bishops in New Zealand, Canada, Australia and Cuba (yes, really!).  The Church of England has approved the principle of women bishops, to tale effect from 2012. Female bishops have also been approved, but not yet appointed, by Anglican churches in Bangladesh, Brazil, Central America,  Ireland,  Japan,  Mexico,  North India,  Philippines,  Scotland, Southern Africa,  and Sudan.

The United Methodist Church in the US was the first mainline Protestant denomination to appoint a woman as bishop, Marjorie Matthews in 1980. There have been 2o more since. In Germany, Rosemarie Wenner has been the leading bishop in the United Methodist Church since 2005. The Lutheran church in Germany also  has women bishops, as they do across Europe. In the UK, the Lutheran Church ordained their first woman bishop, Jana Jeruma-Grinberga, in January 2009.

Don’t forget either the bishops of the Roman Catholic Womenpriests movement, South African Patricia Fresen, Austrian Christine Mayr-Lumetzberger and German Gisela Forster, or the powerful abbesses of the medieval church, whose authority in some instances exceeded that of their local bishops.

So, without any disrespect to Rev. Snorton, her selection as a female bishop, is of consequence primarily to her local community, her denomination, and her family and friends.  The ordination of female bishops, let alone priests, is now old news. Will someone please tell the Vatican?

From the Louisville Courier-Journal:

Kentucky native becomes first woman bishop of her denomination

The Rev. Teresa Snorton, a Hopkinsville, Ky., native who earned degrees at both of Louisville’s seminaries and started her ministry here, has become the first woman bishop in the 140-year history of her denomination. Read the rest of this entry »

Vatican Paper Asks: “Where Were The Women”?

For many years, it seemed that the institutional Church was content to ignore the unfolding stories of widespread sexual abuse by priests, or at best to address only the specific problems of individual perpetrators and the pain of victims. Recently, as the scale of the problems expands (Switzerland is the latest country reported to be investigating complaints) numerous observers have remarked on how swiftly the tone has changed, with an increasing number of high ranking prelates starting to talk about the real issues contributing to the enabling environment. Just in the past few days, Cardinals from Austria (Schonborn) and Brazil (Hummes) have been calling into question the rigid rule on compulsory celibacy.

Times have changed, and society too, and the Church will have to consider how this type of life can be maintained or what it has to change,” Salzburg Archbishop Alois Kothgasser said on Austria’s ORF television on Thursday evening.

In a diocesan newsletter, Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna said the Church had to ask difficult questions about the abuse scandals. “That includes the issue of celibacy and the personal development” of priests, he wrote.

-Reuters

The Catholic Church is studying ways to loosen the centuries-old requirement that priests abstain from sex in an effort to rebuild its image in the wake of pedophile scandals, Rome-based la Repubblica reported today. Brazilian Cardinal Claudio Hummes, who once said “celibacy is not a dogma,” is in charge of the project as head the congregation of the clergy, according to the report.

Business Week

Outside the ranks of the powerful others have been calling for greater lay participation in the selection and oversight of their bishops.

Now, right at the heart of the Vatican, the newspaper L’Osservatore Romano is suggesting that it is time to revisit that other church bugbear – the place of women. Read the rest of this entry »

Women as Property: The Biblical View

My recent post “Here Comes Everybody” at the Open Tabernacle drew a query in the comments thread from a prolific commenter, Mark, who asked for some substantiation of my statement that in the Biblical world, women were seen as property. Responding, I assured Mark that I had a post in preparation in which I would provide this. That post has now been completed in draft, but given the importance of this topic, I thought it would be helpful to discuss it first in its own, dedicated piece.

Even a cursory reading of the Hebrew Bible should make clear the appallingly low status of Hebrew women, and their complete dependence on their men folk. It is this very dependence that makes the story of Ruth and Naomi important: deprived of family and male support, they sustain each other, until at last they can re-establish economic security- by working together to arrange Ruth’s re-marriage.

 

Ruth and Naomi: William Blake

But to more fully appreciate the extent of women’s subservience, we need the help of writers who have looked more closely at the texts, and reflected on them to show us their significance. William L. Countryman is just one of many who have done this, but his book “Dirt, Greed and Sex”, with a full chapter on women and children as property in the Hebrew Bible, is the one I have at hand, and the one I have drawn on for what follows. Read the rest of this entry »