Sunday, 30 January 2011

Is the problem really political interference, or is it something more fundamental?

Today's Sunday Telegraph has this:

"A group of influential MPs will tomorrow call for Parliament to intervene over the historic reform as fears grow that the Church will reject plans allowing female bishops.

The cross-party group, including former ministers Frank Field and Stephen Timms, and Simon Hughes, the deputy leader of the Liberal Democrats, is concerned that the General Synod, the Church's parliament, may not pass legislation designed to end the glass ceiling for women clergy."
It seems, then, that Parliament, which intervened so decisively twenty years ago to protect traditionalists in the Church of England, is now likely to use its powers against them.
But the problem is not so much that of political interference in the life of the Church, but the continued existence of a State Church itself which makes such interventions to force the Church to conform to contemporary post-Christian secular values not only possible but inevitable.
It is in the Anglican DNA. Even in Anglican provinces now disestablished and separated from the Church of England (and in others never so attached to the parent body) there is a marked reluctance - a psychological aversion, even distaste - for anything which seems to put a distance between the Church and the prevailing values of society.
For quite a few of us there now seems only one way to free ourselves from this modern 'Babylonian captivity.'
I understand the project is already under way.


  1. Unfortunately, the Church in England/Church of England has been dying slowly since King Henry VIII. It's life has been like a dying person's with recovery, restoration, rejuvenation and now finally taking it's last gasps. The politicians will pull the plug on a suicidal church. By 2025 what will remain barring a resurrection outpouring from GOD the FATHER of the Holy Spirit, is empty churches rotting or turned into mosques and pubs or torn down for redevelopment. Sad.

    Matt the Hatter

  2. There was a time, in the 70's especially, when there was a sense that Anglicans and Catholics were very close to unity. Of course, as usual with the Church of England, this was something of a mirage in that determined Evangelicals at that time had no patience with such a proposition. However, the rapport between Archbishop Ramsey and Pope Paul V1 promised much, and many of us on the Roman Catholic side (I was a seminarian and then a young priest) were optimistic (unrealistically so as it turned out). Now there is another kind of hope - another kind of promise on the one hand, but on the other a sense of gloom. I am sorry to say this, but I honestly believe that the Church OF England is all but finished. It will soon descend into a worse pit than the U.S. Episcoplians - worse precisely because of its possibly retaining the identity of a state church. There seems little to do now than to pray for all the good people still hanging on and to hope for a quick disestablishment which will, at least, free the Evangelicals to construct something out of the mess. It may seem quiet now compared to what is likely to happen, but before the Titanic hit the iceberg no one suspected they might be plunged into freezing water.

  3. I, too, as a seminarian believed and hoped that full unity was possible, even likely, between Rome and Canterbury. We all, I think, underestimated not only the real opposition from evangelicals and liberals but the structural impossibility of Anglicans (at least three theologies & ecclesiologies under one roof) achieving unity with anyone. So we have to pursue the only route to unity now available - the Ordinariate, hoping (against hope) that the evangelicals win the 'culture war' within what is left of the C of E, once Anglo-Catholics have either left or become completely marginalised. Whatever the outcome of that struggle, to Anglo-Catholics the body which emerges will be as unrecognisable as it will be uncongenial.


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