WASHINGTON – Despite the decision of laity in the Church of England to reject the ordination of females as bishops, conservatives view the church as a failing organization.
Since the rejection last Wednesday, liberal observers in the Church of England, which is part of the worldwide Anglican Communion, have felt defeated. However, many conservative Anglican voices are equally negative.
According to Father Michael Harkness, a conservative Anglican priest in Lynchburg, Va., the Church of England is going the way of its sister American Episcopal Church, “drifting from her catholic and apostolic roots.”
“This whole matter of female bishops is merely a symptom, a fruit of the root problem,” he said. “It also shows how the church in our day is failing, becoming more culturally driven, self-needs oriented, an ancient temptation — see Israel of the Old Testament.”
Asked if the rejection of female bishops is a sign that conservatives could be rising in the Anglican Communion again, Harkness responded, “Absolutely not.”
He noted that the fact the proposal to authorize women bishops was defeated by only six votes shows it is hardly a reformation of thought in the Anglican church.
Despite the general pessimistic mindset of liberal ecclesiastical figures such as the bishop of Turo, Timothy Thornton, Harkness thinks the liberal elements will strike back and win.
Thornton said that the Church of England decision was “wrong” and described the Anglican hierarchy as out of touch with the laity.
With the current, left-leaning archbishop of Canterbury, Rowan William, stepping down and being replaced by the ultra-liberal Bishop of Durham, Justin Welby, Harkness believes that nothing of much significance will result from the decision.
He believes the liberal trends will continue, which was affirmed the following day when the bishop of Durham said “it is clear” the Church of England will eventually include females as bishops.
The pessimism by conservatives is validated by the massive change in mentality among Anglican believers. Some 74 percent think females should be ordained as bishops.
Because of the trend, there is a growing flight out of Anglicanism by conservatives who are seeking to hold to the traditional, apostolic faith. Many are fleeing back to the Roman Catholic Church, while others are turning to the Orthodox Church.