Townsville ecumenism expert Bishop Michael Putney says that the forthcoming ordination of Australia's first female bishop for the Anglican diocese of Perth will "deepen the obstacle" to reconciliation between the Catholic and Anglican communions.
"When the Anglican Communion worldwide began to ordain women priests, the Catholic Church made it clear to them that this was a further obstacle to reconciliation between our two Communions," Bishop Putney, who chairs the Australian Bishops' Commission for Ecumenism and Inter-religious Relations told The Catholic Weekly.
He was commenting on the news that Rev Canon Kay Goldsworthy will be consecrated a bishop in Perth's Anglican St George's Cathedral on May 22.
"Ordination for women is a doctrinal issue, not just a practical issue for us. The ordination of women bishops enhances that obstacle because bishops are the leaders of the Church and even within the Anglican Communion that leadership will be received ambiguously," Bishop Putney said.
"Some will not accept it, even within the Anglican Communion, so it enhances the obstacle to reconciliation.”
He added: "But in fact it doesn't change, it is the same doctrinal issue. It just makes it more complex. "We will continue to dialogue and continue to collaborate, and ultimately with all things to do with ecumenism it's in God's hands to help us to find the way forward."
Bishop Putney says from a Catholic perspective because we don't believe that we're able to ordain women for doctrinal reasons, "we must ensure that the role of women within the Church in every other way is strong, that women have equal participation to men in every other way within the life of the Church".
"We can't see how we can ordain women as priests from a doctrinal point of view,” he said. “It's not a question of us choosing not to, it's a question of us being seen that we're unable to."
In announcing the appointment of Australia's first women bishop, the Anglican Archbishop of Perth, the Archbishop Roger Herft, said "we in the Church of Perth continue our unwavering commitment to Christ's gospel by recognising women and men as equal partners in the world".
Archbishop Herft said Archdeacon Goldsworthy was an outstanding candidate for the position.
Ordination of women bishops widens rift (Catholic Weekly, 27/4/08)
Bishop Michael Putney (Townsville diocese)