New Rendering of Dickinson Sarum Missal in Latin

This might be of help – a nice crisp rendering of the Dickinson edition of the Sarum Missal in Latin. It can probably be converted into Word format and printed in the format and page size you want. For those with colour printers, the rubrics are in red. I don’t know who did this version, but I am impressed.

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Dangerous Sarum

It reminds me of a moment in The Name of the Rose, when Fr William explains to the Abbot the cause of all the skulduggery going on. Books! Forbidden books! Spiritually dangerous books!

Two interesting reflections about the Use of Sarum, which I see in the context of local uses all over Europe and the Gallican / Conciliar ecclesiology as what there was everywhere before the Reformation and Counter Reformation.

It really is a question of ecclesiology and not details of rites. It really is amazing to see how some people need to be “protected from error” so that the ideology continues to stick rather than be recognised for the nonsense it is.

There seems to be a nice little movement brewing up…

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High Church and Catholic

There is an interesting thread going around by e-mail, based on two articles by Fr Hunwicke: ‘High Church’ or ‘Catholic’? (1): Church of England Games and ‘High Church’ or ‘Catholic’? (2): within the Catholic Church. Is the distinction between some notion of shallow and hardly reverent ritualism on one hand and sound Catholic ecclesiology on the other (Fr Hunwicke would recommend conversion to Roman Catholicism since he is an Ordinariate priest).

The term High Church has a number of interpretations. Does it mean silly young men living in London and going to “spikey” churches for the sake of aestheticism and foppishness without any real Christian commitment, substance or asceticism? It is often an accusation levelled by “serious” Roman Catholics against Anglicans. The term can also describe historical theological tendencies and movements like the Caroline Divines, John and Charles Wesley and the Oxford Movement. Those men were far from shallow impostors and their priority was not elaborate liturgy. Their notion of God was one of transcendence who gives himself to man rather than the théologie d’en bas that makes God a product of human thought and feelings.

I have had precious little to do with the young fops in London and Brighton for many years, and I have had my life and disappointments with “serious Catholicism”. It is one that tends to lack compassion like so much of the modern world. I do find his distinction between (Anglo) Catholic and High Church somewhat precious, with the idea that the former are serious and the latter are all glitter and tinsel. When I left the Church of England in the early 1980’s, I was disillusioned with the London scene and it didn’t occur to me to explore more of the Anglican world, perhaps the more solid of the central tradition like in the cathedrals. Perhaps my life would have taken a different turn.

In the 1980’s, I noticed a parallel in the Roman Catholic Church, and offended not a few by making comparisons. Should we make distinctions between those who are “into” liturgy and the “serious” doctrinal conservatives? Fortunately, it just isn’t my problem. In my own church, of course I am interested in the liturgy. I do not use lace and tend to be loyal to the “Dearmerite” English ways. I use Sarum rather than Roman or baroque, but the years have given me an interest in all theological disciplines and a more sober approach generally. It is a very long time since I was a seminarian!

We English can get so enthusiastic about things. We talk and write about them, and not just get on with doing it. Life on the Continent gave me a different approach. One thing I have discovered about English life is our culinary tradition. Poverty and laziness produce crappy food, and people of our time look to the exotic for new sensations. We eat Indian, Chinese, French, Italian and all sorts of foreign recipes. We have forgotten our own traditions. It is the same with the liturgy. Anglicans became fascinated with “over-the-top” baroque Roman styles – and priests and laity will not pierce the barrier of rediscovering our English traditions that resemble church life in Normandy up to the end of the nineteenth century and even the mid twentieth in some places. Many of us English talk and write about Sarum, but not a soul over here is remotely interested in the uses of Rouen, Bayeux or Paris. The roots are the same. Things just don’t add up, but sometimes the English approach beats the whitewash-and-forget approach of continental Europeans. The tin lid is about to come down on all Christianity!

I find that Fr Hunwicke’s attitude is close to the “serious” hardcore of buzz-cut French and German traditionalists. After all, Bishop Williamson is an Anglican convert who has no sympathy with anything other than scholastic theology and strict moralism. I hardly see our Oxford don in lockstep with those who would see the world under men like Franco, Pinochet or some other two-bit Spanish-speaking dictator in the name of Christ’s “social kingship”! My own experience at Gricigliano showed me that the political sympathies of the Ecclesia Dei lot are just the same as the SSPX.

I have drifted far away from “serious” Catholicism, seeking something more compassionate and of the best of the English spirit of dialogue, reasoning and kindness. Perhaps the city fops go too far away from serious commitment, but we do need something to release the tension of being “serious” and above all taking ourselves seriously. This is something I see in my own Anglican Catholic Church. We are serious, I would like to believe, but I find no fanaticism or ideology. I find humour, compassion and friendliness in our Synod and Council of Advice. Some of our clergy are more “Roman” than I am, but there’s nothing wrong with that. Some of us wear birettas and fiddleback vestments, but are just as unselfconscious about it as many Europeans.

I tend not to use the term High Church, and I hardly ever find it in ACC circles. Some of our priests in America would prefer to identify with Old High Church than Anglo-Catholic, meaning their attachment to more central churchmanship with patristic theology and historical studies. I have a lot of sympathy with Archbishop Peter Robinson, though I prefer to use Sarum rather than the Prayer Book rite for Mass. That kind of “high church” is totally different from “lace queen” fops at St Mary’s in Bourne Street!

The distinction is often made in a derogatory fashion to make “ritualists” shrink in the face of the converts to Roman Catholicism juggernaut. The reductio ad absurdam would identify the “serious” Catholics as those who are in communion with the Pope, and those left behind are fake Catholics and deceivers – the triumph of American conservative Catholicism. For many of us who are committed (though sinful) Christians, being reduced to that bleak choice would alienate us from our own beliefs. Is it time to “die” like the rest of the population, or find new life through other and less “orthodox” channels?

Perhaps many of the fops we denigrate have the compassion and love that eludes the rest of us or the “serious” set. The Church has always been of weak and strong, and those of us who discover through having been attracted to the spiritual by things like beauty and sensuality. I too am done with the Pharisees and inquisitors or our time, and would like to see a kind of Christianity that may have to die like all of us, but one that has not betrayed the spirit of Christ and the Gospel.

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Archbishop Haverland on Anglican Unity

Following on from my earlier article Where’s the ACC in this mix? and an e-mail from Archbishop Haverland, it is my pleasure to publish our Archbishop’s recent address.

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Evensong, Forward-in-Faith/North America – 15 July 2015

Psalm cxxxiii, verse 3 – Jerusalem is built as a city that is at unity in itself.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

I was trained to believe that sermons are not meant primarily to prove or to instruct, much less to argue. Rather sermons are primarily meant to proclaim: to proclaim the Incarnation, the Cross, and the Resurrection of our Lord. I hope this idea animates my Sunday Mass sermons. But Evensong or Evensong and Benediction are somewhat different from Sunday morning. We read in a delightful miscellany on the Church and clergy by A.N. Wilson of a priest who for forty years ‘preached on a variety of themes at his morning Mass, but thought it inappropriate, at…Benediction, to preach on any subject other than the Empress Josephine.’ (A.N. Wilson, ed., 1992, p. 240) I don’t plan to be quite that bad. But when Bishop Ackerman invited me last year to this event I told him that I would have to address what seems to me the central problem with most of the efforts of Forward-in-Faith and its precursors and now also with the ACNA. I was invited nonetheless, so here is something with a bit of polemic in it, as promised. I will not say with Trevor Huddleston that I have naught for your comfort. But neither will I speak smooth things.

The central problem of which I just spoke is a lack of theological clarity and consistency and, to be blunt, catholicity. That is a rather provocative assertion. Let me offer an initial qualification, if not apology. I know that the religious world is filled with huge problems which are of much greater apparent importance than the intramural fusses of soi-disant Anglo-Catholics. In a world of resurgent and violent Islam and a secularizing America, our intramural differences may seem minor. I do not wish to indulge in the sadism of small differences. But then I happen to think that Anglicanism is central to the fate of the West, and that the near collapse of orthodox Anglicanism since the mid-20th century is at least indirectly tied to our wider troubles. So, back to the question of theological clarity, which I do not think is in fact a minor problem.

The Anglican alternative to the paths taken by Forward-in-Faith and ACNA is Continuing Anglicanism. Despite all of our checkered history and with all our failures, I think we Continuers have theological integrity. That integrity is not a subjective or personal matter, but rests on an objective theological base, expressed clearly in the Affirmation of Saint Louis. This foundation situates us irrevocably within the central Tradition of Catholic Christendom. All Anglican formularies are seen by the Affirmation through the lens of the central Tradition. Anglican formularies are not a kind of Occam’s razor to limit what is acceptable in Catholic tradition for Anglicans. Rather the Catholic consensus and central Tradition are the lens through which we read and appropriate our Anglicanism. This central Tradition is found in the Fathers and the Seven Councils and in the consensus of East and West, ancient and modern and living still. For us, the central problem of the Episcopal Church and of the Anglican Communion is not Gene Robinson or an error concerning any particular person or issue. Rather the fundamental problem was an implicit assertion, decades ago, that the central Tradition of Christendom is at the disposal of Episcopalian Conventions or Anglican Synods or Lambeth Conferences. It is not. The Affirmation and my own Church’s formularies firmly, decisively, and forever reject doctrinal ambiguity, comprehensiveness, or the attempt to make our peculiarities decisive and determinative. We are not Anglicans first and Catholics second. We are members of the One Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church first, and Anglicans second. We will vigorously pursue unity with all others who share this central belief. No unity, at least no full or Eucharistic communion, is possible or desirable with those who do not share this starting point.

I congratulate the ACNA for leaving the Episcopal Church and Anglican Church of Canada. Every one of you who made that change did a good thing and one, I hope, that you do not regret. But that departure can only be a good first step. For ACNA is really not a Church but a coalition of dioceses. The coalition is for some purposes only, and the communion of the dioceses is impaired and imperfect. The ACNA has retained the central flaw of the recent Lambeth Communion because it permits member dioceses to ordain women to the three-fold ministry, and therefore implicitly claims that the central Tradition is not decisive and may be set aside. ACNA is not a return to orthodox Anglicanism, but only a return to the impaired state of the Lambeth Communion that began in 1975 and 1976.

Continued ambiguity or confusion about the central tradition and women’s ordination is very dangerous. It is very dangerous because it encourages Catholic churchmen to compromise themselves in a variety of ways. Perhaps just as bad, fine, bright, and consistent Catholics will perceive that there is no certain trumpet, no clear ecclesiology, and no real future in a world of such compromises – and so you will continue to suffer the death by a thousand cuts, as people go to Rome or Orthodoxy or the Continuing Church or just stay home.

There are excellent reasons to be both Catholic and Anglican. Anglo-Catholics enjoy the great strengths of the Anglican patrimony. We have the Authorized Version of the Bible and the classical Book of Common Prayer. Together these are not only compelling literary and cultural monuments, but also provide us with an well-balanced spirituality. In some Christian bodies the Bible is loosed from tradition and from the praying Church. Of these bodies Richard Hooker wrote:

When they and their Bibles were alone together, what strange fantastical opinion soever at any time entered into their heads, their use was to think the Spirit taught it them. (Laws, Preface, VIII.7)

The Prayer Book tradition in contrast provides an anchor, an objective interpretative lens, and a prayerful setting for traditional and orthodox interpretation of Scripture. In other Christian bodies the sacraments have been loosed from Scripture and its constant fertilizing influence. Scripture is neglected and the jewel of the Eucharist is pried loose from its golden setting in a round of offices centered on the systematic reading of Psalms and Scripture. But for Anglican Catholics the sacraments are truly Scripture so prayed and read and presented as to be a large part of the very sacramental forms through which God pours forth his grace into our hearts. In short, our tradition has an almost perfect balance of Bible and sacrament. We begin with the Bible as presented in and with Common Prayer, but then add our Anglican patrimony of architecture, music, literature, spirituality, and theological method. Those are formidable strengths. How sad that so many neo-Anglicans have jettisoned the bulk of this patrimony by abandoning the classical Anglican liturgical tradition.

Dear friends, if you compromise with the ordination of women, and if you abandon the largest part of our Anglican patrimony by adopting modernist liturgy rooted in the Novus Ordo or, worse, in the Anglo-Baptist ideas of Sydney, there is little to hold people. Then you can only trust in a kind of slightly more decorous imitation of Charles Stanley or the already-fading mega-churches. You’ve given up both your Anglican past and also any future that can be meaningfully described as Anglican.

We must abandon all sectarian, provincial ideas that separate us from the central consensus of the Tradition of the great Churches. We must take this duty seriously by systematically rooting our doctrine and practice in Catholic agreement. Seven Councils, seven sacraments, invocation of the saints, objective sacramental efficacy, the Real Eucharistic Presence, clear moral teaching, male episcopate and priesthood and diaconate: those are all matters of Catholic consensus. That is what we must believe if we take seriously Archbishop Fisher’s assertion that we have no faith of our own.

The Catholic Movement in the Church of England began as an attempt to call all Anglicans back to the fullness of the Catholic Faith. The goal was nothing less than the wholesale conversion of the entire Church to the fullness of the Faith. The partial success of the Movement may have been its downfall. When Anglo-Catholics became too successful to ignore or suppress, and were invited to the table to enjoy a share of the spoils – a percentage of the mitres and deaneries and professorships and plum parishes – Anglo-Catholics too often lowered their sights and quieted their voices. From the conversion of the whole, we became satisfied with a slice of the pie, with a comfortable status as a recognized party. But half-Catholic is as unreal as half-virgin.

If you still are in the Episcopal Church: get out. Get out today. Anything else threatens your soul’s state. Dear friends in ACNA: you must present a clear and unmistakable demand. The ordination of women must end, soon and completely, for it is directly contrary to Catholic doctrine. No grand-fathering – or grand-mothering is possible – because such compromise leaves intact the central, revolutionary, and false implication that the deposit of the faith is negotiable and at our disposal.

Until there is such clarity, there will be no unity among those of us who like to think of ourselves as Catholic and Anglican Churchmen. There will be no unity because you cannot be a pure cup of water in a dirty puddle. That is the simple, basic message of the Continuing Church to the neo-Anglicans. You have gone a very long way down a very wrong path, and that is true even if all the time you were avoiding a still worse path. You have a journey home to make, things to unlearn and to remember and recover. We want to welcome you at home. But there can be no restored communion with us without hard decisions and firm actions from you.

Glory be to the Undivided Trinity. Glory be to Jesus Christ on his throne of glory in heaven and in the Most Blessed Sacrament of the Altar. All honor to the glorious and ever-Virgin Mother of our Lord. Peace be to the Holy Churches of God. May God forgive us our sins, which are many and great. May God give us wisdom to discern a safe path forward. May God grant us true humility and unshakable fidelity and great love. May God bring our Church to glorious days and may he bring us to unity with all his holy people, so that Jerusalem may be as a city that is at unity in itself.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Amen.

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Light at the End of the Tunnel?

The End of Capitalism has Begun. OK it’s the left-wing press in England, but my sympathy and sense of hope is awakened. Only today, I read of farmers blocking the city of Caen and access to the Mont Saint Michel. Instead of causing misery to countless holiday-makers, I would have preferred to see their tractors blocking the supermarkets and perhaps the big banks. I sympathise with their protest, as many farmers face bankruptcy whilst the processors and retailers of meat and milk get ever fatter and greedier.

Several years ago, I did a translation published by a group of supermarket brands about their global strategy of conquest. The attitude is absolutely cynical: put everyone out of business except themselves. As it is with corrupt bankers and multinational corporations.

In 1789, the people of France revolted against the King and the nobles – and today against the snakes in suits who are raping the world. Is it wishful thinking or the beginning of a real shift?

I would be interested in opinions on this piece, because if anything is to change, it has to do so on the basis of clear ideas.

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Why be a priest?

E-mails have been sent around with a link to Was Philip North right? – five years on. The person running the Ordinariate Expats blog simply asks for opinions. In the exchange of e-mails, it is all taken as an affront to the Ordinariate. Such is not my intention in my own article of today, but rather to look more deeply as a priest who is totally non-stipendiary and without an established ministry (like a Church of England parish).

Philip North is Bishop of Burnley and represents the Forward in Faith optic, that of having nothing to do with female bishops. I won’t go into the controversy surrounding his consecration in York Minster last February. I wish him well in his ministry and assume the best in his intentions.

The important element in this discussion, for me, is the very reason and justification of the priesthood in a historic era that is not exactly favourable to churches and institutional Christianity.

I can well understand the idea of recognising that the Constantinian Church is on its last legs, but that one should try to keep going what can be kept going. If something is still there, why destroy it? If it ain’t broken, don’t fix it! For a clergyman who has had a career in the Church of England, depending on it for his livelihood and stability as a person and father of a family, it is natural that he would baulk at the prospect of going to the Ordinariate or becoming non-stipendiary. Life is hard, and I would not judge anyone for not throwing up everything he has – unless he is really convinced in his conscience that this is what God is calling him to do.

The perspective is completely different from me as an ACC priest. I am non-stipendiary and have nothing to lose by being a priest where I am. Outside my priestly character, my life is exactly that of the laity. I have no perks, no privileges. I share the common lot of humanity. I eke out a living as a translator. The work is very irregular and I have no prospects of a good pension.

Bishop North’s appeal to the pastoral dimension is cogent from his perspective. From mine, it would seem to be like a millionaire patting himself on the back for getting on in life without financial problems. However, the branch he is sitting on is getting shorter and shorter – for as long as the next saw cut is not between himself and the tree trunk…

It is the old dilemma between the Church as an enclave of the devout or the service offered to the people, however lukewarm they are in spiritual terms – the Church of the Martyrs and the Constantinian Church.

It is pastoral responsibility for communities rather than gathered congregations.

This would explain the tendency of many churches and clerics to turn their attention from spiritual and religious concerns to secular social and cultural work. They will spend £300,000 on a meeting to discuss environmental concerns. The same sum would buy and restore a modest church building for the ACC. Where is the common ground?

The Ordinariate is better off financially than we are in the ACC, even though they seem to share our “sociology” as groups of the devout and fully committed. Their clergy seem not to have to take secular employment. Some have their retirement pensions and others are paid something by their congregations and the RC hierarchy.

It would be rash to judge Bishop North for being a “mercenary”. I will not do so. However, I do note that his judgement on what justifies a priest and the Church is totally detached from the reality of most of us, and even that of his own Church – increasingly so.

What justification is there for priests, when all the secular concerns in our society have no need for the Church? The Welfare State surely suffices… The Church is no longer even the patron of culture and the arts. All the Church can do is communicate God and accompany mankind is his spiritual quest – nothing or very little else. There may be occasions when a priest is called on in some kind of humanitarian situation, and he would not refuse help, but such occasions are rare.

If being an Ordinariate priest “can offer priests only a diminished ministry, for the majority of us a part-time or voluntary ministry, and for all of us a ministry that lacks the opportunities, the depth and the riches of what we know at present. And for laypeople, I’m not sure what it offers at all“, then I cringe to think what the good Bishop would think of the extremely marginal ACC!

Living here in France, I never receive the slightest enquiry about my church services. I could try knocking on doors and peddling the “clockwork toys”, and would simply make myself unpopular in the village. I could imagine them saying, “If I don’t believe in the true (RC) church, why should I believe in yours?” We in the ACC only have a ministry to those who voluntarily and consciously make a decision to come to us. That is painful for the priest who has acquired as much in terms of professional knowledge and skills as a teacher, but whose services are simply unwelcome in our materialistic society.

Why be a priest? That is the existential question that comes through Bishop North’s arguments as well as the existence of us marginal clergy. It would be tempting to arrive at the conclusion that we should cease to be marginal: apply to the Roman Catholic Church, and if they won’t accept us as priests, go as laymen. But, then, there are the consequences to assume. Where do you worship? To what extent do you get involved? Would it not be best to go full circle and give up Christianity as something that is just not viable in our time and the changes our world is going through? To many of us, it would be a form of suicide.

My time in the RC Church taught me that priests do the Lord’s work in many ways, and not only in the classical parish situation. Many priests are teachers, some are Roman bureaucrats. Others are monks and others still lead contemplative lives without being formally monks attached to an abbey. I have seen priests cut off from any prospect of ministry or justification for their existence. They die – or they find God in the emptiness and hopelessness. That is my own situation. I fulfil the canonical requirements for being a priest in the Church – being under a Bishop who is himself in communion with a Provincial Synod and college of bishops. Apart from that, all I can do is say Mass and Office and write this blog. Apart from that, I work and go sailing, and do what I can to keep my wife happy.

I live in trepidation, wondering if I have buried my talents and if would be judged for being a bad servant. On the other hand, how can one make an investment of one, two or five Talents if the banks and Stock Exchange are closed? Or if I have nothing to invest? The agonised thinking becomes circular and has to stop somewhere.

We do need to rethink our vocation as priests if we are to remain faithful to the sacramental character within us. I believe I would be harshly judged for abandoning it. Few of us are called to parish life, and even fewer of us to formal monastic life. The best we can do is mix with ordinary people and try to be a “leaven in the desert” in the best way possible. We learn to cast clericalism aside to live the priesthood of Christ to the full in our souls and our lives. Such a notion truly brings us back to roots and basics.

Perhaps in such a way, we are of greater service to the people and the world than if we were Established Church clerics. That to me has become the justification and meaning of the priestly vocation.

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Where’s the ACC in this mix?

I received a brief e-mail this morning from an Orthodox correspondent with this link from David Virtue’s site.

Some things in this article made me bristle somewhat, making me grateful to know that our Metropolitan Archbishop Haverland is always open to dialogue, but there are certain principles governing any question of formal relations between the ACC and other churches of Anglican tradition. I am very happy as a simple priest not to be involved in such decisions.

Traditionalists of all kinds have been discussing problems of “liberalism” (intolerant anti-conservatism) for almost fifty years. Some get the “big picture” and others are mired down in single issues like homosexuality, abortion, marriage issues and the ordination of women. These are, of course, important moral issues – but there are different ways of addressing them.

I recently spent a pleasant evening with a priest who serves a Forward in Faith parish in the south of England. One reflection he came up with was that the “Constantinian” Church is nearly dead, but let’s not kill off what is still going. In a parish, there is the hardcore of the devout, but there are also many other people who are of good will but less “single-minded”. Can a church be a church of the people, or must it be an enclave of the devout and holy? I am a priest in a Continuing Church, but I can sympathise with this good priest. Thus I can sympathise with all gatherings of Anglicans, both “mainstream” and traditionalist, whose heart is essentially in the right place in spite of all the differences between Catholicism and Protestantism, high church and low church and the various little pet issues related to doctrine and moral teachings. Their frustration with the “seas of post-modernity” is understandable. It is a part of our own vocation as continuing Anglicans to oppose the forces of destruction as well as ploughing ahead with what we believe to be right.

It is rightly argued that strength is in unity, and conservative and continuing Anglicans would unite in an ideal world. What usually puts a stop to this is when bishops and priests of one institutional body deny any legitimacy in another body, accusing it of being in some way false. I could say really facetiously that such is hardly an icebreaker. And so our Churches continue separately along parallel tracks. Dialogue is improving, but there is a long way to go. My own Bishop in England has suffered from such treatment by Established Church clergy.

There is much hope in continents like Africa, Asia and South America, but we should not forget that the churchmanship is usually Evangelical. At the same time, we do need to work for unity at a human level, forge friendships and combat irrational prejudice.

Three enemies of Christianity are identified: Islam, secularism and materialism. There are undoubtedly more, but these are things of which we are all made aware in our daily lives. What is our response? It is essentially that of the Saints: service, abnegation, self-sacrifice, refusal of power, ambition and desire. This has been the Christian message from the beginning.

Now something made me quite angry:

Strong stuff but necessary for Anglo-Catholics, especially the Continuers, who have been fragmented since 1977 and the St. Louis Convention. A number were at this conference, signaling that perhaps it was time to come in out of the cold and ally with the ACNA. One can but hope.

More of the same… If they trash us, they can hardly expect us to come knocking on their door! Is the ACNA thinking of offering ordinariates for converts from the “bogus” continuing Churches. If that is their attitude, then they can go and take a hike!

It is encouraging to see Episcopalian bishops refuse to jump of the same-sex marriage bandwagon. A careful distinction is made between the civil marriage contract and the Sacrament of Matrimony. They are often combined, when the priest has the civil power of a registrar. It is becoming much simpler when couples make their civil contract before going to church for the sacramental wedding (if there are no canonical impediments). Under such circumstances, a priest is free to make this distinction.

Something in this article makes me quite nauseous, which is the Archbishop of Canterbury’s plan to save the Church of England.

There’s a fantastic article this weeks’ Spectator entitled ‘God’s management consultants: the Church of England turns to bankers for salvation’. It’s the sort of piece that is bound to send many clergy and lay members of the Church of England into a big flap, accusing Justin Welby of attempting to turn their beloved church, with all of its woolliness and eccentricity, into an efficient and hard-nosed organization full of managerial types who have more interest in numbers and “talent pools” than theology or the pastoral wellbeing of parishioners.

Oh dear! It seems that they see the Church of England finally folding up within a few short years, and that there needs to be a shake-up. Certainly. But, is the brave new managerial bureaucracy not akin to injecting cancer cells to cure a strep throat? Estimate mention the possibility of seven years left for the Church of England before the buildings go to the developers for whatever they want to do with them.

I find the fantastic cost of the incessant meetings to be mind-boggling, £360,000 for the logistics of getting 600 people together to discuss sweet nothings and platitudes about purely secular environmental concerns. Is this the sort of Church we want to negotiate with. I understand those priests who feel called to parish ministry in those places where it is still possible, but the cause is lost. We have nothing to ask for. That isn’t arrogance or aloofness on our part, but simply acknowledging reality.

This may cause conservative Roman Catholics and Orthodox to adopt an attitude of triumphalism and Schadenfreud. Who could afford to buy and maintain all those churches in England and elsewhere? There isn’t a lot we can do about all that, other than continue to worship in our rented chapels and converted outbuildings.

Perhaps, if our conservative brethren want to open dialogue, they could do well to adopt a more respectful attitude and give our bishops credit for getting the house in order over the years after the worst of the fragmentation. Then, perhaps, we could talk shop

* * *

I have just received this message from one of our priests in Canada:

I was there, with Canon Gunn Walberg from Wilmington Delaware & Canon Charles Nalls from Richmond Virginia, as board members of the ‘Fellowship of Concerned Churchmen, but with Archbishop Haverland and Bishop Scarlett for the ACC contingent. I spoke with David Virtue, and am surprised that he did not mention Abp. Mark, as preacher at Evensong, & participant with Bishop Nazir-Ali in a lunchtime forum.

Bishop Janzen from the ACCC/TAC was there with a priest, as well as several African & Asian clergy, & Bishop John Fenwick, of the ‘Free Church of England’, who, by the way, lives in Ulverston….(he has met Bishop Mead, also…..)

He also sent me the text of the Statement from the International Congress of Catholic Anglicans meeting in Fort Worth. Several continuing Anglican bishops were present, including Archbishop Haverland. This statement seems to be very positive.

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