Questions have been raised recently about the nature and efficiency of Anglican Orders in the wake of the re-ordinations of the former (and retired) PEVs. Letters to Church papers, official statements, homilies and various blogs have each put a different ‘spin’ on this issue, but the photos of former clergy wearing collars and ties from whom many have received Communion, absolution and even Ordination is bound to produce strong feelings .
The ever-watchful Bishop Colin Buchanan has raised the question of ‘how’ and ‘when’ those leaving the Priesthood within the Church of England effectively ‘laicised’ themselves and how ‘Sacramental assurance’ can be argued for so passionately on the one hand only (and ultimately) to be denied by submitting to re-ordination. He may have a point. The donning of the aforementioned collars and ties after final Anglican masses, the ‘laying up’ of Churchwarden’s staves and Bishop’s crosiers before statues is certainly romantic, but no one seems terribly willing or able to articulate the underlying truth that it inevitably conveys.
Yes, former ‘ministries’ have been acknowledged and commended but what it really boils down to is the question of whether an Anglican Priest is (or was) a validly ordained Priest? To that question there can only ever be one simple answer: ‘Yes’ or ‘No’. So which is it to be? Perhaps we should all have a little more sympathy for the way that Politicians often avoid giving straight answers to questions like these! Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not deliberately knocking those who have made this decision but, should I ever go the same way, I would want to be honest about what I was (or wasn’t) doing and what the ramifications were for myself and for others.