"Our Friends' Problems...."
It must have occurred to many Church of England bishops listening to his address at Lambeth Palace that while talking explicitly about the likely impact of women bishops on Anglican-Catholic relations, Cardinal Kasper could equally well have been addressing the split in the international Anglican Communion over homosexual bishops. That linkage may deepen the theological argument when the House of Bishops presents its views to the General Synod. At risk of over-simplification, what Cardinal Kasper is saying to the Church of England about women bishops is precisely what the Church of England and the majority of churches in the Anglican Communion have been saying to the American branch of Anglicanism, the Episcopalian Church, about gay bishops.Difficult words for a difficult moment.
They have been saying that the office of bishop stands not just for unity within a diocese, but above all for unity between dioceses and provinces, as a focus and sign of the koinonia or communio which is at the heart of the Church. Hence the American decision to ordain a practising homosexual bishop whose ministry is rejected by a large majority of other Anglican bishops worldwide shattered the Anglican communio and hence threatened to break up the Anglican Communion. Similarly a Church of England decision to ordain women bishops will change the nature of the relationship between Anglicanism and Roman Catholicism for the worse, permanently and profoundly. The partial communio that has been drawing them towards convergence and unity will end.