From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
TO ORDAIN WOMEN IS "HERETICAL," SAYS WARC LEADER
04 May 1996 20:40:52
95320REFUSAL TO ORDAIN WOMEN IS "HERETICAL," SAYS WARC LEADER
by Stephen Brown
Ecumenical News International
Edinburgh, Scotland--Milan Opocensky, general secretary of the World
Alliance of Reformed Churches (WARC), has warned that WARC member churches
that "stubbornly" refuse to ordain women could face censure for embracing
"a kind of heretical position."
In a speech here to a gathering of representatives of Europe's
Reformed churches, he outlined five issues -- racism, weapons of mass
destruction, equality between women and men, worldwide economic justice,
and responsibility for the environment -- as matters that should be treated
as "status confessionis," or "impinging on the heart of the Christian
Opocensky drew a parallel between the five issues and apartheid, which
WARC defined as "status confessionis." In the 1980s it suspended member
churches in southern Africa that did not repudiate apartheid.
He said that some WARC member churches "still seriously reason
biblically and theologically that it is justified to exclude women from
ministry. In that case I think that we who have a different opinion are
obliged to challenge that position, and not because it is a question of
justice and a question of equality, but to challenge it on the basis of the
confession and on the basis of faith."
Figures for 1992 showed that a quarter of WARC's 198 member churches
did not yet ordain women. In his speech, Opocensky questioned whether "we
can have full communion with churches which exclude women from ministry and
Opocensky warned that the credibility of the proclamation of the
gospel was at stake "if churches do not practice a fully inclusive
partnership." He said that he "would not be prepared yet to exclude these
churches which do not ordain women from the fellowship of the Reformed
family," but, he said, "I think that we have to be much more consistent and
much more serious in having a very serious and earnest dialogue with these
churches on that matter."
Asked about the implications of his stance for relations with other
denominations, such as the Roman Catholic Church and Eastern Orthodox
churches, which do not ordain women, Opocensky said that "we should refrain
from a kind of cheap ecumenism which very often is neglecting this question
because it is a very controversial question for the Roman Catholic Church
and for the Eastern Orthodox churches.
"But to be consistent and faithful to our conviction, it seems to me
that also with regard to these questions we should be more decisive and we
should be ready to challenge the Roman Catholic and Eastern Orthodox
position and not just to gloss over this issue very lightly."
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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