No, the word ‘deaconess’ was not used (not even once!) but we did hear the classic “trying to learn new ways to be church”! This week’s installment of Compass was, perhaps unsurprisingly, even worse than last week’s drivel, since it was even weaker and less substantial. Again we had a group of interviewees who all either dissented from or failed adequately to stand up for the impossibility of women’s ordination. With this week’s interviewees it became all the clearer to me how unprofessional and open to abuse this ‘documentary’ format (as opposed to the traditional, formal question-and-answer interview) is. Although the tone was not as stridently tendentious as last week’s episode, it was clear that the producers wanted to portray the invalidity of women ‘Orders’ as a matter of injustice, and the style of interview facilitated this nicely; it seemed that it drew the interviewees into either agreeing with or at least not dissenting from the editorial position. What exactly were the questions put to them?
But the producers of this tripe are not fools; they know that there is no theological basis for women’s Orders, as one can tell by their failure to involve any expert commentators, such as theologians or canon lawyers, like in last week’s episode. But this only weakened the story further, since the thoughts of the interviewees were wishy-washy at best, a grab-bag of the usual talk of ‘exclusion’ and vague feelings of injustice. Also absent from this programme was a failure to involve any women who were both perfectly happy with their state in life and able eloquently to stand up for women’s contributions to the Church (our Holy Mother) in marriage and family or the religious life. But we have come to expect this kind of bias.
Interestingly, Cathnews indicates that next week’s Compass will be another Catholic story, reporting on an Irish Priest who, among others things, conducted an affair with his housekeeper. Presumably this is meant to reinforce last week’s attempt to portray celibacy as unrealistic. It seems that the A.B.C. is perfectly prepared to prosecute its anti-Catholic campaign as a war of attrition. And we here at this virtual Lambeth Palace are prepared to man the trenches for as long as it takes.