Friday, 30 April 2010

Welsh Catholic Archbishop to move to Southwark

The new Archbishop of Southwark was named by the Pope today.
The Most Rev Peter Smith, until now Archbishop of Cardiff, will take over the post on June 10.

Full story from from Wales Online: http://www.walesonline.co.uk/news/wales-news/tm_campaign=Wales_email_newspm%3A20100430%26headline=pope-names-new-archbishop-of-southwark%26method=full%26objectid=26351030%26siteid=91466-name_page.html?campaign=Wales%5Femail%5Fnewspm%3A20100430

The choice of a successor to Archbishop Smith will be of great interest to many in Wales, beyond those at present in communion with the Holy See.

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Bigots?

According to one survey in the wake of the Prime Minister's encounter with a voter, a large proportion of those asked didn't understand the meaning of the word 'bigoted.'
"Education, education, education!"
Obviously a huge success.

On a related subject, today's legal ruling in relation to the Christian sacked by Relate for refusing on conscientious grounds to give sex therapy to a gay couple has potentially huge implications far beyond that of the facts of the case itself. On the reasoning behind the ruling, if I were a Christian (particularly a Catholic) member of the medical profession I would be very concerned indeed for my civil rights.
Lord Justice Laws said legislation to protect views held purely on religious grounds could not be justified. He said it was an irrational idea "but it is also divisive, capricious and arbitrary".
In refusing leave to appeal he said:

"We do not live in a society where all the people share uniform religious beliefs. The precepts of any one religion – any belief system – cannot, by force of their religious origins, sound any louder in the general law than the precepts of any other. If they did, those out in the cold would be less than citizens and our constitution would be on the way to a theocracy, which is of necessity autocratic.

"The law of a theocracy is dictated without option to the people, not made by their judges and governments. The individual conscience is free to accept such dictated law, but the state, if its people are to be free, has the burdensome duty of thinking for itself."

This in a country where the Church of England is by law established? Perhaps most troubling of all is that the portrayal of religious faith as somehow irrational (and that is certainly the implication behind the judge's reasoning) and the upholding of the Judeo-Christian tradition as in some way leading to theocracy is something which seems to have found its way even into the judicial mindset. This is historical and social illiteracy on a grand scale. Education again?
This is an extraordinary, very troubling and historically and legally eccentric decision, and unfortunately it will be completely overshadowed by coverage of the British general election. In such ways, little by little, our liberties are being eroded and our history forgotten in the name of an inclusiveness which seeks only to exclude and destroy that which it fails to understand.

Monday, 26 April 2010

Absence

Posting here may be a little less frequent for a while until my health problems are resolved. More tests!
But it's not been a particularly good week to be out of action. In Britain we have a truly bizarre but fascinating election campaign going on and, of course, THAT Foreign Office memo.
It was always said about the F.O. that even if, traditionally, it largely recruited from among those with a rather privileged social and educational background, at least these people knew how to behave. How times change! I'm sure this recent display of adolescent boorishness masquerading as humour (which by comparison makes even 16th and 17th century anti-Catholic puritan polemic seem almost rapier-like in its wit) has nothing to do with the "democratisation" of  recruitment policies at the Foreigh and Commonwealth Office and everything to do with a worrying decline of sensibility across the board. We are all barbarians now.

There are audio recordings of presentations given at the Anglicanorum Coetibus Conference at Pusey House on The Anglo-Catholic  blog here: http://www.theanglocatholic.com/2010/04/anglicanorum-coetibus-conference-presentations/

Friday, 16 April 2010

Running for the shallows?

It's that time of year again! Contemporary Anglicanism has to be  the most noisily talkative of Christian traditions. Where would we be without our committees and assemblies to debate this issue or try to resove that problem? So, here we are again, the time of year when we do our level best to rob Eastertide of its joy and hope by gathering together to produce climate-changing amounts of hot air at our Synods, Governing Bodies and Annual Meetings - necessary accountability and consultation aside, an aspect of our more recent patrimony which can perhaps be safely left behind when the time comes.
So, with the predictability of migrant birds arriving in the spring sunshine, out pop our ecclesiastical leaders with their finely honed public statements, addressing the needs of the church and the  world.
Now, its all too easy to find fault with those in leadership positions at a time of change and crisis. To be the Primate of any western Anglican province at this period in our history can't be exactly a bed of roses. In fact, I'm always amazed there are so many who seem to want the job. To give credit where credit is due, the one thing of which we can't accuse the present Archbishop of Wales, is not giving a clear lead. He has many admirable qualities in a leader (even if, to us, they are sadly misdirected in an increasingly heterodox direction.) Unlike so many bishops he says what he thinks, and he is quite single-minded and, some might say, even ruthless in the way he seeks to secure his aims - as traditionalists, outmanoevred at every turn in the savagely polarised ecclesial world we now inhabit, have discovered to our cost. But to describe the innate caution (although in the end by no means enough caution) over the years of Welsh Anglicans, particularly in respect of innovations to the apostolic ministry, as displaying a tendency "to run for the shallows," is a bit rich, to say the least. and deserves a certain critical attention.
We are all guilty of caricaturing our opponents from time to time, we love to indulge in polemics and controversy, even the occasional ad hominem attack, yet it does seem to be a characteristic of liberal Anglicans (I won't speak of those of other traditions) to assume that their more conservative opponents don't have the good fortune to share their superior intellectual abilities and the unique insight that gives them into the problems of the modern church.
That is certainly the underlying assumption behind the more outrageously aggrandizing statements of Katharine Jefferts Shori, the Archbishop of Wales' closest ally among the Anglican primates, and behind such self-regarding epithets as Thinking Anglicans, the unpleasant implication being, "unlike you poor proles who don't."  In contrast, the description, "orthodox," while not being totally beyond dispute, is at least to a large extent doctrinally and historically verifiable.
Yet so often we see Catholics, conservative evangelicals, Prayer Book traditionalists, or even some of those  who would describe themselves in that endearingly comfortable Anglican phrase, "middle of the road," being branded as stupid or uncharitably judgemental or both. I suppose liberals can always console themselves that they are not like those pharisees over there!
The Archbishop's Presidential address  this year could have been written in the main by any revisionist Anglican leader in what Dr Rowan Williams tellingly refers to as 'the North Atlantic world.' That's merely a description, not a criticism. But to describe anyone who is reluctant to embrace wholeheartedly the current programme of liberal eco-politics, celtic nationalism, radical sacramental uncertainty, ethical experimention and the evisceration of the mystery at the heart of the Gospel, as "running for the shallows" is, as I said, a bit rich. Although, when the waters are dangerously shark-infested, if one can't find a rock, the shallows may be one of the safest places to be.

My thanks to Petros at http://ancientbritonpetros.blogspot.com/   for providing this link to Archbishop Barry Morgan's Governing Body address http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/press/display_press_release.php?prid=4937








Thursday, 15 April 2010

Inverted commas

Yes, I know, I seem to have it in for the BBC at the moment - it's probably an increasing sense of a trust betrayed. I daresay the Corporation will survive.
But has it ever crossed your mind that you should never - ever - listen to the news?  There was another semi-snide report last night on Radio 4's The World Tonight about the perceived delay in the canonisation process of Pope John Paul II. Tell me, why is it that presenters have to pronounce words like "holiness" and  "miracle" in accents of heavy irony - verbalised inverted commas. Why do they feel the need to imply "we don't believe any of this religious nonsense?" We know that already: isn't it  a qualification for the job? And what is it with this pejorative use of the word "mediaeval?"  For God's sake (literally) read some history, visit a cathedral or, failing that, an art gallery.
Then - of course - comes the inevitable link to the sex abuse scandal. But at last - and grudgingly - a half-veiled admission that Pope Benedict, when head of the CDF, worked tirelessly to investigate sex scandals among the clergy and root out the causes of abuse; and also that he may well have been obstructed in that. But it was only reported as a way of casting doubt on the sanctity of Pope John Paul himself.

But if you do listen to the news, don't then go on to listen to Book at Bedtime -  at the the moment, a serialisation of 'The Lessons' by Naomi Alderman (a kind of anti-Brideshead Revisited) which contained in its description of a crucifix the words: "the implicit praise for humilation and for pain." All in all, a useful reminder of the mountainous task we face in proclaiming the Gospel in a culture such as ours. So, perhaps, not such a wasted evening after all.

Wednesday, 14 April 2010

Too silly for words

So do the 'protestant atheists,' Dawkins, Hitchens et al, really want to arrest the Pope? Perhaps they do, perhaps it is just another stupid publicity stunt - but far more costly, in more ways than one, than the 'God probably doesn't exist' buses of last year. I really have no words left to express my contempt for these people's views. Having said that, as we believe in the power of prayer, we should all pray for their conversion - far stranger things have happened.
Some resolutely non-ecclesial comment here on why targeting Pope Benedict is not such a bright idea from Brendan O'Neill at Spiked Online http://www.spiked-online.com/index.php/site/article/8526/
This site should be recommended reading for us all.


If you want to see something really silly, go here: http://badvestments.blogspot.com/
Why is it a rule that the wackier the theology, the wackier the vestments? Useful, though - it saves having to ask questions.
It's a shame we can't see it in 3D (the latest retro-fashion at the movies) - even if we can't, dark glasses would help - a lot.

 The Age of Aquarius?
I see the musical 'Hair' is  re-opening in London this evening. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/theatre/theatre-features/7528239/Hippie-replacement-Hair-returns-to-Londons-West-End.html
Nostalgia becomes ever more recent. It strikes me that perhaps they should have tried to perform it with the original cast - it would be a visual parable (a not so moving tableau) about how the ideas expressed in stage productions like this have contributed to the disintegration of a civilisation.

Tuesday, 13 April 2010

A radical force for change?

This report by the Western Mail today:
Church targets the young as clergy retire
 'The Church in Wales is to launch a campaign to encourage more young people to seek a career in the Church after admitting there is an “urgent need” for new clergy.
Its governing body will meet in Lampeter tomorrow to debate their strategy after Gregory Cameron, the bishop of St Asaph, said the days of a vicar being part of the establishment had gone and he wanted young men and women who would make the Church a radical force for change.
The initiative comes at a time when many clergy are approaching retirement and few young people are joining the ministry.
Last year the Church in Wales saw a net fall of 13 in the number of full-time clergy. Now, a quarter of all clerics are aged 61 to 65 and 10% are aged between 66 and 80.
Just 9% are aged 26-40 and only 36% of trainee priests are in the 20-35 age group. The bishop, a former deputy secretary general of the Anglican Communion, said: “I very much believe this is an opportunity – not a problem.
“What we have got the opportunity to do is recruit a new generation of leaders of the Church – and specifically target younger people and bring their new vision into the life of the Church.”
He said stereotypes of the clergy, such as the vicar from the comedy Dad’s Army, did not reflect the reality of the modern role, which could involve working in prisons, schools or hospitals.
“Come and lead us,” he said. “Come and enthuse us with your vision of change.”
It is proposed that an average of three people from each diocese will be ordained each year, of whom two will be aged under 35.
Bishop Cameron said the church was looking for “someone who has found a lively faith of their own – someone who understands Christianity as an encounter with a living Jesus who calls the church onwards to activity and mission”.

Good luck to them! In many ways I hope this appeal is successful; a weak and declining Church in Wales is in no one's best interests. We can all agree wholeheartedly with the last statement of the Bishop of St Asaph.
The irony is, of course, that the Province is doing its level best to discourage some of its clergy from remaining at all. They, of course, are the "wrong sort" of clergy - those with orthodox theological views, whose vision of  "a radical force for change" may have more to do with biblical and patristic 'ressourcement' and in moving towards an immediately achievable form of Christian unity (again, probably the 'wrong sort' of unity) than the fashionable liberal nostrums favoured by our current leaders. But as to much of what is reported above, they say nothing is new under the sun, but isn't it a little soon to start recycling the worst slogans of the 1960s?
I can't help being reminded of that famous comment of G.K. Chesterton quoted in the curent edition of New  Directions, "We do not want, as the newspapers say, a Church that will move with the world. We want a Church that will move the world."  That is the vision which must be kept alive.

Sunday, 11 April 2010

Pray for Poland

Novena of Prayer

This monstrously unjust series of attacks on the Pope (or one concerted attack - you pays your money and you takes your choice) is really an attack on all Christians and on the Christian faith itself.
We must pray for Pope Benedict himself and, perhaps especially, that his persecutors may come to the full knowledge of the truth.
"Prayers and masses are especially encouraged during a special Novena beginning on Saturday, April 24, the fifth anniversary of the inauguration of Pope Benedict XVI, through May 2, which is the first Sunday of the month of Mary, Mother of the Church.”
Go here for more details:
http://www.institute-christ-king.org/uploads/main/pdf/pope-novena.pdf


Saturday, 10 April 2010

If we can't have clarity, clarification will do + some news updates

 From the Bishop of Ebbsfleet (to those on his mailing list - not in confidence, I hasten to add)
I have had some comments and enquiries about what the Archbishop said on Radio 4 ‘Start the Week’ – and indeed what he meant - with regard to the Ordinariate project. Hostility and lukewarmness have been read into his remarks. Neither reflects his view. I give you here his remarks verbatim and then his domestic chaplain’s interpretation (which is entirely reliable and consistent with what I would have judged him to have meant):
Verbatim
"I think there’ll be a few people who take advantage of it and they’ll take advantage of it because they feel they ought to be in communion with the bishop in Rome; and I can only say, ‘fine, God bless them’. I don’t at the moment and we proceed on that basis and I hope with a level of mutual respect."
Interpretation
That is, ‘God bless those who do feel they ought to be in Communion with the Bishop of Rome now. I don’t feel I ought to be in communion with the Bishop of Rome at the moment - ARCIC and IARCCUM have their long-established agenda here - but we continue our ecumenical journey with mutual respect.’

So - exactly as we thought, no story and no slights whatsoever  intended by the Archbishop of Canterbury (who is far too much of a gentleman - in Newman's true sense - to stoop to that) as regards Anglicanorum Coetibus and those who may wish to take up Pope Benedict's offer. But, Bishop of / in Rome? Hmm...completely accurate in a sense but...... Do modern Archbishops of Canterbury have to refer to Popes in this way, or do they still need to watch their backs? Or am I just being oversensitive here?

However, by far the more interesting question is what future does IARCCUM actually have in the light of recent decisions within the Anglican Communion? Full and visible unity indefinitely deferred? That's precisely our problem - as, without doubt, Archbishop Williams realises.

More Cochereau from Notre Dame for Easter Saturday!



APPEL À LA VÉRITÉ
More for the francophiles among us:
This link via the NLM http://www.andrewcusack.com/2010/04/09/french-appeal/
French Intellectuals Pen ‘Appeal to Truth’ In Support of Benedict XVI
'A number of prominent French men & women have written a ‘call to truth’ supporting Pope Benedict XVI in the current media storm and paedophilia scandal.' I'm not sure about the "sexologist" who has signed though - there really should be some kind of punctuation mark for a gallic shrug.


Not really a "marriage" incentive from the Conservatives, then
from the Daily Telegraph: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7573263/General-Election-2010-Conservatives-to-give-four-million-married-couples-a-tax-break.html
The Conservatives outline plans to give four million married couples and civil partners an annual £150 tax break.
It would be unrealistic in a secular culture such as ours to expect anything different. But perhaps better than nothing? However, even this is already being dismissed as 'discriminatory' by those who presumably consider that the country should have no interest whatsoever in what remains the basic unit of society, or in the life-style choices people make - except of course where it relates to smoking, over eating, child rearing, carbon consumption etc. etc. etc..  A debate about the limits of legitimate government intervention in our lives would be fascinating in the run up to the General Election on May 6th, but don't expect it - any time soon.

More increasingly desperate attempts to link Pope Benedict personally to a cover-up and a culture of secrecy.
As we know, this will run and run - in Britain, at least until the autumn. Pope Benedict stands for everything the modern media detests (and what's more he is articulate, writes well and is formidably intelligent as well as personally charming, combinations which simply cannnot be allowed in someone who takes a largely conservative line on the things that matter) so he has to be guilty - right? As to the idea of trying to find out the truth; well, - "What is truth? said jesting Pilate; and would not stay for an answer."
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8612787.stm
But see this from an American perspective (thanks to A Conservative Blog for Peace for this link)
http://www.takimag.com/index.php/blogs/article/on_name-stealing_and_misplaced_catholic_anger
This is the extract which struck me most forcibly:
No one’s been more vigorous in cleansing the church of the effects of this sickening sin than this pope, but just because he won’t play ball with the media and the modernists, vile rotweillers like Dowd and Maher, and Dawkins and Hitchens, are taking cheap shots against an institution that will not fight back. "
And this from Damian Thompson:
http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/damianthompson/100033706/and-so-the-relentless-attempts-to-get-pope-benedict-xvi-continue/
"All that matters to various media outlets is that they beat the opposition to The Story That Brings Down The Pope. And if it doesn’t exist? “Of course it exists!” scream certain editors.
None of this Ratzinger-baiting helps the victims of clerical abuse. In fact, it has helped one or two sleazebag prelates pass the buck. I despair."

Friday, 9 April 2010

Spring warmth - and a dose of cool common sense - at last!

The first warm days of the Spring! The photo is of the olive trees in the Vicarage garden luxuriating in the sunshine. Time to put the citrus plants back on the terrace after their winter indoors.

The virtue of having a car radio is that, travelling around between parishes, you tend to listen to things you wouldn't naturally tune in to and, sometimes, even avoid like the plague. Woman's Hour yesterday morning, not up to this point a favourite of mine, contained an interview with Anne Widdecombe, the former Conservative government minister, who left the Church of England for the Catholic Church in response to the ordination of women in the 1990s, and who is, more's the pity, now retiring from the House of Commons at the coming general election. She gave, in answer to a question, perhaps the best verbal defence of the Church in the context of the child abuse scandal that I have heard. Her comments about the general and very naïve moral confusion of the 1970s were absolutely spot on, if somewhat embarrassing (I hope and pray) to those she named who were taken in by it all and are still in public life today.
If you can, try to listen to what she said; there's a link to Woman's Hour on this page: http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/features/womans-hour/
The link to Thursday's programme itself: http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/console/b00rqqyg
The full interview begins at about one minute twenty seconds, the remarks about the Church at ten minutes, fifteen seconds.
A national treasure indeed!

Miss Widdecombe herself. Photo - The Daily Mail

Victimae Paschali: Notre Dame de Paris:  organist: the great Pierre Cochereau
Happy Easter Octave!

Victimae paschali laudes

immolent Christiani.
Agnus redemit oves:
Christus innocens Patri
reconciliavit peccatores.
Mors et vita duello
conflixere mirando:
dux vitae mortuus,
regnat vivus.
Dic nobis Maria,
quid vidisti in via?
Sepulcrum Christi viventis,
et gloriam vidi resurgentis:
Angelicos testes,
sudarium, et vestes.
Surrexit Christus spes mea:
praecedet suos in Galilaeam.
Scimus Christum surrexisse
a mortuis vere:
tu nobis, victor Rex, miserere.
Amen.



Thursday, 8 April 2010

Education? Not so much.


Recommended reading:
Fr Ed Tomlinson http://sbarnabas.com/blog/ has a disturbing three part post on the subject of contemporary ministerial education in the Church of England.

As Fr Eric Mascall among others pointed out a generation or more ago, the university theology faculties and, because of the way theology is studied in Britain, by extension the theological colleges themselves, have long been in thrall to prevailing and fashionable notions of 'academic respectability' and, most worryingly of all, to an almost totally extra-ecclesial practice of the study of theology, particularly but not exclusively as regards the Scriptures. Yet at one time we could rely on the theological colleges, from whatever tradition in the Anglican spectrum they sprang, to attempt in some way to redress the balance theologically and, if we were lucky, provide some kind of priestly or ministerial formation into the bargain. We don't need to be told that that is very largely a thing of the past. As to the almost complete lack of the study of specifically Anglican history and theological writings, that's another story.
CME or post ordination training, as it used to be called, was always something of a mixed bag and done on the cheap by diligent but overworked and harrassed parish priests. But the more 'professional' approach adopted today seems to have done very little but develop a kind of self-serving CME bureaucracy and career structure and merely put before the newly ordained and those rather longer in orders the latest fashionable 'quick-fix' pastoral  and evangelistic methods.
I was particularly proud as a deacon of somehow managing to evade the then over-hyped and ridiculous Myers-Briggs phenomenon, but 'in my day' (only a little while before the ordination of women, the rise of the normative late vocation and part-time training courses) there was nothing approaching the horrors of Fr Tomlinson's relatively recent experiences, which would be richly comic if they were not describing the consigning of  a recognisable strand of Christian orthodoxy to oblivion.
But if his experience is not unusual (and all the anecdotal evidence I've heard suggests it isn't) then we have to admit that the game really is up, that orthodox teaching and formation within the British Anglican provinces (perhaps, with one or two honourable exceptions, in western Anglicanism altogether) is rapidly becoming a thing of the past, and it is just as well we have the opportunity to transplant our ecclesial life to a more appropriate and, frankly, more Christian setting before there is nothing left in the way of Anglican Patrimony other than that documented in unopened books on increasingly dusty library shelves.  Even at the moment, we are at risk of having to give the ecclesiastical equivalent of George Orwell's famous Who's Who entry: 'educated during the holidays from Eton.'  Sociology, semi-literate scriptural and historical revisionism, gender awareness, pseudo-psychological determinism and an ability to cry in public don't really count as patrimony, but they are an inescapable part of the new feminised hermeneutic which seems set to dominate the ecclesia anglicana.

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

More updates

An interesting discussion about conservatism, rules and authority, Philip Blond, John Gray et al from Rod Dreher here: http://blog.beliefnet.com/roddreher/2010/04/john-gray-red-toryism-wont-work.html
The reasons why moral anarchy / freedom from rules only 'works' for those able to buy their way out of the problems it causes.
Biretta tip to A Conservative Blog for Peace http://sergesblog.blogspot.com/

The Bishop of Ebbsfleet's Chrism Mass Homily here: http://www.ebbsfleet.org.uk/chrhom10.htm
Read it ALL
And Bishop Andrew's April Pastoral Letter here: http://www.ebbsfleet.org.uk/plapr10.htm
Ditto - it's important.

The Westminster 2010 Declaration of Christian Conscience.
For more information and to sign go here http://www.westminster2010.org.uk/sign/

Nurse loses crucifix appeal. More discriminatory nonsense reported by 'Archbishop Cranmer.'
Even more reason to sign the petition above and to tackle election canvassers about this and other points of concern - that should see them disappear pretty quickly!
http://archbishop-cranmer.blogspot.com/

This Joyful Eastertide!

Tuesday, 6 April 2010

General Election called for May 6th


So, it's official; the British General Election will be held on May 6th.
Now comes the difficult part - who on earth to vote for? How to balance our vital concern for "life" issues - both at its beginning and its end and for issues of marriage and family life (on which none of the parties could be said to hold a consistently Christian much less Catholic position), the safeguarding of the position of faith schools and the protection of our civil rights, with those of our equally vital duty towards the poor and the underprivileged both at home and abroad?
The Church's agenda and that of secular politics can never entirely coincide, and in reality never have coincided, although we may be forgiven for thinking the gap has widened more than somewhat, particularly concerning the issues mentioned above, over the last thirteen years of this New Labour administration. The question remains whether any of the serious alternatives on offer will be any better, although it's hard to see how they could be much worse.
But I can't say I'm particularly optimistic at this stage, given up to now the almost obsessively 'on message' and 'politically correct' stance (in public at least) of  David Cameron's Conservatives (although there are some grounds for hope here in terms of educational policy, marriage incentives and a welcome recognition that our 'broken society' is in serious need of repair)  but even more especially, of the LibDems, Plaid Cymru and the Scottish Nationalists, which seem to be vying with one another as secularist parties of the centre-left. As for the narrow isolationists of  UKIP and the populist thugs of the BNP, the least said the better.
One could be left wondering whether there is very much of a real choice before us at all. However, "none of the above" won't be on the ballot paper and, in any case, abstention is hardly a responsible course of action to take given both our economic woes and the crisis of public confidence in the political process itself.
It's now time to examine prayerfully the promises and the published manifestos of the parties very carefully  indeed in the light of the moral and ethical teaching of the Church and, perhaps most importantly, given the state of our political and social culture, to look at the voting records of individual sitting M.P.s and the stated views of first time candidates on those issues which concern us most.
We could do far worse than begin here with the document 'Choosing the Common Good' published by the Catholic bishops of England and Wales: http://www.catholicchurch.org.uk/catholic_church/media_centre/press_releases/press_releases_2010/choosing_the_common_good
The bishops of the Church in Wales have produced this statement, together with a series of prayers:
http://www.churchinwales.org.uk/press/display_press_release.php?prid=4933
Go here for election resources from the Church of England:
http://www.cofe.anglican.org/generalelection

But for all of us, voting at all will inevitably involve difficult compromises and a certain amount of serious 'nose holding,' perhaps even a matter for the Christian of choosing the least worst option rather than a party or an individual whose views and policies we can completely endorse. Good luck! Pray for those who are standing for office, they need it!

Monday, 5 April 2010

We do... at the moment

There has been a great deal of comment about what the Archbishop of Canterbury did or did not say - this time about the Ordinariates - on BBC Radio 4's Start the Week programme. Fr Giles Pinnock surely has it right in his interpretation here.
http://onetimothyfour.blogspot.com/
Whatever Dr Williams might really think of the Apostolic Constitution, or say about it in private (now that would be interesting to know) he certainly wouldn't be churlish enough to say that those who might want to take advantage of Anglicanorum Coetibus would do so without his blessing.
I think  + + Rowan is very well aware that many of us have long ceased to worry about whether we have the blessing of the Archbishop of Canterbury (or that of any other revisionist bishop) concerning the next stage in the ecumenical journey towards full and visible unity with the Successor of Peter.
Fr Pinnock also makes an fascinating comment about the seeming 'liberal cosiness' between Archbishop Rowan and the atheistic novelist Philip Pullman. I didn't find that surprising at all; they both begin with the same underlying assumptions about intellectual modernity; of course, that doesn't mean that they come to anything approaching the same conclusions based on those assumptions, but it's interesting nonetheless that they speak the same language, whereas I suspect someone like Pope Benedict would not - another reason why the latter's theological thought processes have considerable and enduring appeal to 'Anglican Catholics' whereas Rowan's, on the whole, do not. It's in many ways a tragedy, but the future will be one of increasing divergence

Easter Monday news updates

Cantuar apologises - when he probably needed to: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8601991.stm
Fr Cantalamessa apologises - when he probably didn't: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8602504.stm
Many of the Church's present problems in getting any kind of consistent message across stems from a  repeated (some would say pig-headed) failure to understand the essentially predatory nature of the modern news media.

Archbishops speak about the scandal, but the BBC attacks the Pope for not speaking directly about child abuse.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/8602675.stm
One of the reasons why we can never expect balanced and accurate reporting of ecclesiastical affairs is the failure of the media (self-obsessed as always) to understand that the Church has other (and more lasting) concerns than the developing news cycle - that's what Cardinal Sodano meant. Unfortunately, profoundly secularised as we have all become, most "establishment" Anglicans don't understand it either.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/8602644.stm

Whose rights?
Shadow Home Secretary, Chris Grayling, walks into a storm over remarks on the rights of B&B owners.
Who could have predicted this seismic shift in western attitudes in a generation?
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/8602899.stm

The new liberal barbarism of international law? http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20100404/ap_on_re_eu/eu_britain_pope
The specific story relates only to the anti-Catholic thuggishness of the secularist interest groups, but if this "development" in international law were to take off it will make only the eco-warriors happy. It would certainly help eliminate altogether the "carbon footprint" of every world leader and his or her entourage.

Regina Caeli laetare!
Just something to remind us that the Resurrection of the Lord triumphs over what a fellow blogger has described as 'the dark barbarism of the spirit of the age'

Saturday, 3 April 2010

Schadenfreude?

There has been massive coverage of the Archbishop of Canterbury's perhaps less than welcome intervention into the affairs of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Was he being naive? Was he simply unaware of the furore his broadcast remarks would be likely to cause? One very much hopes so; in fact, we have something of a duty to interpret such remarks in the best possible light unless there is any reason to believe otherwise. Having said that, it is hard to consider that these observations from someone who is an outsider (along with other recent comments on the need for the papal primacy) could be in any way helpful or constructive in the present situation in Ireland or beyond. We all make gaffes and mistakes of all kinds, but we don't all live our lives in the media spotlight or, for that matter, employ press officers and PR experts to help us get things right. When dealing with professional broadcasters whose job is to get a good story it's not a bad idea to adopt a professional approach onself. It may be regrettable, but at this level radio broadcasts by their very nature can't simply be an interesting exchange of ideas among intellectual equals around a dinner table or in a lecture room. That's an indulgence best left until retirement.

It was interesting to see the crypto-Anglican Catherine Pepinster of The Tablet lining up to support Archbishop Williams, whereas the Church of Ireland (Anglican) Archbishop of Dublin, Dr John Neill  said he had listened to the remarks of Dr Williams with "deep regret".
He went on to say, "As one who... acknowledges the pain and deep suffering of the victims of abuse, I also feel for the countless priests and bishops who daily live out their Christian vocation," he said.
He said he supported the Roman Catholic Archbishop Diarmid Martin "as he works for the proclamation of the Gospel and the healing of hurt, including that of the faithful and their clergy whose ministry has been undermined by those guilty of the abuse of children."

Is there any communication at all between Anglican primates these days? One would have thought 'the man on the spot' would have a more informed view. Or are we being asked to exchange an infallible (and carefully and restrictively defined) Catholic universal primacy  for a  fallible, undefined, foot-in-mouth, Anglican one? Or is all this fuss only about some random observations of the Primate of All England who just happens to be a guest on BBC national radio's Start the Week?

Holy Saturday

Today, the Office of Readings and Morning Prayer were said in a desolate church while the wind and the rain raged outside. After the Liturgy of Good Friday there are no words of ours which can add anything to  what the words of the scriptures and the liturgy say about the mystery we are celebrating. A great silence descends over the Church as we experience not only the defeat, despair and fear of the Cross and the quiet of the tomb, but as we wait for what God will do next…..

At the end of the Mass of the Lord's Supper on Thursday, just as the Watch before the Altar of Repose was beginning, I knelt before the Tabernacle and was surprised by a light fluttering sound, magnified by the silence,  as from under the altar came a butterfly, presumably woken up by the unaccustomed warmth in church over the last few days. It remained in front of the Blessed Sacrament for a few minutes and then took off into the darkness of the Church. Perhaps not quite an illustration worthy of St Bede, but perhaps a prompt for some musings on our future in the light of the Lord's death and resurrection. If I were feeling either prophetic or whimsical. Which at this stage in Holy Week, I'm emphatically not.



A few photos taken in the last few days:



The physical reality, of course, is a little different: the Church here as in so many other places will be filled with people preparing the building for the Easter Vigil - even in a small church, not an uncomplicated process!

A few updates:
Biretta tip to Fr Hunwicke for this link to an important article on Pope Benedict from an orthodox Lutheran perspective. More realignment? 
http://www.logia.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=121&catid=39:web-forum&Itemid=18
Some atrociously "Celtic" weather for our outdoor Stations of the Cross yesterday - courtesy of  Fr Mark at 'All Gas and Gaiters' http://allgassandgaiters.blogspot.com/2010/04/good-friday.html